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Six-and-a-half years ago, a routine patrol in Afghanistan's Panjwa'i district turned into an ambush.

I can still hear my name, screamed — "Martin! MARTIN!" — as I turned and saw three members of my platoon under attack in the field behind me. We were taking fire from three enemy positions, some as close as 20 yards, the same short distance as a pitcher’s mound to home plate.

I, along with some of my fellow soldiers, returned suppressive fire. Just as the first of our men safely reached us, I was suddenly hit with what felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger swinging a sledgehammer into my leg.


This is what being shot by a high-powered assault rifle feels like.

Assisted by an extremely calm and poised sergeant, I was able to move to cover in a canal as bullets cracked and whizzed by my head and exploded in the dirt around me — another sound that I will never be able to forget. Luckily, a medic was already there to start administering aid to my bleeding wound.

There was only one problem: The medic froze.

This man, who had spent at least the last year of his life training full-time for this exact moment, could not move.

Quickly, other medics came to me and made sure I received proper medical attention. And it’s a good thing they did — the bullet had traveled through my left thigh, shredded my left hip flexor, and moved through my left butt cheek before ultimately stopping halfway in the right one. Big picture: The bullet missed my colon and spine by half an inch and traveled over a foot inside my body. Without the other medics’ care, I may not have survived.

When I heard the news of the Parkland school shooting, I couldn’t help but think of how those students experiences resembled the firefights I had been involved in.

The fear and chaos that the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas faced is no different than what my fellow soldiers and I faced in Afghanistan.

It’s a fear that I still remember as though it were yesterday, the same fear that caused that Army medic to freeze. And it’s the same fear and chaos that every teacher and student will face when confronted with an active shooter, so long as these tragedies continue to happen.

After the Parkland shooting, debate flows freely on how to prevent these tragedies, with many legislators proposing a program that would allow teachers to enroll in training to carry a weapon on school grounds.

The theory goes like this: In the event of a school shooting, trained, armed adults on the premises would retaliate and, in theory, neutralize the shooter before damage could be done.

But as someone who has seen my fair share of close-range combat, let me tell you: It doesn’t work like that.

Regardless of training, you don’t know how people will respond in life-and-death situations until the moment it happens.

You don’t know how people will react when they hear gunshots. Even an Army medic, a person whose full-time job is to prepare for such a situation, might freeze. And now we’re expecting teachers — after being given the most of basic trainings — to handle that same situation perfectly. (I say “perfectly” because anything less could mean even more tragedy and death.)

It’s not realistic.

This isn’t a movie where the bullets always miss the hero. These teachers aren’t action stars.

These are average people who, more likely than not, have never come close to experiencing anything like the chaos and pressure of trying to protect themselves and others under active gunfire.

Members of the military and police spend hours, days, and weeks at a time training with their weapons. They train on close-quarter tactics with partners, teams, squads, and platoons. They practice methodically, over and over and over, for the length of their entire careers.

We’re talking about individuals who are specifically trained to respond to these situations — and even they sometimes get it wrong.

The margin for error in combat is razor thin. Even with the best of intentions, a teacher with a gun can not only fail to protect their students, but they can createa tragedyof their own.

What if, during the chaos of an active shooter situation, a teacher shoots an innocent student? What if the teacher is shot, which is likely (according to the FBI, police officers who engage an active shooter are wounded or killed in 46.7% of incidents)? What if, on a regular day, a teacher goes to break up a fight in the hallway and the firearm accidentally discharges?

The potential collateral damage isnt worth it. There are just too many negative outcomes, all of which are far more likely than the slim chance that a civilian is able to stop an active shooter threat.

My point is not to undermine the bravery of our teachers, but to be realistic about what that bravery can do.

Our country has seen example after example of teachers and students shielding others from gunfire. “Heroic” doesn’t begin to fully explain the bravery of the person behind those actions. But even the most heroic individual, without proper and consistent tactical training, can cause even more catastrophe when armed with such a deadly weapon.

Politicians who are blasé about the complexity and rigorous training required for these types of engagements and who underestimate the physical, physiological and psychological toll a combat environment brings to those involved should be forced to place themselves in these types of simulations. Then, they might understand that arming just anyone with a gun can be much more dangerous and costly than anticipated.

Ultimately, I’m saddened by the fact that we’ve reached a point where people in this country want teachers to arm themselves like moonlight deputies. Undeniably, gun violence is a complex problem we all want to solve, one for which I don’t have all the answers.

But I’m confident that arming teachers isn’t part of it — now or ever.

This story was originally published by Charlotte Five and is reprinted here with permission.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

Pop Culture

TikTok star's surprising method for finding good Chinese food is blowing people's minds

Yelp can be a helpful tool for scoping out food joints, but maybe not in the way you think.

