Realities Created, Maintained and Destroyed, WHILE-U-WAIT!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Y'all should check this out

The five questions that non-Muslims would like answers to.

I have seen these or some variation of them floating around for a while now, and have sometime thought I would take a stab at answering them, especially question one, which is always a variation of

"why don't we see Muslims condemning terrorism???!!??"

I am so sick of sanctimonious self absorbed hypocritical right wing so-called "Christians" throwing that one around I have come close to bitch-slapping one or two of them into next year. (the answer of course is that there have been hundreds of condemnations, if not thousands, but you ain't gonna see them here because it does not serve the power elite to have you know that most Muslins are just as moderate as most Christians and would just like to be left alone to live their lives and take care of their families)

If these people would ever expand their awareness beyond Fox News and the 700 club they might have noticed that mainstream Muslims are quite appalled by what has been going on in the world, just like everyone else. But then the Right wingnuts wouldn't have their "designated enemy".

As it happens, my friend Aaminah has answered these questions, and done a very good job of it. So check out her blog, WriteousSister Speaks and take a look at her answers.



Back from the Holiday

And this was fun, if a little weird.

Your Personality Profile

You are funky, outdoorsy, and down to earth.
While you may not be a total hippie...
You're definitely one of the most free spirited people around.

You are very impulsive - every day is a new adventure.
However, you do put some thought behind all your actions.
Still, you do tend to shock and offend people from time to time!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Someone wrote and asked me....

"What the heck is a sling staff?"

Interesting question, (where do people come up with these things)?

A Sling Staff is a weapon that has been used since at least classical Roman times as a military projectile weapon.

It consists of a staff, from four to six feet long, that has a post set in the top, One end of a sling is anchored the base of the post the other end of the sling is formed into a loop, or is attached to a metal ring (which works better).

To use a sling staff, you slip the ring over the post and load the sling pouch with a bullet or stone.

Sling staff

The staff is then swung over head two handed, flinging the bullet forward with considerable force. The sling and the staff part of the device act as levers to produce much more force and velocity that could be achieved with the arm alone and the weapon is quite capable of killing a human being. The weapon was used into the Middle Ages.

So there you have it, the sling staff.


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

And they said it wasn't about oil

For those who have bought into the Bush regime's BS about protecting American citizens

This just in

It's always been about oil, that's what we are spending the blood of our best and our brightest for, so that a bunch of oil barons can get even richer.

Bush needs to be tried for treason.



Monday, November 21, 2005

More well reasoned political dialog

Which just goes to show that people with differing views can communicate.


Hi Don,

Too much to cover as comments are limited, as can be witnessed by the cut off on the last comments.

Let me suggest then, if you would like to discuss these things further that you can either email me your reply, which I will post in its entirety, or you can put your reply up on your blog and we can link to each other and let our readership know that there are new comments.

I think there comes a time when you have to put down the dream and pick up the club of reality and realize that there really are certain things that we cannot change.

That sounds good I guess, but if it were true we would all still be singing "God Save the Queen".

The history of our country IS the history of a people who did not accept the status quo. If we had allowed ourselves to believe that we could not change things we would not have seen the successes of Universal Suffrage, collective bargaining and unionization for workers rights, the free speech movement, the civil rights movement, the abolition of slavery and suchlike. That's what Americans do, the imposable.

The Republicans have swung hard towards fascism. It's not the way they treat the media as some claim because the media was chained down and controlled even more by FDR, who was a left-leaning Democrat. The swing to fascism has more to do with how working people are treated, how their retirements are being robbed so some fat bastard can have a small fleet of fine vehicles instead of a couple SUVs, a Beamer and a Mercedes. So they can have three houses instead of merely two. These things are purchased with the very promise of employees at General Motors (now), possibly Delta Airlines and what was it? United? I believe they were the ones that started the ball rolling on the retirement heist.

What you wrote about the oil companies in another entry is also true. If I hear Oxycontinboy telling me one more time that this is the way the market works and nothing is wrong, I'm going to gag. Now they are going to make people choose between warmth and food this winter. Why? Oh, I see, the pipelines are still damaged from hurricanes, that's why the propane, heating oil and natural gas prices are expected to be 50% higher this year! Silly me. The gasoline prices went down because the market is now normal, but apparently there are phantom hurricanes that have done invisible damage.

Well you won't get any arguments from me here, we are in pretty close agreement on these subjects.

I can particularly relate to the choice of heat or food. I think a lot of people are going to be running up against that one and not everyone is lucky enough to have timber to harvest.

You are correct that there is a Puritanical streak in the United States, but you see, that is constantly battling with the Hedonistic among us. I am neither and find both of them repulsive in the extreme, but that's just me. I think you can take a look at the STD rates, abortion and the divorce rate and come away with a very sad picture of the way people run their lives. Alcoholism and drug abuse, etc.

I don't see it in quite the same terms, but I understand your point. Rather than hedonistic I see it as self absorbed ans selfish, a slight but significant difference.

