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Wow… I lack words that don’t involve swearing for this whole Soulja boy incident bullshit. First off that piece of shit wanna be rapper needs to have his ass beat by some real goddamn rappers. 98% of the time I freaking hate rap and hip hop, just not my thing. Some of the more emotive stuff I can get in to but gangsta rap? fuck is that shit any way. Doesn’t matter though, the real talk here is the bullshit about this walking feces that things it’s human trying to come out and talk trash like he’s hard. Come get some bitch, come get some. Biggest crew in America right here, 3 million + strong and we all have each other’s back when it comes to shit like this. We might give each other crap, interunit, interservice, crap doesn’t matter when it comes down to it, we’re all brothers first and foremost. Come at us bitch.

The REAL shit that pisses me off about this whole situation isn’t this bitch trying to stir up some controversy and tell us to fuck off. It’s the pieces of grabastic shit trying to DEFEND this little bitch. Then turning around and hating on us because I guess it’s cool or something.

Calling us baby killers and all sorts of crazy bullshit that is obviously recycled from the fucking 1970s goddamn flower child nonsense. Blaming US for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan like we have something to do with it, like we can effect where we go, when we go and why we go. Don’t hate the troops for that fucking nonsense, we don’t cut ourselves orders to go off to war, we don’t want to leave our families to go in to a war zone when we might not come back. We stand up and say we will. When the United States says “Who will go for us?” we are the ones who stand up and respond “Send me, I’ll go”. Instead of cowering behind a computer screen, and talking trash with the group think, blending in with the bullshit crowd when you damn well know not a single one of you bitches could look a Marine, a soldier, a sailor or airman in the face and say ANY of that crap on your own, or when your ass isn’t in front of a computer screen, we believe in something, we take a stand for something.

In the end it’s the officals you elect, the people you put in to office that send us, republicans and democrats, Bush and Obama. It’s not us, not our generals, not our officers, not our SNCOs or NCOs and it’s not us junior enlisted either. We are a miltary under civilian control, it is you who sends us. YOU, not us, not our choice, we’re just willing to go when the call comes.

So go ahead, talk your trash. I challenge you, an open invitation to come to me, or ANY man or woman who’s on active duty right now or a veteran and say the same thing to their face, I challenge you to have the balls to talk your trash in person. Then I want you to go home, having proved you’re at least man enough to do that and remember that in the end you just insulted and talked trash to a man or woman who would, with out even knowing your name, die for you. That you’re spitting on the graves of over four thousand men and women who have died for you this past decade. So when you’re done talking your trash? Say thank you and go the fuck on your way.

I ain’t linking the video because fuck getting that little bitch get more views, but here’s a dis track from a military rap group currently in Afghan and a action figure calling Soulja Boy’s bitch ass out.

To inquire about talking trash to the blog owners face, please respond below or send a PM to this account and you’ll be contacted. If you’d really like to prove your hard and try to start a fight, the blog owner would be happy to beat the shit out of you provided you sign a liability waiver, and are ok being filmed having your ass kicked like a soccer ball at the world cup. Semper Fi and go fuck yourselves.

Another academic paper, this one covering a more spiritual topic via a historical lens, as with the previous paper I’ve added some images to keep your attention between the long bits with the words. I also added a little music to this one, Two Steps from Hell seemed like an appropriate band for this particular paper, enjoy.

A Cultural Comparison of Dante’s “Inferno” and the Islamic Hell

Exploring the fires of what we call “hell” as a cultural concept is to explore written human history itself, religious or otherwise. From the very start of organized and recorded religion there has been the concept of the underworld, reward for those who do well, and punishment for those who do evil. There are very few cultures that escape this pattern, very few faiths without a concept of the underworld as a place of punishment for those who have broken that faith or sinned against that same faith.

Zoroastrianism is one of the first faiths to emerge out of the murky prehistory in the Fertile Crescent and one of the first major religions in human history, coming to its full rise along with the Persian Empire. Zoroastrianism was one of the first faiths that described it’s after life as having a place for the wicked to be punished. Various Zoroastrian texts show that in many cases punishments were set to fit the crime and that the Zoroastrian hell was described as a dark place of smoke and fire, these concepts and many more central tenants of Zoroastrianism appear to have influenced many faiths throughout the age so it’s positions on hell are an important starting point when trying to understand influence in later faiths.

The Egyptians were of particular note with the judgment of Anubis rendering all men equal before him, weighing their souls and if they were found to be impure ending their after lives by feeding them to the ravenous creature Ammit, the devourer. If their souls balanced the scale, showing them to have led a good life however they were free to proceed in to the afterlife continuing forward. Here the underworld was a good place, more a heaven then a hell, and the reward for evil was utter oblivion. (1)

Of further interest to any one studying the culture of hell is the Greco-Roman Hades, here we begin to see the start of the western hell in full swing with its clearly defined places and layers as well as its three general destinations for souls to be sent too. The Fields of Asphodel are first and most common, this is a place not for heroes or evil men but for every one in between. Elysium was the land of the blessed or blameless heroes; those who had done many great things in life were richly rewarded in the afterlife. Finally Tartarus was what we think of modernly as “hell” a place of eternal judgment and punishment for those who had sinned grievously in life. (1)

The cultural roots and patterns of the past are important things to consider as we move in to our contemplation of the modern western view of hell as characterized by Dante Alighieri “Divine Comedy” specifically the portion known as “The Inferno”. Many individuals would probably challenge me on my use of the Divine Comedy of being representative of the western view of hell, especially those with very strong religious convictions and a strong working knowledge of their faith. I do not mean to say that the Divine Comedy is the equivalent of these religious works or that it has supplanted these faith views but rather that it is a cultural phenomenon. I believe that if you ask the average western man or woman on the street to describe hell their own mental imagery of hell would be from the Inferno. The classic architecture of nine levels of burning torment and justice for the wicked that have fallen in with evil during their lives. These sinners are separated by various grades and levels of wickedness, such as lust, gluttony, violence and the other six primary divisions of Dante’s hell. Ruled over by the lord of the fallen himself, whom Virgil refers to as “The ruler of the woeful realm”, (2) with his demonic servants to torture the damned for all eternity.

There’s already significant cultural blending in Dante’s Inferno, the river Styx making a reappearance as the point at which souls must cross in to hell from the realm of purgatory which many think of as “Level 0” of hell. The place those who have neither earned their way in to heaven nor have fallen to the depths of hell remain there, those who have fallen are carried across the Styx by another traditional figure of hell, The boatman Chiron. Further on in hell the great three headed dog Cerberus also waits. This Greco-Roman influence in the inferno is also witnessed in the very concept of hell as a place ruled by a dark master a concept of the god Hades. Another Greco-Roman theme evident in the inferno is the concept of “punishment fitting the crime” in many famous Grecian myths those cast in to Tartarus are condemned to punishments for all eternity that will forever remind them of their crimes, gluttons are forever starving reaching for fruit that is just out of their grasp or trying to reach water that is just out of reach.

This “eye for an eye” style of punishment is a central theme in the inferno with each layer of hell being reserved for a specific kind of crime to mete out specific punishments for those crimes. Violence is for example is separated in to “Violence towards others” wherein those convicted of the “general” crime boil in a river of blood for all eternity (2), while others who went above and beyond the call of duty in their pursuit of the sin, mass murderers, warriors who slaughtered for their own pleasure instead of defending others, that like receive still more grievous punishment as the scope of their sin increases.

This view of hell and Satan differ greatly from the traditional Christian model of hell. Which is described much more generally as a place of “eternal fire” what is certain however that despite Satan’s role as “the adversary” he is not the ruler, the jailor or master of hell. Rather Satan and his fallen are prisoners, the worst of the worst the world has to offer, forever denied redemption and the Almighty’s love. Satan’s role traditionally speaking is a quick witted, devious, and highly intelligent foe that delights in dragging down the creation God has labored on. He is not however, a powerful ruler of his own realm, for he is still very weak compared to God and can only use his cunning to effect the weak minded or faithless who might stray from the path God has laid out for them.

