The Journey Continues

Not so much an apology, but an explanation of my lack of blogging the last few years.  For anyone interested.

As a good friend told me a couple of years ago, if you want to look after others, you have to look after yourself first.  That can be hard for me, as I tend to put others first.  Fact is, I was born allergic to almost everything, and that made my childhood interesting all by itself.

About three years ago, I was told I had cancer, based on a purely visual exam.  Took an exploratory procedure to prove I didn’t, and, yes, I fired the first doc in question and will never go back to a second.  Thankfully, found a very good doc in the process that I will cheerfully use again at need.  This was why I stepped down from Mission: VALOR and turned it over to others to run.

Then, other issues required me to be tested for a variety of nasty auto-immune diseases.  Again, thankfully, those were negative though I do have arthritis and some other inflammation issues.  I feel weather changes more than I realize, as I have a tendency to ignore (and not recognize) pain and related.  I’ve lived with some degree of pain for so long it simply doesn’t register as such.  Some of the issues come from things I’ve done in the past, and as I’ve told some, if I had known how much I would pay for them later, I would have done more so I feel that I have truly earned it.  That said, glad I did them despite the price.

Almost exactly a year ago today, I had what was supposed to be a routine colonoscopy.  Unfortunately, there was bleeding after that sent me to the ER and required an emergency procedure to deal with, during which I had to be given Epi to keep my heart beating.  I was conscious and watching when I started to crash again in recovery.  Remember not being scared, and found it interesting that the 12-lead data did not show what I would have expected for what happened.  Thankfully, my heart did not stop and I did recover.  Sadly, I never have gotten honest answers about comments I overheard in the ER about the original doctor and what was/was not done, and as such will never use the IU network again.

On top of it all, some other things led me to get some help and a diagnosis of non-combat PTS.  The root issue has been addressed, and I will add that my time in Iraq was beneficial for my PTS, which says a lot.  I will say that EMDR works, is intense, and I don’t recommend pushing it and treatment as hard as I pushed mine.  Now dealing with the secondary effects (all the things other than the original cause) and moving forward.  I would remind everyone that Hollyweird and the media do not give an honest or accurate account of PTS, and that the majority of those who have it are not a danger to others (mostly to themselves).

I’m now part of an amazing survivors group.  If you have PTS, depression, etc., please do reach out.  Too many don’t, and feel cut off and alone.  You are not.  Please, take the time and reach out to someone.  It is hard, but worth it and there is no shame in getting help.

So, putting myself and my life back together, and it is an interesting journey.  Sometimes in terms of the Chinese curse, most of the time a good and blessed thing.  My faith has been strengthened, as I see many blessings and examples of when and how things could have been much worse.  My faith in humans and human institutions, well, still not high and as a convert to the Catholic faith not improving given leadership of same, from Pope Che (as a friend calls him) on down.  There are a number of good priests, however, and they do so much for so many.

All any of us can do is try to do our best, to help others in need, and to try to do some good in the world.  The latter takes many forms, and I am more committed than ever to our troops and veterans for they do a lot of good at a high cost to themselves.

There is more to come, though it may be a bit sporadic for a while.

Politics Above All?

Some posts are easier to write than others. The last few weeks have seen some truly horrible people exposed for what they are: sexual predators. Sadly and predictably, that is now devolving. Frankly, I hope the spotlight will stay on the real predators, and that justice be done in court where possible. I particularly hope that stays true for politicians, but I want all the real predators to face justice as it hits home for me in ways I won’t go into at this time.

One bit of the devolving involves a candidate (who I am glad lost for many other reasons) who has a chorus of virtue signaling harpies calling a pedophile though his alleged behavior is not such. If true, wrong; but, it was not and is not pedophilia. The screeching bothers me on several levels, especially as it provides cover to real pedophiles and does harm to the real victims of same.