Getting back to my earlier comment about a pipedream, I believe, 100%, that it is a pipedream that we will ever sever ties with or even change Saudi Arabia. You believe that if enough people scream for change, there will be change. I don't think that's realistic. Hopelessly optimistic. I know, I know, "You will never change it if you don't try!" But in trying, a lot of time is wasted because the threat assessment was wrong to begin with, do you know what I mean? You can pay so much attention to something that you have little chance of changing - that other things you could have done...don't get done.

You may end being correct, but as I said earlier the American character is to attempt the imposable (and sometimes succeed).

Also, I think that you are wrong about our chances of making needed change in our government. As used to be taught, despair is the only unforgivable sin. The attitude that we cannot make a difference is one that has been carefully fostered by the corporations to keep us in a hopeless state. I refuse to buy into their game myself.

I don't know where the homophobic commentary came from, I think the gay community is its own worst enemy, but that's just me. They, too, could have gotten farther with honey instead of vinegar, but they chose in-your-face-vinegar. I think "homophobia, racism, bigot, racist," are totally overused words in this country and they are used by one group to demonize another group of people and shut them up, i.e., if you don't agree with everything the gay community says or wants, your're "homophobic." That's pure nonsense! Same thing with race in this country, you're a "racist" and a "bigot" and you "hate" if you don't agree with everything whatever minority has to say. It doesn't have to be that way, but it is.

I was using the far religious right's attitude on gays as an illustration of what they are capable of and are willing to do. I don't know how many times I have herd the old "stoning them to death in the public square is what God wants" line from them.

Lots of things to talk about, so little space. As I type this, I don't even know if it will let me post twice in a row.

Agreed, and I think that this is productive, so let's see if we can find a way to do this that will give you more of a voice.



Sunday, November 20, 2005

Happy Birthday !!

It was a year ago today that I started this blog!

It has been a fun ride and I have enjoyed just about everyone who I have met here.

So thanks to everyone who reads this humble effort of mine, you have all made it worth while.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Comments on my rant

Someone named Don made some interesting comments on my last political rant. (I don't think this was our own Don, so I am assuming he is someone new to the blog).

I wanted to reply at length to these comments because they make some important observations, so please bear with me, and perhaps we will experience the rarest of things, a polite political discussion.


Hi Don,

You said;

"I come here to read incredibly interesting things about martial arts and primarily edged weapons - even though most places on the Internet that discuss knives and martial endeavors related to knives have devolved into childlike scrawl or grown men who act like high school students smelling each other's jocks or fingers after flatulence."

And I am happy that you do. It is very gratifying to know that people find a little value in my ramblings about things martial.

"They say you have to take the good with the bad and I always have. I have wanted to say things, but I would not because I did not want to stir the pot."

While I tend to think of "good" and "bad" to be something of a personal view in this sort of thing I am happy that you have stuck it out. Do feel free to stir the pot any time you like though. Reasonable discussion of these matters can only be a benefit to all of us.

"I have no love for Neo-Conservatism. If there is one thing I despise is the current empty-headed, follow-the-herd, just-another-cow, jingoism that people like Sean Hannity regurgitate every weekday on the radio."

See, we have found a point of agreement already :)

"I would like to touch on a couple of things, mainly because I do believe in God and I am a Republican...of sorts."

Nothing wrong with either of these things, I also believe in God, and voted for Barry Goldwater (perhaps the last real conservative to run for the office of the president)

"And I think that you have fallen into a trap of throwing so much mud that you just hope some of it sticks."

Let me give you an alternative perspective. What I am actually doing is trying a well thought out plan to use the same sort of tactics that the Neo-Cons use to influence public opinion, but for good rather than evil.

It became apparent after the last election that reasoned discussion and presentation of facts was a tactic that no longer produces results here in the US, so there needs to be some other way of getting people to think outside their habitual mindsets. Since Bush Corp was so successful at manipulating the focus of the nation by punching emotional buttons, I decided to experiment with the same tactics. So I very consciously frame my rants to mirror the tactics of the Neo-Cons and religious Right, hitting emotional hot buttons and repetitively delivering simple messages that have little logical content, but focus attention and emotion in a particular direction. I have also taken up the very successful tactic of demonizing the Neo-Con Right in the same manner as they did with the once honorable term "liberal".

"Remember, support for (King George) president Bush is support for the totalitarian theocracy of Saudi Arabia..."

"You are not politically ignorant. You know this is the reality of every President of The United States and in reality, will be the reality of any future Administration. So, while it sounds quite good and it's a nice slam, it becomes intellectually dishonest as you have forgotten the past and ignore the reality of the future."

Just because something has been standard operating procedure does not make it moral or correct. What you say about every administration doing this sort of thing is true, and we have paid the price for this sort of politics over and over with American blood. If we don't stop being sheep and forbid our representatives to support tyranny it will go on and we will continue to pay the price for it.

"I'm not saying I like the Saudis, I do not. I do not support them or their religion, I do not support making little girls burn to death because they cannot exit a burning building with their face exposed. I don't think we have ANY real friends over there at all as a matter of fact."

It would be good to remember two things here, the West created Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is the epicenter for the support of Wahhabi terrorism in the world. This goes back to my last point, by supporting tyranny we create our own problems, and the politicos are not the ones who spill their blood to fix the problems. If we do not insist that our representatives stop supporting evil governments then we are in fact supporting them if only by our silence.

