Christina Hoff Sommers is an academic and advocate of boys. Her first book "Who Stole Feminism" is an objective analysis of the source materials used in certain arguments. She is not deprecating to women and believes that a failure to raise boys is actually a society and a women's issue.
I raised two boys and a step son who was slightly autistic and pegged with being ADHD. Education for boys has always drawn my interest.
Sommers is basicallly saying that they way schools are today punishes boys for their basic nature. She cites instances of boys who are very young being expelled for playing cops and robbers.
My own experience with schools as a teacher and as a parent are that school policy is usually based on minimizing problems and keeping things on an even keel. Very little actual policy goes into what might be best for kids though I know that there are a decent number of teachers who see such things and want to address them.
Its good to have an alternative plan.
I thought I would throw it out there....what would a school look like if it were designed to meet the needs of boys?
I spent a year homeschooling my two sons. In that year we focused on the practical skills...reading, writing, math. That took about 2 to 4 hours per day. Then we had adventures. We explored the woods, we went on canoe trips, we did martial arts, learned about firearms, archery, we climbed an old growth douglas fir tree to the very top using rock climbing gear and had lunch while we watched the forest. The boys built things out of wood. One project was to build a bridge that I could walk across using some logs and rope. We raised rabbits and they got to see what sex was all about by breeding them. This was by the way, hilarious. In that year, one of my boys discovered that he liked math. He advanced 2 years in math that year. My other sons discovered that he liked writing and art. He now works for an animated movie company as an animator/illustrator.
Part of the secret to education is identifying the gifts that kids have and simply saying "You are good at that" and then helping them to discover what they can do with who and what they are. The longer I taught, the more I realized that beyond the three Rs, the actual subject matter taught is almost superfluous when compared to the importance of getting kids to value their gifts and show them how to trust their own instincts about how and what they ought to be focusing on.
One idea in education is to mitigate weaknesses instead of building strengths. Practically speaking, when a kid is not so good in math, public schools have a system that acknowledges that to some extent and then tries to fix the problem. So a kid who may indeed have gifts may fly under the radar after being labeled with a problem. Very rarely does a parent teacher conference convene to discuss the discovery of a kids abilities in order to create a plan to allow the kid to engage in his passion.
This is true for boys and girls.
When it comes to boys, innate gifts are varied and diverse. In some respects I think that men have to go through a process similar to women where they question every role or preconceived notion of what they think they are in favor of discovering who they actually are. This was a large part of the original positive notion behind feminism. Throw off the roles and be who you are.
If men did that, they would discover a greater diversity in themselves, greater freedom to be. They would also be able to honor innate male characteristics...protector, provider alongside other skills and talents that are unique to the individual. I do not think that this happens now to any great extent. The approach in schools in particular are to mostly lump boys into a large preconception of what they are and unfortunately that is often filled with negative slants.
I know from my homeschooling experiment that boys need a huge amount of time to run their bags off. My sons barely stopped to breath all afternoon and during our adventures. If I gave them that, then they could strongly focus on the skill development that I felt was important as well. Though in my sons cases even within the basic skills they differed in their desire to focus and this did not hurt either one of them in the end. They each had their passions and we ran with those.
If you have strengths and weaknesses and you have X much time and energy to devote which will result in an increase in 10% in either the strength or the weakness, which would you focus on? If you focus on a weakness perhaps that weakness is at 70%. Then an addition 10% of effort will result in 80% and quite possibly a kid whose eyes are rolling into the back of their head with boredom. If you focus on their strengths, then an additional 10% of effort will raise a kid from 90 to 99.99999%. You get the idea. When schools focus on mitigating weaknesses, they are normalizing but that normalization is not necessarily what is best for the kid.
When they literally, as a result of policy turn away from certain kinds of passions and interests and behaviors that make many boys thrive they prevent boys from finding their passions. This part of the problem is not unique to boys but there is much more interest in helping girls to "be all that they can be" right now than to do the same for boys.
Most of the video examples show straight blasts with the rear arm doing the punching with each step (Lyoto and Vitor examples). Punching with the front arm with each step or with more than one punch per step is possible. In adrenal state situations you see the rear arm punching with each forward step more often than not. I think that this cross position is instinctive and very natural. Yet the front punch does exist in martial traditions and I think that its purpose is as a straight blast entry and overwhelm. If you try to fight using it to lead you will get clobbered. But in the context of entry after you have the opening, I think it has a greater reach and can really hit hard. There is one example of this kind of punch in the forums already:
Chaining this type of entry move with subsequent punches that vary in type and target according to the distance that the opponent ends up is a good study. In other words if the guy is farther away hit him with a forward hand. If closer a rear hand and so on.
youtube has a new beta search tool....I found this when I was playing around with it:
Teaser: In 1935 Richard Halliburton photographed guys in the mountains in Georgia wearing chain mail and practicing a medieval martial art.
From wikipedia: "There has been a hypothesis, coming from the locals and descriptions by Russian serviceman and ethnographer Arnold Zisserman who spent 25 years (1842-67) during Russian expansion in the Caucasus (see Georgia within the Russian Empire), that these Georgian highlanders were descendants of the last European Crusaders because their folk culture – the material, social, and religious practices – greatly resembled those of the Crusaders. American traveler Richard Halliburton (1900-1939) saw and recorded the customs of the Khevsur tribe in 1935. Khevsurs are mentioned in Greek, Roman and Georgian sources before the formation of European crusades ( See History of Georgia and Georgian People), and the pure European origin of Khevsurs is not supported by most modern scholars. However, some form of settlement of Crusaders in these areas is possible, as they are mentioned in several manuscripts of the time as participants of several battles against the Muslims in Georgia (100 "Frankish" Crusaders participated in King David's army in the Battle of Didgori), and the fact that some passed through here after the fall of the Holy Land."
The creator of the video is a fellow traveled to the area to meet with the last remaining practitioners of this art, three 90 year old men.
Short aside here: I live in Kamloops and I work out where the Masters Indoor Track and Field event occurred. For a couple of days I was running alongside some of these incredible folks. Guys in their late sixties running like gazelles and indeed a bunch of older folks who were in fantastic shape. Pretty cool.
One family's terrifying medical mystery could represent the military's next big crisis. by Andrew Bast November 08, 2010
The worst was the day Brooke Brown came home to find her husband with a shotgun in his mouth. But there had been plenty of bad days before that: after he returned from a deployment in Iraq, Lance Cpl. David Brown would start shaking in crowded places. Sitting down for a family meal had become nearly impossible: in restaurants he'd frantically search for the quickest exit route. He couldn't concentrate; he couldn't do his job. The Marine Corps placed him on leave prior to discharging him. Brooke quit her job to care for him and the children. The bills piled up.
It sounds like another troubling story of a war vet struggling with PTSD. But Brown's case is more complicated. In addition to the anxiety, he suffered a succession of mild seizures until a devastating grand mal episode sent him to the hospital covered in his own blood, vomit, and excrement. There were also vision problems and excruciating headaches that had plagued him since he'd been knocked to the ground by a series of mortar blasts in Fallujah four years earlier.
Brown, now 23, didn't have any visible injuries, but clearly the man who left for Iraq was not the same man who returned. "Our middle son clings to David; he knows something is wrong," Brooke, 22, explained late this summer. "Our 4-year-old doesn't know what caused it, but he knows Daddy's sick and he needs help."
But what kind of help does Corporal Brown need? His case perplexed civilian doctors and the Department of Veterans Affairs. The headaches and seizures suggest that he is suffering from the aftereffects of an undiagnosed concussion—or, in the current jargon, mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). But some of his symptoms seem consistent with a psychological condition, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Or could it be both—and if so, are they reinforcing one another in some kind of vicious cycle? The person who knows David better than anyone, his wife, thinks it was hardly a coincidence that one of his worst seizures came on the day last year that his best friend was deployed with the Second Battalion, Eighth Marines, as part of President Obama's surge into Afghanistan. David Brown's symptoms have placed him at the vanguard of military medicine, where doctors, officials, and politicians are puzzling out the connection between head injuries and PTSD, and the role each plays in both physical and psychological post-combat illness.
The military reports that 144,453 service members have suffered battlefield concussions in the last decade; a study out of Fort Carson argues that that number misses at least 40 percent of cases. By definition, a concussion is a shaking of the brain that results from a blow to the head. Typical symptoms include headache, memory loss, and general confusion. For decades, head injuries were a challenge mainly for civilian doctors, who studied the results of auto accidents and football injuries. The best treatment, it was generally thought, was rest and time. And in the great majority of these civilian cases, the brain heals by itself in as little as a week. Concussions sustained on the battlefield are another matter, and a vexing one. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, symptoms such as vision, memory, and speech problems, dizziness, depression, and anxiety last far longer in men and women returning from combat. Why? Doctors suspect that the high-stress combat environment stifles the kind of recovery that would normally occur. More often than not, those unlucky enough to suffer a concussion in Afghanistan, or especially in Iraq, do so in stifling heat, "which can make the effects of a concussion worse," says David Hovda, director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. Then there's the question of reinjury before full recovery. If an injured fighter reports symptoms that match the concussion watch list, he or she is pulled from action for 24 hours. (There's currently no test for a concussion besides self-diagnosis, though the military is actively pursuing biomarker tests that could be done on site.) But in a macho military culture, admitting unseen symptoms that can take you out of the action doesn't happen as often as it should. "If you ain't bleeding, you ain't hurt," says Brooke of the military culture around head injuries.
