Jan 02 2009

Self-defense is your duty and a form of community service

Category: education,national security,societyharmonicminer @ 10:43 am

When you don’t defend yourself from attack (when that option is available to you), you are a co-dependent with your attacker, and bear at least some responsibility for the fate of future victims of your attacker. Doug Giles has an interesting article about giving his daughters martial arts lessons here. It’s all very interesting. The money quote:

If you decide to attack your aggressor, do so quickly and with complete conviction. Attackers are most often cowards and prefer to attack easier and more submissive targets.

In the article, Giles interviews the martial arts trainer of his daughters, and it’s all pretty good advice, not Hollywood unrealistic, just straightforward common sense, highly recommended.

I think this is something most parents should consider providing for their children. And parents should teach children to be aware of their surroundings, by sharing with their children what they are thinking when they’re out and about. Sadly, most parents have been taught to be victims by schooling and television/movies, where any sort of weapon waived around is thought to be a magic wand causing complete paralysis in the victim, and where only heroes with black belts can successfully defend themselves.

If you can possibly do so, put your kids into training in something that is not oriented to “dojo ballerinas” but is more practically oriented to getting the job done, without what Bruce Lee called “the flowers”, i.e., moves that look pretty but are complicated, hard to remember, and depend on your opponent doing what you expect in order for your counter to work.

My personal recommendations: 

1)  JKD (Jeet Kune Do), Bruce Lee’s “system” (it isn’t, exactly) that borrows the most practical aspects of many different arts

2)  Krav Maga, an Israeli adaptation with enormous amounts of real world experience backing it up

3)  Jiu Jitsu –  a Brazilian adaptation of Judo and other arts

These are all “current generation” arts, i.e., they are not essentially the same as they were 300 years ago (or 1300!), but represent evolutionary adaptations and blending of multiple streams and traditions, a blending that took place in the last few decades, and represents the best of the best.

My kids study JKD.  We were lucky enough to live near one of the few students of Bruce Lee.

And, to requote:

If you decide to attack your aggressor, do so quickly and with complete
conviction. Attackers are most often cowards and prefer to attack
easier and more submissive targets.

This has a certain bearing on foreign policy and war-fighting, does it not?  I have wondered more than once what would have happened in Iraq if we had shot looters from the beginning, and responded forcefully to the first couple of terrorist acts, especially in Fallujah, Mosul and such.  Our weak initial response to these events left the populace feeling that we would not or could not protect them, and left the Islamofascist cretins with the impression that we could be had.  And that was very nearly true, before the surge.  If we had taken early, very stern action, showing we just would not tolerate looting, terrorism, or people who provided safe haven for terrorists, we would have been criticized for harshness, but consider the tens of thousands of lives, mostly Iraqi, that would have been saved.

When your enemy (the one who has decided HE is YOUR enemy) is allowed to think, even for a moment, that he can proceed with minimal resistance, you have just multiplied your problem by an order of magnitude.  It is still possible to defeat a confident enemy who thinks victory is assured…  but it’s lots harder, and costs more.

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Jan 02 2009

the Impossible dream?

Category: science,spaceharmonicminer @ 9:43 am

For 50 years we’ve been Waiting for ET to phone us.

West Virginia. It is 6 am on an April morning in 1960 and Frank Drake is freezing cold. He peers up towards the focal point of the radio telescope. He mounts a flimsy ladder to the top and climbs into a space about the size of a garbage can. For the next 45 minutes, he tunes the receiver inside, which feels like starting an old car. He climbs back down and begins to listen.

Drake and colleagues were conducting a seminal experiment: the first modern search for extraterrestrial life. For four months, the researchers used the Tatel Telescope in Green Bank to listen for any intelligent signals from the stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani that might be hidden on the same wavelength as radiation emitted naturally by hydrogen. Drake named the effort Project Ozma after the princess in the 0z books by Frank Baum, who wrote that he used a radio to learn of events there.

April 2010 will mark the 50th anniversary of the start of Project Ozma, and those involved in the search for extraterrestrial life, or SETI, will be raising a glass. Not only did the experiment inspire countless people to continue the search, it brought alien-hunting into the mainstream and arguably seeded the science of astrobiology.

Other famous searchers for things that were never found:

   Albert Einstein and Unified Field Theory.

   Don Quixote and defeatable windmills

   Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth

   Isaac Newton and a way to turn lead into gold

   AI researchers and actual machine intelligence

   Modern physics and cold fusion

You get the idea.  Some things just SOUND plausible, even likely.  The argument that “the universe is just so big that there has to be intelligent life out there” is like that.  It just instinctively sounds right.

That doesn’t make it right.

And even if they are there, the aliens are almost certainly far, far ahead of us, so far that we wouldn’t recognize one of their artifacts or communications methods if we saw it.  Or, they are so far behind us that they’re still working on inventing the bow and arrow, or controlling fire.  The odds of intelligent aliens in a detectable state of technological development anywhere near us are so small as to be laughable.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ll all for funding more SETI, though I’m not acquiescent about more active approaches.  ET may not be nice.

But I don’t expect much to be found.