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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Grip of Government on: March 27, 2012, 12:23:29 AM
My take - I do not think of this as a "Dem" issue or another reason why you should fear Obama.  It may suit the conservative urge to blame the ideology of the "other side".  To find further fault with the someone you already do not like, trust, or agree with.  They have a face and a name and make an easy target for your discontent.  Too easy.

Rather this is a Big-Government-out-of-control problem.   And it would not make any difference who is in the White House.

Government is an institution.  Like all institutions, it is self-preserving.  The checks and balances are essential and must be maintained.  Otherwise the institution starts to act in its own interests.  Pure faceless mechanics.
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Follow the Sacred on: March 20, 2012, 01:13:39 AM
A very interesting piece by moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt - he takes an approach to the political situation that is very similar to one that I have been exploring for the last few years with regard to religiosity and mythological realization. 

http://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/17/forget-the-money-follow-the-sacredness/

Extracted from Haidt:
"Despite what you might have learned in Economics 101, people aren’t always selfish. In politics, they’re more often groupish. When people feel that a group they value — be it racial, religious, regional or ideological — is under attack, they rally to its defense, even at some cost to themselves. We evolved to be tribal, and politics is a competition among coalitions of tribes."

He trends from the left - and yet I find the core of his argument very persuasive.  It applies equally well to both "sides" of the spectrum and begins to account for why we are so enthusiastically tearing ourselves apart.   How we can possibly make sense of maiming ourselves.

Quote
Mark 9:43:  And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched

3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Canadian corporate tax breaks - and stagnant private money on: January 01, 2012, 08:30:31 PM
As mentioned in the previous thread (Political Economics), the Harper government in Canada just dropped corporate taxes by 1.5% to 15%.  That will equate roughly to 33 billion annually given back to Canadian corporations.

Harper has recently been complaining about the 3/4 trillion sitting in corporate coffers stagnant - most enterprises sitting back during the rough economic times to hold onto their surpluses.  This break will allow them to hold even more money stagnant. 

The assumption seems to be that corporations are going to spend us out of tough times by growing, investing, and otherwise freeing up those stagnant funds.  But that does not really seem to be happening.  Like spooked consumers, they are sitting on the money to see how this plays out.  Which of course just drags out the recovery.

In the case of consumers, you can sometimes get them to start spending even when they probably should remain cautious or work hard at reducing their debt.  Corporations on the other hand are run by some of the most saavy financial types to be found.  They know better than most when to move and when to sit still (although no guarantee of good sense).  And you can expect corps to do what is best whether they get a tax break or not.

I can see the long term benefit of tax breaks - attracting more foreign business, encouraging investment and innovation, etc.  But in a stale or limping economy where the future is uncertain, I do not see why this is a good move, at least in the short term.  Why would corps start spending significantly under these circumstances?  The only real use of corp reserves seems to be the usual M&A activity that accompanies a slow economy.

So is there any reasonable expectation that lowered corp taxes will help jump start an ailing economy?


4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Canada-US on: January 01, 2012, 08:13:01 PM
So regardless of whether you blame the government or the corporations for the American experience, you are essentially concluding from the Canadian experience that, in general, strong regulation is needed for financial services?

Thus the need is for better government, whether or not that means less government?  Regulation necessarily means bureaucracy.

Or is there a free-market  (i.e. unregulated) solution to keep banks from doing this again?

 
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Political Economics - Canadian style on: January 01, 2012, 03:02:38 PM
Tricky checking in after being away for the holidays.  Thanks to Crafty for forwarding a short reply I made on the Canadian situation.

While I am likely of another ideological stripe than many of you (judging from the rhetoric), I am far more interested in the ground truth - and good critical thinking - than odiously repeating any dogma.  Regardless of whether one personally appreciates the recent actions of our government, one can hardly attribute Canada's strong economic state to them.  There simply has not been enough time to show the consequences.

Check back in 5-10 years once the effects from the changes have filtered down through the economy.  And through the social fabric.

