The Blood Bag

Monday, May 25th, 2015

James Lafond recommends Mad Max: Fury Road as the ideal date movie for real men and their prospective sexual property, despite its weak ending:

The movie ends on a postmodern sentimental note that would have Ernst Jünger barfing in his popcorn bag. But this bullshit ending is only made possible by the truer story imbedded in the supporting cast.

He also pokes some fun at the manosphere.

(Hat tip to our Slovenian guest.)

A Sport Called Sparring

Monday, May 25th, 2015

In the 1800s boxing manuals were written and a sport called “sparring” was born:

This practice with gloves was the seed of modern boxing.

After the American Civil War gloves began to gradually come into competitive use primarily as a way to avoid legal prohibitions against prize-fighting. Up until the end of the era, in the early 1890s, the sport was still pretty much a gangland affair, even though it had generated the first sports superstar, John L. Sullivan.

By 1885 boxing contests were being fought according to the Queensbury Rules, which are the basis for, and were similar to, our current gloved boxing rules. Although these rules were originally written for matches between gloved ‘sparrers’ of the upper class, and not the actual prize-fighters, they were adapted for prizefighting to facilitate the mainstreaming of the sport of boxing. This development has a modern parallel in the recent efforts by Las Vegas casino interests to gain acceptance with the Nevada State Athletic Commission for MMA.

The events that bracket this period are the first heavyweight title bout under Queensberry Rules between John L. Sullivan and James J. Corbett on September 7th 1892, in New Orleans, and the passing of the Walker Law in New York State in 1920, which effectively legalized the rendering of a decision after a boxing match. The first two decades of the 20th Century in boxing is often referred to as the ‘No Decision Era’. Boxing was now out of the legal no-man’s land it had been in, and was poised to become a national sport.

There was a lot of technical evolution in this period, as fighters took two generations [I reckon a boxing generation as 12-15 years.] to finally adapt to the use of the padded glove.

Racial Identity in the Age of Affirmative Action

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

A recent study explores racial identity in the age of affirmative action:

We find that after a state bans affirmative action, multiracial individuals who face an incentive to identify under affirmative action are about 30% less likely to identify with their minority group. In contrast, multiracial individuals who face a disincentive to identify under affirmative action are roughly 20% more likely to identify with their minority group once affirmative action policies are banned.

The Clinch

Sunday, May 24th, 2015

The clinch wasn’t always a lull in the action of a boxing match:

When modern boxing fans view 100 year old film of old-time boxers they come away with the conclusion that these guys could not box well because so much clinching occurred and that their epic length fights were not that strenuous because they spent so much time “resting” in the clinch.

The fact is that clinching was often permitted because hitting in the clinch was on the menu of choices that the fighters had at the beginning of the fight. When the referee brought the fighters together before the bout in old-times it meant something. It was not just a ritual but often a negotiation. Up until 1900 [eight years into the Marquis of Queensberry gloved boxing era] hitting in the clinches—what today is called dirty boxing in MMA—was still often an agreed upon tactic.

Clinching was falling out of favor with observers though. Spectators wanted something more visually appealing, and a wider audience requires tactics that are more easily understood. By 1910 fighters could expect to be disqualified for hitting in the clinches, although it still happened a lot.

What did all of this clinching mean?

Fighting in the clinch is more anaerobic than boxing at jabbing range and is therefore more exhausting. Grappling in general is more strenuous than striking. Modern boxers generally do “rest” in the clinch because they are not permitted to do anything in the clinch and are expected to lay there until separated. Clinching is still the best defense against getting knocked out. Although it is generally not taught in the gym, it is learned there when a fighter finds himself in danger sparring.

The most notorious modern clinch fighter was Ali, who clinched a record number of times with Frazier in Manila. Ali used an overhook and a come-along. Old-time fighters were just one generation removed from bare-knuckle fighting, where hip throws and holding and hitting were acceptable tactics. They generally used an overhook sunk in above the elbow while they threw uppercuts, hooks and crosses with their free hand. This looks sloppy but is effective if it is trained for and executed properly.

