The Future is Here: DARPA’s Nervous System Implants

DARPA_implantHard on the heels of their proposed BRAIN initiative – a collaborative research initiative to map the activity of every neuron in the human brain – DARPA has announced a bold new program to develop tiny electronic implants that will be able to interface directly with the human nervous system to control and regulate many different diseases and chronic conditions, such as arthritis, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, and depression.

The program, called ElectRx (pronounced ‘electrics’), ultimately aims to replace medication with “closed-loop” neural implants which monitor the state of your health and then provide the necessary nerve stimulation to keep your organs and biological systems functioning properly. The work is primarily being carried out with US soldiers and veterans in mind, but the technology will certainly percolate down to civilians as well.

electrx-darpaThe ElectRx program will focus the relatively new area of medical therapies called neuromodulation, which seeks to modulate the nervous system to improve neurological problem. Notable examples of this are cochlear implants which restore hearing by modulating your brain’s auditory nerve system, and deep brain stimulation (DBS) which is apparently capable of curing/regulating conditions  like depression and Parkinson’s by overriding erroneous neural spikes.

So far, these implants have been fairly large, which makes implantation fairly invasive and risky. Most state-of-the-art implants also lack precision, with most placing the stimulating electrodes in roughly the right area, but which are unable to target a specific bundles of nerves. With ElectRx, DARPA wants to miniaturize these neuromodulation implants so that they’re the same size as a nerve fiber.

electrx-darpa-implant-diagramThis way they can be implanted with a minimally invasive procedure (through a needle) and attached to specific nerve fibers, for very precise stimulation. While these implants can’t regulate every condition or replace every medication (yet), they could be very effective at mitigating a large number of conditions. A large number of conditions are caused by the nervous system misfiring, like inflammatory diseases, brain and mental health disorders.

Currently, a variety of drugs are used to try and cajole these awry neurons and nerves back in-line by manipulating various neurotransmitters. However, the science behind these drugs is not yet exact, relying heavily on a trial-and-error approach and often involving serious side-effects. Comparatively, an electronic implant that could “catch” the misfire, cleans up the signal, and then retransmits it would be much more effective.

cochlear_implantAs DARPA’s Doug Weber explained:

The technology DARPA plans to develop through the ElectRx program could fundamentally change the manner in which doctors diagnose, monitor and treat injury and illness. Instead of relying only on medication — we envision a closed-loop system that would work in concept like a tiny, intelligent pacemaker. It would continually assess conditions and provide stimulus patterns tailored to help maintain healthy organ function, helping patients get healthy and stay healthy using their body’s own systems.

Despite requiring a lot of novel technological breakthroughs, DARPA is planning to perform human trials of ElectRx in about five years. The initial goal will be improving the quality of life for US soldiers and veterans. And while they have yet to announce which conditions they will be focusing on, it is expected that something basic like arthritis will be the candidate – though there are expectations that PTSD will become a source sooner other than later.

AI'sAnd this is just the latest neurological technology being developed by DARPA. Earlier in the year, the agency announced a similar program to develop a brain implant that can restore lost memories and experiences. A joint fact sheet released by the Department of Defense and the Veteran’s Association revealed that DARPA also secured 78 million dollars to build the chips as part of the government’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) program.

While DARPA’s ElectRx announcement is purely focused on the medical applications of miniature neural implants, there are of course a variety of other uses that might arise from elective implantation – for soldiers as well as civilians. With a few well-placed implants in a person’s spine, they could flip a switch and ignore any pain reported by your limbs, allowing them to withstand greater physical stress or ignore injuries.

posthumanImplants placed in muscle fibers could also provide added electrostimulation to provide extra boosts of raw muscle power. And With precision-placed implants around the right nerve fibers, people could gain manual control of their organs, allowing them to speed up or slow down their hearts, turbo-charge their livers, or tweak just about any other function of their bodies.

The age of the Transhuman looms, people!

Source: extremetech.com, motherboard.vice.com, darpa.mil

Writing About Trauma

depression1-650x487Delving back into the world of Whiskey Delta, I’ve found myself coming back to a familiar theme for me that informs much of my writing. It’s the theme of trauma, how one experiences the feelings of being overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, and at a loss for control in their life. For those who follow the Whiskey Delta series, all of these are things that keep coming up for one main character – Sergeant Aaron Dezba.