Blood or not, evidence is mounting that battlefield concussions from these two long-running wars could result in decades of serious and expensive health-care issues for a significant number of veterans. After all, TBI is a relatively new problem of modern warfare. Thanks to technological advances, warriors are surviving what once would have been fatal blasts--but the long-term consequences of the impact are still unknown. Two years ago, the RAND Corporation published a comprehensive study, "The Invisible Wounds of War," which highlighted brain injuries as a massive, and little-understood, mental-health issue for returning combat veterans. This summer the nonprofit journalism site ProPublica chronicled challenges in diagnosis of head trauma and breakdowns in care within the military medical system. Around the same time, the Senate Armed Services Committee called the brass from each of the military branches and the Department of Veterans Affairs to testify on the topic, and at the hearing senators expressed concern that head trauma may be a factor in service-member suicide. The military's concerns have arisen during something of a boom in concussion research in civilian institutions, and new research in sustained head trauma in athletes shows that repeated concussions can lead to a condition called chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This disorder, which can present 10 to 15 years after the initial trauma, is linked to depression and suicidal thoughts, as well as Parkinson's, dementia, and even a devastating neurological condition resembling Lou Gehrig's disease. Another study found that those who abused drugs and alcohol after a TBI had drastically increased rates of suicide attempts. Suicide is a serious threat to the military: an August 2010 report by the Department of Defense showed that the military suicide rate comes to one death every 36 hours. In the past, suicide has been associated with PTSD—an issue armed forces across the world have been struggling with for years. "Nostalgia" afflicted Napoleon's troops fighting his endless campaigns far from home. "Traumatic neurosis" and "shell shock" overcame British troops in the trenches of World War I. Col. John Bradley, head of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, describes today's PTSD as the inability to dial back on the instincts necessary for survival in combat even long after one is out of danger. "If you go back to your family and you still feel like you're in mortal danger, that creates a problem," says Bradley. A common estimate inside the military is that 20 percent of veterans in combat experience symptoms of posttraumatic stress. Some 2.1 million service members have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan—implying more than 400,000 potential cases. Connecting the Dots But in Iraq and Afghanistan, the symptoms of PTSD are often complicated by TBI—a condition seen as a consequence of the fact that, thanks to better battlefield technology and medical care, more soldiers are surviving blasts that proved deadly in previous wars. Figuring out what's caused by PTSD and what's the result of a head injury isn't easy, especially since the symptoms of TBI overlap with those of PTSD. "You may have been injured, may have lost a buddy during an attack," says Bradley. "Traumatic brain injury has both a physical and psychological component, and so does PTSD." After a concussion, one is almost certain to have headaches, but headaches are also common among people with a mental-health disorder. Concussions cause trouble sleeping—and so can PTSD. Difficulty concentrating is common to both. "It's very difficult to determine if it's a psychological problem or the results of an organic brain injury," says Terry Schell, a behavioral scientist at RAND.
Scientists are just starting to understand if and how the two are connected. It's been shown in animal models that a head trauma can make one more susceptible to PTSD. "Minor traumatic brain injury does not necessarily cause PTSD, but it puts the brain in a biochemical and metabolic state that enhances the chances of acquiring posttraumatic stress disorder," says UCLA's Hovda, who is part of a civilian task force of doctors and scientists commissioned by the military to assess how PTSD and TBI affect troops. They'll meet in December to discuss whether troops suffering from both should receive special medical treatment. Hovda also played a key role in the development of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence, a military medical facility in Bethesda, Md., devoted to the care of returning vets who suffer from PTSD and/or head trauma. "When they get to Bethesda, or get home, a lot of times individuals will be suffering from symptoms related to these multiple concussions," he says. "They don't understand that it's related to a brain injury, and they become very depressed and confused."
Murray Stein, a neurologist at the University of California, San Diego, is leading a consortium of doctors and specialists through several clinical trials investigating the long-term effects of concussions mixed with high-stress situations. Stein suspects there's more to the long-term effects of battlefield brain injuries than we now understand. "Right now it's extremely controversial," he says. "It's simply too simplistic to suggest [TBI] and emotional symptoms can't be linked."
There's not a lot research as of yet. Early on in the Iraq War, Col. Charles Hoge, then the director of mental-health research at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, surveyed some 2,700 soldiers about battlefield concussions and PTSD, as well as the extent of their injuries and the state of their current mental and physical health (relying on self-reported measures like days of work missed). In 2008, The New England Journal of Medicine published Hoge's findings: battlefield concussions existed, perhaps in significant numbers, but "cognitive problems, rage, sleep disturbance, fatigue, headaches, and other symptoms" that had become commonplace among service members back home resulted almost entirely from PTSD. Hoge argued that attributing postcombat symptoms to the effect of concussions, which "usually resolve rapidly," could lead to a large number of military personnel receiving treatment for the wrong problem—treatment that could actually make things worse for the patient and put undue strain on the health-care system. In an interview with NEWSWEEK, Hoge agreed that there was a connection between the two conditions. "PTSD and battlefield concussions are interrelated, and they have to be treated as such," he said. But he's also standing by his findings that one should not be confused for the other. In his new book, Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior, published earlier this year as a mental-health handbook for veterans and their families, Hoge reiterates that "concussions/TBIs have also become entangled and confused with PTSD." Battlefield concussions, he writes, are best diagnosed at the time of injury, and the more time that elapses, the more difficult it becomes to link symptoms to the incident.
That much is true: with shoddy records of brain injuries from the early parts of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, many veterans who could be afflicted by the long-term effects of battlefield concussions will have little—if any—documentation to rely on in their claims for disability benefits. And as evidenced by Lance Cpl. David Brown, in some cases those men and women could require a significant amount of ongoing care.
The Path Ahead There's another, unsettling reality, of course: that PTSD and TBI are far from the only culprits for Brown's mystery symptoms. "Headaches are almost useless as a diagnostic," says Barry Willer, professor of psychology at the University of Buffalo and an expert on concussions. He notes that headaches present for a large number of illnesses. And depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping? Those are often the result of living with an unexplainable illness. In reality, the troops are coming home with myriad medical issues, some new, like TBI; some, like PTSD, as old as war itself; and some a hybrid of the two. The question is whether we have the tools and treatments to figure out which is which.
Brown finally found some respite thanks to Tim Maxwell, a fellow Marine, who was pierced in the skull with shrapnel in Iraq and later lost his leg to mortar fire. Maxwell has established a quiet network of wounded warriors and maintains a Web site on the topic, SemperMax. Earlier this year, he got wind of Brown's struggle and helped get him back into the Marines and into the TBI ward at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. Today, Brown's back at Camp Lejeune, readmitted to the Marines and working to get medically retired. "I spend most of my time over at the wounded-warrior tent doing rehab," he says. He's taking Topamax, a drug usually prescribed to epileptics to stave off seizures, and it seems to be effective, despite the side effects. "He's lost his speech for 30 minutes a couple of times," Brooke says, but he hasn't had any more grand mal seizures. His wife is fighting for him at every turn. "I'm going to stand by my man," she said in August, and then stiffened her spine. "He stood for me over in Iraq. The least I can do is stand by him now."
Came across this this morning. Its worth it to take the time to watch it. Its about how very serious psychological problems like obsessive compulsive disorder and schizophrenia can be corrected by "practicing". This revolves around the idea that the brain is malleable rather than unchanging. The term is "neuroplasticity". What you use you "fuse" together neuronal circuit wise. Anyways....it relates to the development of capacity through practice. More than the body is trained when we go through motions. The brain itself can be rewired to be more efficient. The documentary even draws parallels to zen practices.
I think about this stuff relative to repetitive practices.
I disagree that you will never equal God given talent to this extent. If the person with talent is arrogant or lazy or stupid on top of the talent and they waste the gifts that they have been given by sitting on a couch swigging beer and watching Jackass part 10 then they will be passed by. By anyone with tenacity and discipline.
Its not enough to have the genetic capacity to deliver. You have to have heart as well.
What do you mean by skill or talent? Are you talking about physiological parameters in general as well? Like muscle fiber composition, torso to leg length ratio, levels of hemoglobin, capillary density. as well as ability to process information quickly and accurately? How much does purely physiological parameters affect success in any activity including fighting? If you mean grasp of method and the ability to achieve it I think that there is a physiological component to this. Body physiologies do vary and I think that this includes neurological function. And certain body physiologies do seem to match up with specific activities. I mean we all more or less acknowledge this. For example, years ago, the Australians started using physiological means to pre-assess "talent" for rowing (you could argue that rowing is not as complex an activity as martial arts but perhaps good rowers would argue that ...I dunno) They had crappy rowing teams and when they adopted a physiologically based pre-assessment where they searched for physiologies that matched top Olympic athletes they in fact produced a winning team. Now it is routine: http://www.topendsports.com/sport/rowing/testing-ntid.htm
I think that they do this for soccer players too. Kind of takes the "natural" out of natural selection....
I have noticed that in open fighting situations where there are no weight classes, certain physiological characteristics tend to dominate the winners circles. Do you think that that is true? I suspect it depends on type of fighting as well. Anderson Silva body type versus Randy Couture?