It’s truly hard to lock down a traditional view of the individual referred to as Satan from a Christian or Judaic view point as his (Satan’s) role changes so much throughout the Bible. With expanded thinking from various holy men only serving to muddle the water even further. It’s easy to see why a popular work of fiction with a religious basis like Dante’s Inferno and Milton’s Paradise Lost would capture the public imagination and provide a more lasting impact then scholarly papers on the same subject much for the same reason many historic events are more commonly remembered via the Hollywood version of events instead of what actually happened.

Islamic hell is referred to as “Jahannam” and is also depicted similarly to Dante’s hell in that it is a fiery pit filled with pain and torture. “Jannah” or “Paradise” is also split in two levels, as hell is split according to the foulness of your sins, so is heaven split in two sections base on the virtues with which you lead your life. Instead of being ruled by Satan and his fallen, Islamic hell is controlled by the angel Maalik and his Zabaniyah, the angels who guard hell and punish those sentenced there for eternity. The major sins in Islamic hell to which the most horrible punishments are meted out are suicide, the sin of polytheism, and heresy. Islam is divided along the standard Sunni/Shia lines when it comes to the punishment of non-believers, as well as the punishments handed out for Muslims who fail in their faith during life. “The one who is not performing his prayer intentionally is truly an unbeliever” is a quote attributed to the Prophet and is generally taken to mean that if you’re just going through the motions of faith you may as well not even practice at all. These individuals will be judged by Allah during the “Qiyamat” or “Final Judgment” according to their individual circumstances. “Allah may choose make the punishment of hell temporary if Allah Wills it according to Allah’s Wisdom and Knowledge” Verse 6:128, The Quran. This seems to indicate that Allah will potentially show mercy to those individuals who were not believers but still lived good lives.

Right off the bat the comparisons between Islamic hell and Dante’s hell are very easy to identify, the layered structure, divided by crime, like a very organized series of modern cell blocks. Flames and darkness, eternal punishment and torment characterize both these after lives for the damned also share the bottom of hell being a frozen tormented place called Zamhareer in Islam and is of course Dante’s 9th circle of hell. Hawiyah is the lowest portion of the Islamic hell and is still a frozen pit. Islam and Dante condemn the similar types of sinners to these darkest reaches of the pit. With the 9th circle of hell being reserved for various types of traitor, with the greatest traitor at all, Satan who committed personal treachery against God in the middle. Similarly the lowest reaches of Islamic hell condemn hypocrites both spiritual and otherwise to the depths.

Both of these differ from the generally accepted view of Christian hell, However it would be extremely difficult to properly compare and contrast the Christian version of hell with either of these due to the varied nature and descriptions of hell between varying factions of Christianity. There is no one single, Christian hell or view of hell and is thus impossible for me to truly give a concise comparison here that will be truly accurate to my own satisfaction. I will however offer a simplified and brief comparison for the sake of completeness.

The primary similarities are the torment and fire shared between the three, there is no place of frozen hell described in any Christian teaching that I have learned of, further Christianity differs from both Islam and Dante’s works by being generally described as a single hell as opposed to the layered versions of Dante and Islam. Christian hell agrees with Dante with hell generally being cast as the realm of Satan; if not quite to the extent Dante describes it. Islam maintains its angelic prison masters as described previously. Again these are very general definitions for the Christian hell and a very basic comparison to continue to illustrate the differences between Dante and Christianity.

There are many strong similarities between the Islamic vision of hell and Dante’s Inferno. It was first suggested that there was an Islamic Influence in Dante’s writing by Professor Miguel Asin Palacios in a scholarly paper in 1919 (5). While the period Dante was writing in did have lines of learning flowing from Europe to Islamic centers of power I do not believe that Dante was directly influenced by Islamic teachings in the construction of his Inferno. The debate on the subject matter has been going back and forth for what’s coming up on a 100 years, literally since the paper by Professor Palacios was published.

My conclusions on the matter are drawn from the descriptions of Islam and Islamic figures described in the Inferno.

“He eyed me, with his hands laid his breast bare,
And cried, “Now mark how I do rip me: lo!

        30

How is Mohammed mangled: before me
Walks Ali weeping, from the chin his face
Cleft to the forelock; and the others all,
Whom here thou seest, while they lived, did sow
Scandal and schism, and therefore thus are rent

-Canto XXVII, 29-35 (1)

This described both Mohammed and his faithful disciple Ali, both extremely important figures in Islam as “sowers of discord” confined to the 9th circle of hell. Further Dante, described the City of Dis in Canto VIII saying that it contained many mosques and that they were all wreathed in flames. This placement of important Muslim religious figures and religious structures deep amongst the sinners of hell shows what I think to be a deep seated contempt for Islam. The fifth and sixth Crusades both occurred during Dante’s lifetime and there was certainly a very strong dislike of Islam prevalent amongst Europeans at that time. This leads me to conclude that if Dante was influenced by Islam in the creation of The Divine Comedy, then it was most likely very indirect.

As we view the evolution and changes of religious belief we find that our understanding of the past and religious traditions of historical faiths are critical in understanding the role that history plays in the shaping of modern faiths. Both the decedents of those original faiths such as Zoroastrianism or Islam that exist directly today and other newer faiths that contain links to the faiths of the past display a strong influence of history shaping the religious structures and patterns of today.

Bibliography

  1. Gardiner, Eileen. “Hell Online.” Hell Online. Ithaca Press, 03 AUG 2009. Web. 23 Mar 2011. <http://www.hell-on-line.org/index.html&gt;.
  2. (Alighieri), Dante. The divine comedy. 1985. Print.
  3. 1. The Koran, Islamic, 632–656 CE.
  4. Personal Interview names redacted for privacy
  5. Palacios, Miguel Asin. La Escatología musulmana en la Divina Comedia (“Islamic Eschatology in the Divine Comedy”), . Spain: 1919. Print.

Notes:

1. I would like to take extra time to take Redacted for sharing his years of learning and wisdom in Islam with me and helping me to more completely understand the part of his faith covered in this paper, as well as a more complete understanding of Islam in general. His guidance on many of the subjects in this paper were what made it possible to write and for me to understand instead of just blinding guessing from random Koranic readings, Google searches and bothering librarians.

2. Citation 5 is merely referencing the work that first outlined the possibility that Dante had been influenced by Islam in creating his version of hell; I did not actually acquire or research this work.

This is the a research paper written for one of my college courses, due to it’s academic nature it is presented with full citations and a bibliography, exactly as it was turned in, because this is the internet and the denizens therein are a distract-able lot I did add a bunch of pictures to keep everyone’s attention in between the long boring bits with the words 😉 this is the first of two academic papers I’ll be publishing on this site, because A. ready made material and B. I’m particularly proud of both documents.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      -Amp

The act of dehumanization is defined by Miriam Webster as “to deprive of human qualities, personality, or spirit”. More fluidly in its applied state, dehumanization is the act of a country reducing their enemy to a status of less than human both in the eyes of their soldiers and their citizenry. (1) It has been a facet of warfare since we first evolved social groups. (2)“They are foul pagans!” “Look at the tone of their skin!” “They do X, Y and Z like filthy barbarians!” Those three sentences in one form or another have been at the heart of dehumanization from the very start finding the little lines that separate, making the foe seem brutal and alien, classifying them as “the other”.
As an academic I first became aware of the process of dehumanization as I studied and learned about the Second World War. I was bitten by the bug early and the study of that particular era of history remains my abiding passion. Even as a boy and young man I was taken aback by the sheer amount of negative backlash I received when I expressed interest in the German side of the war. To my mind the German Soldiers were merely men, soldiers like I wanted to be, fighting for their country. As I read further in to their stories, books like “Soldat” by Siegfried Knappe and other biographies and collections of information, I found the vast majority of the German Wermacht to be utterly honorable warriors by even modern civilized standards.

