While many of the bloggers here at FtB such as Greg Laden, Jen McCreight, and Kylie Sturgess are adept at destroying people with the power of logic, today’s interview is with a man who could literally end your life from 1,000 yards away before slipping back into the shadows. In fact, he probably has you under surveillance right now waiting for you to piss him off. It’s Assassin Actual.
How did you get into blogging?
I first got into blogging as a way to keep my family and friends informed about what I was doing in the military. My reports on life as a platoon leader got rave reviews and were shared wildly amongst their places of employment / social networks / etc.. I had a bit of a following until the fateful day when I posted an article titled why I can’t vote Republican. Being from a conservative extended family and most of my former readers being employed by defense contractors, big banks, and other members of “real America, the article was not well received in the slightest, everyone loved hearing stories of me blowing shit up and killing stuff but “god” forbid if I ever talk about what’s going on inside my head instead of what’s going on outside of it.
My inbox was deluged by email refuting my points one by one, to which I responded charge by charge and heavily sourced my material through a wide variety of non-partisan sources. That caused about 99% of my readership to flee, which prompted my move to FTB.
While I still write occasionally about military life, due to the fact that I work in a “secure” building now, everything that happens to me during the work day is unable to be blogged about for legal reasons. These days, I cover news and internet developments that catch my fancy through the lens of a liberal Soldier.
What are you afraid of?
Snakes and Dancing in public while sober. Somehow I don’t mind bullets, rockets, or other such obvious hazards to my health. I am somewhat of an adrenaline junkie. But put a snake in front of me and I will scream bloody murder. Likewise for sober dancing, at least that fear is justified as I am far too gangly and uncoordinated to ever look cool.
Do you have any weird talents?
I learned while surfing that I can scream underwater loud enough to get dolphins to come check it out and also taught my rat terrier to surf on my board with me as a cheap chick magnet.
What is one thing you’re terrible at?
Modesty, my ego is a problem. Also I suck at most things artistic which are not computer aided.
What is a misconception people have about you?
That I hate America, I insist that I love it enough to try to keep it on the straight and narrow rather than pile on praise despite the stupid shit she does in my name. It’s like parenting, I think.
What are you most proud of?
My parents, for never once shoving religion or politics down my throat yet taught me that ethics were required. You can do a lot worse than a doctor and a teacher for your folks.
Who is/was your hero?
Col. David Hackworth, an American hero who served from WWII to Vietnam and was an early proponent of tough leadership and counter-insurgency warfare. He finally committed career suicide by criticizing the Vietnam War once he saw that the military would refuse to learn how to fight an unconventional fight because “we will never need to learn how to do it.”He died a few years back and had been a staunch opponent of the Iraq War because the Soldiers did not have the correct equipment to win, in his opinion.
What prompted you to enter the military? Why’d you pick the MOS you did?
I had been dead set on joining the military since the age of twelve after my dad got an F-18 flight sim for our old PowerMac. Mostly it’s a combination of love of doing something completely different and fear of ending up like so many of my friends after college, highly paid cubical mice.
I “picked” the Armor branch after a Major, who had been an influential instructor during college, pulled me aside after I had just completed filling out my top three branch choices. Which had been at the time, Signal (computers and shit), Military Intelligence, and Aviation (fly the friendly army skies). He pulled me aside and told me that I would make a great armor officer, to which I politely declined. Two months later I was an Armor officer. He had erased my selections and wrote nothing but “armor” in my top three slots. It turned out to be a great career field and I loved my time a scout platoon leader.
Who is your arch nemesis?
One guy, let’s call him GQ who due to his family connections in the military has been a thorn in my side ever since I punched him in the nose a few years ago. The dude is unbelievably incompetent though and was fired from the last leadership position he held after a week and a half. But he still gets full pay and benefits from Johnny Q. Taxpayer because he knows the right people.
Describe a time when you were wrong about something.
During armor school, I learned that I was wrong in my initial, authoritarian style of leadership. I was a terrible micromanager of people, not trusting them to do tasks and thus not affording them the opportunity to learn and improve through experience. Thankfully, Staff Sergeant Snider set me straight through some off duty tutelage and gave me a lesson in not being such an egotistical douchebag. Those lessons and corrections in leadership styles have been invaluable especially since I was so resistant to change in the first place. Sadly, on the internet I am still a complete asshole.
Did you ever believe in god?
Nope. My parents did drag me to a Unitarian church every now and again, but our collective interest waned quickly. More often than not, on Sundays my family would be at the beach either windsurfing or surfing. Before I got into either sport I would spend my time with a local marine biologist who I assisted in his wild experiments on bringing back the mangrove population in southern Florida, where we lived at the time. The most meaningful religious ceremony I have ever attended was when two old hippies carved a likeness of Bart Simpson out of an old surf board before setting it ablaze in sacrifice to some wind god.
