Skip to main content

On joining the military, ctd

TNC has the best comment section on the internet.  One of his regulars came up with this gem that really must be read in full. 
I still have days where I am very happy that I'm not in jail, dead, addicted to something, or paying child-support to a woman I don't love. There but for the grace of god go I. It could have happened, a kid I used to spend time with when we were growing up went to jail a few years ago for rape. My little brother's best friend was stabbed three days before he was supposed to graduate. My best friend in high-school who I haven't heard from in years --a person who was at one time head and shoulders above me in intelligence, dropped-out, obtained his GED, and is presumably working a dead end job somewhere. I haven't heard from him in years, and it breaks my heart to think of what might have been under different circumstances. I hope he is doing well, but we cannot however hard we wish go back and try to re-create or change the past. No one's outcome is determined but there are things that make success or failure significantly more likely.

[I] think the biggest single factor that seperates my life now from what my life could have easily been like was my decision to join the army. Both myself and my little brother joined the service right out of high-school and that has made a huge difference in the trajectory our lives have taken. For myself it was the army that taught me that I wasn't as stupid as I thought I was in relation to other people. A friend of mine who is at the university of Chicago getting a master's in middle eastern studies now, whom I met when we were both young analysts in Georgia said it best during a phone conversation a few years ago. He said "I saw some really smart people with master's degrees from really good schools who failed out of DLI (defense language institute), but I also saw people from really bad neighborhoods who had GEDs occasionally carry the highest grade in the class."
This is part of the reason I support some kind of national service law. Many democracies do it, and I think aside from it making it drastically harder to invade random countries for completely idiotic reasons (which would be my primary rationale), it does have a leveling effect that I think is beneficial. Disadvantaged people's horizons are expanded, while more privileged people's are brought down to earth. The gazillionaire owner of Dunton Hot Springs always said that his time in the military in Germany was a seminal experience for him.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha

The Conversational Downsides of Twitter's Structure

Over the past couple years, as I've had a steady writing job and ascended from "utter nobody" to "D-list pundit," I find it harder and harder to have discussions online. Twitter is the only social network I like and where I talk to people the most, but as your number of followers increases, the user experience becomes steadily more hostile to conversation. Here's my theory as to why this happens. First is Twitter's powerful tendency to create cliques and groupthink. Back in forum and blog comment section days, people would more often hang out in places where a certain interest or baseline understanding could be assumed. (Now, there were often epic fights, cliques, and gratuitous cruelty on forums too, particularly the joke or insult variety, but in my experience it was also much easier to just have a reasonable conversation.) On Twitter, people rather naturally form those same communities of like interest, but are trapped in the same space with differe