If you want to look at the current evidence as indication of anything, consider that the strong banking regulatory environment (established long ago by more liberal governments) is in part responsible for our solid footing.  And that we are a heavily resourced country with high international demand, particularly from Asia where we have very strong ties.  And that we in Canada have not experienced the same degree of instability because we are not as free-market based (even if you take a Friedmannian view that they are not free enough and any issues arising are due to the extant limitations) as the US.  Our relatively strong system of checks and balances has meant that we could ride this period out with less direct and collateral damage.

The Harper government only just achieved a majority last fall - they have been riding a minority government for several years - so it would be misleading to read the current signs as if their policies of the last few months are responsible.  Prior to that, the centrist (for Canada) Liberal government was in power for decades and was primarily responsible for most of the current policy and our economic position.  So if you want to find something laudable about our strength, look a bit further back in our history instead of singling out decisions made in the last 2 months.  It takes years to define a stable economic position.

Of course, one of the things the current Harper government is in the process of doing is dismantling many of those shielding mechanisms - the 67 year old Canadian Wheat Board (which buys from all wheat farmers and represents them on the international market) has just been killed off.  Harper is certainly a fan of free(r) markets and believes this change long over due.  And let's check back in 10 years and see if we are all that better off.

He is also dismantling our long gun registry (being contested by the provinces), introducing a new hard-on-crime bill (without explaining how the significant new costs will be borne - and despite the general view that the same approach has failed in the US, economically as well as socially), backing out of climate change commitments, turning away from the UN, and building up our military.

Which may sound like an attractive cup of tea - but note that he is simultaneously severely limiting debate in Parliament, raising personal taxes (as mentioned), reorganized the Senate by adding 35 new appointed senators, reducing the transparency and accountability of the government (e.g. closing committee meetings to the public watchdogs who are supposed to oversee and report on the government), dropping our detailed census (that provides facts for effective public policy), and committing the country to expensive, non-economic programs (e.g. military spending, military activity, new prisons, border security unification) without proper accounting and in the face of mounting debt. 

Note that, although the government holds majority in House and Senate, they only won 40% of the popular vote - and yet they regularly claim a mandate from the people as the justification for rushing bills through without more than cursory debate.

So before anyone including the media starts cherry-picking facts from our experience and imagining a causal relationship with our economic performance, I would encourage you to research a little deeper.

There is a bald irony present:  When our healthcare system was being referenced as a possible model for the US, most (including myself) were quick to say that Canada has a very different scale and nature.  Any comparisons would hardly be appropriate or meaningful.  But now that the actions of our current government align ideologically with a more conservative approach, Canada suddenly becomes a model for the US or proof of the value of a particular viewpoint?  That is convenient and selective, not critical, thinking.


6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / About tachyons (particles that travel faster than c) on: September 26, 2011, 08:41:04 PM
A bartender says "Hey!  We don't serve tachyons in this establishment".
Two tachyons walk into a bar.
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: speed of light broken on: September 23, 2011, 09:25:20 AM
The media needs to take a cold bath.

As has been said clearly, the result is reproducible and therefore "puzzling" - and so the group at CERN have offered up their data to other groups to confirm (or deny).  The natural course of science.  The speed of light limit is a long-standing principle (if you call 100 years "long") and represents a significant challenge to the scientific status quo.  But note that nothing will fall apart or become more or less true should this result stand - even if it does turn out that neutrinos are "breaking the law", like so many revelations in scientific discovery it will simply mean developing newer and better models that account for everything we have seen to date plus this.

This is currently in the realm of "science fiction" - or at least "science speculation".

In gravitation, Newton was proved "wrong".  Then Einstein.  And I'm sure one day Hawkings will also fall to the latest and best description of gravitation.  We all know that we haven't been able to include gravitation properly into the unified theory.  It may be because there is some subtlety about space-time that we haven't accounted for.  This may help us uncover it.

