dal niente

Month: February, 2015

There’s No Subversion Without The Sacred

The Dad Letters


When I was 13 years old, I stole a book called Brain Droppings by George Carlin.

Before I get too deep into the message I’m trying to convey here- don’t steal things.

I grabbed the book because it had George Carlin on the cover, who had been a staple of the public broadcasting hit known as Shining Time Station.

George Carlin George Carlin

On the cover it said the book contained such elements as comedy, nonsense, and sarcasm- all things I didn’t realize were in Carlin’s wheelhouse at the time because I hadn’t been introduced to comedy writing, stand-up, satire or anything that kids who were actually allowed to watch The Simpsons would have probably had a much better grasp on. I read it in one sitting, and to my delight, it shook up some of the societal foundations that (even at the young age of 13) I had…

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Body Drop

A couple of weeks ago at judo, I managed to perform a technique called tai otoshi on two opponents during sparring. Tai otoshi translates roughly to “body drop”– in my opinion, it’s one of the most beautiful techniques in judo. If you get the preparation, timing, and speed right, it’s an incredible throw that takes very little physical effort. Of course, getting physical and “powering” a technique with raw strength and gritt helps almost all throw– but this is one that really works on it’s own compared to other types of throws.

It marked a milestone in my judoing. At this point, I’ve been doing judo for about 2 years I think, or perhaps I’m commencing my third year. I’ve lost track. When I first commenced judo, tai otoshi was one of those techniques that I really wanted to learn.

To be honest, my stand-up judo (tachi waza) still needs a lot of work– comparatively speaking, I have been learning ground-fighting (ne waza) at a much better pace. But still, the fact that I managed to pull off tai otoshi twice, successfully, in that sort of way where you just feel like it was effortless and you made your opponent fly, well, it’s something.

I consider the technique very similar in feeling to “slipping” in boxing and other striking arts. The concept of slipping is simple– when someone punches towards your head, don’t physically interrupt the opponent’s strike by putting your own hands in the way (blocking) or by redirecting it (parrying). Instead, keep your eyes on target, make a muscle memory reflex judgement, figure out the trajectory of the incoming attack and then move your head slightly out of the path of the oncoming fist.

The effect of a great slip is just amazing to watch. Watch a Muhammed Ali video; Maywweather; or Anderson Silva, and you’ll see that just by precise head movement, you can accomplish so much. While yes, there is a defensive purpose to slipping a punch, the real beauty is how it is potentially an ultra-high damage counter opportunity.

Slip a jab? Maybe not such a huge deal. But slip a big power-hand cross or hook? Doing it in itself uses the forward attacking momentum of an opponent against them– where an opponent is used to hitting a sandbag and feeling resistance, it leaves the opponent only hitting empty air.

Without contact, this causes damage in several ways–

  1. it’s much more physically exhausting to punch empty air than a resisting target (even an empty one) due to the lack of rebound to propel the re-chambering. “Whiffing” a punch causes ‘damage’ to stamina.
  2. Slipping, especially in succession (“the bob and weave”) is often a sign of superior technical ability. It is mentally damaging to be trying to hit an opponent, and keep missing.
  3. Position damage– all the forward momentum that you need to make a punch hurt doesn’t dissipate withoutu the anticipated resistance. A whiffed punch thus screws up body position and alignment, making it more difficult to make the next move.
  4. Counter damage. Because of the positional damage and forward momentum, a whiffed punch is very likely to lead to taking more damage from a counter. To put it crudely, it’d be not only like someone slamming a door in your face, but you also running into that slam.

The relationship between slipping a punch and tai otoshi has to do with the “soft” side of martial arts– the feeling of emptiness. In slipping punch, you offer emptiness as an interruption to the opponent’s force (and perhaps followed up with a compounded counter). In order to be in a position to offer that emptiness though, you need to train hard– you need to have your body so used to the motion that when the opportunity arises, your body is making that calculated risk to initaite. \

And it is a risk.

Tai otoshi is much the same. It’s about opportunity (or creating an opportunity), and requires finesse of meeting force with emptiness.

Buying a car

Been very busy of late– and surprise surprise, we are getting a car.

As [Zanshin] pointed out, I’m sort of against owning cars for various reasons– but on the other hand, I’m also for making life more livable, and I understand that compromises need to be made.

At present, the daily routine is as follows:

4:45-5:00AM: Wake up

5:10AM: [CM] and I leave the apartment. CM stands on a push scooter, and i literally do a sprint up the hill pushing her up the hill.

5:15AM: CM gets on a bus to Central, and takes the train to the hospital (between 1 and 1.25 hours away)

5:20: I scoot back to the apartment; feed the [Cat]; run the dishwasher if applicable; run the washing machine if applicable; sleep

6:30 AM: CM starts her shift.

8:00AM: I wake up from my nap.

8:15-8:30AM: I use the scooter to go to MacDonaldtown Station or Newtown station (depending on my mood)

9:00AM to 9:30AM: I arrive at work, start my day.

5:00PM to 7:00PM: I finish work

6:00-7:30PM: CM finishes work

5:30 – 7:30PM: Judo, if I finished work on time.

7:30-8:00PM; Start eating dinner

9:00PM: Sleep

… then rinse, repeat.

So part of the problem is that where we currently live, it’s really kind of inconvenient for CM. It can’t be helped at the moment, because we’re in a lease with our apartment for several more months, so can’t move to a more convenient location. Getting a car would give her back about an hour and a half of her life per day, at least. Multiply that by a week, months and a year, and it’s looking pretty good.

I don’t really like cars for the reason that I think that it warps the way that a city gets laid out– urban sprawl is one of those things that I am conceptually against.

However, I’m also of the opinion that CM and my contribution to society is enough that getting a car might be a necessary trade off. Which perhaps is a bit arrogant of me, but well, there you have it. We need a car because we get, on average, about 5-6 hours of sleep per night, and otherwise only spend about an hour per day together.

She’ll be driving to work daily. Meanwhile, I need to start taking driving lessons!

Jon Stewart is leaving “The Daily Show” after nearly 17 years in the fake-news chair

Four Legs

Having never owned a pet before, living with the [Cat] is a completely a new experience for me.

I take it for granted that most of my interactions are human. Humans have a lot of socialised habits, and a lot of common desires. You might even say they mostly have some level of “common sense.”

Cats? Completely different.

You only live once.

Most people use the word “evolution” to describe a process of improvement, but usually in a way that overlooks that evolution– as Darwin described it– occured over a series of generational iterations.  You needed a creature to die off completely and for a behaviour or trait to be field tested by several generations of offspring under the current (possibly changing) conditions before you could say that a trait had evolved. The consequences here– that is to say, doom— are important.


I suppose it depends on whether or not you see yourself as the start and finish of life, or if you see yourself as merely one part of a larger organic “humanity” in general.  If it’s the former rather than the latter, then you can do as much wrong as you want– who gives a shit, right? You only live once, so the most important thing is to live the way that makes you comfortable and happy.   If it’s the latter? Well,that’s a difficult position, one that we don’t often take responsibility for.