These were written on Quora over a span of about 5 years, and were scraped from the site. They are ordered in chronological order (most recent first) and largely unedited.

How can a conservative culture transition to become more liberal and progressive?

I think this is a fairly important question that every society needs to ask itself.

Now that change can occur at the societal level from one rogue camera and one hasty YouTube upload, it’s pretty challenging maintaining some semblance of order or integrity in our society’s cultural growth/evolution. Add in the media coverage, and of course, the peoples’ desires for their vindications, and it’s like every swing at the cultural level either kicks like a mule or doesn’t happen at all, with respect to which way we’re growing.

To make things worse, people WITH convictions often reinforce their position regardless of the evidence provided, and for those without, it’s almost a crap shoot determined at birth which way they’ll swing after new evidence is provided via viral media.

Consider all the things you see in ‘debate’ tactics, which has somehow become the de facto arena of intellectualism. We see it all the time as ‘guest commentators’ on the news, or podcast interviews. It seems to be the way to change minds (or at least entertain for that sweet sweet ad revenue) by the media.

It’s the game of ‘fact escalation’. Who has the biggest facts, and who can spit them out the fastest and catch their opponent off guard? Sometimes it’ll escalate slowly, because one party is actually interested in saying, ‘Oh interesting, I never heard about that. Could you tell me more?’ in which case listening occurs and a transfer of information is the result. In rare cases, no escalation occurs at all, and both parties walk away with new information.

But that’s not entertaining. So it’ll usually go something like this:

  1. Opponent presents a position
  2. Lay down an artillery barrage of memorized facts and positions
  3. Opponent tries to start fending them off, but fails to because there’s so many, even if 90% of them are misleading, cherry picked, or flat out wrong
  4. Call yourself the victor, your masses cheer for you, you are crowned the champion of wit and mind and truly an idealist with the resolution of saints. Angelic hymns fill the air as cherubs descend from heaven to congratulate you as the crowd erupts in applause

It’s pretty fucking stupid. There is no profound insight here, no mutual understanding, no progression of beliefs or positions, least of all for the viewer. Both parties have nothing at stake by winning or losing, and so long as both parties get their $$$, who gives a shit? There’s no carrot or stick here. There is no incentive for evolving one’s beliefs.

So, to directly address that, if we want to induce cultural changes in a certain direction, increase the magnitude of outcomes when decisions are made.

In other words, people need to have skin in the game. And one might argue that it is government’s job to ensure people feel the pain of making bad decisions moreso than feeling good about making good decisions - winning only reinforces a strategy, but losing will make you reevaluate everything (if you’re not broken).

Similar to finding truth, people often stop digging the moment they find it. Which is problematic, because we know there can be multiple truths (sometimes contradictory!), and the world is a complex place. And just like that in the modern world, people tend to cling onto their morsel of truth that the rest their axioms and cultural beliefs on.

So penalize them for not having enough information, or having the wrong information. If this is true:

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” - Upton Sinclair

Then make sure they pay if they are wrong. Here are some simple things we can do:

  1. Think war needs to be fought? When you vote yes or put a warmonger in office, your kids, nephews and nieces go straight to the front line. Let’s see how much of a war hawk you are now.
  2. Think free market is the solution to everything? You lose all entitlements if you lose your job. Just you though, because your ideals are so strong.
  3. Think full blown socialism is the way to go? No problem! We’ll start taxing you first to ‘kick start’ the whole thing.
  4. Think abortions are morally abhorrent and should be federally illegally? Okay, we’ll put all the unwanted children in your household. With no entitlements since this is God’s duty.
  5. Think affirmative action is the way to go? Sure thing, your name is the first to get thrown in the discard pile if you’re white, asian, or jewish. One less application to consider for those poor admissions officers.
  6. Think two men or two women raising a child should be illegal because it’s not the way of things? No problem! CPS takes your kids the moment you or any of your relatives have a divorce.

It’s a fun game - let’s give everyone exactly what they want in the most direct and open way possible. We will see who truly has any convictions, and who is willing to change and mold to the way of the world.

After all, the fundamental entitlement that prevents personal change (and thus societal cultural change), is something much more primordial, and needs to be addressed if we want our world to change. And that is: we are not entitled to our beliefs being shielded from the realities of the world. Reality was here before you, and it reserves the right to curb stomp anything it pleases.

So stop shielding people. Let them pay the consequences for their beliefs, and society will change naturally towards a better optima.

What do former members of the US military think of the plan to hold a military parade?

I think it’s fucking retarded.

  1. You know how people grow closer and appreciate each other more? They interact with one another. Not one group fenced in watching the other group do a dog and pony show.
  2. Nobody in combat arms judges their enemy based off of how hard the Drillmaster looks when he’s barking out formation maneuvers. When Russia ‘occupied’ Georgia in the summer of 2008, do you think the devil dogs at 1/8 started watching old Russia propaganda videos? I don’t want to be known as part of the fighting force that LOOKS badass - I’d rather be known as part of the group of people who regularly trained to shoot people at 500.
  3. Nobody wants to do it but douchebag leadership. Do you think it’ll be some super motivated O-7 in the middle of that pack? Fuck no, it’s going to be some poor E-4 who JUST got his blood stripe and got voluntold from a CAG unit. Or maybe some security forces 0311 who just came back from Djibouti standing guard for two years yet somehow more decorated than a grunt who did two pumps in the sandbox. I’m definitely not bitter.
  4. Let’s be honest - this wasn’t proposed for the military’s benefit. We all know who is in charge and how he thinks and looks at the world. I mean, barring reasons #1–3, this in itself should be a show stopper. I’m betting General Mattis is like, ‘what the fuck’, and will do his best to mitigate this.

I’m a grunt. I did two tours in Iraq, spent more time outside the wire than inside, didn’t shower for three months, burnt human shit, stood guard at 3AM in the fucking desert freezing my balls off, and came back with a severe case of alcoholism and anger because people I knew died while I was there and I didn’t get so much as a chance to shoot at some piece of shit Al Qaeda fuck. I’m going to spend the rest of my life wondering if I ever truly ‘deserve’ the ‘honor’ and ‘glory’ I seem to get from people who don’t know shit about me.

So you know what would make me feel a lot better? If we DIDN’T put the fucking military on a pedestal, and instead all tried to be approachable and talk about our similarities (and later our differences), rather than whining about how the media ‘depicts’ us or ‘disrespects’ us. I’m getting real tired of the right trying to use me as a political tool and as a molehill for that sweet sweet moral high ground. So let me be the first to say it:

I don’t give a fuck that you served. I give a shit about who you are as a person, where you’ve been (even during the service), and where you’re going. The military should be an organization of quiet professionalism combined with a stoic nature, not a country’s figurative penis.

So, to my dear brother/sister/non-gendered sibling veterans, shut the fuck up, get back to your life that you’ve earned to live free as you want, and go out and do great things. And for those of you running your mouths about veterans being victimized, depicted as X,Y,Z, why don’t you keep that bullshit to yourself, because the rest of us are doing pretty fucking awesome.

And to the poor bastards who are going to ‘volunteer’ for that parade:

lock your knees!

Is it racist that I consider rap culture to be holding African-Americans back?

No, it’s not racist.

However, if you consider it to be such a significant component of their culture that it is material in affecting their social, political, and economic status in the U.S. of A., then you need to re-evaluate how you look at the world.

You mean to tell me that the reason why African Americans aren’t reaching the same heights on the ladder that we’re all climbing is because of a heavy beat and some spoken word?

You can scroll up and down and look at all the cases where African Americans have been and still are systematically oppressed by our society today. From cops killing kids and getting away scotch-free to drugs being re-classified to disproportionately affect blacks all the way to the for-profit prisons and their accompany judges, the system has covered incredible breadth in its oppression.

Not to mention everything before the 60’s, but you could look that up in a history book. It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s pretty clear what has been ‘holding them back’.

Which is a shame - some of the darker aspects of rap culture might never have festered into existence if these wounds weren’t constantly being re-opened by society, and then you wouldn’t be asking this question.

What is one thing you hated when you served in the US armed forces?

The quality of people.

Just to be clear, I served in the infantry (which allowed people with an ASVAB score of 26/100 to join with a waiver), and I joined during the surge (from roughly 170k to 215k at peak active duty Marines), so needless to say, my experiences are likely not the same as others. The bar had been lowered significantly.

It’s not really so much that there were bad people in the Marine Corps. It’s really just that people came from different backgrounds, and more importantly, with different goals. Here’s my rough breakdown on the types of men that join the Marine Corps infantry during wartime:

  1. 5% - the paragons of society, Plato’s Guardians, virtue and honor devil dogs often coming from military families with a sense of what is good and evil and a desire to serve the good. The modern day equivalent of paladins and knights, and unsurprisingly, the majority of this 5% were white dudes. They all want the same thing - to serve honorably and be good men. A lot of them joined as officers, and over time, a lot of them will get worn down to the realities and leave to do more productive things with their life. The rest stay in and either die a Marine or retire as one. Really one and the same.
  2. 15% - homey from the block. These guys have their heads screwed on straight from a good dose of life. They come in the infantry and are kind of ‘shitbags’, but often they’re really good at what they do. They eat and shit Marine Corps but they don’t really drown themselves in the koolaid, and that’s good - they often make the best leaders because of their bullshit filter. The ones that make it through their first four years to re-enlist and take on a leadership role will often be very well respected from both subordinates and the men upstairs. Some of them even MECEP and become mustangs - enlisted men turned officers. These guys are usually the best of the best. Most of them, if they do stay, will leave eventually and will not retire as a devil dog.
  3. 65% - average joe, lost in life, figured he’d give this thing a go. They come from everywhere and take on all shapes and sizes. Nice Boston boy, New Yorker with an attitude, farm boy from Georgia who likes to go mudding in his F150 when it rains, black dude from Philly, etc. For the most part, they’re all right, but there’s also a portion of them who are borderline garbage with racist attitudes, e.g. “Raghead killer” t-shirts, and hold some ‘unorthodox’ (read uneducated with no skin in the game) political and economic views. They’ll make good Marines, and often times good men, but there’s really nothing noteworthy about them. Many of them will leave and for the rest of their lives, make the service their greatest achievement. Hillary would have referred to these people as ‘deplorables’, but I refer to them as ‘what a real average person looks like’.
  4. 15% - Straight garbage. They won’t make it through their first four years. They’ll pop on drugs, get caught fucking some staff sergeant’s wife, go suicidal and make us stand guard around his ass so he doesn’t pop himself, or, as one of my team members did, get convicted on pedophilia charges. Out of a sample size of 100, across two tours, I noticed that only 70% of us made it through our first four years and didn’t get medical dropped or kicked out. This 15% will almost certainly land in that other 30%.

With that breakdown, I’d like to point out that it isn’t THAT bad. It’s when these elements get combined with the day to day life and the shit that rolls downhill from leadership that makes it really bad. Individually, there’s something to learn from all of them. But it’s a fucking nightmare when interpersonal relationships and politics come into play as well as the jockeying for big dick status.

If the quality of people would have been better, there’s a good chance I would have stayed. I just couldn’t imagine living another four years with leadership that yelled at me for changing the input select for a TV too quickly (this 100% actually happened. I got grilled in front of an O-5 by an E-9 because I selected the HDMI input too quickly and he couldn’t see what was going on), or listen to an Alabama boy tell me he didn’t ‘associate with my kind back home’.

There’s also this persistent question in the back of my head: do we really need this ultra-masculine alpha male big swinging dick attitude to be successful at our mission? I know it’s a really big part of the Marine Corps image and culture, but really, do we need it? After all, it attracts a certain demographic, and that demographic I can’t imagine being fully effective if 30% of them don’t make it past their first four years.

But I leave that question to wiser men.

Was Google right or wrong in firing James Damore for his controversial diversity memo?

I think Google was right.

At the end of the day, Google is a business, not your family home, your friend’s house, or anything in between. A memo like that being leaked to the public and then twisted by the media will obviously lower Google’s rep. They would not be fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility if they knew such a memo would imply certain things about their culture, which in turn would change the expected outcome of their current actions. Firing James Damore was nothing more than a public re-establishment of their (hopefully) perceived culture.

I would do the same.

But, I think a lot of us feel a great shame.

For all the virtues of intellectualism and righteousness we extol, at the end of the day, some guy with some ideas, some scraped together studies, and a coherent message in a nonthreatening polite way with proposed solutions got sacked for voicing his thoughts.

The truth is, people aren’t really willing to entertain what James Damore had to say, so they demonize and shut it out. It’s that same kind of censorship that yielded spectacular results at our last national election (spectacular as in it was a spectacle; I’m not condemning or condoning the event [ this is the kind of disclaimers we have to add these days ]).

I guess it really is easier to hate someone than love them.

What credentials does one need to be considered a scientist?

A scientist pushes the frontier of human knowledge using the scientific process.

That’s it. Unfortunately, people with different incentives and interests will argue against this. Here’s how you counter the arguments I see the most:

  1. You’re not a scientist if you don’t have a PhD - This is complete and utter bullshit. Plenty of Master’s students co-author and peer-review PhD content - what, are they not scientists? Does the white paper published by a 10-man NLP shop working on quantitative not count as pushing the scientific boundaries?
  2. Your paper wasn’t accepted into a respectable journal, so you’re not a scientist - Horseshit. With how politicized modern research has become, with scientists being incentivized to make bold headlines over confirming other experiments or less bold proposals, it’s hard to really give THAT much credibility to that whole notion of ‘impact’ to research.
  3. You get paid, so there are incentives for you not to be a true scientist - okay, then peer review my shit. I’ll even help you. Science is the discovery of truth after all, and I’d be a fool not to collaborate to verify my own results.

Don’t get me wrong. These are ideals. Egos, and most corrupting of all, money can and will enter the equation.

But if you keep pushing the boundaries using a repeatable, measurable, and well designed experiment that isolates what you’re trying to test as much as possible, you’ll at least have my vote for your scientific endeavors.

Do you think programming makes a person think more logical about other problems? If so, why?

Considering how prevalent the idea of abstraction and its accompanying patterns are in the world of software engineering, as well as the roots of computer science (in mathematics), you’d be hard pressed to say ‘no’.

Of course, a substantial part of the programming work force aren’t aware of the above principles and concepts, or apparently can even write FizzBuzz, so factoring that population into the population I think of when you say ‘programmers’, perhaps the answer should be ‘depends on the programmer’.

What do military personnel think of Pat Tillman?

I remember reading this Wikipedia page circa just joining the fleet. I can’t remember the details, but I do recall what I felt - a certain worry that my dad was right. This world was not like my own, nor was it like the world I wanted it to be.

I only have two contentions with what happened to Pat Tillman - one regarding the honor of the guardians of society, and another regarding my own religious beliefs, or lack thereof. I’ll start with the latter, since it’s less personal (you read that right).

