TNET 45: Baelin’s Route

This is a kickstarter funded short film made by a group of New Zealand actors.

It is not the mostest originalest story ever written and it does contain a lot of fanservice to fans of their Epic NPC man series that probably does not resonate with audience outside that particular circle.

But I liked it and maybe some of you will too.

Open thread, talk whatever you like, just do not be an asshole.

Previous thread.

Deadlier Than Chucking Nuns – And Legal!

In my last rant about the stupid “weapon” law in Germany, I mentioned that nuns chuckers are illegal to even own and use as training equipment. Similar restrictions apply to kusari, monkey’s fist, and several other weapons that are essentially rope/chain with a metal weight attached to the end.

Today I would like to expound more on the stupidity and nonsensicality of this law. Because when I mentioned that I used to train with nunchaku, what I did not mention was how I started. I did not have nunchaku at first, and it took me a long time to make them because I first had to get my hands on some suitable wood, then a piece of chain, then to figure ut how to make them, etc. This shortly after the fall of the iron curtain when buying even simple things still could be challenging, the internet did not exist and I was a kid with zero money anyway.

But what I did already have was jumping rope. So I took it, tied several knots on the rope to adjust the distance of the handles at the desired length, and voila! I had perfectly suitable training nunchaku. Not for training combat, but certainly for training flourishes, which is what I did. It also had the added benefit that the handles did not have too much mass to them, so even when I hit myself (which did happen at the beginning), it was never anything even remotely dangerous. It was also a great workout, much more fun than using the jumping rope for its original purpose. And then when I finally got some real nunchaku, I already had some muscle memory to use them safely. Which I did. And since the nunchaku weighed more than the jumping rope, the workouts got even better.

And remember, the reason why nunchaku are banned in Germany is that they can be used as an effective garotting weapon (no they can’t), and the reason for banning ropes/chains with weighted ends is because they are highly dangerous impact weapons by generating momentum by slingshot/whip effect (at usual length,  they don’t, it is just angular momentum like with a hammer, the only benefits to the wielder are that there is no shock transfer to the hand and compact size).

But guess what – jumping ropes, even with handles from metal and adjustable rope length, are legal in Germany! A thing that would be both much better for garotting than nunchucks and that could generate a lot more momentum than an illegal monkey’s fist keychain!

I will leave you with that thought.

How Many Nuns Would Nunchucks Chuck…

… if nunchucks could chuck nuns?

I am going to ramble a bit about my pet peeve nonsensical weapon bans and regulations around the world. I am in no way a freedom absolutist in this regard. Weapons are dangerous objects that definitively need to be regulated, and the more dangerous a weapon is, the stricter regulations regarding its accessibility to people should apply. There should be background checks, aptitude tests, mandatory training, and licensing for all firearms. But banning hand weapons is useless and oftentimes downright silly and makes no sense whatsoever.

Take for example the titular nunchucks. I have trained with nunchucks as a kid, I have never hurt my self and I never broke anything either. It was great fun and it was beneficial to me. They are great for hand-eye coordination, great for training speed, and spatial awareness, and it was a good workout too. What it was not – despite me not knowing it at the time – was useful combat and martial arts training applicable for self-defense. Nunchucks are a terrible weapon, although they are better than nothing (not better than running away).

To my great surprise a few years ago, I have learned that nunchucks are banned in Germany. Not only to carry around but to own or manufacture. You will not find Karate or Kobudo class in Germany that trains in their use, not officially at least. That is daft, especially with the reason given – they can be used as a garotting weapon. Well, theoretically, maybe, but they would be awfully ineffective for that. That is not what they are designed for.

And since I have already sold knives to people in Germany, I have looked into laws regarding them a bit and those are too silly squared. Knives that can be opened with just one hand are banned to carry. Knife with a fixed blade can be carried if one is currently performing an activity facilitating its use – like fishing, hunting, or mushroom gathering – but I have read some stories about knives confiscated on the way to a forest, so it can depend on how pissy the policeman you have encountered feels that day. And balisongs are banned to even own, just like nunchucks. I did not dig too deep into that, but whatever the reason, it is just silly.