It's exciting frankly.  I don't know why the media portrays it as threatening.  No scientist thinks that they know the ultimate truth about life the universe and everything.  Science is a series of models - not some stranglehold on truth about reality.  Any scientist who believes otherwise should be shown the door.  In fact, challenging existing canon is a natural consequence of what every critical thinking scientist should be doing - albeit not gratuitously.  It's good science (remember, this is not a religion, despite our tendencies).

In this circumstance, unambiguously, the first position taken is that they must be making systematic errors and they want another group to check it independently.  Good scientific process.  Until that is done, this is like a UFO sighting - possibly something revolutionary but much more likely something quite banal and well understood - a mistake in scientific preparation and/or analysis.  Occam's Razor at work.

The media is like some crazed terrier who goes barking madly up and down the hallway every time it hears a floorboard creak.  You need a new dog.

Update:  From the UK Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/sep/23/physicists-speed-light-violated:

Quote
Professor Jim Al-Khalili at the University of Surrey said it was most likely that something was skewing the results. "If the neutrinos have broken the speed of light, it would overturn a keystone theory from the last century of physics. That's possible, but it's far more likely that there is an error in the data. So let me put my money where my mouth is: if the Cern experiment proves to be correct and neutrinos have broken the speed of light, I will eat my boxer shorts on live TV."

Update:  XKCD skewers the issue

XKCD http://xkcd.com/
8  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: DB Tribal Gathering Fighter List on: April 27, 2011, 01:21:03 AM
Sorry but I'm off to Southeast Asia for a month.... I'll miss y'all.... but I'll be sending a couple of fighters at least from the Sled Team.  Kick ass and take names!

9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Quantum Entanglement Could Stretch Across Time on: March 30, 2011, 10:23:49 PM
Ooooooh - thinking about time travel just hurts the head.  And the funny thing is that equations treat time and space the same - so why would it be that we can imagine teleporting through space so easily but time travel gets complicated so quickly?

Anyone see the low-budget scifi called Primer?  Available on NetFlix - a great film considering it was made for $7000.  A great film regardless.  But the way it makes your head hurt.... that seems so typical of time travel.

That aside - the thing to keep in mind about that article is that it applies to quantum states, not elephants:

Quote
“You can send your quantum state into the future without traversing the middle time,” said quantum physicist S. Jay Olson of Australia’s University of Queensland, lead author of the new study.

In ordinary entanglement, two particles (usually electrons or photons) are so intimately bound that they share one quantum state — spin, momentum and a host of other variables — between them. One particle always “knows” what the other is doing. Make a measurement on one member of an entangled pair, and the other changes immediately.

So you have to limit your imagination to what you know about quantum states - the Star Trek analogy involving Scotty doesn't apply so readily.

What does that get anyone?  That's where the imagination really comes in and I must say fails me admirably.  What kind of technology could you build with it?  Undetectable signals (since they aren't present for the "middle time")?  Feedforward loops (mechanisms that track states in the past in order to synchronize themselves with past events)?  Past-time sensors that send data to a future receiver?

Basically they are quantum "echoes from the past" - kind of like a camera recording current events so they can be replayed later.  But you aren't replaying them, you are receiving the signal directly through time.

Maybe.... you could put sensors in an environment where they wouldn't be able to send a signal or record either (for some reason) and have them instead beam the signal into the future.  For example, measuring state within a device that is exploding (and would overwhelm a signal with EM or destroy a stored signal).... now why would you want to do that?

OK - how about back to quantum encryption?  You encode data and send it into the future - it is effectively gone until that later time when it arrives and can be recaptured.  Then it can be retransmitted forward again and the information disappears.   That might be a good way to hide information.

Really, since you are stuck in quantum terms, the only thing worth considering is information - data - communications and computation.

