I fenced the devil

I fenced the devil and he fenced well.

I fenced better and thus he fell

And for this I inherited hell

So I fence like the devil and I fence well

Many came and many fell

Come fence me and inherit my hell

He fenced like the devil and he fenced well.

He showed his nobility as he almost fell

I spared his life and I spared him my hell

I stood down, and I wished him well.

Prejudice, Racism, and White Privilege

I am a white male 47 years old and I suffer from White privilege. I mean, I really suffer. It irks me to no end to hear all about the white privilege. Oh, I understand it, I see it and I certainly can understand why honest hard working people of color, (blacks and latinos primarily) have a problem with it. It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that my parents were not rich. Were I able to start off life with a couple of million dollars, man, I’d be really wealthy right now. But my parents were middle class, my Dad and Mom both rose up from pretty low stations.

The argument is that because they were white it was much easier for them to move out of that situation. Maybe so, but many of the mexican boys my father went to school with have achieved far more success than my father with all his privilege was able to attain. WHY is that. Well my father may tell you it was because they had a good idea, worked hard, and became successful. The American way.

Life is not fair, never has been and never will be. In fact, it is terribly unfair. As much as it sucks not being born rich, I imagine it sucks to be born black in America. But really, would it be better to be born black in Africa? Maybe if you were born to a rich or powerful family or something. Otherwise, I suspect it might suck like most Americans could never imagine. So yeah, I am happy with my American Privilege.

Let me say that first of all I am not a racist. I do not think any “race” is inherently better than another. I have had very good dealings with people from all races: black, japanese, vietnamese, mexican, puerto rican, I have found friends from all these races and cultures. I do not thinks all cultures are equal though,  I may be biased.

So I could be said to be a culturalist, I think that my white, middle class, Christian, American culture is better than other cultures I have been in contact with. I think it is better than white, middle class, secular, european culture. I think it is Far Far better than middle eastern, any income level, muslim, Arab, Persian, or Turkish culture.

I also think that my culture is better than white, upper class, liberal, american OR black, lower class, ghetto american. I have yet to be convinced otherwise.

So even saying that I value my own culture above others, does not mean that I think that individuals from those other cultures are “bad” or that I might not find good in their cultural practices. But of course, familiarity equates to comfort.

Prejudice

Yes, I am as well. To say that you are not prejudiced is to either lie, or to leave yourself so vulnerable as to probably not count towards that statistic very long. Prejudices keep us alive. I pre-judge based on information I collect, both from my own observation as well as the words of those we trust. This is where the problems come in. When we trust people to tell us how we should interact with other cultures, rather than learning the truth, we internalize their biases and build on them. These biases can be broken down, as evidenced by people like Daryl Davis, actively working to break down barriers, but they must be broken down by work.

pixelFIGHTING GANGS One Suburb's StoryI know where not to go in my town. Places where my white skin would raise attention and get me in trouble. When I walk into a convenience store and there are a number of black males with their pants around their knees and hats on sideways, I am on high alert. That same store filled with camo wearing rednecks, offers no fear to me, but might have a similar effect on a black man. Perhaps at some point in his past he was intimidated or victimized by rednecks. I may know that those rednecks go my church, would probably go out of their way to be friendly and helpful, but that man can only go by the prejudicial thought process that keeps him safe.

I pass a carload of young black people broken down on the side of the road, too bad. I dislike the culture, the coarseness, the loudness, the inability to speak english that I can understand. By the same token, an older black couple, dressed what I think of as normal. I will stop and help. What can I say, I am prejudiced.

Privilege

I think everyone should have the privilege to attempt to attain their dreams. There are roadblocks for all of us. I could argue that there is black privilege in athletics. I wasn’t even allowed to tryout for some sports because I was a skinny white guy. It can be shown that jews, as a race, are far more over-represented in achievement, education, and cultural power. Should I be fighting jewish privilege as well?

The problem with trying to explain the failure of a minority to achieve goals promulgated by another class/race/culture is complex, and just trying to combat the inequities by assuming the majority holds all the cards is simply wrongheaded. To assume that the majority should shoulder all the responsibility for the social injustice that is “apparently” the only reason for minorities not achieving their life’s goals, is foolishness perpetuated by people whom I don’t feel really have the best interest of these minorities at heart anyway.

