Apr 15
(Today's post is a guest post by longtime reader Matty P. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines. We look forward to publishing reader posts on future Thursdays.)

I hit him hard against the chest and met resistance. I hit him a second time, harder, directly against his sternum. Adrenaline is speeding my motions. I have to pace myself, find my timing, control my blows. A co-worker joins in my struggle, stabbing at the man's arm. Another person tries to strap him down so he can’t flail at us while we go about our brutal task. I continue to my attack and hear a crack. But I don't relent. I continue hard against his chest. I pause, allowing another co-worker to force something down our victim's throat. We all stand back as we electrocute him.

This goes on in cycles for several minutes. And if we've done everything perfectly, we've saved his life. 

It's called a full arrest. Our patient's heart has stopped or doesn't have the ability to supply the body and brain with the blood they so desperately need. In order to correct the situation we assault the patient's body. It sounds like a back ally beating. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is not a gentle process. Chest compressions require forcing the chest wall in a direction opposite of its normal direction of expansion. More often than not, ribs break. If done improperly a portion of the sternum can sever. Or the xiphoid process can detach and puncture an internal organ. More than that, the compressions have to be timed correctly with precise depth while simultaneously allowing for recoil so the heart can not only pump blood, but fill up with blood as well.

Meanwhile, paramedics must start an intravenous line to push medications that affect the heart. This requires an eighteen gauge or larger bore needle to ensure the vein doesn’t collapse. Medications are given that directly affect the body's normal physiology, forcing the heart to act the way we want, constricting blood vessels, and dilating the smooth muscle of the lungs. We intubate by placing a tube down the throat so we can supply oxygen directly to the lungs. With a bag, we provide positive pressure to the lungs to cause them to expand and fill with oxygen. Finally, we use controlled burst of electricity to affect the heart rhythm. Though it can benefit the normal electrical cascade, each shock infarcts muscle, killing a small portion of the heart.

Saving a life that is nearly gone requires vigorous and violent effort. Without an understanding of what is happening our actions seem barbaric and malicious. Such is the importance of context. Without it actions are purposeless. Violence is incomprehensible. Without context CPR seems like an assault. Similarly, without context, a war on terror is interpreted as a military invasion and occupation, or a suicide bombing is construed to be a man wanting to die while causing others to die. There is context to these actions and events that go missing. It’s important to understand and address the motivations and purposes of such actions in order to prevent further violence.
Apr 01

(Today's guest post is by Matty P. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines. We look forward to publishing reader posts on future Thursdays.

Quick note: The views of guest writers are not necessarily the view of Michael C or Eric C. For our take, please check out the comments below.)

I have chosen to forgo my scheduled post on why Top Gun is one of the top 30 Naval Avionics films of all time (just above Iron Eagle 9: Navy Planes and Stealth with Jamie Fox) to address a growing threat: Nazi Zombies. They are on the rise and threatening to rip away not just our way of life but our basic human rights. Mainly, the right of not having our flesh gnawed on by the soulless undead.

In recent years, the threat of zombie armageddon has been steadily encroaching on our culture. The best and brightest have saturated the media with warnings. In 1968, George Romero was the first to speak against the festering menace with his documentary The Night of the Living Dead, in which seven people in a small town in Pennsylvania attempt to fend off the first documented zombie attack.

Obviously, official government policy is to deny the event ever happened. Bureaucrats denote such occurrences as "fiction" and call those who investigate them “crazy,” yet more and more people have released their tales of zombie survival. From Sam Raimi’s classic Evil Dead series to the newly popular 28 Days Later, awareness of the undead pandemic is spreading. Even written account have reached publication. Max Brooks’ World War Z recounts the testimonials of several of those who were cunning, determined, or plain lucky enough to survive the Zombie apocalypse. 

Still, these tales pale in comparison to the greatest zombie threat to date. I speak of course, of the Nazi Zombie.

This is a game changer. While once we were faced only with creatures who may have once been friends or neighbors, now we face war criminals and men who were likely monsters before they became undead. It’s a development that can cause the novice to zombie combat additional fear and skepticism. Few things are more terrifying than a German SS bearing down after taking three rounds to the chest while chowing down on the remains of PVC Riley (poor bastard), it's dead lifeless eyes looking to you for the next meal that fails to satiate its undead hunger. 

