Wednesday, April 26, 2006

This doesn't really relate to Kung Fu but...

Good nutrition pays off.

A friend of mine had a special red silk dress made for her wedding (her husband is chinese) and sent her measurements to have the dress made... they just couldn't believe that her measurements were *real* so she had to have the dress re-done to take the waist *way* in.

It's a fabulous dress. :-)

The Original Opal

I believe her.

It's too bad, really, and unfortunate, but I can see it happening the way she says.

The thing is, if you *were* copying someone elses work you'd change the things that were left the same, wouldn't you? But if you'd read something many times and were writing your own novel with a similar "voice" and cadence and you're humming along making stuff up as you go, it makes sense that some descriptions might come out the same. I do that sometimes with my *own* stuff... not copying someone elses words (I hope) but my own... every now and then I'll think, hey wait... have I written that before? But you re-read and revise and after a while it get's all jumbled up.

Read any author who's written a lot of books and after a while phrases will start to pop out at you that are repeats from one book to another. They don't do that on purpose either.

Monday, April 24, 2006

"Damned if we do, Saddamed if we don't."

This has got to be the diffinitive answer to the "retired generals."

American Citizen Soldier : Demigods and Generals.

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My son took this picture from my parent's dock last summer.

Sun Tzu

"Thus the pinnacle of military deployment approaches the formless. If it is formless, then even the deepest spy connot discern it or the wise make plans against it."

Very cool. I like this part too...

"Men all know the disposition by which we attain victory, but no one knows the configuration through which we control the victory. Thus a victorious battle [strategy] is not repeated, the configurations of response [to the enemy] are inexhaustible."

If I'm understanding the little notes right "disposition" and "configuration" are translations of the same word.

"Now the army's disposition of force is like water. Water's configuration avoids heights and races downward. The army's disposition of force avoids the substantial and strikes the vacuous. Water configures it's flow in accord with the terrain; the army controls its victory in accord with the enemy. Thus the army does not maintain any constant strategic configuration of power, water has no constant shape. One who is able to change and transform in accord with the enemy and wrest victory is termed spiritual."

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Is that all? I want to fight some more.


My oldest daughter and her friend (in the head gear) in April.

I wish I'd got into martial arts when I was a kid, but I have to be honest. I'd probably have gotten hit in the nose and quit.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sex, Kung Fu and Cultural divide

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Kung Fu movies. If I had to chose between meeting Spielberg or Jackie Chan I'd want to meet Jackie. Jet Li is pretty darned impressive, too. And let us not neglect Bruce.

Not to favor the chinese overmuch but Steven Segal and even the incredibly sexy Van Damme come in second. Plus, they have the same problem as Chuck Norris, which is that their movies don't really age that well.

The aging problem could well be cultural. A movie set in Hong Kong or China, even if "modern" rather than set in an Historical time period, is always going to be foreign in so many ways. Maybe to a movie-goer in Hong Kong their movies age badly too. I mean, the female lead can be a complete ditz in a Hong Kong movie and it's no big deal, yet this is what I find most annoying in US movies that are a few years old. Stupid women. On second thought, even the oldest Hong Kong movies I watch... say, like the ones Jackie made when he was in his early 20's tended to have non-stupid, kick butt female characters.

BUT it may be significant that these non-stupid, kick butt female characters are not "love interest" characters. In fact, there is little sex in Kung Fu movies at all. So is it that the Hong Kong movie industry is particularly prudish or that the particular genre of Kung Fu excludes sex? I mean... Jackie got kissed once... on the *cheek*. I recall Bruce abstaining from sexual debachery while other "competitors" went for wine, women and song. He had an almost a monkish sort of austerity. In Kiss of the Dragon, Jet Li explains that he's never been with a prostitute, not ever, and at the end he holds Bridget Fonda's hand with no sexual undertone at all. Other characters are portrayed as letches so maybe it's just the hero that isn't supposed to give in to carnal urges?