I’ve reached out in private to more than one such person, explaining things and have gotten positive responses. I’ve also, predictably, gotten responses were “the cause” and politics matter more to the person than the real harm they are causing. While I am tempted towards a very intemperate response, I instead pray for their souls.
Understand, I know people who were victims of real pedophilia. I have some as readers/fans/other. They are trying hard to not just be survivors, but to thrive and become victors despite the horrible things done to them. This is personal for me.

If your politics, of any stripe, matter more to you than the truth, including that you are doing real and demonstrable harm on this issue, then I will pray for your souls – and cut you out of my life for you are a cancer on both the body politic and society as a whole. Neither I, nor real victims of pedophiles, need that in our lives.

I’m a big believer in both positive growth and in redemption. I want those who were victimized to become victors, and will do all I can to support that. I will hope and pray that those who don’t get that may have their eyes opened, and if they do I will welcome them back into my life. Otherwise, no, and I ask you to pray for them as well.

Beirut

My original post is lost for now, but today I ask you to remember the Marines of Beirut. I particularly will remember and honor Bill Stelpflug, Lance Corporal, USMC. You are not forgotten.

Into The Light: Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner has passed. I never had the chance to meet him, though I’m told both he and his daughter Christie both checked me out when I did my photographic internship at Playboy.
 
While there were — of course — tales of parties and such, most of the tales I heard about him concerned photography and his passion for it. Not just passion, but considerable knowledge and appreciation.
 
One tale I was told concerned his directives on what format was used to shoot various sized shots in the magazine. The larger the picture in the magazine, the larger the format with the centerfolds being shot on an 8×10 camera. One of the long-time photographers told me of a time they tested Hugh, as they didn’t think he could tell the difference. Seems he caught on to the test, correctly identified which photo had been shot on what format, and sent back a message basically saying ‘good try, don’t ever do that again or you are fired.’
 
When I was there was a time of transition for the empire. Christie had just taken over, and Hugh had left Chicago for good. The photography was changing, but there was still quite a bit of the “it’s not what you show, but how you don’t show it” philosophy at work. The idea was to be fresh, but elegant, and not to sink to the levels of some other publications. That philosophy still shapes a lot of what I do.
 
And, yes, Hugh not only selected the playmates, at the time I was there he still personally approved every photo that went into magazine. He was also quite serious about the “girl next door” part of things, and anyone moving towards being a playmate was vetted to be sure they met his standards on that.
 
So, to Hugh: Thank You. Your magazine influenced my youth in photo and in word (yes, I did read the articles, sometimes before looking at the photos). Interning at your magazine is still influencing my photography to this day. The chance to meet Pompeo and other photographers, and more importantly to work extensively with David Mecey, David Chan, and Randy Goss (the studio manager) did wonders to improve my talent. Indirectly, you introduced me to some wonderful things and a number of good people. Godspeed.

Into The Light: Jerry Pournelle

NOTE:  I started writing this the day the news broke; but, life has been hectic and frankly this one has been hard to write.  So, trying to finish it now and get it out. 

Since hearing the news of his death, I’ve been thinking about the Jerry Pournelle I knew. That phrasing is very deliberate, because science fiction fandom has long been into drama, and the tall tales of Jerry and others were legend continuously being embellished and embossed. Many in the field have written about him, and he was a giant in the field. Yet, far fewer realize the impact he had on many areas outside the field.

I first met him at a worldcon (LA I think) and while he was harried and hurried, he was gracious. I think I met him again at another con, but it was when we met at a science conference that he took a look at me, and some amazing things (from my perspective) happened.

I suddenly found myself under his wing, loudly threatened with a messy departure from this life (his booming pronouncement of same echoing through the atrium literally caused the lobby and other parts of the Hyatt in Chicago to fall silent), and being introduced to a wide range of figures in science, science fiction, and other fields. In fact, at that science conference, I found myself going to a dinner I could only dream of on government per diem with Jerry, his lovely and gracious wife Roberta, Fred Pohl, and a number of other luminaries.