One thing is clear, regardless of what type of zombie horde you face, the only way to ensure survival when they begin to overrun society is to be prepared. Always have a reserve supply of food and a fortified place to hold up until the walking dead pass by. Keep yourself fit so you can out pace the slow moving rotting corpses. Conserve your ammo and practice your aiming. Body shots are useless, take out the brain and you take down the zombie.

But these are just a few tips. Not enough to guarantee you’ll live to help me rebuild society. Mainly, you must do your research. It’s important to watch the accounts of other survivors and their friends who didn’t make it. What did those survivors do right? What did their friends do wrong? And check out the The Zombie Survival Guide or this wiki. Above all, stay alive, humanity needs you.

Mar 18

(Today's post is a guest post by longtime reader Matty P. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines. We look forward to publishing reader posts on future Thursdays.)

It was the biggest comic book event of all time, and it started as a joke. 

According to the writing team and a mini-documentary that accompanied the recent animated release Superman: Doomsday, one of the writers suggested, “Let’s just kill [him].” Of course, no one took this seriously. At least not at first, not until a major decline in sales of Superman titles did the idea move from jest into print, changing the comic industry forever.

In the documentary Look, Up in the Sky: The Amazing Story of Superman, DC Comics editor Mike Carlin recalled the motivation for the killing off an icon, “The world was taking Superman for granted.” And so the writers, with the publisher's blessing, decided to show us all what a world without Superman would be like. 

The decision payed off for DC right away; Superman: Doomsday sold faster than a speeding bullet. Gaining immediate media attention, the incident helped to sell not only the Superman and Justice League comic books, but boosted sales for all of DC's titles. Fans needed to experience the reactions of each DC Comics hero to the death of Superman.

Something else also happened: there were limitless possibilities for comic book writers. The implied message was “Anything goes!” There were no more limitations. If DC could kill off the biggest name in fiction, then nothing was sacred.

The effect would soon be apparent. Soon other heroes became as mortal as the Man of Tomorrow. Hal Jordan, the most popular Green Lantern, would not only meet his own death but embark on a killing spree against his very own Corps and the Guardian who oversaw it. Bane would cripple Batman, prompting a new version updated for the nineties with armor and little moral regard for the welfare of criminals. The comic book universe descended into something much more... real.

Where comics were once a haven for children to dream about adventure and heroic feats, an evolution began where the world in which the heroes and superheroes lived is no long devoid of danger. Where once the Joker was content with kidnapping and practical jokes, he soon became a deranged mass murderer. Spouses and sidekicks could die. Icons were no longer safe. An entirely new universe opened up. 

To be fair, Superman’s death was not the first in the superhero world. In 1973, the Green Goblin killed Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy. Batman’s second incarnation of Robin, Jason Todd, died in 1988 at the behest to fans. One of the original X-men, Jean Grey, has died and returned a dozen times as the Phoenix or Madeline Prior or the Goblin Queen or Marvel Girl and so on. Of course, due to the character’s lack of appeal, or the belief that their roles in their respective worlds were becoming redundant, their deaths could not have the same effect as Superman's.

It was inevitable that the comic book industry would change. As the men and women who read the original more innocent incarnations of these heroes who foiled inept bank robbers or saved cats from trees became knowledgeable adults, the genre was bound to change. Using the classic archetypes they grew up with, these adults took their heroes and pressed them with difficult and complex dilemmas yet to be seen and realized. An attempt to make superheroes identifiable and their adventures more visceral. Batman is now a brooding and mentally scarred billionaire, Superman a lonely alien with no true home, and the Green Lantern a former marine now with the duty to protect the galaxy.

The super hero realm now involves death, rape, and massive universal events. The stories are more real, the heroes more human, but lost is the innocent wonder they initially gave us. The story arcs, now riddled with moral ambiguity also contain violent acts no longer appropriate for the same age range to which comics originally appealed, perhaps reflecting a change in the target audience or perhaps reflecting the evolution of medium in general. While as an adult, I enjoy the new and complex story arcs facing my heroes, I long for simpler times.

Mar 11

(Today's post is a guest post by Sarah Sofia Granborg of Living in Scandinavia. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines. We look forward to publishing reader posts on future Thursdays.

