Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
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FattyMcFatFat
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Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:47 am

Thanks for all of the feedback. I think I'm good to go now.
Last edited by FattyMcFatFat on Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:22 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:49 am

...Just noticed that my post doesn't pick up my different font sizes... no biggie though.

xyzzzzzzzz
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby xyzzzzzzzz » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:56 am

took a quick look, here are my thoughts. Take out your gpa- throwing up resume is a waste of the space you get for your personal statement. Also is that your real name? If so, edit it out.

Take out this part "and the legal field requires the perfect combination of critical thinking, writing skills, and tempered stress to stimulate my intellectual fervor and my desire to confront challenging problems"

Ad comms know what the legal field is. Also, it is a bit cliche and some people think the legal field isn't all that intellectual.
Finally, some people will probably post this link http://www.law.berkeley.edu/5188.htm . It basically says don't have a beginning that is super dramatic. Since your experience is much more legitimate and serious than most, keeping it is up to you.

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:08 am

Thanks, man (or dudette). Good call. I forgot to take the name out of there.

I went to the link you posted. Solid advice, but what do you think would be the best way to re-structure the introduction?

rockspaperjesus
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby rockspaperjesus » Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:19 am

I think you have a good story and some really great imagery, but many of your sentences are way too long. For example:

The paranoia imbued by our surroundings was reflected in the reactions to stray dogs or scurrying rats nearby each time an M4 carbine was sharply shifted to the high-ready by a soldier bracing for another firefight. This language is really unclear and could be condensed quite a bit and communicated less passively


As a self-effacing individual, I’ll say that the eventualities that I faced made me a bit uncomfortable, as I gained recognition as one of the very best among my peers, reaching the rank of Sergeant in just over two years, and graduating from Jumpmaster School as the only first-time attendee to do so in his class of 100 commissioned and non-commissioned officers.I'm not sure that you should call yourself self-effacing, even if you are. It would be enough to say something like "I was recognized for my _______. I reached the rank of Sergeant in just over two years and graduated from Jumpmaster School as the only first-time attendee to do so in a class of 100 commissioned and non-commissioned officers. I cannot deny, however, that some of my experiences caused me discomfort/made me uncomfortable/whatever" I'm not entirely sure what you're trying to say, which isn't a great thing, so I don't know exactly how to rework it. Divide this up into a few sentences at least

Regardless, I will never forget, nor I will I speak further of that day, but to express that I know now that there exists little that one could throw my way that I couldn’t put firmly in its place, and that I hope to extrapolate the resultant motivation, worldliness, and perspective of the sum of experiences such as this, to the academic rigor of Northwestern Law School just way too long

I think some of this works and some of it doesn't. If you work on your flow and the clarity of your language, I think this could really work for you. Right now, your last paragraph or so does not really convince me of why you'd like to go to law school. You might not even need to discuss it explicitly, though, if you can do a good enough job of describing yourself in the rest of your statement. If you really show how you'd succeed in law school you might not need to state that you would. I like the way you introduce your story, but maybe you should try to focus on one significant experience and really describe it clearly and effectively rather than jumping around.

I also don't think you need to talk about your GPA/stuff like that, as it will be clear from the rest of your application.

Anyway, I enjoyed your story, but got lost in it at times. Some of your sentences really stood out and stuck with me and others I felt like...what's going on here.

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PinkCow
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby PinkCow » Sat Dec 18, 2010 3:23 am

I wouldn't change it. Essentially, I read Berkley's recommendation to apply to those many many many PS's that are unnecessarily sensationalized. For instance, taking a whole paragraph to describe the "dark and stormy..." scenery for some overblown story about how some truly bland event "changed your life". However, your intro, sir makes you sound pretty B.A., which doesn't seem at all unwarranted. If you've got a sensational event back up being sensationalist, then by all means, go for it.

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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:10 pm

This is not a good personal statement for law school since it is poorly written, poorly organized & lacks clarity of thought. This essay may harm your law school applications.

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:56 pm

rockspaperjesus wrote:I think you have a good story and some really great imagery, but many of your sentences are way too long.


I get that with a log of my writing. I have a tendency to be WAY too passive sometimes. This dummy just won't listen.