What struck me at the time was that he and the others treated me and my opinions as worthy of hearing and discussion — and drew me out on them. While I had been doing science reporting and writing for several years at that point, I was still early in my career and was definitely the junior party present. In fact, I rather felt like an E-1 suddenly finding himself at dinner with the Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs and other senior leaders. Yet, Jerry set the tone and I was encouraged by all to join in on the discussions.

It was the first of several such dinners over the years, and I’m glad I finally got the chance to reciprocate many years later. It was more than dinners. I found myself included in a number of discussions, informal meetings, and more. We discussed ways to get humanity into space, deal with a variety of threats here at home, and shoot the bull. Jerry, and Roberta, helped take some rough edges off of me, and provided some life lessons well beyond writing.

Yet, for all that he was a giant in the science fiction field, few realize the crucial role he played in winning the Cold War; in the aerospace industry; in setting the stage for the current commercial space industry; in advancing computing and personal computing; and, with Roberta, in education. Few realize he was a polymath, with degrees covering a wide range of topics while focused on his core. He had significant impact in each of them.

He served in the Korean War with the Army, then obtained several degrees. While doing that, he also worked for Boeing and as part of that worked on Project Thor, a KEV concept that continues to evolve (and offers a much needed alternative to nuclear strikes, IMO). He then went on to do more work in the field, including serving as the founding president of the Pepperdine Research Institute.

When I was working commercial space activities at NASA, I was unsurprised to find that Jerry was there ahead of me in terms of sowing seeds with the investment community. Not just for launch services, but in terms of the wide range of research that can (and does) benefit from research in microgravity — everything from casting metals to plant growth.

His work — and Roberta’s — in education is very much under appreciated in my opinion. Together, they have advanced a number of theories and initiatives that could help with the current state of education.

His work in computing was far more than his column. In fact, he used his column to push a number of things that have helped bring about the current state of the field — and lay groundwork for the future.

The small part I played in the Cold War was an area where Jerry helped provide context by sharing history and his experiences, which pre-dated mine. It shaped some of my thoughts on preparedness — a topic on which we both had considerable interest.

Nor were all the times serious. We laughed, told tales, and generally had a good time even as we discussed and plotted on more serious things.

For all his legend, there was a great deal of thought behind what he said, and even how he said it. We did not always agree; but, when presented with a differing opinion he always listened and there were some interesting bits of discourse between those present. Eye opening and mind opening does not begin to describe it.

If there is a way to influence things from that which awaits, I have little doubt that he, Aleta Jackson, and some others are already deep into discussions and efforts to do just that.

There is so much more I could say, but the fact is he was more than an author. He was an innovator who encouraged innovation and growth in a number of fields. More than that, he encouraged people with a wide range of interests (and beliefs) to think, grow, and do.

Godspeed Jerry. Prayers are said for you and your family, and for all you leave behind. Thank you for all you did for me, and for being you. The world has lost not just a gifted writer, but someone who worked tirelessly to make practical and positive changes to the world.

Libby and Abby: 4-months plus

It has been a bit more than four months since a creature murdered Abigail Williams and Liberty German.  Libby, who was considering a career in law enforcement (forensics), caught a photo of the perp, and then recorded what happened to them.  The two girls stayed together until the end, despite any opportunities for one of them to escape.  Someone, somewhere, knows who this person is, will recoginze the photo or voice.  Share this far and wide, and leave the sack of something no place to hide.  More details on the investigation can be found here.

Remembering My Father

This is my Dad, in a photo shot during his first hitch in the Corps, app. 1932. He does resemble a certain fictional Gunny, doesn’t he?

Today, I remember my father, and I understand him more than he ever wanted me to in some areas. I really want to write his life story, but will probably have to do it as fiction as few would believe it otherwise.

During his first hitch, he was the sole survivor of his squad. They were on the then mandatory cruise after boot camp, and were up in formation on the deck of the Wyoming to witness a 5-inch gunnery demonstration when one of the guns blew. Dad came to with medics checking him, saying that this one was dead too because of the brains in his hair.

