Monday, July 14, 2014

Seeing, what is really there

This blog came up because of my trying to fathom the minds of extreme conservatives, Republicans of late, the Tea Party, Fox News, and well, that whole entire mess. In talking to conservative acquaintances, many things have come up. Not a few of which have left us both feeling in the end, frustrated.

I can't convince them to see my point of view, they can't convince me to see theirs. But, I have a few things on my side that tend to validate my views and opinions, more than theirs. That is to say, their mindset has a few downsides.

For one they watch Fox News, a notoriously questionable network due to their ridiculous concern of market share over news facts. They also don't try to verify facts very well, if at all. Instead they have a mindset that tries to verify their mindset. Not a bad thing per se, with the correct checks and balances, but they usually don't have those.

For myself, I'm not that attached to my view points. I'm attached to whatever verifiable reality actually is. Actuality over reality. I approach achieving my beliefs in a completely different manner, from what I can gather, than how they do. But enough of them and their intellectual down sides.

On my side I do have a few things going for me. Allow me to try and clarify....

When I was younger, I was very interested in the Cold War as I was on a path back then to a job within that insanity. I have now a certificate on my wall, signed by a government agency, thanking me for my efforts during that mostly behind the scenes, war of the wills, that from time to time left cold bodies along dark road sides. Sometimes bullet ridden, blown up in cars, or even as in one extreme example, poisoned by a signature plutonium micro-pellet riddled with microscopic holes delivered by the end of an umbrella device carried by a Soviet agent.

Even before that, my youth was a path straight into the field of espionage.

I had studied Martial Arts beginning in grade school. This was my primary orientation for the first part of my life. I was the one new kids got stuck with because I was a good trainer with novices and a good leader. I had to see what was, what they had, what they could handle, interpret that back to the ignorant, in a way that would move them quickly along. That laid a foundation for me throughout my life where I was a good team leader, accurate and effective. Bruce Lee, in this video (at 5:35) says that Martial Arts are a way to "express oneself honestly. Not lying to oneself...that my friend, is what you do." This was the foundation for who I was then and who I still am now.

In Junior High I was a Flight Commander in Civil Air Patrol (Wikipedia article) where we studied aerospace history as well as physically performing search and rescue missions finding downed aircraft in the Cascade mountains. I got my RadioTelegraph Operator's license, instructed cadets in my Flight in military march and drill and served (believe it or not), as a role model. I flew in small planes and landed my first plane in eighth grade at Tacoma Industrial Airport by Gig Harbor, Washington. I also took pilot ground school through our squadron. We were taught how to rely on what actually is, not what we believed in, but what we knew to be true in order to save and protect lives.

I was also on a private youth rifle team in junior high sanctioned by our local police department. I got my High School sports letter from three years on the Rifle Team. I was an illegal street racer. I got my SCUBA diving license (NAUI) in 10th grade. I took my first sky diving jump at seventeen, the only one to land on the LZ (landing zone) that day.

At eighteen I spent my first time with someone for a week, armed, acting as her bodyguard until she could leave town to avoid local organized crime related to a murder at the time and which I'm currently working on a screenplay about.

I spent the first part of my life studying, reading, watching, and talking to people about espionage, the Soviet KGB, our own CIA, and so on. Those studies included world wars, spy craft, history in general, and the rest that would entail.

At eighteen, I took Criminal Evidence for Police from a veteran cop at Tacoma Community College. For many years, that teacher had been the partner of famous retired LAPD officer turned novelist, Joeseph Wambaugh of The Blue Knight novel fame (and others), which lead to the seminal TV show. That class was the beginning of giving me a way to order up my thoughts that meshed well with how I naturally thought since I first began reading the classics, like Aristotle, in fifth grade.

None of that is bragging. I merely mention it as foundation for what I am about to say next.

I used to read only non-fiction espionage books by ex-spies and defectors, ex-spy leaders and ex-government officials from our government and others, both friend and foe. I refused to read spy books back then out of fear of it contaminating my catalog of information. A catalog that one day could save my life. I applied to the Tacoma Police Department at nineteen but they gave the available jobs to only minorities that year due to a new law that had just come into effect.

