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FINALLY!

If you are an avid reader of this blog (like me!) then you probably have learned at least two things:

  1. I have mental health issues.
  2. I am an atheist. 

You may have also picked up that I am also a geek due to the science and technology bits in my posts and also the references to 80s cartoons and movies. There’s also probably a few Star Wars and sci fi references sprinkled in these posts, too. 

Well, I recently downloaded and tried out Google’s new messaging app “Allo“.  Now what sets this app apart from WhatsApp, Telegram, Viber, Kik, Facebook Messenger, BlackBerry Messenger, and Yahoo Messenger is that:

  1. IT’S MADE BY GOOGLE!
  2. That’s it.

Out of the 3-4 messaging apps listed above that people actually use, Allo does have some features that do make it stand out; however it is lacking some features that the majority of the more popular messaging apps have had for some time, but it brings some things to the table that all of the other apps just don’t have. 

ALLO DOES SOME COOL SHIT! 

Smart Reply
Respond to messages without typing a single word. Smart Reply learns over time and suggests responses to text and photos, in your style.

There are some conversations that I have had without having to tying a word. Google Assistant learns your communication style and adapts your smart replies. If you also have a keyboard with predictive text; then you seriously almost never have to type anything out again. 

Ink
Get creative with the photos you send by doodling on them or adding text.

Almost all apps can do this, but the camera functionality in this app makes it easier to actually do (see below). 

Stickers
Say it all with the perfect sticker. Stickers in Google Allo are designed by independent artists and studios from around the world.

Some of them are even animated! However, there are only like 4 packs that are any good right now (If stickers are your thing).

SHOUT or whisper
No more typing in ALL CAPS to get your point across. Say it louder or quieter by changing the size of your text with a quick swipe.

This sounds dumb, but is actually cool as hell. 

Meet your personal Google Assistant
Google Allo brings you the Google Assistant, preview edition. Find restaurants nearby, share videos to watch, and get answers, right in your conversation with friends. Add @google to your group conversation or chat one-on-one with your Assistant. It’s your own personal Google, always ready to help.

Probably the coolest feature. You can bring Google into the conversation. In an argument about who that guy was that was in that movie you all saw that one time? Now you can end that shit quick. Everyone trying to decide on a restaurant? Now you can all look at what’s available in the chat. It’s pretty damn cool. 

Incognito mode
Send messages with end-to-end encryption, use private notifications to help keep your chats more discreet, and control how long your messages stick around with expiring chats.

One of my gripes and the huge flaw of this app. Due to Google Assistant and it’s learning capabilities, it has to scan your messages in order to learn how you communicate (Insert conspiracy theories here). So, end to end encryption cannot be enabled by default. I do believe that Google Assistant should be an Opt In feature and E2E Encryption should be the default. 

The other mentions that I want to make about this app are that it does support .GIF files, can send pics, video, & voice messages. Plus, if you do turn on the camera it only takes up 1/2 the screen so you do not exit the chat. That was a HUGE thing for me. EVERY OTHER APP takes you out of the app and engages the entire screen when accessing the camera. Not this one. It also supports BitMoji ( like SnapChat) and has an awesome location sending feature based on Google Maps (of course). You can assign individuals their own notification tones; however you cannot change the background color/wallpaper in the chats or the bubble colors. And yes, of course, there are group chats. 

One key feature that some say that this app is missing is SMS integration. If you used Hangouts, you remember (or know if you are still using it) that you could message people that either had Hangouts or didn’t have Hangouts because it did both Messaging and SMS; however it was confusing as hell. Because half the time you didn’t know if you sent out a mass text, a group chat or a mix of both. I still use Hangouts on my tablet and desktop to make and receive calls and texts from my Google Voice number. Honestly, I don’t see the need for SMS integration. To me these are two separate things that I like on two separate apps. I guess I am old and set in my ways. 

