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Big Boys Don’t Cry

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Lebron James Crying

No More Gutterballs, Grandpa

When I was 9 or 10, my maternal grandma and his second wife came to visit us in Houston from Missouri. They took us bowling two days in a row. That was one of their favorite activities. We’d go to their local bowling alley whenever we’d to see them. There wasn’t much else in the Ozarks to keep us occupied. Often I’d get frustrated and cry because I wasn’t performing well. I was only a child who didn’t know better. All I wanted was to make strikes and spares. The frequent gutterballs took their toll on my pride. Grandpa would always scold me for my outbursts. Crying was forbidden under his watch. I remember the last time like yesterday. I was about to have a meltdown when I noticed Grandpa staring at me and shaking his finger.

Avenge Me, Boys

The point I’m making is we live in a society where it’s not acceptable for boys or men to express their emotions in any way, shape, or form. A prime example comes from the 1984 classic Red Dawn. That movie is about a backdoor Soviet invasion of the United States. A group of teenage rebels led by Patrick Swayze called The Wolverines after their school mascot fight back. Swayze and his younger brother played by Charlie Sheen encounter their POW father portrayed by Harry Dean Stanton opposite a chain-linked fence. They know he’s about to die. Stanton tells his sons he was tough on them for a reason and orders them not to cry. The character implies they’ve gone soft for exhibiting emotions. One of the last things he says before they leave is, “Boys, avenge me!” In other words, the only things they were allowed to feel were anger and rage. Remorse and sorrow were verboten. I’m not reviled by the disposition of Stanton or my granddad. I chalk it up as them being relics of their time from a different generation where men were expected to be Alpha males and toxic masculinity was unheard of.

Nice Guys Pay; Bad Boys Lay

Much of this sentiment surrounded me every day I was in military school and the Coast Guard. I’m not a big fan of third and fourth wave feminists. Some of their ideas I find a bit extreme, but I agree with them upon the fact that toxic masculinity must be addressed head on. It’s detrimental in the long run. This I surmise is why there’s more male sociopaths and hardened criminals than female ones. There’s too much of it in professional sports as well in my humble opinion. America has become a society where the dating culture has told us nice guys who show compassion are weak while bad boys who display aggression are strong, dominant, and what women want. Sensitivity and social awkwardness equal creepiness whereas cockiness and brash behavior equate to confidence the latter of which makes the ladies drool and cream. Too often I see this has seeped its way into the dating culture. Everywhere I look without fail, dating gurus male and female say nice guys finish last while bad boys win the girls. By the time the girls catch on and realize bad boys are harmful, it’s too late. We’re told they’ve hit the wall and are no longer marketable. I’ve grown so cynical; I don’t know what to believe anymore.

Suck it Up, Buttercup

The media makes it seem like we can control our emotions 24/7 like Vulcans. The human race hasn’t evolved to that point. It was no secret I was suffering from anxiety and depression in the military. I didn’t get sentimental, but it made me bitter and harbor loads of resentment. I stated in my last note why I hate everything about the East Coast of the United States and the military. Doing everything the exact opposite of how I was trained in the services like wearing the complimentary colors, starting off with the other foot, hanging and folding my clothes the other direction, growing facial hair, and living in other countries the GOP demonizes were my coping mechanism from the trauma. I’m not allowed to discuss my feelings because nobody wants to hear it. Everyone thinks you can snap out of depression which is anything but true. To forgive and forget is easier said than done. The first part I might be attainable, but I can’t envision myself ever doing the latter. Once trust is lost, it’s almost impossible to gain back.

Explore Your Sentiments

One stereotype about Asperger’s especially males is that we don’t feel empathy or exhibit emotions. This is one of the primary reasons we’re mistaken for sociopaths. We’re not allowed to show it because that’s what the media has told us. All I’m allowed to exude is anger or joy not fear, guilt, or sadness. Last year, I remember watching Interstellar on Netflix. It’s about a farmer turned astronaut played by Matthew McConaughey who travels into space to find a planet to terraform as Earth becomes uninhabitable. Anne Hathaway plays his co-pilot and one of three scientists. Before the mission, McConaughey achieves the insurmountable task of saying goodbye to his children. He mentions to his daughter they may be the same age when he returns. The viewer disregards this in the beginning, but then it starts to catch on. There’s a scene where McConaughey retrieves his daughter’s messages on the intercom. Later you see she’s grown up. His adult daughter, played by Jessica Chastain, gives him the rundown over what happened over the years. That scene broke me in two. I couldn’t help myself because it hit too close to home. It made me reflect on my own life.