CanadianWolf wrote:This is not a good personal statement for law school since it is poorly written, poorly organized & lacks clarity of thought. This essay may harm your law school applications.
[/quote]

I appreciate your bluntness. I probably should have waited until I finished a second draft before posting. I think that what you're referring to specifically is the horrible transition from the "story" to the closing, correct? Or do you think it's just a shitty idea altogether?

Thank you for all of your comments. I gather that the idea is a good one, but that I need to quit writing like such a pussy, and do a better job of tying it all together. Is this the right idea?

CanadianWolf
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:59 pm

The main problem is that your essay is a "what I did in the Army" piece & not a personal statement offering insights into your development & your view of the world. How did these events affect your thinking ?

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:11 pm

CanadianWolf wrote:The main problem is that your essay is a "what I did in the Army" piece & not a persaonal statement offering insights into your development & your view of the world.


I understand your point. My hope was that a reader would make some reasonable inferences regarding aspects of my character (i.e., this experience is an anecdotal insight into my "development". Regarding the latter, I'm not sure how to share my view of the world without disingenuously expounding upon something I don't really believe in, or becoming too political. This concern stems from a, perhaps facetious, assumption that most adcomms are filled with very left-leaning (politically) individuals whose world view does not jive with mine, at least at the best schools (other than Chicago, maybe). Are my concerns legit?
Last edited by FattyMcFatFat on Sun Jan 16, 2011 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CanadianWolf
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby CanadianWolf » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:26 pm

My impression is that your posted personal statement is just an expanded version of your resume without sharing more about your inner workings--which should be the primary focus of one's law school personal statement. I cannot help with your other questions, sorry.

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:30 pm

Message received. Looks like I still have a lot of work to do. Thanks again for the feedback.

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Shooter
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby Shooter » Sat Dec 18, 2010 1:47 pm

1) Thanks for your service.

2) The premise is good.

3) Stop trying to write like an academic. You aren't one (yet). Take out all the big, fancy words and just tell the story. You obviously have something to say, and the subject matter is pretty engaging, so there is no need for all the pseudo-intellectual jargon.

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PinkCow
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby PinkCow » Sat Dec 18, 2010 2:38 pm

FWIW, I disagree with Canadian Wolf. I do agree that you need to work on making the writing clearer, simpler, and more fluid. However, I think your story, on its own, speaks volumes of who you are. I think to try to qualify it with further introspection will make it sound trite. But, yes, what Shooter said. Tighten up - a lot - but keep the structure/story/theme.

manifresh
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby manifresh » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:44 pm

i agree with Chip's post above. Keep the story/theme/structure how it is. It was a very interesting read but as others have said you need to make it slightly less wordy and express your thoughts more clearly.
also this sentence " I know now that there exists little that one could throw my way that I couldn’t put firmly in its place" isn't really necessary in my opinion cause you've already shown this indirectly

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:44 am

Thanks for all the feedback. I think I'm good to go now.
Last edited by FattyMcFatFat on Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jeremysen
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby jeremysen » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:09 am

FattyMcFatFat wrote:All right. I Ghandi-fied this mofo and I'm back for round two. What do you guys think? (Thanks P ;))...

Three years ago, I was standing in an East Baghdad alley, plastered against a bullet-ridden wall, trying to avoid contact with the AK47 rounds whizzing past my head. My only thought was the safety of the team I led, as my company’s leadership huddled in an adjacent hole in the wall, deciding our next course of action. This paragraph can be communicated better - the frequent commas make the sentences sound very choppy

Three years earlier, I had stood next to many other young faces as we collectively uttered the Oath of Enlistment. I was still just a teenager, and my recruiter was able to sell me with tales of the “glory of battle” and camaraderie with my fellow soldiers, along with condescending remarks about the “anti-war hippies” that might attempt to persuade me to not enlist. I had scored in the 99th percentile on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, and could have pursued the military occupation of my choosing; I just wanted to jump out of airplanes, shoot guns, and blow stuff up. Can be combined into 1 sentence

I spent the next six months of my life learning to follow; and the following (Use "next", "succeeding", etc. but don't write "following" - repetitive) six years learning to lead. I gained recognition (change to "was recognized" as one of the very best among my peers (one of the best what?), reaching the rank of Sergeant in just over two years, and graduating from Jumpmaster School as the only first-time attendee to do so in his class of 100 commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

On my first deployment to Iraq, I saw relatively little action (makes you sound like a gun-slinging 16-year old no offense...make sure you use different word(s)), and I adjusted easily upon returning stateside. In fact, the experience did little to dampen that feeling of invincibility I had the day I took the oath. Even injuring my back and hip, after from jumping out of a plane in a training exercise, failed to temper my bravado.