The true uphill battle with this app (or any messaging app) is this: Your friends have to install it in order to actually use it. This is the flaw in the concept of messaging apps. If you have never tried getting your friends to install a completely free application onto their phone and take the 2-3 minutes to set it up; then let me tell you what you are in store for. Your friends will suddenly hate you for instigating change in their lives, they will turn into 4 year old children and begin to cry while throwing a tantrum, they will then question you about everything regarding  this application (and your 10+ years working in the IT industry with a focus on mobile devices/applications) as if you coded it yourself just last night. Then you will in turn start to question why you are trying to make communicating with this group of thankless assholes easier and more enjoyable. Then once they do install it, of course they think it’s fun and awesome*. 

(*Results may vary.Because there’s always that “one”.)

Right now, the majority of my friends are on Telegram. Mainly because it has a desktop client, awesome stickers, integrated Gify.com search, sticker bots that will allow you to make your own stickers, awesome pre-made sticker packs, and it’s encryption is top-notch; however there are two things that make me want to migrate from it. 

  1. There has been little to no development on this application since August and even that was a bug fix. The only major improvements are usually sticker or bot related. 
  2. This application is the #1 messaging app choice of terrorists! It has also drawn the attention of government entities all across the globe. Which means possible lawsuits, investigations, and lack of funding for development.

What’s awesome about this app is that it’s free , Open Source,and it’s funded by a couple of Russian brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov that sound like awesome guys; however the app generates no income. Once it , or the Durov brothers, run out of funds; then it will require donations or a subscription. Also, this app was HUGE until WhatsApp introduced End to End encryption by default and Voice Calls. Since then the user base and the development has slowed considerably. 

Speaking of WhatsApp.

I do have a couple of friends overseas that use it. So, I also have it installed. WhatsApp is has no stickers ( if that’s your thing), it does do .GIFs, pics (no drawing/Ink though), video  and does voice messages. You can also make calls with it. It also has a desktop client (that is a complete pain in the ass to use). It used to be a pretty good app, until Facebook bought it. Now, WhatsApp shares your information with your Facebook account to show you better ads; however you can OptOut of this, if you know how. Even though the CEO of WhatsApp always said that WhatsApp would never be used to sell ads ( Even quotes Fight Club). Now you can also totally piss off your friends in WhatsApp by tagging them ( Like on FaceBook) in a conversation that they don’t even want to be in. So, you can see why we all migrated from this app. 

As far as the others go, I don’t use FB Messenger, because I am not on FaceBook. I don’t use Kik because it is a pointless, shitty app. I don’t use BlackBerry Messenger anymore because: 

  1. I don’t work for them anymore. 
  2. It’s not 2004. 

Yahoo Messenger hasn’t been used since 1996, and Viber sounds like a sex toy. 

So, Allo is starting strong IMO. I think that if people will give it a shot and Google keeps up with development that it will be a strong contender. Now I just have to get my lazy ass friends to install it and quit bitching about having to install a free fucking app on their damn phone. 

I may need to start drinking again. 

Wish me luck. 

 

DURHAM OFFICE SORELLA BOUTIQUE ELVET BRIDGE DURHAM LINGERIE FLASH MOB TO PROMOTE NEW LINGERIE SHOP OPENING

PICTURED...Models Frankii Wilde (left), Fifi Galore, Rebecca Edwards, Bex Taylor and Natalie Robinson Brown (right) take part in the flash mob event on Elvet Bridge in Durham.
PIC DAVID WOOD
19-10-13

Unequal. 

From time to time I go to the largest time wasting site on the Internet: Youtube.

I have a few Youtubers that I follow and some channels that I subscribe to. A lot of the time I will find a video that is attached or suggested by the algorithms that are conjured up by the wizards at Google and find myself deep into a rabbit hole that I had no intention of going down. While in this wonderful land of HD video eye candy, I come across a video that an intelligent person posted, and makes a comment that I disagree with; however I can also see their point (to an extent).  But, much like the community that this Youtuber is a member of, I also do not like being labeled and lumped into one broad category.

One of the topics this person discussed is the fact that followers from other channels will mob other Youtubers and sink their ratings. This person stated that these people call themselves “Attack Helicopters”. So, to be safe, I am not mentioning names or posting links.

