I’ve Been Quiet

While I enjoy being Amir’s cheerleader, I’m still trying to figure out what I should write about on these pages. I think I’ve begun to figure it out.

Today, I checked out a book from the library on Snake handlers in Appalachia . . .

Stay tuned. 😉

Why I HATE the MSM, Reason #1,034,583

WARNING: VERY STRONG LANGUAGE FOLLOWS. And here is why.

Note to the MSM….

You need to get your heads out of your asses and quit putting the HEROIC Japanese workers on the same moral plane as JIHADI THUGS. The Japanese techies are HEROES in every sense of the word, and what they are doing is an act of SELF-SACRIFICE.

What they are doing is comparable to what Marine Cpl Jason Dunham and Navy SEAL Michael Monsoor did. They threw themselves on live grenades, saving the lives of their teammates. Dunham and Monsoor were awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

What they are doing is comparable to what Delta Force snipers Randy Shughart and Gary Gordon did. They inserted themselves in a firefight–going against the recommendations of their commanders, and knowing they had almost no chance of surviving–to save a downed aircrew from certain death. CWO Michael Durant ended up surviving. Shughart and Gordon were awarded the Medal of Honor, potshumously.

Neither Dunham nor Monsoor nor Shughart nor Gordon were death-worshippers who saw death as the greatest honor. They did not glorify suicide; they embodied the value of self-sacrifice that made them exemplary Marines (in Dunham’s case), SEALs (in Monsoor’s case), and Rangers (in Shughart and Gordon’s cases). They accepted death so their teammates could live. They voluntarily took one for the team.

The Japanese nuclear techies are heroes in every sense of the word. They have taken on a dangerous task–at great risk to themselves–on behalf of their compatriots who are already under severe duress from the quake and tsunami. If they succeed, this is Apollo 13 on steroids. They might even survive.

To put these workers in the same boat as Jihadi death-worshiping thugs is a FUCKING outrage.

Normality

For some reason, this year, I find myself not quite a joyous around this time as I normally am. I’m still settling into the new rhythm of married life. We had a theory for how we were going to approach the holidays and it’s kind of gotten blown to shreds in Round 1. (Or is this now Round 2?? Do I even count last year since we were newly married and just wanted to stay put after all of the wedding hoopla??)

Christmas is different this year. It’s not so much that it’s different, but of why it’s different.

Family is spread out all over the place. Part of that is just life in the 20th/21st century. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Part of it is a bad thing. Divorce happened. There will never be a Christmas when everyone is all together.

I was excited for Christmas last year because it was my first Christmas when I was not going to have 3 or more separate Christmas celebrations. It was just going to be my husband & I. It was thrilling for many reasons.

I’m excited for Christmas this year, too. I’m also a little sad. Amir’s family is spread out all over the country. There will never be a Christmas when all of them are together.

This gets the wheels in my head turning. I have to think what would cross a person’s radar to want to splinter everyone up. Why would they not want to at least make a real effort to keep the family intact? Why desire the splintering?

Now, I’ll admit, I had/have it easy in that respect. Both of my biological parents are more or less in the same area. They never made an effort to move out of state. I’ve always been glad for this. Yet, there are the 3+ different Christmas celebrations to attend. Growing up, some years where as high 5. I got tons of presents, but I was going to 5 different places to celebrate Christmas.

Still, though, it’s frustrating. Hopefully, after a couple generations of Larijanis, our offspring will be able to have an “at-home” Christmas celebration. Family will (want to) gather together. It will a good time of reflecting on the past year, they can thank the Lord together for what has been, is and is to come.

Amir & I are quite used to fractured Christmas celebrations. It will be somewhat normal for our children too, as they will be with us as we travel together to visit different parts of the family. Hopefully, we can teach our kids that the fractured Christmas isn’t our goal and shouldn’t be theirs. It’s a result of the ancestral sin that, by God’s grace, we are granted repentance from.

Hopefully, our kids can give their kids something different than what they were given. Something along the lines of an in-tact Christmas. One big celebration for the whole family. It can be the start of something new.

Something that wouldn’t have been possible if not for the work of Christ.

Getting a Christian Roommate

Has gotten much harder over the years. (HT: Matt Kaufman of Boundless)

When I was in college (Embry-Riddle), I was active in the Christian Fellowship Club. I had my issues with them–they were dominated by the fringe charismatic types–but overall they weren’t bad folks. Some of the faculty were very involved in it as well. Two of the flight instructors were regulars.

