Movie night

… is Friday night. Couple of calls from Eldest making her way in the fabled land of Oz over this week, which makes me think she’s nerving up to break some ‘news’.

Anyway news or no news. We have finally seen “The Death of Stalin” which has some of the local lefties whining that it wasn’t ‘historical’. Of course it wasn’t, it’s a bloody satire for heaven’s sake. Which simply reinforces my observation that the extreme left isn’t exactly a hotbed of intellectual finesse, merely a slough of dogma. As is the extreme right, But that’s another story. As a committed very slightly right of centrist, I have no real sympathy for either camp. Both are just as toxic.

Anyway, the movie. Howlingly funny and chock full of dark and bitter parody. Steve Buscemi as Kruschev was great, and as for Jason Isaac’s portrayal of Zhukov, led to some of the best scenes in the whole piece “Where’s a man got to go to get some lubrication?”. Watching the portrayal of a murderous dictator dying in a pool of his own piss because everyone was too scared of him to see if he needed help – utterly priceless. One for the DVD collection.

Tonight we fired up the big screen at home and instead of paying forty bucks plus to sit in a movie theatre with all the attendant annoyances, like people talking through the performance. “What happens next is..” Fidgets and seatkickers, cell phone addicts and those interminable extended advertorials hosted by gushingly embarrassing perfect skinned teen presenters which encroach ever further into the performance. I swear the last time we went three weeks ago, the movie was scheduled to start at ten to three, but the fucking advertorials went on until five past.

So, what was last night’s first movie our home big screen? Ah yes, the star studded CGI-fest “Fantastic Beasts and where to find them” Verdict? Didn’t really like it much and after having bitten all the heads off my jelly baby ration, I fell asleep twenty minutes into the movie, so I can’t really comment apart from that J K Rowlings brainchild didn’t really grab me. Just couldn’t get engaged in the story. I suppose it wouldn’t be a waste of money if you like your ham sliced thick. Otherwise it was a glitter ball of a production. All flash but no real substance.

So for the second offering of the evening I suggested that we watched the low budget made for TV movie “Thin ice” Admirably held together by veteran actor Tom Selleck’s performance as small town police chief Jesse Stone (not to mention the dog). Much slower paced, finer story details, better and far more nuanced performances. I was totally engaged, despite having seen this particular episode in the series twice before.

I like the Jesse Stone series. Solid stories, sound characters and no pointlessly happy endings. Mysteries are solved, sometimes too late and there’s more than a hint of the rebel in Jesse Stone which resonates with me. As he states with no little irony, “I’m a small town cop, mostly I give out parking tickets.” Yes, well it would wouldn’t it?

When it comes to movie characters, I think that what engages me the most is their vulnerabilities. Their weaknesses rather than their strengths. If they’re all weak it makes me want to scream at the screen “Grow a fucking spine why don’t you!” If they’re all strong and are too bloody perfect I want to switch off. But if they’re flawed, human and prone to cock-up, then I’ll watch.

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Don’t give a……

The weather continues colder than usual, and we’re getting out first decent bit of sunshine for a month, which is a relief. Don’t know what’s happening to the weather, but it’s definitely a lot cooler this year. Locally the flowers and tree blossoms are almost a month late. Farmers can’t plant yet and the temperature here in Victoria is decidedly chilly. Which is odd, considering all the prophesies of doom we’ve been fed over the years. I think we’d all welcome a little warming right now.

On the upside I’ve just bought a copy of Mark Manson’s ‘The Subtle art of not giving a fuck’ which should be arriving tomorrow as an antidote to all the emotionally underdeveloped stuff happening online. Not that I actually do give a spit about the twatter hate mobs roaming the Interweb like weaponised teenage girl gangs. Which is really all they are.

Personally I tend to leave twatter to others. It’s too full of bitch fights and pubescent personalities. To be honest it’s outgrown any facility or worth as the hormone-crazed lunatics are well and truly running the asylum. See the little talk between Jordan Peterson and Johnathan Haidt below which rather neatly explains the current state of (anti) social media.