Some say the definition of “Crazy” is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. Thus a sane person does the same thing over and over, and expects the same result. Thus sane people learn from their observations. I absolutely abhor the idea of “Stop and Frisk” I cannot believe that we allow this unconstitutional act to continue in America. I am not alone in this and funny, (not) but people of color are often targeted far more often than white people. NYPD’s defense? From an article in the New Yorker:

“Defending the fact that close to nine in ten of the people stopped under the program in 2011 and 2012 were black or Hispanic, the city pointed out that “approximately 83% of all known crime suspects and approximately 90% of all violent crime suspects were Black and Hispanic.” Based on their analysis, Smith and Purtell argued that the city wasn’t racial profiling. Rather, they argued, the disproportionate stopping and frisking of blacks and Hispanics could be attributed to the disproportionate number of black and Hispanic people in the pool of criminals and potential criminals.”

What we are seeing is the police using their “tool” to target the races they have found most commonly involved in crime. Statistics and all of that aside, perhaps we are seeing a cultural problem within the minority. I have watched a number of videos by David Carroll and I am pretty sure he dislikes white folks. But I am interested in his fairly critical examination of his own culture. If black people listened to him, learned from him, and examined their own culture and turned their lives inward towards bettering their culture, I suspect a lot of things would change.

It is funny, I grew up in west Texas without being prejudiced against black people (there weren’t many). They were culturally much more like me than the Mexicans, mostly being army brats from Fort Bliss. Not that I didn’t have mexican friends, two out of three of my best friends were mexican, One the son of a doctor, the other the son of a laborer. Both spoke perfect English, were interested in the stuff I was interested in, and dressed and acted in ways similar to us. I didn’t have any close black friends, none lived close enough to see easily after school.  But I was certainly prejudiced towards mexicans. I had my stuff stolen by mexicans, I was extorted, by mexicans, I was intimidated and pushed around by mexicans. If your were a mexican in a pair of chinos, a white t-shirt and had a bandanna, I kept my distance and my eye on you.

So when we moved to the deep south during my freshman year of high school. I was deeply disappointed to find myself the subject of prejudice. I sat by and had a number of blacks, male and female in my classes, and made open overtures of friendship as I was new in the school. I was outright rejected by most of the black males (all but one) and a few black females. I didn’t realize at the time I was the subject of prejudice or racism, but I know now. The worst part was that these blacks were as culturally similar to me as I would ever to be likely to find again in the South.

But I have seen a change in my area. It started after I was in college. It was not for the better. Rather than things getting better, I saw things getting worse. I saw more of a divide coming between Black and White. I cannot say that some of it was not a result of white racist assholes. I obviously would not be privy to much of that, but I saw it more and more the other way. I saw more and more affluent black people who had an obvious disdain for white people. I saw more and more cultural change in my area, away from the culture that I am familiar and comfortable with, to something I didn’t understand, and didn’t like. Much of this was due to the influx of people moving south after the Auto Industry had such an upset in the late ’80’s. This influx of a street culture that wasn’t present in the South, has had terrible effects with regard to race relations. More and more crime resulted, whether from simply the increase in population or the change in culture I don’t know, but statistics aside, it was widely perceived to be due to the increase in the minority population.

It is wrong for to be targeted due to your race. But if we had a rash of young, blonde, women, suicide bombers killing innocent women and children, you can bet people would look at young blonde women a bit different. Perhaps sideways watching them for any signs of crazy, or big heavy bags, or heavy coats in the summer. That is human nature. But until that happens it will be sideways looks at dark skinned or foreign looking men.

Prejudice will never go away. We will always judge a culture by the actions of those of that culture that most effect ourselves. Yes, it is probably wrong to judge all of one class, race, or culture based on the actions of a few, but it may be necessary to maintain the safety of yourself and your family.

Sasquatches and Apologies.

First apologies, to anyone who has been reading my blog. I just sort of stopped. But another bit of writing to hopefully add to your day.

Now sasquatches…. I don’t know how you feel about the whole sasquatch thing. I find it hard to ignore the number of sightings of an humanoid/animal of similar size and form, being tall and covered in hair. They can move quickly when they want to. People have even seen them up close, and still they describe much the same thing. One recent show had a description of a Sasquatch that caught my attention. The two musicians talked about a very close view they had of one who hurried across the road in front of their car less than 10 feet away. They described him as a very tall 6’8″ hominid with long body hair and in particular, very thin. They said that

Big-Foot-2

they could see his ribs and bones indicating that he was malnurished.