Family is All in the End

One of my biggest regrets is not spending more time with my niece and nephew between the time I left Thailand and went home before my next assignment in Vietnam in spring 2016. I’d been gone and hadn’t seen my family in person for two years while watching Interstellar. The background music compounded the situation. Luckily, it was in the privacy of my own home. I would’ve been embarrassed had I let it out in public. I went into the bathroom and took a shower to cleanse myself afterwards. I could count on one hand the time number of times I conversed with my family via Skype and Facebook not including when we spent Christmas together online. My niece, who was in elementary school last time I’d seen her, was now the same age as my middle school students. It still bothered me the next day at work, and my coworkers asked if I was okay. I was going to travel to Australia with a friend during the summer of 2018, but I cancelled those plans. Not only was I low on funds, I feared I would never to get to see my family again. I can always venture to Australia or wherever later on, but only get to see the kids grow up once.

Beard Away the Sorrow, Hair’s a Tissue

I don’t know if anyone else notices, but you almost never see a man with a beard or facial hair get upset and break down on screen. It’s as if Hollywood and society have told us it’s even less forgivable if a bearded man exhibits emotion. They’ve placed a higher standard on him than his hairless counterpart. He’s supposed to be strong and dominant and show zero weakness. The only time he may get a free pass is if someone in his immediate family dies. I mentioned before I never grew a beard until after I moved abroad, but luckily I was clean-shaven when I watched Interstellar. If you think long and hard enough, when was the last time you ever saw a man cry with a beard? I’ll bet the readers can only count that on one hand if not one finger. This is why I feel it’s imperative that Hollywood activists address this issue and stop dispensing the message that it’s not okay for grown men or boys to express their emotions the same way women and girls do. Ridding society of the stigma towards mental health, therapy, and the need for antidepressants and anxiety pills would be nice, moreover. If Donald Trump isn’t an expert on politics or economics, I’d say it’s a safe bet neither is Tom Cruise on behalf of psychotherapy.

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When Opposites Attract

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Redder is Better than Ever

Not long ago, a women at the l corner store asked me in Spanish if I like the color red. The shorts, sneakers, and hooded sweatshirts I I was a donning were all red. There are myriad reasons I prefer it one of which I gave her. My Spanish isn’t that great so I used Google Translate on my smartphone. I could have told her I like red because it’s a conspicuous color that enhances one’s appeal towards the opposite sex, but I opted not to. I may have elucidated I’m tired of being ignored feeling invisible, and red is the most likely color to make people notice you. I didn’t do that, nor did I expound how it makes me feel bold and confident. The answer I gave is because I hate the military, and red is the exact opposite color of green which is what the Army uses. I elaborated how I like orange because it’s the antithesis of blue by which the Navy and Coast Guard are represented.

Their Promises are Lies

This became my modus operandi after being diagosed with PTSD and having my claim for such shot down by the VA in the spring of 2015. My representative whose name I won’t mention gave me false hope the same way the Coast Guard did. He’d blow smoke telling me my story was convincing and cajoled me into doing questionable things to make it work. What he asked me to do was extralegal for a lack of better words, but I don’t care to get into that. The point is my advocate was no better than the armed forces and the military academy I attended in that he did nothing more than overpromise. Those things for which I hoped caused me nothing but heartache. The VA I suspect denied the claim because my circumstance wasn’t combat-related. Their rationale is it must not be real if if you weren’t pounding sand in Iraq or Afghanistan and didn’t see anyone blown to smithereens.

No Brotherly Love from Philadelphia

My dad sent me to Valley Forge Military Academy outside Philadelphia when I was 15. This was long before I was diagnosed with Asperger’s. My mother I was unable to live with at the time for personal reasons. My father was in denial there was anything amiss about his son. He’ll never admit he made a mistake placing me in the public school system in Long Island where there was relentless bullying. We checked out a school in Vermont for troubled kids during our quest. That’s where my father should have sent met, but he decided in his that wasn’t the right place for me. Valley Forge likes to champion itself as a prestigious institute. I’m sure my dad would say the same. Apparently, I was supposed to be impressed because the movie Taps was filmed there, and Norman Schwartzkopf was an alumnus. Knowing my dad, I surmise the real reason he sent me there was because he didn’t want to deal with me anymore. We would often remind me of the tuition because that made it easier on his conscience.

Oh No! Not Again, Please!