"Clinton gave Most Favored Nation status to China as well. Almost every President in modern history without exception has put America in bed with tyrants while decrying human rights violations. It's not a Republican or Democrat thing, it's not even liberal or conservative, it's politics and that's that."

That is only "that" because we allow it to be "that" This is still a democracy, "we the people" still have all the political power if we choose to use it. The situation remains the same and the support of evil goes on being business as usual only because of the "that's that" attitude. The worst thing we have ever allowed any politico to do is lull us into thinking that we cannot effect change. Bush-Corp counts on Americans being somnambulists.

"They all do it, people I support do it and people you have supported and will support will do it regardless of what they preach to you on the television or campaign trail"

To belabor a point, they all do it because we allow them to do it.

"...and Saudi Arabia is an excellent example of what the Neo-Con 'fundamentalist' pseudo-Christians would like to turn our country into."

"While it might be the malignant pipedream of Dobson or Robertson, it will never come to pass so I would rest easy."

I would hazard a guess that you are not old enough to remember the days of Senator Joe McCarthy. Thinking that "it can't happen here" is a really good way to make sure that it will happen here.

"And I am leaning heavily on the "might be" because I don't think it would be like that. I certainly would not vote for either of them."

What makes you think that they need you to vote for them in order to further their agenda?

History is full of examples of evil people taking over everything from family businesses to countries.

If you examine the situation you may find that people like the ones you mention have already taken on too much power. The divisiveness we are experiencing today is a direct result of the power grabs by the likes of Bush and Dobson. I don't ever remember a time in this country that we have been so unwilling to find a way to all live together as Americans, and that is an essential step to destroying our democracy.

If you want to really see where they are going take a look at the position of the religious Right on homosexuals. Gays are the last minority that it is safe to hate, and the Right has used this to great advantage. Whatever your or my view on the subject might be, using Mosaic law to deal with a hated minority seems just a bit extreme to me. Rather like the "ethnic cleansing" attitude found all through the twentieth century by totalitarian regimes everywhere. It seems to me to be a good indicator of how these people will behave if allowed to have power. (and as Jesus said, "as you do to the least of these........")

"Most of this country is obsessed with finding another sexual partner and with getting abortions and being drunk or high or, in general, making a mess of their lives."

Do you really think so?

That has not been my experience at all. While I have not had contact with "most of this country", the people who I have had contact with have seemed to me to be pretty good sorts all in all. Most of the people I am acquainted with, even the ones who disagree with me on a number of things, seem to want to do what's right and fair and moral. Sometimes they just don't know how to break out of the somnambulistic trance that they have allowed themselves to slip into. My impression is that most of the Americans I have come in contact with are just trying to get by the best they can. I don't think I have ever met anyone here who thought that abortions were a good idea, let alone something to be obsessed with, except for the religious Right, which I guess could be seen as obsessed with abortion.

"The hedonistic among us insures that no one like a Robertson or Dobson is ever elected or holds great sway with those elected."

I think I will have to disagree with you on this one. I don't see much hedonism here in the States, I have always found more of a puritanical streak than anything else. So far no one has stopped people like Robertson and Dobson from gaining power in this country, and while they themselves might not be able to get elected, they seem to think that they can put the candidate of their choice in office.

"You could ban the entire Bill of Rights in this country and the majority would not care unless you touched their right to kill their own and be as"

Being as you were cut off in mid sentence I am not sure where you were going with this, perhaps we can take it up later.



PodCast again

The latest Podcast is up,

with Chuck and I talking about all manner of fun stuff check it out at


Friday, November 18, 2005

Six (or less) degrees of separation

By now most people have heard the idea that everyone can be connected to everyone else in six jumps or less.

Well here is a story of a connection between myself and Colonel Rex Applegate. (As well as some hopefully interesting talk about knives and their uses).

I have been very fortunate to have had some first rate mentors and teachers in my life. On of my early mentors was Mr. Fanning. I met him when I was working in Central California, we were both working for the State.

Mr. Fanning was the head of the unit I was working on. He was about sixty years old, small, perhaps 5'5", but built like the proverbial fire plug, but very little of his mass was fat. He had a florid complexion and graying hair. He was of Irish ancestry, with the sort of light hearted personality that is often found among the sons of Erin.

Over the first month or so I worked with him I began to notice small things about him (and perhaps some not so small).

He was hyper-aware of his surroundings. Most people never noticed, but he was always aware of where every person was in a room, who was potentially dangerous, where the exits were, and such. (I could tell by where he looked, how he positioned himself in relation to other people and other things like that, he never stopped watching what was going on around him).

Over several weeks, as I came to know him I discovered that he had served in WWII. More than that he had been one of a group of commandos dropped in four man squads behind German lines to wreak havoc on the enemy by destroying important and strategic targets.

He told me about his training before he was sent out. He said it was called "Kill or be killed" as was taught by a fellow named Rex Applegate. (who was a captain back then).

Mr. Fanning's job with his squad was to remove sentries and other human impediments to their operations. He told me that he had dealt with most of these people with a knife and had found this the best way to remove a sentry in most cases.

After the war, he became the bodyguard for a certain famous newspaper owner, but that's another story.