In the story, Dezba is haunted by the loss of his wife and daughter – two people who became infected by the zombie virus and turned into living horrors. Unable to deal with it at first, he locked them in his basement and kept them alive, hoping that some kind of cure might be found someday. But upon learning that such a thing would never be possible, he killed them both and fell into a deep depression.

zombie-girlAs the story continued, he found a measure of redemption by confessing his crimes and rededicating himself to completing a mission that could possibly result in the creation of a vaccine. Though the virus could not be cured, the researchers in the story were able to fashion something that would immunize the uninfected against it. However, Dezba never forgot the loss of his wife and daughter, and remains haunted by this and similar traumas throughout the story.

In attempting to write about this, I actually drew a lot on my own experiences. Mercifully, I have not lost my wife or a child, but trauma is something I’ve experienced in my own life. It’s something I’ve never talked about in this forum, but thought that I might share it at this time. You see, a few years back, I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, and it was pretty obvious to the people I sought help from that it was caused by an extended period of high stress that I found myself in just previous to that.

https://i1.wp.com/blogs.psychcentral.com/nlp/files/2013/11/naturalremediesfordepression.jpgI’ve always been an OCD-type person; but apparently, enduring extreme stress can make the symptoms ten times worse, which pretty much describes my reality ever since! The short version is that during the fall/winter of 2007, I was working for three months in an isolated community, teaching grade 5/6 to a bunch of kids who hated my guts because I replaced their previous teacher.

He, I say at the risk of editorializing, was a selfish prick who ran out on them because he was pissed about trivial disciplinary matters. And he took all the resources with him, leaving me with nothing. The first week, I got virtually no sleep and felt like I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I tried to quit, but couldn’t stomach the long-term consequences it would cause to my teaching career. No one else on the island was hiring, which meant I would have to find another career.

https://i0.wp.com/www.smarttop10.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Top-10-Home-Remedies-for-Depression.jpgWhat’s more, my father was absolutely livid when he found out I was hoping to quit, and I didn’t like the idea of being estranged from him. But mostly, I didn’t think I could live with the consequences of such a failure. And so, for the next three months, I stuck it out, committing to stay until someone permanent was found. And finally, at Christmas, they found my replacement, plus several more (more than a few people quit by this point in the year).

I then returned home happy and relieved as all hell, but found that I still couldn’t sleep right and was feeling quite anxious all the time. Eventually, my mother suggested I might be depressed and recommended I go talk to someone. I did, and they diagnosed me with acute depression and anxiety. Things got better, without the need for drugs, but I found over the course of the next year that I could not return to what I considered to be normal.

https://i1.wp.com/www.findingoptimism.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/depressed_7_w.jpgIt was quite hard for me to hold down a regular job, and I absolutely needed regular sleep or I was just not the same. Eventually, I began to take meds and sought counseling until I thought I had a handle on things. Still, I was not too comfortable around my parents, my father and I had several strained conversations over how I felt he had made things worse, and when my wife and I moved in together, I was quite happy.

That too improved, but as soon as we left Comox to move to Victoria, I felt myself having problems again. I had stopped taking meds around this time, and being outside of my comfort zone made a big difference, I found. I once again sought out counseling, took a new kind of medication, and once again came through. I’ve been through many changes these past few years and things have gotten better, but the problem remains.

When serious stressors strike or something comes along that sets off my OCD, I suffer from acute anxiety, panic attacks and depression, and it usually takes a few days before it all finally goes away. I’ve come to learn so much from these episodes, like how one’s own mind can become their greatest enemy, just how much a person can endure, and how wonderful it feels coming out the other side.

https://i2.wp.com/www.personal.psu.edu/afr3/blogs/siowfa12/vetptsd.jpgEvery time, I manage to come through okay. But I always wonder, is this the way it’s going to be for the rest of my life? Will I be subject to severe bouts of OCD forever, or can I expect to be normal again? Well, normal for me, at any rate. These are the kinds of feelings and questions that I tap into whenever I need to write a character who has endured trauma and feels like he or she will never be the same again.

I explore these questions because it is something I now know. It is my private shame, and something I only share if I need to, or I choose to get really up close and personal. But writing is perhaps the most personal thing of all. And when I write, I choose to express my own experience with trauma as accurately and vividly as I can. It’s like a form of therapy, and I do believe it has made me a better writer.

As for the rest… Well, as the sayings go, life goes on. That which does not kill us, makes us stronger. And when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. And if you’re a writer, keep hammering those keys and turning your personal pain into art. Otherwise, what the hell good is it?

More Badasses!