My tactical officers and the other personnel would browbeat me each day. Yes, I know what some readers are already thinking. Welcome to the military! Stop typing and listen! Some get it worse than others. No matter how hard I tried fitting in, nothing I did or said was good enough. Nobody spelled it out, but the adults in a roundabout way told me I was a slacker who could never do anything right. There was blatant favoritism everywhere I looked. The powers that be and my own father would look the other way when I was bullied by my peers as if I deserved it. They liked to blame the victim to alleviate any culpability. Their whole objective was to pound a square peg into a round hole. I asked to withdraw the first spring I was there, but my father refused. Not only that, but he registered me for a second year to dump his responsibilities on someone else. I wanted to be expelled, but I had nowhere to turn. At least that’s what I thought. I even pondered asking to be barred from re-enrollment, but the school counselor suggested that might look bad on my transcript. Eventually, my dad got the message and didn’t sign me up a third year. I even got to move back to Houston to live with my mom.

Nobody is Perfect

Many former cadets like going back there for alumni weekend the first Saturday of May but not me. It took me awhile to get over my bad experiences. I smoked my first joint with my brother’s friend after my return to Texas. None of my former classmates know I burned my yearbooks three years later while I dropped some acid. One of my clearest memories of Valley Forge was when one of the class advisers asked me what medication I was taking. Because I was supposed to respect the officer, I divulged that information though it was none of his business. He asked why I was there in the first place. Many times I’ve rehashed that conversation regarding what I would tell him now. My response would be, “Because my father wants what everyone else in this room does – a perfect child who never makes mistakes or asks questions and always obeys. He wants another cog in a wheel.”

Uncle Sam’s Confused Group

That sums up the military down to a T if you ask me. One of my biggest regrets ever was signing up for the United States Coast Guard. I was more or less forced to join when my mother threatened to cut me off otherwise. Her boss’s son was in the Coast Guard then. Therefore, my mom became an expert in the armed forces and deemed that wise. I was flunking out of college, so I understand her rationale. The part most disconcerting was when she instructed me to lie about having Asperger’s to the recruiter. She would justify it saying there were probably other people with undiagnosed Asperger’s in the military as this had reached the mainstream just three years prior. Both my parents knew an awful lot about military life for people who never served. My dad weaseled his way out of the Air Force during the Vietnam War. My mother, whose father was in the Army during World War II, thought it’d be good for me while she moved to Boston to start over. No matter how much I loathed my it and told her that, Mom’s response was “Just suck it up and deal with it.” Then she’d turn around and toot her trumpet to the whole neighborhood how fabulous she was because her son was serving his country after 9/11.

Not this Way, That Way

I don’t know if Mom regrets talking me into it, and I don’t care. She likes to remind me that I signed the papers. The Coast Guard and others would do the same thing. The military always finds a way to justify the means while railroading people. It wouldn’t do me any good to explain it to a veteran or a lifer. All they’ll do is guilt shame me stating there are troops coming home in coffins missing limbs or compare me to medal of honor recipients. Now I’m a disgrace to my country because I couldn’t hack it. Originally, I wanted to join the Marine Corps, but one of my professors talked me out of that. He made the right call. Mom tried to convince me the Air Force was a bad idea because I had Asperger’s, yet somehow the Coast Guard was better. The real reason I did the latter was because I knew America was going to war the moment George W. Bush stole the 2000 election. I was convinced even before 9/11. I saw that coming a mile away. I know the Bush family and the Republican Party not personally but I’m quite familiar with their politics. Most people think the Coast Guard has the easiest job because it’s the least offensive branch of the military. Little do the know, it’s also is the most active and has the highest suicide rate. They trained us for things that will happen not ones that might unlike the others.

Bon Voyage, Northland!

The eleven months I spent on the USCGC Northland were the longest of my entire life. Every waking moment, I was bullied and ostracized by my peers. My superiors gave me the most work and used me as the go-to guy while others got away with murder. They’d tell everyone I was stupid, that I was gay, that I was incompetent, and the whole shebang. Nothing I did or said would ever make them accept me or dissolve that black cloud over my head. The Coast Guard would do the same thing Valley Forge would which is gaslighting. Not only would they try to make me question my own sanity thinking I was going crazy. They tried to assure me there was nowhere else to go. A lot of abusive partners do this in marriages. I saw Gene Simmons do that to Shannon Tweed. He tried persuading her there was no other way but his, and her life would fall to pieces if she left him. If I couldn’t make it in the Coast Guard or Valley Forge, I would be a failure the rest of my life.

All Hat and No Cattle

The military likes to showcase itself as the only option the same way each organized religion claims to be the only path into heaven. It’s a form of mind control to subjugate people. Eventually, I faked my way out of the Coast Guard when they pulled the rug out from me the last time. My mother assisted me in that process. I don’t know if she did that to make amends for making me lie to get in three years prior, but she told me she was impressed in that I lasted longer than she thought I would. They thought they could break my will and force me out in under a year, but it took them three. That’s why I say everyone who’s bet against me in my life has lost (including the Coast Guard.) My second year at Valley Forge, my tactical officer whom I’ll call Colonel Briggs tried to promise me I wouldn’t last until the rest of the year. If only he hadn’t left in January, I would have loved to have rubbed it in his face that I lasted that long.