Over the next couple of years we became good friends, and I was able to prevail upon him to teach me what he could of the skills he has acquired under Captian Applegate, and refined in the crucible of combat.

What Mr. Fanning taught me made some serious changes in how I use the knife, and I have always been grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from someone who had experience beyond the theoretical.

So when I received a desert version of the Applegate-Fairnbairn fighting knife from my friend Terry (who happens to work for Boker USA) I was quite excited. I really wanted to get a feel for the knife that Colonel Applegate had designed as his answer to the needs of specialized combat troops.

Now I am not usually a fan of the dagger. This sort of knife is too specialized, and while you can perform a number of non-combat tasks with it in a pinch, I would much rather have a single edged knife for everyday use. I promised myself that I would try to keep my prejudice in check while evaluating this knife.

Here is a photo of the knife and sheath, with the write-up that Boker gave it.

Based on the original Applegate-Fairnbairn fighting knife (A-F12) this desert version resulted from operation Desert Storm. all of the features that made the original fighting knife a classic are retained in this desert version - 6" 440C stainless steel blade (10 3/4" overall length), forward-bending cross-guard, weighted handle of durable Delrin ® - and are enhanced with a black stainless steel cross-guard, black screws and a desert colored handle. The knife is carried securely in a desert camo Kydex ® sheath. Each knife is serialized.
The first thing I noticed about the knife was its balance, which was superb. As it turns out, inside the handle are two weights that can be moved closer or further from the hilt to give the knife the balance you want. As it happens it was perfect for me out of the box, but it is a nice feature.

The edge was pretty good right from the factory, and with a little time spent using my grand pappy's razor stone, the edge was as sharp as you could ever want.

The kydex sheath is very solid and holds the knife quite securely and without any rattle. Even without the rubber O ring holding the knife in, you are not likely to lose your blade, with it slipped over the grip, the blade is not going anywhere.

The fit of the various parts was superb, with no slop anywhere, even after I had abused the poor thing for several days.

The grip is very comfortable for me in both forward and reverse grip.

So I collected up the various things I would need to test out the knife, carpet tubes, old office carpet, torn up blue jeans, cardboard, news paper, pine 2x4, duct tape and such, and went to work.

The first thing I wanted to test was the knife's ability to effectively thrust while not having it's tip break off. So I took a 2 x 4 and wrapped it with about four inches of corrugated cardboard, covered it with a couple of layers of denim and wrapped it with duct tape.

I worked about fifty thrusts into this, twenty five forward grip and twenty five reverse grip. The knife went through the material without problem and stuck into the pine at the center. I then pulled it out with a twisting action. The point sustained no damage.

This was a marked improvement over the old Sykes-Fairnbairn dagger which was prone to having its tip break off.

There was also no tendency for the hand to slip down the blade (always a consideration with a thrust or stab) the grip was very positive and comfortable. The guard worked well to protect the hand.

Next I wanted to test the knif's cutting ability. That was the other problem with the Sykes-Fairnbairn dagger, it was not great for cutting because of the blade shape. All knives are a trade-off in different attributes, the trick is to get the balance that is best for the job.

I started with newspaper rolled around a piece of PVC pipe, then covered with a couple layers of denim pants leg and taped down.

I started with draw cuts in forward grip and the knife performed quite well. I then repeated the process in reverse grip. The cuts were a bit more shallow, but quite acceptable.

I then tried hacking cuts. These did not work well at all, but I would not expect a dagger to be able to hack like a Bowie knife.

For my final test I got out the carpet tube. I wanted to see how the knife would do with a "thrust then cut" attack. This is (or at least was, things may have changed) a pretty standard sentry removal technique. Come up from behind, insert the knife in the side of the neck just in front of the spine, the cut your way forward to remove the knife (and the sentry).

The Applegate worked flawlessly piercing, then cutting the heavy cardboard of the carpet tube without trouble.

After I had finished with my tests (there were several more) I examined the knife and found it to be in very good shape, nothing had worked loose, there was no damage to the blade.

So here is my take on the knife.

It is damn good at what it was designed for, a combat knife primarily used to remove enemy in a sneaky and quiet way. It would be aexcellentnt "fighter" all round, but would not be a good choice for basic camp chores and survival situations.

If you like to collect military weapons, this is something you will want to add to your collection. If you know someone in the military, this would make a fine gift. If you think you will see combat you could do a lot worse than taking this blade with you, but pack a good folding knife as well for the everyday stuff.

All in all though, this knife is superbrb example of the military dagger, Mr. Fanning would have loved it.


And Just For Fun

What your birthday means

(Or in this case what my birthday means to someone, not necessarily me).

Your Birthdate: September 5

You have many talents, and you are great at sharing those talents with others.
Most people would be jealous of your clever intellect, but you're just too likeable to elicit jealousy.
Progressive and original, you're usually thinking up cutting edge ideas.
Quick witted and fast thinking, you have difficulty finding new challenges.

Your strength: Your superhuman brainpower

Your weakness: Your susceptibility to boredom

Your power color: Tangerine

Your power symbol: Ace

Your power month: May

Meet America's Greatest Allies in the Mid East

The Saudis are without a doubt the Bush regime's strongest supporters in the Mid East, and why not? Both governments have basically the same values.

