Saturday, January 12, 2002

This ought to boost traffic

My beautiful wife is in a dance troupe that will march in a coupla of Mardi Gras parades this year. They call themselves "the Pussy Footers" and much to the chagrin of many a drag queen (really, this is NOLA), the rules of membership are that one must be a women in her thirties. Members run the gamut of occupations: dancers, moms, a speech therapist, professionals (no not that type, stop sniggering in the back) etc. For the last few Monday nights, I have abandoned the game (which matters little to me since the Saints self destructed so spectacularly in the last month) to step outside and watch them as they gambolled by the house, practicing their routines in our Uptown neighborhood. They were easy on the eyes to say the least. One way men are permitted to participate is by walking along the edge of the parade route ensuring the revellers keep their distance and check their ardour. Owing to my size and relationship to one of the dancers I have been recuited to this duty. That's right, for Mardi Gras my wife has asked me to be a Pussy handler.
More perspective on thugs and lugs

It is funny how we all (myself included) tend to project our own beliefs on the Hockey Rink Killing. This metafilter thread is good evidence of that (were that the case were more clear cut, but alas, then it would not be such good pundit and blogger fodder). The usual suspects are all there, fighting the same fights, only using Contis and Junta as their proxies. I can only bear to read MeFi in small doses because so many threads tend to degenerate into agruements between the left and the far left (Free Republic sometimes has the same problem on the right, but I know which threads to avoid and there are still a few brave libertarians and objectivists there to stir things up. ) The below post stood out from the rest of the blather.

I don't know all of the details, but Contis was a hockey player. Hockey players fight all the time, it being a part of the game and all. I don't know how many of you are fighters (I'm guessing not many), but hockey players, boxers, people who fight a lot and therefore have lost all the fear associated with physical confrontation don't give a shit about 100 lbs. I'm one of them. And please save the "fighting is wrong" arguments for another day, the fact is that I weigh 175 lbs and I don't care if a guy's 300 lbs, big, small, it doesn't matter, weight is irrelevant, really. If a guy starts a fight with me I'm going to knock him the fuck out. Anyone who's ever been in a fight knows the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Little guys knock out big guys all the time. So forget about the size difference.

I'm willing to go out on a limb and say that Contis started the confrontation, given that Junta's complaint was that the practice was too rough in the first place. At the very least, Contis was a willing participant in the fight, trading blows with a parent who was expressing concern for his children's welfare. Not to mention that Contis had knives on his feet ("skates" is too cute a word; those fuckers are sharp) and was using them as weapons with potentially deadly force.

That's not to say that Contis deserved to die, you fucking moron, but only that he wasn't an innocent victim of an unprovoked assault by a "thug". That's oversimplification at best. The whole incident was pretty ridiculous, and both guys are to blame for their involvement, but some of you are willing to condemn Junta to life in prison because of his weight. Christ.

Contis died from a ruptured artery near his spine, not a concussion, not a crushed skull. Junta didn't beat him as he lied there unconscious and unresponsive until his face caved in and his brain fell out. If Junta isn't a "fighter," and he was attacked by Contis, fueled by adrenaline, his natural fight-or-flight response or what have you, coupled with his instinctual aggression associated with protecting his children from injury, it certainly isn't out of the realm of possibility that he simply didn't know his own strength. I certainly don't believe that Junta stormed after Contis with murderous intent and purposely killed him in front of a large crowd of onlookers thinking that he'd get away with it.

Hell, it could just have easily gone the other way. Accidents are funny that way. If Contis had landed, say, an "unlucky punch" and Junta had fallen dead on the ice, how many of you would call Contis a 165 lb "testosterone poisoned idiot" who deserved to go to jail for the rest of his life?

I would disagree with the poster about weight being irrelevant in a fight. I agree (and have stated earlier) that training can mitigate size differences, but given an equal level of training, the bigger guy wins. That is why there are wieght classes in wrestling and boxing.
FWIW, I am getting a lot of thoughtful mail on this issue and will respond to some of the more interesting points as time and compunction permit.