One of those flight instructors was wanting to rent a room from his house. That was not uncommon, nor was the gesture unwelcome, as very few students–outside of freshmen and ROTC students–lived on campus. As a result, students were always looking for good deals on housing near campus.

That flight instructor was insistent, however: he wanted only a Christian, preferably one with good references. This was not unreasonable: (a) it was his house, (b) he did not want people living there who would upset the peace of his house, and (c) he wanted someone who was reliable.

No one thought anything of it, and he was able to find someone to whom to rent that room in his house.

It’s pretty sad that, today, that same flight instructor might have to hire a lawyer to PROVE–to the Federal government no less–that he was not violating any non-discrimination law.

Some of you might say, “Well, Amir, what if he didn’t want to rent to blacks or Asians?” I would not like that, but–you know what?–IT’S HIS HOUSE!

Freedom of association is a two-edged sword indeed.

Applied rightly, the flight instructor ensures that he gets good clientele who are reliable with rent payments, and who do not trash the house and make lots of noise that irritates the neighbors.

Applied wrongly, a bigot denies a black, Hispanic, Asian, or other minority–solely because they are minorities–a chance to establish himself.

(I’ve been on the receiving end of this: as a single, several years ago, I was denied for a rental because the owner only wanted to rent to a married couple. I didn’t like that fact, but I felt it was his business and left it at that.)

Freedom has its upsides and downsides. I don’t like the downside, but–you know what?–I loathe even more the idea of having to hire a lawyer to fight local, state, and federal authorities, all because I want to rent my house to someone who is like-minded.

This “Big Brother” culture of local, state, and federal government is marginally tough on the little guy, and–sadly–only hinders the creation of mobility for people who will need it in the increasingly-fragile economy.

Bullying the Bullies?

Newsweek has an interesting article about the backlash against bullies. Admittedly, they do raise some legitimate issues–especially the “pile-on” effect in the aftermath of the recent suicides. This also speaks to some issue that I addressed on the matter.

(1) While they do mention the father who confronted some bullies who were harassing his daughter, their wording suggests that his reaction should be put in the same league with parents who piled onto Sharon Velasquez.

I disagree: he was defending his daughter, and that was his prerogative, whereas those parents who piled onto Velasquez were standing up for no one, and were likely motivated by their own egos.

(2) While I recommend standing up to a bully; we must ensure in our responses–as we have the backs of our kids–that we do not encourage them to become exactly the person they confronted.

It’s easy for a victim of bullying to become a bully. It’s very tempting. (Trust me, that’s the voice of experience.)

The response is to leave well enough alone. Your objective is to stop the attack, not to foster hatred that leads to continued fights and escalations.

Once you’ve stood your ground, back the heck off. There’s no need to keep piling on. Like I said, welcome your adversary to the table. Engage him (her) on your terms, not his (hers), but do be conciliatory.

If you develop a track record of dealing equitably with people without being a pushover, you will generally win respect.

One of the most-overlooked facts about the Sermon on the Mount is the dynamic of what makes a peacemaker. If you are predisposed to “showing that bully who’s really boss”, then you are yourself being a bully. If you are predisposed to being conciliatory as it depends on you, then you are heading in the direction of peacemaker.

If you find yourself feeling sorry for your adversary, and wanting for him (her) what you want for yourself, then you are on the path to “loving your enemies”. If you find yourself writhing in hatred and disdain for him (her), then you still don’t get it.

(3) The cyberbullying dynamic is a whole new phenomenon, and most of the regulars here did not have to deal with it in school. What was once restricted to Bathroom-wall “humor” is now wide open online. Between Facebook, Myspace, and the blogosphere, character assassinations have become quite easy. If you’re the teen, there is not a whole lot you can do, outside of suing for libel or slander. Such cases would be tough to pursue, the cost may outweigh the benefit, and you may be long into adulthood before such a case gets resolved. What do you do in the meantime?

This is where parents need to step up and deal with it. Personally, I recommend getting your kids the hell out of public schools if you can. Even then, your kids are still going to have to deal with bullies, and you still need to confront the bullies.

It is highly possible that the bully’s parents could be in the dark about what their kids are doing. (I’ve seen such parents, and I’ve seen them scare the fear of God–or their parents–into their kids when they find out.) Some just don’t give a crap. The latter will likely find their pucker factors elevated when they receive a “cease and desist” order from an attorney. But if you go that route, you’d better have an “or else” option ready.