Dynasty is Falling

Because of my past circumstances, I despise every sports team from the East Coast and the South as that’s where the majority of my provocateurs and their favorite clubs were from. I loathe every franchise from Boston in particular because many were from that area. Watching the New England Patriots win a Super Bowl would only set me off. That’s why I love reminding Pats fans of that season they went undefeated and lost the New York Giants in the Super Bowl. That’s the only time I recall cheering for the latter. Sometimes I’d remind them of Spygate just to heckle them further. I live for the day Tom Brady retires and the Patriots’ dynasty falls. I enjoyed every waking moment when my Houston Astros eliminated the Boston Red Sox from the 2017 MLB playoffs before winning their first World Series title ever. Seeing the ‘Stros knock out the Yankees from the ALCS was even more fun.

Anywhere But There

After living in Long Island where I was an outcast and serving in the military, the only good memory I have of New York is the thin-crust pizza. That accent makes my skin crawl every time I hear it because my mind subconsciously associates it with vitriol and hostility. The same is true about Boston, Philadelphia, and the rest of those locales. The only time I cheered for the Red Sox was in 2013 after the Boston Marathon Bombing. I showed what little empathy I had left for that place because innocent people were killed. My experiences in military school and the Coast Guard turned me off from living anywhere on the entire eastern seaboard or the South again permanently. I can promise you this much. I’ll never live anywhere east of the Mississippi River should I ever return to the United States. That’s a big if whether or not I come back, and that won’t be until long after Trumpelstiltskin leaves the White House. They didn’t push me forward, but they damn sure drove me away. I’m surprised Valley Forge never had a class action civil lawsuit filed against them from the hazing. When I reconnected with some of old classmates a few years ago, they seemed so appalled hearing that from me like they didn’t see it coming.

Good Morning, Vietnam! Good Night, Saigon!

Without further ado, I’ve never stepped foot near another boat or ship since my departure from the Coast Guard in 2004. The only military base I’ve gone near was Camp Mabry in Austin where I did a one-day temp job. That last part is inevitable as it’s adjacent to a major freeway. Were it not for its proximity to Mopac, I wouldn’t be sharing that. Since the VA, Coast Guard, and Valley Forge made it clear I was just a number to them, army green and navy blue are just colors to me. If only those folks knew I didn’t become a failure or bum like they told me I’d be. The past four years I’ve been living abroad killing it as an ESL teacher. Two of them I spent in Vietnam, the one country Bone Spurs, Ted Nugent, Mitt Romney, and those other draft-dodging cowards were too chicken shit to go near. I wonder how some of my former commanding officers would respond if they knew I visited the War Remnants Museum and the Imperial Palace in Ho Chi Minh City and took pictures.

Remember, Remember in November

In every election mid-term and general since 2004, I’ve voted straight-ticket Democrat. That’s not just out of spite towards the military. My politics have always leaned towards the left. I’m not a one-issue voter to set the record straight. That the vast majority of military personnel are Republicans is happenstance. It’s too bad half of them don’t realize the GOP is using them as cannon fodder to make the fat boys fatter. I refuse to be anyone’s puppet. Living in Southern Mexico makes it more titillating knowing I’m on the other side of Trump’s proposed law. I hope and pray whoever wins the Democratic ticket in 2020 wallops Covfefe in the next election, slashes the defense budget in half, and pours it into education, healthcare, infrastructure, housing, green energy, and scientific research.

My True Colors Shining Through

Now the readers know why I like red and orange. They’re the exact opposite of army green and navy blue. Red is the color of communism while orange represents Agent Orange from the Vietnam War. Red is the color of love which heals all wounds. I start with my right foot in lieu of my left foot whenever I walk. That’s contrary to how they made us march in boot camp and military school. I hang my clothes facing to the right whenever instead of the left like they made us do in boot camp. I even do it in the opposite order. I still tie my shoes together, but I place them in my wardrobe with the toes facing in and the heels facing out rather than the other way around.

Less Than A Hairy Situation

I would have loved to grow my hair long, but I’m going bald. I shave my head because I don’t have the money yet to get a hair transplant. One day I’ll have it done in Turkey, a predominately Muslim country. Islamophobia was rampant in the military like toxic masculinity the latter of which being the genesis of my affinity towards purple. Because I’m certain many of them consider purple feminine is all the reason more for me to wear it. My thinning hair didn’t stop me from growing a beard I incorporated into my repertoire after moving abroad. I know facial hair is verboten in the military. That, my thinning hair, and the fact that it makes me look more Islamic are the catalysts behind that. To put it bluntly, I do as many things as I can the exact opposite of how the military wants. Life is too short to hold grudges, but that doesn’t stop me from doing what I want at the expense of my former oppressors.