Transition here is not very good

I couldn’t have predicted what was to come based upon my first combat experience. I married my wife on December 29, was told that I would be deploying for a second time on December 30, and left for Baghdad on January 2. One week later, on January 10, President Bush announced the surge to the world. This time, I participated in things far more extreme than most of my first tour. I witnessed many friends wounded or killed as we faced attempts on our lives on a regular basis. When events became almost too much to handle, I drew on my ability to deliver words of consolation or motivation for my soldiers. I must admit that there were times when I took solace in a moment of solitary introspection (language seems extremely out of place); but never did I show weakness.

As I led my team through the doorway that served as the “fatal frontal” of that mosque that (repetitious) day in Baghdad, I recalled the dirty yellow hoodie and sagging pants that naïve kid, convinced he was invincible, was wearing when he enlisted. (I get what you're saying here, but this sentence is written clumsily) I doubt I will ever speak further of that battle in Baghdad, except to say that never again will I view a challenge as insurmountable.

My combat experiences changed me in a way I could never have expected. As the son of a truck driver, and the oldest member of my family’s first generation of college students, I took an introductory Philosophy course and found myself hooked. (Awkward transition) As my professor drew a stick figure with a gun to his head to prompt discussion of Hume and determinism, it occurred to me that my daily experiences in the military were metaphysical struggles as well as physical ones. I next read Descartes, himself a former soldier. My minor in Philosophy, garnered while exploring the ideas of Kant, Dewey and others, became what I now understand as the liberal arts education for which the undergraduate experience is intended.

I plan to continue to pursue that liberal arts education in law school. I understand the need for the practical – I am, after all, a Finance/Economics major (don't mention that being a finance/economics major is practical) – but I also believe that the study of law is a rich venue for the exploration of abstract ethical concepts like virtue and justice.




Btw the language usage in the last two paragraphs is severely different from the rest of your essay - that makes it kind of awkward and contrived. The last two paragraphs seem like you're trying too hard to link your military experiences to law school.

Best luck, and thank you for your service.

oliverdarcy
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby oliverdarcy » Mon Dec 20, 2010 6:54 pm

First off, awesome essay and thank you for your service.

The only thing I would say is that I think that there is a bit of disconnect with the last two paragraphs. I would eliminate your discussion of school -- they can see your coursework on your resume -- and connect your military service to why you will be successful in law school.

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Mon Dec 20, 2010 7:52 pm

Thanks for the feedback. You guys are great. I think I might not be doing an effective job of making the connection between the army and Philosophy clear. What if I change the last sentence from...

I plan to continue to pursue that liberal arts education in law school. I understand the need for the practical – I am, after all, a Finance/Economics major – but I also believe that the study of law is a rich venue for the exploration of abstract ethical concepts like virtue and justice.


... to something more like this...

I plan to continue to pursue that liberal arts education in law school. I understand the need for the practical – I am, after all, a Finance/Economics major – but I also believe that the study of law is a rich venue for the exploration of abstract ethical concepts about how to live, and what is worth fighting for.


Does that add some value?

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Flips88
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby Flips88 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:32 pm

FattyMcFatFat wrote:All right. I Ghandi-fied this mofo and I'm back for round two. What do you guys think? (Thanks P ;))...

Three years ago, I was standing in an East Baghdad alley, plastered against a bullet-ridden wall, trying to avoid contact with the AK47 rounds whizzing past my head. My only thought was the safety of the team I led, as my company’s leadership huddled in an adjacent hole in the wall, deciding our next course of action.

Three years earlier, I had stood next to many other young faces as we collectively uttered the Oath of Enlistment. I was still just a teenager, and my recruiter was able to sell me with tales of the “glory of battle” and camaraderie with my fellow soldiers, along with condescending remarks about the “anti-war hippies” that might attempt to persuade me to not enlist. I had scored in the 99th percentile on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, and could have pursued the military occupation of my choosing; I just wanted to jump out of airplanes, shoot guns, and blow stuff up.
<-No offense intended, but this sentence makes you sound oddly neanderthal-esque when contrasted with your scoring in the 99th percentile of the test. Reducing your desire to joining the military to wanting to blow shit up is kind of off-putting to me.
I spent the next six months of my life learning to follow; and the following six years learning to lead. I gained recognition as one of the very best among my peers, reaching the rank of Sergeant in just over two years, and graduating from Jumpmaster School as the only first-time attendee to do so in his class of 100 commissioned and non-commissioned officers.