That the Third Reich was inherently an evil entity is not in discussion, especially embodied by the SS, the main instrument of many of the Nazi party. Having said this where does the hatred and spite for the common German Soldat (Soldier, also the equivalent rank of “Private”) come from? In the words of Oberst (Colonel) Hans Ulrich Rudel “Can’t you see? I never fought for a political party, only for Germany”.

"Slap a Jap"

The Second World War is filled with powerful examples of dehumanization on all sides of the conflicts with the Soviet propaganda machine depicting Germans as “ravening beasts” (4). Other examples hit far closer to home with US propaganda depicting the famously buck tooth and near sighted “japs”. Even before the war a lot of attention was given to the Japanese treatment of the Chinese with actions that were declared to be beyond the pale of civilized warfare. (5)

That is the start of dehumanization, of making an enemy something “else”. They are cast as purely evil, lower in the eyes of your civilization and in the harshest light possible. The psychology behind it all is that it will allow soldiers to kill easier, and it will lend more support from the civilian population. Indeed in many interviews and quotes from the Second World War and the wars following it such as Vietnam, the distance created by dehumanization is what allowed many troops to continue fighting the enemy, to safely process what they were inflicting and what was being inflicted upon them.

One point of note for dehumanization from the Soldier’s perspective during both World Wars is that for the most part veterans of both sides will say that they respected their enemy after the fact and that they fought with honor. While this is much more common during World War Two in the European theater of war as opposed to the Pacific, this can be ascribed to conduct on the battlefield and conduct towards POWs through out the conflict. Where the majority of the Wermacht conducted themselves by “civilized” rules of warfare and tended to treat allied POWs fairly well. The Japanese were following in their own standards of warfare and their own dehumanization propaganda which built the Japanese up as a superior race over inferiors and regarded captured and defeated enemies as honor-less dogs and treated these unfortunate captives accordingly.

The Japanese conduct of war was much more brutal over all during the war both against US forces and during the invasion of China earlier in the conflict. As an example of some of their methods, Japanese troops were taught to cry out “Corpsman! Corpsman!” in English if they were wounded and left on the battlefield and to kill the responding US medic with a grenade or other weapon upon his arrival. This and other tactics lead to an entrenching of the dehumanization propaganda spread by the United States that the enemy was “uncivilized” and “barbaric”.

Anti Jew WW2 Propaganda

To the politician dehumanization can be used for civil tasks as well. Back in the old American South, African Americans were reduced to the level of livestock or furniture, dehumanization working culturally to make the South’s “peculiar institution” acceptable and normal to the local populace, and the wider population of the United States at large before the country started dividing over the issue. Even after the American Civil War it took numerous decades to reverse the generations of dehumanization that resulted in massive prejudice against African Americans in the US. Similarly dehumanization was a powerful tool in Adolf Hitler’s Germany with massive amounts of propaganda aimed against the Jews was well as other so-called undesirables such as homosexuals, gypsies and the mentally infirm. This was mixed in with a strong nationalist message and many people willingly went along with what Hitler was selling especially in the financially and spiritually broken Germany after the First World War.

Modern dehumanization doesn’t exist on the same scale that it did in previous wars. Even as recently as the Vietnam war, the US propaganda machine has for all intents and purposes been shut down and replaced with twenty four hour news services such as CNN. Concepts such as “tolerance” and “political correctness” have all but ended outright dehumanization in the propaganda sense of our enemies. It does still exist but it is in a more direct format, broadcasts depicting beheadings and other brutal acts by the Insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken the place of the “Slap a Jap” posters of yesteryear and the culture of both nations is under constant scathing fire for things such as women’s rights, and other forms of religious and social oppression. This has much the same effect as depicting them as beneath the wise, far more progressive Americans but it does it in a manner that is more acceptable and palatable to the times.

Inside the Armed Forces things have also changed to be more reflective of the times, instead of showing propaganda films and cartoons that dehumanize the foe to make the GI, Marine or Sailor more likely to engage the enemy in a lethal manner, the service branches give cultural sensitivity briefings and offer computer based classes and study units based on the nations and regions that units are deploying to and encourage or order service members to learn from them. All official dehumanization of a specific foe is completely forbidden, and the distribution of material in that vein could easily result in a court martial or other serious form of punishment.

Standard anti-german propaganda, note the over exaggerated features and characteristics

The dehumanization has instead gone underground to the smoke pits and after hours chats in the barracks, especially amongst the enlisted troops. Slang terms such as “hadji” and “raghead” are in common use for troops of all races and racial slurs and jokes against the enemy are extremely common. Mixed with stories of combat and the enemy’s behavior during it, and reports of the latest murder of civilians by suicide bombing, or the torture and beheading of a fellow serviceman is more then enough to keep the process of dehumanization alive and well, if underground.

To really investigate the modern scope of what I’ll refer to as propaganda or social dehumanization without leaning on my own experiences in the military I conducted a series of interviews with fellow servicemen of all ranks and grades, some with combat experience others without and got a “snap shot” of the general condition of dehumanization in today’s armed forces.* All of the responding individuals reported dehumanization of enemy forces as common place, but none of it official in any format. The one officer interviewed pointed out that referring to the enemy forces as “Taliban”, “insurgents”, “targets”, “hadji” and so forth are actually also a method of dehumanization by separating the enemy from terms like “people” or “person”. (6)

The majority of dehumanization took the form of jokes and banter as previously stated mostly focusing on real world aspects of native behavior that is found distasteful to western sensibilities and morality such as what one respondent called “the dreaded left hand of hadji” a reference to the native version of toilet paper. Similarly incidents such as snipers on a night post catching a native performing an act of beastiality with a donkey has been blown up, exaggerated and turned in to legend that it’s common practice, whether it’s true or not doesn’t matter at this point. These people are animals and barbarians just look at these things they do!(6)

Enemy combat tactics were also derided in disgusted tones by all respondents, even those who had not seen combat. All of them saying they had absolutely no respect for the enemy in the slightest because of their cowardly hit and run tactics, their treatment of prisoners and their willingness to hide behind women and children to avoid return fire from allied forces. The officer responding in particular with his higher grasp of the tactical picture pointed out that the only advantages enemy forces in his AO had were their ability to hide amongst the civilian population and the political hamstringing allied forces faced from back home.(6)

This same officer however volunteered more information on the subject of respect and an honorable opponent saying “Just because a force is enemy is no reason for me to lose respect for them. For example, the Waffen SS fought for the worst regime ever, in my opinion. Still, they fought with honor and earned respect, for the most part. At least on the Western Front against the US/UK/Canada.” This sentiment was much the same across the numerous interviews I conducted. The social dehumanization of the Germans by the Allies was brutal and comprehensive, but after the fact the German’s battlefield conduct, treatment of POWs and so forth was such that the allied troops respected their German counterparts perhaps derailing the dehumanization process. The Germans were given this reputation for brutality but instead proved to be honorable combatants leading to the thought process, “if they act like that they really can’t be that bad”.

This dehumanization process continued in later wars, such as during the Vietnam war, with both the Viet Cong and the NVA being targeted. Both groups were perceived as cowards, hit and run fighters more akin to murderers then proper soldiers. Both groups engaged in the mutilation and torture of allied forces, and hide amongst civilian populations. All of these groups “lived down” to their dehumanization propaganda reputations and cementing the view point that they were “less then human”.

So far in this discussion of the process and function of dehumanization we haven’t really touched on the focus of what dehumanization is aimed at, allowing a functioning normal human being to kill easily and with minimal moral difficulty. Killing other humans is not something that comes naturally to people. Even for men and women raised around firearms who have been hunting for years the skill to successfully kill someone is there but the heart and intent are for the most part not.