Because balisongs are really, really bad pocket knives. Their advantage over other pocket knives is that they are very easy to make, but that’s it. They cannot be made very sturdy, their very construction means the blade will be always a bit wobbly. They cannot have any meaningful handguard so when stabbing something with them, there is always the risk of your hand slipping on the blade upon hitting some resistance. And several other things make them bad. The only thing they are really useful for are the same things that other small pocket knives are useful for – cutting food, opening packages, and so forth.

When watching some random videos on YouTube recently I have learned that flails and maces are allegedly illegal in parts of Canada too. And again, I fail to recognize the reasons for this.

In the UK, the reasons given for these imbecilic weapon bans are to prevent gang violence. It does not seem to work. You can ban nunchucks and kusaris, but you cannot ban keychains. You can ban knives, but not screwdrivers. You can ban maces, but not spanners, and hammers – and guess what, the gangs are using these everyday objects exactly for that reason.

I suspect that these weapons were made illegal because they were portrayed as very deadly in 90s action flicks. If so, then legislators enacting these laws should learn the difference between a movie and reality. Bruce Lee movies are NOT documentaries!

But OK, when these laws are in the EU, they are very silly, but at least they are somewhat consistent with the overall culture. But when they are enacted in the USA, their silliness condenses into a black hole of daftitude.

Now one can say that nobody actually needs weapons like nunchucks, maces, or similar and I should shut up about this. I disagree, but I won’t argue against that right now.

 

TNET 44: Manscaped

I am not going to embed any of those or link to their site, but I have got an awful lot of ads on YouTube lately for the products in the title and I totally do not get it. Like, at all, on so, so many levels. It is a male-centered effort similar to the one that convinced women they should shave their legs.

At some time in our evolution, our species has decided for selecting for hair that grows almost indefinitely on our heads and to a very limited degree on other parts. It is a sad fact that cutting/trimming or excessively grooming head and facial hair is a necessity, otherwise it would get too big and entangled and would impede normal function. Those are our species’ equivalent of peacock’s tails or irish elk’s antlers. And I do get why someone would opt for regular shaving instead of regular trimming for whatever reasons – convenience, aesthetic preference etc. We have to chose there one of several options.

But I completely do not get why I should shave my chest or my groin. And I won’t. Regular hygiene is sufficient to keep me comfy and non-smelly and there is absolutely no health benefit to shaving body hair. In my case, there is even a downside which also the reason why I have a beard – I have sensitive skin and I react badly to shaving. However, that is not the point. We are the only species that is capable to alter or even downright mutilate perfectly healthy bodies for mere fashion. I will never understand why some people feel the need to inject pigment into healthy skin, or pierce and cut healthy functional organs in order to put pieces of metal in them. Oftentimes in a manner that impedes normal functioning and sometimes even endangers health.

I am not saying people should not be allowed to shave their balls, tatoo their faces, or pierce their tongues. Your body, your choice, just do not expect a compliment from me and we will get along just fine. But I find it ridiculous if it is a personal choice, doubly ridiculous if it is a fashion trend and several orders of magnitudes ridiculous if it is a concentrated effort of a company to sell me products that I neither need nor want. Unfortunately, they will probably succeed in convincing some, even though not me personally.

Open thread, you can talk whatever you want, under the condition of not being an asshole.

Previous thread.

Happy New Year!

Yes, I know, it’s late.

No, I didn’t have a hangover. It’s just that we spent a lot of time together. Turns out that keeps me from the computer.

©Shivia, all rights reserved

We had a very quiet New Year’s Eve with good food (more come Tummy Thursday), Dinner for One (and Dinner for Brot), a German New Year’s Eve tradition, and some socially distanced cheers with the neighbours outdoors. The little one got told to put on shoes, and she complied in the most adolescent way possible:

©Giliell, all rights reserved

I have also been very nasty to Mr: I told him exactly what I want for my birthday and then I refused to order it myself because seriously, he can’t rely on me always doing the internet shopping. Turns out, he’s a big boy and can actually do it if there’s no wife to dump it on. At least I hope so. I’ll see when my birthday comes around…

Speaking of gifts: This is what Mr got for Christmas*:

I definitely love Rüdügür (the cleaning robot. The aardvark is called Schnuffelchen and greatly enjoys her ride). I tell him to start cleaning when I go to bed and in the morning it’s clean. Though he also forces us to be tidier: no more “just put it on the floor”, no more cluttering the kitchen table, because the chairs need to go up there.