That being said, I remember an old oriental tidbit saying "if one person tries one time try 10 times, for 100 try 1000, in this way even the dull become sharp" or something to that effect. I think that there are lots of people who are genetically gifted to do something who simply do not take advantage of it. It takes more than just genetic advantage. The best of the best seem to be people with genetic propensity who also bust their tails practicing and perfecting. In the mid ranges where most people are, I think its possible for someone with less genetic propensity to overcome the disadvantages simply by putting way more into skill development.
I have been eating like this for about 80% of my diet. Prior to this I ate lots of protein. Prior to that I ate mostly vegetarian with some chicken and fish. Prior to that I ate like crap
I had high cholesterol and some health issues when I ate like crap. Mostly vegetarian I had to work at keeping the weight off...lots of complex carbs. Eating lots of protein and staying away from high cholesterol foods...my blood stats were good. Eating primal but still minimizing cholesterol I had ridiculously good blood stats. I am now allowing myself to eat more cholesterol to see what happens. So I am eating meat, fish, poultry, veggies, nuts, fruit, dried stuff....and I have one bowl of oatmeal every day. Feel great. Less inflammation. I will have blood stats done prior to Christmas.
I fight in armor with sword and shield. My helm is made of of 12 gauge steel and the sticks are 1 1/4" rattan. The choice of steel and weapon thickness has to do with maintaining sufficient adrenalin factor while still being relatively safe. The mass of the helmet slows down the impact. The padding immediately inside the helm is neoprene followed by an inner cap of open cell foam that allows the helm to "float" around my head. The sticks that we use pack enough of a wallop that you can still get your bell rung through a helmet like that. When you get hit hard, you can feel the shock of the hit first moving the helmet and then causing your head to move as the padding presses into you. It can cause a headache to get hit like that. I do not know how getting hit with less stout sticks in a saber mask compares. It looks worse. It certainly seems to cause more peripheral damage to the skin and head. And I assume you get a headache if you get clocked a good one.
In medieval times, as far as I know, field (not tournament) helms were lighter gauge steel and some were better engineered than the one I use and the swords in general weighed less than the rattan sticks that I am familiar with. The helms were padded with horsehair in a liner and you often also wore a skull cap with a tie string. I do not know how that compares in shock absorption but from examining helms in Europe it seems that they would protect less than my present helm. There are lots reports of guys getting stunned by head shots even with the helmets on and no penetration of the shot so concussions happened back then. They probably protected better than saber masks especially for sharp weapons but not as good as my 12 gauge tank of a helm. Even with my thick and heavy helm I have on occasion taken shots that I would not want to repeat given the choice. In some respects it may be like having the football helmet protection. The more protection the bigger the stick and the more careful you have to be when dancing the line between getting concussed and having enough incentive. I wonder about this.
Thanks for the great seminar. I was happy to get to know a bunch of new people. Thanks for sharing Marc and thanks for organizing things Rob.
This is Mike aka Karsk on the forum (olde guye with shield!).
I have a story to tell about the way home. True story time!
I spent the evening on Sunday at my son's house and took off this morning for a leisurely drive back home. I stopped at Mt. Vernon at my favorite halfway restaurant...the Calico Cupboard..with massive and entirely not primal cinnamon buns. I bought 4 to take home to the family. Later in the day I stopped near Hope, BC at a gas station to refuel, to get more tea and stretch my legs.
I decided I was hungry and what could be better than to snag a bite of those sticky buns? So I opened the back door to my car and opened the box sitting just inside the door. I have a modest folding knife that I carry...nothing extremely sinister. I bought it for white water boating. I was using it to cut chunks of the sweet roll out and then I would grab the chunk and pop it into my mouth. I had just finished a chunk and I heard behind me "Hey buddy, I was just wondering if you could spare me a couple of bucks for some food... I turned around and a homeless guy had cut the distance to me. He was about 4-5 feet away already and was still moving directly for me. I was stuck between the car and the door.
Before I knew it I had turned and in a detached way noticed that my knife had suddenly placed itself in a reverse grip. My hands had come up to near my head and my knife hand had just about initiating a dracula, while my other hand was up protecting myself as well. (nice feedback about that Marc...) I pointed at him and said in a calm. authoritative voice... "NO! Get away from me!" I had popped right back into the seminar and the stuff we had worked on yesterday. I am sure he had incidentally watched my knife flip around in my hand as I brought it to bear.
Without even skipping a stride the guy cut right and rapidly moved out of my range saying, "Geez..take it easy pal"...I watched him go and felt like a mean dog on the end of a chain. Then I turned back and ate another piece of sweet roll. I looked up and he was making tracks and was 50 yards away.
Second thought...." I just scared the crap out of a harmless homeless guy".
As I got into the car and drove off, I started thinking about the whole thing. Some random thoughts. "I am glad he stopped." "Gee, wired a bit tight aren't ya?" I felt mild chagrin. But then I started thinking a bit more... "I missed that guy coming up on me." "I was in a really bad position." "Why in the hell did he walk right up into my space if he wasn't going to try to put some pressure on whoever he thought I was?" He was really close. Too close for normal. By the time I had turned, he was within stick range. One more step and he would have been in fist range. I started to be really happy that I just happened to have my skimpy little pocket knife in my hand at just that moment.
I am absolutely certain he had not counted on that or my reaction or the calm tone of my voice with an edge to it.
I do not know if that really was just a homeless guy that I scared the crap out of or if that guy would have treated me different if I had been an older fellow with no piss and vinegar. You recall my appearance (shorter, bald, grey haired...). From behind I probably look the part of a prey. I am pleased he changed his mind so rapidly
I think he most likely was not a hardened bad guy. I think he may have been a homeless guy not above a little positioning to intimidate an old guy. If that was his intention then he got what he deserved. If not....well it was an education for the both of us.
I have had a pair of Five Fingers for about a year now. I have used them for practice, for weightlifitng, running on a track, road running and even for field work for my job (which earned me some interesting comments). I have been doing lots of barefoot minimalist things over the years so it was not a leap to get into these shoes. But they really are cool aren't they?
The ideas of this post... squats are good, Resting is good, FF are good. Couldn't agree more. Another thing that I have been doing alot of is resting between sets of things by squatting low (squat-sitting?). Its that whole thing of being limber and functional in the whole range of motion of your legs that I find to be exhilarating.
Follow #iranelection on twitter.com to listen in on the direct tidbits of communication that is coming out of Iran. In a half hour there were 21K plus comments coming in. There is a "cyberwar" going on as well. The Iranian government is trying to block communications to social media. There are claims that they have succeeded. But the above number of "twitters" seems to say otherwise. People outside of Iran are setting up proxy servers to allow Iranians to get to twitter.com anonymously. They are also using bitorrent to send huge numbers of videos and photos. There are also Denial of service attacks that are being sent to Iranian government network sites. Denial of service attacks pummel the site with requests until it crashes. This means that the government computer techs will have their hands full just being functional themselves.
Social media is powerful because its much easier to send out information than it is to stifle it in this media. Information can be conveyed instantaneously and it can cerate unification of large numbers of people where in the past uprisings could be dispelled by preventing communications outside of the affected area.
For a good read on this topic try: "Here Comes Everybody" by Clay Sharkey.
Pretty interesting fight. Lyoto fought from a front stance at the outside edge of the distance. I looked over all of the fights that I could find of him when I first heard of him on youtube because he has a shotokan background and that is my main emphasis. His speed and timing is phenomenal. I watched the brief about how he trains movement and accuracy on Spike a few days ago. Also pretty interesting. His Dad (his teacher) really emphasized evasiveness I think. If you watch the videos carefully you can see that he uses a changing lead attack (front punch kind of thing). He varies the timing between when he steps and when his hand comes out situationally but he is still changing leads and using that forward motion to attack. Thats also the base of those sweeps methinks.
You can see this very same issue reflected throughout the past history of the martial arts and in the old books and writings. Its also a broader human issue of having the capability to act and yet resisting the pull to abuse.
The issue is not trivial it is central. It is real, and it should be an important consideration of every teacher to pay attention to who you teach. If you teach capability and you don't also try to build an equivalent moral capacity to support that responsibility then there is a problem in martial arts or in any other discipline or field where you have power (like accounting...)
But the original post is about secrecy vs free knowledge in an era where everyone else is free with their knowledge. I think that the fact that there are people out there who are freely sharing ways of fighting doesn't change the issue at all. This has always been the case in history. It doesn't change what i ought to do. I still need to give people chances to learn, get to know who they are, try to teach values of good character, and ultimately to not teach someone if I do not think it is a good idea to do so. And that decision is mine alone. Its up to me to decide where i draw the line recognizing full well that someone else might freely give away the same things that I might not want to talk about with that person.
So about 6 months ago, I had an interesting run in. Having spent a lot of time barefoot, my feet had developed a bit of a tendency for the skin to crack at the heel. Generally I have pretty much ignored this despite the fact that the cracks occasionally get deep enough to cause pain.
I was working out at the Y and as near as I can tell picked up a staph infection through the crack. I presume from the locker room. It was troubling me a bit so I tried to clean up the area with lots of soap and water and kind of working the area with my fingers to remove some of the dried skin. As a result I contracted an infection of the epidermis, known as "cellulitis". The infection had no bump or obvious focal point but instead looked like a deep, red skin rash. In 8 hours it moved from my ankle to the middle of my hamstrings and covered the entire back of my leg.