Quick note: The views of guest writers are not necessarily the view of Michael C or Eric C. For our take, please check out the comments below.)

Let’s assume for a moment that man is not just a lump of meat and bones, but a unit of body and mind/spirit. In other words, think of every soldier as a spiritual being. (Depending on whether you're religious or not, you might want to call that "the soul" or perhaps "the psyche".) Whatever the case, the individual/personality of the soldier is not a physical thing that can be touched or even killed. On the battlefield “only” his body can be shot or blown into bits and pieces.

If we take that statement one step further, we realize that whatever experiences a soldier has had before this lifetime will influence his performance in the present time.

This influence usually occurs on an emotional level that we are not aware of--whether it's from this lifetime or before. We're talking about the sub-conscious memories and emotions triggered by certain events or things that remind us of moments gone by.

What is the relevance of this? Well, which kind of soldier would you rather have by your side: one who is fighting a random war because of inexplicable fears, or one who is aware of his background and in control over his responses?

The second one is the guy who signed up for all the right reasons, his motivation solely based on sane and honorable standards, with the intention to do what is for the greatest good.

He is the one you can rely on when the going gets tough!

People who are not aware of this mechanism simply do not survive as well, particularly in action. Like Brandon Friedman in The War I Always Wanted, it's all such a shock for him, and he has no idea how ugly it's going to get. All this makes him feel uneasy, exposed and vulnerable.

If, however, you are aware of the emotional connection, you can get to know yourself so well, that you will be able to predict much better and act accordingly.

The first step is awareness. If you are aware of how you genuinely feel about things, you can ask yourself why, and if you can answer honestly, all the mystery is gone. You're on solid ground. But that requires honesty. The ability to stay on track and remain focused, as well as the courage to be yourself and be true to what you know to be right, no matter what the consequences.

As for past-lives, some techniques to remember them seem to work, whereas others just seem to fall into the category of "dangerous brainwash" (like NLP and hypnosis).

Personally I just went with the flow. I stuck to what I knew was sane and the truth. For example, if you dream the same thing again and again, with heavy emotion and full perceptions, then there is bound to be something there.

And once you've looked at it and seen it the way it really was, then you're free of that influence.

By the way, I'm neither a religious fanatic nor an esoteric freak. I've simply been close to death so many times that I realized that there is more than the body. I realized you can make those emotional connections work for you, rather than against you, by remembering things like past-life-training and other skills.

Feb 18

(Today's post is a guest post by longtime reader Matty P. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines. We look forward to publishing reader posts on future Thursdays.)

Political satire is not new. Comedic dissension for political policy, representatives, or current event is an ever growing medium. Comedy central icons Stephen Colbert and John Stewart make a living mocking politicians and our political system. While some portrayals are intelligent and clever, others are derogatory and borderline militant. Certain attempts at satire push a line that both isn't funny and show a lack respect for our political institutions.

Last week, a family member emailed me this political cartoon.

It seemed harmless at first, the usual satirical affair. Yet after I read it, I wondered, “Is this cartoon advocating the death of people supporting Obama?” I felt, and Eric C agreed, that we had to respond to this growing trend of advocating Violence in our modern political discourse.

It’s a single ember in a seemingly growing fire composed of political hostility and outright hatred. Zazzle.com recently received flak for selling the following bumper sticker.



The bumper sticker reads: “Pray for Obama” but cites “Psalm 109:8” as it's inspiration. The passage reads: "May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership." (NIV) Insulting, but harmless unless you read the verses to follow. Such as "May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow." The prayer for Obama is not to bestow wisdom or guidance, but for his life to fall into desolation and his family line to die off.

This is a departure for the “Don’t blame me, I voted for ___” bumper stickers that seemed so popular on my block in the early 90’s. There is growing hostility toward our elected officials. Facebook shut down a user initiated poll asking “Should Obama be killed?”  Subsequently, the poll and those who answered are now under investigation by the Secret Service. Currently, President Obama has his own wiki page dedicated to attempts on his life. Recently, Bill O'Reilly suggested Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid need to be kidnapped and waterboarded.