Does this point of view make me a Dinosaur? Maybe. But then I don’t really give a fuck about that. My weaponised apathy acts as an antidote to all the hate mobs online insanity.

Sweet FA

Not much happening at the moment apart from work, work, work. Sweet Fanny Adams in fact. Just number crunching, which isn’t part of my usual workaday skill set, but it’s not really dragon magic, just a big game of arithmetical join the dots. I’m just mildly surprised that no-one else in this particular company has just buckled down and sorted out the mess they created for themselves. Oh well, it all makes work for the working man to do. As in ‘the gas man cometh’. See below.

I see that Starbucks is caught in a perfect PC storm where two guys who wanted to use premises without the normal niceties of a commercial transaction cried ‘foul’ when they behaved like arses and got nicked. Now that haven or PC hipsters has come under fire for asking two of a protected class to behave like ordinary people or leave. Does the boycott these Twatterers are talking about mean we’ll be able to get a table now all the latte classes will be boycotting Starbucks? Good. Although this means the hate mob will have to find another coffee shop chain to haunt. Who knows. if they all fuck off and stop hogging tables and bandwidth for hours at a time maybe other patrons will get a look in? As far as coffee shops are concerned, these keyboard warriors can’t be the most profitable of customers.

Mrs S likes Starbucks, but honestly I’m not that impressed. My taste is for less bitter brews. I prefer Italian roasts like Lavazza myself.

The nature of ‘Hate’

My, my. This is an interesting one. We see incidences where the state and various witch hunting twatter mobs want to punish people for saying the ‘wrong’ thing. Or having a bit of a public meltdown. Or making a silly joke to annoy their partner. There’s an awful lot of hate out there in Interwebland. Or so you’d think.

Mrs S and I were discussing this topic recently while annoying serving staff kept on trying to bust in on our conversation with repeated “Is everything all right?” butting in to conversations without having the good manners to let me finish what I was saying. Who tells them it’s okay to do this? If I’m still talking and the serving person has delivered my food and drink that’s the last I need to see of them unless there is a problem, which there so rarely is. I haven’t bitten anyone yet, but I’m often sorely tempted to deliver a stern lecture on good manners to intrusive serving staff. Which doesn’t make me a ‘hater’ by the way, simply someone who doesn’t like to be treated disrespectfully by people expecting a reward for ‘good’ service.

Besides, who defines what is ‘hate’? The courts? Farcebook or Twatter? Some humourless mentally underage YouTube ‘moderator’? Here’s a thing; what is ‘offensive’ to some of their more hypersensitive users may to me or others simply be part of the healthy cut and thrust of debate. Having a differing opinion is not offensive. Making a rather lame joke is not offensive. However, posting personal attacks, doxxing, threats of violence, attempts at intimidation and public campaigns to get someone fired or attacking their livelihoods, I think most sober and sensible people can agree, are most definitely ‘hateful’. All else is political peccadillo and uninformed frippery.

Which is the consensus Mrs S and I came to. We also came to the conclusion that British Columbia, Canada has become a Stepford kind of place. Which we’re finding increasingly creepy. We’re also coming to the conclusion that language is changing significantly, because the words ‘Activist’ and ‘Arsehole’ (US / Canada ‘Asshole’) are rapidly becoming synonyms.

Petersonism

Having finished my second re-read of his work ’12 Rules for life – an antidote to chaos’. To bowdlerise Mark Anthony’s funeral speech from Julius Caesar; I write to praise Jordan B Peterson, not to bury him. He has it. In his video lectures lie the answer to the craziness of compelled speech and the ugliness of political correct(less)ness.

Like the one below, he addresses the concepts with a sympathetic interviewer. Although he’s demonstrated an ability to operate in what others would call ‘hostile environments’. Like more than holding his own in hostile interviews, like with that of Cathy Newman.