It kinda struck me as odd that a hunter capable of running as fast as they supposedly can, of the size they said he was, would not be well fed in most any season. especially if he was as smart as a human is.

So assume for a second that there really are sasquatches and they are physically as described. If this one was thin, it might have been sick, or there could be another reason. What if a Sasquatch could hibernate not for a few months like bears, but for years. Yogis have successfully entered a state of suspended animation for as much as 6 weeks according to some credible sources. What if they could simply hibernate for several years? This skinny  sasquatch might have just come out of a hibernative state and was getting ready to forage and replenish his body.

And then consider they are long lived, particularly because they don’t age during the hibernation much like the Yoigi’s hair didn’t grow, as in this story. So consequently there would be fewer numbers, and slower reproduction. It would probably account for them being spread out and some kind of internal clock that tells them when it is time to mate.

They come out, eat and get fat, then shut down their body and prepare for a long sleep.  I am relatively sure that if there are sasquatches that they have some kind of family unit. but I suspect that the vast majority of the adult population could be single actors.

It certainly explains the infrequency but consistency of the sightings. I even consider this from an evolutionary standpoint:  If food were in short supply, wouldn’t a being that could hibernate until food was available again, have a large evolutionary advantage?

The End of the World

Is there anybody else disappointed that the Mayan end of the world calamity didn’t come true?

 

Over the last few months I found myself considering what to do in the case of a natural disaster, geo-political upheaval, or some such world altering issue. Part of me was truly ready to have to have a go at living a new life with new issues. Part of me would like nothing better than to use my skills both at making things and martial arts to survive in a world gone crazy.

Well maybe it was mostly the fact that I wouldn’t have to come to work, fill orders, deal with customers, import export issues, returns, late suppliers, deadlines, … my the list goes on.

Even other issues like gun control. Will I end up aging and being defenseless against a stronger, younger opponent? Will I need to lay off employees and restructure since their is no way I can afford health insurance for them, let alone myself?  How big a fee will ASCAP charge me to let young bands some and play music at my coffee shop?

Heck, wouldn’t the world be a simpler place if the only question I had to deal with is, Do I have enough supplies laid by to survive the winter? Wow, and if I shoot the armed guys trying to take my food, I wouldn’t have to deal with anyone wanting to sue me or put me in jail for defending my property.

Many questions were easier back in the days of the American frontier. Yes they were tough times, but they didn’t have to consider whether or not wheat was making them fat.

The world, though, is changing. Not by any great degree. Not by a huge Tsunami covering the globe, Not by any asteroid coming from space, but by the very things that drive man on.

Once survival is assured, most men look to comfort. As they become comfortable they turn their thoughts to sex, from sex to God, and ultimately to power and finally to greed.  Our world is full of power hungry, greedy men. Many will stop at nothing to get what they have set their sight on. Be it your watch, your life savings, or the ability to force you to their will.

But we won’t see our politicians or the drug lords driving a Dodge Neon.  No, they have power and prestige in their places and they drive the best, they have nice houses in secure places. They have people to serve their every need.  We, who don’t have so much look for more. We worry and fret about how we can have more for less work and we covet those signs of wealth and security.

But at the end of the world, you can bet if you need a car to survive, a barely running Neon with doughnut for one wheel would be like the best Rolls Royce.

When your life is at stake, do you really care if the place you lay your head is a mansion or a cave as long as it is secure?

The fantasy about all old bets being off and you survive by your wits and skill, is an old one. We see them in every fantasy novel, every spy thriller, all the movies. It is what MAN is made for. Damn it sure beats working for a living.

But tomorrow we once again have to address the questions; Is socialism ultimately good for the world?  Should my right to keep and practice with arms be infringed upon in the interest of public safety? Why aren’t law enforcement officers held to the same standard as a citizen defending his home? Why does the ASCAP get to extort money from my business and yet not have to pay the artists they are supposed to be protecting?

So yes, I am somewhat disappointed that the world didn’t change. I am ready. It might still come.