I only learned of the full details because years later he met a friend of mine named Jabe. I saw Dad giving him some serious looks at the time, but thought it might be for other reasons. Later, he took me aside and told me how Jabe reminded him of one of his best friends, a big guy who happened to be standing in front of Dad that fateful day on the Wyoming. He was enough bigger that he shielded Dad from the worst.

When WWII started, Dad had a draft-exempt job at Hercules Powder. The supervisor kept getting him temporary exemptions, and Dad told him to make it a permanent one or he was gone. The supervisor did a temporary, and Dad went back into the Corps. He taught marksmanship (San Diego, where his next-door-neighbor was Joan Crawford), until he and others heard their names called as volunteering to reinforce Marines on an island that fell soon after.

In Hawai’i during transit, he saw a notice for a bodyguard/orderly position, and put in for it immediately. The officer who interviewed him was quite taken with Dad’s expert ratings with various weapons (he had shot competitions for the Corps during his first hitch), and then asked him when he had been an orderly. Dad replied that he had been orderly to the Captain of the Wyoming in 193X. Dad had indeed been assigned that duty, for a week, as his light duty after the gun accident. The officer didn’t ask Dad how long, but instead asked him “Are you a goddamm retread?” My Dad, at the time a good Southern Baptist, responded “Yes Sir! I am a goddamm retread Sir!” The officer laughed, and said that he was exactly what they were looking for. He then asked Dad if he would like to meet the officer for whom he would be orderly and bodyguard. Dad said yes, and the man went and knocked on a door, opened it, and said “Admiral Spruance, would you like to meet your new orderly?”

Dad had a couple of regular stories about WWII, funny ones. About sleeping on top of the Hiroshima bomb without knowing what it was. It took decades, but as I got older he let a few things slip. I know he went ashore more than once, and I suspect he helped bury his fellow Marines. I suspect strongly that he saw some combat, though he never talked about it as such. Just some comments that in retrospect revealed some first-hand knowledge. I suspect he saw first hand when Japanese families and civilians jumped (or were driven) over a cliff when the Marines were taking one of the last islands. He talked about the efforts he and his brother John (B-29 pilot) to write home daily after the news of the Indianapolis sinking came out. Each letter talked about ‘had dinner with Cliff/John (depending on who was writing), ‘had lunch with Cliff/John,’ and such as that to let the family know he was alive, as last they knew Dad was on the Indianapolis with the Admiral. The efforts they undertook to avoid the censors but get the word that Dad was alive (since they could not say it directly) were delightful.

You always tell the funny ones. Mine is of the Brad being attacked by the Iraqi grandmother with a broom, furious that the babies had been awakened. Dad’s mostly revolved around sleeping on the bomb, and the Admiral laughing at the look on Dad’s face when he found out what he had been sleeping on. You always tell the funny ones.

This Fathers Day, I remember my Dad. I now understand his vehemence when he told the 10-year-old me that he hoped I would NEVER qualify to join the American Legion. I understand a lot of what he didn’t say, what he shared that I didn’t understand, and why he never talked about some of it. I really do need to write his story one day, but the above is just the tip of the iceberg.

I miss you Dad. And I understand, more than you ever wanted me to.

With Tears In My Eyes

Please, Step Back and Think

This morning, I want to ask everyone on every “side” of the political spectrum, to take a step back. Yes, the majority of my remarks are aimed at the progressive side of things, as they are the ones initiating most, if not all, of the violence. But, it also applies to everyone as far too many seem intent on throwing thermite on the fire.

In more than fifty years of life, I have never seen this Republic so divided, and the concept of discourse so thoroughly discarded. I have never seen a level of hatred with open calls of violence by so many in all those decades.

With tears in my eyes, I beg you: please step back. Think.

Look in the mirror, and take an honest look at yourself. Are you condoning violence against those who hold a different opinion on politics or any subject? Do you say the “Nazis” (socialists by the way, look at the name) deserve to be punched or worse? Do you pass off violent assault and murder with any form of ‘they had it coming/deserve it’ because they hold a different belief? Do you hate those who disagree with you or hold a different opinion? Do you support violent ‘resistance’ to the results of the election, or to those of a different viewpoint by armed masked brown shirts? Do you eagerly anticipate and embrace anything by anonymous sources that validate your beliefs? Do you take any news that validates your position without question, without doing any digging or critical thought?