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You Pray, You Pay

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Spiritual Imbalance and Global Chaos

Most intellectuals concur there’s no place in politics for organized religion. Sadly, we face this dilemma everywhere in the United States with the church overstepping its boundaries. America isn’t the only country guilty, yet we receive the most flack out of all western nations. That’s one of the perks of being the global superpower. What amuses me is how right-wing evangelicals pontificate how they don’t want sharia law in America, yet they’ve been trying to induce it the entire time. Banning abortions and gay marriage, censoring the media, and imposing the death penalty qualify under that curtain. Just because it’s not Muslims trying to implement this doesn’t mean the same rules don’t apply. This is one of the primary reasons I no longer live in the United States. Organized religion is poison. There’s no two ways about it. The only thing thing responsible for more wars and deaths in history to my knowledge are communism and the bubonic plague.

Theocracy is Hypocrisy

Religion I suspect was introduced to control people during a time when there was no government or law enforcement. Nobody knew jack about science. This was the most plausible method they had to rationalize every day phenomena. It never occurred to them the universe is comprised of random coincidences and such. That explains why in medieval Europe they’d scare people trying to commit suicide with eternal damnation. They can’t control and persecute people if they’re dead. George Carlin made the most astute comments about religion out of any celebrity I’ve known. He noted each contradiction in every Abrahamic holy book and explained there were too many inconsistencies. I will never forget how Carlin elucidated religion makes billions of dollars annually, and it’s all tax exempt. I find it ironic how Joel Osteen lives in a million-dollar mansion but couldn’t be bothered to let people take refuge in his church when Hurricane Harvey hit.

A Non-Prophet Organization

I was pleased to read Italy began taxing churches to pay off its debt after the 2008 recession. The child molestation scandals with the Vatican and economic crises I surmise prompted Italy to drop the hammer. This enticed me to comprise a new method regarding the church. I think they should pass a law in all 196 countries requiring churches to charge goers a fee to attend their services. Before anyone laughs at my idea, ask yourselves this. Would you rather the state govern and regulate religion or do you prefer it the other way around? It’s an honest question. Most religious zealots don’t mind theocracies as long as it’s not their own spirituality challenged or questioned. I figure the government can not only implement property taxes from the churches, mosques, temples, and such. They can gain revenue from the ticket sales as well as income tax from the clergy members themselves.

Freedom Isn’t Free

Many people go to church as a means of cheap therapy. We still live in a society where it’s more frowned upon to seek professional help than attend church or do drugs. I’ve lost count of every imbecile who told me finding salvation in the church would make my woes disappear. When I was in the Coast Guard suffering from depression and separation anxiety, I was referred to a chaplain in lieu of a psychiatrist or a social worker. My company commanders thought that wise and so did I out of fear that everyone would start gaslighting me and second guess my abilities. That said, I never disclosed I have Asperger’s to any of the clergy. Not only was I certain none heard of it; I didn’t think there was anything they could do but give false hope. I didn’t trust them because I didn’t think they recognized doctor/patient confidentiality.

Benito Juarez Reloaded

Two months ago, I took a tour of Chichen Itza. I visited Izamal, the Yellow City, along the way. I learned during that trek Mexico was once governed by the Catholic church. That changed when Benito Juarez came into power. He was the first President of Mexico to recognize separation of church and state. This is all the reason more I think they should start monetizing religion the same way they do movies. Half the role of an ecclesiastic is to entertain and keep everyone engaged. Religion plays a key part in molding our values like the media. If Hollywood rakes in beaucoup bucks to give people reassurance, the same should be done with religion. We can handle Sunday afternoon services the same way the cinema does weekend matinees in that the churches can give discounts. The services can still operate 24/7 like every other business in my book. I’ll bet if the powers that implemented this system, that would cripple organized religion in a heartbeat. This is my solution towards regulating religion. Imagine how quickly that would pay off the national debt and allow Washington and states to balance the federal budget.