If you would like to know what America would be like if Bush had complete control over our country just take a long look at the Wahhabi controlled theoracy of Saudi Arabia.

Here is just one example of Saudi justice, one that mirrors perfectly the ideals of people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson.

Remember, support for King George president Bush is support for the totalitarian theoracy of Saudi Arabia, and Saudi Arabia is an excellent example of what the Neo-Con "fundamentalist" pseudo-Christians would like to turn our country into.



Thursday, November 17, 2005


Someone asked "How do you teach intent?"

Anything that one person can do can be modeled. Any model can be taught to others.

So the easy answer to the question is find someone who does intent well, make a model of how they do it, teach others the same model.

Of course you have to learn to make effective models of skills and behaviors. This of course can also be modeled and taught as well.

Here is a simple example of what I mean.

People who spell English well tend to use the same strategy.

They will make a picture of the whole word in their mind's eye, then have a feeling as to the word being correct or not. So the model would be a visual "lead" with a kinesthetic confirmation. When you understand this you can teach anyone to spell English well. (Even the poor folks who were initially taught to spell English by "sounding out the word").

So if one were to want to model "powerful intent" they would need to find an example of someone with this skill, then build a good model of how they do the skill, the teach themselves to do the skill in the same way.

That, in a nutshell, is how you teach intent.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

First Snow

Falling Now

I have always liked snow, it makes the world look clean again.

The world seems a little quieter, and only those with need venture out.

I like the snow.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Republicans finally get a visit from a very overworked Clue Fairy

It is sad really, the poor thing has worn her wings out getting to all the so called conservatives so desperately in need of a clue.

But she seems to be catching up.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has figured out that he has been sucked into a neo-McCarthy nightmare.

I had become convinced that there were no true conservatives left in politics, and that all we had were the right wing fascist neo-cons with their religious fanatic fellow travelers. I have a little hope though that people like Senator Hagel might be waking up from the seductive dreams of power at the price of freedom.

The Bush regime's attempts to destroy the constitution and replace it with a religo-fascist dictatorship have been even more worrisome since this came to light.

I do not consider this bit of information completely substantiated yet, but given everything else that has come down since Bush-Corp grabbed control of the White House, it seems near fetched. The right wing has wished terrorist attacks on US citizens and cities in the recent past, so perhaps turning a blind eye to intelligence reports (again) may be seen as a way to maintain power.

Jimmy Carter has this to say about the state of the Nation.

There was a time when there was little doubt that America held the moral high ground in many ways, but those days are long past, we just don't want to admit that greed and sloth have allowed the ideals of our country as outlined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights to be traded for corporate dollars.

Since Bush-Corp took over the country we are nothing more than a "stockyard" for corporate interests, especially the oil companies.

Did you know that while some stupid mother fuckers go around telling us that the oil companies price hikes are a good thing, Exxon has not yet paid a penny on the fines levied against it for the Exxon Valdez spill? An entire ecosystem ruined, the highest profits ever, gouged from the wallets of working people who can little afford it, using a national disaster as an excuse, and these parasites can't even see their way to paying for the clean-up of their mess. Go figure.

Once we believed in what America stood for, once we took the Constitution and Bill of Rights seriously. Now we are headed for another "Dark Ages" where our lives are dictated by the Religious Right, Christian and Muslim.



Sunday, November 13, 2005


Mr. Gurdjieff said "I love him who loves to work".

I have always found this to be an interesting statement, and one that has lead to all sorts of confusion and misinterpretation in Fourth Way groups.

I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of work lately, mostly because I have been doing a lot of work these last few weeks.

Winter is fast approaching here in West Michigan, and by all accounts it is likely to be a cold one.

When you couple this with the news that natural gas prices are expected to rise by about 40% this winter, it seemed prudent to arrange for an alternate heat source.

Give me a chainsaw and a place to stand.......
(with apologies to Archimedes)

We have a good fireplace with a "heatilator", and with a little testing we determined that the house could be heated just by burning wood.

Of course that meant we needed a lot of wood.

We needed to lay in at least five cords of wood for the winter. (A cord of wood can be best understood as 4' x 4' x 8' or 128 cubic feet of wood) eight cords would be better, the down-side of using a fireplace for heat is that it is not very efficient compared to a good wood burning stove, so you go through a lot more wood.

The woods on our "lower forty"

As fate would have it though, there was a ready supply of good seasoned hardwood right on the property just for the taking.

About two thirds of the property here is woods, and they have been virtually undisturbed for many years.

Even better, the property fronts the river.

The Grand River from "the lower forty"

A good portion of the woods is lowland, which means that it floods every now and again. When that happens it inevitably kills a few trees, which means Standing Dead Wood!

When you need firewood now, rather than having the time to cut green wood and let it season for a couple of years so that it will burn well, you won't do better than standing dead trees. You can use fallen wood, but by the time it has dried enough to be useful it is all too often rotted from contact with the ground.

As it turned out, I was the only one here that had any experience with a chainsaw or with working with timber. When I was much younger I lived in the Santa Cruz mountains, and for a couple of years made my living by cutting trees for firewood and Redwood burl for clocks and table tops. (To give you a sense of how long ago, I rented forty acres with a cabin for US $80.00 a month)

So I began cutting.