Last time, my list was already going kind of long with everyone from Alucard to Private Vasquez. So I thought I might make a second installment and include all the people I couldn’t, and break the mold a little by venturing outside of the world of science fiction. But as usual, the only real criteria is sheer badassness, those people who went above and beyond at kicking ass, keeping their cool and staying alive when all around them was dying or exploding! So here they are, the other badasses who deserve recognition for all their awesomeness!

Bill Kilgore:
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ‘em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like … victory.”

These are the words that soldier, surfing enthusiast and notorious badass Lt. Col Bill Kilgore is most remembered for. A seminal character is the 1979 epic war film Apocalypse Now, Kilgore was the commander of the an Air Cavalry brigade that was responsible for getting special agent Capt. Benjamin L. Willard and his PT Boat escort up the Mekong River. This he did by assaulting a company of Viet Cong that was controlling the mouth of the river, flying in low in attack choppers to the tune of “Flight of the Valkyries” by Wagner, blowing the shit out of everything, distributing death cards on the corpses of the enemy, and then ordering his men to surf on the breaking waves!

That’s right, in the midst of enemy fire, he disembarked on the Mekong Delta and told his men that it was either “fight or surf”. When told that this was too risky, Kilgore replied simply that “if I say it’s safe, it’s safe!” He would also remark in the midst of it that “Charlie don’t surf!” Loved by his men and feared by his enemies, Kilgore combined balls, daring, eccentricity and wry humor into one package. As if this wasn’t enough, Kilgore seemed to lament the fact that one day, the war would end. And why not? With no asses to kick and no death to defy, men like him would surely run out of things to do and die from boredom.

And as Willard himself remarked in his journal, Kilgore had a certain aura about him, as if nothing could touch him. Yes, given his indifference to explosions and bullets’ ability to miss him, Kilgore could only strike audiences as crazy, invincible, or some odd combination of both. But given his reputation, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kilgore survived the war and went on kicking ass until the day he died. I’m sure there’s even shrines somewhere along the Mekong river that are dedicated to him!

Bo:
Man, demon hunting has been growing in popularity in recent years! And with more and more heroines taking to the stage, its also been getting a lot sexier! This is especially true of Bo, the an ass-kicking vixen of Lost Girl and a leather-wearing succubus to boot! Much like her male peers, Blade and D, she is a supernatural being with mixed origins who uses her abilities to help those in need. Largely, this consists of hunting other supernatural beings who prey on the innocent and just like to stir shit up. In addition to her leather getup, her weapons of choice appear to be traditional in nature, crossbows and blades rather than guns.

Working with the only real friend she’s known since discovering her true identity, Bo and Kenzi run a sort of Fae/Human detective agency where they investigate paranormal events and learn more about the world she comes from. In the course of learning about her true origins, Bo is brought face to face with the Fae world and its particular struggles. After being told that she must choose between “the light or the dark” of the Fae world, Bo chooses instead to remain neutral and fight for humanity, largely out of loyalty to her friend.

In time, she meets and develops relationships with other beings, like the wolf-shifter Dyson, who holds down a day job as a police detective, and a human doctor named Lauren. These relationships, in addition to the nature of her job, allows Bo to keep one foot in both worlds, which seems to be the natural resolution to her predicament (i.e. having “lost” her humanity years before).

Bryan Mills:
“I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let my daughter go now, that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.”

Just as Ellen Ripley taught never to come between a mother and her child, Mills taught us never to come between a father and his daughter. Yes, with the release of Taken in 2008, we were all indebted to Liam Neeson for proving that a retired father-figure can still be the biggest badass on the block! Within ninety-six hours of learning that his daughter had been kidnapped, Mills flew to Paris and took down an entire Albanian mob ring and all those involved in their human smuggling. And part of what made it so damn cool was how effortless he made it look!

After spending years honing his skills with the CIA, a job which eventually cost him his job and custody of his daughter, Mills quit his job and moved to LA to be closer to her. However, things went awry when his daughter decided to take a trip to Europe to follow U2 on tour and ended up being kidnapped by a bunch of sex-slave traffickers. Thus the very thing that cost him a life with his daughter would allow him to bring her back home safe and sound! Not only was he able to deduce the identity of her kidnappers from a single phone call, he was also able to determine who amongst the authorities were on the take from them, where the bad guys safe houses were, and who they were doing business with. Not bad for an old man!

But really, the scene that took the cake for me was when he walked right into one of the Albanian mobs hideouts, impersonating a French government agent, and extorted the bad guys for more money!