 

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Living in the Wild, Wild West

Wild-west

The Need for Gun Control

One of the primary reasons I no longer live in America is gun violence. I’m tired of turning on the news and hearing stories about school shootings and deranged gunmen mowing down several people. The NRA is a terrorist organization in my humble opinion. They have more blood on their hands than the IRA. Of that I’m certain. At least the latter has a righteous cause. The National Rifle Organization cares nothing about the lives they’ve destroyed. The Irish Republic Army wants to repatriate Northern Ireland back to the Republic of Ireland. The latter had the audacity to disband after 9/11. The NRA fills people’s heads with hogwash in that they’re convinced we’re safer when everyone carries firearms. Funny how they ban guns at their headquarters. Nutjobs like Alex Jones exacerbate the dilemma when they pontificate nonsense about the government coming to take our guns and enslave its citizens. The Sandy Hook parents had every right to sue that jerk. Wackos who listen to that tripe are convinced they stand a chance against a platoon of Marines donning kevlar, a regimen of armored tanks, or a squadron of drones.

Shoot ‘Em Up There, Partner

In spring 2016 after my return from Thailand, I heard on the 6 o’clock news about a gunman in West Houston who wounded and killed several people at a Conoco gas station. The perpetrator was a military vet who served in Afghanistan. I’m surprised the media didn’t blame it on Asperger’s, but that’s another story. I suspect battle stress had something to do with it. How does this relate to gun control? The last guy he killed was carrying a concealed handgun. I wasn’t there, but I know what happened. I know Texans and how they think. Rather than run for cover, the dumbass was trying to be a hero and engaged the gunman in a showdown. Then the shooter offed him like a fly. The moron learned the hard way he was outmatched. That doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out. Though he may have fired his handgun at a range, I’m positive the guy never saw any action like the gunman. It never occurred to him the police and SWAT team are trained for these situations. These idiots watch too many movies. That’s another part of the problem.

I Dub Thee Unforgiven

Speaking of which, one of my all-time favorite films is Unforgiven. There’s a reason why that flick is only one of three westerns to win the Oscar for Best Picture. The other two were Cimarron and Dances with Wolves. I liked Unforgiven because it de-romanticizes all the spaghetti westerns Clint Eastwood and others made during the earlier part of the 20th Century. It debunks all the myths we grew up believing about the Wild West. It’s one of the few movies I liked the antagonist more than the protagonist. Clint Eastwood plays the antihero Will Munny, a retired bounty hunter traveling to Montana to kill two outlaws who mutilated a woman. The main antagonist, Little Bill, portrayed by Gene Hackman is the sheriff of the town where Munny is headed. Somewhere in the movie, English Bob, played by Richard Harris arrives for the same reason. He travels with a writer from back east named Beauchamp who’d never ventured out west before. All the while, Beauchamp is drafting tall tales and urban legends he’d heard about English Bob and such.

Debunking the Myths and Legends

The part that caught my eye was that firearms were banned in the town. Little Bill roughed up English Bob and arrested him for carrying concealed firearms. Most people by default would cheer for the protagonist but not me. I liked Bill because he demystified all the legends about outlaws being the fastest draws in the west. I admired Little Bill because he not only was good at his job, but he had excellent bullshit detectors. The viewer could tell the man was way before his time. After awhile, Beauchamp put two-and-two together and ascertained English Bob and the rest of those guys were full of beans. Unforgiven gave a real life depiction of how life was in that era. People didn’t walk around carrying six-shooters and have duals periodically. Most of the cowboys were either black or Mexican not white guys settling on the frontier. The majority of firearms they used were shotguns and rifles to defend their livestock from predators or hunting. The only people carrying pistols were the sheriff or the outlaws, and we all know how much the latter respected the law. Even when the sheriffs had to engage them, they wouldn’t go alone. They’d organize a posse full of trained gunmen.

Draw Partner!

That’s the problem with Hollywood and gun culture. All the charlatans out there like Alex Jones only know what they see on screen. The reason Wyatt Earp was so famous was because he was calm, steady, and collected. The guy had nerves of steel. The same was true about Wild Bill Hickok. Most of those ‘cowboys’ would get drunk saloons and get themselves hurt or killed doing something stupid. We all know how brave and bold men are when they’ve had too much to drunk. I’m sure they never puffed themselves up as the meanest baddest sons-of-bitches who ever lived. Even if you read about Wyatt Earp, you’ll learn they had gun control back in Tombstone. During the shooting at O.K. Corral, Earp, his brothers Virgil and Morgan, and Doc Holliday killed the brothers Tom and Frank McLaury, Billy and Ike Clanton, and their compadre, Billy Claiborne. The latter refused to bequeath their firearms upon arrival in Tombstone and tried to challenge the former. It cost them their lives. Most of those famous outlaws we hear about like Billy the Kid and Jesse James killed their victims when they were most vulnerable. Sometimes they’d shoot them in the back. They wouldn’t dare challenge the town sheriffs in a draw. Wyatt Earp or Doc Holliday would’ve wasted Billy the Kid or Jesse James in no time.

