Tuesday, June 26, 2012

No Y Chromosome? Move to Canada!

I just recently came across an article regarding a study by Thomson Reuters which measured various factors of womens' qualities of life, and rated various countries on which are the best nations to be a woman.  I should note that this is coming off the heels of the G20 summit, so the only countries which are actually in the study are in those 20 member nations...  so really, it's a measure of the nations within that relatively small subset.  Pretty much all of Africa, save, for South Africa is not represented, for instance.  Saudi Arabia and Turkey are the only Middle Eastern nations represented in any way.  The other thing is that it mixes the weighting of opinion-based polling of respondents with actual statistics.  As such, we do have to take the results with a grain of salt.

The not-even-slightly-surprising result is that the United States ranks 6th out of that list of 20 countries.  This is not entirely surprising given that it's a country where religious bullcrap is making things like women's reproductive rights a contentious issue.  We have laws in some states that force raped women to be raped a second time by a machine in order to have an abortion if they get pregnant.  Almost all the nations have an apparent income gap between men and women, but the U.S. also has a pretty bad one.

However, there are a few surprising results --

Friday, June 1, 2012

Martial Woo-Woo.

I, like most males out there, have a certain interest for the martial arts.  Even those who never learn a bit of it are at least generally aware enough to find it pretty cool.  The influx of fight flicks from Hong Kong cinema made everybody everywhere want to do chop-socky movies.  Sure it gave us everything from Black Belt Jones to some abomination of a Bollywood flick simply called Karate, but it was hard to escape the draw.  I particularly hold Bruce Lee in pretty high regard, as does pretty much anyone.  What really separated him from others, though, is not just his skill and physical presence, though.  The real mark that he made is that he was one of the first to really intellectualize martial arts.

I know this may seem a bit odd considering the movie image we have of the guy who waxed philosophical about water going into a cup and thereby becoming the cup.  Or the senior in Enter the Dragon who tells one of his junior trainees to feel rather than to think.  If you look at the work he published, and especially at the series of volumes that were collected from his notes after his death, you'll find a pretty hefty amount of collective research, and descriptions of the kinematics of various motions.  There's more than simply saying "here's how you throw a punch"...  it's "here's how you throw a punch, and here's why it works."  Here was a guy who not merely trained and worked out, he analyzed the patterns and structures of several styles, he consumed and distilled the theoretical foundations of Western sports including boxing and bodybuilding, and actually did the hard work and research on the subject well before anybody knew him as the guy who created Jeet Kune Do.

When I studied both aikido and kenjutsu, I did so on the cheap at a community college, and my shihan was a reasonably well-educated lady.  She was the sort to get into the kinematic explanations behind the motions and not into the mysticism of flow of ki/qi energy and so on.  Rather than talk about the harmonizing of souls, she would talk about orthogonal forces to change the momentum of a moving attacker.  But that's actually a little out of the ordinary.  And in fact, when she was stumped for a really solid physics-based explanation, that's when even she would resort to some weird babble like "[imagining] yourself as a tree," and what not.

I imagined myself as a tree and then I expressed imaginary annoyance at the imaginary dog imaginarily peeing on me.  Maybe that was the secret.