The hatred runs deep along party lines. Consider President Bush’s two rather unsuccessful comedy shows on Comedy Central. That’s My Bush!, whose tagline was “A brilliant man deserves a brilliant sitcom,” only lasted eight episodes. The animated Little Bush managed seventeen episodes. Both portrayed the then President as an idiot and child. While insulting, these shows barely compare to the sentiments conveyed in Death of a President(2006) a docu-drama about George W. Bush's assassination or the novel Checkpoint by Nicholas Baker, about a man planning Bush's assassination. 

At some point Americans made a departure from acceptable and viable methods of protest to advocating acts of Violence against those we disagree with. Dislike for policy has evolved into malice for individuals. A combination of free speech, apathy toward actual political action, and misguided hatred fueled by polarized media outlets have led to an age of political passive aggression. Where outrage once led to rallies, protests, or petitions, the response now is angry blogs, disrespectful artwork, and death threats. 

Differing opinions is not a bad thing nor is disliking an elected official for his policies and public acts. Inspiring violence against those who don’t agree with your opinion is. How we respond to those who disagree with us is pinnacle to solving actual problems. Sadly, not everyone can be Stephen Colbert. Most shouldn’t try.

Feb 04

(Today's post is a guest post by longtime reader Matty P. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines. We look forward to publishing reader posts on future Thursdays.)

His name was Rainbow. Probably wasn’t his given name, but that’s how he introduced himself to me and my fraternity brothers. He came to us in the summer of my junior year at UC Santa Barbara, a vagrant in the truest sense. He was on a trek from Santa Barbara to San Francisco with only what he could carry on his back and pack onto his three wheeled bike.

 


Rainbow was a Christian. I mention this because it’s not only integral to the story, but understanding his personality as well. He took the teachings of Christ so seriously he gave up his possessions because of the story of the rich man who would not give up his wealth to follow Christ. Such was his love and resolve.

Rainbow was only passing through Santa Barbara. He'd heard that we were a Christian fraternity and asked to stay with us for a few days, setting up a tent in our back yard and proselytizeing to the locals before he continued on his journey. We agreed because it was a unique opportunity for us as a house to learn from an individual who lived quite strictly to “Christ’s laws,” as he called it.

On his last night with us, Rainbow went to talk with another homeless man that lived around our street, the man we had dubbed, "Legion." We called him Legion (a Biblical reference to possession) because he claimed to be influenced by voices, hated Christianity, and occasionally claimed to be “of the devil.” We’d talked with Rainbow about Legion previously and Rainbow didn’t want to leave Santa Barbara without confronting the disturbed man. 

We heard Legion screaming, but this was not new; he would occasionally scream at cats or the voices only he could hear. We heard something new this time; we could also hear Rainbow pleading with him. Rainbow wished to pray with Legion but Legion would have none of it. We stood on our porch watching the spectacle. It began with a push and escalated to Legion flailing wildly and throwing Rainbow to the ground.
I ran to call the police as two of my fraternity brothers rushed to Rainbow’s aid. While Rainbow was on the ground, he didn’t fight back. He simply curled himself into a ball and screamed as loud as he could: “Jesus loves you!” and “I forgive you!” and “God bless you!”

Legion eventually ran away when he saw people coming to intervene. And Rainbow himself seemed unharmed other than being slightly tenderized. Rainbow refused to file a report with the police. He never tried to talk with Legion again and soon he was gone, continuing on his journey north. 

What remained was something the three of us would always remember. This was an actual demonstration of passivity in literal terms. Rainbow refused to defend himself from attack and even went so far as to bless his enemy. It was something we wondered whether we could and even whether we should do given what we individually believe and the world we live in. The three of us each came to our own conclusions, but the moral question remains.

Can and should a Christian, or any pacifist, love his fellow man so much as to allow him or herself to endure pain or even death?

Jan 28

(On Violence has had a string of sobering posts about the costs of our two ongoing conflicts. Today, one of my NCOs from downrange posts his thoughts on SGT Beachnaw. SSG Will and I served together in Afghanistan where he was my Section Sergeant and often my acting Platoon Sergeant. Although SSG Will and I had an interesting relationship downrange, I respect him highly and his words about SGT Beachnaw are memorable.)