Incidentally, I found among all the biblical stories, where Jordan draws upon the folk tales ensconced within the Christian bible (And Walt Disney), a lot of principles which I’d always tried (and too often failed) to live up to, much of worth and use. Like the stuff my Dad tried to teach me but failed. So I had to learn for myself, and apply what little wisdom I obtained to my life. Which has been an uneven process. The problem for me was always the religious references. As a teen I saw how organised religion poisoned communications between people, only serving the believers while punishing those for non-belief. So the moment religion crept into the argument, I switched off. I suspect a lot of other people felt this way too.

Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps these folk tales he draws on could do with a little re-framing?

Play Dirty

Regarding the recent spate of shootings in the USA, I was watching the public response to the London terror attacks where some people took to fighting back in the only way left open to them. Thirty years ago things would have been different as British and American men (and women) were far more accustomed to fighting with their fists and feet. Indeed, within some neighbourhoods and social groups this still happens. Especially in parts of London, where the 2018 murder rate recently topped that of New York. Although still nowhere near that of Los Cabos, Mexico, where the murder rate per 100,000 was 111.33 (Total 365). But that’s by the by. London and New York don’t even register in the top 50 of murder capitals.

Thirty plus years ago in the UK, a more usual response to a man with a knife wildly slashing out and stabbing random people, at least in the circles I once moved in, would have been them immediately getting bashed over the head or in the face with the nearest handy object like a chair, pool cue, beer glass, or bottle (Broken or not). Usually after being partially blinded by getting someone’s drink in their face. It’s amazing how quickly that can stop an assailant in their tracks.

Now you can take this at face value for what it’s worth, but in my late teens I was told by a snooker playing boon companion who others described as an ex “rough house barman” who had done this sort of thing and got away unscathed on more than one occasion (But not when four attackers got him down and beat him so hard they burst his left eye, so his story went), the only way for an unarmed combatant to take down any armed assailant is to throw a heavy or blinding object at their eyes, following through immediately with something else heavier and to keep hitting their face, eyes and ears until they drop their weapon and run, or it is safe for the defender to do so, like if their assailant is down and definitively out.

Now I have to stress that this sort of tactic is last ditch, do or die, but if you’ve no other protection, it seems the only immediate way to survive an armed assailant is to attack your assailants eyes and keep on attacking. Literally to blind the bastard. A kick in the unmentionables can also disable, but God help you if you miss. Better to blind, knock them down, then kick them in their tender parts just to make sure they stay down. Then run. Apparently this is a well known special forces tactic. Blind or blindside your attacker(s), close the distance, get inside their swing and keep at their tender parts with whatever comes to hand until they’re hors de combat. Use them as shields against their fellow assailants if need be. Just keep them so busy trying to keep their eyesight that they don’t have time to focus on using any weapon(s). Disarm if you can, kick their weapon well out of reach and don’t muck about.

Personal anecdote here, I was actually forced to fight this way once, in sheer terror I might add, against two other guys, one with a large knife, one with a large adjustable wrench, and blow me down it works. All really that matters is speed, aggression and surprise. The guy with the weapon always expects others to back down. My particular assailants ran from a complete headbanger with an apparent kamikaze complex (L’l old bookish me) swinging a chair and screaming blue murder. Which probably saved me a trip to hospital or worse. All I know is that they ran like hell and never came my way again. Which is lucky for me because I generally abhor violence and will walk ten miles to avoid a possible fight.

Secondary anecdote; I once had nine types of crap beaten out of me when I went into a scrap half-heartedly. Two guys. One baited, the other one drop kicked me in the back from behind. Next thing I know is I’m on my knees taking a kicking to the head and shoulders. All because I thought it was a stupid drunken fight that wouldn’t come to anything. Now I was lucky to get out of it with just a broken nose and without a fractured skull. Which served me right. After that I always asked a mate to ‘watch my back’ when going to places where trouble might lurk. On the proviso that I would do the same for them and never, ever get into a fight unless I was prepared to go all in. Must have worked, because I never caught another beating like that again.