I’m by no means a militant atheist, but let’s just say I annoyed when ‘encouraged’ to worship a god during my time in the service - from the boot camp Sundays all the way to the fleet when I was deployed since, ‘praying was good for my soul’. Frankly, I don’t really give a shit. The good thing about being a flexible atheist is I’ll worship whatever god you want me to worship because it’s all bullshit to me. The moment you start anthropomorphizing a ‘higher power’, you’ve totally lost me. I’ll worship gravity, nuclear power, and physics any day of the week since I don’t try to say that physics has a personal grudge against wearing mixed fabrics. Physics doesn’t care, nor does it has the capacity to care - it just is. Despite that, I also don’t really care if you worship - I mean I still burn incense sticks and pray to my dead ancestors, so I get it.

So the general lack of respect by the military to honor Pat Tillman’s atheism fucking irritates me. If you’re one of those that are something along the lines of, “atheists are the worst apostates of them all” or “atheists have no god, therefore they have no morals”, then how the fuck did this guy who had everything in life - smarts, will, body, love, and a multi million dollar contract - give it all up to fight? It’s so strange to me that being an atheist in the world of space exploration is still a black mark.

Now let’s talk about the real issue: the coverup of friendly fire (or murder?).

I wasn’t there. I didn’t read the official report. I know very little. I literally just read the Wikipedia page. I’ve read it before, but I wanted a refresher before answering. Let’s think of military reasoning:

  1. The military covered it up because it’s embarrassing a poster child died in friendly fire
  2. That’s it

Let’s talk about what happened:

  1. There are some uber suspicious details around his death that the following investigation (that came years later) revealed, e.g. emails remarking how they’ve avoided investigation, a three star general ‘forgetting’, his personal property being burned e.g. his personal journal
  2. Military personnel knew before Pat Tillman’s family did that he had died in a friendly fire accident
  3. Nobody’s head is on a stick

If all of this is correct, I am not surprised. The military is notorious for covering up a lot of shit, i.e. female sexual harassment, military relationships with industries, lack of accountability with contractors, etc. I witnessed a few ‘cover ups’ myself, and might have partaken in one.

Frankly, military personnel like the enlisted deserve the best, but the officers, especially when they get fat and lazy as they get higher up, deserve harsher punishments. Not military retirement and pension - they deserve a public castration and a return to civilian life in shame with no benefits.

Why so harsh? Because you make decisions that affect thousands of lives. You better do your fucking best, and if we find out otherwise, we’re going to destroy you. If you’re honorable and do what you can, there’s a good chance the tribunal will understand. Enlisted marines ‘police their own’, but somehow the higher up officers - especially around when they start command brigades/regiments - don’t seem to do that.

The military is one of the few societies in the world where ‘honor’ still means something, and rightfully so - I witnessed some men risk their careers for privates and private first classes, and a man who I hated even risked his rank for me once.

So when I see dogshit leadership like this, who have no skin in the game, I can’t help but wonder why nobody was punished the way an enlisted man would have been punished - tossed in the brig and the key thrown away. A Roman decimation should be in order - but only on the officers at that rank and above.

What do I do for sore joints after BJJ?

Go see a doctor and ignore what everyone says.

Muscle pain can be okay if it’s sore, but if it’s got a burning/tearing sensation, that’s no bueno. Joint pain is irregular, period. Either way, a quick chat with your primary care provider or a physical therapist should at least educate you on what’s going on so you can mitigate/prevent it.

What is the recommended checklist for a person to study and prepare before getting a developer job?

I think past intro to programming, there’s only three classes you need to take, or self study at your own pace.

  1. Algorithms and Data Structures
  2. Programming Languages and Compilers
  3. Operating Systems

Everything else builds off of these foundations.

After you take these courses, you need to grind and build a portfolio. There’s no way around it - theory is one thing but practice is a whole different ballgame. Knowing how a compiler uses recursive descent doesn’t mean shit if you can’t properly compartmentalize frontend view components so they bind/operate properly and cleanly with backend data. Here are my suggested projects to get you well rounded:

  1. Find something you really like that has a lot of data. Learn some basic regression and extrapolate data, then predict. It’s data science 101, but it’ll help you appreciate how hard it is to design proper data structures and optimize small code portions so you don’t sit and wait for 10 minutes between tests.
  2. Build a single page web application, with at least a third of the codebase as plain javascript. Whether it’s an animation, a calculator, or even a game using Bootstrap components, it doesn’t matter. Learning how to build a website is essential these days, because the web layer is now more popular, more used, and more accessible than the layer underneath.
  3. Build a game, preferably in C or using a langauge with C bindings. Enjoy your suffering. Building games is hard.

After that, grind competitive programming sites e.g. TopCoder or HackerRank… without your computer. You read that right. Get paper and pen, and don’t allow yourself and whiteout or crossing out. Writing code is way harder, and you’ll find that you actually have to think before committing.

You’ll have a pretty solid base after that, and any kid who can take the initiative to do all the above deserves a shot at joining the ranks of high-end tech shop.

Is Trump going to pull everyone into World War III?

Doubt it. A world war = less $$$ for everyone, and whether or not you think he has ties to our ‘enemies’, it would be a losing event for all parties involved.

But he could easily be pulled in. It only takes one asshole with a pistol to assassinate some important guy and spark off hell.

Is it true that you must strip naked before joining the military?


And you’ll strip naked plenty of times after you join too.

It’s a great gig if you’re into that kind of stuff.

Is World War 3 inevitable?


I do believe we have become too interconnected to truly wage war like we did in WW2. Wars these days will be by proxy and/or through other means, whether through technology or economics.

But if you’re asking if there will be a conflict that pulls in a third of the world’s peoples before we leave the planet, I’d say it’s pretty damn likely given we have no real means or plans to become a spacefaring species.

You might even argue it’s already started.

How can I become an alpha male in 5 years?

Hmm. There’s been a uptick on these ‘alpha male’ questions. Maybe I can put it to rest.

There is no such thing as a human alpha male.

There are people that possess leadership traits, charisma, and maybe even a commanding presence, but even those exist within a context. For example, it’s pretty hard imagining someone being ‘an alpha male’ while they’re taking a shit. It’s hard imagining them being ‘alpha male’ when they’re holding their mom’s hand as she passes from a long bout with lung cancer.

Truth is, life guarantees weakness, not strength, and trying to show (and/or have) strength all the time in all contexts is a weak fool’s errand.

So strive to be a well-rounded person who has the character to surmount their weaknesses. That’s a much more realistic and pragmatic goal than these bro ideals. If you constantly challenge yourself in both breadth and depth, you’ll eventually find that the Youtube/Reddit/4Chan ‘alpha males’ are caricatures of truly strong people.

Is Computer Science a promising major?

I was 24 and halfway through my undergraduate when I took CS101. Compared to some of the other students, especially the physics and math ones, I wasn’t that bright. I distinctly remember struggling with the concept of recursion and its use cases.

I’ve never looked back. It’s been five years and I’m proud to say coding and the underlying principles of communicating ideas to an automaton has integrated itself deeply into my character and worldview.

The best part is that it’s also insanely practical. I make a pretty good living, can find a job pretty easily if I’m unemployed, and otherwise have more control over the modern world than others. From writing a Raspberry Pi program to pull my shades up when the spectrometer reads a certain amount of regular light to annotating storytelling to extract stylometrics, I can do it all with the foundations of what I have learned.

However, it’s a hard field. The skill ceiling is very, very high. You need certain personality traits to be really good, e.g. humility and perseverance. You can easily become obsolete within 3–4 years if you focus all your skills into one narrow silo that only some people use. But that’s also why we get paid so well - constant competition.

So, if nothing else, know this: computer science cannot be removed from modern life. Never has a person said, ‘I sorely regret learning computer science; it has turned out to be a completely useless discipline’, but plenty have said, ‘I wish I took a few computer science classes in college’.

I hope you join us - it’s a fraternity of sorts. Modern day wizards if you will :-).

How can you use BJJ against multiple opponents?

Upa -> Hip escape -> Roll away -> Stand up -> Run.

What's the most memorably unpleasant hike/march you ever did in the military?

I was a road guard on a death march to a training exercise and watched people get thermometers shoved up their asses as well as a helicopter pick up someone who was seizing. About 20% of the company had to be put in trucks.

North Carolina’s coast has an interesting climate and geography. When it’s nice, it’s nice. Blue skies, light breeze, relatively flat land, etc. Hiking that is almost like a nature walk.

But on that very same coast, there exists a military town named Jacksonville. Jacksonville has a Marine infestation that has manifested itself into a hive called Camp LeJeune.

Aside from the boring secondary effects of having a Marine infestation, e.g. borderline brothel strip clubs, Golden Corral fist fights, a hilariously high population of divorcees, car bumpers completely covered in crimson and gold, and overly regular collaboration between the local police and the hive’s police (much to both of their disdains), this infestation also yields a particularly malicious curse on the area that has become sort of a physical law of that small universe.

The temperature, humidity, and UV index grows linearly with respect to how much gear any given Marine is carrying at any given time at any given location within the boundaries of Camp LeJeune.

So there we were. We were going to do a 2–3 day exercise in Combat Town, Camp LeJeune, and had started the troop movement by sitting on our packs in full gear, basking in the afternoon and evening sun for about 3 hours. Movement started at 5PM (pardon the parlance), and it was a 12 mile hump (why we call it hump, I have no idea). It wasn’t our choice.

When we finally started getting ready to move, we looked like this:

Turns out sitting in the humid heat under the sun, fully covered, with ~35 pounds of Congressional Bullshit dehydrates the hell out of you. Even though it was a balmy 90F and 70% or so humidity, it felt more like 105F and 90% humidity. Our cammies were soaked, which only retained the heat even more.

We also had to carry this:

Which contained our food, clothes, and whatever else we were mandated to bring, which amounts to another 35 - 40 pounds. Throw in our weapon and kevlar, and most of us were carrying pretty close to 100 pounds of bullshit.

We got in formation. I was a road guard, or in regular vernacular, a damned soul, and had to wear a neon green vest on top of everything I wore. My job was to move ahead of the formation of 200 angry, disgruntled, about to die young men, and stand at each road intersection and prevent cars from driving near us while we moved. I would stand at one intersection at parade rest, wait for the whole formation to pass and then sprint all the way back up to the front and repeat this process.

We finally left the staging area and crossed our line of departure. Let the torture begin. I walked maybe 100 meters before I did my first tour as a road guard. Troops passed, I sprinted back up to the front of formation. Then I did it a second time. I decided after finishing the second sprint that I was going to fall out. This shit was ridiculous. My lungs didn’t feel like they were on fire - they felt like they were molten lava bubbling and consuming any hope of this being an easy hike. My entire body felt like lead, and every step with my gear made me look forward to meeting my maker.

We had humped maybe a mile, when I turned around to look how everyone else was doing.

People were hurting bad.

Humping isn’t quite like any other aspect of physical fitness. A lot of it is mental, more so than any other exercise I think, but a lot of it is also straight up predisposition to dehydration. And looking back at the formation, I knew that some of these guys were about to go down. You can just tell if you do it long enough.

One marine fell out of formation. Yells, screams, people telling him he’s a weak piece of shit, and other words of encouragement. Then another. The infantry in general tries to keep a 4MPH pace- hits 3 miles under an hour, and rests until the beginning of the next hour, then continues at the same pace. If we kept this pace, more people were going to fall out of formation, I thought.

We suddenly changed road guard procedure. Road guards now always stayed in front, and the platoon behind would send up a replacement, and then the platoon after him would send up a replacement, as each respective platoon passed the road guard. This made my life significantly easier. I no longer had to sprint the length of the formation, I only had to sprint one platoon’s length.

Immediately after this new procedure was barked to us, another one was barked to the next platoon. We were to slow the pace. It didn’t help. People were still falling out. More screaming, yelling. One guy got put in the humvee that follows us for falling too far behind.

By the time we reached the 3mi marker and at our designated rest spot, a dozen or so guys had fallen out, and most of them were in the humvee. It had taken us the full hour. People sat down, drank water, and got yelled out.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been extremely resilient to dehydration and humid heat. Maybe it’s my Vietnamese heritage. I sat up with the road guards, and our leader was a Corporal who had fought in Fallujah. He was a real hardass, and I remember his disgust.

“These weak bitches wouldn’t have lasted a day in Fallujah”, or something to that effect. He was derisive that they couldn’t hump in the heat, because Iraq would be a lot worse. Then he sang slight praise for the road guards because we started with the sprints.

I glowed just a little. Feels nice to know a person who had fought in the worst fighting since Hue, Vietnam thought you were somewhat Marine material. But then I turned my head and watched a friend of mine start seizing up.

He was maybe 20 meters away with first platoon. His vest was open, he was leaning back on his pack, and his arms just went limp, his eyes rolled back, and he started shaking. Before I could say anything, someone else screamed, “Corpsman!”

I’ve seen someone go blind in a chow hall in Parris Island from dehydration. His pupils became super dilated, and he couldn’t see. It was like his optic nerve just decided to say, “Nah I’m going AWOL”. But I had never seen someone seize before. There was a flurry of activity around him.

I surveyed the rest of the company. A lot of people looked like they had passed out. Several guys had their armor taken completely off, and were having their ‘temperature’ taken to see if they were having a heat stroke.

For whatever sick/homoerotic reason, Marine Corp Grunts have a fascination with having things shoved up their ass. Whether it’s the metaphorical “green willie” or less metaphorical “Uncle Sam”, the “silver bullet” was the most concrete, and consisted of a corpsman shoving a silver cylinder up your ass to take your core temperature. Why this is considered the safest, effective, and efficient means of doing so, I will never understand, but that is what happened that day. Young men being sodomized by medical instruments by other young men who didn’t bother containing their glee to practice their trade of object-in-ass shoving.

The NCOs who weren’t fatigued or dying were making a show running around and shaming everyone who was and below their rank. Iraq would be too tough on us, we were all gonna die, blah blah blah, we were the XBox generation, blah blah blah. The ones that were fatigued and dying did the same thing, just muted because they were going to pass out at any given moment.

The ’15 minute’ break lasted an hour. A helicopter was called in for my friend. Trucks were dispatched from the motor pool, and a shit ton of people and their gear got loaded up in two trucks.

The next 9 miles were a joke. What was supposed to be a 4 hour hump turned into 6 hours, and road guard was easy so long as the platoons after us replaced us as they passed. Maybe it was the night temperature, or maybe the first 3 mile leg wiped out the weak ones, but the next 9 miles were uneventful.

The thing about humping is that you need to go away to your special place in your head. Go autopilot, if you will. Acknowledge the agony and slow torture, but acknowledge you have no choice and this is what the universe wills. It lessens the pain, trust me. The Fallujah vet constantly comparing us to the other four platoons helped too. 90% of what he said was saying how we weren’t ready and the other 10% was saying how the 8 of us were the best out of the four platoons.

Statistically improbable, but I’ll take it.

Under what circumstances would you return to active duty military service?

I’d come back if at least one of the following conditions were true:

  1. There is a land invasion of the United States
  2. The world (as in not just the US) needs me to fight some warmongering asshole

The truth is, I’m soft. I’m a sensitive person, and I’m in the process of nurturing traits I’ve been ignoring most of my life, if not outright deriding, like kindness, and patience, and faith in others.