You need really good hips to pull this off.

The fact is old-time clinch-boxers would have to be retrained to fight according to modern rules and would probably end up being disqualified today. This did happen. One only has to look at the many DQ losses on old-time records. Likewise, if you took a modern boxer back in time he would get mauled in the clinch and probably KO’d there too. Most modern fighters do not know how to clinch, and are generally incapable of breaking a clinch. This is why modern boxers are not able to compete in MMA until they are extensively retrained. The one prominent modern boxer who I believe would do well under old-time or bare-knuckle conditions is Bernard Hopkins. He actually trains and teaches the clinch, and employs such old-time tactics as punching the hip and thigh.

Old-time boxers often fought and trained with wrestlers. In fact, James Corbett wrestled for a half hour a day just to practice staying out of the clinch and escaping. Corbett hated fighting in the clinch but had to adapt and train. Sam Mcvey actually went to Japan and defeated a Jujitsu champion in an MMA bout. Granted the Jujitsu fighter was probably giving away 60 pounds. But none of our current heavyweight boxers would last more than a round with a good Brazilian jiu-jitsu welterweight in open competition today.

Always keep in mind that boxing as a sport has evolved away from boxing as an art and science for the purpose of being more entertaining. All of the old-time clinching might look sloppy but it was effective. Now, there are clinching countermeasures that do work, and permit a properly trained boxer to avoid and break clinches. Jack Blackburn was instrumental in teaching this style of boxing, with the result that the Black boxers under his direct and indirect influence such as Joe Louis and Ray Robinson became the best all around boxers that have ever practiced the art. It was not until aggressive officiating encouraged boxers to look to a third party to take care of the clinch in our own time that these skills finally eroded to the point that only 1 in 40 pro boxers were able to avoid the clinch of a less skilled opponent in a study of 106 cable TV bouts conducted in 1998.

Most boxing coaches spend the vast majority of their time preparing fighters for amateur competition, which has zero tolerance for clinching, often resulting in the referee being the busiest guy in the ring. The clinch is not taught as part of the fundamental skill set because it is a foul. Keep in mind that it is always, at any given time, to one fighter’s advantage to clinch. At that time, it is to the other fighter’s disadvantage to clinch.

The Madness of Mission 6

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

The Madness of Mission 6, by Travis Pitts, explains a classic video game:

Madness of Mission 6

Old-Timey Boxing Techniques

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

The modern boxing glove — or, rather, the gauzed and taped fist sheathed within the modern thumb-attached glove — is a weapon system:

Anyone who has studied film, photos and illustrations of old-time boxers and bare-knuckle boxers realizes that these fighters punched differently than modern boxers. This has been explained as evidence of the evolution of punching mechanics, finally resulting in a more skilled modern boxer. So, when an MMA fighter looks to develop punching skills he looks to the latest in boxing techniques. The problem with this very reasonable assumption is that it ignores the primary influence upon the evolution of boxing techniques: the development of the boxing glove. The result has been a high frequency of hand injuries (particularly to the unprotected thumb) among MMA fighters.


Before we continue let us establish the terminology.

  • A fist that lands with the palm and thumb down is pronated.
  • A fist that lands with the thumb up is vertical.
  • A fist that lands with the palm and thumb up (like an uppercut) is supinated.


The vertical jab was the overwhelmingly dominant punch for 4,000 years of boxing. It is not as powerful, and does not have quite the reach of the pronated jab. Its advantages are that it gets through the opponents hands more easily, with minimal risk of thumb injury. It was used primarily for striking up the middle to the nose and mouth (Bare-knuckle punches to the mouth that are pronated or supinated can result in teeth entering the fingers or knuckles.) Modern coaches who teach this punch sometimes call it the sneaky jab.

The supinated jab was used primarily for punching over the guard while stepping to the outside. It offers total protection to the thumb. It was called the “special punch”, a maiming blow intended to strike the eye-ball directly as the two large knuckles slide into the socket from below. With MMA gloves this can be used to crack the orbital bone or cut the eye-lid. Those few modern coaches who teach this punch sometimes call this an up-jab.