It took me almost a month of IV antibiotics followed by oral antibiotics to get this under control. It was not MRSA. It was a regular staph infection. It was still pretty dangerous.
My lessons learned:
Cellulitis can kill you if it is not untreated.
Take care of my feet. Rather than letting my heels get so bad that cracks form I now manage the area by abrading calluses down. Your feet do not have to have lots of callus to be tough.
Avoid contact with obviously dirty places like locker room floors. (I won't go into details about what old codger YMCA clients do on locker room and shower floors!)
I have also started wearing a funky kind of shoe made by Vibram called Fivefingers. These things are a kind of sock with toes that is reinforced by a vibram sole. http://www.vibramfivefingers.com/
I saw these on the Crossfit site and then again on a site dedicated to barefoot long distance running. They are comfortable, have really good traction ( almost too good if you need to spin on your foot), and are an amazing conversation starter!
I also am somewhat paranoid about following the CDC general guidelines. I wash my hands a lot and cover open wounds when before I might have ignored it.
I do not recommend allowing yourself to get this malady.
A correlation between more "advanced" society (capitalism, high tech, egalitarian work, and so on) has been documented before though I cannot for the life of me remember the really cool documentary that really emphasized the point to me (apologies). It would seem that birth rates do indeed decline as societies become more egalitarian due to feminist influence but also due the development of labor saving technologies that allow people to live differently than traditional cultures. Such societal developments are in turn a function of the availability of cheap energy. If energy is not cheap then people have to do more physical labor.
The gist of this article is that the Obama campaign itself has forever changed the way that campaigns will be run. The effort was a grass roots effort. It was funded primarily by individual citizens. It made use of the internet in ways heretofore unimagined.
It started me thinking about ways that the world is changing. We argue so much about the ideological differences that people have and yet at a larger scale things can change in ways that almost remove the need to argue.
What if the power of lobbying organizations is forever diminished by the technological advancements that allow individuals working together to have a truly democratic say in how things go?
"The Politics of Fear By Constance Holden ScienceNOW Daily News 18 September 2008
Why do people have the attitudes they do toward social issues such as welfare, abortion, immigration, gay rights, school prayer, and capital punishment? The conventional explanations have to do with their economic circumstances, families, friends, and educations. But new research suggests that people with radically different social attitudes also differ in certain automatic fear responses. Political scientists say the work is evidence that certain attitudes are conditioned by fundamental traits of temperament, which could help explain why it's hard to get a donkey or an elephant to change its coloring. Quite a bit is known about the physiology of response to threat, and some of this can be measured by simple noninvasive tests. So the researchers, headed by Douglas Oxley of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, decided to test the idea that liberal and conservative (or "protective") social beliefs are related to individuals' sensitivity to threat.
The authors first conducted a random telephone survey of Lincoln residents to find some who held strong political opinions. Then 46 selected respondents were invited to come in to the lab and fill in questionnaires to reveal political beliefs and personality traits. Participants were then given two types of tests to measure physiological responses to threat.
First, they were attached to equipment to measure skin conductivity, which rises with emotional stress as the moisture level in skin goes up. Each participant was shown threatening images, such as a bloody face interspersed with innocuous pictures of things such as bunnies, and rise in skin conductance in response to the shocking image was measured. The other measure was the involuntary eye blink that people have in response to something startling, such as a sudden loud noise. The scientists measured the amplitude of blinks via electrodes that detected muscle contractions under people's eyes.
The researchers found that both of these responses correlated significantly with whether a person was liberal or conservative socially. Subjects who had expressed a high level of support for policies "protecting the social unit" showed a much larger change in skin conductance in response to alarming photos than those who didn't support such policies. Similarly, the mean blink amplitude for the socially protective subjects was significantly higher, the team reports in tomorrow's issue of Science. Co-author Kevin Smith says the results showed that automatic fear responses are better predictors of protective attitudes than sex or age (men and older people tend to be more conservative).
How are body and belief connected? The authors point out that family and twin studies have revealed strong genetic influences both for liberal-versus-conservative views and for people's sensitivity to threat. They speculate that the correlation could have something to do with the patterns of neural activity surrounding the amygdala, the seat of fear in the brain.
"These findings are extremely important," says political scientist James Fowler at the University of California, San Diego, who has been doing research linking certain gene variations to political activity. "In essence, the authors have filled in a 'missing link' between genes and brains on the one hand and psychological personalities and political attitudes on the other." He adds that the subject pool is limited to "a handful of white subjects from Nebraska, ... but many great ideas start with a simple test."
The editors suggest the following Related Resources on Science sites: In Science Magazine REPORTS Political Attitudes Vary with Physiological Traits Douglas R. Oxley, Kevin B. Smith, John R. Alford, Matthew V. Hibbing, Jennifer L. Miller, Mario Scalora, Peter K. Hatemi, and John R. Hibbing (19 September 2008) Science 321 (5896), 1667. [DOI: 10.1126/science.1157627] | Abstract » | Full Text » | PDF » | Supporting Online Material »
"Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies the five moral values that form the basis of our political choices, whether we're left, right or center. In this eye-opening talk, he pinpoints the moral values that liberals and conservatives tend to honor most.
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt studies morality and emotion in the context of culture. He asks: Why did humans evolve to have morals -- and why did we all evolve to have such different morals, to the point that our moral differences may make us deadly enemies? It's a question with deep repercussions in war and peace -- and in modern politics, where reasoned discourse has been replaced by partisan anger and cries of "You just don't get it!"
I think the concepts in this video relate to a lot of things that have been discussed on this forum including why a tribe is appealing.
The audience is attending a conference called TED (Technology, Education, Design?)
I lived in Alaska for approximately 7 years. For all its hugeness, the state is tiny population wise. I lived in a town of 2000. I traveled frequently through the Matanuska Susitna Valley which is where Wasilla is. Lots of things happen in Alaska that are kind of "bush league" (hence the expression perhaps) with regard to government and community. The people are diverse but there are strong conservative and evangelical leanings in many places. People have moved there to escape having anyone tell them how to live. Up in the remoteness of Alaska they can do it their way more easily than in the lower 48. Very independent.
Nothing that is presented in this article surprises me. Lots of communities in Alaska have the flavor of being rough around the edges and a bit wild. While Wasilla is only 30 miles from Anchorage and has many modern amenities, it is insular to live there as it is in much of Alaska. People go to Alaska to be left alone and they are fiercely independent to a fault. There is much I admire in this but there is also much that is the result of escaping a larger more complex world. It results in communities that have very unique flavors and ways of doing things. In some of them you fit in or you don't. This article in its description of Sarah Palin reminds me of all of that.
I still have friends in Alaska. Some of them are involved in politics up there. I have asked them about all of this. They expressed a lot of concern over the amount of power that is being offered to Wasilla's former mayor and Alaska's governor.
I do think that Sarah Palin reminds me of common folk in many rural communities and I can certainly see the attraction that she has for many people in the blue collar places in the country. But she reminds me of the dark side of the common folk I am afraid. Those aspects of the smaller communities where to be different is bad, where being intelligent must be hidden, and where there is a RIGHT way to think as opposed to open discourse. I am basing this on the several weeks of watching and listening to the media but also and more importantly on my personal connections with friends in Alaska who have confirmed my fears that this person shoots from the hip in a way that does not sit well with me.
I know lots of people in the more rural places that I have lived who I admire greatly, who are calm and wise, and who express the very best of what people are. In those small communities people can band together and support one another in a way that is refreshing. At times of challenge ideologies are swept away. So that is a good thing. But what I am reading and learning about this person does not remind me enough of those positive features to make me even close to being comfortable with her as vice president. In this way I think that her addition to the republican ticket, while in some ways clever, actually detracts.
What does this explain? I think I get the flavor of your response. That most people focus less on thinking and emphasize other ways of interacting with the world than that. There are several points that can be brought up.
Sometimes I rely on my intuition or my feelings to make decisions. When is this valid and when is it not?
If people can be influenced by things other than rational argument, then is it ok to use those approaches that appeal to emotion or encourage intuition in order to persuade?
When I was in graduate school, I had a friend from Iran, named Hank that worked in the same lab as me. This was right about when the Ayatollah Khomeini took power. My friend returned to Iran at that time to support the Ayatollah so you know that he was strongly influenced towards fundamentalism. I remember a discussion that I had with him about the media. It seems that his point of view about the media and "truth" was that the truth was very relative. It was relative to passion, to the capacity to persuade, to the presentation. He believed that there was no objectivity that really mattered. He also believed that it was the obligation of the media to support the efforts of the Ayatollah by being as persuasive as possible in that regard. He believed that "Truth" occurred when everything was done with the intention of doing the right thing e.g. follow the fundamentalist beliefs that he espoused.
So when I listen to political speeches that argue in an emotional way, smoke and mirrors, misrepresenting, appealing to the common man ( example: "Oh, and she has an 80 percent approval rating among Alaskans.” —Doug Patton" the implication being that because she has an 80% approval rating among Alaskans that this is somehow useful or valuable in evaluating whether she is worthy to be a vice president??!! or "but there’s a tone of contemptuous dismissiveness about the experience that she does have" which is an emotionally based argument which ultimately also has nothing to do with anyone's capacity to serve) I have to ask the question....what is the difference?