Anyone else have a better concept for using time entanglement?
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Mythology and science - a commentary on: January 24, 2011, 10:07:41 AM
As it happened, I was reading an analysis of the role  of mythology in scientific undertakings (a personal favorite of mine) and found a passage that exemplified some of what I was just referring to in the previous post:

Quote
While many myths simply try to give form to our own past, others are intended to be both descriptive and prescriptive. Like laws of nature, they must hold true everywhere and for all time. Their adherents can brook no alternative perspective. The tendency to settle prematurely on a particular outlook is exacerbated in the guild system of health care. The practitioner must not be seen as equivocating, and the field as a whole must not be seen as thoroughly divided in its core orientation. Science is unitary, and in order to appear scientific, at least provisional assent must be yielded to a unitary vision. Such a unitary vision is likely to start out as largely myth.

The aspirational social sciences have a particular problem here because it is so difficult for a proposition to rise to the level of established fact or theory. Indeed one can sympathize with political scientist Clinton Rossiter who declaimed at one point: “I believe this so strongly that it almost becomes a fact.” Instead these fields move forward by consensus. If reasonable consensus is achieved within a discipline, then provisional scientific validity is simply claimed. The Diagnostic Statistical Manual of psychiatry is perhaps the best exemplar of this process at work. The science behind it is meager, but that becomes a non-issue in the face of general acquiescence to the DSM formalism. What we have here, plain and simple, is myth masquerading as science.

We actually have a ready diagnostic to distinguish myth disguised as science from actual science. If a particular proposition brings forth strong emotions in its defense, then we are dealing with myth. One can be sure that no one mounts the ramparts on behalf of Newton’s Laws of Motion.

Siegfried Othmer - from Wagner, Myth and the Brain

Active social mythology is not given significant attention in my view.  But that's another post another time.
11  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Pathological Science on: January 22, 2011, 09:47:32 PM
Hi - Tricky parachuting in for a glib follow-up or two - I don't peruse the forums too much for lack of time.  But I see that Crafty et al have brought some interesting points to bear.  And he just quoted me - so...

Re: quantum effects - as mentioned, the interesting nature of QM doesn't really play at the macroscopic (read "human") scales.  Various attempts have been made to see QM happening at longer scales - and some interesting things have been seen - but only under very carefully crafted circumstances.  It is largely wishful thinking (so far) to speculate QM has any large-scale relevance day-to-day. 

And science may yet prove otherwise - that's what is really enjoyable about the endeavor.

Much more likely is that human perception and cognition are responsible.  Without impugning anyone's intentions, we often find ourselves experiencing a more subjective reality than we like to admit.  Unless experiments are constructed very carefully, "human effects" creep in almost inevitably.   People often talk about bias - but frankly, that's not even a question in my view - we see what we want to see as matter of course.  Seeing otherwise takes a tremendous amount of discipline and careful process.

A healthy amount of skepticism is warranted - and in fact required by the methodology.

Most of what is being discussed here revolves around very human processes and highly complex systems.  Almost anything have to do with human process is overloaded with uncontrolled influences, many of them cognitive and complicated by socio-political views.  It's pretty difficult to do "hard science" (in the sense of physics) in those circumstances.  Take homeopathy and chiropractic as an example - while both have been next to impossible to prove as beneficial, there are wide-spread reports of benefit.  People have positive experiences and effects that they attribute to the practices.  So what is "true"?

Just try to separate out the human effects from the controllable processes.  It has led to all kinds of strife and struggle - and it is largely because scientific methodology is very difficult to apply reliably in those "soft" contexts".  Particularly as we are not able to isolate the influence of belief and the mind on the body's response.  The placebo effect is the classic case that underscores this influence.

So if you are pointing at science pertaining to anything with a significantly human context, then I fully expect it to be pretty squishy and subject to revision.  Quite likely endlessly.

Similarly, if you are talking about complex systems - such as the global climate - you had better be prepared to be frustrated and challenged.  Not only are there an incredible number of different influences on the system (science often relies on reductionist methods), none of which can be easily tested for, but many of them are highly non-linear.  Which is why we are so bad at predicting the weather on a day-to-day basis.  Or the stock market.  Which isn't to say we know nothing about them.

Thus it doesn't surprise me much to hear that things are not quite the way we thought they were - especially regarding science around soft and/or complex systems.  And you don't have to resort to QM effects to explain it.  Occam's razor.