I discovered that using a chainsaw is like riding a bicycle, the skills come back quickly. I also found out that I can still drop a tree right where I want it to land.

Me, at the woodpile gym

So up until a couple of days ago I have been spending a good deal of time in the woods with a chainsaw and timberjack. (For those of you who don't know, a timberjack is like a peavey, but with the front spike at 90 degrees to the shaft, and a "foot" that allows you to roll a log end up off the ground for cutting).

The Timberjack, one of mankind's great inventions

I have been fortunate to have some help with getting the cut rounds out of the woods and up to the splitting area from a couple of my Silat students and from the household as time allows.

The local woodchuck, turning a gimlet eye to all the activity in his forest

So I have been going out each morning, felling trees or finding downed logs that have not rotted out. When enough wood has been cut we load it onto a small wagon pulled by a yard tractor and haul it out of the woods for splitting and stacking.

This of course has given me lots of time to think (always a dangerous proposition).

So I have been thinking about work.

Traditionally, a good number of traditional spiritual disciplines have put emphasis on the usefulness of fostering a good work ethic, and building a strong set of manual skills as an important step in personal evolution.

This is in part to help overcome the tendencies toward laziness found in humans (the "workaholic" is often just lazy in a slightly different way than the "slacker").

Another, all too often overlooked aspect of work though, is its capacity to keep the person fit. You cant really successfully work on yourself without sufficient energy, and you will likely only have enough energy if your body is fit.

For general fitness, full body work will get you in better shape than anything you can find in a gym, and for martial arts, tasks like splitting wood with a maul will develop you in ways that little else will.

The winter wood supply

And of course, there is the energy gained through completing an intention, which is nothing to sneeze at.

Mr. Gurdjieff also told his students that there are three parts of energy to right work. One part is the energy that is expended in completing the work. The second part is the energy that goes to "the reciprocal maintenance of the Universe. The third part is the energy that you gain from completing your intention (an no this does not violate the second law of thermo-dynamics) which you get to use for your own evolution.

Of course work should also have a sense of joy associated with it otherwise one is likely to fall into one of the big blunders of the Path.
The Super-Effort Error
Belief that one must approach the Work with a grim determination which produces feelings of tension, discomfort, self-punishment, and competition.
More on this in my next installment.


The Podcast

Here is the first effort on a project I have been involved in.

Innovative Martial Arts, where I teach Silat in Michigan, now has a weekly PodCast. The show is called "Martial Musings with Chuck & Mushtaq." Basically Chuck and I get together, suck down coffee, and ramble on about anything we can think about. (mostly cools ways of hitting people, training methods, sharp pointy things that we find cool, etc...)

We will be having interesting guests on our show on a fairly regular basis (heads up Bobbe)

So, check out this website...and tune in! (just click the PODCAST button)


Monday, November 07, 2005

An Incredibly Cool Thing!

Especially with Christmas just around the corner.

As people who have been reading my blog for a while know, I am a great supporter of Scott Sonnon's work.

I have been using his material for about five years now, and it has completely transformed the way I do martial arts as well as the way I keep myself fit and healthy.

I have also, as you may know, been urging everyone I consider a friend or at least on friendly terms with, to investigate Scott's material.

Some of his work has been so profound, such as his clubbell material, that I have made it an "official" part of the Silat Zulfikari curriculum.

The only objections to CST work I have ever run across from my friends is that there is a lot of material to choose from and it can be hard to choose where to start, and the equipment is not cheap.

Well Scott just released a new product (or set of products) called Intu-Flow and Xtention which, I gotta say, looks to be one of the very best fitness packages ever created.

Scott has combined a set of five pound "mini-clubbells" with the best of his Warrior Wellness, Maximology, Freedom by Degree, Be Breathed, Prime Bioenergy and Clubbell Training integrated into one program and all in one 3 DVD set and also includes two posters for quick reference. You just can't get better than that for the price.

It also looks like a perfect travel workout. I am always trying to come up with ways to keep up my training while on the road, and that set of mini-clubbells looks like it would be very happy in my luggage.

So get the set for yourself, give it to people who you really like as a gift. You will be healthier for it and so will your friends. Use it as your introduction to CST, you'll be glad you did.

(BTW Scott does not pay me to say nice things about him, I am not a member of his organization or anything like that, this is the famous "spontaneous and unsolicited testimonial" that you always hear about but never really see).


Friday, November 04, 2005

More on the war of the Right against the Right

Or a visit with the American Taliban.

For the last few days I have been spending time on the forum that initially had some problem with my log-in. On Oct 31 I received a very polite letter from Gabe Suarez, the owner of the forum, which is called Warrior Talk, assuring me that as far as he knew I had not been blocked or banned from his site, and telling me he had reset the account.

So with his invite I went back to the forum.

Sure enough, I was able to log on without problem. I went to the thread on South African knife and began reading through it.

By and large it was an intelligent discussion. I figured that it might be worth seeing just how people there might deal with someone who not part of their "affinity group", so I put up a post to see what might happen.