Certainly, their is justification for paying attention to other modalities of "knowing" and that communicating is appropriately and simultaneously emotion laden as well as rational. There are times when feelings and intuition are most certainly valid. But here is the thing. At the end of the day one thing that constitutes proof and helps to clarify the truth is coherence. Coherence, or integrity, among the various methods of observation, the methods of knowing, and the theories. Coherence in world view. At the end of the day, if we are really looking at the truth, then feelings, intuition, sensations, and reasoning all mesh in a single coherent understanding. If science contradicts religion, then something is not yet completely understood. If the model of the atom is inadequate to explain contradictions then the model is changed until it is coherent with all that we presently know. The purpose of argument and discourse is to uncover the contradictions and to explain them...to take facts and build coherency. When emotion and fact contradict figure out the depth. Figure out why. As you do that a deeper understanding occurs. The nature of the observer becomes as important as that which is observed because why someone might feel something helps to explain the context.
There is this idea that the average person is incapable of thinking in any way. But even though I said it in a fancy way its more about common sense than anything else. A cynicism of the age comes from a bunch of people trained in marketing constantly presenting bull**** to the point where people no longer believe that there is anyone out there that could possibly be a straight shooter or maybe even that straight shooting is a myth. And so why not lie. Why not blow smoke. They could be friends of ol' Hank. But down deep everyone knows the sensation of having smoke blown up yer *** and down deep lots of people hate that lack of integrity.
When I was in high school, I had the good fortune to have an English teacher that also taught a course in logic. At grade 10, I had my first exposure to both formal and informal logic. One of the things that has stuck with me over the years has been an appreciation for the informal fallacies of logic. This does not mean that my arguments are necessarily more logical, only that I was exposed to the concepts of a course in logic.
"The Misuse of Appeal to Laughter: Diverts attention from the central issues and stifles serious thought and analysis. "Anyone who accepts the conclusions of my opponent would also be forced to accept the view that the tail wags the dog."
The Appeal to Pity (Argumentum Ad Misericordiam): Replaces relevant evidence for a conclusion with a bid for the sympathy of an audience. "John deserves a 'C' in this class since his parents have sacrificed to send him to college and he will not graduate if he receives a lower grade."
The Appeal to Reverence: Replaces relevant evidence for a conclusion with a bid for respect for traditions. "We must beware of foreign entangling alliances since Washington, the founder of our nation, warned us against taking such a course of action."
The Bandwagon Fallacy: Appeals to an interest in following the crowd and doing as they do rather than to adequate evidence justifying a conclusion. "You ought to buy a small European sports car as all members of the smart crowd now own one of these cars."
The Common-Folks Appeal: Appeals to attempts to secure acceptance of a conclusion by the speaker's identification with the everyday concerns and feelings of an audience rather than on the basis of adequate evidence. "I'm sure that you will recognize that I am more competent than my opponent. When I was in high school I had to get up at four-thirty every morning to deliver papers. In college I was barely able to make C's and had to do janitorial work in order to make ends meet to put myself through school. Therefore, I would make a better Congressman."
Appeal to the Gallery (Argumentum Ad Populum): Seeks acceptance of a point of view by an emotional reaffirmation of a speaker's support of values, traditions, interests, prejudices, or provincial concerns shared widely by members of an audience. "As you union members know, I am a champion of the labor movement, and seek to eliminate exploitation of the common worker by big business. Therefore, you know you can trust my judgment when I say that this agricultural legislation will be good for the country."
Much of political rhetoric makes use of arguments that are based on informal fallacies. For example, to nullify an argument by placing it in a disreputable larger category is one example the informal fallacy of logic called "Name Tagging"
"Name-Tagging: Assumes the attachment of labels to persons or things constitute evidence for conclusions about the objects to which the labels are applied." How many of the above short list of fallacies can you identify from the recent conventions?
Its amusing to listen to political speeches with an ear tuned to pick up informal fallacies of logic. Quite frankly that includes some of the arguments put forth on these boards.
Do you think that it is reasonable to purposefully recognize when informal fallacies are being used and to point them out as a means of furthering a discussion? In other words, if someone is making an argument based on such premises is it a requirement of reasoned discourse to point it out?
Perhaps this is a bit of a rhetorical question.
So I will broach another topic...what constitutes proof? How do you know when something is true? How do you distinguish between opinion and fact? What is a fact?
This kind of "thinking about thinking" is important. For example, highly persuasive, emotional argument (name calling for example) is not about the truth yet much political rhetoric and even argument that occurs between colleagues is filled with this and other fallacious arguments. If the average person is not educated in fundamentals of argument then it is harder to find the truth is it not?
When you listen to politics is it possible to identify people who are trying to find the truth versus people who are trying to win? Is winning what matters? Do the ends justify the means? If political speeches become so bent on persuasion that they freely invoke informal fallacies and this is considered to be acceptable, is this not an example of the ends justifying the means?
Perhaps I have been watching too much CNN! As usual, I offer my thoughts in the interest of open discourse.
I have lots of questions about studies like this, especially when they get reported in the popular press. Popular reiterations of research like this often report on the sensational aspects of it.
The test groups were actually pretty homogeneous (hockey players of the same race for the most part). This is good for the experiment because it controls for such differences . But how much does this correlation hold outside of the test group? Whole cultural and racial groups have rounder faces than others. Are there similar findings among those groups?
Correlation does not imply causation. Just because two things vary with one another does not necessarily mean much. Here is an explanation of the method used in this study:
"The main result of a correlation is called the correlation coefficient (or "r"). It ranges from -1.0 to +1.0. The closer r is to +1 or -1, the more closely the two variables are related.
If r is close to 0, it means there is no relationship between the variables. If r is positive, it means that as one variable gets larger the other gets larger. If r is negative it means that as one gets larger, the other gets smaller (often called an "inverse" correlation).
While correlation coefficients are normally reported as r = (a value between -1 and +1), squaring them makes then easier to understand. The square of the coefficient (or r square) is equal to the percent of the variation in one variable that is related to the variation in the other. After squaring r, ignore the decimal point. An r of .5 means 25% of the variation is related (.5 squared =.25). An r value of .7 means 49% of the variance is related (.7 squared = .49).
A correlation report can also show a second result of each test - statistical significance. In this case, the significance level will tell you how likely it is that the correlations reported may be due to chance in the form of random sampling error. If you are working with small sample sizes, choose a report format that includes the significance level. This format also reports the sample size.
A key thing to remember when working with correlations is never to assume a correlation means that a change in one variable causes a change in another. Sales of personal computers and athletic shoes have both risen strongly in the last several years and there is a high correlation between them, but you cannot assume that buying computers causes people to buy athletic shoes (or vice versa)." from http://www.surveysystem.com/correlation.htm
Just because someone has a round face does not prove that they will be violent. Making that assumption would place a whole bunch of people in a category that would not be accurate for them. There are greater correlations that mean more (which also generate incorrect presumptions).
So they found a mild correlation between face shape and the number of penalties accrued. So the next question is "is it significant or important in any way?"
Are the guys with the round faces more prone to dastardly deeds or are they the "heroes" of the hockey team? Lots of times the accruers of penalties are the enforcers. Hockey by design is a rough game. Maybe these guys are actually the ones doing the job that is expected of them.
The other part of the study that tried to predict the number of penalties as a function of a test taken that was supposed to indicate "trait dominance"
"Participants completed a 10-item questionnaire assessing trait dominance (International Personality Item Pool scales; Goldberg et al. 2006). Some examples of items include ‘Like having authority over others’ and ‘Want to be in charge’. Responses were scored on a Likert scale ranging from K2 (very inaccurate) to C2 (very accurate), and had high reliability (Cronbach’s alphaZ0.82)."
What does it mean that this test gave an insignificant result? Why isn't this correlated to number of penalties as well? Its a questions that they brought up and there is no explanation for it.
nothing wrong with the paper. But scientific studies are often portrayed as though they are more than they are by popular press. I don't see much in this paper that would peak my interest beyond being mildly interesting. It won't make me look askance at my cheerful polish friend with the gentle disposition and extremely wide face other than to send him the article and innocently ask him if he has neanderthal roots as a joke
Too many words in my previous response eh? I can do that!
My point is simply that we cannot exclude a constant self evaluation of our own beliefs and ideologies, holding them up to an even more rigorous standard than we do when evaluating others.
I think that people forget to do this. Over time they begin to react out of well worn habit to different positions. Formalized this lack of self evaluation (or evaluation of our own ideas) is what allows rigid thinking such as fundamentalism, bureaucratic mindsets, martial arts that are theoretically based rather than reality based and so on to creep into being.
I think I am talking about the Knightly virtue of Humility, which must be infused as a glue throughout all the other virtues.
When I referred to "education that combats ideologies of all sorts " I really meant that I want to see kids taught to debate, question, and think for themselves. The more people are given the skills that they need to think through complex ideas and beliefs on their own to come to a conclusion that is based on the bedrock of their own understanding and the less they just buy into an ideology the better. Its probably idealistic to think that everyone is actually capable of doing this. But with this as the fundamental principle, folks not so inclined to think deeply will still be existing in a milieu where this is the accepted thing to do.