Consider the average person who can take a human life in modern American society, there are people who have dehumanized through conditioning to be able to kill such as a gang member who grew up in that environment and lifestyle where killing was normalized and even encouraged. A soldier or a police officer who has been conditioned to be able to shoot and kill also falls in this category albeit through a very different process. Removing that type of individual we have crimes of rage and passion, these are very dissimilar from the soldier’s task or the conditioned criminal, with a crime of passion it’s all on chemicals, many people don’t actually go forth with the thought of killing someone according to the interviews after the fact.

There is only one category of person who has the ability to kill others of their species with out concern, we call these people sociopaths. They have a variety of critical mental illnesses that result in them dehumanizing everything and everyone, there is no emotion to the act of killing, no more then a normal human being does washing their hands. Thankfully these individuals are few and far between and this level of dehumanization is the last thing one would want in a soldier. That’s the point where soldiers lose their sense of who the enemy is and civilians go from people to be defended to just more targets.

The warrior and the conditioned criminal for the most part must do their killing in cold blood, going forth with the intent to kill. Situations can arise to change that, the wounding of a close friend or comrade for example but for the most part the soldier must go about his business as a competent professional in the arts of warfare, this detached coolness is literally the difference between life and death in many cases. Which returns us to that same dehumanization of the enemy, the soldier cannot be worried about if the man shooting at him has a wife or child, he is merely the enemy and must be eliminated so the soldier may be himself preserved and the mission accomplished.

WW1 I believe but still applicable

Even in an environment with high dehumanization of the enemy like in WW2 that doesn’t mean the soldiers in question are conditioned to killing the enemy. After World War 2 Brigadier General S.L.A Marshall discovered that in the European theater of operations that individual riflemen only took shots against exposed enemy soldiers 15-20% of the time. (7) Firing rates increased when ordered to by a superior or when firing from a crew served/key weapons system like a machine gun or flamethrower but for the individual combatant they appeared to be unable or willing to kill. This research was correlated by numerous other studies of foreign armed forces and by FBI studies of firing rates amongst Law Enforcement Officers. (7)

The US military and indeed armed forces world wide responded by introducing conditioning techniques to their marksmanship programs. This condition exists to this day, when Marines learn rifle marksmanship the basic target at the 200 yard line for the known distance course of fire is a standard bulls eye, but all the other targets are human silhouettes, as are all the targets provided during combat marksmanship training, where coaches also provided pinpoint instruction on these same human silhouettes on where to aim for chest, head and “mobility” (the hips and pelvis) shots. LtCol Grossman in his article “On Killing II” that the Army system where silhouette reactive targets are used, that is targets that fall down when you hit them are actually a perfect model of what is called “operant” psychological conditioning. (7)

This new method of conditioning lead to increased firing rates in Korea and even higher in Vietnam, Other countries such as England has similar results in their own conflicts. (12) Considering the methods for conditioning are still being used by the US armed forces today to condition and prepare troops for combat, I’d say the effectiveness of the methodology and the psychology behind it can’t be questioned as far as an increase of combat efficiency is concerned.

The psychology of dehumanization is therefore a dual edged sword, conditioning dehumanization or the process of conditioning a human being by training, to kill is necessary to allow soldiers to perform their duties properly in the field, thus increasing their own survival rates as well as the success rate of their missions. That same conditioning opens up the door to dehumanization of ALL human beings. Similarly with the earlier style of propaganda/social dehumanization which has now moved in to the barracks and work spaces of the military, while it can provide amusement and make it easier on the mind of a soldier to do battle with a particular enemy when it’s an enemy the soldier cannot respect at the very least as a fellow soldier it opens up the door to truly seeing the enemy as subhuman animals which could potentially lead to human rights abuses such as the Abu Ghraib scandal.

The challenge presented by the problem of dehumanization in the armed forces is a daunting task for any one to consider and as a veteran it’s my personal opinion that it’s not going away any time soon, instead of trying to “cure” dehumanization. But as Col Grossman says in one of his papers “…conditioning which overrides such a powerful, innate resistance (not taking human life) has enormous potential for psychological backlash.” (7) It’s strongly possible that the conditioning that has been running full steam from Vietnam on is one of the roots of the massive increase in PTSD cases among combat veterans since the 1970s. Which leaves us a bit of a catch 22, the conditioned dehumanization is vital to ensure the success and survival of the soldier but it is also contributing to psychological damage further down the road.

Dehumanization in both the social form and the conditioned form are fundamental parts of current military culture and military training. We need to more directly asses and study the effects of these processes to ensure the mental health and well being of members of the armed services which will allow them to accomplish their missions over seas and and abroad more effectively.

*To preserve the anonymity of the interviewees, several of whom remain on active duty, mixed with the sensitive nature of this subject, all names are being kept confidential. All references to specific locations have been scrubbed for operational security purposes. The author of this blog will not divulge personal information, reveal sources or release any of the original transcripts of aforementioned interviews in an unscrubbed format. Any release of any format of these interviews will be extremely limited in nature and at the author’s sole discretion.

Bibliography

1. Spencer, Dustie. “Dehumanization and Demonization of the Enemy.” dustiespencer. Dec2007. Web. 30 Jul 2011. <http://sites.google.com/site/dustiespencer/dehumanization- and-demonization-of-the-enemy>.

2. Tigerhawk, . “On dehumanizing the enemy in war and the nature of victory.” Tigerhawk. Blogspot, 16JUL2007. Web. 30 Jul 2011. <http://tigerhawk.blogspot.com/2007/05/on-dehumanizing-enemy-in-war-and-nature.html&gt;.

3. Maiese, Michelle. “Dehumanization.” Beyond Intractability. Beyond Intractability , Jul 2003. Web. 28 Jul 2011. <http://www.beyondintractability.org/essay/dehumanization/&gt;.

4. Beevor, Anthony. The Fall of Berlin, p. 199

5. “WW2 Dehumanizing the Enemy (Clip).” EVTV1.com. Web. 28 Jul 2011. <http://www.evtv1.com/player.aspx?itemnum=5622&gt;.

6. Names Redacted, . Personal Interviews by <Redacted>. 28/29 JUL 2011. Private Collection. 28 Jul 2011.

7. Grossman, David. “On Killing II: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill.” Killology.com David Grossman, n.d. Web. 28 Jul 2011. <http://www.killology.com/article_onkilling.htm>

The following poem is included purely to please the author’s own aesthetic sense and should not be considered a formal part of the paper. It was written by the author during the research process of this paper.

Soldat:

He was a German soldier

a boy of 18 years

drafted in the name of Deutchland

to stave off growing fears

He fought with courage and honor

now they spit and call him swine

what justice is this really?

the young soldat wants to know

He was fighting for his country

not some master race

that’s when they throw the pictures

in to his horrified face

bodies burnt and blackened

men who look like death but alive

pain and suffering

that none should have to survive

So now the German soldat

honor shattered and alone

realizes he will never go home

cast out and forsaken

This German soldat’s cry

I fought with honor

for my people

not to murder make

the devastation in his eyes

lends a man’s soul to shake

fighting for your country

does not evil make

So remember the German soldat

not with hate or loathing or fear

they were not the monsters

who fed on the murdered’s tears

Instead give them the dignity

the respect and honor due

a fellow warrior and opponent

who fought and battled true

I confess, I can be a seriously nostalgic individual, we all get that way to some extent through the various phases in our lives, and I think your twenties is a common/flexible time in which a nostalgic period can occur. You’ve just left your childhood behind, some of us are moving on to adulthood others will remain behind a bit longer. As life gets serious you long for the more carefree days of childhood and the stuff that made it cool.

I hit that nostalgia point starting a couple months back and was longing mostly for the old video games that defined my childhood, as an added bonus is those games were a lot better at least through hindsight then  most of the games I’ve played recently. So I decided to use some of that adult money I have now and get the games I used to love. My original plan was to get a Nintendo 64 and the collection of games I wanted.

