20160927

The Fantasy of Violence

A few weeks ago, I was jumped in Baltimore.

I had a few beers earlier, but was already close enough to sober to recognize that I had been followed for a few blocks.

I was also sober enough to recognize that getting into random street fights with civilian children is not something I should be actively seeking out.

Now, this line of thought is, in my opinion, completely valid.

While I couldn't tell you what race they were, they way they moved and their build suggested they couldn't be old than 18. Most of the self-defense I know is based around re-directing force and trapping limbs. On hard pavement, executed by anything other than an expert, what I know and have practiced can kill even without my meaning too.

I was about a block (or so, maybe 200 meters at most) from the Ottobar, an establishment where I know most of the security staff and they know me. I was able to sprint about 10 meters before they caught up with me and proceeded to prove that were excellent at harming unarmed people who had no intention of doing them harm.

It is also of note that had it not been for another citizen of Baltimore running them off and scraping me off the pavement, I could very well be dead. Or equally bad: one or both of them could be.

My frustration and anger at the event is astonishingly high.

It starts with my decision to attempt an escape, which I think is not only valid and humane, but understands my place in the social landscape. I am not just a guy in the social context. I am An Iraq Veteran (TM).

This is important, because my actions will reflect upon every Iraq War Veteran (TM) regardless of who they are or where they are from. Many thoughts of headlines ran through my head as I walked.

The only way this business wouldn't result in another "Crazy Veteran" headline was if I escaped.

Slowly but surely, I am healing with a lot of emotional support from my fiancee and friend, and some financial support from a GoFundMe that a friend of mine basically bullied me into starting otherwise he would pay any and all medical bills himself out of his life savings.

It's strange to think about the missing pieces. One moment I was sprinting, the next I was on the ground with my fellow citizen helping me. Other citizens have not responded so well.

Broadly speaking, people have very, very weird ideas about violence.

I understand violence in one capacity, sadly, because it often took the form of communication between me and the adults in my life when I was a child. This is not acceptable behavior. I know that. However, there are other contexts where violence is completely acceptable and maybe even the right thing to do.

That said, even if it is the right thing to do, a lot people get this idea that if you just "know what you are doing," everything will be fine.

This assumes that you are in amazing shape. I am no slouch, but the stamina required to do battle with another human being hand-to-hand for more than five minutes at a stretch is beyond me and 90% of the population. Second, a lot of the super-cool Mixed Martial Arts style fighting you see today on the TV, if executed properly outside of the Octagon or a fictional world, will permanently cripple or kill.

That limit on average or above average stamina, coupled with the potential to straight up die is why people who run around assaulting random people travel in at least a group of two. It is also why the military discourages its members from ever acting alone is most capacities; after I would have been exhausted actively battling one, the other stabs me or shoots me or whatever.

That was among the many thoughts that swirled in my head just before everything went south.

Thankfully, neither of them was armed, but the did put a nasty hurt on me that required stitches on the inside of my face and a debriding of a superficial wound on my hip in addition to a broken collar bone.

After all was said and done, of course, people thought I should start carrying a gun. Because apparently, with firearm and a time machine, I could go back in time and prevent myself from being mugged. Which is obviously a bad idea because it would cause a paradox.

But the anger is very much there, like it or not. Part of me wishes for some sort of comeuppance for them, but to be perfectly honest, wishing for that is a fool's errand.

I have sincere concerns, however, about the next person who dares attempt to even look at me funny next time.


20160118

Why It Might Be Okay if Finn is a Calrissian If They Do It Right

(Disclosure: Spoilers will be discussed in great detail and/or at length)


A mild controversy swirled across my social media portals a few days ago when it was suggested Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens may be a Calrissian. This was coupled with wild speculation as to the origins of Rey, a character of such focus and capability that she was accused of being a Mary Sue, an easily refuted point, to be sure.

Now, the most obvious issue to come up was that it's kinda racist to say that because a character is "black" they must be related to the only one of the only other black characters in the fictional Universe. This is true in the real world; it's beyond ignorant to assume that everyone who looks remotely similar is related.

I mean, no family resemblance, except
looking damned good with draped clothing
But when we think about Star Wars as a concept and coherent universe? With a massive family narrative about legacy and its impact on a galactic level? Finn should be a Calrissian, and there are quite a few reasons why.

First of all, if we consider all seven movies as a coherent timeline, Episodes I-III are more or less the Star Wars galaxy timelines pre-World War I era. An age of prosperity, but more importantly, complacency, sets the stage for a massive conflict that would drastically alter the political landscape of the galaxy if not the local group of galaxies.

Then, we have our World War I, Episodes IV-VI. For many members of galactic society? This would be the conflict where they would have to pick a side, after so many people complacently let the galaxy slide into a totalitarian regime. Attempts to stay neutral, such as Solo and Calrissian attempted to do for as long a possible, are a fools errand.

If the way Lando Calrissian basically had his entire business confiscated by Darth Vader under some sort Imperial eminent domain or civil forfeiture is any indicator, the Empire's legal and military reach is well beyond anything reasonable. Calrissian's  utilitarian decisions to trade Han Solo to secure the jobs and lives of everyone on his gas mining station could not have been easy. However, when Vader constantly changed his terms with Calrissian, the gambler turned entrepreneur realized the mistake he made, and decided at least initially, to undermine Vader's immediate plans.

Now,  Cloud City's population is estimated in the millions, and all those people had to be evacuated the station and just go where? Do what? Every person in that station gives us a variable for at least becoming a Rebel or an Imperial. Out of a sense of duty or revenge or both, Calrissian threw in with the Rebellion and eventually became one of the most obvious heroes of the rebellion.

Thus, the name Calrissian joins the Solos, the Skywalkers, the Antilles, the Ackbars and quite a few others among the famous names of a fledgling government.

Already uses a different kind of elegant weapon from
a more civilized age. 
However, the head was merely cut off the Empire, and countless resources, commanders and formations are scattered throughout the galaxy. In the context of Episode VII? The First Order is the Nazi Germany incarnation of the Empire. They are nastier, uglier and do not negotiate with their enemies.

The Starkiller base, as a deterrent weapon, would have been incredible. One demonstration on a lesser solar system would have made the point, but that's not how the First Order works. Their goal is annihilation of all who have, do or would oppose them.

But The First Orders isn't merely brutal, there are also doubley sinister in their strategy. Those famous names? The Skywalkers? The Solos? The Calrissians? Their children are targets.

First, Benjamin Solo turns to the Dark Side. Then? Lando and his wife's bouncing baby boy disappears. Someone, someone where, is trying to destroy the enemy before they are even old enough to know they are an enemy.

Whoever Rey's parents were, they knew that a Solo and then a Calrissian disappearing was in no way a coincidence. The Galaxy is entirely too big. Not knowing exactly who or where the danger would come from, they had to spirit her away and hope that the less than reputable Unkar Plutt would, for whatever money or promise they could give, mind their daughter long enough for them to either secure a definitive victory or die trying.
Oh look, a fucking asshole and his asshole friends
and his asshole army and his asshole weapon.