The cool thing about the foundation of the United States is that it is based on premises that ground us firmly in such bedrock.
We probably have to define ideology more specifically or at least clarify what each of us means. When I refer to ideology or "being ideologically based" here, I mean specifically belief systems where the main justification for the belief is "that is what WE believe in". By definition, being ideologically based means that you first make a decision to believe a certain set of beliefs and THEN you go about justifying your beliefs and not the other way around.
The real definition of ideology is more broad than this. Wikipedias definition:
"An ideology is an organized collection of ideas. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things (compare Weltanschauung), as in common sense (see Ideology in everyday society below) and several philosophical tendencies (see Political ideologies), or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society. The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer change in society through a normative thought process. Ideologies are systems of abstract thought (as opposed to mere ideation) applied to public matters and thus make this concept central to politics. Implicitly every political tendency entails an ideology whether or not it is propounded as an explicit system of thought."
So I am probably incorrect in using the term as I am using it....with a negative connotation. I like the way "being ideologically based" rolls off the tongue I guess.
I think that the ideology upon which the US was founded REQUIRES us to be responsible and intelligent individuals. What I grew up with was a requirement to look at our own beliefs directly and with a critical eye first before ever presuming to have the moral authority to judge someone else. So yeah, I think that we should constantly evaluate our own ideologies even to the point of starting over if necessary. First think for yourself and teach your children to think for yourself. THEN decide if you agree. Not the other way around. (Blindly agree then justify it with all manner of rationalization). I am not sure how well this concept is understood these days...
The Declaration of Independence actually requires us to evaluate our own behaviour and revolt if the government strays from the original concept. It requires us to be intelligent and critical of our own belief systems:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."
Response to your second comment:
Where did you get that definition?
After thinking a bit and doing some reviewing I am pretty sure that your description of secular humanism is not accurate. My favorite quick and dirty source, Wikipedia states the following about secular humanism and this jives with what I remember from university:
"Secular humanism is a humanist philosophy that upholds reason, ethics and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural and the spiritual as warrants of moral reflection and decision-making. Like other types of humanism, secular humanism is a life stance focusing on the way human beings can lead good and happy lives."
Secular humanism describes a world view with the following elements and principles:
* Need to test beliefs – A conviction that dogmas, ideologies and traditions, whether religious, political or social, must be weighed and tested by each individual and not simply accepted on faith. * Reason, evidence, scientific method – A commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, in seeking solutions to human problems and answers to important human questions. * Fulfillment, growth, creativity – A primary concern with fulfillment, growth and creativity for both the individual and humankind in general. * Search for truth – A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it. * This life – A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us. * Ethics – A search for viable individual, social and political principles of ethical conduct, judging them on their ability to enhance human well-being and individual responsibility. * Building a better world – A conviction that with reason, an open exchange of ideas, good will, and tolerance, progress can be made in building a better world for ourselves and our children.
A Secular Humanist Declaration was an argument for and statement of belief in Democratic Secular Humanism."
About religion and secular humanism: "Secular humanism is a broad philosophic position and not limited to be simply a statement about belief or non-belief in God. Accordingly, secular humanism can not be equated with nontheism, atheism, or agnosticism. Although many non-theists, atheists, and agnostics adhere to the tenets of secular humanism, this is not intrinsically the case."
Just like any belief system, over time what starts out as being kinda simple, straightforward and reasonable gets morphed into something else if the critical mind is lulled into sleep. I think that you are referring to something that may have warped over time and got called secular humanism. But I know that modern psychology and counseling was strongly influenced by specific psychological theories that are probably more pertinent here. One was behavioral psychology (Skinner). Another was Humanistic psychology (Carl Rogers). Skinner believed that all behaviour could be explained as a function of stimulus, response and conditioning. Rogers espoused a way of counseling that was in some ways a reaction to Behaviorism and the prior psychoanalytic theory of Freud. Both eroded the idea that behaviour was built into us.
From Wikipedia again:
"There are several factors which distinguish the Humanistic Approach [Rogerian] from other approaches within psychology, including the emphasis on subjective meaning, a rejection of determinism, and a concern for positive growth rather than pathology."
These concepts of subjective meaning and rejection of determinism (no biological basis for behaviour) infused themselves into many aspects of counseling and education. These ideas strongly influenced feminism as well which is what GM was referring to I think. At one point any suggestion that there was a biological basis to behaviour was met with censure and resistance to the point where proponents of a biological basis of behaviour were at risk. I was there in the university environment at that time and saw this repeatedly.
The belief in a relativistic truth and the malleability of behaviour to social influence still influences lots of places but this is not nearly as strong as it used to be. With improved methods of analyzing the brain and genetics, the biological basis of behaviour has gained in strength as well as a more eclectic approach to helping people that accounts for cultural backgrounds, spiritual metaphor, and even a return to psychoanalytic approach in the guise of what is called self psychology.
In conclusion I am trying to make several points:
1. I don't think that secular humanism is the source of what our are objecting to. 2. Psychological theory in the 60s, rather than secular humanism per se strongly influenced people in education and this in turn influenced university teaching and opened the door for radical feminist ideologies. 3. I did not mention this earlier but Feminism was also strongly influenced by some specific philosophers...Foucault comes to mind as one. Somewhere in the philosophy influenced is a link to Marxist thought. Its too late for me to find references regarding this tonight so I may need to clarify or rescind point 3 later. Your last quote reminds me a little of this which is why I am mentioning it now.
"Notwithstanding this, the liberal- secular humanist-PC-Democratic ideology seeks to impose parity in all areas via the coercive powers of the State."
Just out of curiosity, do you see such issues as a distinct and encompassing ideology? I do not in the sense that I might identify a "Fundamentalist Ideology" or a "Communist Ideology". Secular humanism ideology definitely extends throughout much of present day though and I think its expression is much more subtle. Is that ideology what you see as responsible for gender issues? In some ways I can see your point and particularly how governments can really muck things up however...
I need to think about this a bit. I think what troubles me about an ideological premise for such issues is that it always boils down to an us or them kind of package. I rarely fit into the supplied ideological packages. I can see people who adopt ways of thinking on both sides of the liberal/conservative fence that are ideologically based. I am not sure if you are presenting this way of thinking or not hence my question above.
What bothers me about any ideologically based thinking is that people abandon intelligent analysis in favor of just buying the whole package. Intelligent, thoughtful liberals have more in common with intelligent, thoughtful conservatives than either has with their ideological compatriots who just buy the whole program whatever it is.
In other words, any argument that is based on informal fallacies of logic or poor information bothers me. This is why I strongly believe in open discourse and freedom of speech and dislike PCness or any form of censure.
People tend to stop analyzing their own beliefs and thoughts way too early. This is a problem of education. For example, as a school teacher many moons ago, I would ask a question like "How does Natural Selection work?" and many student's responses would be one word game show answers like "DNA". In many classrooms kids actually manage to get away with such things with only a sigh and a head shake from the teacher. That to me is the beginning of ideologies and that peculiar kind of ignorance that can co-exist with lots and lots of facts.
I prefer an educational system that requires an intellectual "gathering of the pack" as a basis of combating ideologies of all sorts. Now wouldn't that be something?
As I read the past few posts, including my own, I began to think about how "facts" and statistics are widely available these days and how it is not sufficient to produce large volumes of information in order to make a point. What is the point of the past few postings? Also when trying to figure out the truth amidst the piles and piles of second source information that abounds in the media...if I really want to know I generally always go to the source material upon which the information is based. To actually see the initial papers and to evaluate the methods directly is the only way to determine the efficacy of the secondary information that exists. Secondary information almost takes on the reliability level of heresay.
Christina Hoff Sommers wrote and important book called "Who Stole Feminism" where she returns to the source material and provides many examples of where the original source work is either inadequate or grossly miisquoted and yet false conclusions are widely disseminated throughout the media. This book really reminded me that you have to listen with a very critical mind to all things.
At any rate:
1. Rachel's post about girls achieving parity in math scores says something to the effect: "in this one recent study comparing math skills of girls and boys, the AVERAGE scores of girls and boys on certain fundamental skills tests that do not emphasize higher math skills very much are relatively equal. One implied fact is that this is different from before.
2. My post asked if the differences seen were due to boys average scores declining or girls increasing. I then went on to add additional statistical information from the census bureau comparing girls and boys across a variety of metrics. My implication is that there seems to be evidence that boys have significant problems that need to be addressed.
3. GM added that regardless of average scores in such tests, the spread of scores between girls and boys differs. So even if the average scores are the same, the spread of scores for boys is greater than for girls with more dunderheads but also more geniuses appearing at either end. This then would explain why there are still more boys in higher level mathematics and physics positions.
Have I summed this up correctly?
I need to check sources of this statement but it is true that in general there are fewer men in college and in graduate schools than women. Examining this in more detail seems to be important for many reasons. This goes above and beyond gender parity issues.
Personally I think that discussions around disparities between groups are interesting and useful but such information need not be divisive. For issues that I care about, I would rather keep trying to dig through the morass of secondary information to find original sources that drive the media hearsay.
What I want is to have all our kids in good shape. Gender is not an issue in this sense. Still it is useful to look at the differences between boys and girls so as to best provide for their needs.