At any rate, parents are going to need to bring it on behalf of their own children. With force if necessary.

Dealing with Bullies — How to Back Your Kid

One might think that when I stood up to ES in 7th grade, that my dad would have been thrilled about it. After all, I stood up for myself and did what he taught me.

Well…not quite.

On one hand, he ripped me a new one. I got grounded for telling ES to [go do something anatomically impossible]. He also provided a very stern reprimand for getting into a fight. He let me know–in no uncertain terms–that I cannot let that become a modus operandi.

Once he got all of the facts, that reprimand was reduced to a muted warning. Lesson learned.

On the other hand, he clearly had my back with the folks at the school. If they didn’t deal with the bullies, then his son would be forced to do what he needed to do. Lesson also learned.

(1) I knew my dad would not let me hang out to dry.

(2) I also knew my dad would not let me off scot-free if I had to fight it out. There would still be punishment, even though in these extenuating circumstances that punishment would be mitigated. This would hammer home a very important point: justified or not, hurting someone always carries a price.

(3) The folks at school knew they had to get their act together. Or else.

(4) Those who thought I would be a pushover ended up with a substantial hike in their marginal risk.

Did I ever “turn the other cheek”? Of course.

We had another guy in the class–Romeo Sierra (RS). He was a troublemaker. After I had done well against ES, RS decided he would try to bait me into a fight.

He wanted to box me. I was willing to do that, only because I looked at that as a game. (Seriously, I figured I might be able to make some friends with these guys by boxing with them.)

One day, RS and some of his friends came and sat with me at lunch. They were trying to map out terms of a fight.

RS said, “I’m not ES. I would leave you hurting.”

I told him, smiling, “I’m sure you would. I’d still give you all you could handle. But my dad would kick my ass!” We both laughed at that one.

The next year, RS and I would end up being teammates on the football team. We weren’t buddies–he was in with some really bad guys–but we got along. When I got my first QB sack, he was the first one congratulating me.

I can’t say that I handled things perfectly by Matthew 5 standards–what 7th grader in my position would have?–although, to my credit, I pursued a conciliatory path afterwards.

I could have continued to humiliate ES, but I didn’t. I could have carried my “success” with ES, gotten a big head, and taken up others who wanted to fight. Had I done so, I could have taken my punishment from my dad, always coming up with a reason why fighting “was the right thing.” That would probably have led to a life of delinquency if not jail.

But I didn’t take that path. I welcomed RS and BA to the table, but I dealt with them on my terms, not theirs.

I could have continued to walk around school with a huge chip on my shoulder, and shut everyone out in a “f***-you-it’s-me-versus-the-world” mindset. But I didn’t.

Those guys and gals who called me “fag” and “sissy” back then? Some of them are now among my Facebook friends today.

And that’s all because (a) I took Matthew 5 seriously, even though I didn’t get it all right, and (b) I took my dad’s warnings seriously.

I took his warnings as seriously as I did, because I saw him warning me even as he had my back.

Taking on a Bully, a First-Person Perspective

WARNING: Very strong language here!

When I was in 7th grade, I spent the first half of the school year at a Christian school, the now-defunct Pioneer Christian Academy. It was a good experience, even though they were quite fundamentalist. (The only trouble I got into: a half-day’s worth of detention due to two haircut violations.) Seriously, the teachers were cool, and I got along quite well with the students.

Because we moved into a house, I spent the second half of the school year in a public school.

The year was 1980, and it was the height of the Iran Hostage Crisis. (Strike One!)

I was living in Hendersonville, Tennessee, which was chock full of sheetheads. (Strike Two!)

Somehow or another, the word got out amongst my classmates that my father’s side of the family is Iranian. At that fact, many of the seedy folks among them decided to make my life miserable.

It didn’t matter a damn to them that (a) my dad was an American Citizen who earned it; or (b) my dad worked for a living; or (c) that my dad had as much disdain for the assaholahs in Iran as anyone over here.

No…their job was to make my life miserable.

One day, at gym class, one of the asshats, Echo Sierra, decided that he was going to give me hell. He started hassling me, “We should send your whole family back to Iran.”

I told him to go fuck himself.

ES decided he could not handle such disrespect, so he came up to me and started staring me down. One of his asshole friends said, “Get Coach Charlie and get the boxing gloves!”

Our gym coach had a means of letting students release their anger: he gave them boxing gloves, and let them fight it out for three rounds. I jumped at the idea.