A walkingstick Hammer

Probably not a bad thing to have in any fight. A hammer like this:

I really consider this weapon to be the ultimate self defense tool. Armed with this hammer I would be willing to face any form of unarmed, knife or stick wielding opponent. I suspect that I would be confident to face most anything outside of a gun.  I am fast and have a plan. I can hurt you through armor, If I could carry it around that way, I’d have a  spike on top but As it stands, I can use it as a cane and can carry it about anywhere I go out side of maybe an airport. As my friend Tim suggested, a solid fiber reinforced plastic version of this would make a cane you could literally carry anywhere. What a fine, always available weapon.

A steel buttcap with a sharp pyramidal point can shatter teeth with a thrust when the hammer is used like a spear from the spear section of Fiore’s Armizare, or posta vera croce.  The hammer is swung in a fast snapping Fendedente either mandritta or reversi (from the right or the left). The reversi fendente is only possible because of the short length of the hammer. if it was a longer length weapon, I wouldn’t want to make a reversi (from the left) fendent. The back of the stick bind up if you go to the ground as fiore suggests will happen if you strike these fast fendendte’s.

Fiore offers no remedys for he poleax section other than the master of the posta/gaurdia.  Fiore suggests that the scholars are the scholars of the plays that arrise form the posta.  so the remedy/s is/are to move from posta to posta and see where these techniques can arrise form the positions that you and your opponents weapons fall at any one time. I believe Fiore is silent on this remedy for one of the following reasons:

  • The remedy that was taught was very secret and he wasn’t ready to divulge it
  • You should be able to derive one. I think he is giving a different remedy with each description of the posta 
  • There are so many variations that you need to pick from i.e. many of them (there are three in the longsword, one in armored longsword , one in wrestling and bunches in dagger
  • The remark that if you can beat your opponents ax to the ground by all means do it. may be in of itself a remedy as he offers a number of actions that can be performed from this position. Then do the others (plays that follow).

Post Breve and Posta di Vera Croce have the hands in the other position right hand in the back and left hand by the head they oppose each other and one can moved one to the other by performing a metza volta .  One position is ideal for thrusts, one has a strong que to perform parrying actions and to use the remedy of the sword in armor.

The next pair are the conventional grip, strong hand in front by the weight. Hard mandritta fendentes, quick thrusts and attack from underneath from Fiores guardia Porta di Ferro mezzana, He says we know this game by now and the winner is the one who is smarter and quicker and more deceitful.  He offers some advise on how to use a sword against an axe in the knock ’em out of the park position of attack. Move off-line and attack the face with the thrust. Good advise.

The next two paired masters are the coda longa and the left posta di finestra. NOTE: this is not the left posta di Donna!! even though it looks like it should be– it is not because he doesn’t want you to throw a left (sinestra) fendente! This technique will get you hung up. Try it!  You will find that you get yourself in a bind with the end of the axe. So instead Fiore teaches you to pass backward and move to either posta porta di ferro mezzana  or posta di donna then delivering a blow from there. This is done while moving away from your opponent to keep you safe, and it can offer an enticing point for your opponent to attack. This can be met with a big hit if you time you movement and their attempt to strike you, in your favor. It makes a good counter to coda longs which can deliver hard fendente, and face it, it is like chopping wood and can hit hard enough to push any other attack to the ground which is the first scholar of these masters.

Will’s Commonplace book

Folks,

I hate this guy. Every time I get an idea about something to write, Will has done it better, it better researched, and more complete than I can hope to achieve. One particular example of stuff of his that is cool, the deeds of arms, I particlarly like the 15th century ones.

Check his stuff out. It will take you a year to get caught up, and by that time I might have written something worth writing.

First Time- be gentle

So this is my first blog. Not sure what it should be about, but I need to write something to be the first. It should be astounding, riveting, a marked departure form the drivel I post on facebook. It should have a picture

So how about this:

St. Michael, like St. George, if often depicted slaying a dragon. This version has a number of features that I particularly like.  He is wearing a Corrazina, a late 14th early 15th century coat of plates. It is over a mail shirt or at least voiders. He has a standard on his neck that indicates that the armor is more probably early 15th C. I particularly like the decoration on the corrazina and the hip belt. I wish he had a scabbard by his side.

The sword is very typical of this time period, a sword that Fiore himself would be proud of capable of being used in one hand or two. His head is uncovered as is often the case with these depictions.  The armor is in the Italian style and has the mail at the demi-greaves and the ankles.  One of the most interesting things about this depiction is that St. Michael is carrying a buckler, painted with a St. Georges’s cross no less.