So, I hope you all had a nice and relaxed end and start of the year, and that 2021 will have us all vaccinated and out and about again.

*No, we don’t do that “beggar yourself for Christmas” thing. At the end of the year we’ll look into our finances, see what the Christmas bonus was, see what larger items we want/need and then call it Christmas gifts. One year Mr got a new fridge and I got a power drill.

TNET 43: Chess Anyone?

I did not know that there was an Online Olympiad for People with Disabilities, but I think it is a good idea.

The chess community has a long and unpleasant history of sexism and elitism, so it is good to see that the problems are being recognized by the current top chess brass and some progress towards the sport being more inclusive is being made.

I have learned to play chess at the age of five before I learned to read. I have always thought that I am no good at it because I was mostly playing with my father and my brother, neither of whom I could defeat with any reasonable frequency. I still could not beat my brother well into my thirties. That did discourage me a lot, especially since my brother – who was a competitive player, albeit not a top one – remarked often “OOH, you are starting with Italian today”. This always irritated me because I was never able to remember the names of beginnings, except those where the name was logically bound to the position on the board (like King’s Gambit, Four Knights). My memory does not work that way, rote memorization was always nigh impossible for me.

Anyhoo, in the spring of this year, I have created an account on www.chess.com and I started to play regularly. And since online gaming does match people with opponents of approximately the same strength, I am not losing all the time. And I have found out two things. First – I am definitively not at a competitive level, no surprise there. Second – I have Dunning-Kruegered myself, I am not as bad as I thought – I am in the top quintile, so I could probably win four out of five matches with random casual players.

If anyone is interested in chess and would like to play, let me know.

Open thread, talk whatever you want, but assholery is not allowed.

Previous thread.

If You Need a Gun, You Are Not Free

I peeked into the Trumpverse a bit and what I saw was unsurprising, but it surprised me anyway. I did not go to Breitbart or some similar far-right downright fascist propaganda sites. I just went to a YouTube channel that I had a reason to believe will have a high percentage of Trumpists in its following and I looked at comments under the only one video about recent politics the channel is hosting. I did not linger for too long, I did not even watch the whole video, just a few minutes and a few comments sufficed. This tiny window into the mind of a regular trumpist was informative, although I do not know what can be done with that information if anything.

From where I stand, Trumpism is just a new flavor of fascism. It is about the government controlling people, dictating what they can and cannot do with their private lives, in their private homes, sometimes even with their own bodies.

From where at least some Trumpists stay, the opposite is superficially true. They think that Biden is a socialist and that he is going to try and control them and take their personal freedoms. Their position with regard to him is the same as the position of leftists is in regard to Trump. And they despair and fear for their future after Biden’s win just as leftists despaired and feared for their future four years ago.

The problem seems not to be whether one values freedom, but what one considers to be freedom. Due to the main focus of the site I was visiting, there was a strong bias towards one uniquely American thing – guns, guns, guns. They see the right to own guns as the most important freedom one of them all, and they think that by having guns they are safeguarding all their other freedoms against a potential governmental overreach.

Which is, of course, bullshit. In modern times any uprising in which the government’s armed forces do not join in with the people is doomed to fail. Rifles, handguns, and knives are no match for tanks, rockets, and drones. But they really, really believe their fantasy that the right to have guns keeps them free and that is why they are/were voting for Trump and Republicans. They fear Biden is going to confiscate their guns and thus, by proxy, take away all their freedoms.