Photo by Debbie Tea on Unsplash

Different cultures view service differently.

Content creator Freddy Wong has a brilliantly easy way to find authentic Chinese food.

As he reveals in a mega viral video that’s racked up 9.4 million views on TikTok and 7.7 million views on Twitter, the trick (assuming you live in a major metropolitan area) is to “go on Yelp and look for restaurants with 3.5 stars, and exactly 3.5 stars." Not 3. Not 4. 3.5.

He then backs up his argument with some pretty undeniable photo evidence.

First, he pulls up an image of a Yelp page from P.F. Chang’s. With only 2.5 stars, one can tell the food is “obviously bad.” Alternatively, Din Tai Fung—a globally recognized Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant—has four stars.

Sounds good right? Wrong. In this case, “too many stars” means that “too many white people like it,” indicating that the restaurant is being judged on service rather than food quality. According to Wong, if “the service is too good, the food is not as good as it could be.”

He then pulls up the Yelp page for a couple of local Chinese restaurants, both of which have 3.5 stars. The waiters at these establishments might “not pay attention to you,” he admits, adding that they might even be “rude.” But, Wong attests, “it’s going to taste better.”

@rocketjump

Why I only go to Chinese restaurants with 3.5 star ratings

♬ original sound - RocketJump

"The dumplings here are better [than Din Tai Fung's]. I've been here," he says of the 3.5 star Shanghai Dumpling House. Considering his Twitter profile boasts a “James Beard Award winning KBBQ Gourmand'' title, it seems like he knows what he’s talking about.

So, why is this 3.5 rule the “sweet spot”? As Wong explains, it all comes down to different “cultural expectations.”

“In Asia, they’re not as proactive. They’re not going to come up to you, they’re not going to just proactively give you refills, you need to flag down the waiter,” he says, noting the different interpretations of service.

"People on Yelp are insufferable,” he continues, arguing that “they're dinging all these restaurants because the service is bad,” but the food is so good that it balances out the bad service. Hence, a 3.5-star rating. His reasoning is arguably sound—people do often give absurdly scathing reviews that in no way accurately reflect a restaurant’s food quality.

“A good Yelp review doesn’t mean it’s a good restaurant — it simply means the restaurant is good at doing things that won’t hurt their online rating,” Wong said in an interview with Today, adding that “highly rated Yelp restaurants are often those with counter service and limited menus, minimizing potential negative interaction with staff.”

He also added the caveat, “I don’t have anything against those places, but I think people who only eat at the ‘highest rated’ restaurants on online review sites are only eating at the most boring restaurants.”

A ton of people in the comments seem to back Wong’s theory.

best chinese food

100% accurate, some say

TikTok

Plus, the theory seems to not be limited to just Chinese restaurants, further implying that maybe there’s more of a cultural misunderstanding, rather than any real lack of quality.

thai food near me

No drink refills but the food is fire.

TikTok

yelp reviews, yelp

2.8 is the new 5

TikTok

One of the gifts that our modern world provides is the opportunity to truly experience and appreciate other cultures. Since food is easily one of the most accessible (and enjoyable) ways to do that, perhaps we should prioritize seeking authenticity, rather than rely on a flawed and superficial rating system.

As Wong told Today, “I hope it encourages people to go out and eat more food from not only Chinese restaurants, but restaurants representing the whole world of cultural cuisines.”

Education

How a 3,800-year-old stone tablet helped create modern legal systems

'Innocent until proven guilty' isn't that new of a concept.

Kind of looks like the Matrix code...

The modern justice system is certainly not without its flaws, however most can agree that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is one that (when not abused) stands as the foundation of what fair due process looks like. This principle, it turns out, isn’t so modern at all. It can actually be traced all the way back to nearly 3,800 years ago.

historyLady Justice, the image of impartial fairness. Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

English barrister Sir William Garrow is known for coining the "innocent until proven guilty" phrase between the 18th and 19th century, after insisting that evidence be provided by accusers and thoroughly tested in court. But this notion, as radical as it seemed at the time, can, in fact, be credited to an ancient Babylonian king who ruled Mesopotamia.

During his reign from 1792 to 1750 B.C., Hammurabi left behind a legacy of accomplishments as a ruler and a diplomat. His most influential contribution was a series of 282 laws and regulations that were painstakingly compiled after he sent legal experts throughout his kingdom to gather existing laws, then adapted or eliminated them in order to create a universal system.

Those laws were inscribed on a large, seven-foot stone monument, and they were known as the Code of Hammurabi.

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popular

Woman left at the altar by her fiance decided to 'turn the day around’ and have a wedding anyway

'I didn’t want to remember the day as complete sadness.'

via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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