What blogs do you read? Which blog will you never miss an entry on ever!
Pretty much everyone on FTB these days, I used to only read Ed and PZ from our merry group of raiders. Now I read as many as I can each day in addition to Extra Punctuation, The Longest War, Belief Blog, Texas Freedom Network, Joe Romm, Security Zone, Measure of Doubt (Julia plz marry me kk thx), Skepchick, to name a few.
On what projects are you presently working?
I am currently writing my first novel, which came about during one of the many “What could a well trained platoon capture or kill?” bullshit fests. One answer was “Mordor.” The book is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Military novel about a platoon of Soldiers who end up in the middle of an alien planet with bunch of guns and worse, a limited supply of tobacco products.
Right now I am in the painful process of editing out logical holes and adding even more dialog. /end book plug.
I can’t wait to read that! What has the transition to FtB been like?
Awesome, thanks again to our webmaster, Matt, and Ed Brayton for making it easy as pie. Plus going wordpress to wordpress was a breeze compared to people who took the pain to help each other move thousands of comments and extra content to our little corner of the internet.
The community of writers at FTB is fantastic, our daily email banter where we joke around and plot world domination in order to bring about the anti-Christ (and other family friendly activities) usually gets me through the worst hours of my night shift before I even know it’s over.
What do you do for fun?
Gaming (I am giddy for Mass Effect 3), reading, traveling, surfing, sailing, wakeboarding, snow skiing, and ping pong.
Talk about atheism in the United States.
I think one of the great things about the internet was that it allowed atheists to find community. Unlike religion, atheists are not geographic in their distribution. We are the thin salt of awesome sprinkled evenly over the bland dishes that are the world’s religions and other terrible metaphors.
Like all moral, ethical, and worldview outlooks, we have adherents that run the gambit from our pit bulls to our own apologists. We are nice people and like all Americans, you can have a beer with an atheist and we won’t even rub it in for face that godlessness is the fastest growing opinion on mythical deities.
One of the biggest misconceptions about Atheists, and one that gets leveled at me all the time, is that the Atheistic worldview is about the worship of self. Which is why, of course, I went for a life of service. To me, atheism is as much about what we know as what we don’t know. But not knowing the complete truth is not reason enough to believe the wacky ravings of whatever cult got promoted through the civilization that you happened to be born into, survived as the victor in cultural evolution, and landed on our door as fully fledged religion.
Some people want their kids to pray for their own safety out here on the battlefield. That is fine, but I bet your ass that you want them led into combat by an Atheist. To me, this reality is all there is. So when one of my guys goes down, that’s it for them. No happy heaven or afterlife awaits. Which motivates me all the more to keep my kids playing in the game of life and to get everyone back safe. I don’t use the afterlife as a way to cop out of responsibly for getting someone killed, God did not want it, we simply fucked up. Life ends, it’s bittersweet, but that is what gives life its flavor.
In the movie of your life, which characters would be indispensable to the story?
The villains, because they make the stories intersecting.
If it turns out you were wrong about the whole non-existence of god thing, what would you say to the almighty when you got there?
Thanks for all the fish? Sooo…..what now, bob?
What is one memory that sticks out to you?
Standing on the top of a mountain chain at noon in middle of the Rockies all by myself. One of the most vivid, awe inspiring views of natural beauty I have beheld, crystal clear vistas, birds of prey soaring, and the smell of snow and pine. We never get to experience that connection with the natural world as much as we should in our sequestered existence. One of the best ways to shake any indoctrinated beliefs is to simple behold as much of the world as you can with your own eyes.
What is the kindest thing a person has ever done for you?
The Iraqi family that I Skyped with before coming here drove four hours to visit the base I was stationed at and brought me a home cooked meal. They remain awesome and optimistic despite their war torn country and personal losses.
What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas, or as our family calls it, winter solstice. If viewed appropriately, it is a great celebration of family and friends, even if you leave Jesus out of it.
What is your favorite swear word?
Fuck, it’s fucking amazing.
What really annoys you?
Naiveté about the real world. Usually I see it in people who have the luck never to have come face to face with Earth’s and her children’s shitty side. Anyone who thinks there will actually be world peace while humans are still around is a fucking moron. Apes have been hitting each other in the heads with rocks for millions of years and it will only stop when there are no more Apes.
And Bigotry in all its forms. Race, Creed, Orientation, Station, Class, or Occupation does not matter. What matters is if a particular individual is a bag-o-douches or not. There are good and bad people in every arbitrary group of humans, and good and bad appear to be in the eye of the beholder from my short experience as a human being.
I at least do my best to admit that I could be wrong about damn near everything.