As I was shopping around on Amazon I figured out that I could get the Legend of Zelda games (Orcarina of Time and Majora’s Mask of course) on GameCube and I could get a GameCube with all the stuff I would want for it would only cost me $12-18 as opposed to $40 or so I believe for an N64 with out some of the stuff I’d need to be able to play.  The games would still be expensive but the newer system would probably better/easier to use over all.  I found a copy of the Legend of Zelda promo disk that Nintendo put out, it was a short run and printed only for a promotion of a special game cube I believe so I expected to pay some cash for that, and was not let down. $40 for that particular disk. I was also a huge fan of the Rogue Squadron games as a kid and got both of those for about $5 apiece, rounding out the initial purchase with Legend of Zelda Twilight Princess for around $20. All told about $120 with shipping, the price of two new Xbox games, not bad at all.

Round two had me seeking out pretty much the last of the games from that area I really “had” to have, past these it would have been no big deal if I acquired no more game cube games. Little did I know that these two games which I spent insane amounts of time on now cost a fortune. The first “Skies of Arcadia: Legends” which introduced me to Air Piracy as a potential profession and was one of the first JRPGs I ever played, then Tales of Symphonia which was the LAST JRPG I ever played through outside of a handheld for a grand total of two. Skies cost me about $49 for a good copy with the case and everything and Tales cost me about $25, apparently both games were rather limited printings and are now rather rare. Total cost for nostalgia: $200 roughly. (three new Xbox 360/PS3 games)

Back to the games, I just can’t get in to JRPGs like some people can, one did come up recently that I would have given a shot but it was a PS3 exclusive and I’m spacing the title at the moment. (Edit: it was Valkyria Chronicles) Just to ward of the haters, yes I have played several Final Fantasy games, I didn’t like them terribly much. If I want to watch a movie I will, if I want to play a game I want to play a GAME. However Skies of Arcadia: Legends and Tales of Symphonia had rich entertaining characters and fun story lines that I wanted to keep playing, the combat didn’t feel as grinding as it did in other JRPGs because I truly was in to and enjoying the story.

I could honestly make this love letter to these two games go on for a looooong time so I will get some criticism out of the way so I can pretend this is actually a review. Both games are trope heavy as hell, the standard party make up, elemental temples, magical girl with the power to save the world, all of that and more is there in both games but goddamnit they execute it so well I can’t help but not care that it’s been done in literally every JRPG ever made for the most part.  See? I can’t even criticize these games, I’m going to quit before I become even more of a fanboy.

Trailers:

Edit: At the risk of continuing to sound like an incredible fan boy, which being honest with myself I am, someone just told me there’s a Tales of Symphonia OVA must acquire NOW!

I’ve taken up a new hobby and joined a historical reenactment/living history group. Now I’m feeling some resistence from you already dear readers because you’re probably looking at the image of the strapping young german fellow with “Fallschirmjäger” underneath him and might realise I might not exactly be playing what we would refer to as “a good guy”. There’s plenty of reasons for that, the first of which is that if everyone dressed up as a GI it’d be really boring at events because there wouldn’t be any opposition. It’s not hard to take a hill without any one on it.

The other reasons are that in the end the average soldier in the German armed forces during WW2 was not a Nazi, they did not march out for Adolf Hitler any more than US soldiers and Marines fought for Harry Truman. They were soldiers fighting for their homes, their country and most of all in the manner of all soldiers every where, fighting for the men next to them. These men fought with honor and valor on all fronts and their stories deserve to remembered and told, as a historian this is universal truth. History is to be preserved, all history, not just the parts we feel comfortable with or don’t mess with our gross blanket views of how we’d like to see the past or how hollywood would like to show us through their camera lenses.

This isn’t about ideology or politics, I am not and have never been a member of the Neo-Nazi movement nor do I have any desire to be, thus this disclaimer is being added to the website for people who are too thick to figure it out and need things spelled out.

Important Disclaimer! – This is a non-political web page dealing with the history, equipment, life and campaigns of the World War II German soldier (Fallschirmjäger, etc) and World War II reenacting. This website contains historical information as well as reenacting and living history information. This information includes reenactment photos, historical information covering operations, equipment and photos of World War II soldiers from both sides in action. The information is catalogued and presented to preserve a clear-eyed view of military history and present to the public an accurate representation of a World War II German unit. We do not tolerate or condone any form of racism, radical or extremist activities, or persons with supremacist, fascist or racist political motives or beliefs and we do not support nor glorify the reprehensible policies of the Nazi Party. We do not tolerate, support, or condone any activities of any neo-nazi party organizations, any extremist, anti-immigrant or antisemitic organizations.

Clear? wonderful let’s move on and talk about the Fallschirmjäger. The Fallschirmjäger were the German airborne (that is to say paratrooper) forces for the 2nd World War, under the command of the Luftwaffe, they operated as skirmisher and commandos when in their airborne role but were later shifted to purely infantry units as the war continued on and after some serious casualties. So despite the shift away from jumping and the loss of jump training the Fallschirmjäger name was retained until the end up the war.

They were regarded as an elite German infantry unit and had some of the very latest and greatest in regards to weapons and other equipment.

“The Parachutist’s Ten Commandments.”

1. You are the elite of the German Army. For you, combat shall be fulfillment. You shall seek it out and train yourself to stand any test.

2. Cultivate true comradeship, for together with your comrades you will triumph or die.

3. Be shy of speech and incorruptible. Men act, women chatter; chatter will bring you to the grave.

4. Calm and caution, vigor and determination, valor and a fanatical offensive spirit will make you superior in attack.

5. In facing the foe, ammunition is the most precious thing. He who shoots uselessly, merely to reassure himself, is a man without guts. He is a weakling and does not deserve the title of parachutist.

6. Never surrender. Your honor lies in Victory or Death.

7. Only with good weapons can you have success. So look after them on the principle—First my weapons, then myself.

8. You must grasp the full meaning of an operation so that, should your leader fall by the way, you can carry it out with coolness and caution.

9. Fight chivalrously against an honest foe; armed irregulars deserve no quarter.

10. With your eyes open, keyed up to top pitch, agile as a greyhound, tough as leather, hard as Krupp steel, you will be the embodiment of a German warrior.

For more on the Fallschirmjäger check out this living history website that specializes in Fallschirmjäger impressions.

Second Impression: 101st Airborne 

I was going to try to go Marine but there’s an unsurprising absence of Marine living history outfits so I’m forming up with the opposite number of the Fallschirmjäger and running around a little with out local outfit of the screaming eagles.

This is the second of the two impressions both because the Fallschirmjäger unit is understrength and because the total cost of an Airborne kit would be about $1200 with the cheap M-1 Garands I can get through the Civilian Marksmanship Program. A Kar 98 Mauser is still only about $200 so cost wise that a lot more effective just to start even if uniform costs are the same.

 Eventually however I will develop a full kit for both outfits and play bothsides as the case and my mood may warrant. For example if we go to an event with an especially strong Allied presence I’ll wear the one to help bolster the opfor, but if the unit goes to an event with a strong Axis presence I can get my Allied paratrooper boots out and get to work. 

Quote of the post:

“Shiny, let’s be bad guys”

                                     -Jayne Cobb

So I’ve finally decided to get pissed off about this whole Casey Anthony business. Not at her, not even for her not getting convicted of murder. No I’m pissed off at all of you, the people rending their garments, crying out for blood vengeance, sending her hate mail, harassing some random black guy who happens to be named Casey Anthony and running a woman who happened to look like Casey Anthony off the road when the real thing isn’t EVEN OUT OF JAIL YET. Holy shit this is reaching whole new levels of retardation. Massive, insane levels of retardation even. I want to come right out and say it here, I’m pissed at having to defend this woman because this issue should not exist, I’m pissed at defending a convicted criminal that I personally find abhorrent in the name of defending the American justice system and how the process should work, I am pissed at defending this criminal from this lynch mob lemming mentality we as a country seem to have developed. Buckle your seat belts because I’m doing a full vent on my spleen for this one.