(What ES didn’t realize: even though I was a pint-sizer at 95 pounds, I was an avid boxing fan, and my dad taught me a little bit about how to box. I knew I wasn’t going to be fighting for Team USA anytime soon, but I figured I could hold my own.)

We put our gloves on, as most of the rest of the class was egging him on. (Let’s just say that I was not one of the more popular kids in the room.)

As soon as the coach blew his whistle, ES was on top fast and furiously, throwing haymakers. He figured he was going to finish me off. I covered well, and most of those shots totally missed. Some of them glanced off my shoulder. I landed a couple of upper cuts that sent him backward and brought him back down to earth. Overall, he probably won that round, but did not even come close to hurting me.

The second round, I took charge. He was tired. I landed a few jabs. He tried a few attacks, and got clobbered. I had taken his best shot, and was now giving him a fight he never thought he would get.

The third round was his round from hell. He had nothing left, and I teed off on him. Jabs. Upper cuts. Body shots. Head shots. He was my bitch.

When the coach stopped the fight, the rest of the class was shocked. I was not the favorite, but I had just taken on a bully, and kicked his ass. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I was a short and puny little nerd. I was the little son of a raghead. I was supposed to lose. Instead, I held my own, and handed him his ass on a plate.

Did the rest of my classmates start liking me? Not really, although–over time–they realized I was not the asshole they initially suspected. A few of them would become my friends.

But I got their respect that day. Even the coach tipped his proverbial cap. Teachers who had not seen it–but had heard about it–treated me differently. I didn’t make a bunch of friends that day, but most of them stopped hassling me.

ES and I would come to a truce of sorts. He knew he wasn’t going to have me for a punching bag, and I had no designs on being someone who always got into fights. That is a nuclear option that I have not used in over 25 years, and I would rather keep it that way.

But I make no apologies for standing up to such bullies. And if I get to have kids, and one of them has to take on a bully, I’ve got their back.

Bullying..What to Do

Paul Coughlin would be a good resource on matters such as these.

I know this isn’t going to sound nice for all you Metrosexual-Jesus freaks out there, but heregoes…

(1) While I’m all for homeschooling, that does not solve the bullying problem. Everyone–sooner or later–will have to deal with one or more bullies. it is on the parents to help their kids learn to fend for themselves.

(2) Most bullies engage in their trade until you fight back. While this is most effective when you punch the shit out of the bully, they generally back off if even if you lose. Having the stones to fight them usually causes them to reconsider their risks. This is because while they may win 4 out of 5 times, that fifth time may be disastrous for their dental bill or future sex life. There’s nothing like giving them a real-life economics lesson by raising their marginal cost…

(3) While I oppose white-knighting, there comes a point where it is appropriate to stick up for people who are defenseless. By that I mean people with profound handicaps, or children–I’m referring to grade-schoolers here–who are being attacked by middle and high schoolers. If you are a teacher and you see this crap going on in your classroom–and do nothing about it–then I would consider it a high honor to hand you your ass on a platter.

(4) Learning to be assertive goes a long way toward dealing with bullies in your adult life. In the office world, most bullies are not physical. In fact they are passive-aggressive and/or resort to bullying by throwing their weight around. If you maintain your competence, keep a cool head, and be willing to call them on their bullshit, you’ll win most of the time.

Goings On…

Been busier than a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. Ergo, posts have been fairly brief and rare lately.

(1) Married life is going well. MrsLarijani is adjusting well to Recon and Sneaky. Not to mention her hubby.

(2) She is enjoying the heck out of Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse. I figured she’d like that one.

(3) I’m reading Anna Karenina by Tolstoy. I might be writing a whole blog post about that one.

(4) I’m not working out nearly as much as I did before getting married, but still getting plenty of time on the Nordic Track, and the recumbent exercise bike. Also have a pullup bar/dip chair combo that allows me to get my strength work done.

(5) That was an impressive showing by the Colts tonight.

(6) The University of Kentucky basketball team is quite impressive under first-year coach John Calipari.

(7) Proverbs is the most under-appreciated book in the Bible. I make it a point to read it through every January. MrsLarijani and I also did this during the summer, and are repeating now.

(8) The Old Testament is also very under-appreciated. I knew this already, but–every time I charge through the OT, I gain a greater appreciation for that fact.

(9) MrsLarijani is a gift from God. I don’t just say that because she is hovering over my shoulder right now.

(10) MrsLarijani has successfully commandeered the kitchen.