Meanwhile, I don't think you'll be finding the accuracy of the measures of the speed of light in a vacuum will be slowly falling in the near future.




12  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Ruptured achilles tendon - part Dieux on: May 24, 2010, 01:39:42 AM
Well - as if the first time wasn't enough.....

January 31st (2010) and I popped the left Achilles.  Pretty much the same move - this time without armor on.  Knife sparring and moving very fast against an agile opponent (speedy Edwin Tam who likes his knives just fine).  And that just after having lectured my students on safety.

Nothing I would have changed - just leaping back out of the way.  And POP!

I had done this before so I knew what it was all over again.  And this time, I was really unhappy about it.  I had so many things lined up for the coming months - fire sword performances at the Winter Olympics, the Spring Tribal Gathering, into the second week of an 8 week mini-course on Harimau pencak silat.... I was seriously unhappy.

But - thanks to the benefits of a robust public health system (this is Canada we're talking about here), I was examined and in a hospital bed within 2 hours.  And I would have had surgery that afternoon if I hadn't stopped to each lunch before going to Emergency.  So I went in the next day - same reconstructive surgery (different surgeon though).  Back home.  Leg elevated, off painkillers in 24 hours again (this time they threw Oxycodone at me - what?!?!).  And back up that same damned mountain.

Here it is mid-May and I'm just out of the air cast again.  I made a point of training hard all through this period - I even finished the Harimau mini-course after delaying it for 3 weeks.  Kept my tone and now I've got another 6 months of stretching, strengthening, and getting back to where I was again.

So - what did I learn this time?

Well a few new things came up on this go'round - something some of you might want to consider:

First - "platelet rich plasma" treatments - too late for me to consider - but apparently there is a new treatment for tendon ruptures and the like which is being used by professional athletes.  Basically (pardon me if I don't get this exactly right), your own blood is drawn and then using a centrifuge the platelets are extracted along with the plasma.  Then the "platelet rich plasma" (PRP) is injected directly into the damaged site.

The results is analogically like using stem cells - recovery is accelerated dramatically by the presence of the necessary components and the benefits continue for some time after the initial injection.  The benefits are felt almost immediately (within 24 hours) and only one or two injections are needed.  Typical cost is around $500-700 per injection.  And no invasive surgery is required.

Sounds almost too good to be true - well, it certainly isn't available in Canada yet.  And it wouldn't have helped me probably with a full rupture.  But something to consider if you are faced with something similar - ask your doctor.

Second - after regularly I bombarding my surgeon with questions about using various regeneration techniques like pulsed electromagnetic stimulation (apparently not particularly effective), he gave me some thing to think about.  Not a recover but rather a possible explanation for why Achilles tend to rupture - and often affecting the other tendon within 2 years of the initial rupture in a significant percentage of cases.

He pointed at speculation that the calf muscle may be "late firing" under certain conditions.  That is, when stepping back, the calf muscle decelerates the body through the leg by applying force along the Achilles tendon as the ball of the foot makes contact and the heel starts to descend.  This deceleration normally takes place over the distance of about 3-4 inches in a fraction of a second.

Consider what would happen if the calf muscle was not activated early enough - the heel and body would be in free-fall until the muscle finally began its contraction (assuming the heel hasn't hit the ground yet).  Then, the muscle has to decelerate the body over a much shorter distance to bring the body to a halt.  Suddenly the forces required can be double, treble or quadruple normal - the stress upon the Achilles which anchors the calf spikes dramatically.  And if certain things happen to be true (such the presence of irritation due to tendonitis, or poorly designed shoes, or an unexpected unevenness in the terrain), a late firing can result in a rupture.

This late firing may be a product of age or nutrition or other aspect of health.  And it may be a rare but inevitable consequence of how the body's neurological system is constructed and operates - I'm not doctor myself so I can hardly comment.  But the prospects are a bit scary - if true (and that's a big IF), then it is ticking time bomb for a lot of us.  It only takes a tendency to late firing to conjunct with the right circumstances and POP! - you're living unhappiness like me.