Partly why I've been thinking about this is the whining about the movie Fatal Attraction 2 and how Americans are such prudes that we censor sexy stuff, that we'd rather see blood and guts than a little T and A. Like this is a bad thing. Even in American martial arts movies, the sexual content seems to be carried on by someone other than the chinese star... sort of making me wonder if they are the ones who say they absolutely will not, no way, you can't make me. Because non-chinese stars of American martial arts movies don't seem to follow the same restrictions.

Which all leads to me, as an aspiring script writer, to wonder if, at some level, no-sex doesn't work in Jackie or Jet Li's favor. Do movie goers, women like me, maybe respond more strongly to the austerity and modesty than we would respond to an actor who is pretty much pimping himself on the screen? Do blood sacrifices for friends play stronger than we realize when most of what we see involves romantic rather than platonic attachments?

Maybe, I should change the notes that I'm making to take out the romantic elements and change them for platonic same-sex friendship and loyalty elements.

It's something to think about.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I Pledge Allegiance... to what?

Instapundit had a link about how embarassed some people are by the Pledge of Allegiance. That's not particularly news. Patriotism has been seen as unseemingly simple-minded for quite a while now. Reciting the pledge is very Old School.

But I had a thought today putting this together with another trend that seems to be happening. See if you think this follows or if I've gone off the deep end.

Something that is weirdly incomprehensible to most Americans are the posters, calendar pictures, public display of foreign leaders' likenesses in their countries. If it's Putin or Qaddafi or some far East monarch... it's just *weird*. Do we put up tributes to Bush? To Clinton? Heck no. We even think that the (small, tasteful) framed portraits of the chain of command mandated in our military facilities is weird. (If occasionally useful.) The only larger than life likenessess of our leaders are protest effagies and those are weird, too, like trying to channel some other national culture than our own.

There are other factors that discourage this kind of cult of personality in the US. Foremost, I would say, is that our presidents serve such short terms. There may be other countries that have elections just as often, but how many of them limit the top spot to 8 years? Does anyone? The transitional nature of the office makes it less likely we get overly focused on who is in it.

And now I wonder if the Pledge might also contribute to keeping us from focusing so strongly on "fearless leader". Let's see if I can even remember it all... I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisable, with liberty and justice for all. Did I miss something? I'm going to have to look it up. It's one of those things that you know in your bones right up to the point that you think about it.

Do we pledge allegiance to our president? No. We pledge it to the nation and then we quickly state the most important principles that apply, liberty and justice for all.

It continues to baffle me when support for this administration is portrayed as unquestioning support for the individual in office. Where does this come from? It is weird when "the other side" crows about how Bush will bring down the whole Republican party. As if *he* as a personality embodies the whole of it. It makes me think, is this how *they* see their leaders? Do leaders need to be either worshiped or hated? I don't see that, but it worries me that a whole lot of Bush-haters seem to accept this as a matter of course.

I think that maybe, just maybe, there's a whole lot of people who need to start reciting the pledge again to get their focus off of personalities and back on service to the nation and the quest for liberty and justice for every person.

Because if I have to look forward to a future of US Presidential Calendars like the one of Putin I saw with glittery lip gloss and everything... I may be ill.

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Argh. I keep forgetting to click on the picture to get the bigger version and *then* set it as wallpaper. The auto-focus bit and the little lcd screen means I end up with lots of unfocused pictures but I didn't think it was *that* bad.

The violas are popping back up after winter even before the tulips.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Google search... What does synova mean?

How funny! I wonder who googled that question?

There's a company with the name. I think they do something tech related.

In my case though, I Anglicized a Norwegian proper name which happens to be my Grandmother's middle name. I like it. I tried to convince my husband to name our youngest daughter Synova, Nova for short... maybe she'd grow up to be an astrophysicist, eh? But he said it sounded too much like an automobile.

No imagination at all.