I can fight, hand to hand, and feel very comfortable doing so, but I’ve never had the full experience of a field of fire and people screaming orders over the booms of artillery and gunfire. It’s a different world entirely, and I’m not sure older me could handle it. I’d reflect too much and desire a dream too far where I can exist in a cycle of slumber, eating, reading, writing, coding, and learning.

But it’s a different story when there are enemies at my gate. If New York City was somehow invaded, you can bet I’d be part of the resistance. My father is a peace-loving Buddhist, and I asked him what he would do if someone launched an offensive on the eastern seaboard of the United States. Even he would pick up a gun - the very same man who refuses to keep guns in the house. I would be a shame to my family if I didn’t fight.

It’d also be a different story of the world truly needed me to fight. If Pakistan succumbs to some warmongering extremist and starts sending out nukes left and right, threatening pretty much everyone on the planet, yeah I’d join up again. I’m sure it would be a coalition of the world’s nations, and I’d gladly be part of that.

I don’t see either scenario happening in my lifetime. I think the threat of civil war is much more realistic. I don’t know what I would do there. I don’t think anyone ever does.

Can I still get into a good CS graduate school at this point?

You can, but that’s irrelevant.

Your worth isn’t defined by your grades - it’s defined by what you can produce. Learn to produce things for other people (and yourself, if it interests you), and once you have some semblance of pride in your ability to work and deliver, revisit this question.

You might find that you’re much more capable than the impression you put on in the description.

Good luck.

What is your most controversial or unpopular plan to improve the world?

Make our justice systems bipolar with respect to how it treats the convicted.

Minor crimes, drug offenses, even larceny, are largely things that can be rehabilitated out of an individual. Crimes that have a large effect whether by volume or by magnitude, e.g. embezzling pension funds, corruption from a governing position, rape, or 1st degree murder, all result in death or indentured servitude for life. No more sitting around in prison, we’re going to put your ass to work or we’re going to take you out back and put a 9mm in the back of the head.

It’s important to note this isn’t a cry for revenge: this is us excising a tumor from the body of man. We should do it dispassionately and pay attention to what caused a person to become this so that we may prevent it in future generations. In fact, we should spend more efforts understanding the ‘why’ and ‘how’ that gave rise to this person, rather than focusing on how to kill them, because killing people isn’t a cure. It’s triage for an emergency wound. Learning how to prevent the situation in the first place requires more work but creates much longer value for us as a species.

I have bad headaches after rolling in jiu jitsu. What can I do to alleviate this?

Stretch your neck seven days a week.

Those headaches aren’t from rolling hard unless they come with nausea/dry heaving. Those headaches are tension headaches, and are a result of overly tight neck muscles that have over exerted themselves.

Muscles to hit:

Levator scapulae - Ear to shoulder

Occipitals - Self massage using a lacrosse ball

Upper trapezius - Chin tuck to shoulder

If you don’t do the above:

Your muscles will remain tight, which in turn causes peripheral muscles to be in a constant state of exertion to maintain balance and control. Your rhomboids, infraspinatus, latissimus dorsi and serratus muscles will all be victim to this. Eventually, during a particularly intense roll where someone is cranking your neck, something will pop and then seize up. It is agonizing.

Then you’ll spend $500 on an MRI and find out that your muscles have become so tight that you have four herniated discs in your cervical spine. If you continue being bad, your upper back and neck muscles will sieze up doing completely benign things, like walking up a hill or even while you’re asleep.

Source and accreditation:

All of the above happened to me.

I am a third year computer science student, and am quite good in cs, but I am losing interest in coding. I don’t know what is wrong with me, but I no longer have the excitement that I had earlier. What should I do?

Stop coding.

Stop reading about coding.

The world of computer science is as wide as it is deep, and to say that it is a vast world is somewhat of an understatement. The systems we use to developing this ‘science’ of computers is deeply related to how we develop a framework to view reality, given how deeply embedded logic is in Computer Science. Consequently, sometimes it just feels pointless.

So take a break. Read some fiction, write some poetry, go out, have fun, and when (not if) the day comes that you want to use your skills to build something, computer science will be waiting for you.

Of course, maintain your grades, but spend as much time as you can out in the sun.

What is it that you do that defies societal standards?

When meeting someone that has social credentials (i.e. my friends or society approves of this person), I go straight for the meat.

I ask questions like, “What do you hate about yourself the most?” or “I give you enough money to never worry about it again - what do you do?”. Small talk is no an option with me, unless I don’t care about you.

Some of the questions are fun, some aren’t, and more often than not, people are turned off by my upfront attitude about my interest in who they are. I’d say about 60% of the time they don’t want to play after three or four questions, and I leave an overall negative impression. The other 40% bond much faster with me, and even if we don’t see each other in 2–7 years, we’re still friends without question.

It’s unfortunate that I’m either classified as “intrusive” or “intense”, but life is too short for bullshit - I’d rather get to know the person deeply ASAP. If they deny me the request, bummer! At least I tried.

Does being in the military change your heart?

The Marine Corps certainly changed mine.

When I joined, I was much more egotistical (like most teenagers), and consequently, more focused on aligning myself with the pantheon of the greats. For a lot of people, childhood is about fitting in, and because I couldn’t fit in very well, I always wanted to stand out. Scoring high on my SATs as a big “fuck you” to my peers and enlisting in the Marine Corps infantry (with an ASVAB requirement of 31 when I had a 99) was my way of standing out.

I also wanted to commit the single act that permanently severed your connection with humanity: killing. Or at least, that’s what books, movies, and other media have led me to believe. Side note: this kind of mythologizing is exactly why books like Atlas Shrugged are so popular among our young. It appeals to your belief that you are greater. And what better way to start than to harden your heart towards the suffering of the ‘weak’?

Iraq: Part One planted a seed in my heart that would grow it in a very different direction than expected.

Before I go into that, I’d like to talk about my parents and specifically my mom.

My parents are political/war refugees. They fled Vietnam a few years after the fall of Saigon. One of my uncles was lost at sea attempting to escape. My parents are also very ‘Buddhist’, as in they both practice the cultural aspects that have been merged into Vietnamese culture as well as the more religious aspects, e.g. meditation, hymn/chants, and of course the philosophies of nonviolence, self-control, and introspection.

Now, growing up, I didn’t really respect that. In fact, I kind of openly mocked it. Which is particularly hurtful, because my mom is the kindest person I know.

Kindness is a value that comes coupled with humility, but one that is rarely ever emphasized in modern education or any self-help book you read. There is of course, the adage that kindness does not imply weakness, but the fact that that adage exists implies the contrary. After all, what kind of value is strong if it can put others and their values over your own?

In all respects, my parents gave me a very nurturing childhood, and when I became a teenage rebel, a lot of room for me to develop my own path. They were just terrified and horrified that the thing that led them to America was the thing that would cause me to leave: War. Violence. Bloodshed. Being soft-hearted was for cowards. Fuck kindness, and fuck compassion, I’m born to kill.

It was very difficult convincing them to sign me up when I was 17. I wouldn’t want to be the parent to sign their kid off to war at their request when you had worked so hard to escape it. But I was young, angry, and eager to make my mark on the world, and in the worst way possible.

So off I went.

3/4ths of my training was learning fire and maneuver and marksmanship. Box drills, failure to stop drills, hammer pairs, controlled pairs, and 800 yard ACOG shooting. And I was good. I am very proud of my shooting skills, both as the highest pistol shooter in my combat marksmanship classes and one of the highest in pretty much every other marksmanship test during my four years. My infantry skills as a whole were decent, and I would be moved to team leader and for some points of training squad leader during my second tour’s training.

The other quarter was learning that these guys we were going to help police were just like us.

“Joe Mohammed is just on his way to work - you don’t need to slap him around to search his car.”

“Everytime we kill a random civilian is another 2 insurgents popping up to go plant IEDs.”

“The people ARE the center of gravity.”

We did plenty of shoot/no-shoot drills. Plenty of escalation of force drills. And positive identification before firing was hammered into us.

I wasn’t being trained to be an agent of destruction - I was to be a surgical scalpel in helping a people restore their country. “Badassness” needed to be tempered with reasoning and compassion. This training accentuated and nurtured the very attributes I was trying to run from. Coupled with the Marine Corps ethos and the band of brothers attitude I worshiped, I quickly realized I’m actually more like my mom, deep inside. I started to wonder if the day came, would I be able to do it? Would I put myself before others?

Before I deployed, I called my recruiter and asked how he felt. He said it was a matter of survival. I asked a Fallujah veteran the same thing. Survival. I kept that in mind during the first half of my first tour.

Then we got hit, and we lost a few guys in second platoon. Good guys. One guy in particular, I really respected.

Then it was about revenge. That initial bloodlust that young warhounds always seem to radiate came back at full force, and everyone was tense, eager, thirsty. Whatever influenced us to join the infantry came back, and our hearts hardened. We looked forward to the time when we could exercise our purpose: to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy.

Fate gave me exactly one chance.

I stood behind an M240B and had it at condition 1, aimed at a truck who had sped in a worrying way past 3 out of 4 of our escalation markers. Whatever eagerness I had was replaced by panic.

I was terrified. But, my only thought was:

“If I don’t kill them, Kinnard and McCullough are going to die.”

My finger was on the trigger before I could stop myself. I was convinced it was an SVBIED, given how fast they had blazed past our escalation markers. If they didn’t blow me up (I was the first guard post), they were going to hit our front gate, and blow that up. I couldn’t, wouldn’t let that happen. I pick my friends over these guys. I was resolute. Fuck these guys.

They slowed down and stopped with their front tires right on marker number 4 - the kill line, marked by tank tracks as a speedbump. I wasn’t sure of their intent, so I couldn’t and shouldn’t fire. Maybe today Joe Mohammed forgot to read the sign that said DO NOT ENTER in Arabic we left at the beginning of our private road. I didn’t want innocent blood on my hands.

And thank God I didn’t shoot - I was investigated by NCIS after this event, along with our company and some of battalion brass, including our JAG.

The FOB jumped on alert when they heard my gunfire, and my team leader jumped up in the guard post with me and did the radio work while I kept my aim in case something happened.

Turns out it was some Iraqi Policemen. The truck was covered in mud, so it was hard to tell who they were. The warning shots weren’t heard, the flare I had tried to fire was damp from the humidity, and my engine block shots missed the truck completely. They reversed, and drove away.

When I got out of the guard post, a lot of people congratulated me. I was shaking like a leaf, and continued to shake for probably half an hour. Whatever reservations my squad had of me, senior or boot alike, were gone. People respected me more after that day.

But none of that mattered.

I had come close as possible to an edge without stepping over it, under the belief either I or my friends were going to die, and I didn’t really consider the horror of having to shoot someone else. I was dispassionate about harming others, but would do it for what I perceived to be the greater good. I’d give myself a self-congratulatory pat on the back, but the whole thing is fucking asinine.

The heart that longed for violence had been tampered with the nurturing of compassion for my enemy, and with it, implicit kindness. The very thing that was considered ‘weakness’ was what enabled me to do my job and push me through my reservations and fear. For the sake of others, I act.

So here I am. Trying to convince others that violence isn’t the way, yet a part of me still loves it, and wishes I killed those two guys in that truck that day. I still like that feeling of completely dominating someone in brazilian jiu-jitsu or boxing, and I like to think of those as outlets for the portion of my heart that is only a few bad days away from going crazy, but there’s a much stronger component my parents left in me, and that’s to care about my fellow man more than I care about myself, and to do the ‘evil’ things of the world dispassionately if there comes a day I must.

I’m grateful that day has never came, and I hope it never will.

Why should I study finance?

Finance is the easiest way to use your intelligence and creativity to make money.

If you’re as smart as you think you are, whether you study economics, political science, or even video games, you should be able to predict within a reasonable time horizon how events in those domains will fare.

And there are vessels for you to profit from that foresight: the kajillion financial instruments out there.

You think the video game population doesn’t need another Diablo reboot and as a consequence analysts will overpredict earnings and sell reports? Short Activision-Blizzard.

You think GPUs are expanding outside of their traditional use? Buy NVDA, AMD, and TSMC. If you’re right, it’ll beat expectations after the new wafers start selling.

Think Venezuela’s economy is going to crash? Short their currency.


Finance is a way for me to act off of the otherwise masturbatory armchair intellectualism that has afflicted myself and a lot of my friends. Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is.

Should you feel guilty if someone threatens themselves with self-harm and you don’t obey them?

I don’t think you can stop yourself from feeling guilty.

You had the power to save someone (from themselves). In a sense, it’s a dependency, one that you didn’t want, but a real one nonetheless (in this hypothetical).

But if you believe in human autonomy and human will…you shouldn’t feel guilty.

He made the choice to attach his life to your being at a physical location, not you. With that right comes the responsibility of whatever befalls (no pun intended) him.

Yeah, you’re going to feel guilty (I certainly would), but I think my reasoning would be correct if I walked away and made an effort not to feel guilty.

Would you be willing to fight for your country?

I would only fight if one of the following conditions were true:

  1. My physical geography was invaded
  2. Overseas, the world needed us to fight

That’s about it. When I was younger, I dreamed of the glory of war, and fantasized about heroic dashes up a hill to attack a pillbox where MG42’s percussive symphony of death murdered my countrymen and instruments of war hailed from the skies and shook heaven and earth.

But that’s not war. War is broken homes, cripples, orphans, dug up plots of land, and years rebuilding with grief and trying to understand how and what the fuck happened. War is the enthused dumbass shitting himself after his big talk about killing the enemy when he hears a gun shoot AT him and not WITH him. War is urban combat where every room either has nothing or a machine gun aimed at the door and you’re out of grenades to find out which. War is a heavy veil of terror that affects everyone except the ones who started it.

And I am grateful everyday I didn’t experience any of that in my service.

This isn’t World War 2. This isn’t good versus evil. Life is fucking complicated. War is complicated. I don’t want to be involved in ANY conflict until I know my facts, and that the democracy of Earth agrees to condemn our opponent. I don’t care about anyone else - I’ll fight if and only if I and an overwhelming majority of the world agrees it is right. And even then, I would do it dispassionately. I’m never going to dehumanize or demonize my enemy, ever again.

Now if someone invaded the US…

I would feel sorry for them. I wouldn’t fight as a trigger puller. I’d be the asshole on their HVT list that they just can’t seem to find (because all asians look alike), who supports the militia to fight by emulating King Henry V:

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;

Or close the wall up with our American dead.

In peace there's nothing so becomes a man

As modest stillness and humility:

But when the blast of war blows in our ears,

Then imitate the action of the tiger;

Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,

Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;

How can a writer balance between strong characters, back stories and plot?

By rewriting many times.

That’s pretty much it. It’s a constant struggle as an artist. Maybe I used too much green in my painting. Maybe I sculpted the neck too large. Unfortunately in those examples, they have to be, as my old art teacher used to say, “art smart”.

We just drag a mouse cursor over, hit backspace, and rewrite. :-).