If so, you are the reason the Republic is, if not dead, in a coma. You are the reason for the violence, and the lack of civility and discourse. Own it.

Demonizing your opponents is as old as time itself. In terms of the American body politic, the idea of casting non-progressive (conservative, libertarian, Republican, etc.) as Nazis goes back to the early part of the last century (see lidblog.com/republicans-less-human for some interesting history on this)but has reached epic levels in the last decade. It’s easy to get people to hate that and those who are demonized. Hate removes rational thought, and what truly scares me about the situation today is the rampant unthinking uncritical hate that has infected far too much of the body politic. It is not enough to disagree: one must destroy the ‘enemy’ and all they hold dear. Take a look at the Social Justice Bully playbook, and see how often it has played out in the last 10-15 years.

While there is hatred on all sides, a good case can be built that much of it is institutionalized on the progressive side of the spectrum. Use a good metasearch engine (I like Dogpile) and do some searches on calls for political violence; actual cases of political violence; and, false claims of violence/hate crimes. The unfiltered results may shock you.

Take a look at the cases of actual violence against conservatives/libertarians/Republicans/etc. A good listing of them is at dailycaller.com/2017/06/16/this-list-of-attacks-against-conservatives-is-mind-blowing Don’t like the source? Do some more meta searches as there is a good bit out there for those who truly are willing to think and be responsible informed citizens.

Yes, there were some nutcases who said nasty and vile things about Obama. However, I ask you to show me a single case where major members of the political/entertainment class (and I include news media in the latter) openly called for violence against him and/or the progressive cause. There was a rodeo clown who wore a mask, and was subjected to the required three minutes of hate and a concerted effort to destroy him and his life…

Today, you openly have professors, journalists, and even political leaders calling for open violence and armed resistance to the duly elected President and those who agree — even slightly — with him. Don’t believe me? Again, metasearch is your friend if you truly are interested in being an informed Citizen. Frankly, it is my opinion that much of it is a deliberate and cynical effort aimed at political power and destabilizing (killing) the Republic. May I commend to you that your reading include www.powerline.blog//archives/2017/06/the-empire-strikes-back-4 as part of your reading.

I would also commend to you some wise words from Brad Torgeren, on the subject of hate. Please check out his very wise words at www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/1967883229904567

To those on the conservative/libertarian/etc. side of the spectrum who are egging it on and eagerly pushing for violence in return: you are just as bad.

There is much more I could say and list. However, far too many minds are closed, so I will simply say this:

Your fantasy is just that, a fantasy. The blood and pain will not be for others, but for you. Don’t believe me? Just look back at the French Revolution. Then look at every other ‘revolution’ that pitted socialism (in all forms) against everything else.

It did not work out well in 1914. It did not work out well in 1933. It did not work out well in 1789. It will NOT work out well this time.

Brad also has some more wise words at www.facebook.com/brad.torgersen/posts/1970456016313955.

To everyone on all ‘sides’ of the political spectrum, I beg you with tears in my eyes, to stop and think. If you continue, you are responsible for all that happens and are just as guilty of the assaults, murders, etc. that WILL come if things continue this way. As yourself if you are willing to personally pull the trigger, swing the club, etc. If not, you need to step way the fuck back and try to pull in those who continue the calls. If you are, then look in the mirror and realize that you have met the enemy and they are you.

It will not go well, and it will not end the way you think it will.

Few today realize the aberration that was the founding of this Republic, which enshrines the peaceful exchange of power; of the checks and balances (sadly damaged if not destroyed) on that power; of the idea of one set of laws for all (sadly gone). It all hinged on the concept of an informed electorate and the marketplace of ideas. Where is that open and honest marketplace now?

Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said “A republic, if you can keep it.” Can you? Will you?