Personally I blame this bitch:

This is not the face of someone you should be listening to... for anything

for the entire fucktarded situation. Yes, Nancy freakin Grace, jesus christ if there is one person earth who desperately needs to shut the fuck up it’s this chick, her entire show is her offering unqualified, reactionary, legal opinions to a global/nationwide audience, it’s sensationalist crime media at it’s fucking worst. People are treating the potential murder of a child like some unimaginable Hitler scale crime that almost never happens when in reality according to FBI  634 children ages 12 or under were murdered in 2009 (most recent fully compiled Uniform Crime Report, I’d guess the number will be similar for 2010) many of those were most likely brutal. The only reason this one is getting ANY attention at all is it happens to be the one Nancy Grace got her hooks in to and decided to sensationalize.So what happened? Suddenly a case that wasn’t a big case, now has a media circus attached to it, now there’s a SHIT TON of pressure from the community to get this case to trial now, the people demand justice goddamnit! So that probably fucked the prosecution on more then a few levels assuming they weren’t incompetent to begin with (and I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt) because now their under massive scrutiny and in a hurry. Have you ever heard of a situation where massive scrutiny of your every move and a “GET THIS DONE FUCKING YESTERDAY” has ever produced the best possible work that a group could provide? In any situation? Of course you fucking haven’t because any one with common sense knows that shit doesn’t work like that.

It gets better though because thanks to Nancy Grace and those like her talking out their collective asses, this woman has now effectively been crucified in the media and in the eyes of the public, which is why people are all “OMFG how could she have gotten off! this is so upsetting to me and she’s an evil, evil bad person!” and sending harassing emails to any one they can find on facebook with the name Casey Anthony like this guy who probably looks the least like a petite white woman as any one I’ve ever seen, or in one case attacking this woman because she looked vaguely like Anthony, following her and ramming her with her vehicle, never mind the real Casey Anthony was in Florida and in prison while the attack was taking place in Oklahoma.

Why the FUCK is everyone so upset? Because the justice system in our country DID IT’S GODDAMN JOB! that’s why everyone’s got their knickers in a twist, literally looking to kill this woman! Anthony was convicted of all the crimes she was charged with EXCEPT murder. So she’s a horrible, negligent parent, she lied to police and she’s taking the punishment for those things, albeit most of it’s going down for the two years plus years of jail time she already served. Because in a court of law it doesn’t matter what you believe it matters what you can prove and thank whatever fucking deity you believe in for that.

Last time you could just kill or imprison people because “well I think that person is  guilty!” we were doing things like having witch trials, it happens all the time in lovely countries like Iran and North Korea but I’d bet you significant amounts of money you wouldn’t like living there. She was shown to be not guilty of the crime of murder in the first degree in a court of law, meanwhile the court of public opinion is stringing her up for a noose because in the end the general public is a bunch of blithering morons who will believe whatever is shoved in front of them by Fox News or CNN. The reality is the prosecution didn’t have a case for MURDER. There was no form of evidence at all no matter what Bill O’Reilly or Nancy Grace says and yet the lemmings are fucking out for goddamn blood.

If you have to ask, the lemming questioning the cliff dive isn't you

You might be disgusted by her actions, I certainly am despite the 700 odd words I’ve just written down in what to some of you will sound like defending her to this point, thirty days with out reporting her daughter’s disappearence? lying to police about what was a tragic accident so far as can be proved in a court of law? Neglect of her child? These are disgusting acts, but the acts of you my fellow citizens measuring this woman up for the noose and calling her a murderer, sending all sorts of threats to any one vaguely connected to the case, probably to the jury members who acquited her as well as Anthony and her lawyers that behavior disgusts me a whole lot more, the lynch mob, the justice of “I’m an asshole with an opinion and minimal to no knowledge of what’s actually going on besides what I find out on twitter or from my biased, ratings hungry news source of choice.”

I have a message for you, FUCK YOU, you people are what’s wrong with this country, reactionists with minimal information drooling like Pavlov’s dog at the ring of a bell whipping in to a fervor about Barack Obama being a secret Muslim and not releasing his birth certificate when he totally did, and then had to again because you’re all morons and give Donald Trump credibility, freaking out over a community center being built nine city blocks from ground zero by the types of Muslims who DON’T blow things up (which shockingly is most of them), thinking 2012 is something we all need to be pissing ourselves over fucking yesterday because we’re all gonna die because a bunch of dead guys didn’t make their calender over 1200 years past their civilization’s demise in 800 C.E. because that makes sense doesn’t it?

However lynch mob I have to congratulate you, because you won, in your little lemming way. You have achieved victory, many Americans actually are convinced we’re all gonna die next year, People STILL think Obama is a Muslim Kenyan Space Alien after our precious fluids or something like that, the so called “9/11 Mosque” is a massive “holy fuck write your senator and come to our massive protest” issue in New York City instead of… oh there’s a new community center (which is what the Mosque in question actually is…) going up in that neighborhood vaguely near Ground Zero. Common sense, and reality have lost, we now exist completely in the spin zone, not just of Fox News but of all news services, where any twist-able issue can have a couple buzzwords stamped to it and represented in whatever manner and that might as well be reality.

 Your great victory though is that even with the jury returning a verdict of not guilty, the evidence for a conviction of murder being found to be incomplete, insubstantial and just plain weak, the court’s justice dispensed on the guilty (of the crimes she was convicted for) your victory is you’ve sentenced her any way. To a lifetime of torment, every where she goes your whispers will haunt her footsteps, dogging her till the day she dies. If she want to even pretend to have a normal life she’s basically going to have to enter a self created witness protection program, change her name, her appearance, the car she drives, everything must go, and even then, sooner or later one of your horde of lemmingdom will find out and she’ll have to start the process all over again.

You don’t have to sentence her to a life in prison or even the death sentence, you the lemmings have sentenced her to a life in exile, permanently outcast and destroyed, hounded and hunted no matter where she tries to escape to. If that doesn’t sound like life in prison, a life of punishment, even a death on some level I don’t know what does.

The sad part? Some of you are probably pleased as hell by that and are going to do everything in your power to hunt this woman, track her down where ever she tries to run from your onslaught, where ever she tries to hide you’ll be there to ferret her out and destroy whatever life she tries to build. Those of you who are pleased will probably call that justice.  I’m going to got take a shower after publishing this, having to defend someone like that, from a group of people like that… I honestly can’t  tell which one makes me feel slimier to have to deal with or discuss, the convict or the lemmings. I can’t tell which part of the situation I’m more disgusted with. Either way, it’s just pathetic.

I’m going to take a shower immediately after I finish publishing this blog post, I honestly can’t tell which side of this I’m more disgusted by, the potential incompetence of the prosecution, the nature and situation of Ms. Anthony’s crimes and the events leading up to them (murder rap or no, it’s heinous), the spittle of the likes of Nancy Grace, Bill O’Reilly and every other alleged “reporter” out there trying to rake in the highest ratings they can… or the lemmings that make it all possible.

P.S. I’d like to take a minute to thank Geraldo Rivera (and I can’t believe I’m typing this) for being the only honest newsman in the entire freaking country, he defends the courts, and the justice system in this country and his reward is to be shat on and attacked by his own coworkers, men and women he’s worked with for years, as well as the wrath of the lemming storm.