They can be forged in the humid tropical heat of a quagmire of an island, populated by angry and overzealous parasites that eat away at your soul and test your mettle and discipline as you struggle every day NOT to lose your shit. There are sand fleas too. During this process of constant hammering, a lot of potentially good Marines are broken and thrown back to the beginning of the assembly line, or sometimes discarded completely. Nothing but the best, for the American people.

Or you can pick a few up at the local Walmart in San Diego. They’re usually on discount.

What can I start doing today to become an alpha male?

You can completely disregard my answer and all other responses to this question and start being the person you want to be.

Would the United States be better off if every able bodied person had a short period of mandatory military training as a young adult?


  1. You see what conformity looks like. We’re all about individualism and after you get out, you have the rest of your life to be an individual. But you might learn that the world of conformity isn’t nearly as bad as people say it is, and the closeness of brotherhood might leave you aching for that same experience. This could bring people who otherwise would hate each other together. You’ll also be able to compare and then discern who you really are.
  2. You learn. A lot. You learn about what it’s like dealing with differences in groups, what real leadership looks like when its character base and not incentive based, and you potentially have the honor of going to a real shithole and witnessing what life is like for people way less fortunate than you.
  3. You pay back some of the debt you owe the world. Service, as the late Muhammad Ali would have said it, ‘…rent you pay for your room here on earth’.

To account for people who aren’t about this life, civil service should be a suitable replacement.

What are some interesting concepts that you've learned in computer science?


The idea that things can be composed of themselves, whether it be processes or mathematical expressions, was nothing short of magical to me. Seeing recursion in action and what it could produce (e.g. algebraic data structures in ML languages, algorithms like quicksort), changed the world for me. I’m now a bit of a recursion-spotter - constantly trying to find instances of recursive things in real life.

What paths are there for a computer science masters degree?

It really depends on where you go, and what you sign up for.

Some programs are a ‘professional’ degree that requires only coursework with some predefined amount of breadth and depth.

The (what I consider) ‘real’ MS’s are more thesis/research based, where the goal is to see if you would want to do a PhD (and schools often have a hidden way to elevate from MS to PhD…but it will be just as tough as a regular PhD admissions). What area that research is in depends on the school. Some schools are leaders in machine learning AI, and others in computational biology, and others still in networks or theoretical computer science.

But generally speaking, almost all MS programs in computer science offer a selection of ‘specialties’ for you to dive into after your breadth-focused coursework. Research your school to find out what it offers.

Is it possible to get into a good MS computer science program with an undergrad degree in liberal arts and 6 extra cs courses?


I met a mid 30’s business owner who never programmed in his life. He matriculated into the program after taking some intro courses out of curiosity.

He later singlehandedly implemented a new scheduler into some recent version of the Linux kernel for class.

Oh, and he didn’t learn how to touch type until two months ago.

Nobody cares about what you were, or what you did. The professors, students, and the rest of the academic community only care about what you do now, and where you want to go with an MS in computer science.

What should I do to gain courage?

Do things that make you nervous, anxious, afraid.

Courage can’t exist without fear. So confront your fears.

How exactly can I get out of this comfort zone by motivating myself?


There is nothing more ‘out of your comfort zone’ on so many levels than the physiological sort. Your mind will do its best to convince you to quit, while your will drains itself sustaining the kind of effort that makes your body vomit.

I like to call it character building.

What is your favorite thing about humanity?

We always strive to be more than what we were.

What is the most unpopular political opinion you have that is most likely to create an outcry among your friends/colleagues?

  1. We should execute a lot more violent criminals. Not for ‘justice’ or for ‘revenge’, but more because I’d rather spend the money of keeping them alive on preventing other children from growing up to be like them. We can accomplish this by greater expenditures on health and education.
  2. Universal Basic Income should be a thing. It should be an amount that will keep a person alive and sheltered and even change environments, but it will be the absolute bare minimum. So long as a person gets their checks, they will be 100% responsible of what they do with it. That means if a heroin addict dumps his money on heroin and starves to death, then he starves to death.
  3. Higher taxes on the rich. It makes absolutely 0 sense to me why in a world where the rich are ‘competitive’ that it gets EASIER to become rich the richer you get. In literally every other system of competition, from jiu-jitsu to team composition in the NBA to even video games, as one ascends the ranks to the ‘higher’ tiers of competition, the space gets narrower and narrower and climbing gets harder. This is not the case now, in the real, personal, economic world.
  4. Mandatory service at the age of 18. Whether that service is in public service or in the military is up to the adult.
  5. People shouldn’t be allowed to vote if they can’t determine what their candidates’ major stances are. They also shouldn’t be allowed to vote if they can’t pass basic literacy or logic tests. I’m sure the two parties can come together to formulate how low the bar would be for the latter.
  6. International cooperation between the rich to shelter and hide from the legal boundaries of individual countries is wrong. I do not know what can be done about this, as it has basically created an ‘Elysium’ type structure in society. I think we might have missed the boat on stopping this.
  7. Government officials convicted of corruption should be executed, and all their family’s assets taken back by the state. The very indictment for corruption should be enough to make them step down, immediately.
  8. More stringent background checks to guns, as well as gun literacy classes before purchase and licensing. More time to catch the crazies. But leave my guns alone. I do believe we can be a nation of warriors, where there are no ‘soft’ targets, and removing our ability to own our own guns would make that dream impossible.

What were your feelings towards the opponents you fought against while at war?

At first, dispassionate interest. Throughout boot camp and school of infantry, we always talked about killing the ‘Mooj’ and ‘Johnny Mohammed’. It was interesting at first, but I grew bored when some of our combat experienced instructors told us tales of cold blooded murder. They had seen their friends/family die from these assholes, and it felt good to kill. I got that. But it gets old.

When I finally arrived in Iraq during my first tour, I felt…scared. For all my desire to hunt and kill, something inside me faltered. I think it might have been the fact that there were those around me who were complete blood thirsty animals, and I wanted to distance myself away from them.

But that passed pretty quickly. My unit did our best to get involved, but alas Ramadi was quiet while we were there, or at least until halfway through.

Then we got hit. People I know died. One man who had stood up for me lost the lower half of his body.

And that’s when the bloodlust kicked in. I became eager to justify murder. We shot stray dogs far far north so that no one would ever know to satiate some of that blood lust, but it wasn’t filling. Talk around the fire pit was centered towards wondering which Iraqi Police station was the most corrupt, and we could fantasize about murdering half those corrupt fuckers.

We left. Blood was not spilled. We were not happy. All that pent up rage, and frustration, leads to bad things at home. For me, it was alcoholism and violence. When we heard we were going to Afghanistan, our training kicked into high gear, and boy were we excited. It was time to kill. Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children were back in action, and it was time to get ours, and the coveted symbol of honor, the only one we cared about.

But at the end of our final training exercise, we switched missions and did a security mission in an air base in the middle of nowhere instead.

I switched to intelligence, went to online college, and was responsible for keeping track of targeting for our area of responsibility.

The reports that came across my desk were disturbing. Stories of child rape, and other vicious acts carried out to as part of murder and intimidation campaigns. Foreign fighters flooding the area to begin their plans as soon as all US Iraq forces consolidated to Ramadi. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was looking at a future cell of ISIS.

We left, and I got out. Then I felt regret. I felt like those four years, I did nothing to my enemy. But the hate disappeared, the rage vanished, the berserk fury and recklessness required for a man to fantasize about wanton slaughter, all gone. I think, wisdom replaced it. And with wisdom, came sadness, bitterness.

Time has passed. I’ve surrounded myself with good people, and learned more about the world. I have nurtured what little wisdom I have, and given it a chance to grow brighter, stronger. And with it comes hope. Just a little, but enough, enough to keep a man warm in the coldness of a world gone mad.

And now I see my true enemy. I have realized that I might have left the desert, but I never left the war.

My enemy is not the Iraqi insurgents. It is not even ISIS.

My enemy is the the mechanism that causes young people to have their minds closed off to the world, and have absolute conviction in their actions to harm others. These young people are the result of their family, friends, and society, or lack thereof.

And I was one of them. I know hate. I know rage. I know what conviction paired with the power of a gun feels like.

If there ever came a day I had to kill my enemy, I would do it dispassionately. Their life is beyond repair, and they are only a cancer to be excised. I would perhaps even feel pity for them.

We are always at war. It is important to remember that all men, good or bad, were at some point, human. And we should never rejoice in the taking of human life.

How does one begin with English poetry?

I’ve never be formally trained in poetry, or anything of that sort.

But poetry to me is condensed writing. It’s as artistic as it gets without technicality, though there are plenty of great poets who make surgical use of how and what they say.

To get started, just write how you feel, in the shortest, purest way possible, whether or not it make sense to other people.

What are the basics of muscle training?

There’s a lot of literature out there regarding how your body reacts to stress. The issue with that lot of literature is that sometimes there are contradictions, disagreements, and opinions masquerading as scientific fact.

So here are things people all agree on:

  1. Your muscles adapt to physical stress. Too little and there won’t be any adaptation; too much and your muscle will break and you’ll be injured. This is called the idea of progressive overload.
  2. How quickly your muscles recover and the magnitude at which they recover is dependent on rest, nutrition (high protein and caloric surplus), and type of training.
  3. Muscle adaptation comes in roughly three types: myofibrils (the actual ‘cables’ that contract), sacroplasmic (the fluid that inflates and feeds your muscles), and mitochondrial (the ‘powerhouse’ of muscle cells that fuel it for use) hypertrophies. Which one gets ‘trained more’ is dependent on your training regimen.
  4. Compound exercises are great for putting on just raw mass. Isolation exercises do exactly what they say they do - they isolate certain muscles.
  5. Not all muscles are created equal in growth rates per person.
  6. Not having developed stabilizing muscles or proper muscle symmetry is a one way street towards future orthopedic impairment.

That’s all I got. Train smart.

What is the best fighting sport for low fat/ high muscle body?

Probably wrestling or any of the other grappling arts. The rounds are short, there aren’t that many of them (if you make to the end), and it’s all about one long explosion of energy for less than 10 minutes tops (5 minutes in my case).

You can build your body with this in mind. Lift to get strong, cut body fat to compete at the lowest weight class you can, all the while doing ultra intense bursts of cardio that continue lowering your body fat.

Is there a difference between the success of those that attended a 4 year college after high school vs those transferring from a community college?


I started on an online university back in 2008, back before MOOC was ever a thing. My education was sub par, to say the least (think University of Phoenix).

I transferred my online school credits to a regular private university.

Then I went to grad school at an Ivy League.

Success isn’t determined by your past. It’s determined by where you want to go, and how badly you want to get there.

How do you know if a subject is too difficult for you?

A subject is too difficult for you when you no longer enjoy climbing its peaks.

I originally went to grad school with the intention of studying theoretical computer science. I wanted to focus on computational complexity and optimization problems.

But then I took an actual course on computational complexity, and got thoroughly rocked. I have never once in my life lost sleep over school before, until that class.

It was enjoyable in the beginning however. The rush of writing proofs and learning to think abstractly and deal with problems I couldn't physically replicate was exciting, and for a split second, I believed I had it in my to do a PhD in this kind of material.

However, as the semester continued, I learned that it became less and less enjoyable. As time passed, I realized my intrinsic motivation was beginning to falter, and the only thing pushing me hard was not to fail the class. My initial joy became dread, and a forlorn longing for an end. This is not a good way to learn, or really, live.

I passed the class with a B. But by then, it became very apparent to me I was not cut out for theoretical computer science. Not because the material was too hard, but because I was lacking both the discipline and motivation to learn those materials.

How do I fix my uneven lats?

Do typewriter overhand pullups.

  1. Dead hang from a pullup position with an overhand grip
  2. Do a pullup, but touch your left knuckles with your chin
  3. Maintain that height (chin above bar) as you then move your body to touch your right knuckles
  4. Lower yourself down
  5. Repeat, but touch your right knuckles with your chin first, and go to the left
  6. Repeat, keep alternating which side you touch first
  7. Admire your even and powerful lats

What percentage of your bodyweight should you deadlift to be considered to have good strength?

Theres going to be a lot of discussion on what qualifies as good here.

One approach is to see the world records in the natural league to see the range as per your weight class.

Another might be to see benchmarks of athletes of different sports.

I have a simpler method.

Deadlift 2x your bodyweight.

Because it means you could drag or lift your self out of a burning building.

We can never have enough programmers. It is virtually a requirement for modern living.

But among those programmers, there is (likely) a normal distribution of ability, whether through talent or experience. And we will never have enough highly skilled programmers.

What is the worst thing you've ever experienced in the military?

I stood up for a fellow Marine and was betrayed for it.

In the infantry, when you first arrive, you're a boot until after your first deployment. A boot is basically the lowest of the low. It's a lot worse than boot camp, because at boot camp there are rules for your drill instructors to follow. There's a purpose. And they tend to be very professional.

But in the fleet, those rules evaporate. Overzealous combat veterans want to 'train' their new warriors to be tough as nails, vicious as animals, and reliable as family. So what do they do? They train them. Harshly. When a 'senior' Marine who is only 20-21 and given pretty much 100% control over someone else's life, direct or indirect, bad things happen.

We were at S̶a̶t̶a̶n̶'̶s̶ ̶a̶s̶s̶ ̶c̶r̶a̶c̶k̶ Mojave Viper and had come back from some training regimen. Some of us were hanging out in the giant half-barrels embedded in the cracked dirt, and some people were outside on their phones trying to get reception to call their significant others/family/whatever. I was just minding my own business on my cot and trying to catch a few winks.

Some of the Marines decided to rife through a boot's cell phone. He was out doing something. I don't know what. They found naked pictures of his wife.

I perked up and started listening. At that time, I was too cowardly and unsure what to do about this. On one hand, snitches get stitches. On the other hand, this was too far. This violated so many levels of decency. They were commenting on her 'hairy bush', and it was at that moment that I knew I had to do the right thing.

So our Platoon Sergeant came back, and I asked to talk to him in private. I ratted out half the platoon.

He called out several of his senior Marines. They asked me if I dared call them a liar to their face. I did. The victim boot was called out. They asked him if his wife had a hairy bush, i.e. to confirm that people did indeed rife through his phone. He said it was irrelevant, and if the senior Marines said I was a liar, there was a good chance I was.

I'll never forget that night. In one instant, I became the pariah of the group, and for many months later. I was the 'rat', the 'snitch'. I was assigned to every working party, fucked with nonstop, and my life was miserable. That boot, who I thought was my friend, was a cock sucking piece of shit who just wanted to earn favor with the senior Marines to redeem himself for ratting them out for hazing him when he first got to the fleet. My reputation spread. People said I cried when I first left the main base when I arrived in Iraq. I didn't. I actually fell asleep.

I learned something that night. I learned I had a backbone. I was willing to sacrifice my belief in the brotherhood, my band of brothers, for my ideals. That was the night my identity became my ideals and not the Marine Corps. That was the night I recognized I was willing to die for my beliefs, because I had, in one fell swoop, given up pretty much everything else at that point.

If you were there that night, you can go fuck yourself. I did what was right, and you fucking know it.