Well, one thing I was able to determine is that Gabe Suarez is a gentleman, often a very rare creature on internet forums, where people often feel that they can behave as badly as they like because they don't have to be responsible for their words and actions. While I suspect that Gabe and I would disagree on a number of things, at least it seems that it can be done from a place of respect, something all too rare these days.

There was only one sign of anti-Muslim (as opposed to "anti-Wahhabi hate group") sentiment in the thread, with a fellow leaving as a gratuitous comment to help foster the old lie that "The Koran, is very specific about its violent intolerance for anybody who is not a Muslim." We had to have a few words about this, where we determined that he actually knew nothing about the Quran and was getting his beliefs from right wing hate sites and that he would be happier putting me on his "ignore list" rather than letting any reality into the cess-pit that passes for his mind.

But everyone else on the thread was interested in South African knife rather than the politics of hate. This encouraged me to explore the rest of the forum. I found some of the thread titles quite interesting. The forum is in large part devoted to shooting, a sport I enjoy, and supports second amendment rights, which I also support.

During my explorations though I did discover an area devoted to anti Muslim hate talk. This was not a thread on real problems between the Muslim world and the West, it was more in the line of "lets dip all the Muslims in pig's blood for Ramadan (snicker snicker, nudge nudge)".

What was immediately evident is that there was no real difference between the messages that people were posting on this section of the forum, and the kind of hate speech found among fundamentalist, Wahhabi influenced Muslims posting on their forums. Or if there was a difference it is just a matter of degree. People in these sections of the forum are not strapping bombs on themselves and their friends (yet), and of course, though it is the same game, they are playing for a different team.

There was no part of the conversation going on there that was productive, there was only the sort of sophomoric talk that is the human form of a basic primate behavior.

If we observe chimpanzees (as well as some other primates), there are times where members of a group will work each other up, then go out, find another chimp, and tear him to pieces, literally. The sort of talk going on here seemed to be of the same sort. A way to focus and increase hate among the members of the conversation, as well as to draw in others with a vulnerability to a "killer meme".

One message in particular struck me as very sad, the fellow who wrote it said something to the effect of "If it were up to me I would have already nuked the Muslims"

This is always something that grieves me deeply, to see someone so willing to murder so many innocents, the children and women, the men who want nothing more to make a good life for their families, just because they are different. I wonder if he realizes just how close in spirit he is to Bin Ladin?

In other words, what I was seeing here was the Christian version of the Taliban.

A lot of people can't understand how the Taliban came into power in Afghanistan. The answer is really pretty simple. There were more violent and willing to kill people who disagreed with them than any other group, they had the means to use their violence to grab power, and in some ways most importantly, they had a simplistic memetic message that had coopted parts of Islam, twisted the message to its own desires, and could be adopted by people who had never had an opportunity or inclination to think for themselves.

I remember the exact time I came to understand that the so called "Christian fundamentalists" had completely lost their way and had passed from the teachings of Jesus (as), which would have indeed saved them.

It was Easter weekend seven years ago. I was driving from my home to a nearby town to take care of some business. I was spinning through the radio dial, looking for something interesting. There was no good music to be had at the moment, and the talk shows were boring, but I found an Easter show given by a well known "evangelist". I thought it might be nice to listen to an Easter sermon. Even though there would be,I thought, some theological differences, it is always good to hear a message of hope.

That was not to be.

The preacher, at the beginning of his sermon said "The only thing that matters about the life of Jesus (as) is his death". He then went on to make an argument about how the only reason Jesus (as) came was so that he could die and wipe out the original sin for anyone who believed that he was God.

I remember sitting in my car, being flabbergasted, thinking "well they have finally done it, they have found a way to completely remove the teachings of Jesus (as) from Christianity".

That has always been the problem for The fundamentalist Christians, that there have always been these inconvenient passages in the gospels, the ones where Jesus (as) instructs his followers on exactly how he wants them to live and behave. It is really hard sometimes to foster a message that plays on the worst in humans and uses hate and fear like a drug to keep followers under control when you have the words of Jesus (as) telling you exactly how to free yourselves from just that sort of thing.

The Roman church dealt with this problem by keeping the gospels in a language that could not be understood by almost anyone not indoctrinated into their power structure. Of course this was an imperfect solution, as seen by the reformation.

Ever since people have had access to the Torah, books of the prophets, and Gospels in their native languages the gap between what the power structure tells people they should be doing and what Jesus (as) told people to do has been a problem.

What an elegant solution to this, I though to myself as I listened to this preacher tell everyone that they didn't have to concern themselves with all the things Jesus (as) said, all they had to do was say the "magic words", join the club and do what he told them.

With this simple bit of theological slight of mind people never have to worry about those pesky instructions on how to draw near the Divine like:

Jesus Said:

"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy'. But I tell you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who mistreat you and persecute you, that you may be children of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Don't even the tax collectors do the same? If you only greet your friends, what more do you do than others? Don't even the tax collectors do the same? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect

The church can't be having people trying to implement this.

Hate is a drug. If you get people hating they WILL become addicted to the emotional states, and they will become externally focused on the OBJECT of their hate. When this happens they are very easy to control.

The instructions that Jesus (as) gave that still survive in the gospels are a way to be free, and therefore terrifying to fundamentalists.

And then there is this rather troublesome passage.