On my first deployment to Iraq, I saw relatively little action, and I adjusted easily upon returning stateside. In fact, the experience did little to dampen that feeling of invincibility I had the day I took the oath. Even injuring my back and hip, after jumping out of a plane in a training exercise, failed to temper my bravado.

I couldn’t have predicted what was to come based upon my first combat experience. I married my wife on December 29, was told that I would be deploying for a second time on December 30, and left for Baghdad on January 2. One week later, on January 10, President Bush announced the surge to the world. This time, I participated in things far more extreme than most of my first tour. I witnessed many friends wounded or killed as we faced attempts on our lives on a regular basis. When events became almost too much to handle, I drew on my ability to deliver words of consolation or motivation for my soldiers. I must admit that there were times when I took solace in a moment of solitary introspection; but never did I show weakness.

As I led my team through the doorway that served as the “fatal frontal” of that mosque that day in Baghdad, I recalled the dirty yellow hoodie and sagging pants that naïve kid, convinced he was invincible, was wearing when he enlisted. Lots of things i see wrong with this sentence. A) the dirty yellow hoodie and saggy pants imagery: this comes out of nowhere and though it can be assumed you're talking about you, it is still oddly vague. B)Earlier in the essay you say that your only thought was of your men's safety. Here you say you're recalling how far you've come C) Though I understand that this is for rhetorical purposes, I can never imagine you actually going through any introspection during the heat of battle. I assume you are focusing on not dying. I doubt I will ever speak further of that battle in Baghdad, except to say that never again will I view a challenge as insurmountable.

My combat experiences changed me in a way I could never have expected.you need a transition here. The shift is awkward. As the son of a truck driver, and the oldest member of my family’s first generation of college students, I took an introductory Philosophy course and found myself hooked. As my professor drew a stick figure with a gun to his head to prompt discussion of Hume and determinism, it occurred to me that my daily experiences in the military were metaphysical struggles as well as physical ones. I next read Descartes, himself a former soldier. My minor in Philosophy, garnered while exploring the ideas of Kant, Dewey and others, became what I now understand as the liberal arts education for which the undergraduate experience is intended.

I plan to continue to pursue that liberal arts education in law school. I understand the need for the practical – I am, after all, a Finance/Economics major – but I also believe that the study of law is a rich venue for the exploration of abstract ethical concepts like virtue and justice.


Sorry if my comments are harsh, but you have great stuff from which to draw. You just need to focus is and convey it in the right manner.

zahunter
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby zahunter » Mon Dec 20, 2010 9:03 pm

This is a great first/second draft. Now you need to work on logical transitions. Especially important will be your compellng case in the last portion of the essay. Lastly, you have a great conclusion because you obviously handle stressful situations well which I believe you are making a case for. Also important are your leadership abilities and the exposure you have had to the consequences of US policy.
Tread easy on the imagery. Add more about what you took away from each of your specific events. Try to give each paragraph a reason other than details of the story. Also, don't be afraid to be what/who you are. Be true to yourself. You earned it.

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Thu Dec 23, 2010 3:31 am

None taken, and thanks for the thoughts. Responding...

I just wanted to jump out of airplanes, shoot guns, and blow stuff up.
<-No offense intended, but this sentence makes you sound oddly neanderthal-esque when contrasted with your scoring in the 99th percentile of the test. Reducing your desire to joining the military to wanting to blow shit up is kind of off-putting to me.


That is precisely the point. I've grown since then. I'll make that clearer later in the PS.

As I led my team through the doorway that served as the “fatal frontal” of that mosque that day in Baghdad, I recalled the dirty yellow hoodie and sagging pants that naïve kid, convinced he was invincible, was wearing when he enlisted. Lots of things i see wrong with this sentence. B)Earlier in the essay you say that your only (I'll get rid of "only") thought was of your men's safety. Here you say you're recalling how far you've come I'll make the connection between my personal growth and that "naive kid" clearerC) Though I understand that this is for rhetorical purposes, I can never imagine you actually going through any introspection during the heat of battle. I assume you are focusing on not dying.