How useful is formal education in Computer Science? Is it true that formal education in CS will not equip us enough to solve real world problems?What will a degree in CS teach you?

What will a degree in CS teach you?

It depends on the degree and where you get it, but it should teach you that:

Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.

Edsger Dijkstra

You want to know what computer science, REALLY is? It's the science of computing. A bit tautological, I know, but here's another way of looking at it: it's a framework for understanding how computers think. Computers are incredibly powerful, and have ushered in a new age for mankind. To say that understanding how they actually work is important is an understatement of the year.

But from a liberal education standpoint, there's another thing that computer science teaches.

Computer science teaches you how YOU think.

You finally have a model to consider how you do things. Baking an apple pie? You're following an algorithm. Going shopping for a new pair of jeans? You might be weighting them by an optimization/cost function, or maybe you're just a min/max list traversal to find the cheapest or most expensive you can find.

More importantly, you're mapping these very thoughts into code, i.e. you are expressing your thoughts in the most succinct, concise, correct way possible.

You won't get much more 'raw' thinking than that, outside of regular human-language writing, but that leaves a lot to be desired due to how important interpretation is. The level of ambiguity is greatly reduced for a computer.

So there you have it. That's what CS taught me anyways - how I think, how I approach problems, and how I solve new ones. There was a period of 2 months where 90% of the code I wrote happened on bar napkins in Buenos Aires because I was musing over algorithm problems on HackerRank.

So what does industry teach you?

Industry teaches you how to do it.

Of course, if you find that you don't understand why things are happening the way they are, you probably won't be able to act on it effectively. And that is why you can learn just as much in industry as you can in a formal education.

But the scope is much narrower - a company is paying you to learn in a certain direction and a certain way.

At the end of the day, whether or not you have a formal education doesn't really matter. Plenty of brilliant computer scientists and/or coders have arisen from nowhere. There is no academic vs. real-life dichotomy here. A truly brilliant computer scientist or engineer is such because of a relentless hunger for knowledge and perfection of their field, and it is a very, very broad field, with new caverns and heights being discovered every other month. The only education that matters is the one you provide yourself, not the one the environment supplies.

What is the toughest aspect of jiu jitsu to master?

Ego. I have never seen a sport where controlling your ego is so essential. Rolling too hard can hurt both parties involved. This especially applies when you're in the game early on. But even when you get your black belt, watching some of the pro matches can show that the distance between a black belt and white belt can be eclipsed by a professional black belt against an amateur competing black belt. To always know the climb never ends, and keep climbing, while constantly pelted with reminders of how little you know... one must stay humble.

What are some books that fuse the military and policy making?

Yes. But it's not country versus country anymore. It's ideology versus ideology. In this case, extremist fundamentalism versus modern progress. Insurgencies are popping up everywhere, and being 'radicalized' is the mark of our enemy. It's only going to get worse, as social and economic inequality grows, and our throughput of processing resources dwindles as we run out of natural sources.

Should I major in Computer Science or Business or Both?

Major in both. I did both in my undergrad, and I don't regret it one bit. Learning to do 'business' in undergrad really means, 'learning how to work and socialize with others such that they see you as an ally in the future'. Sure, you MIGHT pick up some hard skills, like accounting, the math and statistics behind financial investment decisions, and the general nomenclature and ideas of business, but the human lessons are much more important. Now add in the hard ideas behind computer science (discrete math, actual programming, thinking in abstraction), and you'll have a strong foundation for any problem imaginable. You'll be able to think in broad strokes (business strategy) but capable of zooming into the tactical level (implementation). You'll be able to explain the sophisticated (abstract) yet can write the nitty gritty (literal code). Specialization of labor is the name of the game, but don't specialize until you're sure it's what you want. By doing both these majors, you'll develop a strong foundation and open many doors (and leave them open for the future), so when you're ready to commit to a field, you'll be highly competitive.

What is the definition of Abstraction in relation to computer science?

Something that is an 'abstraction' is context free, meaning it applies outside of a 'real' example. Addition is an abstraction. One apple plus one apple is two apples. It could be apples, or oranges, or dogs, or cats, or ideas, or planets. A queue is abstraction. A queue could be a queue of people, places to travel, or nodes on a graph. Classes can be abstractions. They define the core tenets of what a class is, but might not be 'real' until subclassed and implemented (and even used). Layers can be abstractions. Asking for a primitive to be rendered on screen can be context free in discussion, but depending on which graphics rendering library you're using, can be several different things in 'reality'. So, so long as the 'reality' of the situation is hidden from you, and you can still move forward with your ideas, you're working with an abstraction.

What's a good gpa for a computer science major?

For undergrad, anything above a 3.5. Here at Columbia, the average GPA for a SEAS graduate was around 3.3 (as per a 2011 grade statistic leak). GPA is pretty useful, but a better indicator of your usefulness to a tech company is your experience. Side projects will easily make up for a low GPA. As a master's student, I don't even post my GPA on my resume and I get plenty of callbacks.

What was it like to fight in the Iraq war?

Note to Reader: Don't hesitate to suggest edits.Mirthlessly hilarious.