The subject of this video is “Anti-Feminists”. During the video this person and their co-host state that most (if not all) anti-feminist videos that they see are Atheist channels and more or less allude that atheists are anti-feminist. They go on about because atheists claim to be intelligent and logical, we are all anti-feminist because they have seen multiple videos from other Youtubers that cross their “Social Justice Threshold”.

Hang on a minute.

I am an atheist and I am about to use some logic. If you have seen multiple Youtube videos from atheists that disagree with your social justice views, this does not make them anti-feminist; however let’s say that these atheist Youtubers were professing anti-feminist views. So the idea that some atheists are anti-feminist means all atheists are anti-feminist is not logical. At the same time, I know that there are a lot of atheists out there that are on Youtube that are complete assholes. They try to live strictly by logic and that is no way to function as a human. Here’s why:

A strictly logic based man is sitting and watching TV. His wife comes in the room and asks him to go to the store. She tells him to buy a loaf of bread and if they have eggs; then get a dozen. About 30 minutes later the man returns home with 12 loaves of bread.

His wife asks: Why did you buy so much bread!

He answers: Because they had eggs.

To function rationally we have to have critical thinking.

Critical Thinking
noun
1. the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.

Other than this one issue, the video that I am referring to was on point about a great deal of things. I believe that some people do not and will not address issues that are “too social justicey” and I believe that we do have a society that has cultivated a toxic Outrage Culture that gets offended over stupid shit and it goes both ways. The “Left” will get offended over something and SJWs will hop on it just like the “Right” will get offended over something and the “Fundamentalists” will go apeshit over it and then they will get mad at each other for getting mad at the thing that they are mad about. A lot of times I hear people talk about Free Speech but then get mad when they find out that it doesn’t only apply to them.

“You’ve got to be allowed to say things that [potentially] everyone might find offensive, I think offense is the collateral damage of freedom of speech. But just because you are offended doesn’t mean you’re right.”

Ricky Gervais

I can say that I was somewhat offended by the labeling of atheists as anti-feminists. Simply because I consider myself a feminist. I believe that a woman is equal to a man and that there is no such thing as “women’s work” or a “man’s job”. I know that there is wage gap and that women in the workplace are not equal. I worked in IT for years and the few women that we had in that field had to be smarter, faster, and 20x more adept at their job than I did, or they had to be on par with the male techs and be hot. IF they did one or both of those two things, they maybe made as much money or maybe even got a promotion. I believe that if you are as qualified, and perform as well as your male co-worker; then you need to earn dollar for dollar and promotions need to be based on merit and not your dick. I believe that a woman should have full say over what she wants done with her body. Whether I agree with abortion, whether you agree with abortion doesn’t matter. It’s not either of our bodies, so it shouldn’t be our decision. Whether you agree with the sex industry, again, it’s not our body. We don’t get a say in the matter. It’s that simple. I believe rape is a detestable thing. Some people say that we have a “Rape Culture” and I can’t argue with that. When I see college frat kids getting short sentences for rape, or grown men that rape children getting only a few years in prison. When we ask questions like “what was she wearing?” or “Did she lead you on?” this leads me to believe that we do view rape as a minor offence. When a kid with a computer violates a network, they get a minimum sentence of 35 years for computer hacking, but a kid with a boner violates an unwilling female and rapes her, they get 3-10 years and are usually out in half of that time, I think that something is fucked up with that.  I believe that LGBT+ rights are a major issue and that is another issue of inequality in our society. The feminist movement until recently (Thirdwave Feminism) really didn’t include LGBT+ rights or women of color in its agenda. As a husband to a beautiful black woman, I want equality for her. As an awesome uncle to 4 strong and beautiful girls,  I want equality for my nieces. I also want them to be/feel safe and have the right to make any choice that they feel is right for them. 

I am an atheist, and I am a feminist, and I have a “social justice threshold” where I find things to be too “social justicey”.  So, sorry Youtuber whose videos I actually enjoy, but I think that you are being over general in the statement that most atheist are anti-feminist. Especially, since your topic was Social Justice. While feminism is a Social Justice topic, Social Justice does not equal feminism. So, the definition of the label of “anti-feminist” is incorrect. Honestly, I just believe that a lot of atheists may just disagree with your social ideologies and this is prompting a reaction.