Friday, April 14, 2006

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Lake Lida, July 2005

Speech isn't Free until it hurts.

Just saying.

And I'm right, too.

Dubbing movies is bad. Please watch with subtitles.

I'm just saying.

(Back to more Jackie Chan... later folks!)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Does the enemy watch the American news?

I left this comment to this post on Hollywood, Interrupted.

It's racism you know. The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq can't possibly be sophisticated enough to make decisions according to their perception of the US will to fight as portrayed by the US media. Sure, maybe *we'd* be smart enough to do that, but them? What a farce! What a pile of balony! It is to laugh. Ha!

Yet as long ago as Sun-tzu people who wage war have known that military might is only a part of it and not even the largest. Sun-tzu, in fact, goes on and on about evaulating the enemy's will to fight.

The only people who don't seem to think that this matters is the media. They exist in a special place, it seems, where encouraging the enemy doesn't make them culpable for the sustained fighting that results, or the deaths.

If you peaceniks want our troops to stop dying, make our media end their encouragment of the people killing them.

Update: I knew I followed the link to Hollywood, Interrupted from one of the milblogs I read regularly but I couldn't find the link back. Well, duh, it was from Greyhawk at Mudville Gazette.

Illegal Immigration equals exploitation

I'm generally in favor of liberal immigration policy. In a way, I suppose, it's like the idea of legalizing drugs. The simple fact that drugs are illegal supports a wide range of criminal behavior and vice that is probably worse than the drugs themselves. Illegal immigration involves the people who take money for transporting people, which supports a sub-culture designed to get illicit things over our borders. Once here it supports a black market in labor and abuse and I don't think that ignoring the problem because of sympathy for illegal immigrants necessarily does them any favors.

Sure, it's anecdotal, but I worked for two days at a place where myself and one black girl were the only ones who didn't speak Spanish and more than half the people there didn't speak English. Even if every single person was a citizen, no one was going to complain about working conditions and risk losing their job. How much more will an illegal put up with? I didn't have to put up with the pain that had me bawling by time I went home after work, so on my day off I got a different job. I volunteered to tutor English... the people who came were from Viet Nam... here legally. They described work conditions, hired by people who could speak their language, fellow immigrants or children of immigrants, and I know there were labor violations. Who is going to complain? How much more will an illegal put up with? My neighbor's in-laws from Peru recommended a housekeeper to her. When she paid the girl a fair wage (and probably on the low end of that, but more than minimum wage) the in-laws had a cow. Why? Because the girl *was* illegal and they were paying her almost nothing to clean for them. If she started to get paid what was fair, she'd stop working for them for nothing. The problem for her was language... she had to work for people she could talk to.

Failing to do something about illegal immegration and all the exploitation that goes with it is NOT being a friend to these people.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Progress

I actually got three... scenes, segments, beats... written on my script today. Yay! It's not the writing that's so hard, actually, it's the choices: what comes next, why, what necessary info will fit naturally. So I got the "hard" bit written, essential information given, and went on. And I'm not sure, but I may have solved a problem that I knew was coming.

You see, if a character is going to have leet ninja skills it has to be established and other than a dialog reference to training there didn't seem to be any opportunity (I may still have to go back to the very beginning and have one or more of the kids fight back, or at least assume a back leaning stance, before getting knocked out by the gas and gathered up by the commandos.) Anyhow, I had two things that I needed to set-up... one, that the girls *can* be dangerous, and two, that they have reason to react to a forced pelvic exam, etc., as a rape.

Which, now that I think of it, is a bit of synchronisity with my daughter's Girl Scout meeting tonight as they went over sexual harassment and assault material, what to do, etc., how to be safe.

Anyhow, now I'm going to go watch a Jackie Chan movie... City Hunter, even though it's almost 10pm.