In Cold Blood

There’s more to a gunfight than the ability to aim and pull the trigger. The military and police are trained to dodge bullets, take cover, and handle stovepipes and misfires. There’s even breath control which was snipers must master. That’s not so easy when you have a target shooting back at you and your heart rate is jacked. Will Munny in Unforgiven knew these things which is why he an effective killer. Sadly, most viewers only see action in these films and never see the substance within the storyline. Towards the end, you finally see the guy’s true colors realize how evil the man is. In a nutshell, this validates my argument about gun control. I can promise the readers if they learned about the outlaws in the Wild West, they’d realize they were cowards who killed their victims in cold blood like the Orlando nightclub and Las Vegas strip shooters. When was the last time you heard of anyone trying to rob or shoot up a police station? Never, right? The Fort Hood shootings were committed in gun-free zones, and the second one blew his brains out like the spineless fiend he was. Gun control isn’t about taking away the firearms of ordinary citizens who wish to defend their homes and businesses or go hunting. It’s about background checks, thorough vetting, and keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. It also entails banning automatic weapons. Nobody needs an AK-47 or an AR-15 to defend oneself. If we have no gun control, we might as well have no law enforcement.

anxiety, aspergers, autism, changes, culture, depression, education, gangs, health, ideas, living abroad, politics, psychology, violence

To Hell with Corporal Punishment

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Paddle me This, Paddle me That

In my last blog, I expressed my disdain regarding an elder gent telling me priests would swat the boys good with a paddle if they acted up in his Catholic school. I lived with my father in Long Island during my formative years. I was a boisterous teen with a troubled life then. We didn’t know I was on the autism spectrum. I remember one time I had a meltdown, and Dad got angry. He shouted at me, “If I ever misbehaved like that, my mother would throw me out the window!” Apparently, I was supposed to be lucky to be alive during the end of the 20th rather than fifty years prior. Dad had a short fuse. It didn’t take much to set him off. I wasn’t alive when he was a teenager, but I surmise his parents weren’t very stable. Spanking and paddling was the norm then. There was no ADHD, Asperger’s, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, or such back in the day. One thing I’ve deduced about Western culture is nothing exists until it’s discovered and given a name or it can’t be kept a secret anymore.

A Veteran’s Tale

The problems we face in modern society didn’t go away by being ignored in the past. That reminds me of my last visit to the VA hospital. Every time I go there, I see at least two old men in wheelchairs or using walkers. It makes me worry about mobility impairments as I get older now that I’m staring down 40. My mother elaborated most people from that generation never visited the doctor until they were half dead. Her father had a heart attack in 1990. Grandpa hadn’t had a physical before then since he went into the Army during World War II. It’s hard not roll my eyes when I hear old folks act dismissively about safety precautions and child psychology. Once upon a time, I was an advocate of corporal punishment. I shared the same opinion as them because I was bullied in school, and I too served in the military. I was convinced bullying would go away if they conducted paddling in front of the whole school Singapore-style. Boy was I naive! You’re about to ascertain why I strongly oppose corporal punishment.

Thai me Up, Thai me Down

The reason this bothers me is because I’m guilty of child abuse myself. My first semester in Thailand, I did something egregious I regret to this day. I was inexperienced at my job because I’d never been in charge of children. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I was undertrained. The geniuses who ran the agency crammed information into our heads within a three-day period and dispatched us to our schools. All I knew before then was teaching adults. The rocket scientists at the school where I taught were never around when I needed them, and I was left on an island. I was always the last person to know anything because I was a foreign teacher. In a nutshell, it was baptism by fire. I had a hard time controlling my temper because I’d get impatient like my father would. I had the same standards he, my stepmom, and others from his generation that knew jack about autism in that I expected children to act like adults. I hated teaching grades 7 through 9 because the classes were so unruly.

On Top of the Ball

That wasn’t where I made my mistake. I did something heinous in my 6th grade class. All the boys sat on one side while the girls sat on the other. I had no idea that was a recipe for disaster. There was one boy, the rowdiest of the bunch. He went by Ball. I think he might have had ADHD in hindsight. Every day, Ball was bouncing off the walls. One day towards the end of the semester, I lost it. It was the last class of the day, and the kids were getting squirrelly while I was trying to conduct a game. Neither the headmistress nor the principal were around, so I took matters into my own hands. I told the kids to put their heads down on their desks, and Ball wouldn’t oblige. I went to him and held Ball’s head down while the others complied. He kept trying to bob his head up, but I wouldn’t budge. Ball then ran out of the class and never came back. In Thai culture, you’re not supposed to touch someone’s head because that’s the holiest part of one’s body.