I went into the Air Force at twenty the next year as a Law Enforcement Specialist. Before I got out four years later, I applied to join the USAF Office of Special Investigations. When the OSI CO at that base asked me why I wanted to join them, I said that it was just a step in a path I was on and that all through my life, it was almost as if someone were directing me into this field (which is why I mentioned all that previously above). In the end, that Commanding Officer said that I had the highest score he had ever seen on an OSI entrance exam. Before and after the testing, I had many "interviews" with him until finally, I was accepted and given my papers.

In picking a base to be stationed to, when he asked what I wanted out of that career, I said I was hoping at some point to get into being a courier, or some other job like that which I might not at that time even know about. I said that while I am in the OSI I wanted to learn all I could about the job. So he suggested for me request being assigned to the base (now closed) in the Philippines called, Clark AFB.

That surprised me as I'd expected (hoped for) Europe or Asia, thereby closer to our primary foe, the KGB. I asked him why. He said that I if really wanted to learn all about the job, that was the place to go, because that base had the highest amount of theft of any of our air bases in the world. That was the place, he said, where I would have to fill out a lot of forms and in fact would learn all the forms in the catalog there. I just frowned.

I told him that although I appreciated that, it wasn't what I had meant. When he asked for me to clarify, I explained that I was more interested in field work than paperwork. I explained a little more and his eyes lit up with understanding.

"In that case," he said, "you'll want to go to Berlin." He said that in fact there was currently a job available there that no one seemed to want to fill, as the job has been open for a while.

I asked why. He said that the agent who had vacated the position, had been leaving work at the end of a work day, had gotten into his car, and it exploded, killing him. When I asked who did that, he just gave me an odd look. I shook my head not understanding but started to get the clue. He nodded as in, "you know". So I said, "KGB?" He tilted his head slightly, then nodded, which I took to mean that there was no knowing for sure, but that was the reasonable, accepted conclusion. So, no one wanted that job as no one wanted to get blown up.

Then he said, "If you want to learn how to deal with other agencies like that, then Berlin [in 1979], would be the number one place to go." Immediately, I said, "Sign me up." He said okay, and to come back the next day. I returned the next day and got my paperwork which I still have.

My life took a turn that winter and as it turned out, I got out instead, got divorced, and ended up going to college. Eventually, I got a degree from Western Washington University in Psychology in their Awareness and Reasoning division, and Phenomenology, with a minor in Creative Writing and script and screenwriting.

Now at this point, let me point something out.

I just said that I was initially vetted over a few months and accepted into the USAFOSI. But before that, I never did get to be a Law Enforcement Specialist. I was cut from that in Basic Training due to issues around my having flat feet.

The reason I am telling you this now is that disinformation, and misinformation, the manipulation of information without being fully untrue, is running rampant in our media and news media, our party platforms and political organizations, today. I could have told you when I mentioned my situation with USAF Law Enforcement, but in not doing so, I set that into your mind, to give myself more authority, even though I later took it back. This may sound like hogwash, but it does work when dealing with masses of people, in statistical relevance. We are being bombarded with this kind of thing, being manipulated like this, constantly.

Even though I never was a cop, an OSI agent, or a spy, up until the time (and after) that I got out of the Air Force and decided not to go into that career area, I had focused, studied and oriented my life toward that lifestyle.

Spies are scenario builders. They have to be, their lives depends on it. Even in the back of one's mind in that field, one has to consider all possible scenarios and play them out ahead of time, so that when whatever might happen, happens, you have hopefully previously considered it and have a plan of action set in mind. Sometimes what makes someone seem like a genius, is simply pre-planning or at very least, pre-consideration. That leaves you more time in not being surprised by unexpected elements and with more options available in a smaller amount of time, in a possibly deadly situation.

It was damaging for me to change my life course midway as I had. It made my life difficult for years after, but I still retained that format of analyzing information with the thought that my life may depend on my having the most accurate information at hand. I've been in many situations where I had to make a snap decision to save myself or others and well, I'm still here. And so are they.

The one thing that has been a guiding light to me in all my life has been in search and support of the Truth. My attitude generally speaking, has been mercenary. When I'm paid by someone or some group, when I decide to accept a position, I fulfill that position to the best of my ability. Who within that group I am focused on serving, is a sliding rule, because the mission and the truth, are what matter. But I don't want to explain all the ins and outs of that here and now.