I rented three that I hadn't seen before. If you like Jackie Chan, Jackie Chan's Project A was a lot of fun. (Though the navy outfits made my daughter think of Japanese school girls, she said.) Who Am I? had it's moments and wasn't disappointing. Best car stunts ever. Don't bother to rent or watch The Prisoner unless your admiration for Jackie is rock solid because it was a stinker. The only explanation I can come up with is that it was made for the Hong Kong audience and that they really don't care if a movie makes any sense at all so long as they get to see their favorite guy in it. The script made no sense at all but Sammo Hung was great. I think it's the only movie I've ever seen where Jackie get's shot and dies at the end and it was almost bad enough that this was a glad occurance.

Wearing a Black Hat in the Movies

The movie _Unbreakable_ was based on the idea that it wasn't possible to to have a super-hero without a super-villain.

In fiction, it's true. Your hero, or protagonist, is limited by the antagonist. The antagonist can be nature in a "man against nature" story or some other problem that is equally mindless... maybe sickness or a virus. But most often the antagonist is a person or an organization of people... the bigger the better because the whole of the thing, of the movie, is going to be limited by the scope of the antagonist.

Which is why I don't mind much (if at all) when a foreign movie has the United States or some portion of it, in the role of antagonist. Without invoking an alien invasion, where can a story-teller find a more imposing force to pit against the heroes?

Monday, April 10, 2006

Politics of the Oppressed

Instapundit linked to this article about Darfur that asks why black Americans are not more involved in urging action about that crisis. My first thought is that there isn't a *special* reason that black Americans should be active about the events in Darfur. This assumption is a problem of it's own. Do we as human beings care about human beings or do we mostly only care about those who are like us?

From the article:
A multitude of factors limit black American access to the growing crisis in Sudan, where the death toll is estimated to be as high as 400,000 and more than 2.5 million people are in refugee camps following the destruction of their villages.
Firstly... this is a horror. Secondly... why did the author chose to phrase the issue as limited access? Certainly any American has equal access to the news about Darfur. How could they not?
"If more black Americans were aware, I know they would care," said Mrs. Thorpe. But, because of some levels of violence, "I've heard people say we have a genocide over here. But [compared to strife in Africa,] this is cake. We have this mentality that we're always oppressed."
Bingo.

It's the same reason that feminists and homosexuals and any other group that thrives on being oppressed amplifies the problems in the US and ignores the problems overseas. This is why not being allowed to marry in the US is far far more horrific than getting gruesomely killed in Iran for being gay. This is why it's so more desperately important to support diversity by having the Taliban Man attend Yale than it is to denounce and take action about the treatment of women in the middle east. Why get worked up over the execution of teenaged girls for the crime of being raped?

It's politics of course. If the causes of the past are supplanted then a certain political party loses. Big time. If the demographic groups that prop that party were to abandon their group identity *as it applies to politics* there would be no party at all.

This is why we get lectures every election cycle about how this group and that group are "voting against their own interests" because we all *know* what their group interests are. I can only imagine how my experience as a woman translates to the experience of people who *aren't* over 50% of the population. It's not all that hard for me to flip one in the Democratic direction and go off and do my own thing, even while they go on and on about women's interests. It's harder for blacks who chose the other party. Oh, woe to the Uncle Toms. It's harder yet for homosexuals. Just ask GayPatriot. Having independant political views from your assigned group is portrayed as self-hatred or being a traitor to your race.

To maintain the political solidarity it's necessary to keep the preditor pressure on the group. Just as soon as people start to look outside of themselves for causes they believe in, it's all over.

Thanks to Mudville's Open Post. (Always a very fun list of links.)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

It's all about reputation - 2

Sometimes, even those of us without remarkable minds have similar ideas to those who do. Maybe those ideas aren't quite as well thought out or as extensively supported as we'd like, but we have them. A few days ago I posted on reputation. I said that we (the US and the West) tend to act like prey animals. We act like food for the carnivore.