More importantly, the big question is:  What does cause "late firing"?  And are there any ways to mitigate the possibility of injury?  Shoe design?  Nutrition?  Behavioral changes? 

It at least explains how someone stepping off a curb (as opposed to sparring or playing racquetball) can just as easily rupture the Achilles.  But it doesn't make me feel any better.


And now I start to wonder - even though I have now ruptured both tendons, and they seem thicker and more substantial than before the injuries (although my calf muscle is probably 70% of original strength), am I in any danger of re-rupturing either?  And is there anything I might want to avoid or consider?

..... well that's just one of life's mysteries, I suppose.  I hope I'm quite done with all this.  And there will be nothing more to add to this thread.

And if you are reading this because you have ruptured yours - you have my complete understanding - of all athletic injuries, it is certainly one of the most annoying.  Not life threatening.  Just irritating.  But it sure doesn't go away very quickly.  Keep working at it.
13  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Team Sled Dog eats pucks! on: May 04, 2010, 01:01:30 AM
I have to say that it was a great event just for having so many of the Canadian brethren down at once.  Including the redoubtable root of the Canadian family tree, Philip "Sled Dog" Gelinas.  In total, there were seven of us - three from the East (Toronto and Montreal) and four from the Left coast.

There was quite the spread of experience represented - from 20+ years of Gatherings to first-time fighters and everything in between.  And it was really really hard for me to have to sit on the sidelines and be the water boy.  I suffered a rupture of my left Achilles tendon at the end of January (while fighting at least - I'd hate to have to say slipping in the bath or stepping off a curb) and I've been stumping around in a "ski boot" for 3 months.  Frustrating and yet certainly easier on the body.

But it gave me a chance to watch my guys, and my guro, fight.  And fight and fight and fight.  A two day event really gives you a chance to get into the rhythm of the fight.  Get over the adrenaline dump, past the tension, and start to really focus down.  And that's what they did.  Everyone.  And I was sorely impressed.  Well, maybe not as sorely as they were.

And going back to the 4th Street park in Hermosa Beach was awesome - talk about bringing back the old days.  I fought there regularly during the 90s, often twice per year, until the space was finally retired to take it to the RAW gym and other locales.  It was definitely like going back.  It looks only a little different - but it felt the same.  Running around on the same old ground, what have I found?  The same old fears.  Wish you were here.

There were lots of fighters I haven't seen for too long - last time I was down was in 2007 for the big NatGeo filming.  Timing and life stuff just hadn't made it possible since then.  So despite my ski boot, I had to come down and support Team Sled Dog.  And it was great to see old friends like Crafty and Pappy and Lonely - have breakfast at Rocky Cola, shoot the breeze, talk trash.  And, yeah, I trained a little on the side.  Got some pointers from my favorite fighters.  I didn't go away empty handed.

And holy smokes - does Linda every wield a mean machete.  She is incredibly fast and .... intricate!  I can only describe her blade movements as intricate.  Like watching something being woven out of steel (or aluminum in this case) in mid-air.  I tried to figure out what she was doing that was so different but I don't think I can quite.  I certainly can't reproduce it myself.  And were those ever big aluminum trainers.  Kudos!

Overall, the aspect of the weekend that struck me most was the intensity - everyone fought with technique, agility, and focus.  But the intensity of most of the exchanges was way up there.  There were a couple of moments in particular from my own guys that really impressed me - and that's hugely gratifying - when you watch people you train with step up and meet the tremendous intensity of seasoned Gathering veterans ..... and hold their own.

And watching Sled Dog finish with his signature "vampire killer" just puts the icing on the cake, makes everything right for that moment, puts balance back in the world.  Cue Purple Haze.  Run the credits.  This is what makes watching the Gathering so great.

But next time, I get to fight, 'kay?