Awesome, especially when you consider that it was all an act so that he could find out which amongst them was the guy he had a phone conversation with. And once he knew, he says so cooly, “You don’t remember me? We spoke on the phone two days ago. I told you I would find you.” Then proceeds to take them all out with his bare hands and their own guns! Oh, and that torture scene afterwards, where he hooks up Marko to the power grid? It was so good, I feel the need to quote his opening threat in full:

“You know, we used to outsource this kind of thing. But what we found was the countries we outsourced to had unreliable power grids. Very Third World. You’d turn on a switch – power wouldn’t come on, and then tempers would get short. People would resort to pulling fingernails. Acid drips on bare skin. The whole exercise would become counterproductive. But here, the power’s stable. Here, there’s a nice even flow. Here, you can flip a switch and the power stays on all day.”

Bad-Ass! If only Mills and Ripley could get together and make a baby, that kid would be the safest, most badassed kid in the world!

Dirty Harry:
“You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well do ya, punk?” One of the most quoted lines in Hollywood history. You almost forget that the man saying it was threatening to blow the head off some thug with an empty .44 magnum. And this was after he single-handedly foiled a bank robbery. Yes, this scene not only made Clint Eastwood’s career, it also immortalized Inspector Harry Callahan as one of the baddest dudes of all time!

Working for the SFPD, Inspector Callahan became the template for an entire generation of movie cop. Nicknamed “Dirty” because of his reputation for crossing boundaries in order to get the bad guy, Callahan was also a man of deep principles who believed very strongly in what he was doing. Always, his weapon of choice was his trusty .44 magnum service revolver, a gun that is notorious for packing an incredibly punch! Though he might use other weapons in the course of duty, or just his bare hands, the magnum was always the gun he is seen wielding in iconic images.

Often condemned by higher ups and authorities for being a “rogue” or “loose cannon”, he was in fact the kind of guy who only broke the rules – including his own – when it was absolutely necessary. And when it came right down to it, his rough exterior hid a semi-tortured soul that longed for a world in which life was simpler, people were civil, and no one committed grisly crimes. But as long as they still did, he was prepared to whip out his gun and shoot them up!

Sounds like a cliche now doesn’t it? Well, that’s because Eastwood established it as a household theme! Callahan was, for all intents and purposes, the original bad-boy cop, willing to bend, grease and even break the rules in order to take down the criminal psychopaths and avenge the victims of violent crime. But always, he loved what he did, and was a hell of a lot more committed than the pencil-pushing bosses and red-tape bureaucrats who complained about his methods! (Whoa, speaking of cliches!)

John McClain:
The man who put the hard in Die Hard! Unlike most of his peers, Detective John McClain of the NYPD was good at taking down bad guys not because of his big brain or super human fighting skills, but because of his raw, unrelenting determination. Relying on a cop’s instincts, a strong sense of duty and the desire to protect the ones he loved, McClain triumphed over criminals and terrorists through persistence and his refusal to just roll over and die. Basically, he was like an itch they couldn’t scratch, slowly driving them mad until they lost all control and died in a fiery explosion or a spectacular fall.

A veteran cop with the NYPD, McClain established his reputation as a badass by taking down twelve terrorists in LA who decided to celebrate Christmas by seizing control of a multinational corporate building and taking its employees (including his wife) hostage.

This reputation was further cemented when, on the following Christmas, a bunch of paramilitary goons decided to hold an airport hostage so they could fly a Central American war criminal in safely and then ferry him away. His third stint involved stopping a former East German infiltration expert-turned mercenary who also happened to be the brother of Hans Gruber (his first victim) . Last, but not least, he managed to foil a bunch of cyber terrorists who chose July 4th to stage a massive heist involving “fire sale”ing the US economy and all its utilities. Again and again, McClain brought them down by enduring endless beatings, running around, and getting there just in time to screw up some element of their plan.

In this way, McClain did demonstrate a sort of subtle genius by being able to get under the bad guy’s skin. In all cases, the criminals he was dealing with were adept at planning and manipulation, relying on fear, feints and bluffs that would make their opponents play into their hands. Intrinsic to their plans was a sense of control, ensuring that all things went according to schedule so they could get in and get out without being caught. By putting himself at the center of things and constantly gumming up the works, McClain robbed them of this control, thus making them act rashly and stupidly until their plans unraveled. But of course, the bad guys were always on the verge of getting away when McClain finally did them in, ensuring that things stayed suspenseful until the end.