Before boxing gloves pronated jabs were used primarily to strike the body, allowing the thumb to hang safely beneath the hand, away from the descending elbow. Other applications included striking the jaw of an opponent with a low guard, or the forehead of a shorter fighter.

Like the jab [the straight right] was used as a sneaky vertical punch up the middle, or pronated to the body. It was used as a finishing blow to the jaw over a low guard. Bare-knuckle boxers were primarily jabbers, and were very picky about when they uncorked the right hand. There is no evidence that a supinated straight right was ever used.

Modern boxers throw supinated (shovel) and vertical (Philadelphia) hooks to the body, and vertical and pronated hooks to the head. This was reversed in the days before thumb protection. To keep the thumb out of harm’s way pronate the hook to the body and throw it with a vertical fist to the head. You don’t want to have someone duck under your pronated hook to the head and have your thumb snap on their skull.

The ancients and old timers only used [the uppercut] for striking the groin and while in the clinch. It is a punch you definitely want in your arsenal, but should be used sparingly, primarily to the chin, where it may well finish the fight. It does not make any sense to slam an uppercut or shovel hook into the body of a highly conditioned athlete who can take it, just to have him come down with a late block or intentional elbow catch to your thumb, which could disable that hand for punching, grappling and parrying for the rest of the fight.

An Enervated Clique

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Lawrence Auster saw a pervasive nihilism in white, middle-class America:

What does the human product of a nihilist culture look like? As white America has progressively lost its belief in God, in objective truth and morality, in law, in nationhood and in race, whites have acquired an increasingly bland, complacent, pacific aspect. This seems to be true not only in the United States but in the white West as a whole. One is especially struck by this enervated quality in contemporary whites when observing them at their leisure, on Sundays, or on their innumerable vacations, or when they are shopping. In the all-white or predominantly white pockets of society, the environment is orderly and peaceful and aesthetically attractive, but something vital is missing. I have noticed it when strolling in downtown Chicago, or on Manhattan’s Upper East Side on a Sunday afternoon, or watching on tv the audience of a July 4th concert of Broadway show tunes (not traditional patriotic songs) held on Capital Hill in 1996. Even the relatively refined whites (i.e. those who avoid the aggressively nihilistic “grunge” look of today’s pop culture) have their own, passively nihilistic style — dressed down, neat but nondescript. There is the predominance of t-shirts and shorts, the absence of clothing that conveys dignity or a large sense of self, the vaguely unisex fashions that deny the true scale of man and woman. Whites seem have lost the energy, confidence and leadership qualities that once created a civilization. Absent is any sense of the long views and great plans, the intensity and faith that once bestrode a continent. There is no look of destiny, or even of character, in the faces of contemporary whites. Even the “WASPy” upper-class types on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, for all their supposed elitism, do not have the aspect of leaders of society, but of an enervated clique maintaining a residue of manners. It might be said that they have declined into a mere ethnic group; but even that would be an overstatement. What they are is simply consumers.

And in this peaceful, orderly, and insipid aspect of today’s middle-class white people, they bear an eerie resemblance to the Eloi in H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine — those pretty, passive, dimwitted creatures in the distant future who laze about peacefully in the sun waiting for the night to come, when each night the beastly Morlocks, coming up from their underground hiding places, seize and eat one of them. The graceful and attractive Eloi, whom Wells’s protagonist at first believes to be the masters of this future world, turn out to be the mere sheep or cattle of the Morlocks.

Higher Consciousness through Harder Contact

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

The stickfighting Dog Brothers infamously seek “higher consciousness through harder contact” — but realistic training is a balancing act:

Too little reality from too much protective gear and too many rules and we degenerate into martial arts and crafts with delusions of functional competence. Too much reality and we damage each other (or worse). As a result the Clans and Tribes from which we come would have too few people willing to forge themselves into something more and too few left undamaged to step forward when necessary outside the ritual space.