Friday, January 11, 2002

Up from Down Under

This letter from Russell in Oz comes from the opposite perspective and nicely sums up a lot about the nature of belligerents of all sizes:

I come at the issue of the small man syndrome from a different direction, as I am small (I'm 5'6") but solid (210 lbs). I haven't been in a real fight since I was seventeen (I'm 42 now), but I have been involved in a number of confrontations where someone has "picked" me. I've never been picked by someone smaller than me (there aren't a lot of people smaller than me). What usually happens is that the person doing the picking will back out of the fight when it becomes obvious that I am not a soft touch (generally being abusive and impugning my manhood as they back away).

I think someone that someone that starts a fight with a small man is looking for an ego boost, once they realise that there is some doubt about the outcome they go looking somewhere else. Someone that starts a fight with a big man is actually looking for a fight. Hence our experience of general male aggression is vastly different, from your great elevation you see one thing, while I, much closer to the ground, see another.

I had a friend once that lived in one of the most violent small towns in Victoria, a coal town called Moe, fighting was something locals did to fill the empty evenings. My friend had never even noticed, as far as he knew no-one had ever tried to fight him in his entire life. He was not tall enough to tempt the egos of small angry men and not short enough to tempt the courage of tall insecure men he passed through it all unscathed and unworried.

Former bouncer, bodyguard, bartender and felllow big lug Dan Dressel wieghs in at profound samuri.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Bully Update

Grasshoppa's local take on Junta et al. I'll concede he likely knows more detail since he plays at the Mass rink where this occured. I guess the DA could not ignore something like this happenning in front of kids. Nonetheless, my point about a defender's superior size, or for that matter, strength or ability or brains, as a being a factor in the harm that comes to an attacker stands. Nobody feels like pressing charges (nor, in my opinion should they) when a big bully (who starts it) gets his comeuppance from a diminuative tai chi master. Yet martial arts knowledge can be as much of an "unfair" advantage as size or strength over one who is unschooled. BTW, Clueless is his usual thorough and incisive self on the martial arts thing and, of all things, blogging, here.
Big Bully

The Junta case, in which Junta, a big lug of an exhockey player/father/truck driver is on trial in Mass for the manslaughter of Costin, an excon who attacked him at their kids' hockey practice, struck a chord with me, another big lug (6'4" 300+lbs). According to my wife, who watched much of the testimony yesterday, no one is denying the smaller guy started the fight. The gist of the prosecution's case relies on the size disparity that "makes self defense improbable" as an excuse for Junta. However this case turns out and whatever the facts are, that is an absolute bullshit reason for prosecuting. Every fight I have been in has been started by smaller guys than me, some considerably smaller. Sometimes it was groups of them. Contrary to the bully stereotype, my experience has shown that guys with "little man syndrome," as my friends (of all sizes) and I like to call it, are generally far more belligerant than big guys. My first hand experience is that these guys see a chance to prove themselves badass by taking down someone bigger than them. In there own messed up way of thinking, they have nothing to lose. If the other guy beats them up, it was because he was bigger; if Napoleon wins, he's a stud. The opposite is true for the big guy. If he loses, he's a pussy for losing to a shrimp. If he wins, he's a bully. It's not as bad if a bunch of them are coming after one big guy, but, of course, the big guy is going to get beat up worse, win or lose.

My point is, if some small guy attacks a big dude, for whatever reason, the consequences should be the resonsibility of the attacker, not the defender. That this is not the case, as we see from the current trial, and is the reason a lot of big men take abuse from smaller loudmouths, unfortunately only emboldening them more. So what is the prosecution signalling with this trial? That bigger guys should not fight back for fear of landing a killing blow? I think a better message is that belligerant little loudmouths ought not attack big dudes or anyone else lest they face the consequences. Besides, Costin was in full hockey gear and tried to stomp Junta with the blades of his skates. The fight was, according to witnesses, very un-hollywood, with lots of grappling and shoving and slipping. So in the midst of this, Junta lands a dinger that later kills Costin. So what? Even if he meant to kill Costin (and we'll never know that) Junta was the one who was attacked. If I were a Mass taxpayer I'd be pissed. Don't they have real threats to society to put away?

