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Wednesday, December 12 2018 @ 10:54 am PST

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Marching Orders

SheepdogsI hinted at this a while back but Blackfive has come right out and said it:

Cyber War Against Wikileaks

Now I'm aware that some of you need to play it safe online, but for those of us who either have the skills or the people with the skills to take the offensive, it's time to take a stand.

This isn't about silencing an unpopular view, much as Assange and his supporters would like to disseminate the idea.

This is about seeing someone doing something that harms others and trying to mitigate the damage.

This is about dealing with cyberwarfare and cyberterrorism before the day our enemies attempt to use it with overwhelming force. Make no mistake; it is out there and it is a significant threat. Without giving too much "credit," I will say that a couple months ago I witnessed the impact of a virus that even had the former NSA types scrambling. Get into the game now while there's a little time for a learning curve.

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Dogs (and Cats) of War

Sheepdogs
(Stephen Brooks poster, free for non-profit use)
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Article of the day (yes I'm procrastinating on A&P)

SheepdogsTips on how to CYA after using deadly force to protect yourself, from Straight Forward in a Crooked World:

For the Defense: Phoning It In

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Decision

SheepdogsWell, it's not official yet, but I've slept on it a couple nights and still think this is the right call...

I'm not going to go to paramedic school this September.

I can't tell you how much I hate even typing that. I've worked hard (and I've decided to still stick it out in A&P) and the great irony is that this decision comes right as I was getting my enthusiasm for EMS back.

I'm not giving up on the idea. I have a few ideas for how to make it all work, but I'm not setting anything in stone just yet. Too many open questions right now.

There are a lot of reasons that I -could- have made this decision. Most of them weren't good enough. A few others were, but they weren't the kind I liked (letting myself heal, for example.) But without going into great detail, I'll simply say that I cannot do it this year in good conscience. I have to look out for my family first. I can't do this at the expense of the people who need me now. In a couple of the cases, it's the prospect of that 911 call that scares me the most...the minute I'm called to the side of a family member who I'd neglected... I'd be done in EMS. Sheepdogs look after their own sheep first.

So this is not a "never" and I'm hoping to stay current and even advance my training if possible. But I'm going to ask that my application be deferred. It stings. But it's the right call.

And I'm still going to pass A&P and earn our victory celebration. Who's in?
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Freedom and responsibility

SheepdogsYesterday afternoon I headed out to my grandparents' place to go through some of my grandmother's things. Heavy on my mind was a video I saw a few days back, a video of countless "small" driving errors and inattentions and what they led to. I've thought of posting it on the blog, although I don't know if any of you would thank me for it. The video convinced ME to be a more cautious driver, and that's saying something.

I took the back roads, partly for sanity's sake, partly because it was a miserably hot day (we beat Kabul's high yesterday) and the country roads were about 5 degrees cooler. So there I was, driving along thinking about what a good kitty I was being in driving cautiously even though I had a bunch of open road. As I approached a curve, the neurons started firing... tight curve, almost a dead drop on the other side. And I got halfway around it when I discovered that the guy speeding uphill was about a foot over the line. I hugged the edge as far as I dared, kept an iron grip on the wheel, and made it without mishap. I doubt he even realized how bad it could have been.

The whole incident got me thinking. Yes, we have to be smart with activities like driving, especially since they have the possibility of shattering other people's lives. But we're utterly wrong if we think that we can keep ourselves safe. I just heard recently of someone who crashed her car after skydiving. We can call it irony only so many times before we admit that we have so little control over what harms us. Those of us who get called "adrenaline junkies" know something of this. If something is going to harm us, it's a little better if we have some sense that we chose that fate for ourselves. So often I hear people expressing some level of comfort when a loved one died doing that thing that they loved. Our souls yearn for freedom, and most of us will take it in whatever form we can find it.

If I had a viable "transportation choice" between driving and skydiving, I'd choose skydiving in a heartbeat. Yes, there might be more danger to me. But it's easy to harm others with a car... much more difficult to harm others with a parachute.
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Adventures

SheepdogsI came within a whisker of walking in on a robbery tonight.

But I decided to get some laundry started before heading out. And thus got blocked by the traffic mess of the responding officers. Given that I learned that the police were there within just a minute or two... I did the math and noted the "what if."

Should I be relieved? Annoyed that I didn't get a chance to take the guy down? I'm feeling both right now.

I won't go into details; I have a feeling that I shouldn't have been told the information I was told. Suffice it to say that everyone's ok but it could have been deadly.

Much as I wish I'd been there, I've also learned to not complain when little things throw my plans off. Can't tell you how many times I've said, "that could have been me."