 

Yeah I’m jumping on the band wagon with what appears to be every single other blogger, critic and vid blogger in the western world and half of the rest of it that has internet access and Harry Potter books in their local language. Before I go in to my over all retrospective which could be long or could be short depending on where I go with this let’s start from the obvious spot. A brief look at Harry Potter 7 part 2, the conclusion (goddamn finally) of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Spoiler warning should be obvious but really you’ve probably see in by now, and you should have read the book, so you should already know. Holy shit, FINALLY this is the shit I was craving from my read through of book seven, time to take the gloves off, shake off the training wheels and kick some ass or die trying. FUCK YES, you hear me? Finally we get to see the “adult” wizards of the world mysteriously absent through out the series because of the focus on the kids do some serious magic. It’s fucking worth the wait too. I’m actually feeling a lot better about 7.1 because it means they could make this movie essentially a two hour ass kicking sequence. There’s the usual bout of details you’re only really gonna get if you’ve read through the books but as usual they’re relatively small so just ignore them and enjoy the epicness and go read the books and see if that doesn’t fill in some details for you. The show casing spreads out too the primary support cast from Harry, Ron and Herminone handing out some “action hero moments” including Neville proving that deep down inside under the wuss with the toad he’s quite the bad ass and has potentially seen Braveheart one too many times. (as if that’s actually possible…)  Some poignant death sequences and one of the most loved lines in the series got great emotional responses from me and everyone around me and the special effects managed to keep pace with the sheer scope of what was happening. Fantastic right up to the very end in which we (well everyone who read the book and paid attention to rumors about the movie) learned that the rumors weren’t true and hollywood hadn’t modified the ending. Some people might have prefered a darker ending but you know, fuck them, a fairy tale ending isn’t going to hurt any one and is probably good the one’s mental health now and then.

This leads me to my reaction right after the film and right in to my retrospective, the second the credits hit “I’m freeeeee! At last the curse is ended, freeeeeeee”

Alright, alright it was comedic exaggeration even when I was in the theater but the sense of something big ending at that moment was palpable and for a lot of people in my generation who literally grew up with this series I’ve talked to the sensation was similar. These characters and this story first in book format and then the movies as they started coming out have been with me personally since I was in the fourth grade and passing green inked notes back and forth with my friend and fellow nerd Kristi. Yeah we were lame but we were kids so we were allowed to be lame.

The books followed us though, the characters growing up as we did and the books growing up as we did too, addressing more complex themes, taking on a darker more dramatic tone as time and the story went on. I don’t think a series has gone this long or followed such an arc with a generation before, literally growing with the reader, it’s a first for literature and it’s fascinating to look at the relationship we developed with these characters and this world over the years.

The books had a very strong effect on my reading habits as well, beyond getting me reading even more then I already did (the immortal curse of the nerd it seems) it started me off on the path of all sorts of fantasy literature such as Brian Jacques’s Red Wall series and eventually of course the granddaddy of all fantasy Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, and eventually Sci-Fi because it tends to share self space with Fantasy. So I suppose I can directly blame Harry Potter for the massive, well read nerd I am today. In which case thanks J.K. I owe you one.

I’d much rather be a nerd and read way too much (which I am and do) then be some of the effective illiterates that so frustrated me in high school and if Harry Potter helped keep me from that particular fate and might be able to help others, I know what book I’m getting my kids a copy of when they get to the right reading level.

It’s interesting to think about where my own story arc has gone since the story started back when I got my hands on my first copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone so many years ago, from a student myself for book 1 and to when book 7 I had just sworn in to the DEP for the United States Marine Corps, waiting for orders to ship in the early spring/late winter of 2008, and now with the movies finally complete and Harry’s story completely told I’m 21, out of the Marines and getting ready to go back to college to start on my road towards a teaching career. It’s been a hell of a ride for me and I’m glad I had these books and characters on my book shelves for it.

 

Sometimes music has a weird effect on me it makes me think of things connected or completely different or it makes a weird link to something I’ve been battling and fighting at the moment. Some of it’s almost poetry for how it flows and feels, or philisophical and sometimes it’s just hurt and anger.

Enigmatic Soul – Two Steps from Hell – Epic/Orchestral

Don’t we all have enigmatic souls? Aren’t we all rarities in our own right? Despite the roar and press of the sea of humanity do we not all have our own story to tell? Our own epic to write? Indeed it is because we are all individuals that only the greatest of us are remembered for in a sea of stories a legend must by it’s nature impact stories of many, must span the width and breadth of the human experience and inspire in others great acts of courage, sacrifice and love but even then these tales are no less or more then that of the story that caused them and to smaller audiences they too will be told. So strive forth in your day to make your mark, to write your place in history, for today as on all days the legends of tomorrow are writing their opening paragraphs

Like Toy Soldiers – Eminem – Rap/ Hip Hop

This one seems weird, I’m not a huge rap listener, in fact the appropriate term form my appreciation of rap and hip hop could be described as “minimal” and even then that’s a stretch. I do listen to some Eminem and I misclicked this link from another video. I really enjoyed the song and it really got me thinking on a completely unrelated track mostly from the chorus

Step by step, heart to heart, left right left
We all fall down like toy soldiers
Bit by bit, torn apart, we never win
But the battle wages on for toy soldiers

That really gets me thinking about my time in the Corps and my brothers who are still in, over there now or going over there, for what amounts to games and bullshit by our politicians in power, it doesn’t matter who’s in power republican or democrat they all have their games that they’re playing scrambling for money, power whatever it is it’s getting men and women killed whether the games are the battle itself or tying my brothers hands so they can barely fight the battle in a manner that it can be won.

We have no choice, no recourse, we signed up because we love what we have, to provide a better life for those we defend, and those who depend on us and in the end the politicians just move us around like toy soldiers in a game of Risk. We go willingly because that’s what we signed up to do, don’t ask any questions because we just have to support and back each other up no matter what but now that I’m out I can ask questions, I can ask why and I can ask what we’re really getting in trade for all the men I’ve had to bury, no matter what every funeral I was on the detail for for the Marine Corps or to funerals I attend now as a member of the Marine Corps League part of it kills me inside.

Year or two back in Yuma, we had a funeral on base in the chapel for a young Staff Sergeant. This guy was special in my mind because he was young, in his midthirties and he was out, he’d just finished his time in the Corps after a couple tours in the sand box and a long career, wanted to be with his young family more. As I came to attention at the back of the Chapel and started playing taps his little 5 maybe 6 year old daughter was leaning out from her mother’s lap up at the front and stared at me the whole time with these big blue eyes. The wars didn’t kill this Marine, cancer did, we can be struck down by almost anything at any moment and part of me then wondered, for this man who’s life was so short was the sacrifice of some of those final years and moments something he willingly gave to all of us, truly worth the value we’re getting? Is the young Lance Corporal all of 19 when he got killed in the ‘Stan, is that life worth the benefit? What is the benefit? I used to have a real argument, but I don’t know I’m burnt out and sick of watching weeping mothers and widows, watching family shake from the rifle salute like those rounds are hitting them right in the heart, having to maintain my own composure and bearing as another flag is folded.

Amaranth – Nightwish – Metal/Symphonic Metal

You can draw all sorts of messages from this song, the flower Amaranth itself has long been a symbol of eternal life but I feel Nightwish has used it for a sense of loss and memory in life and in proper response to a song focusing on a symbol of immortal life it makes me think about how temporary life is and how people especially can move through your life and the pain that can cause, especially if you’re the type of person that draws inward instead of reaching out when your hurt.

With change though comes positive and negative, in my own situation I lost something very dear to me, but I gained many new chances and opportunities to live, love and share with new people who enter and share my life with me. It’s come down that the gain in this these new chances far out weighs the pain of the loss from my past and has truly and quickly healed that wound faster then I thought it ever would.

So as some of you might know I’m now an ordained Unitarian/Universalist chaplain* I’ve had some questions in the days since being ordained in an official enough manner that I can actually legally perform weddings, funerals and other crazy crap like that in the majority of states in the union, in fact I’m pleased to report that I’ll be wedding a lovely (though completely insane) couple in not-so-holy matrimony in Vegas this December. Why Vegas? You’d have to ask the couple, I’m just the not-so-humble/sane minister they selected to perform the wedding ceremony.