But, again, that may just be that atheist logic of mine kicking in.

 

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The Golden Path to Finding My Enlightenment. 

I have returned to a concept that I had abandoned due to my whole “I need empathy” thing. Which I did; however I think that I may had gone a bit far with it. I will say that in my quest for empathy I did find a better understanding of emotions, which was a great enlightenment. 

But,  I lost somethings along the way. 

I lost my cynical view of the world. I lost my misanthropic outlook on people. At the time I thought this was a good thing and that I had become a better person. I thought that I had grown. What happened was is that I made myself vulnerable. I let my guard down and I took one to the jaw. 

But,  this is still growth. 

Now, I have to learn how to blend all of these things. To be emotionally aware, empathetic, and cynical/misanthropic all in a healthy balance. Its going to be challenging, but I feel like I will be a better person after its all said and done. 

Hopefully this time I won’t have to buy any books. 

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A Faulty Concept

Funny preface to this post: I sat down this morning to type this up and I had to stop because my AC was leaking water in a closet in my office geek lair and all over the floor. Called my HVAC Guy and he came over to check it out. The issue was that I apparently didn’t understand the effects of gravity on the movement of fluid in a hollow cylindrical tube. When I last changed the filter, I didn’t place the drain pipe back at a downward angle so that the condensation from the coils could drain. He just slanted the pipe back, smiled, and told me to have a good day.

Before all of that happened, I was watching a documentary called “The Mask You Live In“. It covers the concept of masculinity and how it can be damaging to young boys and the men that they become later in life. I kind of talked about this in a previous post and my experience with it.  It involves the concept of masculinity as far as how we teach our boys to suppress emotions. We tell boys “don’t you cry” or “men don’t cry” and it wasn’t until  I was in my mid 30s that I saw how this had damaged me as a person.

Now, let me start this off by saying that I know that I give Tumblr a lot of shit; however that is because Tumblr tends to take a concept like this and go to the farthest extreme with it. In this case, I actually owe some Tumblr users a thank you because without their rational and educational posts I would never have even thought that this was an issue and by “this” I mean the tradition that we raise our boys, if not our children in general. Another thanks to Tumblr (sort of) is that the thought of gender being a created concept had been planted; however no one on Tumblr actually ever really explained it in a way that I understood. A point that is made in this film is that, generally speaking, kids are biologically the same. You give them choices and they will make similar choices 90% of the time no matter what sex the child is, but that 10%, or 5% on each side of the spectrum, is where we get the concept of gender.

This concept is created by traditionalism, commercialism, and media. All of these create the social norm for gender. Tradition says that men are to be strong, fast, muscular, good at sports, sexualy active ( if not overly sexualy active) and they conquor/dominate. If you are not this; then you are not a man and you will never please your parents. Tradition says that a woman is to be pretty, fit, good at domestic duties, a nurturer,empathetic, not sexualy active (or at least don’t let anyone know that you are),but flirtacious and submissive. If you are not this; then you will not attract a good husband, and you will displease you parents. Commercialism supports this by advertising to these points from everything from kids toys to laptops. Media also helps with the creation of gender by the music, film and literature of the time. While traditions may be changing all over the globe, it’s still a change in progress.

Our traditions are moving away from the heteronormativity that mainly was focused by religion; however now we have new concepts that are still flawed. These concepts (again, I have talked about this in the past) like “Alpha” types and those are usually assigned to a gender (Alpha Male, Alpha Female) and even still when we look at the definitions ( of which there are many) you see these old traditions still deeply entrenched in them. You see words like “enterprising” , “Assertive”, “Superior”, “seeking all avenues of fulfillment, including the sexual”, dominant, physically fit, rarely get emotional and these were taken from sites that gave traits of both “Alpha” Males & Females. So, in our great step forward we have learned that masculinity is not a gender, but a trait; however it is a trait that we still are fucking up six ways to sunday. You also apparently cannot be “Alpha” and be feminine. Every trait that is generally described as feminine, is used to describe the “Beta” type. So, again, having empathy, emotions, being sensitive, nurturing, sexually submissive/inactive is all seen as weaker.  So really, we haven’t changed anything, we just allowed females to become masculine and men to become feminine and we still ridicule them for “switching teams” (no matter what that person’s orientation is) because it is still entrenched in our brains that boys do Y and girls do X.