This brings us to the matter of headgear. When we first began the After Midnight Group we were using some helmets that Eric had forged. Eric had previous experience using fencing masks, but after an absence of willing play mates he made these helmets. They were very heavy — indeed they were a challenge to neck strength — and they offered complete protection from the impact of a stick… and danger of lasting damage to the neck during grappling which we had just begun to allow.

One night one man was using repeatedly the protective quality of his helmet to crash entry head first like a tackling linebacker, not caring that he was taking major shots to the head that would have dropped him but for the helmet. Eric was getting irked and I spotted some old “pre-Ralph Nader” fencing masks on the shelf and pulled them down. Eric put one on and we put one on the would-be linebacker, who instantly lost his desire to be a linebacker-mission accomplished! Also, there was the added benefit of much greater safety for the neck in the stick-grapple.

These Pre-Ralph Nader masks are what we now call “first generation masks”. FGMs were not much more than a screen door shaped around the head. They served to protect the eyes, nose, and teeth (usually!) but did very little to diminish impact. All of us Original Dog Brothers fought in them and no one was willing to “take one” in the head wearing one in order to close to stick-grappling range. Combined with the stick skills that most of us had from our traditional training, much stick skill was shown.

My own experience with the FGMs is there for all to see. I do not like discussing this but I feel I owe my honesty to all of you. In return I ask that you not bring it up in conversation with me.

In the Power tape of the first series there is a fight where Eric drops me with a tremendous power backhand to my right temple. As I rise from the ground to one elbow, you can literally see my left eye spinning.

Here’s the thing: It still is. It was subtle for the first few years but over time it gradually has gotten worse. Most of the time now it no longer is in alignment with the right eye; instead it looks up and to the left-sometimes more and sometimes less, but now it is always there.

This is no small thing.

Not only does it mean that I sometimes get tired and sleepy easily when reading or driving, it also means I don’t pick up incoming as well as I should. Not a good thing for a stick fighter or when I spar MMA! When played lacrosse catch with my son, I sometimes would miss balls in embarrassing fashion. I hate it when I see it in photos and now when I have to pose for a photo (which is often in my line of work) I often squint my left eye so it shows less or I wear sunglasses.

For many years I did not connect the blow to my head and my wandering eye. The only reason I am aware of it now is that I went to an eye doctor about my eyesight and the possibility of eye glasses. The tests drew his attention to just how much my eye wandered and he asked me if I had ever been hit hard in the head.

The next time I saw him I showed him the footage and he had no doubt about that power backhand being the cause. He warned me of increased risk of a stroke due to it. As should ANY warrior, regardless of his health, I have my will in order. Tomorrow is promised to no one.

When I went to a Dog Brothers gathering back in the 1990s, I had dabbled in Filipino martial arts and was grappling pretty seriously, and I’d already passed through my point-sparring and then reality-based striking phases — and I thought they were crazy:

Marc “Crafty Dog” Denny explains the origins of the Dog Brothers’ stick grappling in this interview — in much higher definition:

Ceramic Dream Material for Jets

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

A new ceramic dream material is poised to help power Boeing jets:

The metal “super-alloys” that now line the hottest parts of jet engines are heavy, about 70 percent as dense as lead. And engineers can’t increase combustion temperatures because the alloys would melt. Already, today’s engines employ elaborate cooling mechanisms that divert air for cooling that otherwise would be used to power the plane.

Ceramic matrix composites can withstand temperatures 20 percent higher than these metals, and they are one-third the weight.


As early as 1994 Luthra had zeroed in on what he thought would be the basic chemistry and structure of the matrix — thin filaments coated with a ceramic that is shaped into a lattice. But it took years to find the perfect materials and the best way of putting them together.

One leap forward was a new type of fiber developed in Japan made of silicon carbide. But coating these fibers with a ceramic, each just one eighth the width of a human hair, evenly, was extremely difficult.

“If you don’t do that right you get a ceramic that behaves like china, and if you do it right you get ceramic with metal properties, and that’s the big deal,” he says.

He figured how to apply the coatings to each individual fiber in something called a chemical vapor deposition reactor, but no one made these devices commercially so GE had to build three of its own.

