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Wait for it…


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James Francis Byrnes


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shinnen2014Happy New Year to all my friends and family in and from all parts of the world.

明けましておめでとうございます。 С Новым годом.  Feliz Ano Novo.  Hau’oli Makahiki Hou.  새해 복 많이 받으세요.  新年快樂.  नया साल मुबारक हो.  Bonne année.  Glückliches neues Jahr.  Feliz Año Nuevo.  Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.  Buon anno.  გილოცავთ ახალ წელს.  Heri ya Mwaka Mpya.  धन्य नयाँ वर्ष.  สวัสดีปีใหม่.  Šťastný Nový Rok.  سنة جديدة سعيدة

I’ll keep this simple…  2014 is going to be about creating stuff and kicking ass.  That is all.


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Ten Ways the Original Battlestar Galactica is Still Better

CylonRaider-sl1Everyone knows that the newest BSG reincarnation is superior to the original.  Far superior, in fact.  Hotter chicks, better special effects, better writing, better actors, hotter chicks…  If you disagree with this, you probably think TV peaked with “Space: 1999.”  But, believe it or not, the original series was actually superior in a number of ways.

10.  The original Cylon ships were way cooler.  In fact, I submit that there has never been a cooler looking (imaginary) space ship ever created for a TV show or movie.  If Darth Vader had had a few of these babies in his inventory, Skywalker would’ve shit his diapers.

9.  The original Colonial Vipers are also cooler.  I’m especially fond of the hairspray nozzle booster jets.  And the wings, which are totally unnecessary in space.

8.  “Atlantia death squadron… attack!”  Damn right.

7.  PEW-PEW-PEW!  That’s right.  Lasers.

6.  The theme song.

5.  Commander Adama rocked the Army Military Intelligence Corps insignia.  The Viper pilots also wore them.  But Adama rocked them.

4.  Pre-A-Team Dirk Bennedict.  The Face before the Face.

3.  The original Cylons are so much more iconic and bad-ass than the newer Toasters.  The humanoid Cylons in the new series may be hotter, but nothing beats the original metalheads.

2.  Lorne Fucking Green.  Do I really need to elaborate on this?

1.  “By your command, imperious leader!”


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Ten Reasons Why…

Ten Reasons Why the 10 Reasons Lists are Crap

10.  The writer has a very limited scope of experience, yet feels free to project their world view and belief system onto everything and everyone.

9.  Straw man arguments.

8.  Tin man arguments.

7.  Obamacare.

6.  There is no reason 6.

5.  Why are you still reading this?


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On Eating Bitter

“If you really want to screw someone, pay them a compliment.” ― me

GoodJobCompliments feed the ego and make the compliment-ee feel good.  In turn, they also make the compliment-er feel good about making the compliment-ee feel good.  But what actually results from our happy, overstuffed, corpulent egos meeting the cold, agnostic reality that binds us all?  Cognitive dissonance.

You’ve been told all your life how smart you are, how much potential you have, what great things you’re destined for. Perhaps you even believe it.  You’re a polyglot, a polymath, you’ve served your country, earned advanced degrees, seen some of the world, you play a musical instrument, and you have an IQ of over 150.  Congratulations.  Really.  These are not bad things.

But, when you (and all that goes with you) find yourself broke, unfulfilled, unhappy, and working your ass off for barely minimum wage, you start to question reality itself.  Is this how life was “supposed” to turn out?  Eventually, this questioning turns in on itself and the real culprit behind this injustice: you.

Surely, you are the real problem, right?  Actually, no.

The cognitive dissonance (i.e., bullshit) you’ve been swimming in your entire life has programmed you in ways that don’t jibe with reality.  It’s like trying to run FORTRAN on your iPhone.  It’s kind of a cool idea (in a certain nerdy sorta way), but ultimately… iOS responds with, “FOR-WHAT???“  Lest you start to question your programming skills, you need to realize that it’s just the wrong environment for that particular syntax.  In less nerdy terms, you’ve been indoctrinated by less-than-helpful BS to thrive in a BS-only reality.  The fact that you’ve come to believe the bullshit is actually the problem.

To be sure, self esteem is important, but it must be real.  It must be earned.  Unrealistic compliments, no matter how well intentioned, can ultimately serve to fuck you in the long run reality game.  Thunder is fine, but if Thor didn’t have lightning to back it up, he’d be nothing but fart gas in the wind.