My problem with this is that kids don’t need this shit. If little Billy is crying; then go find out why he is crying. Why is he sad? Let him talk about it. If little Jenny wants to take karate and play with robots, let her. So what if all of the other girls have dolls and are playing with a giant fake plastic oven that comes with fake pans and food? So what if Bill likes art and doesn’t want to play football?  Let Jenny have Optimus Prime and become a black belt! Let Billy talk it out and draw unicorns fighting dragons! Because if you don’t, later in life, your holidays will be awkward and your kids will be in therapy.

Trust me on that one.

Because I know if that I had heard a lot less of “if you don’t stop crying; then I will give you something to cry about!” and was allowed to express my feelings and emotions then I may not be in a few places that I am now. I know that if I had kids, I wouldn’t be pigeonholing them into these gender roles and stereotypes that come along with their sex. I would be letting them make their own choices, and guiding them as they went along. Last time I checked that’s what parents did.

Or so I have heard.

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Start Talking.

I have come to a conclusion today: People do not like conversations.

Like actual conversations, ones that matter and have substance. Not the shitty, empty ones that are about how the latest [insert current popular trendy band/pop-star name here] album is a “religious experience” or how the new [insert name of latest trendy food and/or beverage] at [insert name of eating establishment or franchise here] is “SOOOOO GOOD”, but ones that actually make you think. Ones that challenge you. Ones that actually may make you a little mad; however you still want to hear what the opposing view is because you want to learn.

We had house guests over the other night and a conversation was started. The topic: politics and economics. In a nutshell: How the corporate world would handle it if the US Federal Government would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The conversation never got to an argument, voices may have gotten a bit raised (because people get passionate about these things), but never to the point of yelling (One guy’s voice is just low and booming, not his fault) and the discussion was very intelligent; however it was broken up because others were too uncomfortable and they decided that we should play a game instead.

Unfortunately, this tends to happen a lot and isn’t just a one time occurrence.

Today I was watching The Green Party Town Hall that was on CNN last night and there was a comment made that we are afraid to have these type of conversations. I was also watching Chelsea  on Netflix and Zelda Williams was a guest. She also made this comment on how we, as a society, are afraid of having conversations that have differing opinions. How we are afraid of hearing other views that may challenge our own ideologies and actually learning from differing opinions. I am not saying you have to agree with the other person, and their views, but at least listen and maybe understand why they think that way. I have listened to people with theological views, differing political views, differing technological views and even though I don’t agree with them (Hell, some I think are batshit crazy or even fucking stupid), I still listen and give a differing opinion; however when the conversation turns into an argument, that’s when you break out the games, change the subject or tell the person that this topic is escalating and that you no longer want to talk about it.

In my opinion an argument is where the conversation goes from sharing ideas, to forcing ideas upon the other person (ie; here’s what I think  vs. I will make you think like me) and I think that’s what everyone fears. I think we have gotten to the point where we cannot differentiate between the two different forms of communication or we are so afraid of a conversation escalating that we try to stomp out an intelligent conversation because we think it’s an argument waiting to happen. This is something that needs to stop. We need to have these discussions. It’s how we learn and how we grow as a society and it’s how you grow as a person. Again, in my opinion, you can’t grow as a person by talking about the weather, or looking at funny cat videos with people all the damn time, just as you can’t live off of potato chips and twinkies. Eventually, you are going to need to get some real food in you.

I hope that we all overcome this fear soon, because people need to start talking.

Like in real life.

Preferably over coffee, but not Starsucks.

Real coffee. Real conversation.

Actually, at this point it doesn’t matter; just start having intelligent conversations.

Just start talking.

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Treading Water.

Where did I leave off?

Oh yeah, my life is circling the drain, that’s right. How silly of me.

Yet, I continue to swim against the current.