In Psychology we were taught how to read and write Psychology journal articles for peer reviewed magazines. These are difficult to read (and write) and have statistics in them, which you also have to understand, as it's very easy to skew stats to one's whims. I had to take a year of Psychology Statistics for that and it was very hard and quite miserable to suffer through.

What is important to me in life, is not that I prove my case so much as to prove the right case, honing that case to what is the greatest truth that is possible to discover. I have never had a problem telling someone at work that a mistake was made and it was my fault. Other people after all, matter; I'm not all important, even if it costs me.

In the beginning when I was younger, I had no problem with doing the government's bidding; even if that meant fulfilling my orders in being directed to kill someone. I would assume there was good reason behind it. This is not an unusual mindset for any young military type.

As I got older and with all my reading and learning, I started to see that life is not like in the old film Westerns. Life is grey, many and varied shades of grey. I've grown up a lot and learned the hard way that what you think is true, may have merely been set up for you to think that way; so that it may seem like one thing, but really be another.

I also dove into and swam through the conspiracy theory thing back in my late teens. Once I first ran into that, realized it was a theory (or syndrome), I studied what it was all about, the theory behind a conspiracy theory, and the people who tend to fall for them. One needs to understand about conspiracy theories before getting involved in any one conspiracy theory. To understand that, you have to have a handle on information theory, crowd theory, a whole plethora of theories. When you understand that, you can pick apart much of the bad information we hear in the media today and more easily separate out all the better, the good information. When you understand that you can all the better also disseminate your own precisely flawed, targeted information.

That is something that the Soviets, the Russian people, were expert in. We learned much from British MI6 and their knowledgebase, which they shared with us and even more so at the end of WWII when the Germans ceased to be the problem and the Soviets rapidly became one. The Brits knew about a lot about that through the centuries as they were at odds with the Russians and various other European countries throughout history. We learned a lot from the Brits about all that, and they from the Soviets and the Russians before them.

The KGB invented disinformation. Something that our national news media and politics have been picking up on of late, esp., Fox News and the Republican and Tea Parties. Others too are picking up on it.

It's been my experience however that the shadier types usually learn this first and then the other sides pick up on it sheerly out of self-defense and eventually learn to turn it into an offense. At times our own CIA has even used it inadvertently against the American people when publishing to foreign press, but then newer news media naively filtered it back home. So it has been a hard row to hoe for the CIA over the years as they are accountable to us, even though it may not seem that way at times.

It is in having gone through all these things that I have mentioned here, as to why I have a good background for what I see and hear going on all around me in the world; and why I believe I have a good orientation and background for fathoming and sussing out what the truth is much of the time; even through our own sad news media.

However, I get it wrong at times too. One's insight is only as good as whatever information can be accessed. I try to access as much accurate and disparate info as possible, in the best journalist sense by attempting to find the greatest truths and any associated "truths".

In the 1990s I was a Senior Technical Writer. That required, especially on the high level IT teams I was assigned to, a fairly high degree of accuracy and effectiveness. Otherwise, you were out the door pretty quickly.

When I finally decided to seriously go into fiction writing I realized that all that wasted and now useless information I had assimilated on the KGB and the Cold War, wasn't actually that useless. Though the Soviet KGB is no more, it is replaced now by the Russian FSB. Maybe the data I had wasn't so useful anymore, but that style of thinking, of analysis, the scenario building, the vetting of sometimes dubious or misleading information, all port over quite well into writing fiction.

This article wasn't supposed to be about me. I'm pretty much beside the point.

I just thought I could use my outlook and background to point out how it can be different than what one might consider to be the norm. My point in talking about all this was simply to show how I see things, differently. But then I've been told that I see things differently, going back as young as I can remember. Most importantly, I just wanted to try to point out a way to look at all this. To try and explain it in another way, in the hope that it may open some people up to vet their opinions differently, to re-evaluate their assumptions; to be more careful and circumspect on their beliefs. Even their deepest held and most cherished ones.

So I put it to you that all in all, through all my education, orientation and experiences, going up against conservatives who watch Fox News, I think at least in general, I have typically have a somewhat better sense of what I'm talking about. I do try and I do frequently have a more accurate view of things than they seem to have. That's not to say they are always wrong; but not infrequently they just haven't vetted their outlook very well.

In the words of Robert Reich, "...test your assumptions, shake your assumptions."

One more little tidbit....

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