Today Vodkapundit linked to Neo-neocon, who has a wonderful post about Dr. Wafa Sultan.
Dr. Sultan pulls no punches, to say the least; she sets up a Jacksonian challenge to Western countries to begin defending themselves and their culture with greater vigor, or to face continuing to be perceived by the Islamicist jihadis as weak and therefore relatively easy prey.
It frustrates me that people don't get this. Particularly, it frustrates me that people who claim to be culturally and internationally sophisticated don't get this. Because they despise a military show of strength or even just a macho chest thumping, they figure everyone else in the world will react the same way.

Oh, I just had a terrible thought. Maybe we're acting like girls.

Lord save me from a brain that runs off on random tangents. Yesterday my kids were in a karate tournament for Kojosho karate in Albuquerque. I didn't compete. Two young men who stand next to me in class, brothers, fought in the kumite part of the competition. They are very well matched. The event started and they started to beat the crap out of each other. Granted, the way the competition is scored there's not much time for crap beating and no one actually got hurt, but it was fierce enough I heard our instructor telling them to tone it down a bit and afterward joked if they were going to be friends when they went home.

Well, of course they were. Nevermind they had equal points when the match timed out, but the both of them spit out their mouth guards and were grinning like loons.

I elbowed my husband and said, "It's a man thing, isn't it." He agreed.

On foreign policy, it seems to be a common sentiment that if we throw our weight around that people will hate us, that it's a bad thing overall and having to resort to force means that we've lost already. But maybe it's more of a man thing. One side pushes. If we don't push back, we're weak. The pushing doesn't mean that friendships can't be forged.

(Oh, help me! Now my brain wants to run off on a discussion of Jackie Chan movies I watched this weekend that began with people beating each other up only to quickly become allies... ack!)

Girls, on the other hand, tend toward scorched earth policies. We hold grudges and vendettas.

This girl, however, has to go tuck her kids in bed, sing songs and give hugs. Goodnight. :-)

Correction: Neo-neocon has posted a correction on her blog. Wafa Sultan was not the author of the post she cites. Go read her explanation. It will make more sense than my bungled paraphrase.

Friday, April 07, 2006

A call for help

I'd like to take a poll. There's a few people who come here and look and even if you never comment anywhere, please just answer this question for me real quick.

How many of you believed, before reading this news report, that when you dialed 911 that the police would come, even if you said nothing? You choke on a chicken bone, and as you turn blue you grab the phone, dial 911 and pass out with the reciever in your hand, and the police are going to show up. Right?

And if you don't speak English, you call 911, and the police come. Right?

And if your kid calls 911 the police are going to show up and as soon as they leave your kid is going to get the whuppin' of his or her life for calling 911 when it's not an emergency. Right?

And if a kid calls 911 and says that their mom passed out, send someone, the dispatcher is going to count it as a crank call because demands to get an adult on the phone aren't complied with. Right? Because the kid is mumbling. Right? And isn't hysterical. Right?

Reports are that the dispatcher won't loose her job because she's a good dispatcher and has been for years and years. She's NOT a good dispatcher. Because it's not her job to decide who really needs help and who doesn't. From the sounds of it, the poor boy's mother may have already been dead. We can hope so, or the dispatcher is going to have to live with knowing that she killed a lady. The boy did exactly what we teach our children to do.

I think I'm going to teach my children to scream like they're getting a limb torn off... just to be safe.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Reproduction is Primal

And this is why my script defending reproduction will appeal to the male age 18-25 demographic.

Oh, I'm not so foolish as to think that I can say, Hey, guys, here's a movie about babies, you're gonna love it. But since I was in school... which is a while ago... we've been on about overpopulation. On and on and on. We don't *approve* of people who have babies. Maybe if they are financially comfortable and they only have a couple of children we find reproduction tolerable. But old style ideas about virility? Oh... just *try* that one, and get back to me.

And while dooms-day population scare mongering as been the message du jour for at least 20 years we've waged a war, of sorts, on teen pregnancy. As a whole, humans are a blight on the earth, as *individuals* children ruin your life.

