White Cis-Gendered Able-Bodied Male

While listening to my back-catalog of podcasts today I heard this wonderful exchange from Dave Rubin (of the Rubin Report) and Don Watkins (of the Ayn Rand Institute)

Rubin: Now you realize that a certain amount of them that are watching this right now are going, ‘Wait a minute, he’s a white, cis-gendered, able-bodied male…can’t listen to anything that he says’

Watkins: You know, I don’t feel guilty for anything that is not the result of my choice. I don’t think that a person should be judged on anything that is not the product of his choice, certainly not a moral judgement. And I certainly don’t think that my right to speak, to have ideas, and to argue is contingent upon being born in a so-called…you know…victimized category. I think that is a complete corruption and anybody who apologizes for it or tries to, you know, prove that they’re not racist or….you know…uh, like….what am I supposed to do? In order to speak should I basically throw out my money, like have my skin died, or chop off a limb? Like that is…

Rubin: A certain amount of people would say yes to that.

Watkins: Yeah, and that reveals how insane and bankrupt their view is. That is not an argument. It is not a real concern with helping the oppressed…to try to dismiss the ideas of people because of their skin color or because of their sex. That is an attempt to silence debate because you cannot win a real debate.

Food for thought, folks.

Group Guilt and Identity Politics

White privilege, white guilt, white culture shaming…

220px-kolyma_road00All of these are intrinsically the same kind of Marxist / Leninist / Stalinist / Maoist / National Socialist group identity guilt that led to pogroms and murder in Germany, Russia, China, Cambodia, and every other country that used them as a social justice weapon to raise one group up and set up some sort of equity or supremacy for another group. The Regressive Left has to realize eventually that the politics of social justice lend themselves naturally to hate.

What social justice will there be when one group kills another to remove their advantage so their own protected group may succeed?

Don’t say it can’t happen here. That’s what you used to say before Donald Trump was elected President.

Social Justice group identity guilt is a disease of the Regressive Left and needs to end.

On Gender as a Social Construct

As I get older I am constantly assailed by the reminder that change is inevitable, and I am also reminded of the curmudgeons who exist in every older generation to tell the younger generation that something they are doing is going to cause irreparable harm to the next generation – so they better just stop it.

Part of that internal reminder tells me that many who might read this will think I am that curmudgeon. I think it is time that I put that hat on and speak.

I’m willing to cede the ground that gender is a social construct and accept that there are people who are gender conforming heteronormative males and females. I’m willing to accept that there are gender non-conforming males and females. I’m willing to accept that there are men who feel like they should have been born women, and women who should have been born men. I’m fully willing to call bullshit on roles being assigned to men and women simply because they have a dick swinging between their legs, or because of the absence of one.

I’ve always been fully of the belief that men and women should have equality of opportunity. I even support women in combat roles as long as they can meet the same physical qualification standards as men. Some say that’s a bar too high, but I’ve seen women outperform men in many areas, so it might reduce the number of women going into these roles, but it won’t keep out the truly qualified.

I am not willing to accept the ludicrous notion that we as human beings need to consider the existence of 70+ genders. Nor am I willing to accept that your offense when I do not address you by the gender you prefer. I will address people by the pronoun assigned to the biological sex to which I perceive them to belong. That means if you look like a man, dude, bro, what-have-ya, that makes me think you’re hiding a penis in your trousers, I’m going to use a gender-binary male pronoun to refer to you. Conversely, that means if you look in any way like you’re sporting a pair of X’s in your chromosomes, have female parts exposed, or otherwise look traditionally female, I’m going to use a gender-binary female pronoun to refer to you as well.

Contrary to what you’re thinking, this does not make me a bigot. This doesn’t make me in any way a non-supporter of LGBT rights, or any other such nonsense you might spew in my direction about my intolerance.

Language is important. Words….are….important. The manipulation of the language to get Homo sapiens in the Western world to call people by their gender of preference is a form of doublespeak and mind control. Control what we say and how we say it and eventually you can control what we think, and how we think about it.

And while we worry about offending the sensibilities of someone who is so confused about what is truly important in the world that they concern themselves with whether we are calling them butch, xe, hir, (f)aer, etc., there are real moral and ethical issues that need attention. There are problems in the world that need leadership.

Imagine if all the gender studies majors of the world took the time to instead focus on trying to liberate the minds of societies where gays are thrown from rooftops as a punishment for being gay; or if they spent their time in a purposeful struggle against female genital mutilation; or fought against the wrongs of societies which made it policy to deprive girls of any kind of education; forced women and girls to wear bags on their heads, and so on, how much better the world would be.

Instead, because there will be no dangerous blow-back for focusing on a gender that is so narrowly targeted to GENDER ROLES as to make argument against the use of traditional pronouns ridiculous, they focus on a fight which shows only that they are proud of their own virtue signaling, and too frightened of the real world to take a stand for something that might truly advance the human condition.

President Carnival Barker

You’re going to be paying attention to the media talking about Trump’s presser on crowd sizes and his comments at the CIA for the next several days. While you’re watching this – because the media wants you to be as convinced of his stupidity as they are – Trump is going to be moving forward with his agenda and no one will be paying attention.

Think about it.

By Request….

I won’t say by popular demand, because only a few of my friends have worked to persuade me to return to blogging. So, since I have a back catalog of my posts from 2003 through 2009 I will begin re-posting those a few at a time, with some updates based on the evolution of my opinions, and I’ve already started with some draft articles.