I went to Iraq for the first time in September, 2007. I remember. in School of Infantry, during one of our heart to heart emo angst verbal love sessions with our instructor, (who would join my unit two tours later and remembered me as 'the kid who got blown up by a training IED'), he had recounted his first thought as he flew into Iraq at 0-fucking-dark-thirty."Holy shit. I'm in Iraq."And as I viewed the moonlit desert from several hundred feet up from the back of a Chinook (I think? I don't know much about helicopters), those very same words crossed my mind. I looked around. We were in black out, and I couldn't see much under the single red light. But I saw grim faces. Fear. Thoughts of family, friends, dogs, hot dogs, apple pie, and the upcoming battles. We were here for a counterinsurgency mission. How we were trained could be summed up by our 5-3-5 tenets. Rather than write the whole thing here, there was only one tenet that echoed in my mind as I went through my first tour.Be polite
Be professional
And have a plan to kill everyone you meetPart 1 (MORE FUN!):
I'm not sure what OPSEC rules I am violating by writing this, but since "Fallujah, With Honor" was written about my unit's fight in Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah and released in 2006 (same year I joined my unit - I met a lot of the guys in that book then, and they were the scariest motherfuckers ever), I can't imagine I'll be doing any hardcore damage to our future security missions. That being said, I'll keep it low on hard details. I also have to neglect all details concerning Alpha, Charlie, and Weapons company, as I was mostly with Bravo.1/8 was initially tasked with handling security on the south/southwest portion of Ramadi, to include the main route that cuts through the MORE FUN label. Further down was a main highway that ran parallel to an oil pipeline that insurgents (we think) were stealing oil from to fund their operations. Long story short, our job was to set up a brand new forward operating base and watch over the AO day and night, with the occasional oil smuggler busting run every now and then. One platoon was stationed out of some brick and mortar house at the bottom of the 'R' in 'Ramadi' in the above map. One platoon, in a house, tasked with 24/7 posts, patrols, and infrastructure/logistics work. To say that those guys didn't get enough sleep was putting it lightly. One of my friends who was in that platoon remarked how they were cordoning off a building on a random sweep and he fell asleep in the prone position. Luckily no one caught him, and he was back up and at it the moment the cordon was broken. Another platoon was set up at some major vehicle check point. Some kid fell asleep and negligently discharged a .50 through someone's car. He was NJP'd (Ninja Punched, i.e. Non-Judicial Punishment). I'm sure it didn't help with Iraqi-American relations. And another two platoons got royally screwed and had to set up the FOB from scratch in the middle of the fucking desert. I was part of one of those platoons. During the work up (the seven-nine months of training up to deployment to prepare us for our mission), I had been recruited by my executive officer to be part of something called the CLIC - Company Level Intelligence Cell. Because it was a new idea, and I was in a line (infantry) platoon, and I got recruited, I was quickly shamed into being a pussy/coward/bitch/traitor whatever. You have to keep in mind these are 20-21 year old kids who are literally in charge of other peoples' lives. In addition to that, a warrior who doesn't fight with a weapon isn't exactly happily embraced by other warriors. So that had set the tone for the entire work up. I was hoping Iraq would be different. But when I was attached to my old platoon, to go set up the FOB and assist with COC (Center of Confusion - er, I mean, Center of Command, or was it Command Center? I have no idea.), it was not exactly well received. Luckily for me, because I was sent to HQ platoon, I had made friends with one of the comm guys who was higher ranked than most infantry guys AND raced cars before he joined the Marine Corps. He was a bit of a big brother and mentor, and taught me how to just shrug shit off. 'Life is going to shit on you', and 'you're always going to be wrong', were things he taught me, so keep your chin up and keep marching. By the time I got there, most of the stuff was set up (which evoked even more bitterness). I was tasked with doing radio work 12 hours a day, in addition to using my knowledge of biometric kits, flying the UAV Raven B+(+?), and compiling all intelligence work (huge part of COIN - Counter Insurgency - Operations). It was boring. But there were notable events. Myself and the most evil narcissistic sadistic former-drill-instructor platoon sergeant (henceforth, Badass for reasons I can't say...let's just say the man turned out to be a paragon of virtue in other ways), who was formerly my platoon sergeant before I jumped ship to CLIC, were in the COC around 2AM. He was watching some movie on some portable DVD player and I had the PRC-118 radio headset attached to my ear while watching the military's version of IRC. And then one of our FOB radio handsets came alive."COC this is Post 3."
"Post 3, COC."
"There's a lot of small arms fire coming from the south. We can see it on NVGs. Tracers."Huh. Weird. The only people close to that supply route was an Army group, under some wicked cool call sign (Nightreapers, or something like that as I recall). They hadn't called in any contact... So we tried to call out to them. Badass and I were puzzled. The other posts were watching what appeared to be a fire fight, with tracers flying BOTH ways. And yet the Army team wasn't calling anything in, AND weren't responding to us. As a last resort, we used BFT (basically a minimap of the entire AO - every vehicle has a BFT unit attached with GPS, comm gear, etc). We sent them a message, and no response for the longest time. Badass told one squad to get out of bed, gear up, and get ready to go make contact. And then they responded."Nothing to report."What?It wasn't them. Or so they said. We have no idea, to this day, who was engaging in a fire fight down there. We noted it in our logbook, and that was it. We had been informed of insurgent vs insurgent fighting or local sheik vs foreign fighter insurgent fighting, so maybe it was that. It was odd, to say the least. The first third of the deployment went like that. It was dreadfully boring. For all that training, from town-assaulting practice at Mojave Viper, to the countless room-clearing drills we had done, to all the stupid things we had learned about the desert in the event we get heat fatigue... we kind of just pranced around blind in the desert. By the way, this is the part where I should mention that relationships began to break down. People who were cool during work up will turn out to be complete assholes under stress. And lots of people were stressed, despite no action. It was like the movie 'Jarhead' - while nothing was happening, we knew things were happening around us, and that was enough to stress us out. Some of us were itching to fight, and others were itching to leave. Not a good mix.Part 2 (KILL ME):
We got orders to pack up and move to a new old base. We were relieving an Army unit, and taking over their entire AO - ALL of the northern side of the Euphrates, basically between Fallujah and Ramadi and northwest Ramadi. Alpha company moved into FOB Shithole, and I was tasked with staying with them to fly the Raven under them for a bit. It was fun. Because I wasn't one of theirs, they didn't go out of their way to make my life hell. I was left to my own devices, hung out with Sergeants and Corporals (as a Lance Corporal), and helped raise a FOB dog called Meatball who liked to piss himself. Finally I got picked up and sent to the new FOB (where 'KILL ME' is on the map). This was the worst part of the deployment for me. My duties resumed, with more fun. I had to burn human excrement once a week, and I had post 3 times a week. Burning shit is self explanatory. Post means standing up at the top of a crumbling Iraqi building for 12 hours...from 9PM to 9AM. And I had the radio 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. And I still had my biometrics duties, and patrol excursions. It sucked. Badass openly remarked I was the hardest working one in the platoon despite getting nonstop shit. I remember at one point I had only gotten 3 hours of sleep in 72 hours. There's a point where your body just kind of accepts the fact it isn't going to get sleep, and actually PREVENTS you from getting sleep. Also, when a man has to stand in a box, staring into the darkness for 12 hours by himself, and wear 7 layers of clothing just to keep warm, something inside him scars up and hardens. You eventually learn to pass the time by fantasies of banging your at-home or now-in-college friends, or fantasizing about going to a supermarket and just buying every kind of food you could ever want. I remember wanting Fruity Pebbles. I've never HAD Fruity Pebbles. And god. It was cold. The desert is really, really fucking cold. And add in the desert wind, and it was just hell. You paced about in your little 3 x 3 box, or shifted about, or even jerked off to keep warm. Many a young-grunt brought up with him a sock (if it was a solo post), and many others didn't. You do what you have to to stay awake, less you want your ass whupped. Relationships began to deteriorate still. One young lad turned out to be quite the snorer. So his squad kicked him out of the little makeshift squad bay, and the poor bastard slept out in the freezing open outside the little house we took over. But some relationships also kind of rebounded, as some grew comfortable. A lot of us were becoming complacent. It had been 3 months. We had done plenty of patrols, found a few IEDs, and done a few sweeps. The guys across the Euphrates from us (2/1, or 2/8), had recently been hit by a VBIED (Vehicle Borne IED), but that was it. Ramadi wasn't on fire, as we were promised. And then, January 19th, 2008.Part 3 (FUN):
I joined a line battalion. I wanted to fight. Always have. I wanted to know what it felt like to kill someone. I wanted to believe that it was for the right reasons, and that I was helping move forward a great cause. And many young men like me have stood on those yellow footprints before, for this explicit purpose. Before you label me as some kind of psychopathic monster, I'd like you to know that many of us define ourselves with that desire. It isn't natural, but it is real, and when you spend your childhood idolizing warriors, and then finally have a chance to fight and nothing happens... it becomes a bit of a gnawing ache, in a hard to reach/massage place. More on this later. All was quiet on the northern front until January. Then one of our guys at another FOB decided to kill the Iraqi Police (henceforth IP) Chief's son with a bayonet. This was a counterinsurgency mission, so we worked hand in hand with the Iraqi Police a lot, and one of the duties was teaching them to stand post and do watch. The son had decided to join up with the police, and I guess was standing watch. One of our younger guys (boots, or 'junior Marines'), was in charge of the Iraqis. The story goes that IP Chief's son was giving him lip or something, and when our guy turned around to walk away after giving an order, the son decided to pull a knife. Rumor has it our Marine pulled out his, gutted the kid, then pushed him off the roof of the building they had the post at. This obviously did not do well for the relationship between the IPs and us, as we were supposed to be allies to fight the influx of foreign fighters. So my platoon (1st), and theirs swapped. So I moved to FOB FUN. I had the familiar duty of standing post, but COC work was no longer mine. I was sent out on a lot more patrols to do intelligence gathering and help the HET (USMC version of CIA) guy who was attached to us, but it was pretty leisurely for a bit. We shared the FOB with another platoon, and so we had a 6 day cycle - patrol day, 12-hour post day, patrol day, 12-hour post day, patrol day, Quick Reaction Force day (basically on standby for 24/7, but usually a rest day). Somewhere during those 6 days were raids and sweeps, which were long, sordid affairs of going through 4-5 miles of town and entering peoples' homes, saying hello, and going through their shit. And then we got hit. Four months into a sleepy deployment, after all the hype and working and 1.5 years of training from yellow foot prints to boots in the sand and dirt, the very same platoon that had killed the kid, by accident or otherwise, got suicide vested and attacked by four (well, three - one guy blew himself up to start the fight) insurgents. It was a long fight, and some people say the IPs they were on patrol with led them to that trap. I don't want to go into the details, mainly because I don't know. But I do know two things. One guy died. Lance Corporal [censored]. That platoon had a reputation for being dickwads and real mean towards their boots. I was with them for one day during training, and [censored] was a tall southern white guy who was super, super nice, and soft spoken. From what I heard, he never yelled. One guy lost both legs, and several feet of intestine. Lieutenant [censored]. This one struck a nerve. [censored] had defended me from the company gunny once because gunny was accusing me of stealing a map. A fucking map. Why the fuck would I steal a map. And [censored] told the gunny that if I got punished for something I didn't do, he'd come after Gunny via the CO.[censored] was basically a protohuman. More than 6 feet tall of muscle, short blonde hair, and a chiseled jaw - exactly the kind of guy you'd think would be a badass Marine. More importantly, he wasn't an asshole. From what I've heard, he downplayed his position a lot, and his relationship with the platoon sergeant was admirable and cordial. Too many boot-tenants come in with their big swinging dicks and butter bars (the ranking insignia is a golden bar), and while [censored] was a boot, he knew he was, and he was a good man who did what was best for the platoon at the price of his ego. I remember the moment I heard. I was standing post, when my former asshole squad leader, who picked on me because of my ASVAB, walked in and started asking me some questions. Areas of coverage, can the M240 machine gun hit this and that, and informed me that they'd be putting up a fence around the post. I was like, 'Fence? for what?''Fences deflect RPG's to prevent direct hits.'
'Uh okay. Did something happen?'
'Yeah. [censored] platoon got hit. One KIA, several wounded.'Information flowed slowly, and we were only briefed we were hit. We weren't told who, but the rumor mill (called the Lance Corporal Underground) was hard at work, and we caught the details soon enough. We had a makeshift funeral at our old FOB. CLIC was disbanded. I was placed back into first platoon, but a different squad. I don't want to focus purely on the negatives, so I will expound on this point in the deployment. These were the happiest days of my life. Two homies (I called them other things), one from Philly, and one from NYC (I think), adopted me and treated me like a teammate, and soon everyone else did. And I loved them for it. I had been searching for a home my whole life, and I was finally there. I was still a POG (personnel other than grunt) to them, but I slowly gained their respect with my smarts, and my comfortable attitude in Iraq. It was clear we were all united by a common purpose: two bodybuilders, two homeboys, one former squid (navy guy - piece of shit who later turned out to be a pedophile and sent to military prison), one sweet reservist Wisconsin boy who looked like an underwear model (Calvin Klein), and one older guy who liked Oasis. And of course, my team leader, the West Virginia welder. This man taught me so many life lessons... I can't even begin to list them all. Our squad leader was from my hometown too, and he was the nicest guy ever. Fucking massive, and asked me to send him 'porn' which were actually pirated comic books. I think I gave him the entire Civil War collection. Calvin Klein and I connected particularly well. If there was ever a man who deserved happiness in this world, it'd probably be him. Second tour we came back, and I saw him, and we hugged it out. I asked him how his wife and daughter were doing, and he said they divorced. When I asked why, he said words I'll never forget."She just...fell out of love with me man."The hardest thing isn't being at war. It's coming back. Anyways, Bravo-1-3 (First Platoon, Third Squad), was my home. And we were ready to fucking murder some insurgents. Blood for  blood.And so I joined in with the fun. More post, more patrols, and two nighttime raids where we were told there were armed insurgents via UAV and HET (Human Exploitation Teams - basically CIA agents, but military). We were hunting, hard. We wanted to fight so bad. For me, there were exactly two instances where I could have had catharsis and MIGHT have gotten away with it. We were coming back from a particularly long sweep on the northern bank of the Euphrates, when one truck with some Johnny Mohammed decided to take a chance and cut us off. I just happened to be the road guard blocking traffic. Before I could stop myself, or anything even registered, my M16 was raised, the safety was off, my finger was on the trigger, and the red triangle of my ACOG sight was on his face. I'd like to point out I'm a 5-time rifle expert (the highest rating for Marine Corps rifle qualifications), and later a combat marksmanship coach for both pistol and rifle. I was also selected to go to an ACOG course where I was hitting head-sized targets from 800 yards with a 5.56 from a stock M-16 with a 4x ACOG. To put it succinctly, I wasn't going to miss Johnny Mohammed from 25 yards away. I remember thinking to myself,"I'm about to kill this man in front of his family."He stopped. I don't recall seeing anyone else in the front of his white bongo truck, and I'm not sure where the family idea came from. But the most important thing I noted was that I didn't even hesitate. I mean, you know they train you with human-shaped targets for a reason and all that stuff, and there's all the psychology of screaming KILL at the top of your lungs in response to an order, but I never realized how EFFECTIVE it was. I wasn't shaking. There was nothing. Just calm, cool, casual thought of 'hey, I'm going to kill this guy if he inches even one foot forward'. Thank god he didn't. But I was the local hero when we got back to the FOB."FUCK YEAH WINNIE!" (Winnie was my nickname, later 'Winnie the Psycho' for other reasons)
"GET 'EM MIKE!"Besides the night time raids we did (of which one we did with a navy SEAL to bust a VBIED factory in some guy's house - it was a dud and bad intel - serious case of blue balls there), we never really got a chance to point our guns at someone. This kind of tension and bloodlust just continued to grow within us. The second event kind of dampened mine though. I was standing post after a rainy day, and a mud-covered truck charged at the FOB using the side road reserved for our vehicles. I tried to flare, and the flare was a dud, so I fired two quick warning shots and jumped on the M240. It was my second and last chance of killing men, and once again, they stopped. I was shaking like a leaf, because I was convinced that day was the day I died. No wise man rides past 3 tank tracks laid across a 200M road at full speed towards an American FOB unless he's looking to make himself and a portion of the FOB a crater. Turns out it was just a lost IP truck. I'm skeptical it was an accident. It was well known the IPs were the biggest pieces of shits around. When we'd go out for routine patrols or sweeps, they'd drive ahead of us with their trucks with full sirens on (as if to announce to everyone, 'Hide yo wife! Hide yo kids! Hide yo 155MM shells and AK-47's!). It didn't help that we knew elements of the IPs were enemies, and when I was briefly in intel, there were lots of reports of political infighting and power vacuum jockeying in Ramadi. Also, prisoners had a tendency to mysteriously disappear under their watch, only to be caught again months later. I remember later my squad leader asked if I was okay - he was the second one in the box with me, calling in information to the COC, who in turn was calling it up to higher. There was an investigation into the incident for shooting at our allies. I didn't care. I, was, once again, heralded by my squad, but, something in me was really shaken. I had never had an adrenaline rush like that. I've jumped out of planes, competed in BJJ, gotten interviewed by Palantir... no, this was the worst. But life goes on. And so the deployment continued. I was later sent to HQ platoon (I was unhappy about this, but was moved to third platoon later as a team leader and second squad leader). All that tension had reached a boiling point in our last month, and my last memory of my first tour was seeing my lieutenant (who I loved dearly - I was the first person he exclaimed he was a father to at 3AM at the first FOB when his wife gave birth back in the States), standing in the middle of a field with his arms wide open, screaming at the sky,"SOMEONE SHOOT AT ME!"And that was it. That was my deployment. I was given a certificate of commendation (I didn't suck enough dick to get a Navy Achievement Medal), sent back to HQ temporarily, and a week later we were on a plane back to the US. So, to reiterate, we:1) Volunteered DURING WAR to join a LINE UNIT and fight
2) Sweat, bled, and cried through boot camp, SOI, and a workup consisting of torture by the administration and torture by our junior leaders because being a new Marine is a reason to be hazed during the workup
3) Froze, roasted, suffered through wind, rain, Iraqi mudholes, humvees breaking apart in the middle of the fucking desert busting low-level oil smugglers
4) Realized this was the real deal when people we KNEW died and got injured and crippled
5) Ran around the entire northern shore of the Euphrates, desperate to fight, knowing the entire time the IP policeman we were working with is probably plotting our death at night and was probably the dude who buried the IED that blew up half the road at 4AM because he wired it wrong and killed a donkey
6) Went home with a serious case of murder blue ballsThat was my tour of duty. I'd mention my second one, by at that point I was like, 'fuck this I'm going home'. Also, it was a security mission at a well-known air base 50 miles away from the nearest Iraqi town. Now that the narrative is largely over, there were three important takeaways for me during my first tour of duty in Iraq.1) You don't know a man until you see him at his worst. I saw grown hardasses cry on the phone in public when their wife divorced them from 3000 miles away. I saw the nicest and jovial guys turn into backstabbing dickwads who would pull a knife on you when you were just playing around and giving them shit. And you were his teammate. I saw a petty shoplifting Georgia boy who was nice all around rise to the rank of team leader as a private, and radiated with leadership and humility. Put people in their worst element, and they'll either rise, or break. And this is part of the myth of war for me - i.e. another reason why I joined. It's not a band of brothers, it's a brotherhood of man - across all cultures and belief systems, war is central, and war is both noble, and evil, and this is why. The extremes of who we are come out to play, and it can be a marvelous sight to behold, or it can be the worst thing that has ever happened.2) War tastes, smells, and looks like shit. And yet the people are numb to it. We went out on countless patrols, just walking from house to house, store to store, and even illegally bought...uh...stuff... I don't want to talk about this. But you get what I mean ;-). And the locals were more than happy to oblige. At the end of the day, these poor bastards in the middle of our COIN operation are just Johnny, Jane, and Alice and Bobby Mohammed, and they're just trying to live man. We came in and fucked shit up, but it was because we wanted to kill bad guys. At least we tried to repair it, with money, generators, and 'speedballs' - big bags of rice, flour, canned goods, etc. as part of our COIN operation. Counter Insurgency isn't like traditional war - it's what being a cop SHOULD be about - taking care of the populace and helping them. Being a civil servant was basically our job, except we were armed with guns and actively hunted the bad guys.3) Killing. I don't think I can say this and ever run for president, but I'll go ahead and say it. I joined for the explicit purpose to kill. That was it. It was 51% of my reasoning. Chapter 33 GI Bill didn't exist when I joined in 2005. Education benefits were a joke. I thought I was going to be a lifer before I even got through boot camp. I even went back and forth in re-enlisting. And to not have killed, and not to have fought, and earned the ONLY ribbon that matters to a grunt: coveted CAR - Combat Action Ribbon... for me, to not have it is not just a mark of shame, but a mark of guilt. Survivor guilt. I volunteered to fight and didn't even get shot at, as far as I know. The two moments where I could have waxed people would have been innocent lives I took for no good reason and counter to our mission. Don't get me wrong, I'm well aware the older and wiser grunts who know the truth of the situation think I'm a fucking idiot, and really, most of me agrees, but like every young man, there must be a trial by fire, and I never received mine. This guilt was exacerbated during the second workup, when we were told we were going to Afghanistan, and then got sent to a security mission at an air base... butts were hurt, and not just my own. And then mine was hurt again, when some of the guys I knew who served with me stayed for a third tour - the Marjah Offensive in Afghanistan. I knew a few of the guys who passed away there. And to know that some of the guys who I was a team or squad leader to fought there without me... I'm older now. I can out-rationalize and out-logic it and I'm much more emotionally mature and capable. But as Swafford said...A man fires a rifle for many years. and he goes to war. And afterwards he comes home, and he sees that whatever else he may do with his life - build a house, love a woman, change his son's diaper - he will always remain a jarhead. And all the jarheads killing and dying, they will always be me. We are still in the desert. So, what was it like to participate in the Iraq War? It's like going out for a picnic with the only people that matter in your life, and after an early morning of hard preparation of sandwiches and lugging the bigass picnic box up the mountain to its apex, you get to witness the world around you in all its rawness and beauty and desperation, knowing death was only two feet too far in any direction. And then it starts raining. You knew that was a possibility the moment you set forth, and it's crappy, but a part of you is masochistic, you kind of yearned for the rain. Anyways, can't control the weather. So you whip out your sandwich, and with a smile on your face and your entire body drenched, you bite into your sandwich, only to realize you forgot to put in the ham. So it's just a cheese sandwich. It was one of a kind ham too - the kind that young idealistic men hunger for. You can't get mad. You just let it roll off your back like the water beads are. And after you hike back down, you realize some in your party had it much worse than you did - some fell, tripped, or broke something, and REALLY wanted the ham, even more than you did. Others completely broke down under the rain. Still, you manage to continue with the smile, but you're not sure if you have made the choice to smile, or a smile has been etched on your face. It's mirthless, sardonic, bitter even. You just learn to live with it. You volunteered for something great that demanded your entirety, and you didn't pay much of your soul for it. Others did. Deep down, you wish you paid it, and that you were as miserable as your friends, but you don't have it in you. You don't mind a cheese sandwich or a few cuts and gashes. But that ham... maybe that's the only thing that stung deeply and scarred. A sandwich, without ham. What was the point of the picnic then? The preparation, the hike, the precarious apex, the rain, and the meal? Did it mean anything?But life goes on. Others hated it, but you got something out of it - you know what you're like, at the extremes of humanity. You're better for it. And as time goes on, and memories fade, something inside you never forgets, or never LETS you forget, what it was like to be at the top of that mountain.

What is life like after service in the Marine Corps?

I left the USMC for a variety of reasons, one of which was the culture. I clearly wasn't a good fit. To be frank, I was "too" smart. And I was ostracized for it. I remember a certain Lieutenant who somehow got wind of me having the highest ASVAB score in the battalion, and proceeded to call me "135" everywhere he saw me (because that was my GT score), then mocked me whenever I did something wrong, again reiterating my test score for all to hear. Also, I was made fun of a lot because I was Asian. But that didn't really bother me as much, since I called plenty of people niggers, wetbacks, and made jokes about Alabama incest. Still, sometimes it felt like what was being said was more than just a joke. So I left. Turns out the outside world is rife with its own cultural issues too. And I've concluded that there's no real cultural home for me. I'm too much of a brute for the industry that uses brainpower, and I've too much brainpower for the industries that require a brute to kick in doors. Specialization of labor is the name of the game and I'm about as well rounded as a wheel. I guess most people don't experience this kind of range in life. I've played and lived in the quagmire with the derelict of society, and now I've ascended to the highest ivory tower. I've talked and worked with the literal leading scientists of the world. And just 8 years ago I was running around in the desert with a gun, itching to shoot some foreign fighter in the face. I don't talk about my past anymore. These days, I find that people have a hard time reconciling those two images of me. I certainly do. So I just don't tell them. It's not even on my resume. There's just a strange four year gap in my history, where I "traveled" the world (which isn't a lie). But it's surreal. To be in this cultural and intellectual limbo. On one hand, I'm a pacifist. I've seen war. On the other, I understand how sometimes it's a better idea to just drag someone out back and shoot them in the head before they can do more damage. On one hand, I'm an operator, an executor. You need something done? You come talk to me. And on the other, my mind is best used for strategy and design - that's why I love coding. For me, life after the Marine Corps has been a path of constant self-discovery, with the occasional chance to careen off the edge into existential crisis. Or maybe I'm just an anomaly among anomalies. Who knows. But I do know that I don't regret it. Any of it. Not even for a second.