I am still waiting on any word from my appeal from my disability and honestly I am on the verge of giving up ( which is what they want, but whatever) because we can no longer afford to wait for that ship to come in.

We have applied for foodstamps and we are hoping that we get approved so we can stop relying on the handouts from the foodbank because they obviously do not understand what a diabetic is so half of the food we get is complete crap like cakes and snack foods. I fought too damn hard to get my A1C down to a 5.0 and get off the diabetic meds and I don’t plan on going back on them.

The GoFundMe campaign that I set up is turning out to be an epic fail because in two weeks time it has gathered only 20 views and no donations. So, I am chalking that up as me putting my faith in humanity like an idiot and expecting something. Also, I still haven’t sold that goddamn table.

Yet, I continue to swim against the current.

why?

Because my wife is doing better. We have (some) food in the house. We have friends that love us and I know that would help us if they could (and some do what they can). Plus, I know if I stop swimming against the current then I will drown. Its that simple.

I don’t want to drown.

 

 

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Frustration.

I’m not sleeping very well.

My wife is still in a lot of pain and can’t get around well. Money is tight and everything that I try to do to get something going to generate funds just doesn’t seem to be working. Apparently nobody wants the fucking table that I am trying to sell, and what faith I had in humanity is dwindling by the day.

So, I guess maybe my anxiety is up and depression is getting the better of me.

I just need something to give. I need something to just go my fucking way. That’s all I really need at this point is a win. I just need one win to get the wind back in my sails so that I can keep on going.

Because right now I am in the doldrums.

If not sinking.

 

 

The man is begging for money, because of hunger.

Got Any Spare Change?

Things are bad here at the fort.

I don’t know how long my appeal is going to take and if it’s another year, then I fear that it’s going to be our doom. We are doing what we can to survive, but something’s gotta give because we are broke as fuck.

Medical bills are starting to pour in and I honestly have no idea how the hell we are going to pay them. Right now, we can barely afford food and to keep the lights on much less the cost of a surgery and all of the damn ER visits that it took to get to the surgery (Well, minus the one of course).

So, it has come down to this.

I have started a GoFundMe campaign in hopes that people with generous hearts will help me out. The goal on the campaign is high, but honestly I will take what I can get at this point. I just need help.

I am not going to spam this on here. This will be the only time you will see it posted.

https://www.gofundme.com/helpthestarkeys

Like when I filed for disability, there is a feeling of shame with this. I am also stepping outside my comfort zone by “putting myself out there” with this and I would be lying if said it didn’t give me some anxiety. I almost feel like I am scamming people, but this is a legit need. I need help and I am hoping that there are people that are out there that can do just that.

Help me.

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The Quiet Man.

Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.

– John Dryden

If you read my earlier post regarding my wife’s trip to an ER that employed an particularly apathetic doctor that apparently didn’t give any fucks about her patients, you may know that I filed a grievance with the State of Texas and spoke with the Administrator of Emergency Services for that Hospital.

I have since then spoken to the Sr. Administrator of Medical Doctors and the same Administrator of Emergency Services again. To my absolute delight I have been told of two things:

  1. I have no bill at that hospital (Which is fine because I wasn’t going to pay it anyway).
  2. The doctor that mishandled my wife’s care was no longer employed by that hospital.

Now, if the State of Texas will just levy something on her, that will just make my victory even better.

Why am I being so vindictive? So vengeful?

My wife’s condition was made worse by this doctor’s negligence. If this doctor is going to take out their bad day on their patients, then this person shouldn’t be handling people’s lives. So, I spoke up and made my voice heard and apparently it didn’t fall upon deaf ears.

Like the quote says: “Beware the Fury of a Patient Man.”

So, take note:

If you see someone just sitting still and watching you when you are being an asshat bully or a common fuckwit, it doesn’t mean that they are complying to your demands tantrums, or are sitting there and letting whatever dumb thing you’re doing happen. It means that they are observing, learning, noting what you are saying and doing.  Its at that point you shouldn’t be relaxed.

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

-Patrick Rothfuss

You should be terrified.