Is this not what we've been telling kids ever since we discovered that the sexual revolution meant teenagers getting knocked up? But what can they possibly have heard except that *they* should never have been born?

The truth is that what young people are told in school is not true. This is a quote from the article I linked above.

"What we really need to do is start thinking about controlling our population before it's too late," he said Monday. "It's already too late, but we're not even thinking about it. We're just mindlessly rushing ahead breeding our brains out."

Far from breeding our brains out, people have bought the hype about over population, and more importantly, bought as truth the idea that having children ruins your life.

People *aren't* breeding.

The US is barely hanging on to a replacement fertility rate while Europe is trying to extinct itself.

My script is a science fiction story about a clash of cultures. One is like ours. The other views children as contributers rather than consumers, as a valuable addition, respected, rather than dismissed... *capable* of understanding the big picture and acting in the interest of their people rather than social nuisances. It will appeal on a primal level to the alienation that young men feel.

Plus, they get to steal a super-secret military spaceship.

What's not to like about that?

Related: Link to the Y Files discussing Pianka. As always, far more intelligent and thorough than I can produce.

Related: This whole thing brings to mind S.M.Stirling's Draka. Particularly this book which features a willing human accomplice to Draka domination for the vision of a future of a world without the cancer of humanity. I *hated* that book when I read it. (The Draka are not very nice.)

It's all about reputation

Ian commented at GayPatriot: “Now, after three years of a difficult slog in Iraq, a resurgent Taliban, a restless homefront and growth of worldwide distrust and antagonism towards the US, there is no longer the perception that the US is not to be messed with. That is a dangerous and enduring Bush legacy.”

My reply:

Black is white. Up is down.

Our “pre-W” reputation wasn't as someone “not to be messed with.” That's complete BS. Heck, Bin Laden and friends were so convinced of it that they perpetrated 9-11. Not to be messed with? People messed with us *constantly* because they knew they *could*. All it takes is killing a few American soldiers and we run away. Over. And over. And over.

Which, in my view, is probably the most important reason that it was necessary to go on from Afghanistan to Iraq. We desperately needed to send the message that we aren’t to be messed with because not *only* will we sweep down like the judgement of God and wipe your puny tyranny from the Earth but we will go on and visit wrath elsewhere as well. No more thinking that when the sh*t hits the fan next door that you’re safe from getting splattered with it.

It's not pretty. It's not pleasant. It's actually rather cold and terrible. But so is allowing people to think that we don't say what we mean or do what we say. If Ian is right about something it's that we *must* have a reputation that we aren't to be messed with.

And frankly, we’ve got to consider body language, posture and posturing and how it is interpreted by people from a culture where *no* insult is tolerated. When we tolerate insult, act all peaceful and reasonable-like, it is interpreted, not according to *our* culture, but according to theirs. If they posture and we roll over, we’ve signaled submission and will be despised rather than respected. Saddam, under sanctions, assumed the posture of victory because by *his* rules he *was* the victor.

And we get people all worried because we might antagonize someone.

It’s amazing.

People insist on our national posture being that of a food animal and think it’s going to result in peace and happiness. Food animals get eaten and it is right and good that they get eaten. It’s their *purpose* to be eaten.

*Our* culture values humility and other remnants and artifacts of our Christian heritage. Our God voluntarily became man and allowed himself to be spit upon and killed in the most humiliating way possible in order to provide our salvation. Even if you are an athiest or pagan, this *is* what informs our culture.

Moslems will say that they respect Christ far more than any Christian because they refuse to allow that God would let any of this happen. They don't believe that God let Jesus die. Humility is degrading and entirely unacceptable in any way. Honor is more important than anything. A nation that despises itself, which is what our “body language” tells them, does not deserve or recieve any respect.

Down is up. White is black.

And why the heck is it necessary to explain this to people who percieve their side of the issue as internationally sophisticated and informed?