I do not believe these people can be reasoned with, but it seems to me they are overlooking one important aspect. If they need a gun to feel safe from an imminent governmental overreach, then they already are not free. Not only are they shackled by an unreasonable fear of something they would be powerless to oppose if it happened anyway, but they also keep the whole society in shackles of another fear – of random mass shootings, of armed militias going berserk, of random gun accidents. And if their fear of governmental overreach necessitating armed opposition were justified, then the government is already completely dysfunctional.

I lived my whole life in a society without guns, and a third of that life in a totalitarian regime. Fear of random stranger shooting up a school or a workplace never was on my radar, indeed I did not even know such things exist on the scale they do in the USA well into my thirties. And when the totalitarian regime fell, it was not because people took arms and stormed the whatever, it fell because the armed forces refused to shoot unarmed citizens and/or the top brass were hesitant to give such orders (personal anecdotes and historian descriptions vary). Having more guns in that situation would not make a difference except turning the Velvet Revolution into a Scarlet Revolution. I am not saying that armed revolutions are not sometimes necessary, or that they neer worked, but I am saying they do not work as these people imagine them.

But as far as I could see, the gut-wrenching fear and despair at Biden win were genuine. They really think that socialism means the state is going to get them, shackle them, and ruin their country. They really, honestly believe that Republicans and Trump were and are doing a good job, for them personally and for the American people as a whole.

Guns and abortins, these two issues are the only ones that matter to them. And only Republicans give them what they want.

And I am at a loss how to mend divides soo deeply entrenched in society. How do you snap someone out of a whole life of propaganda?

TNET 40: The Power of the Pentatonic Scale

I find this video absolutely fascinating. I have no idea what a pentatonic scale is and how it differs from the other scales that are there out there. I tried to read up on it and, as it is usual with music, I comprehended none of it. And no, do not try and explain this to me, it is a waste of time (despite rq’s and consciousness razor’s best efforts in the past, I still have no clue what bar and meter are).

But even so, I was able to hum this melody along, I understood what the next tone in the scale should be on an instinctive level and that simple melody has proven to be a real earworm, I could not get rid of it for days.

Open thread, talk whatevers, just don’t be an a*hole about it.

Previous thread.

A Lawyer Talks About Lafayette Square Gassing

I have never seen LegalEagle lose his cool on camera, although I did not watch all his videos.

I have also never expected to live through a deadly pandemic and USA coming apart at the seams at the same time.

Life is full of surprises. To all our USA readers – please stay safe. Our hearts are with you, although we cannot do anything to help.

Teacher’s Corner: School’s out for Corona

Sing to “School’s out for Summer”.

The ministry of education has finally acted and from Monday on, all schools and daycares are closed. Which is good and necessary. You want to know why schools need to be closed? Here’s an easy example: the primary school next to our school has two suspected cases. They share a schoolyard. One kid is the younger sibling of one of our 7th graders, the other one is the kid of one of our colleagues. Which means that if they are confirmed I may have to go into quarantine. That means no leaving the house. At all. No, not even taking out the trash. It has to be stored inside until we’re declared clear. You aren’t even allowed to put out money for the delivery service, that is considered contagious. Friends and family would have to put food on our doorstep. Oh, and no outdoor crafting.

Not closing schools would mean the kids could spread it, even undetected. I could pass it to my kids, who go to school in a different county. The cycle starts again. Of course this also brings a hell lot of problems for parents of younger kids. I already offered to take in a friend’s kids (should I be declared clear).

What I’m really salty about is how all this happened. Closing schools has been discussed for weeks. We could have had weeks to prepare. But last night the government still said that schools will stay open in order to “ensure quality education”. This morning, the news already reported that we’re being closed down, but until 10 o’clock or so we had no official information. Then we were told to prepare material for the kids, with 40-50% of them already missing. We do have an online platform, but it hasn’t been introduced properly and not all kids have the access codes now. We can only hope that they share the code among each other. I expect phone lines running hot.

On Monday we’ll have a meeting where we hopefully get some instructions. These are not holidays and of course we’re expected to do something for our money. What we can do will be seen.

Those news brought on another run on the supermarkets. Thankfully I only needed food for the weekend. OK, I admit, I stocked up on fish fingers, chocolate and coffee. Well, and crafting supplies have been ordered…