 

Police in riot gear watch protesters in Ferguson, Mo. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014. On Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014, a white police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, in the St. Louis suburb. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

An Ongoing Issue.

I know that I have posted on this subject before and I will keep posting about it because, well this is my blog and I can.

The level of police violence in the U.S. is at a level has been on an increase. It has increased 25% between 1999 and 2008 and I am willing to bet that the number is even higher now. While between 1960 and 2014 our population has almost doubled and crime has been trending down. It seems that the population is getting larger and more civil, while the police, recently, have been getting more violent.

Why?

I had a good discussion with a nurse during one of my wife’s ER visits and he put something into perspective. I mentioned that police had changed in the past 25-30 years and I couldn’t figure out why. He finally gave me the missing piece of the puzzle that I had looked at but didn’t want to acknowledge. A lot of police today are ex-military. He told me that he was a vet and that he almost went into law-enforcement; however he became an RN instead because he had seen enough combat. He talked about that the training that the military provides and that the police training that a lot of vets receive probably doesn’t mesh. In the military, you pull out a gun to kill an enemy. In the police force you use it to enforce compliance. Sometimes, that may get a bit confusing for some vets.

My question is: “When did a gun become a compliance tool?”

When I was growing up, I was always told by the cops at the PD where my mom was an officer that their gun was a last resort. You only pulled it if your life was in danger and you were about to use it. You didn’t pull it to make a point or show dominance.

With this latest shooting of a therapist laying in a submissive position in the middle of the street and now the Dade County Police Benevolent Association explanation of the shooting as “The officer had intended to shoot the patient, whom he thought posed a danger” (Because apparently an autistic man with a toy truck is a menace to society), I have started wondering about this issue again.

So, I started doing some digging and I found that unemployment amongst returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan is 7.7% and out of those returning vets, the majority go into the police force because it is viewed as “a marriage of convenience”.  In 2014, the Army alone proposed to cut 80,000 soldiers from its ranks over the next 4 years.  Generally about 20% of returning vets go into law-enforcement. So, that’s 16,000 soldiers going into law-enforcement over the next four years from just the Army. The market is currently flooded with ex-military personnel looking for work and the police force is looking to hire them.

There’s only one problem with this. (source)

Combat veterans seeking police careers may do poorly on entrance exams, they may lack confidence in their skill sets, or they may have had some post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms that come out in psychological screenings. Any of these issues can keep returning military personnel from a police job, but all can be remedied. More importantly, there are people and programs in and out of the military that can help.

A lot of vets come home with issues that they need to work through. PTSD is a major mental health issue that affects a large percentage of returning veterans and takes medication and therapy that a lot of vets don’t get or just they only rely on the medication because they believe that the therapy aspect is unneeded or they fear that they will lose some of their rights (mainly gun ownership) if their condition is on record.

…not every veteran returning home from military service has PTSD. Some studies suggest that it affects between 10% and 20% of veterans returning from active duty. …that PTSD is becoming more diagnosed in police officers and some departments are getting the message that the condition doesn’t mean they have to throw away the officer or the officer candidate.

There is evidence that police departments are understanding PTSD better these days, not only in their own ranks, but in the pool of prospective candidates. A recent study conducted by the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control examined law enforcement agencies’ hiring practices regarding PTSD. The study found that a PTSD diagnosis is not necessarily a disqualifier for a police job. Most agencies studied reported that every candidate is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and it depends on the severity of the diagnosis whether PTSD is a disqualifier.

While I agree that PTSD may not be a disqualifier and should be done on a case – by- case basis, the issue is that PTSD leads to other issues such as depression, substance abuse, problems of memory, cognition and even other mental health issues. So, if this candidate is getting treatment, on proper medication and this is all being monitored by the agency that they are working for, then I don’t see an issue; however when I looked for this study done mentioned that was done by the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control, I couldn’t find it. I did find these two:

http://www.med.navy.mil/sites/nmcsd/nccosc/healthProfessionalsV2/researchQuarterly/Documents/winter2014ResearchQuarterly.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4010956/

Both studies stress that mental health assistance such as medication and therapy in either a one-on-one or group setting is key to treating PTSD and overcoming its effects on the person’s life  & mental well-being.