Jesus Said:
"Don't judge, so that you won't be judged. For with whatever judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but don't consider the beam that is in your own eye? Or how will you tell your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye;' and behold, the beam is in your own eye? You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.

Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.
Jeeze, if you gave up judgment like this how would you know who to hate? How would you be able to compare yourself to the people in the "out group" so that you could feel good about yourself? Self Righteous Hypocrisy is a necessary component of fundamentalist manipulation on both the Christian and Muslim sides of the present conflict, and we must always remember that what we are really seeing is

A War of the Right Against the Right


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Twenty Rules (for Scooter and Adam)

Two of my students told me that they were unfamiliar with the twenty rules of Silat Zulfikari.

While these rules started out a bit "tongue in cheek", (someone asked me about the philosophical basis of Silat, I replied "I hit you". The rest, as they say, was history). So, for the edification of my students, and the amusement of my readers, I present to you

The Rules
(with commentary)

1. I hit you

"We are but a simple people."

It is good to always remember that the point of the exercise is to deliver energy in the form of destabilize shock to one's opponent. This may be in the form of a strike with the hand, elbow, knee, or the whole planet. It may also be in the form of a strike with the mind, using words, body language and such, but in combat things need to be kept simple, so "I hit you".

2. I don't get hit

Not getting hit means that your structure is good, and it also means that you can absorb and shed the shock your opponent tries to give you. Not getting hit also means that your intent is to protect yourself.

3. When in doubt, I hit

Rather than ruminating indecisively, deal with the situation. Do not be in denial about what is going on. Strike with the spirit, strike with the mind, strike with the body.

4. Centerline is MINE!

While there is the obvious meaning to this statement, keeping your structure so that you protect and control "centerline" between you and your opponent, there is a deeper meaning to this. Centerline is where you define it.

5. While we are on the subject, so is everything else

Own your whole space, utilize everything.

6. It's all in the Jurus

A juru is a series of bio-mechanical exercises grouped together in a closed kinetic chain. They contain the motions and teach the principles from which technique can be spontaneously generated. Jurus become more useful when one learns to open the chain.

7. My __fill in the blank____ are ___fill in the blank____ until they aren't

Don't get stuck in thinking that rules are anything more than guidelines, know when to break the rules to your best advantage.

8. Elbows DOWN!

Maintain good structure throughout your movement. Make sure that you are using proper power generation, don't give your opponent openings. Oh yes, and keep your elbows down.

9. If it goes physical, I WILL be the one who walks away.

Keep your priorities straight. If you have to act, do so with commitment. Not protecting yourself from someone who is trying to hurt you is a sin against yourself.

10. It ends NOW!

When you have to become physical, do so in a way that ends the confrontation in the quickest appropriate manner. Do not leave anything for later, don't win just this fight, win in such a way that you are not making future trouble for yourself. This could mean anything from NOT gloating over a victory to making sure your opponent knows that looking for a rematch is foolish.

11. How badly I hurt you depends on how much of a physical threat you offered me

Use only the degree of force necessary to the situation. If you are dealing with a drunk friend who is just getting a little out of line, breaking his arm is usually not what is needed. If you are attacked by a man with a knife, acting as if this is not a life or death encounter will get you killed.

12. I am so dangerous I can afford to be polite, reasonable and mellow.

Only the weak, the insecure and those who live in fear need to "woof" or show everyone how tough and dangerous they are. Always treat others with respect, strive to understand all points of view, never let yourself be controlled by negative emotion.

13. Gravity is my friend, on the other hand, it doesn't like you very much.

Use gravity to help power your movement and make your work easier by being supple, help your opponent to work against gravity by making his structure more dense. When appropriate hit your opponent with the ground.

14. I not only have the right to think at all times, but the responsibility to do so.

When you look around this planet, all the human problems you see may just be caused in large part by this one thing, giving over ones responsibility to think for themselves. If you're given the ability to do great damage to your fellows, then you MUST take responsibility and never let yourselves be controlled by unconscious memes.

There is an old saying, "If you make yourself into a donkey, there will always be someone willing to ride you."

15. When it feels too easy, then I am doing it right.

Good Silat is not about effort and strain, it is about integrating breath, movement and structure in such a way that what you do happens with an "effortless" flow.

16. Effective Silat means moving in four dimensions.

While some martial arts rely on two dimensions, forward and back, right and left, good Silat will use all dimensions of space, changing levels, taking the most useful vectors in relation to the opponent. Good Silat also uses time.

17. The strongest lever is the screw.

This is of course basic physics.

18. A screw moves circles through time and space.

If you don't understand this you are not doing good Silat.

19. Make sure your opponent is 'Screwed'.

Draw your opponent into the natural spirals of your movement. Use what the internal arts call "reeling silk energy", which is what is described in rule 18.

20. It's ALL Kebatinan

Kebatinan means "inner" or "secret" teachings. This rule was first articulated when a student asked, "so when do we start learning the Kebatinan (secret stuff)" To which I replied "It's ALL Kebatinan". Silat Zulfikari hides all its "secrets" in plain sight, in other words, you learn the "secrets" from the beginning. There is enough mystery in a "simple" strike that you can spend your life exploring it and never reach the end of new discoveries.