Lets face it, if some nutter is yelling “Allar akbar!” or similar and trying to stick a bloody great knife in you, last resort tactics like spitting in their eyes and at the same time whacking at their faces and eyes with the nearest relatively heavy object or even your fingernails in their eyeballs may just stop them cold. Which sort of dirty tactic may be all that stand between you and bloody oblivion. The idea is that they will be so busy trying to defend their sight that they won’t have time to use their weapon. Then once the attacker is disabled or distracted long enough, get out of there, fast. Leg it. Put as much distance as you can between you and them, and preferably some big, heavy and above all, lockable doors. It may just save your life and the lives of others around you because chummy may still have their weapon but is now easier pickings for the Police, when they eventually arrive. The Police in turn may thank you, but they probably won’t. Indeed, in the UK and Australia they’re likely to arrest the victim and let their assailants off. Why, I have no idea.

Personally, I wouldn’t hang around to find out. Getting clear relatively unscathed should be the only reward you will ever need. You may even get a little hurt in the process, from bruises or a scratch to a wound needing stitches, been there, done that, but it’s way better than getting very dead indeed.

This is also the secret behind why a hundred pound, five foot four woman can take down a six foot four body builder with a black belt in Martial Arts. And I’ve actually seen that happen. Mind you, she was an ex-Greenfinch, a female ex-squaddie who’d actually seen active service in Ulster, and the guy was a Dojo only fighter, so maybe I shouldn’t have been so surprised. He certainly was.

Now I know this is purely for one on one situations, because two nasty bastards with knives or guns can ruin anyone’s entire weekend. But the cardinal rule is this; don’t cry, don’t scream, just disable your immediate assailant, put them down hard, kick them hard while they’re down if you can (In the side ribs works nicely -nice big target area – very sensitive), then get the hell out of the way if you can, and for fucks sake don’t hang around to film the fun with your rinky-dinky little smartphone. Terrorism or serious bar fights are not a spectator sport. One of life’s simple truths is that you cannot upload to your playlist of funny cat video’s on YouTube if you are languishing in hospital or worse, seriously dead. Also remember, anything can be turned into a weapon, even the spine of a paperback book or a tightly rolled up newspaper (The notorious ‘Brummie Brick’). I’ve even seen a lightweight folding aluminium table pushed corner first into an attackers face making both an adequate shield and weapon. The trick is not to let them back you into a corner.

And you don’t need a gun. Just looking at my desk I can see at least four items within arms reach that can be used to stop and possibly kill an assailant. A 30oz glass paperweight (Heavy enough to crack a skull), pens (One pushed into the eye socket can ruin anyone’s day), a paperknife (Likewise or into any soft tissue; eyes, neck, belly or groin), a small tray (Swung hard edge-first into the larynx or across the bridge of the nose). A hardback book likewise. Even the spine of a heavy paperback systems manual, providing it’s held and swung right, can fracture a skull. My kitchen by contrast is full of lethally sharp bladed and heavy objects that can ruin any home invaders day. From my expensive German and French bladed cooking knives to either of my heavy cast iron skillets. Not that I want either my knives or skillets damaged – they’re too valuable.

The simple truth is that anything that can be thrown or made solid enough to be held and swung hard enough to blind. Dirt in the face, pepper (Cayenne especially), even squirted ketchup (Chilli sauce or tabasco works best) will do and you don’t even need to be a black belt in Asemi-detached, Deja-foo-jong with fried rice or any other martial art to do it. If your attacker is bigger and stronger than you, anything in the soft parts should be considered fair game. Survival is all that counts.

Now I know as a society in the West we have generally become more peaceful, less prone to settle our differences with fists than in the days of my youth. Indeed, civil society nowadays runs on this principle. Overall this is a good thing. But if we are being attacked by people with bloody murder in their hearts and hands and the Police are minutes (and longer) away, what else are ordinary members of the public to do? We are not important, well apart from to ourselves. We the public have no armed bodyguards like politicians or the elites.

And like it or not, the everyday forces of law and order are no more superhuman than anyone else. In the UK, all they have are batons and maybe pepper sprays if they’re bloody lucky, and we expect them to cope with fanatics bent on mass murder? Seriously?