There was a time when I was a very prolific blogger. Don’t expect a return to those days. I may return in some way to photoblogging, and will likely return to milblogging to a degree, but I will not be posting in a shoot from the hip way. I’ll keep using Facebook for that.

Bogen Manfrotto 3021b Pro Tripod

For the last three years I have been learning the very basics of photography, as can no doubt be seen in many of the shots I have displayed here in days past. I‘ve taken countless sunset shots that could have been dramatically improved by simple compositional changes. Many “landscape” shots could have been much better if I’d known some pretty basic rules concerning the so-called golden hours at dawn and dusk.

However, my main sticking points have been a basic lack of understanding of some of the most important, yet easily overlooked, accessories and their applications.

The most important accessory I have overlooked is the tripod – until recently.

I recently purchased two things which altered my perceptions about shooting. The first, purchased about 6 months ago, was The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby. The second, bought after reading about the importance of a tripod (in the book), and after reading some recommendations on the Canon Digital Photography Forums, was a Bogen/Manfrotto 3021BPRO tripod with a 488RC2 Ball Head.

These two things have virtually revolutionized the way I have been shooting. Especially at night. Yes, I‘ve known that I needed a tripod, and yes, I’ve used a tripod before. But what I was missing before and has since been corrected, was the tantamount importance of having and using a tripod, even in situations in which I thought I  didn‘t need one. In fact, there are now almost no situations in which I don’t use a tripod.

Previous tripods had always been cheapos. Tripods that invariably lacked either stability or simply weren‘t up to the task of supporting my camera’s weight. What you trade in cost you lose in either weight or stability, and I was buying tripods which were both lightweight and cheap. Light and cheap just isn‘t a working combination for tripods.

You can have it light, you can have it cheap, and you can have it stable, but you can only pick two of those. Light and cheap = unstable. Light and stable = expensive. Stable and cheap = heavy.

As an owner of the 3021, I can be assured that my pictures are the images I intended while also knowing that I have a platform that is stable enough to trust with my camera operating in a totally hands-off manner. Previous tripods have always left me thinking that I would soon see my camera crashing to the ground if I pulled my hands too far from a “safe” distance. Now I can shoot an exposure that is several minutes long and walk away to have a conversation with a passerby.

And believe me, on a military base in the middle of Iraq, there are plenty of curious passers-by who wonder why you are out taking pictures with such a “complicated” setup. 

Al Faw Palace At Night

Al Faw Palace at Night
Al Faw Palace at Night

As the story goes, this is the palace that Saddam built following his glorious victory over Iran after the Iran-Iraq War – another victory that never happened, but hey, it makes a pretty picture.

I live about a half mile from this palace on Camp Victory North.

UPDATE: I’ve wondered since the first time I heard the stories, in 2003 about the truth behind this palace. Reader Shawn advises that this palace is actually called Al Faw Palace.

Since my arrival on this palace I’ve heard too many names for this place to be certain what it is named.

  • Birthday Palace
  • Republican Palace
  • Victory over Iran Palace
  • Presidential Republican Guard Palace
    And so on……

UPDATE: 2018-09-17: Definitely Al Faw Palace – named in honor of the victory over Iran at Al Faw Penninsula during the Iran-Iraq war. Changed the title of the post too.

A Silent Stalker

In June of 2002 my mother turned 50. My step-father called me two months before the event and asked me if I was planning to come up to see her for her birthday. I informed him that I had already put in for the vacation time, and I would indeed be in Wisconsin to see her turn 50. Gary asked me if I could keep the fact that I was coming a secret and show up at the party the night of her birthday, not letting her know that I was in town.

Always one wanting to surprise someone, I decided to play along and didn’t tell my mom that I was going up for her birthday.

As time for the party drew near, my mom started getting sick. Three days before the party her doctors told her the cause – her doctors diagnosed her with Non-small Cell Lung Cancer.

After six months of chemo-therapy and radiation she was cancer-free. She’d beaten the reaper.

Last week her doctors again diagnosed her with cancer. This time the tumor is between her lung, the tip of her collarbone, and her larynx.

She starts radiation therapy on Thursday.

UPDATE: 2018-09-17 – As I re-post the original content of Dave’s Not Here… I get to re-read it all. I have one thing to add to this post: No one beats the reaper. No one.

A Wealth of Experience

Working at this job offers me a wealth of experience. Since the day I started working here I can honestly admit that I have performed a multitude of tasks that I thought I’d never do only a few months ago.

Today, I broadened my horizons by performing a rebuild on a Compaq N610c laptop using parts cannibalized from two others. Three months ago I was deathly afraid of even loosening the screws on a laptop. Today I’m more concerned about robbing the broken to fix the not-so-broken, since parts replacement is a sensitive issue here.

My old job was in Long Distance Network Translations and I sat at a desk in a climate controlled office. In the past two months I have learned to run cable outdoors, in the rain, while crawling under a building through the mud. I have learned to put up 2 2.4 meter satellite dishes and one 3.8 meter dish. My skill-set is regularly broadened with the programming of various types of Cisco Switches and Routers.

I have learned how to install, from the ground up, a Nortel Meridian Norstar PBX (no big feat that, but I’d never done it before). I have learned to program said PBX – again, no big thing.

I have become a pirate of the highest quality, locating and acquiring parts and tools from the unlikeliest of places. In fact, today I received an Operation Iraqi Freedom cap with a Jolly Roger affixed to the front panel for my skills in piracy in support of the team.

I’m learning the fine art of building a network from the ground up, not having had any previous experience I am learning, the hard way, all the things that I need to make a proper job of a start-up network.

When I leave here in a year or three, I can’t imagine what my résumé will look like.