Smithsonian Magazine has an interesting article about "The CIA Burglar Who Went Rogue."
The short version? Douglas Groat, a former Green Beret and police officer, became an elite CIA agent. After a mission got screwed up, Groat started complaining and trying to hold people accountable. He was warned to cut it out, but kept the pressure up. Eventually he was demoted, then fired.
At that point, he starts putting pressure on his former employer by leaking about a bug he'd planted to a foreign government. And he similarly kept pressure up, asking for $500,000 in severance sicne he'd lost his pension, retirement, and income after what had happened.
Now, here's the really interesting part.
The CIA actually offered Groat a contractor's position that would take him until his retirement, when he'd be eligible for his normal pension. They were offering him $300,000.
He turned it down, saying it should be $500,000 and continuing to escalate the situation. Eventually he was indicted, arrested, tried, and sentenced to five years in prison. Presumably, he didn't get any money either.
It wasn't the first time Groat did it. When he was a police officer, he took a stand against firemen using their lights inappropriately, and would write a ticket to anyone who found breaking code. When he wrote a ticket for the Fire Chief, he got fired from that job...
...only to sue to get his job back.
What's going on here? Is there a pattern?
Yes, and it's one you can learn from. Groat is probably a man of exceedingly high principle, in theory -- he believes justice is bigger than man, and that he should embody justice when necessary.
If you're endeavored to do a lot of things in the world, you'll realize how rare this attitude is. Most people live just for a simple calculation of the most basic self-interest.
But Groat, he wasn't just a champion of justice. He was also, at heart, a victim.
The view I've come to over the years is that some people believe the world is unjust, and want to lose in the end to prove it. They fashion themselves a hero, but want more than that -- they want martyrdom.
One of the greatest insights into character flaws I ever read also came from the CIA. The de-classified 1963 "Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation" protocols has one of the most radically honest descriptions of different groups of character flaws people might have.
Page 26 describes "the character wrecked by success" --
"This sort of person cannot tolerate success and goes through life failing at critical points. He is often accident-prone. Typically he has a long history of being promising and of almost completing a significant assignment or achievement but not bringing it off. ... The person who avoids success has a conscience which forbids the pleasure of accomplishment and recognition. He frequently projects his guilt feelings and feelings that all of his failures were someone else's fault. He may have a strong need to suffer and may seek danger or injury."
If you've ever sought to change the world yourself, and rallied against the injustice of it, be damn careful you're not trying to lose to prove the inherent injustice of it. Mr. Groat could have done a hell of a lot more with $300,000 and good standing with the government than he could have done with time behind bars as a convicted felon.
"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. For when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you." -- Nietzsche
"Don't Come Here For Justice" -- Sign on top of the desk of private security expert in America, Gavin de Becker
The masochistic justiciar shames thugs and the world for their villainy and unrighteousness.
The practical justiciar dares punks to count the bullets & make his day.
The orderly-obstinate character considers himself superior to other people. Sometimes his sense of superiority is interwoven with a kind of magical thinking that includes all sorts of superstitions and fantasies about controlling his environment. He may even have a system of morality that is all his own. He sometimes gratifies his feeling of secret superiority by provoking unjust treatment. He also tries, characteristically, to keep open a line of escape by avoiding any real commitment to anything. He is -- and always has been -- intensely concerned about his personal possessions. He is usually a tightwad who saves everything, has a strong sense of propriety, and is punctual and tidy. His money and other possessions have for him a personalized quality; they are parts of himself. He often carries around shiny coins, keepsakes, a bunch of keys, and other objects having for himself an actual or symbolic value.
Usually the orderly-obstinate character has a history of active rebellion in childhood, of persistently doing the exact opposite of what he is told to do. As an adult he may have learned to cloak his resistance and become passive-aggressive, but his determination to get his own way is unaltered. He has merely learned how to proceed indirectly if necessary. The profound fear and hatred of authority, persisting since childhood, is often well-concealed in adulthood, For example, such a person may confess easily and quickly under interrogation, even to acts that he did not commit, in order to throw the interrogator off the trail of a significant discovery (or, more rarely, because of feelings of guilt).
The interrogator who is dealing with an orderly-obstinate character should avoid the role of hostile authority. Threats and threatening gestures, table-pounding, pouncing on evasions or lies, and any similarly authoritative tactics will only awaken in such a subject his old anxieties and habitual defense mechanisms. To attain rapport, the interrogator should be friendly. It will probably prove rewarding if the room and the interrogator look exceptionally neat. Orderly-obstinate interrogatees often collect coins or other objects as a hobby; time spent in sharing their interests may thaw some of the ice. Establishing rapport is extremely important when dealing with this type."
A question I think on a lot -
What's it take to do interesting and important things in the world?
That's one of the things regularly explored here - creativity, ambition, self-discipline, paying attention to numbers and getting probability on your side, relating with people, thinking clearly, establishing good habits, etc, etc.
Add this one to the list -
A willingness to suffer for what you want.
I played Left 4 Dead 2 for the first time ever, recently. I was immediately tickled by the way it handles players going AFK and leaving the party. It was near seamless, near-zero interrupted fun whether a player left or just took a break.
Beau Hindman invited me to an online co-op room, which is typical procedure in most online co-op games. Someone creates a room, and then invites friends or makes it public for anyone to join. In L4D2, up to 4 people can play together, with an NPC taking the place of any real player not present.
My first experience with this was half-way through a level. Beau said he'd be right back. After a short spell, his character had the word (idle) appear next to it. It did take quite a few minutes of just sitting there, but suddenly the AI kicked on and it was as if I was the only one playing the game with 3 NPCs. I could then go about playing the game as if I was just playing in single-player. Beau, however, did return and immediately was able to resume control of his character; I imagine by simply moving his mouse or pressing a button.
I would love to see the same mechanic in a party-based, Isometric RPG. I could imagine playing Avernum 4 and having a friend contact me on Skype or by phone, ask him if he wants to jump in and regardless of what I'm doing or where I'm at, he could take control of one of the four party members instantly.