Tragically, his commitment to badassery and being in the wrong place at the wrong time cost him his marriage and pretty much alienated him from his daughter. It also led to a love-hate relationship with the bottle and a 401k that had seen better days. And though it seemed like time had run out on his marriage, John was ultimately able to rebuild things with his daughter, mainly because he saved her life! And, as predicted, she was pretty ballsy and tough herself. Guess the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree ;)

Rambo:
Much like Dirty Harry, John Rambo is one of those heroes that has been imitated so many times over the years that he’s become somewhat of a cliche. However, if one were to dig deep beneath all the merchandizing, knock-offs, and half-assed imitations, one finds an original creation who was quite the badass indeed. And like most of Stallone’s roles, there was some real substance to this character before a series of sequels buried it under a mountain of cliches and repetitive plotlines.

Born to a Navajo father and Italian/German mother, Rambo enlisted in the army at an early age and was sent to Vietnam where he served two tours: one as a regular solider and another with the Green Berets. After being taken prisoner and tortured, he escaped and deployed one last time. After all that, Rambo returned to the US to find that people had turned against the war and hated him for being a veteran. This led to a severe case of PTSD and some serious trouble with the law.

In the original novel, Rambo was arrested, escaped from jail and became the target of a manhunt. This ended with his death in a secluded wood after he had taken down several officers and National Guardsmen. In the movie however, Rambo doesn’t die but surrenders, speaking of the horrors he’s witnessed and lamenting how he cannot return to a normal, civilian life. He then is taken to jail where he remained until the second movie came out.

In the sequels, Rambo finds a sort of resolution to his conflict by returning to active duty, again and again. Ultimately, it seems that the solution to his inability to reintegrate into a peaceful lifestyle is to embrace a life of violence, but for the sake of helping those in need.

His first redeployment (in First Blood, Part II) is to his old stomping grounds of Vietnam where he is tasked with rescuing POW’s who never made it home. His second is to Afghanistan, where Soviet forces have taken his old friend and mentor Col. Trautman prisoner and he and a bunch of mujaheddin warriors must break into the camp to save him. In the fourth and final installment, Rambo comes out of retirement one last time to help a bunch of missionaries who have been taken hostage by the military Junta in Myanmar/Burma. In every case, Rambo racks up the kills, relying on his trusty bow and arrow, M60, KBAR knife, and any machinegun he can get his hands on to eviscerate, carve, punch holes in or blow the bad guys away!

Yes, as I said, things got pretty cliche with this series, relying on the latest news sensation and the repetitive theme of an old warrior returning to what he knows to make the carnage seem emotionally accessible. But who the hell cared? If there was one thing Rambo was good at, it was kicking some serious ass and it didn’t really matter who’s it was! In the end, they fell by the hundreds, overwhelmed by his mighty arsenal and signature sneer!

Raylan Givens:
What do you get when you cross a cowboy with a Federal Marshall? Why, Raylan Givens, of course! The star of the hit series Justified, Raylan Givens is a no-nonsense, gun-toting, wisecracking lawman who seems to have learned the art of law enforcement from guys like John Wayne and Dirty Harry. Much like his predecessors, he has a penchant for breaking the rules and pissing off his superiors in order to reign in the bad guys. But of course, no one can fire him because he’s just too damn good!

Born to a criminal family in Harlan County, Kentucky, Raylan joined the Marines in order to get away from the drugs, criminals and white supremacists that his hometown was known for. After becoming an expert in small arms and the quick draw, he enlisted with the US Marshalls and became a law man. Known for his accuracy, fast hands, tendency to wind up shooting people and signature cowbow hat, Raylan quickly earned the reputation  of being a “cowbow”, both in terms of appearance and sensibilities. Naturally, he would be the first to say that he tries to resolve things peacefully, but somehow, violence keeps breaking out.

After a “justified shoot” involving an arms dealer whom Raylan told to leave Miami in 24 hours or risk getting shot on sight, Raylan was transferred back to his home state of Kentucky. Here, he found the county of his youth overrun by the Oxycontin trade, prostitution, and violence, often involving people he used to call family and friends. More often than not, Raylan is forced to reign in people who are much like him, people who he could have easily become if he had made slightly different choices (echoes of Garry Cooper there!).