Approximately what percentage of veterans have a service level disability?

I think Jon Davis's answer is the best one, and here's a bit extra:When I was going through SEPS/TAPS, I was told to complain about everything. Knee pain, foot pain, ankle pain, back pain, ear pain, ringing in ears, anything and everything that I felt, headaches, migraines, floaters in my visions, my junk doesn't function, etc., and they would evaluate my history to determine if I had any service-connected disability. It didn't matter whether or not I was disabled in the most literal sense of the word, it was about whether or not any chronic pain/dysfunction I had was at all exacerbated OR caused by the daily wear and tear of four years of military service. I could have bad knees coming in, and still have bad knees coming out, and I would likely get a disability rating for it because my service made my knees worse.With a system like this in place, it wouldn't surprise me at all if a lot, say, 30-40%, of veterans had some service-connected disability rating.

Should Columbia University have expelled the student accused of rape by Emma Sulkowicz?

It depends solely on whether or not you think being accused warrants punishment. Because this is America...hopefully not.

Should I turn down he Ivy League school so I'm not relying on my parents? I’m thinking of accepting a full scholarship to a state school so I can forge my own path.

It depends on the ivy, what the state school is, and what department you're in. If you're studying something where brand name is super important, then go with the ivy, and make sure you pitch so much money into your parents' retirement incomes that they'll never once regret paying blood and sweat for your education. If you're studying something that you can make yours, and won't be limited by circumstance, then go with the state school (e.g. sciences, math, physics, computer science, etc.). For a lot of people, who you spend those four years with has a huge impact on who they will later become. If you're not one of those people, then go to your state school and succeed by your own terms.

If world war 3 broke out involving all the superpowers in the world, who would be most likely to win and why?

The cockroaches. They can survive the radiation.

What is the one life experience that made you mature significantly?

I came back from my first tour in Iraq and noticed my dad had gray hair. Suddenly it wasn't just about me anymore.

Is it okay to be frustrated over military rejection?

Yes. But don't let it stop you from serving your country. You don't need a badge on your arm to know that you're a good citizen.

Is there something inherently psychopathic about people who want to join the army? I understand that most roles in the military are non-combat, such as medics. Are there some members of the military that joined because they wanted to fight and kill?

I haven't read the book, nor the study, but here's a nice summary from an amazon review of the actual book:Killing another human being is not a natural act, contrary to what the movies would have us believe. Grossman argued that only 2% of the troops are natural killers (psychopaths/sociopaths), the others need a variety of support strategies to overcome the feeling of guilt that eventually emerge. ... He shows that the demands of authority, training and conditioning, experience, target attractiveness and group support all come into play before the trigger is pulled.The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society: Dave Grossman: BooksSo to answer your question, it's unlikely it's psychopathic, considering how few "psychopaths" there actually are in the military.

How do atheist soldiers reconcile with the fact that "there is only one life" when they are in the line of fire?

When I recognized I had only one life to give, it made giving it so much more important to me, and thus easier.

Is it possible for a civilian to ever understand combat and PTSD?

Yes. After my first tour in Iraq, I had been beset with a host of ailments that might have resembled PTSD. There was no P or T though, with the exception of a few pant-shitting moments that had nothing to do with combat, and I believe my out of control emotions were largely a result of leaving the "on" switch on for seven months straight, often without sleep or other luxuries in life. A close friend of mine sent me this book :Trauma and Recovery : The Aftermath of Violence, from Domestic Abuse to Political Terror rev edition, Judith Herman (9780465087303)for some perspective of what I was going through. Long story short, there are a lot of parallels between contextualized versions of PTSD, whether you are a domestic abuse survivor, a rape victim, or a combat veteran. The source of the trauma of course puts its own unique spin on it, but to answer the original question, yes, "civilians" (read: humans) can understand the combat PTSD. As a side-note, this is kind of the root of it all, isn't it? That there is an unspoken wall between "combat veterans" and "civilians", as if we can't share experiences due to a lack of proper understanding because "you weren't there". I don't necessarily disagree with it, but these subconscious projections of barriers don't solve the problem. It comes from both the civilian side, who often puts veterans on a pedestal whether they want to admit it or not, and veterans, who happily assume the position that they have some kind of unique ineffable quality that civilians will never get or understand. Yeah, I get it, experiences and wisdom can't be truly communicated, but refusing to communicate at all has literally never solved any problem on this planet. Ever.

How much longer will the United States last until it is defeated and conquered?

What makes you think modern geopolitical dynamics are similar to that of the time of Greece, Rome, and Britain, such that the US will be "conquered" or "defeated" similar to the way they were?

What are the top survival tips in a warzone for a fresh recruit?

Edit: Wow, this is the real deal. I apologize for the last half-assed answer that I took semi-seriously. All right, let's do this.If I had to print out one sheet piece of paper to keep everyone alive and fighting, here's what I would put on it:General

  1. Stay alert, stay alive. Situational awareness is paramount.
  2. Take care of your feet. It's what keeps you grounded, literally, and what moves you out of the way.
  3. Communicate, communicate, communicate. This is what separates a good warfighter from a bad one.
  4. Establish standard operating procedures and communication techniques within your small unit. This includes hand and arm signals, sounds, and code words (especially important for night operations, and in your/their case, lack of uniforms).

  1. Establish fire superiority ASAP. This is pretty much the golden rule. If you do not have fire superiority, it means that the enemy has no problem moving out of cover to fire at you, so get your team and squad mates to lay down a base of fire before you do anything else.
  2. In ranges from 50M-300M ("close" combat), take your time to shoot. There is pretty much never a reason to fire fully automatic with ANY weapon. Even weapons deployed on tripods fire 10 round bursts at the max, and since all of your weapons are likely hand held, 3-5 round bursts are sufficient if it is deployed. Otherwise, accurate semi-automatic fire is way more dangerous than trigger-jerking rapid fire. A "controlled pair" (two aimed shots in quick succession) is recommended and can be very useful. Learn what you're comfortable with, and what you're accurate with.
  3. In ranges up to 50M (in my opinion real close combat), learn how to do a "hammer pair": Fire one aimed shot, followed up by a second shot without re-sighting or re-aiming. Hitting a target twice in quick succession virtually guarantees shock and loss of motor skills and dramatically increases chance of being out for good.
  4. Your weapon is your life. Clean it, maintain it, adjust the iron sights or scope when you need to, and be extremely familiar with reloading under duress. Speed reloads are paramount in urban combat, so learn to do it blindfolded without the rifle leaving the pocket of your shoulder.

  1. Always have a place for cover in mind. I seriously mean always. If you're out in the open, learn to hit the deck. Face, chest, crotch, knees, and feet together on the ground in a flash. It will save your life.
  2. Spread out, and almost always be staggered. You never ever want to create a line that points at the general direction of your enemy, because bullets penetrate, and it only takes one burst with 7.62mm to take down 2-3 unarmored guys standing in a line.
  3. Clean up your gear. Find dark, black, matte tape, and tie up all your straps, so they don't rustle or flap, and tape anything reflective or shiny with the tape. This is fundamental in night operations.
  4. Learn to set up defensive positions on the fly. If you have a 3 man team, each man covers 120 degrees, standing 10-15 meters apart. 360 degree coverage, all the time, whether in a static position or on the move.

Infantry Tactics
  1. Break up into teams of at least 3 or 4, with at least one automatic weapon to use as the designated machine gunner. One machine gunner can provide a base of fire for the rest of the team, which can be elements to flush out or flank the enemy.
  2. Teams can and should be formed into squads, such that each squad is one independent operating unit. One team can be a base of fire, with 3-4 men providing suppressing fire, while the other team maneuvers to form an L-shape around the enemy and hit them from two sides. This is the classic and ideal scenario for any infantry squad.
  3. Learn to identify avenues of approach (A0A's) and dangerous open areas ("danger zones").  AoA examples are alleyways, roads, doors, stairs, basically anything that could be a chokehold. The first priority for a defensive position is for the machine gunner to cover the main AoA. Danger zones are areas you have to cross during troop movement, say perpendicular to a road. If this is the case, have someone cover one side of the road, another cover the other, before moving across, and move FAST. As soon as you're on the other side, provide cover so the original two can get across.
  4. Learn the lay of the land. Consolidate maps, cut power to their side of the town, etc. This is your home; you have the advantage. Set up defensive positions that provide BOTH cover AND concealment. You want to be hidden, protected, and able to cover all the major AoA's. In defense, your goal is to deny the enemy mobility, and if they try to take something, they'll be at a significant disadvantage.

First Aid
  1. Learn the ABC's: Airways, bleeding, cover. That is your priority for a wounded person in any situation. Check their airways - no oxygen means brain dead in 90 seconds. Then check for bleeding. If it is bad, tourniquet, gauze, leaves, paper, whatever you have to to slow it down, then drag them to cover. The faster you get them to cover, the faster you both are no longer a risk for the rest of the team.
  2. EVERYONE carries a tourniquet or gauze. Get tampons if you can. Gauze and tampons can be stuffed into bullet wounds to slow the bleeding, and tourniquets are life savers for large arteries in appendages. Make sure everyone knows how to use them (several inches closer to the heart on the appendage from the wound).
  3. Drink water. Dehydration lowers the corneal fluid in your eyes, distorts your vision, lowers your ability to see at night, swells up your hands for less control, makes you feel fatigued and messes with your brain. You can go three days without eating before you're fully in ketosis and in starvation mode, so make sure there is local water supply or bring enough.
  4. Check yourself after a firefight. Adrenaline, shock, and fog of war can prevent you from noticing what has happened to you. You're no good if you're dead.

I wish we lived in a world where I didn't have to write all of the above, but we do. I never thought I'd ever write this kind of stuff or help train someone ever again, but here I am. I hope this helps. Good luck. The world is on your side.

Why haven't homebrew-community-dependent handheld video game electronics taken off?

In general, game design and creation is a nontrivial task. It requires extensive knowledge of pretty much every domain of computer science, from hardware, to kernel, to operating system, to application, to algorithms and graphics, and that's assuming you designed the game well, which in itself is a feat as an amateur game designer. After all, how many indie games get above a 70 metacritic?Now factor all that into a system you have to physically build from the ground up, with limited space (I'm thinking Raspberry Pi), with resource costs (as you'll have to buy multiple Raspberry Pi's and components to assemble), and then shipping costs. It's doable, but is it easy to do well, with just you or a small team? Doubtful.

Would you recommend studying for a bachelor's degree in philosophy?

No. Philosophy is something that will take you an entire lifetime to scratch the surface of. Read it on your own time, and let it be the permanent sustenance for your mind. In the mean time, party and have "the college experience", and use it as a stepping stone to secure your financial/economic you can study philosophy :-)

What are some necessary items that you would want/are necessary in a government constitution?

Off the top of my head, same as the US government (it's all I know), with the following changes:

  1. Political plurality. Run as any party, from anywhere.
  2. No "states", just municipalities and autonomous local governments.
  3. Mandatory military and/or civilian service, to encompass anything and everything between "adopting" a highway to clean up the trash for 2 years up to 2 years of combat arms service.
  4. A (relatively low) cap on government donations from corporations, domestic or overseas.
  5. A giant Excel document listing every single donation received per campaign as well as the name of the donor.
  6. Electronic voting. In fact, legislation must do its best to always encompass the newest and most reliable technologies to ensure that every citizen is well-informed and can vote, in the interest of all parties.
  7. Another giant Excel document with every person's vote listed, except rather than their name, a hash of their name + ssn, and the hash is revealed to them immediately after voting. Now we'll always see election results, and anyone can crunch the numbers, and everyone can verify their vote.
  8. Completely open borders. Don't like your locals? Move.
  9. A federal assistance program to cover ONLY the moving costs (via sending in receipts) would be ideal. I like to this of this as legislative natural selection - if a municipality has shitty laws, people are going to leave, and nothing should stop them (it should even be encouraged to quickly show how bad their legislation is).
  10. The federal government should only aim for two things: 1) Protect the US, and 2) Promote competition domestically. The latter entails both social (meaning subsidized education, healthcare, etc. to make sure everyone starts off on the same foot), and corporate (municipalities that are having a hard time get tax breaks).
  11. Limited terms for federal legislators and their laws don't go into effect until after their term, but can be repealed immediately with their successor if that legislative group votes as such. Ideally, all legislation is meant to be forward looking. Leave the domestic emergencies to the people - they better learn how to self-assemble to take care of business.
  12. Highlight the fact that the Constitution is a living document. Almost everything is subject to change. Times change, societies change, people change, governments change, geographic resources change. We shouldn't be so full of hubris as to assume that our Constitution is timeless, and in fact, should encourage experimentation and growth. This amendment (the one you're reading), is the only one that will never change.

Is it true that women can join the US Navy Seals?


What is the benefit of being a person of great moral character?

Directly? None. And that's both how you become one, and why.

What is the best job for a lifelong learner in his 40s from Wall St with a family?

Teach. Nothing more rewarding or difficult.

What function of an IED bomb gives it the term 'improvised' explosive device?

IEDs are improvised because they are made of literally anything that isn't traditionally a munition or meant to be a destructive device or used with a destructive device. For example, using melted plastic packed with gravel on top of a homemade plastique in a metal bucket that's tilted over and aimed at a road. When the charge detonates, the plastic pretty much melts instantly and spews out gravel. To the casual observer it just looks like an empty metal tin leaned over on its side. Or, using small metal strips as a pressure detector: Tape two metal strips together at various points using electrical tape so that they don't have contact until someone steps on it and makes the metal touch, which completes a circuit and detonates a charge somewhere (often roads). Or, using a standard oven clock or even a laundromat timer attached to a battery and charge. Standard time bomb.TL;DR: Improvised means that the explosive device will contain anything that the perpetrator can snag from the environment to enhance its effectiveness or make it effective in the first place. From using screws from abandoned factories to stripping CAT5 cable for wiring, a half-decent bomb maker will use whats at hand to create a weapon.

What is the meaning of life?

To explore the human experience in both breadth and depth, and at the same time, try to leave the world a better place than I found it.

What are good one-sentence solutions to end wars?

We're only killing ourselves.

What phrase, paragraph, or quote from the ancient stoics had the biggest impact on you or made you feel enlightened?

"A man should be upright, not be kept upright." -Marcus Aurelius

How can education be optimized?