Now, the majority of these viewpoints were from the law-enforcement community’s side of things. I dug to see what the military and veteran’s take on this was and I was actually surprised by some of what I found.

The gist of what I read was that even though there is a huge comfort level for vets in law-enforcement and many veterans feel that law enforcement is a natural fit, some former service members resent being typecast. Others say the profession is the least suitable career choice for veterans who are still working out emotional issues from deployments. And some veterans only consider a career in law enforcement because they consider it one of the few viable options in a challenging job market. (source)

“I could see how somebody would think that would be an easy transition,” he said at a recent jobs fair at the Concord Hilton. “It’s familiar. I work with guns, I know how to use them, why not get a job that uses the same equipment? But I’ve spoken with vets. And, myself, I think I’ve experienced enough of that, so I wouldn’t want to relive that type of experience.”

“A lot of them get out, they’re intelligent, they use the G.I. Bill to get a degree,” he said. “It’s like, ‘I can do more than pull a trigger.'”

Army veteran Mike Magpusao – Project Hired

What I am seeing between these two articles, the conversation that I have with the ex-vet nurse, and the current events in our country is that our police departments are changing their hiring processes. They are hiring tons of ex-soldiers that are used to dealing with a combative enemy and now trying to train them to deal with a civilian population. We are taking Rangers, SEALS and Marines and asking them to write traffic tickets. This is vastly different from the hiring processes of about 20+ years ago.

A generation or so ago in policing, departments were giving preference to college graduates when looking for qualified officer candidates. Education still remains an important factor for police hiring, but many agencies have learned that the education gained in military service may have a greater value to a police officer than a formal college education.

The soldier has led a squad from point A to point B and had to decide the safest way to get there. The college student has had to complete a class assignment in time to attend a frat party on Friday night. Some departments have recognized this and taken a more global approach to the candidate’s qualifications to be a police officer.

We used to take educated civilians and train them to become police officers. Now we take high school or some college educated ex-military personnel and try to give them additional training to handle a civilian population. Mind you, I am not against hiring veterans, but maybe we should start the old hiring process as well and find a healthy mix. Both for the civilian population and the veterans that are returning from combat.

“You’re going to continue to expose yourself to violence, tension, stress, anxiety. You come back and become a police officer, the potential for retraumatizing is very high.”

– Jason Deitch – Army Ranger who served multiple deployments to Africa and the Middle East.

There is no logical link between the two professions, and he urges caution.

Veterans come home and then go into a career that puts them into almost the same level of anxiety that they just left and in my opinion, law-enforcement agencies are preying on the fact that these men and women are returning home and pushing them towards a career that does feel familiar and that they feel that they can excel in quickly, but will ultimately lead them to the same levels of stress that they just left and cause nothing but harm to themselves or someone else.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police was concerned enough about “transitional obstacles” veterans might face if they pursued a career in law enforcement that three years ago it published guidebooks for veterans and any agencies that might consider hiring them.
But those concerns didn’t stop Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), an office of the Department of Justice, from offering 220 cities $114.6 million in incentive grants to hire post-9/11 veterans to fill 800 law enforcement positions.

With programs like these and the dumping of surplus military equipment into our police agencies hands, it’s no wonder why see small town police departments with APVs and grenade launchers and the people who know how to use them. Our police are becoming a domestic army, a garrison in each town. Not because of some crazy conspiracy involving taking away our guns, Walmart concentration camps for christans, or the illuminati, but because law-enforcement is hiring out of work vets in droves. With incentives and a pension, why wouldn’t you sign up?

streamlining or fast-tracking your applications
waiving education requirements
adding preference points to exam scores
offering incentive pay
offering service credit toward retirement

So, who’s to blame?

Well, not the vets. They need to work just like everyone. You could look at the predatory hiring processes of the law-enforcement agencies around the country and the DOJ for enabling and/or encouraging these processes to continue. You could take a look at the demand that we put on our law-enforcement officers and see that we really put too much on them. There’s a lot of different directions to point fingers. I don’t even know where to start.

I just know that all of this shit needs to stop.