God is Dead, But Your Soul Doesn’t Have to Be

I recently finished up a second hospitalization for my bipolar condition, for which I have been medically retired from the Marine Corps (as of March 30th; I retired while in the hospital system of Chicago, the dates of my internment being from March 22nd to April 12th). Being that I was manic, I was again prone to religious delusion, believing I was (for lack of a better word) God. The first time this happened, back on February 14th, 2010, it was very disconcerting and I oscillated between belief that I was God and belief that I had been chosen by God to carry out His (technical aside; I prefer “Its” but am retaining Biblical standbys) plan. Continue reading

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Working out for Weaklings: A Primer from LCpl Durden

Introduction

It's like this.

The Marine Corps is well known for its physical fitness, and things being what they were, I kind of didn’t fit in. For those unaware, I spent most of my life as a shut in, neck-bearded closet nerd trolling GameFAQs and other online forums. Ferdinand is quite hard on places like these – and justifiably so – but they taught me a lot of lessons which applied later in life…but I digress. The point here is that becoming a Marine had been a childhood pipe dream of mine – the way kids dreamed about being President or an astronaut or what have you, I thought of Marines as super heroes (perhaps because my grandfather had been a retired Lieutenant Colonel who survived the battle of Iwo Jima; look it up, get learned).

Suffice to say, the adjustment from a sedentary life to the rigorous demands of the Marine Corps was a rough one. I struggled to keep up but mostly I struggled not to be a burden on fellow recruits during training and later my fellow Marines in the fleet. When I first went down to my recruiter, I was a “triple threat,” which meant that I could not pass a single event on the IST or initial strength test – which is kind of embarrassing. All it required of me was to perform two dead-hang pull ups (I went down to boot camp without being able to do a single one and in the three months only managed to get up to three just by the skin of my teeth), 44 crunches in two minutes, and run a mile and a half or something like that in some paltry slow time. (I don’t remember exactly.) Point is? I was out of shape – I wasn’t fat, I just wasn’t fit. Continue reading

Why You Should Distrust Anything Popular

Only in the West would we call this a "lady."

For as long as I can remember, I have been extremely skeptical of popular things. For every Lady Gaga, there is a Kevin Gilbert writing beautiful magnum opuses no one will hear; for every WalMart there’s a mom and pop store treating their employees right and providing competitive prices; for every Transformers there’s an underrated 25th Hour; so on and so forth. At first it was just an unbridled elitism that led me towards alternative tastes, but disconnecting from the hive mind has been good for me for much of my life. Moreover, these sorts of choices you may view as meaningless (spending your dollars on the next iMbetterthanu rather than a technically superior alternative) have real world impacts – sometimes quite grave and ugly.

Our modern age is rife with the fallacy known as argumentum ad populum; the idea that because something is popular that is proof enough that it is good. Success in the West has typically been associated with a disgusting infatuation with value – value defined not by intrinsic quality, but by how much money something can generate. “Good” music is not necessarily well composed, performed, or emotionally stirring – “good” music is that which generates a lot of sales. Good writing is not necessarily perceptive, striking, or insightful – good writing generates sales (or hits). Public discourse over the value of things often boils down to this line of reasoning; Transformers 2 is superior to 25th Hour because Transformers 2 outperformed 25th Hour at the box office. Continue reading

Leading with Reluctance: The Strategy of the Recluse

It works, but you're still doing it wrong.

When Ferdinand wrote about his reasons for launching In Mala Fide 3.0, it caused me to reflect upon my own experiences. Alte called him out for his position of leadership in whatever you might call this community. She had said “I know you guys don’t like to think of yourselves as leaders because leadership is a burden…but leaders aren’t defined by self-declaration. Leaders are defined by the fact that they’re followed.” What follows could be described as my personal philosophy of leadership. Take it for what it is worth.

I have been in leadership positions for much of my life and I would characterize my leadership style as “reluctant” at best. I don’t like the burden but I’ve been in many situations where I could tell no one else was capable of shouldering it. Some of these positions were trivial, such as leading a video gaming clan and teaching casual players how to play to win. Others were more serious, such as being an assistant manager for a high volume store, responsible for managing the inventory and the professional growth + training of the employees under me. And others were “no joke,” as the kids say, such as shouldering the hopes and dreams of an entire company of Marines as I conveyed their grievances to our battalion commander. Writing this post will be somewhat in violation of my own principles; in order to talk about my strategies I must tell you my successes and I wouldn’t normally do that, but I digress. Continue reading