Indeed, if some crazy pulls a big knife or a gun then gets a drink thrown in their face, or spit in their eyes followed by a swung chair over the head and a few more people join in, kicking and punching. How do you think the would-be killers are going to react?

Answer; they will go down.

Remember John Smeaton, a Glasgow Airport baggage handler? Or Newsagent Mohammed Afzah? Chef Florin Morariu? Other ordinary, nameless people who bombarded the London Bridge attackers last year with bottles, tables and glasses. They saved the lives of others. No-one can calculate how many. Five? Ten? Fifty? All we know is that without their intervention, the body count would have been higher. Like with those guys who took down a gun toting crazy on that train to Amsterdam.

The examples are all out there. Given the attitude of the certain powers that be to favour a certain religious group in case the officers in question are seen as ‘racist’ or ‘phobic’ or they’ve been given orders to ‘wait for backup’ to tackle a weaponised, off his meds nutcase. Meaning you may have to fight for your life alone. Why? Because you may be the only one who can. As an observation I’d say that in general, people have forgotten how to fight hand to hand. Perhaps these are skills that the populace at large may have to relearn. Or at least turn their own desperation around and use their fear to fight back when occasion demands.

On the other hand you could rely on this one simple rule, which I’ve found is an absolute life saver; whatever you do, don’t get into a fracas unless there is absolutely no other alternative. Keep your eyes open and don’t escalate, because as I have found to my own cost; you have to watch your back because no-one else will.

I’m not talking they’re-all-out-to-get-you paranoia here, just a little everyday situational awareness. Like looking left and right before you cross a road. Being aware of your surroundings and actions. Staying clear of trouble. Maybe taking a martial arts class or three to learn a little close up and personal self defence. Doesn’t take much. I prefer Judo and Atemi-Jitsu myself. Far more relaxed. And they work. They also teach confidence and self discipline which is a plus. Not like all those flashy jumps, punches and kicks some places teach. A block, hip throw or wrist-lock will still work, even if you mis-time it. Not so a punch or kick. Besides, punching and kicking, if you don’t know what you’re doing (or in the heat of battle, do it wrong) can actually hurt you more than the object of your attention. As I know to my own cost. Floating bone splinter in left hand still not healed right after three decades.

One last thing; if forced to fight this way in self defence, accept you will get hurt when you go all in, but getting hurt on your feet fighting for survival is far preferable (At least to me) to the shame of cowering and dying on your knees like some animal in a slaughterhouse. When there is no other alternative. Especially if you’re terrified. Fear is useful. The adrenaline boost it brings will give you speed and strength in an emergency. Which may just be enough. Don’t think, just do. Like they tell you in this handy little book. If you’re too  cheap to buy a copy, there’s a good online version here or a copy of the hand to hand fighting manual ‘Get Tough’ here. Dated or not, these are the only manuals on self defence you will ever need.

Authors note; if you’ve seen it in the movies, it probably won’t work. Screen fighting is not real fighting. Even Jet Li fakes it.

This is where the line between survivor or victim lies. Choosing to play dirty for your life. Because when push comes to shove, yours is the only one that matters. May you, gentle reader, never have to make that choice for real.

Update:
Have a listen to Geoff Thompson (Thanks Bucko) on violence.

A visual treat

As a lover of ‘hard’ sci-fi, every so often you come across stuff that tweaks a nerve. This offering from Artifex studios had me riveted. Although while one of the scenes was playing I was a bit irritated at the Astronauts reactions to an emergency. Why the hell did he not have his freaking helmet on?

Verdict; could have been a little better with more realistic performances. In that I mean less overt emotion, not more, a more stunned reaction at the end, a little evidence of disorientation maybe. Overall, very, very well done indeed. Almost, but not quite great. Adam Stern is definitely a director to watch. Just needs a bit more nuance and he’ll have it bagged and tagged.

Certainly beats a lot of the rather second rate stuff appearing on NetFlix.