Allow me to share a favorite quote with you:

“Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
― Calvin Coolidge

The Japanese and Chinese cultures both have proverbs related to this.

Japanese: 苦有れば楽有りku areba raku ari. I’ve seen translations ranging from “No cross, no crown” to “No sweat, no sweet” to “No pain, no gain.”  None of these, in my opinion, cuts it.  I would prefer to translate it (a bit more literally) as “Without hardship, there can be no comfort.” Another similar proverb I like is: 良薬は口に苦しryōyaku ha kuchi ni nigashi or “Good medicine is bitter in the mouth.”

Chinese: 吃点苦chī diǎn kǔEat Bitter.  Short.  Simple.  (Not so) sweet.

Eat your turkey and counting your blessings on this Day of Thanksgiving.  But also consider having a side order of bitter.

Posted in Budo, Japanese, Philosophy | 2 Comments

Here it is…

People have started photoshopping me into memes.  The least they could do is to start with a large, high-quality source photo.  Here is that photo.

Hack Norris

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On Service

Taking part in an OPFOR exercise at Mt Fuji as a youngish Combat Interrogator.

Mt. Fuji (c. 1994) – The author as a youngish Combat Interrogator during an OPFOR exercise against Aeromedevac crews from the 374th Medical Group, Yokota AB, Japan.

I never went to war.  I wasn’t Marine Recon.  I wasn’t Army Special Forces.  I wasn’t a Navy SEAL.  I wasn’t a USAF PJ or TACP.  I never strangled a Nazi with my bare hands to prevent him from trying to destroy your freedoms or murder your puppy.

Much of what I did involved force protection.  What that means is that I watched the backs of the Marines, Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen who were much closer to harm’s way than I was. That’s about it.  The closest I ever came to combat was very nearly getting caught up in the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo Subway in 1995.

One job I held was Linguist Debriefer/Interrogator (AFSC 8D000).  Sounds impressive, d0esn’t it?  I even went to a school called “Combat Interrogation.”  Macho, right?  I know.  We also happened to have (and, I believe, still have) the absolute bottom-of-the-barrel, lowest promotion rate in the entire Air Force, bar none.  When I was in this career field, there were 4 people in my rank (including me), worldwide.  It was so mathematically impossible to get promoted that some of us started (jokingly, of course), plotting the elaborate deaths of our colleagues.  The CC of all USAF HUMINT even visited my unit to apologize and talked about plans for a mass meritorious promotion for everyone… just to “fix” the problem.  (It never happened.)

I did get to take part in some interesting things that most people will never get to know about and work in some places that most people will never get access to.  Some of what I was involved in even made it into the international news.  On at least one occasion, something I did ended up in the President’s Daily Brief (he may or may not have been awoken in the middle of the night because of me).  They even gave me a medal for it, but I can never tell you the who, what, when, where, why, or how.  I also got a meritorious citation from the Director of the CIA for that thing I did with that guy in the place.  A few people, maybe even someone reading this right now, might know about some of these things, but that’s about it.  The rest of you are out of luck.  Sorry.

As is sometimes the case with the nature of the jobs I performed, my actions may have ultimately resulted in injury or death, but I will never know.  I never had to look someone in the eyes as I pulled a trigger.  I never had to look for IEDs as I drove my Nissan from the barracks to work.  I slept in a bed, not in a hole I had to dig with a spork.  I experienced death, but it was never in the form of trying to stuff my best friend’s guts back into a gaping cavity that used to be his torso.  I led a particularly cushy life.  I even enjoyed a lot of it.  The nature of my service was honorable, but mediocre at best, and I never rose past a staff NCO rank.

In retrospect, I probably wasn’t even cut out for military life at all, even the comfortable version that I lived.  The only reason I joined in the first place was that I had no other real plans.  The only reason I stayed as long as I did was that I had no other real plans.  That said, I did take the oath.  And the last I checked, there was no expiration date on it.  Nor did I rescind it.

If you want to thank me for my “service,” I’ll accept it.  But don’t be surprised if I’m a bit awkward in my acceptance.

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Hacker’s Rules for Everything

  1. Slow and steady wins the race.
  2. It ain’t a race.
Posted in HackerHaus, Philosophy | 1 Comment