To all those who fought, and to all of you who will fight again, I salute you.  To strength, courage, and brotherhood.
14  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Head Count for the Tribal Gathering on: March 23, 2010, 11:17:26 AM
Sled Team West (Vancouver/Nanaimo)

 8. Tricky Dog

 9. Chris Goard

10. Patrick Gagnon

11. C. Ole Fredrickson
15  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / my Achilles heel.... again on: March 07, 2010, 10:59:53 PM
dearest brothers of the dog

As Crafty mentioned some while ago, I am somewhat disabled.  Again.  Ruptured Achilles tendon.  Other leg.  Same story though - full rupture while sparring, emergency surgery the next day, 6-8 weeks to repair, and then 4-6 months in an "air cast" - which is just a medical term for a ski boot.  The latter allows my repaired Achilles to slowly stretch back out to normal length by periodically removing one of the four heel lift inserts in the sole.  No pain, no fuss.  Just a whole lot of waiting.

Argh.  Makes my heart ache though.  Like a rotter.  Life telling me to slow down, apparently.  And thanks Guide Dog for the lovely invitation to dance with the mae sowks - I am impressed with and honored by anyone who is willing to stand in front of those things - and it has little to do with my prowess, believe you me.  And I was hoping that Top Dog and I would have another chance to go the distance as well.

Such are the fortunes.  Martial arts have been good to me thus far - I can hardly complain for the occasional setback.  That said, those who have blown out knees, shattered bones, or otherwise messed themselves up severely can no doubt relate.

Meanwhile, I am still intending to be there, life and other abiding conditions notwithstanding.  If for no other reason than to play corner to my boyz.

More soon.

NOTE:  I don't get to the forum as often as I'd like - people are invited to ping me by email if there is post here that I should respond to.

16  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Format of Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering? on: February 04, 2010, 12:37:18 PM
For those who didn't attend the last Tribal Gathering, could someone elaborate on the format of the event?
17  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Psychology: Evolutionary and otherwise on: December 04, 2009, 03:38:18 PM
Interesting articles - Crafty, always appreciative that you maintain your intellect as well as your fighting form.  Something about "fighting smart".....

They raise interesting questions too - if we "know better" how we are as beings, is it appropriate to make compensatory changes to modify our conduct and if so, how?  Social norms and mores?  Law?  Training/indoctrination?  Arguably that's in part what religion was intended to accomplish.
18  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spring 2010 DB Tribal Gathering on: December 04, 2009, 03:22:47 PM
April 24-25 works fine for the Team Sled in Vancouver - we are looking to field 3-5 fighters

After the first outing of mae sowks at the August 2009 DB camp in Toronto, I am looking forward to another opportunity to put them (and me and any dance partners) to the test.  My forearm sprain (from before the camp) seems to be fully recovered so everything else is possible too.

Looking forward to seeing y'all soon.
19  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Euro Martial Arts on: February 07, 2007, 11:42:25 PM
Hi all - Crafty was successful rousing me....

As he said, I spent about 18 months with the local SCA folks in the Vancouver area, playing what is gently referred to as "heavy death" fighting.  Mike's description of that is pretty accurate to my experience.  So I'll spare you the redundancy.  But I can say a few more things that struck me (besides their blunted weapons).

First, coming from the DB set, I figured that I had a goodly amount of challenge for them.  After all, put on some armour and you're way more protected.  Throw in some rules and a shield and I might as well be shooting fish in a barrel.

Ouch!  Not so fast.  I did have more than the usual amount of endurance and strength for a newbie.  And  I developed skills somewhat faster.  But these guys were really good at their game.  Granted you can say all kinds of things relative to sharpened blade realism.  But the blows really landed, and they really hurt, and the typical shield (otherwise referred to as a "heater") was a whole new game.  I don't underplay the value of this way of fighting - unless you only care what happens to you in a back alley with a tire iron.  Me personally, I'm looking for a variety of interesting fight experiences and this has that much going for it.