Xena:
Don’t ask me how I managed to forget Xena last time around! This iconic, heroine, warrior-princess, inspirational figure is someone without whom no list of inspirational badasses should even be written! So I amend my previous mistake, and include her here and now. I knew not what I did, please don’t send me hate mail. Moving on…

Xena is without a doubt one of the most popular heroines to come out of popular culture and fantasy/sci-fi in recent decades. Tough, smart, and sassed mouth, she is anything but prim and proper and has been generally known to kick some serious ass and look good while doing it. Whether she’s high-kicking, wielding that Chakram (throwing disc), slashing through bad guys with her sword, or just leering at people with those eyes, Xena is to badass heroines what AC/DC is to classic rock. In short, it’s dam hard to imagine one without the other! Originally appearing in the series Hercules as a villain, Xena went on to become his friend and lover and even earned herself a spin-off which did better and ran longer than its forebear.

Her own back story begins with her as a pirate and criminal, until she met and was double-crossed by a young, ambitious Roman officer named Julius Caesar (played by none other than Karl Urban). After surviving his brutal betrayal, she went to the East and joined some warlords, losing herself in revenge and violence until she tired of it and returned to the west. Here, she continued warring and raiding, until she met a demi-God named Hercules whom she initially tried to kill, but soon joined forces with him in order to defeat a warlord who had taken control of her army.

In time, she and Hercules had a love affair and she decided to change her ways. Nicknamed the “warrior-princess”, she soon teamed up with a young woman named Gabrielle who she taught to fight. Together, the two began roaming the lands of the ancient world, seeking out injustice and fighting for what was right. As she fights the forces of evil, Xena must also fight the forces of her own past, striving to resist the temptation to return to her old ways. Oftentimes, Gabrielle’s friendship and company prove to be the difference between resisting and succumbing.

Sounds cheesy, no? But it’s also pretty effective. In addition to being a hero to women and young girls everywhere, Xena’s relationship with Gabrielle has proven to be an inspiration to the lesbian community who claim that this powerful bond is a prime example of love which transcends gender norms or social mores. So in addition to her trademark war cry, disc-throwing and swashbuckling skills, Xena is a hero for being brave in a way that has nothing to do with ass-kicking or weapons. She is brave just for being true to herself and not giving a damn what anybody else thinks!

Final Thoughts:
Okay, now that I’ve paid homage to all these badass icons, I think I got what I need to draw some tentative conclusions. Basically, it seems to me that all of them share certain characteristics that set them apart and make them so damn unforgettable. So if you want to be badass like them, you better start thinking about adapting some of the following to your repertoire:

  1. Roguish Personality: Whether we are talking about detectives, mercenaries, or freelance hunters, it seems that in order to be badass, you need to be willing to break the rules a little. Things like convention, regulations, and red tape are the kind of things that inspire annoyance, tediousness and the desire for you to do something outlandish and possibly reckless. Screw what other people think, you know what needs to be done and someone’s got to do it! If not you, then who?
  2. Strong Values: But it’s not enough to simply break the rules. There has to be a higher purpose to what you are doing to justify this disregard for procedure and discipline. Basically, you need to have a strong commitment to what is right and know the difference between simply following orders and doing what needs to be done. After all, people following orders led to some of the worst crimes and miscarriages of justice in history! You gotta see the big picture and circumvent those who don’t sometimes, otherwise shit can happen!
  3. Mad Skills: Whether you’re weapon of choice is a gun, a sword, some high-tech device, or just your hands and feet, you need to practice hard and be good at what you do! No hero has ever excelled by being lazy or neglectful of their basic fighting skills. You don’t need to be the best, mind you. Many a time you will confront someone who is more skilled than you are. But in these cases, your wits and your righteousness will overcome. Hell, you may even find yourself being rescued by a sidekick or someone you thought was against you. Heroes are good like that. They have friends and helpers where the bad-guys do not 😉
  4. Troubled Past: Let’s face it, all this ass-kicking and smart-ass talk can’t conceal the fact that you’ve got some demons! Hell, all heroes do. Perhaps you’re struggling with your past, perhaps you’re not 100% okay with where you came from. But whatever the case, you know that ultimate resolution will come only through confrontation. Only by facing those who best embody your fears and demons will you prevail over the darkness you hold inside. But don’t do it too quickly! Chances are, you’ll become boring once you’ve vanquished your enemies and found inner peace!

Well that’s my assessment at least. But of course, if you are a true badass, you aren’t going to follow MY rules are you? Of course not! So take what you will from these “guidelines” and find your own path to badassery. For no matter what people may tell you, badasses are all rugged individuals at heart. If everybody did it, it would cease to be badass wouldn’t it?