Also, is the parity in scores between girls and boys math scores achieving parity due to girls scores increasing, boys scores decreasing or a combination of both? I tend to watch gender issues from the additional perspective of what has been happening to boys. I want to see both boys and girls in good shape and capable. There are some disturbing trends that I have mentioned in another post which I will reiterate here:
The mission of The Boys Project is to help young males develop their capabilities and reach the potential that their families and teachers know they have. The Boys Project seeks to accomplish for young men what the Girls Project so successfully accomplished for young women--- to increase academic skills, to increase college success, and to develop the confidence, drive, and determination to contribute to American society.
THE "BOY CRISIS"
Since the late 1970's, young women have soared in college attendance while young men have stagnated. Young men's literacy is declining. Many young men are disengaging from school. Young men are less likely to be valedictorians, to be on the honor roll, and to be active in organizations like student government. Young men are more likely to get D's and F's, to be suspended or expelled from school, to drop out of school, and to commit suicide.
We are losing young boys to a sense of failure that comes from schooling poorly adapted to their needs. We are losing adolescent males to the depression that comes from feeling neither needed nor respected. We are losing young men to life tracks that include neither college nor any other energetic endeavor.
A large, sullen, poorly educated group of men will not keep the nation vital in the twenty-first century. The nation needs the energy, initiative, and ambition of its young men as well as its young women. "
Some statistics about Boys that I think are important ...also from the Boys Project Website:
Many moons ago when I coached in high school, we used some intense antibacterial cleaning agent that was commercially available for wrestling mats. We washed the mats before and after practice every day. We also stringently followed the guidelines about showering and washing and getting the kids to bring fresh clothing and not share equipment.
Regarding the transmission of HIV and other bloodborn illnesses, I have used hand guards that are the old fashioned white pads with a thumb hole. Apparently these are cheap, washable, and prevent splatter. They don't do much to pad impact.
Have you considered asking fighters at gatherings to get tested for HIV/other things prior to the Gatherings?
This is turning out to be a fairly interesting thread that is bringing up a more complex considerations. Perhaps this is moving away from the original thread a bit but...
It illustrates that the world is not a black and white place when it comes to what is right and wrong and what is the right action in a given situation. Extreme situations are often easy to make conjectures about while more common complicated situations there is less certainty over what is the appropriate path to take. It is creating cognitive dissonance...that place where we can confront our own contradictions in thoughts and where growth occurs.
Thinking deeply about this has led me to thinking about tribes...how its easier to be clear when one of your family and/or tribe is threatened. Looking over the fence is different than something happening in your own house because those over there are not familiar to us, not in the same tribe.
But isn't that often at the root of many larger conflicts? Differentiating between your tribe and others? By not including those others its easier to depersonalize whats going on on both large and small scales.
One way of improving relationships between groups is to get the "tribes" to see one another as part of the same group.
We started out looking at several individual circumstances and I am finding myself thinking about this in the larger context of conflicts between groups.
I heard on the news today that CA prisons are going to desegregate their living arrangements to break down perceived differences between races and groups. I am wondering if this relates in some way to this conversation..about seeing others as close or separate, same or different.
Like I said I am finding this thread to be very thought provoking.
Once again I am reminded of the careful consideration that needs to take place to clearly communicate on the net. I am not sure that I made it clear that I was referring to 2 different situations. The first was the incident that I witnessed with the woman being beaten. The second was the OP about the man who was beating a child to death.
The point that you seem to be making in several of your responses is that you have to think things through very carefully if you find yourself in a situation where something is occurring because there are many hidden dangers to "sticking your nose" into other people's business. If that is your intention I agree with you.
Many of the postings that I have read concerning real life incidents here often are about the contingency of what you might do if help is not available and you are witness to something very bad happening. At what point do you choose to act?
With regard to this, if you see someone assaulting someone else, is it "sticking your nose into other people's business to turn around and watch?" How about saying something , carefully worded to decrease the energy of the situation if you see an escalation? What are the consequences to even these relatively mild actions? These are rhetorical questions. The point being that yeah there can be consequences and its good if you are acting in a way that allows you to avoid stepping into big problems. But what if something really bad is happening and something needs to be done right here right now?
I think that you are right 100% about potential consequences. Sometimes interceding can land you in a whole lot of hurt and perhaps even justifiable legal trouble. So where do you draw the line between interceding and not doing so? I think that is the point of this whole thread in a way. That and a bunch of people standing there watching a baby get beaten to death.
In the case of what I witnessed with the couple...the point was that it only took some people focusing on this guy to make him stop. That's all it took. In that mild case people showing an interest stopped some woman from being beaten at least temporarily. That's probably good you know. Give the guy sometime to cool off, her time to think...that sort of thing. In the case of the original post (OP), the child attacker seemed to have something serious going on...beyond just a case of being angry.
I still think that you have a point about choosing when to intercede though. Sometimes things that are not what they seem.
But If you saw a man brutally murdering a child would that be enough to make you act? What if you were not an adept at fighting? Would you still act? What if the only way that you could come up with was really brutal in return? One of the points of martial arts is to provide the capacity to deliver. Another point is to provide more options. Correct me if I am wrong but "training" often requires greater responsibility in terms of decisions and escalating level of response than an untrained defender in the courts. My comment about using a truck and a rope was mildly facetious. I was thinking what a fellow might do if he wanted to intercede but did not feel capable of physically fighting. I was kidding in a way...but maybe the real point is that there are creative ways to intercede in such situations.
You know... John Wayne lassoing the bastard and draggin' em down the street a ways till he cooooled off? (facetious alert)
In my work as a wildlife biologist I have had a few occasions to handle bears and other pretty dangerous critters. The absolutely most sensible way to handle a bear is from as far away as possible, with the bear in a cage or tranquilized. In my case, I was the one on the ground rolling a tranquilized bear out of the cargo net he had been transported in (conscious but unable to move...his eyes were on me the whole time....rather disconcerting). Handling people in real life situations is the same and more so. If you can manage things from a distance, in safety from legalities and physical threat and you choose to jump right in there ...yeah thats the kind of thing you end up kicking yourself for later. But there are also situations that require action are there not?
I also did not make it clear that I was commenting on what someone without training might do but upon the above reflection it is good advice for anyone trained or not trained to use the safest and most tactically sound approach of handling problems. That only makes sense.
I have not gotten the impression that careless action is espoused on this forum.
So I was not clear in my earlier post that I was referring in the end to the original post of the fellow beating the child to death.
I still like the image of dropping a rope over the baby beater, and "draggin em down the street a ways" though.
This past weekend, I was going to the store and I drove past a pretty large First Nations fellow, manhandling his girlfriend. He was yelling and screaming and although I did not see it, I think he was slapping her around. I stopped my car and started to walk over to the guy. At the same time about 6 other men did the same thing. On of them visible took out a cell phone and started dialing. I was to one side and about 4 of the other men were on the other. We are about 50 feet away. In this case, the fellow noticed.
He started talking to the crowd. Saying really loud things like "Whats your problem?" and shooting the bird. No one approached but no one left. He kept chest pounding and walked to his car shaking his head. His girlfriend got in with him.
Something mild perhaps compared to the above horrendous story. Sometimes the right combination of things match up. The guys awareness was still there. He wasn't enraged nby the time people had gathered. The proximity of the people around him, the witnesses, the phone call, and the growing attention was enough in this case.
The story above, seems way past that. Very bizarre.
How about a belt looped over the guys head tied to a truck?
I wonder at the response of men and fathers in Scotland to this. Perhaps one of the folks from there would know. What I have noticed about the reaction of men to such slights...is a deafening absence of a response. The article said that one group called the decision to do this absurd. That's good. Wonder what happened after that?
You really do not see lots of protests from men about being marginalized or put down in such ways. Perhaps there is the ancestral guilt that binds men from saying that they think such things are unfair, or fear that they will arouse the wraith of women, or they cannot in their own minds state objections to such drivel without simultaneously feeling weak. Perhaps the group mind of the cultures that we live in still sees a large imbalance between the genders such that holding men on a short leash is still the norm and men themselves wear the leash willingly...
But here is the thing. I have discovered that calmly and rationally saying the truth of how such things make me feel with no outrage or reactiveness combats this sort of thing. If I am vocal and engage in "constructive trouble making" with clear eyes people see the other side.
I wish that more men would say such things like "That action prevents my children from connecting with me in a way that matters and I don't like it." out loud and in public....like the drunken uncle at the wedding who cannot help but say what he's really thinking (minus the drunken part). Just being honest and forthright and letting feathers get ruffled, chips fall where they may...constructive trouble making.
I think that there are times when the world goes chaotic. At those times people get scared and they lose their connection. Often those crazy times occur because of some catastrophe. People who dwell on the far fringes of character can become feral and even the best of the best can be moved to savagery.
Catastrophes can be abrupt. But at other times, things can slowly increase the pressure on people. Things like increasing population pressure, people having to compete for EVERYTHING, or maybe even times of decadence where noble virtues are neglected for some reason...things you would just as soon walk away from but maybe you cannot for one reason or another.
I think that often this background pressure is intense and people don't even know it. Acknowledging this does not excuse people loosing it. It does help to explain why things go wonky sometimes. Once again, at those times, there are people who are capable of holding themselves together even in the face of that pressure and even then respond with nobility.
Here is an interesting story that I think relates.