I think there are a lot of ways. Here are some general avenues that can be applied everywhere, and I hope they will be in the future.Prior to the act of teaching:

  1. Begin with the end in mind - What exactly is the purpose of this education? Is it to encourage academic thinking? Or are you preparing the graduate for a job? If it is both, what sets of curriculum would give the student the best of both worlds?
  2. Partition your student body - Everyone knows one size fits all doesn't always work, so classes should be divided by ability level, not by age. This is easy in theory and hard in practice of course, but...
  3. Acknowledge the problems of standardized testing (and use them for specific reasons) - Which means, unless the goal of a class is to teach someone how to take a test, the test should take the backseat. That being said, if the test is the end-all be-all, don't lie to your students - it's pretty damn important, and you SHOULD teach to test - they can learn creativity and original thinking elsewhere.
  4. Balance the curriculum between mechanical versus creative thinking, and let the students know what to expect - A history class is often times a task of learning of the facts, with the occasional essay that asks a "what-if". A pre-calculus class is going to be largely mechanical, especially if it caters to those who are less mathematically inclined. Get formula, plug in numbers, repeat. The hard part will applying said formulas, and recognizing when they are relevant. And of course, an English class, or definitely a philosophy class, should let all creative juices flow. Don't be one of those teachers who gives A's to essays that are just a contorted regurgitated mess of what has already been mentioned by said teacher.

During the act of teaching:
  1. Teaching is theater (in my humble opinion) - Your role as the teacher isn't to pull, push, and/or scream at your students through a door, it's to show them a door, and let them walk it through it by themselves and out of their own volition. Inspire them, encourage them, challenge them, etc. Obviously, it's not that easy so...
  2. Recognize what kind of student you are dealing with - A low-income kid with family problems at home probably won't be perking up at every opportunity to give his or her take on Sylvia Plath's "The Bell Jar". So don't be an ass and constantly harass said student with questions so he/she can earn "participation points". Guess what, not everyone wants to voice their opinion. Let their homework/essays/whatever speak for them. On the other hand, if your CS101 student is breezing through Python, give him/her the opportunity to build side projects for an extra grade or for more learning, and then offer the same opportunity to the same of the class to make it fair.
  3. Make learning enjoyable - In addition to being charismatic and socially adept, a good teacher should know how to pace the course/lecture such that the student feels like they are at a high skill level relative to the assignment, AND YET the assignment is challenging (i.e., introduce the kids to "flow", and try to nurture that mindset). I bet you were expecting something like, "introduce toys" or "reward kids with candy". Nah, if we're gonna teach, they should enjoy.

After the act of teaching:
  1. Homework AND Quizzes/Tests - While they serve as a benchmark for the teacher, are also a learning opportunity for the student. It's an opportunity because it is a context where they have to learn that is different from the casual in-classroom exercise or the 2AM binge on homework to submit it by 8AM the following morning. Or, in other words, don't let it become the end-all be-all. If they screw up, allow them to rectify their mistakes and see the errors of their ways.
  2. You have a life too - Who cares if they got the formula wrong? If they followed the steps, still did all the math right, and the logical progression is sound, does it really matter? Do you really want to test for memorization of formulas? The only thing you should be grading is, was their a transcription of their flow of thought, and/or is it logically sound? Whether it be an essay on the international perception of the US military post-Bay of Pigs, or finding the length of the hypotenuse of a triangle, make grading easier and just accept the fact that small mistakes might give them the wrong answer, but as long as the process is right, that's what they should be rewarded on.
  3. Adjust fire - The curriculum should be a living, breathing thing, constantly reacting to changes in the environment outside of the context of a formal education, and constantly preparing itself for the next batch of students. If certain exercise problems were too hard, or certain prompts too close-ended and allowed regurgitation and no free-thinking, it's time to change things around a little bit.
  4. Reflect - The public opinion of public school teachers is amazingly low. Rather strange, considering said teachers will influence kids almost as much as their parents, seeing as how said kids will spend up to 17 years of life going to school (assuming you're in the US) just for a Bachelor's degree. So prove them wrong, and constantly ask yourself how you could be a better teacher. And don't forget, you might be teaching them social studies, but they'll remember you as a person. It's a surprisingly personal job, so constantly improve your character as well.

Is there any practical use for .50 pistols?

Learning how to absorb recoil with your hand, arm, shoulder, abs, and/or legs, or if none of those, probably your face.

What separates man from beast?

We (attempt to?) define ourselves (causa sui).

What is a virtue that is missing in today's world?

Duty. We, who have the luxury of reading this from the comforts of an air-conditioned room while munching air from a bag of Lays chips, should not take our great fortune of being born in such marvelous times, in an opportune land, to a family that most likely did not destroy us for granted. We have a great responsibility, and that is to move the world forward, until there exists a day when human suffering is a choice and not forced from bad luck of the draw, and when all humans (and if you like animals, sentient life) should have the same magnitude and breadth of opportunities as we do today. Any day we do not take a full step towards that goal is a failure of duty and a blemish on our honor.

What should I do if my parents oppose interracial marriage?

The same thing you did when they told you they were opposed premarital sex.

Is it a negative impact on a 18 year old college male to have moral issues with having sexual relations with someone other than a girl of serious love interest?

Hell no. If anything, it just shows your maturity and understanding of what you think is really important. If people like emotionless sex, good for them, but I haven't met anyone that has found love and wanted to go back to emotionless sex. Have you?

I think most people are simply dumb or even stupid.  What's wrong with me for thinking this way?

Naivety and stupidity isn't always an affliction that lasts forever. Just think of the seemingly afflicted as having a different background, in a different phase of life, or not as lucky as you are. So guide said people and hope that they'll reach a place in life that will yield a more bountiful relationship with you. Or not. In which case you might not be making the best of a bad situation, which, in my viewpoint, might mean you're naive and/or stupid. It's contextually dependent.

How do soldiers tell their weapons apart when deployed? Does it even matter?

You usually have all your serialized gear on you at all times, and often have the numbers memorized. There's also different distinguishing features, like which rail attachments are on, small pieces of cord, etc. But yes, it does matter. In the Corps, losing serialized gear is a big no-no.

What are one or two sentences that someone has told you that changed your life for the better?

"Do you ever listen to people?" -the only girl that ever dumped me. Needless to say, I now try to minimize my judgement and preconceived notions. The world has gained ever so slightly more clarity since I learned how and when to shut the fuck up.

If you, as an atheist, could say something to every theist in the world, what would it be?

We both seek solace from our shared cosmic nightmares: death, the unknown, and the slow decay of our symbolic self. And that common goal has been, currently is, and always will be, one of our strongest human connections. So let's stop pretending we're different at our most fundamental and existential level. We can get through it together.

What proportion of humans enjoy killing?

A very, very, very small proportion. I recall reading somewhere, I think by SLA Marshall (a WW2 historian), that of the 25% of the armed forces during the Korean war that fired their weapons, only 10% of them were in direct combat, and of that 10%, only 1% reported enjoying the experience. That's unreliable though, so here's a link that mentions some of the more modern work:Psychology of KillingIt doesn't mention any explicit number, but it is implied that very few people even think of enjoying the experience.

How would you characterize, in one sentence, the deep passion of love?

A yearning for my soul to be complete.

How do you spot someone who is lying about his/her military experience if you don’t have military experience and there’s no way to do a background check?

I was with 1/8 in '07-'08 and '09 (though that second one doesn't count as a deployment). When I was a boot, I was trained under Fallujah vets. Here's how I can tell if someone is faking their combat or infantry experience:They talk about it and make themselves look good.Seriously, it's not glorious. Sure, I like to brag I've kicked in doors and cleared rooms, but the only time it was "fun" was when nothing was happening, i.e. training. Yeah, I can put a 5.56 in a person from 500 yards (5 time rifle expert and Combat Marksmanship Coach) with standard iron sights, and yeah, I can administer combat lifesaving techniques if you having a sucking chest wound. I can strip and reassemble a M4 or a M16 blindfolded. Blah blah blah. Bunch of crap anyone can pay some cash to learn or buy one of the army manuals and read themselves. But I have never, ever, ever met a combat vet who openly spoke of what he did over there, unless he was surrounded by his combat brothers or future military (infantry) kids who needed to know what was coming ahead. And believe me, it's never a joyous occasion. It was either catharsis and therapy, or a warning to the future generation of warriors. Some of my friends have done and seen things that I am uncomfortable imagining, let alone sharing. I was fortunate. My only "real" deployment was uneventful (for me). In a way, there's a bit of survivor guilt. The "real" vets suffered a burden (and it's always a burden) that many of us could never comprehend. And to speak of that burden lightly, or worse, to fake it, is nothing but a reprehensible act.

What idea has had the greatest impact on your life?

"Death smiles at us all, all a man can do is smile back."
-Marcus AureliusI am going to die, and all of my actions, my history, my thoughts, my hopes, my dreams, my intentions, and everything that was ever me will become dust and vanish with the sands of time. The idea that changed it all, that turned cynicism and pessimism into hope, was that the single greatest thing I could do was to accept death, and then live in spite of it. Everyone likes to say "live like it's your last day". This often gets misconstrued into an excuse for hedonism and debauchery. But that's cowardly, isn't it? To waste your last 24 hours doing something that only feels good as opposed to being good? To surrender to the insurmountable, and let it dictate what you do?This is the definition of weakness in my code, the stoic code, and any warrior code. To bend to our own mortality, our own fragility, or our own transience is nothing short of abandoning what it means to be human. Instead, we should view death as our motivator, our source of strength, and the bastion of our will. Our actions should no longer be restrained by our own mortal coil. Rather they should be done with unlimited ambition and with fervent and maybe even fanatical conviction. Because we're going to die anyways, what are we holding back for?

Is it possible for a 1 or 2 person team to make a successful indie game?

Possible?It's been done, over and over again. See: MUDOne legend, KaVir, the owner/creator of God Wars, has written over 2 million lines of code SOLO, from the ground up, for God Wars 2. But MUDs are a bygone genre... It's much harder for graphical games to make it solo.

What book or philosophy were you exposed to as an adolescent or young adult which you bought into and have, as an adult, discovered it was hogwash?

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand. Some novel ideas, but naive, and arguably dangerous (see Tea Party). I feel like that book specifically targets young people, when we think we are smart, strong, invulnerable, and infallible.

Do today's First Person Shooter (FPS) games accurately reflect the nature of modern warfare?

Not even close. The actual battlefield is easy. Training kicks in. What you don't experience is the training, the hazing, the being the guy on the bottom of the totem pole. You don't feel the sweat, the grime, the agony of your muscles giving out, but you have to keep going. You don't witness the grown warriors sobbing on the phone in a box in the desert because their wife is leaving them and taking the dog. The same guy who five hours ago was yelling at you to keep formation and stay alert is now crying like a child who lost his mother. You don't see the moments after you get home when you visit a friend in the hospital and both his legs are gone. You wonder what he is going to do after this. Then you realize it's better you don't. You don't see the guy who came back from Afghanistan and had to pick up the pieces of his buddy because they didn't bring body bags for whatever reason. His wife pops bubble wrap while he's asleep and he freaks out, draws a gun, and points it at her. You don't fall victim to the ineptness of the bureaucracy, the politicizing of every action you take, the balancing act on the razor-edge that is standard operating procedure and you can't fall off because doing so either gets people killed or lands you an NJP, court martial, or prison. You don't feel the alienation when you come back home. Sure, everybody nods, gives you your space, realize you did something noble, but it sure as hell doesn't feel noble. It just feels like the world kept moving when you were gone, and nobody stayed back to wait for you. Finally, you feel that deep, deep sorrow. It persists for years after you're done. Every time you pick up a newspaper and find out that the place you were in just turned worse, and more people are dying. You wonder if you ever did anything. If you ever truly "served" anything but political and likely business interest. Video games are entertainment. Real life is...real. For better, and for worse.

What is the biggest lie society has taught you to believe?

Success can be measured with a number - oftentimes with a "$" in front of it.

What should every intellectual know?

Don't forget to be human.

What is your three word philosophy?

It goes on.

Is 'learning attitude' an inherited trait or an acquired trait?

I hope for the sake of the human race it is mainly the former.

Assertiveness: What are some good ways to face and overcome a fear of confrontation?

Never, ever reward a passive aggressive person by showing them its working. Call them out every moment they slip up. Confront them away from your peers, and ask them what the problem is. Tell them you don't appreciate the attitude, the obstructionism (if you're forced to work with this person), or the fact that they are ruining the communal atmosphere. If you have to, confront them in front of everyone else. Don't lose your cool - make them lose theirs and lose face in front of the whole group. That being said, sometimes this is not pragmatic. For example, room-mates, bosses, girlfriend's friends...etc. Sometimes, an arbiter is useful for settling cases like these, and it is wise to bring to the discussion all the little things you have noticed. Behind every passive-aggressive person is an angry person who does not know how to constructively deal with their emotions.

What is humanity's biggest flaw?

Our acceptance rather than our repudiation of our flaws.

How have people of modest means been able to acquire great wealth, honestly, during a time of economic collapse, such as the Great Depression?

They filled in economic gaps, i.e. provided services or goods that nobody realized they would need until the economic cataclysm. Or if they're an investor, they took advantage of people's lack of trust in the financial markets and made heavy bets for profit in the far future when the recovery has happened.

Can absolutists and relativists get along and become friends even though their views are fundamentally different, maybe even incompatible?

If they're also pragmatists, yes.

What are some of the most famous paradoxes?

Well this is sad. A lot of great classic paradoxes, but this one is the best, especially in conversations regarding the self:Theseus's Paradox:Theseus's ship is sailing towards his home from a far away place. The ship keeps getting damaged due to storms and sea battles, and Theseus repeatedly repairs his ship with new wood from other ships and islands. He keeps the old wood in the bottom of the ship. Slowly, as he gets closer and closer to home, Theseus continues to repair his ship, and store the old wood. Finally, arriving at home, he decides to reconstruct his ship in honor of his adventure, and he decides to use the wood he had replaced throughout his journeys. Which ship is Theseus's Ship?

What is the most radical thinking you have?

All men and women need to serve time in prison, serve time in service of others, serve time in isolation with only themselves, and finally serve time inside a combat unit. Those that survive with their souls, minds, and bodies intact are the greatest of us, and it is perfectly fine to accept them, respect them, and effectively worship them. It is also perfectly acceptable to fail completely and utterly in one or more of these trials. It doesn't make you less of a human - just less in ability. Your capacity for significant benefit to the world is great.

When is it smart to just follow instead of ask questions?

When it's time to train physically or mentally under the tutelage of a trusted coach or advisor."Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor's cup full, and then kept on pouring. The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. "It is overfull. No more will go in!""Like this cup," Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

Why have so few American soldiers been taken as prisoners of war in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

We have very rigorous SOPs to prevent such a case. On the basic infantry level every team member lives and fights with their team and very rarely is there an opportunity to snag a CF member when he or she is isolated. Hell, even when you're "in the wire" i.e. in a main base you're not allowed to go anywhere by yourself. Or at least that's what it was for me - Marine Corps infantry.