The 8,000 Mile Sniper Shot

Sniping The 8,000 Mile Sniper Shot

tl;dr seeking help for PTSD is not weakness,


When you leave the military, your mind is usually filled with a range of emotions. There’s joy over your newfound freedom, sadness at leaving brothers behind, and anxiety over the unknown. In June 2010, when I picked up my discharge papers from the Marine Corps, I lived through it and felt them all.Now two years later, I am close to graduation from The University of Tampa, run a successful military satire website, and am lucky to continue working with military veterans. It wasn’t an easy road, and many times I felt alone and helpless.
For a heartbreaking and rising number of veterans, those emotions can lead to a devastating end: suicide.

Navy Cross recipient and former Corporal Jeremiah Workman, who dealt with his own emotional trauma and thoughts of suicide, refers to it as an enemy making an 8000-mile sniper shot.

That’s what happened with Seth Smith, from Kansas City, Missouri. I first met Seth on a training exercise in Okinawa, Japan with 3rd Marine Division. As one of a small handful of infantry Marines in a unit full of different specialties, it was a lonesome time for me. (more…)

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Blame yourself for success, god for failure

2136953861 1b91ecbba2 450x450 Blame yourself for success, god for failure

“Look, either we all screwed up, or god did it. I vote B.” (img by Scott Maxwell)

Chances are, you have some pretty horrible double-standard habits of thought. When something goes wrong at work, you instinctively blame someone on your team, but when your team does something great, you want to take all the credit. Don’t worry, it’s common.

But what happens when you don’t have a team, and there’s no one around to blame? Chances are, you still blame something outside yourself, or at least try to understand the failure or problem in the context of some sentient actor outside yourself. Everyone’s got a scapegoat: god, karma, the government, the system, some group of other people, the computer (and the invisible group that programmed it), women, men, etc. We blame shit that’s beyond our control, and probably beyond anyone else’s control, in order to shift responsibility for our failures.

Hell, I do this at work. Customer has trouble with our (admittedly byzantine) computer registration system and I can’t fix it? I blame “the designers” of the software and apologize profusely, half hoping that the customer doesn’t ask why we even use the software.

But don’t take my word for it, check out this excerpt from Mark Hutson’s book The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking:

[Researchers] presented subjects who believed in a higher power with one of four stories. In all four versions, a family is picnicking in a valley when the water level rises. In half the stories, lunch is ruined by the flood, and in the other half lunch is really ruined because everyone drowns. Also, in half the stories a dam worker is said to have caused the flood, and in half of them the cause of the flood is unknown. Subjects then rated how much the story’s outcome was part of God’s plan. God drew much more blame when people died and no one was clearly responsible than in the other three scenarios. The tragedy needed an explanation, and human intervention wasn’t an option. (more…)

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Congress To Lift Propaganda Ban

Enlist Today 450x321 Congress To Lift Propaganda Ban

HOTH: NEVER FORGET. (img by Dustin92)

Propaganda that was supposed to target foreigners could now be aimed at Americans, reversing a longstanding policy. ”Disconcerting and dangerous,” says Shank @BuzzFeed:

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns. (more…)

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Religious people are less motivated by compassion than non-believers

Buddy Christ by phreezer 450x342 Religious people are less motivated by compassion than non believers

"Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on Thee And I'll forgive Thy great big one on me," Robert Frost (img by phreezer)

“Love thy neighbor” is preached from many a pulpit. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people, @Medical Xpress:

In three experiments, social scientists found that compassion consistently drove less religious people to be more generous. For highly religious people, however, compassion was largely unrelated to how generous they were, according to the findings which are published in the July issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

The results challenge a widespread assumption that acts of generosity and charity are largely driven by feelings of empathy and compassion, researchers said. In the study, the link between compassion and generosity was found to be stronger for those who identified as being non-religious or less religious.

“Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not,” said UC Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer, a co-author of the study. “The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns.” (more…)

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Reason is a press secretary, not a judge

1797779207 66b4a15786 450x337 Reason is a press secretary, not a judge

Is it wrong to take a dump in these? (img by Chris Applegate)

You probably believe that you’re a primarily rational being, i.e. you weigh new ideas and impressions and respond to them based on logic and reasoned thought. But that’s probably not true, and there are a bunch of studies that show that the opposite is true: you use your rational faculties to justify or prove your gut reactions and emotional responses to new input.

Right now you’re dismissing that last statement because you’re perfectly rational and why should you give a fuck what some guy on a blog with a gasmask logo says. And you’d be right. And so would I.

I still think you should read Jonathan Haidt’s The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. But don’t read it because I said so. Read it because you’re fascinated by this summary over at NYT, which includes gems like this:

We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided. The funniest and most painful illustrations are Haidt’s transcripts of interviews about bizarre scenarios. Is it wrong to have sex with a dead chicken? How about with your sister? Is it O.K. to defecate in a urinal? If your dog dies, why not eat it? Under interrogation, most subjects in psychology experiments agree these things are wrong. But none can explain why.

The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others.

Even if you don’t read the book, keep an eyeball on how you react to stuff, especially now that we’re sprinting headlong into election season in the US. Remember that people who disagree with you aren’t always brain-damaged dupes (sometimes they are, just not always), and they may disagree with you because they value different things (equality over liberty, etc.). By all means continue to disagree. But know why you’re disagreeing and know that you’re just as prone to snap judgments as they are. You may end up respecting the people around you a little more, and I think that’s always a win.

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Logic – an animated primer

catwatermelon 450x436 Logic   an animated primer

I think this is cool and informative. You trust my opinion. Therefore, you should watch these great videos illustrating basics of logical thinking. Then you should show them to everyone you know.

What? You don’t trust my opinion? See that cat up there? Your argument is invalid.

It’s like Zero Punctuation but with more punctuation and about important stuff. Watch the rest after the jump. (more…)

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