And if I've been protected from all that, I have to wonder what I'm being saved for. All I can say is that when it's my time, I'd better not hear any complaining, not when there seems to be such purpose in these close calls.
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Monday Morning Scramble

SheepdogsStill speechless over this whole health care thing. Pelosi seems to think it's going to save our economy. Well, sure, everyone will enjoy all the money being thrown at the problem...until the bill comes due and inflation skyrockets. Don't know if I even need to comment; you either know the score already or you're so pleased with yourself that you refuse to see the dangers ahead.

Other stories worth attention:

Booby Traps Targeting California Police Officers

New York Dad Murdered While Rescuing Teen From Attack

Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, America's 1st Female Physician, Stood Against Abortion

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Obama's Middle East Adventures

SheepdogsGoing to make this fast because there's far too much to do right now.

I am NOT a fan of much of what the Israeli state does. I understand it, and I understand why the US and Israel need an alliance, but activities such as creating additional settlements just makes their problems worse.

But Pres. Obama seems to think that turning our back on Israel will make them "shape up."

Nope.

If we isolate Israel, the situation will deteriorate rapidly. The Israelis will get more fearful than they are already, security will become harsher, and remaining human rights for non-Israelis will fly out the window. They will fight tooth and nail for their survival, and collateral damage will increase exponentially.

And if you've heard speculation about Israel deciding to nuke Iran? This is one of the ways it might happen.
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VA

SheepdogsEver walk into a place with a big old ego and walk out so stunned by what everyone else is going through that you haven't even noticed them sweeping your pride into the dustbin?

I spent some time at the VA hospital today. Not as a patient; if you want to know the reason, feel free to email/ask. But I was utterly unprepared for the experience.

I drove in to the visitor/patient parking garage and drove past row upon row upon row of vehicles, the majority with some kind of military tags or stickers. Cars were stashed everywhere a car could fit. I felt guilty taking the parking spot I finally found.

The main entrance looked normal. And then I get inside. The place is packed. All ages above 17. Some of the guys look at me like an interloper. Some are thinking...other things. And what broke my heart completely was the ones who were embarrassed to be there, who tried to hide which department they were going into.

For the last hour I've tried to find words for what it was like. And all I can come up with was that it was like Arlington for the living. The sheer enormity of the sacrifice stuns me. And a voice inside whispers what I knew all along, that our veterans deserve so much more than this.

And as I drove out into the "regular" city, it felt like entering another world. It was. But although it feels easier, it also feels false. This liberal city of Portland doesn't want to think about this place, these veterans. But I can do little else.
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Blood of the Martyrs

Sheepdogs Attack on World Vision in Pakistan Kills 6

This brought to mind a conversation I had a while back with an administrator for one of the major aid organizations. As many are in these organizations, she'd probably best be termed a pacifist. She couldn't understand why we're fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and she was furious that her organization had to leave a particular country. Neither did she cool down when I told her that AQ was operating in the country in question.

And I'm really wondering how she's reacting to this news.

On one level, it hits me hard because of work I've done in the past. I think I've written before about working with a Christian group that ran an orphanage in Cairo. It's all too easy to imagine this happening there.

In my Lenten readings I've been struggling a lot with the idea of seeing the image of God in every person, no matter how badly they've obscured and corrupted that image.

What do you do when the behavior of your fellow man obscures the holy to the point where they more resemble the demonic? If you want to put degrees on evil, an attack on those who are just trying to help others is toward the top (or shall we say bottom?) of evil.

In no way do I discount the value and impact of this Christian martyrdom. They died in the line of Christian duty, and the ripples of that will impact countless people and issues. But now, after it's all done, I'm curious to know how this may change some people's thinking.

Now, of course, I'm on ground where angels fear to tread, because we've arrived at the question of "when is it ok to take a life?" And the first thing I have to say is that it's never "ok." If we're honest with ourselves, we know that deep down there is always a problem with taking a life. It is a deep tragedy to snuff out a life, perhaps even more so when the action must be taken by good people. We may joke about "dead tangos" but deep inside we know that something is terribly wrong in the world.

It's one thing to accept martyrdom for yourself when attacked. It's quite another to allow it to be inflicted on others. There comes a point where the struggle moves past forgive your enemies, (which we still must do) to not allowing them to inflict more harm upon others. There comes a point where we must ask, whose death will save lives?

I struggle with writing this because I worry about inciting others onto a slippery slope. Being a Sheepdog while seeing the image of God in everyone is a tough, tough road. And whatever happens to me, happens. Just don't get in sheepdogs' way when they're trying to save lives.