So what religion does Unitarian make me? I’m ordained through the Universal Life Church which is a Unitarian/Universalist group so there’s no help to be had in that corner, I’m also a Discordian of the Legion of Dynamic Discord and run a cabal made up of myself and a particularly lazy house cat that doesn’t even live in my house. I’m also an agnostic, which I maintain still makes perfect sense in light of all of this.

Everything Chaotically Perhaps (ECP)

So again what’s all that mean? Absolutely nothing depending on how much you want to cut through the bullshit, but I could say the same for any “valid” religion once I cut through the bullshit far enough so let’s back up a few levels and go from there.

Everything: (Unitarian/Universalist) What do you personally believe in? Congratulations you’re correct. What does the person you last talked to believe in? They’re right as well, so is everyone else on the planet no matter how disparate, odd or different from your beliefs their beliefs are, it all worships the same higher power and it’s highly doubtful that aforementioned power really thinks it’s a big deal either way.

Chaotically: (Discordia/Erisian) Order is an illusion of the human mind to try to convince itself that life is of serious import and should be taken as such. In reality things aren’t that serious and nothing is very organized at all, spend some time trying to file paper work ANYWHERE and you’ll realize that while there’s allegedly a system in place to file all of that paperwork generated in business is going on, you’ll quickly that no how dedicatedly maintained it’s completely screwed up in every way except as a pleasant concept to toy with now and then are shove off as a problem for summer interns. There are all sorts of details to go in to on Discordianism and discordian thought but if you’re that interested you can go look it up yourself and draw your own conclusions, just remember if it’s making sense you’re probably not reading actual discordian documents and you shouldn’t believe anything you read any way.

 

 

Perhaps: (Agnostic) I’ve always personally defined agnosticism as the willingness and ability to say “maybe”, or to admit you have no clue/are completely full of it. I have absolutely no clue as to the deep nature and or mysteries of the universe. It has been my observation that no one else really seems to have one either. Short a few guys who had ideas leading in those directions who’ve have been dead for awhile and been replaced with massive religious bureaucracies and power complexes, so simply put why decide?  I’d much rather sit on the porch have another beer and wait for more information then pick an erratic set of data provided to me by others.

More Detailed Fluff:

Marriage – I’ve been married once, almost got married again and I’m uniting a couple in wedded bliss in December so I’d say it’s a safe bet I believe in the institution. I don’t have any restrictions on gender, gender preference, color, etc and so forth. It’s not my business who you want to marry or why.

Divorce- Over used in our country but sometimes you just have to cut your losses

Afterlife- No comment, not enough data

Ghosts and the Paranormal: I’m a solid member and supporter of team “BS” and team Skeptic

Morality: I think right and wrong are pretty well established outside of religious norms and values at this point, personally I try to follow a mixture of two or three warrior honor codes, with a little modern common sense built In to make them more flexible/applicable to modern situations, unfortunately it’s no longer more moral or legal for me to kill a man because he offended me or the lady I happen to be with.

God/Goddess/Gods/etc ad nauseum aka a higher power as a personalized entity: The jury is out on this one and I’m out to lunch, whatever works for you works for you, don’t let anyone tell you differently. I will mention Eris/Discordia from time to time but I wouldn’t say I believe in her as a goddess so to say but rather as a personification for chaos, also on a random note I’m of the opinion Eris looks something like Helena Bonham Carter

Hope that clears everything up,

Chaplain Muddy Clearwater, PhdECP

 

Notes:

*Chaplain is the title I prefer, under unitarian guidelines there’s a ridiculus number of options to pick from including “Jedi”.

Also regarding the Ammo art project which someone emailed me about, it was to put it briefly an epic fail. I’m looking at other possible methods of working with that medium in an artistic manner now.

The 4th of July is awesome, almost as awesome is the fact that playing with small charges of explosives is highly encouraged for everyone to do today, since I’m a fan of big booms and cool effects, instead of telling you about wusstastic black cats and bottle rockets or the slightly cooler M-80 I’m going to provide a recipe for thermite, how to mix it, and what you decide to do with it from there is A. your problem not mine and B. something I’m not liable for in the slightest. So let’s begin.

From Wikipedia:

Thermite is a pyrotechnic composition of a metal powder and a metal oxide, which produces an aluminothermic reaction known as a thermite reaction. It is not explosive, but can create short bursts of extremely high temperatures focused on a very small area for a short period of time.

Translation: this shit gets psychotically hot and makes serious amounts of fire, the military uses thermite to destroy things like artillery pieces and sensitive stuff to prevent it’s capture in the event of over run, the blackhawk that went down during the battle of mogadishu (Blackhawk Down for those missing the obvious) was destroyed by thermite charges to prevent capture of senstive avionics and comm equipment. So what does this mean to you? One you can have some fun with this stuff, two this stuff can ruin your shit in a burning and painful manner so don’t fuck around. Also depending on what and where you do it playing with this shit can be as illegal as hell so make sure you check local laws before doing anything.

Obtaining the Aluminum
1) Go to a machine shop. They will usually give you aluminum powder for sweeping the floor or something.
2) Break open an Etch-A-Sketch, the stuff inside is pure aluminum powder.
3) Go to a paint store, they usually have powdered aluminum that people use to mix into paints to give it pigment.
4) Get a grinder, and something made of aluminum. Good ideas are soda cans, bike frames, and lacrosse sticks. Start grinding the aluminum and collect the sparks in a container.
5) Search eBay, they sell it for pretty cheap.

Obtaining the Iron Oxide (Rust)
1) Take some steel wool then put it in a jar and then cover it wool with water. Use a magnet to make sure the steel wool doesnt float during the reaction process. Next, put in 5 tablespoons of regular bleach into the water and 5 tablespoons of regular vinager. Wait a day or so and then filter the brown paste with a coffee filter. Leave it out to dry overnight.
2) Go to a paint store, they usually have powdered iron oxide that people use to mix into paints to give it pigment.
3) Connect wires to a direct current (9-volt battery), strip both ends and put them into a saltwater solution. Let them sit for five minutes. One of them will start bubbling more than the other. This is the POSITIVE(+) wire. Put a nail tied to the positive wire into the jar. Now put the negative wire in the other end. Now let it sit overnight and in the morning scrape the rust off of the nail & repeat until you have a bunch of rust on the bottom of the glass. Let it dry out, and crush it into a powder.
4) Search eBay, they sell it for pretty cheap.

Mixing the Stuff
Thermite is 8 grams of iron oxide to 3 grams of aluminum. The formula is by weight but because aluminum is very light, it will appear to be approximately a 50-50 mix. Put them together in a container and mix them until it is an even mixture. If you want, mix four parts thermite with one part clay or Play-Doh and knead thoroughly for moldable thermite.

Igniting
Thermite needs a lot of heat to light, that means magnesium. Find some magnesium ribbon, or a sparkler that contains magnesium and put it into a pile of thermite. Light it with a torch, and run! (run fast bitch, very, very fast)

I don’t know about you but this stuff certainly sounds like fun I highly reccomend your goddamn careful though. Chances are this would be a good time with a junker car you want to trash preferably on a concrete pad somewhere  on your property. Shooting at said car and getting legal explosives would also be a good time for said vehicle, if all that’s fun then of course a traditional sledge hammer is always entertaining too.

Warning: I don’t reccomend you doing stupid shit. If your going to play with fire, legal explosives and guns do it in a safe manner. I am not liable for you and whatever the hell happens if you decide to go play with thermite or any of the other stuff I may put up on the site. In short if you know your a moron, stop reading this and go ducktape your hands together.

Also happy birthday to my fajah who decided today was an extremely motivated and patriotic day to be born.

Quote of the post:
“Any red-blooded, flag-fearing American would love the M-320.
Celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small
part of it.”