Some of you have likely played with shields before - it's a fascinating addition to the stick and should make a more regular appearance at the Gathering.  But that said, it takes some re-training.  The oversized, chevron shaped heaters (classic knight's shield) is much harder to deal with than I expected.  For one, there is an optimal position to hold it in.  It shouldn't be moved very far out of that position (sort of like a fencer's guard).  A subtle movement of a few inches in any direction can pick up almost every attack.  Over movement results in blindness as you lose sight of your opponent, or exposure of a critical target.  It reminded me of flying remote controlled airplanes - the inexperienced pilot will start oversteering in moments of panic and then Wham!  Noise first.

Although I worked hard at the heater and broadsword (about 36-40" long), I started fighting "Florentine" style - two broadswords with no shield.  Obvious for anyone in FMA - it's basically slow sinawali with big sticks and you can hit 3-to-2 and use either sword as a shield.  Then I didn't lose sight of my opponent and my FMA reflexes could kick in and pick up the slower incoming shots fairly easily.  I was just starting to get some respect when I stopped....

I have to say that I quite respect the SCA while realizing that they are working within rules - they proudly claim that the insurance rating of their fighting events is on par with lawn bowling.   Not that no one gets hurt - just that they've convinced the insurance people that they are sane.  ARMA or some of the other groups are doing very interesting things as well - and I might be more tempted to play with them in the future.  But.....

Why did I stop?  Well I believe I posted on that somewhere around here a while ago.   Ah, here it is:
  http://dogbrothers.com/phpBB2/index.php?PHPSESSID=5134fa71e8a3ebd46f9ac36cee04a237&topic=64.msg1428
But basically, while fighting heater and broadsword in bearpit (sort of king-of-the-castle based on "honor kills" as Mike describes it), I ranged back away from a newbie fighter, right foot back, expecting to come back in on the open sword arm and Snap!..... I knew what it was when I hit the ground despite having never snapped an Achilles tendon before. 

So I stopped fighting SCA.  It took six months in a ski boot and then another 6 months of rehab to get me back to 110% (yeah!  of course I'm better than before!).  I figured the extra 40 lbs of armour, shield, helm, and sword might have had something to do with it.  Maybe not what my fast moving feet are best accustomed to.  In fact,  I was starting to teach some of the SCA fighters some FMA footwork because it wasn't their usual game.

There were other weapons to try but I never got around to them.  Round boss shields or small round hand shields with daggers out either end, 6' long two-handers, staffs, maces, even bow and arrow (with bird blunts).  And you could make up stuff if you wanted to - just had to follow the conventions for marking your weapons for how they could be used.  For example, if the tip was not properly covered and marked, you couldn't thrust.  But you could make almost anything work.  Unfortunately, one of the hard rules was that you couldn't use the shield itself offensively - that's a key aspect to good shield fighting and probably why we aren't using them in the Gathering.  They can be brutal.

The other fighting the SCA have at tourney is "rapier fighting" - that might be more interesting to me if I were to go back.  None of the sheer impact of the heavy death.  But definitely cool garb - I love an excuse to dress up.... not that armour isn't dressed up but let's face it.  The cloak and leather gloves with a plumed hat is hard to beat.

The SCA folks are some hard-drinking, hard-partying, hard-fighting folks.  No knocks 'til you've tried it.  Worth it too if you have a friend who can loan you some decent armour (instead of using crappy hockey cast-offs).

Post-scriptum:  A few days after a particularly lively bout of SCA training, I went to see a massage therapist.  Nothing serious just looking to stetch out some tense muslces.  After the session, she takes me aside and says: "You know, if you were a woman, I'd feel obligated to urge you to seek help from the appropriate authorities.  But, as a man, I'll just settle for asking you about all those weals on your inner thighs."  I was very confused.  Weals?  Bruises?  On my inner thighs?  Then I recalled that the cuisses (armor covering my upper legs) had been pinching me rather badly during the fighting and, as I saw on later inspection, had left some rather nasty and suggestive looking marks.  Of course, telling her that it was due to "fighting in shield and armour" was as much a surprise to her as anything she suspected....... ha ha ha thud!

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