Of all the great men who I know that have fallen in these two wars, this man hit me the hardest. Luke was my driver for about three of my ten months spent with 4th platoon in Afghanistan and during that time I came to know one of the greatest men I will ever know. We got to bond while listening to Credence Clearwater Revival and watching helicopters fly through the Korengal Valley from OP Rock. He was a stud of all studs and unfortunately he knew it too. But, he would also do anything you ever asked of him, even despite his bad back that would sometimes obviously bother him. He was a great paratrooper who earned “Top Gun” at Sniper school after he was brought up the Battalion Recon/Sniper Platoon. I used to joke with him that it was because I told Foote and Grabski and the rest of the Wildcat leadership that they needed him and they wouldn’t be disappointed if they snagged him up. However, in reality it was because he was just so damn good and everyone knew it that he was brought to the Wildcat Platoon, which is the best of the best in the best Battalion. He kicked ass at Sniper school and then attended Pathfinder school where I was deeply honored to pin his well earned Pathfinder badge on his chest as he graduated. Fittingly enough, later that night after celebrating, Luke drove my drunk ass home and even left my car for me.

I truly loved that man, still do, and fortunately I was able to go to his memorial service where I stood with 30+ of his fellow Paratroopers from the Rock Battalion as we helped his wonderful family lay him to rest.

The good die young and the best die first. He was able to go out like a true Paratrooper while living his dream of being a sniper. The world is a much worse place without Lucas Beachnaw on it, but at least his watchful, snipers eye will maintain overwatch on us forever.

Jan 21

(Today's post is by Matty P. If you would like to guest write for us, please check out our guest post guidelines. We look forward to publishing reader posts on future Thursdays.)

As I walked home along a familiar route with the family dog and my father, he paused before a shadow filled alcove and looked into the emptiness. With his hand on my shoulder, he stopped me to grab my attention from my daydreaming. My father, stirred by something familiar, decided to impart a lesson to his son.

He pointed to the inlet.
   
“Always ready,” he told me. “If someone wanted to hurt you, this is the type of place that they might hide to attack.” These were not his exact word mind you, but the sentiment he intended to impart is the very same. Simply, to be mindful. To be safe.
   
Of course, at the time, I didn’t understand. I couldn’t. An imaginative child, I wondered who would ever want to hurt me. My child-like naivety confined my perception of violence to action movies, most of which strangely starred Jean Claude Van Damme. Perhaps a Terminator would be after me. The only reason anyone would want to hurt me, I figured, was that I was the hero of some fantastic adventure story, or the less exciting ally of that hero that he or she must save.  Raised in white suburbia, this was my view of danger.
   
Danger was not, however, foreign to my father. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, danger was always present. Whether it was the terrain you walked that might be laden with land mines or makeshift bamboo traps, a friendly South Vietnamese shop owner who was secretly feeding troop information to the VC, or any bush or tree or elevated position that might hide a lone sniper; my father was taught, and experienced, the value of situational awareness.
   
Soldiers are taught to mind their surroundings. To be watchful. Constantly at the ready. In operations area, especially in our current era, a soldier is consistently in harms way. My father was told and learned through experience, that if an individual is not wearing a US military uniform, they are potentially an enemy. Even women and children were potential combatants. Not that civilians are considered combatants, merely that there were stories of women and children taking up arms to kill American soldiers. With such knowledge and rumors, as well as the constant submersion in an unfamiliar territory, it is understandable that a soldier would be constantly on his guard.
   
When a soldier comes home, certain things do not turn off. At least not right away. Even in peace time. Especially, when that soldier stays in the service. This happened to my father after the war. And here in the US, in peaceful southern California suburbs, situational awareness is viewed as paranoia.
   
There’s no change in my father’s thought process. Simply in one part of the world, how he thinks in regards to what is around him is considered valuable, where as in another part of the world, it is strange. This is because the world itself is different. When a soldier comes home, it’s no longer a war zone. But it’s too difficult to ignore something that was so ingrained into their thought process.
   
Combat veterans come home and often have a difficult time adjusting. The variation of returning to peace is vast. Some miss their comrades. Some cannot sleep unless they have a pistol under their pillow. And some are thought to be paranoid because they cannot shut off what they learned.

For more on this topic, please read "When They ARE Out to Get You."