Regarding part C, I can't resist. "The argument presumes, without justification..."

Everything done in defense of your life becomes mechanical. No thought is necessary, you just do. Also, I'd be a little bit upset as an American citizen/taxpayer if American infantrymen were so cowardly that all they would be thinking about in a situation like this is "not dying".

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Flips88
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby Flips88 » Thu Dec 23, 2010 4:46 am

FattyMcFatFat wrote:None taken, and thanks for the thoughts. Responding...

I just wanted to jump out of airplanes, shoot guns, and blow stuff up.
<-No offense intended, but this sentence makes you sound oddly neanderthal-esque when contrasted with your scoring in the 99th percentile of the test. Reducing your desire to joining the military to wanting to blow shit up is kind of off-putting to me.


That is precisely the point. I've grown since then. I'll make that clearer later in the PS.

As I led my team through the doorway that served as the “fatal frontal” of that mosque that day in Baghdad, I recalled the dirty yellow hoodie and sagging pants that naïve kid, convinced he was invincible, was wearing when he enlisted. Lots of things i see wrong with this sentence. B)Earlier in the essay you say that your only (I'll get rid of "only") thought was of your men's safety. Here you say you're recalling how far you've come I'll make the connection between my personal growth and that "naive kid" clearerC) Though I understand that this is for rhetorical purposes, I can never imagine you actually going through any introspection during the heat of battle. I assume you are focusing on not dying.


Regarding part C, I can't resist. "The argument presumes, without justification..."

Everything done in defense of your life becomes mechanical. No thought is necessary, you just do. Also, I'd be a little bit upset as an American citizen/taxpayer if American infantrymen were so cowardly that all they would be thinking about in a situation like this is "not dying".


It's not cowardice. It's biology. Fight or flight. Adrenaline.

AK-47 rounds are whizzing past your head and your taking a stroll down memory lane? You're chuckling and thinking about your maturity over time in the middle of a gun battle?

Does that provide enough justification for my presupposition? I'm not trying to be a douche, honestly. It just seems contrived. It serves a purpose rhetorically, but it's highly unbelievable to me. Sorry for being the debbie downer.

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FattyMcFatFat
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby FattyMcFatFat » Thu Dec 23, 2010 1:32 pm

It's not cowardice. It's biology. Fight or flight. Adrenaline.

AK-47 rounds are whizzing past your head and your taking a stroll down memory lane? You're chuckling and thinking about your maturity over time in the middle of a gun battle?

Does that provide enough justification for my presupposition? I'm not trying to be a douche, honestly. It just seems contrived. It serves a purpose rhetorically, but it's highly unbelievable to me. Sorry for being the debbie downer.


Oh it is largely for rhetorical purposes, and the "chuckling" part of your argument is inductively strong (not necessarily cogent), but the rest is not. I guess something bothered me about the thought of a soldier huddled in some corner, immersed in his own self-pity, worrying about "not dying". It's possible that I made a more pessimistic inference than was intended. Also, it's not biology, it's training-- assuming we're talking about the same "it".

I'm not sure if you're trying to help me out by letting me know what an adcomm might assume, true or not, or if you are actually trying to argue with me about this. Unfortunate thing when all we can do is type (can't pick up the nonverbal cues). If it's the former, thank you, if it's the latter, I don't really think this is the place for this sort of debate. I'd be happy to have a conversation with you about it if you want to send me a PM. I might be able to put in clearer terms.

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Flips88
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Re: Hit me with it. Be very, very mean. Please and thank you.

Postby Flips88 » Thu Dec 23, 2010 8:16 pm

I guess something bothered me about the thought of a soldier huddled in some corner, immersed in his own self-pity, worrying about "not dying".


I'm not going to say anything more, because you obviously don't want to honestly listen what I have to say. It's one sentence and you can choose to change if you want. All I have to reiterate is that it seems unnecessarily contrived and artificial. What I really don't understand is why you're warping what I said into calling soldiers pussies. In no way do I imply that soldiers suffer from any sort of cowardice or self-pity. You're presenting a distortion because you don't want to listen to my honest attempts to help. So I'm out. Thanks for serving. Hope this cycle goes well for you.




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