An Irrational Misfortune

The next week something worse unfolded. Once again it was the last class of the day. Ball wouldn’t settle down and stop talking. Finally, I’d had it after all his antics. This had been happening all semester long, and I snapped. The boy had to defecate badly, and I made Ball sit in the corner and hold it in. Other boys tried telling me something on Google Translate on my smartphone. What one boy said in broken English translated to, “Ball shit pain!” I was so mad; I didn’t care how uncomfortable he was. So I said back on my app, “The anus is a voluntary muscle. Now since your classmate obviously can’t his fucking mouth shut, he’ll have to keep his butthole shut.” Ball thought everything was a joke up to that point. Then I turned to him and said on the app, “It’s not so fucking funny now, is it, you little shit?!” Eventually, I let him go as the class ended. At the time, I got sick pleasure, but I feel icky about it now. I did something heinous that cost me my job because I was underprepared and frustrated. I was let go by the agency and got what I deserved. There’s not a day or night that passes where I don’t regret what I did.

Bad Teacher, Bad Parents

Not long after, I landed a gig at an all-girls school in Bangkok. There I blossomed because I was surrounded by other Western teachers who shared ideas and techniques. I also had a great mentor who groomed me into a better teacher. None of these luxuries I had in Northeast Thailand, and I wasn’t inclined to make the same mistakes. Two years ago, I induced other questionable methods. When boys were misbehaving and horseplaying, I would have them come up to the front and do push-ups or yoga poses. This was the only way I knew to curtail bad behavior because that’s how I was dealt with in military school and boot camp. I hated both institutions with a passion and was traumatized, but I knew nothing else until I became more seasoned. I remember being assaulted by a teacher on my 14th birthday while living with Dad. The man should have been sacked. I was too young to understand, but I surmise he was placed on administrative leave because we had a substitute for two months. My father did nothing except blame me implying I instigated it. He then said, “I think teachers have no rights and that sometimes they should spank your little bottom in front of the class.” My mother, a then paralegal, would’ve nailed the guy’s balls to the wall, but that didn’t happen.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Classroom management is the hardest part of the job. There’s no question about that. Finally, I adopted some techniques one of my South African colleagues suggested. No longer did I have the boys do yoga poses and push-ups or sitting together. I had the kids sit boy-girl-boy-girl in each row and switch seats periodically. I’d also use peer pressure and reverse psychology. Each group in which they sat would have points deducted when the kids spoke out of turn or got goofy. I’d have them compete with one another, and the two groups that garnered the most points at the end of each class received awards. It didn’t take long to realize a reward system is more effective than discipline. This is one reason I have an estranged relationship with my father and few good things to say about the military. Nothing I did or said was ever good enough to measure up to their standards. No matter how hard I tried, there was nothing in it for me. I didn’t want my students to remember me the way I do my dad or the Coast Guard, so I put my ego aside and changed my ways.

Big Man on Campus

The worst thing that happened in Vietnam wasn’t as bad. I learned how to govern the class before things got out of hand. There was a 16 or 17-year-old blowhard with raging hormones trying to show off in front of his pals. He kept disrupting my class, and I wouldn’t tolerate it. One reason I learned kids act up is because their English level is low. Another is because it’s an elective class not an academic. It didn’t take long for me to deduce he was a troublemaker, so I confronted him the second week. We had a reading assignment. I had him stand up and said, “Guess who gets to read for the whole class, hotshot!” He didn’t see that coming. The boy kept slipping up and butchering the material. I corrected him in the interim. Other students wanted to volunteer, but I said, “No-no-no-no-no! Your classmate here wants to impress all his buddies. He wants to entertain us. Keep going there, hotrod!” He made an ass of himself after I punctured his ego and brought him down to earth. The boy never misbehaved again. Nobody was harmed then. With my new techniques, I had each class wrapped around my finger by the end of each term.

Violence Begets Violence

And so the lesson endeth here. Reverse psychology and reward systems on their worst day are more conducive than corporal punishment. During that time frame, I read spanking and paddling may work in the short run but cause long-lasting psychological effects like PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Unbeknownst to my younger self, my father, and many folks from his generation, violence begets violence. The former is how they join gangs and grow up to be serial killers and criminal sociopaths. One reason I quit teaching in classrooms is because I didn’t like the way TA’s would hit the students when they got rowdy. Basically, you’re showing the kids you have no self-control, and I didn’t want that on my conscience. It takes a real man to admit he was wrong, and I’m ashamed of my actions in Thailand to this day. The aforementioned piece is why I think people should be trained properly towards parenting, mentoring, and teaching children.