Extrapolate this to the current situation in the world: Some pipsqueak of a terrorist network blindsides the big ole' USA. Is the US supposed to moderate the vigor of its defense in proportion with the stature of its enemy? No, that is what we did before, and it only emboldened them. Being big and strong does not make a person or a country a bully any more than being small and weak confers virtue. The opposite would likely be easier to argue with respect to countries.

Sunday, January 06, 2002


Man, does Anne Coughman of Protein Wisdom ever take Ted Rall out to the woodshed. The best takedown I have seen yet on that nimrod. Here is a sample (Rall indented):

The way you introduce sarcasm is ingenious…
Except for those 10,000-or-so guys, the United States never risked the life of a single American soldier in Afghanistan. And though a handful of them may not have exactly made it home, who can say that they wouldn't have died anyway of, say, hypertension?

Or, say, by having some crazy fuck fly a plane into their workplace, Ted -- though that’s less likely now that so many of those crazy fucks are taking Tora Bora dirt naps, thanks in large part to those 10,000 or so “guys” who point their guns at the actual enemy. You sneering bug.

Some of my anti-establishment brethren may have trouble admitting that their predictions were mistaken, but not me.

So you agree you should be admitted, then? Finally, something we can get together on. Y'know, I hear that if you're well behaved, one of the nice nurses will return your crayons to you…

True, my view of Bush was clouded by the dark fact that he's an illegal impostor
as opposed to the more user-friendly, legal kind of impostor -- e.g., "Rall" passing himself off as a “journalist”

[...] who bullied his way into the White House

'told you Gore was soft as marshmallow slippers

[...] and rudely refused to leave even after countless recounts proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that he lost the presidential election.

Sacre bleu! Rude, you say? And how do you know what these "recounts" prove if in fact you can’t count them?

But the man's contempt for democracy is no reason to deny him his due. For just under $10 billion, he's actually delivered what the world has dreamed of for years: a stable democratic government in Afghanistan.

No, that’s just what frightened and apoplectic “root causes” apologists like you have dreamed of for years, you flaccid tool; for Bush and Rumsfeld, a stable democratic government in Afghanistan is a bonus, a secondary benefit to having forceably ripped the al Qaeda / Taliban tapeworm out of the asshole of the world. Of course, I suppose we could have killed them with sophomoric cartoono-scribbles...

Read it all. She rocks.

Sorry Poodles

A reader writes in response to my comments on Penn:
The problem with the likes of O'Rielly is that he is an
apologist for the American Empire. Although he does not directly advocate the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan or Iraq, he (with the rest of America's media) sweep these hard realities under the rug. The American government is responsible for the killing (perhaps murder) of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe (far more than Bin Laden) with the only purpose being to make the world safe for capitalism (i.e. the rich and powerful). We are told that we are doing this for our security, but I wonder. All these wars we have fought have killed thousands of Americans - far more than would have been killed if we had simply left others alone (e.g. Q: how many Americans would have died if we had stayed out of Vietnam and the communists taken over in 63 instead of 75? A: zero). But security for the people is not the US Gov.'s goal - no, the goal is the make the world safe for Corporate America(its investments, markets, and raw materials, etc.). America is an empire in every sense of the word and O'Rielley, et al, are its adoring poodles. That's what Penn was on about.

Here's one simple question: who has killed more people
around the globe: the
US government or Al Qaida?

I guess I’ll respond to your last question first.

Who has killed more people around the globe: the US government or Al Qaida?

I expect the answer is the US government. But does that really tell us anything? Were the killings in WWII or Korea unjust? I suppose we could have just licked our wounds after Pearl Harbor and cut a deal with Tojo and Hitler and saved the ourselves a lot of bloodshed. If we had not intervened in Korea, then the whole peninsula could be subsisting on tree bark and food assistance rather than just the North. Has the US fought “imperialistic” wars? Sure, the Spanish-American War comes to mind. Are we perfect? Of course not. Are we better than Al Quaida? Absolutely. Surely you are not implying that such a regime is superior to an American style capitalist democratic republic. As you demonstrate, we are one of our own biggest critics and we don’t cut the tongues from the mouths of those who dissent.