Once upon a time (heh) I was a school teacher too. I taught for a while and then decided to move on to some other things. In the transition time between careers, I substitute taught for a while.
This was in Anchorage Alaska. One day, I got a call to work at the larger school there. When I arrived, it turned out that I was to teach the "bonehead" math classes. These are the very basic math classes that are used as fillers and to meet requirements for lots of underachieving kids. I went to my classroom which was, I kid you not, at the bottom of a stairwell underneath the stairs in a hall.
The substitute job was typical. They had left some lame boring material and expected me to teach that (worksheets) and then let them watch videos for the remainder of the class. The kids were tough guys every one of them. They were coarse and abrasive and as a sub I was cannon fodder.
So after attempting to teach this stuff, I suddenly got an urge to not follow the "lesson plan". Rather than showing a video I said, " You know, I can see a lot of bored and antagonistic looks right about now and I don't blame you. Look at where you are sitting and what you are doing. No wonder. Then I started talking about rites of passage and the knighthood. Some of the things that I said above and more. It was too long ago for me to remember what I said beyond that.
At the end of the session, these kids stood up and applauded. Not just a little but a lot. I was quite frankly reacting to the appalling situation more out of disgust but when I got into it I let my passion show. These people...the ones that you would never ever think would get it....they got it. That incident reminded me that we are all in a struggle to find our nobility whether we realize it or not.
I figure that these archetypes of nobility resonate somewhere in all of us. That is why courage matters. If you act with integrity and courage...it can inflame that same energy in others...
sometimes as a teacher you find out years later that some small thing that you did or said had a major impact on a kids life ( and sometimes NOT ) . I think most of the time it is our passion and our character that affects people more than what we actually say though. And all those cynical people out there ...they were in those classrooms once.
I am not sure that my way of explaining this will resonate with you but:
I meet a lot of fellows with the sentiments that you are expressing. I think that in some ways the folks that you are looking at are actually responding to the same sentiments. Where you are sitting back and feeling a bit disillusioned, they have responded with cynicism and anger and a selfishness that says "Screw the rest of the world, I am going to take care of me". I have actually met relatively few people who I would call genuinely evil, but I have met tons of people who I would call ignorant, afraid, reactive, and so on.
I mirror Crafty's responses to you by saying that my father once told me that 75% of the people out there were "messed up". He also said that being a good man isn't supposed to be easy. I think that the implication is that if you set for yourself the goal of living life with character (as defined by yourself since by my reckoning your own assessment of what right is what counts) then expect challenge in your life.
Please forgive the heavy metaphor but the kinds of challenges that you will face are Knightly. When you decide to live a life of high character, expect to feel alone. There are not masses and groups of people doing this. All along the way you will choose by definition a path that diverges from the norm. Expect to be weary of seeing all manner of behavior that does not live up to your values. By definition of the choice you make, thats going to be true.
The bright side of this choice to live more nobly, is that despite the loneliness and the weariness you are not alone. There are people all over who are shining...who are living according to values. They are separated from you by a sea of darkness (at least that is how it feels sometimes). But to me that is the point and the relevance of those who choose a path of nobility. If not for the darkness the knight would not be what he is.
All the people who are trying to live with character are comrades. So in reality you are not alone.
A person that chooses to do this (live overtly with character) will be like a beacon. If you are really walking the talk you will influence people around you just by living with integrity...with your presence. You have an opportunity to promote something different in the world than what you see. The way is to become an example, not to bemoan that others don't get it or to proselytize. I don't believe in proselytizing. The only way is by example.
If you truly believe in certain values then you will work to integrate them into your life in all respects. It's a huge vow to take on.. to truly become integrated around your values. The act of doing this is as serious as life and death. By taking such a vow and trying to carry it into action in daily life you start on a path that leads you to a bunch of lessons. You learn for example that what you thought was noble about yourself might not be. You will figure out that there is a kind of arrogance about aspiring and comparing to others and that knowledge will make you humble. You will realize that all the people out there that you think suck ( and they probably DO SUCK) are also and simultaneously struggling and attempting and failing and making concessions to fear....and ...they are not all that different from you in a way. So one lesson is about the humility that you have to have to completely realize your own values.
So in the the sequel to Once and Future King...The Book of Merlin I think its called...King Arthur is standing on the battlefield. His bastard son Mordred has succeeded in destroying the Knights of the Round Table and the ideal that Arthur brought into being called Camelot. That alone is interesting since Mordred came out of Arthur's own loins.
He is standing there looking at the ruin of the Battlefield and thinking very UnArthurly cynical thoughts and doubting himself and a young kid comes up to him and says "Where is the King?"
Arthur says "What King?" Kid "King Arthur of course, I want to join the Knights of the Round Table."
At that moment Arthur looks out over the sea. Its a day of cool breezes and mild waves. The sun, hitting the surface of the ocean plays over the waves and creates millions of "shiny drops" that play in an ever changing pattern. Arthur realizes that this is the nature of the Knighthood. The shiny drops are the knights, who come and go over time amidst the deep dark ocean of humanity. Sometimes there are dark times and sometimes the sea is awash with light...but the Knights always arise, making the ocean seem a bright place.
That passage which I paraphrased to an outrageous extent, really hit me when I read it in my 20's.
Dunno if this resonates with you but there ya go.
P.S. I just re-read this and it sounded heavier (cornier ?) than I intended. Nevertheless, I won't change it and just let it rest as is. The sentiment is honest.
Today was an interesting day for me. I have three sons. Two are grown, and one is a step son with a mild form of autism.
Events of the day:
I wake up and my step son gives me a card. It says
"Happy Fathers Day Great Old Mike!" You are are a great man. You are very strong. I love you.
WOW. I thought. Lukey doesn't often communicate that directly. I actually wasn''t sure what he thought of me. I have a "male way" of communicating with my boys. Sometimes you wonder if they get it. They do.
Second event. Relates to the Relaxed vs prepared thread...
I go to the hardware store with Luke in the car. As we are leaving a big burley fellow apparently gets annoyed with me for making him have to slow down as he walked into the store as I am driving past. Without thinking I say "Mind your manners pal!" out the window. He responds with a string of insults and of course having grown up in Pittsburgh I respond quite eloquently with a string of my own and he gestures to me to "come get some". I stop the car and for a minute my Pittsburghian upbringing is tempted. But I stop and I have instantaneous flashes of how stupid it is to get involved in such nonsense when there are perfectly good alternatives....like leaving...but you know, I do get tired of the strangeness that abounds in people. All manner of people. The baseness seems sometimes just beneath the surface...like civilization is a thin veneer...even within ourselves. That reality is why thinking and acting like a knight is so challenging. So I drive off. And at 54 years old I actually do not give it a second thought. I drive away though thinking of my step son sitting next to me. All the thoughts of walking the talk of self restraint and teaching by example. I think that the best example is to show your kids your humanity...your own struggle to maintain character. That way they see the truth that is a conscious choice and its hard.
Luke and I go to a father's day event. I think most fathers day events are really just crappy advertising...or the opportunity for everyone else in the family to do something fun that THEY want to do in the name of celebrating your father...not like mother's day. Some of the weakness of the energy of Father's Day relates to several of the posts above.
This event was a free day of fishing for kids. In most places in North America, outdoor sports like hunting and fishing are in decline to the extent that in a few generations most kids will not know how to do these basic survival skills. Here in BC, there are efforts to bring interest back to people. Today was one of those efforts.
So we spent the day with my step son rubbing elbows with venerable old retirees who took him out on the water and he caught a few trout. I thought this was a good thing and a fitting thing for fathers day.
While we were there several of Luke's friends were there. Kids vibrating with personal challenges. Kids looking for guidance and lacking it are shaking apart at the seams in a variety of ways. Face it. Life is really hard. Things can get much worse than they are. Kids need us.
I am reflecting on the day as I write this and I apologize for waxing away here. I find Father's Day to be a trial most years. Even when you try to be a good father there are times when the world does not seem to notice. But no one said such things are easy. Of all the things in the world to use the energy of a warrior for, creating a safe space for your kids and their friends ( because a lot of kids out there need help), giving them a sense that there is at least one person out there who they can count on and trust...who can show them a path in an imperfect world, that is pretty much the whole point is it not?
When Father's Day comes along, I try to strike from my mind the thoughts that the Day is promoted to sell things, that it pales in comparison to mothers day, and that the events of the day are oddly canted by absent fathers and injured people and I take the day inside myself. I become introspective. I think about what really matters to me. I acknowledge the weird world and its imperfections from my point of view. I pick up my metaphorical sword and renew my vow to care.
Salute to all men who have made the vow to protect and teach kids.
This is intended to be used with people in armor. Often, some folks will fight in armored medieval combat with exposed parts...e.g. minimal armor on arms.
Its not the same thing as going at it with no protection. How does it work at a gathering? If you can find someone willing to fight you with your weapon its doable?
I have seen people use axes that have padding made out of the same kind of foam that step aerobic steps are made out of. This foam does not deflate when you hit it repeatedly, absorbs shock but is stiff enough to impart some force. You can create a head out of this and then use a combination of fiberglass tape, duct tape and hockey tape plus glue to secure it. If you build it right it will be padded more than a stick but because of the smaller area the net result will be the same level of impact. You'd have to dink around with it and experiment...This can become a rather time consuming hobby to build the optimum weapon.