As far as the bombing of civilians goes, we absolutely have killed fewer Iraqi and Afghan civilians than their murderous leaders have. (Don’t talk to me about deaths from sanctions, Saddam could’ve diverted money from gilded palaces and bunkers to buy food and medicine for his people.) And, unlike Saddam and Al Qaida, we regret killing on either side. At some point we have to draw the line against those who would use our own disdain for bloodshed to take advantage of us. I forget who said it, some WWII general as I recall, but, “War is a set of shitty choices.” That is why civilized societies assiduously avoid it.

The American government is responsible for the killing (perhaps murder) of hundreds of thousands of people around the globe (far more than Bin Laden) with the only purpose being to make the world safe for capitalism (i.e. the rich and powerful). We are told that we are doing this for our security, but I wonder. All these wars we have fought have killed thousands of Americans - far more than would have been killed if we had simply left others alone (e.g. Q: how many Americans would have died if we had stayed out of Vietnam and the communists taken over in 63 instead of 75? A: zero)

I won’t get into 20/20 hindsight on the Viet Nam/domino effect thing other than to point out that at the time, the real “imperialist” powers in the world were the USSR and China. Both took every opportunity to gobble up their neighbors and destabilize other countries to bring them into the communist fold. Just because we eventually defeated Soviet expansionism and that communist regime and its satellites imploded so spectacularly in the early nineties does not mean that they were not a threat to the free peoples of the world. Here’s a question: how many more people would have died had we not stepped into WWII? A: one whole hell of a lot more.

As far as making the world safe for capitalism goes, fine by me. Making things safe for enterprise means making things safe for workers as well. The flood of immigrants to the west is evidence of the common man voting with his feet. The US is not responsible for the world’s ills merely because we are successful. The social and economic success of new capitalist democracies like Singapore, Japan, Taiwan and even Israel proves that letting men benefit from their labors, rather than making them slaves to the state, creates wealth. Note that those countries are comparatively bereft of natural resources other than people, yet their citizens are spectacularly prosperous when compared to mineral and oil rich countries like most of those in Africa and parts of South America where totalitarian command “economies” keep their people poor.

Besides, what is so bad about bad about corporate America? Corporate values tend to reflect those of the country. A so-called sweatshop in Thailand provides a future to women other than selling themselves to European tourists and American sailors. What is the better alternative? Islamofascism? How many factories did Al Qaida open? Socialism? Doesn’t work without capitalists creating the wealth. Communism? Chortle. Capitalism has done a hell of a lot more good than all the UN initiatives and protests against globalization put together. No other system unlocks human potential better than one that combines enlightened self-interest with rule of law. I’ll take Microsoft over some bunch of government mandarins any time.

But security for the people is not the US Gov.'s goal - no, the goal is the make the world safe for Corporate America(its investments, markets, and raw materials, etc.).

Security for the people had better be a goal or we will elect a new government. I’ve already addressed Corporate America above.

America is an empire in every sense of the word and O'Rielley, et al, are its adoring poodles. That's what Penn was on about.

Actually, America is an empire in some senses of the word. Here’s the definition according to Webster:

1 a (1) : a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority; especially : one having an emperor as chief of state (2) : the territory of such a political unit b : something resembling a political empire; especially : an extensive territory or enterprise under single domination or control
2 : imperial sovereignty, rule, or dominion

No matter what some wags might say, we don’t have an emperor. Besides, as defined, empire is a value neutral term, defining a major political unit of great extent. The EU and China and even Mexico are as imperial, more so in China’s case, as the US. If you speak of empire as something that seeks to expand its dominion over people, then I give you Al Qaeda’s perversion of Islam, China’s lust for Taiwan, and Saddam’s foray into Kuwait.

If advocating the system that has protected the rights of its citizens, given hope and wealth to hundreds of millions and actually saved the world from itself more than once, woof, count me in with the lap dogs. I have yet to hear any Penn-like naysayer advocate anything better. If America is guilty of imperialism, it is inadvertent cultural imperialism. For better or worse people all over the world like Penn and his colleagues’ movies and his ex wife’s music.