The fibers are then bathed in a polymer that arranges them into a lattice-like structure. Then, like all ceramics, the material is baked. The polymer burns away and leaves behind a strong, light lattice that is later filled with liquid silicon to create a solid structure.

The Punching Bag

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

James Lafond recounts the history of the punching bag:

The earliest form of striking equipment was not used for punching, but for kicking and other strikes specific to the pankration, the ancient Greek form of MMA. This bag was an entire pig skin filled with sand and hung upside down by the tail. The strike depicted being used on this equipment in the surviving artwork is the precise kick that was recently used by Anderson Silva to KO Vitor Belfort. A later source mentions the use of this device for clinch practice.

The second type of ancient striking equipment was a hanging ‘effigy’, a stuffed replica of a human torso, analogous to the freestanding anatomical ‘bobs’ preferred today for martial arts practice in karate schools.

The third type of ancient punching bag, preferred by boxers throughout antiquity, was a sack of barley hung from a roof beam. This item was about the size of a human head and moved more like a maize ball [the small bag used for head movement drills in some gyms] than any modern piece of striking equipment.

Bare-knuckle boxers had learned their art without the aid of striking equipment for two hundred years, when, in 1877, American Middleweight Champion Mike Donovan began hitting a rugby ball in Troy New York, and then got the bright idea to hang it from the ceiling. Within ten years pro boxers [who, at this stage fought with bare-knuckles, driving gloves, and sometimes 6 oz to 8 oz ‘mufflers’] were using three types of punching bags based on the original ball that Mike had begun bouncing off of walls and punching back in Troy.

Only ten years into their use, punching bags were considered indispensable tools for developing combinations, or as combination punching was then called ‘two-handed punching’. A boxer was supposed to strike the bag with the bare-knuckles to condition his hands and learn how to avoid hand injuries.

The ‘flying bag’ was a rugby ball suspended from the ceiling on a string, and based on its name, was used to train cutoff punches and counter punches. It could not — when hung from the high ceiling of a barn or dance hall — be of much use for training combination punches. For men who fought without hand protection this was an important tool. To avoid chasing it and to work on combinations it was sometimes hung in a corner from a low ceiling.

The ‘heavy bag’ was a chamois cloth sack stuffed with horse hair [which was being used to stuff gloves up until the 1970s] that only weighed 10 to 20 pounds. It was usually hung from a rope and swung along a wide arc. If it was hit with a vertical fist [the common bare-knuckle fist orientation] or while it was swinging at the fighter, wrist injury was likely. It was not a favorite tool, and tended to be avoided.

The ‘oval bag’ was a large air-bladder double-ended reflex bag. This was the most popular type of bag in gyms on the eve of the gloved era circa 1890. It would fall into obscurity but survive. Film from Ray Robinson’s training camps [circa 1950] show him working this large double-ended bag.

The three types of bag described above would evolve into the three standard pieces of striking equipment present in boxing gyms until the early 1980s.

Community Wisdom

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Conservation groups often write about community wisdom:

It seems to refer to the idea that rural communities know much better than others how to sustainably manage their environments and natural resources. Reading some of the NGO texts, all we need to do is to let environmental decision-making be guided by these community folks, and all will be fine. What a total crackpot idea!

I think community wisdom is a complete fallacy. More importantly, I worry that this bad joke is undermining the effectiveness of conservation efforts.

On exactly what information is the assumption based that local communities have the traditional wisdom, practices and altruistic interests to forego individual gain for greater communal benefit? As far as I am aware evidence points in exactly the opposite direction — communities are as unable to manage their environments sustainably as anyone else (urban folk, government institutions, industries etc.).

It doesn’t take much digging in the literature about community resource use in Indonesia to find evidence of communities locally exterminating species (like tigers or warty pigs on Java, or rhinos, orangutans, crocodiles or expensive song birds in Kalimantan and Sumatra), or natural resources like Ramin wood, which had been virtually wiped out in the lower Barito region in Kalimantan by 1840, about 120 years before industrial-scale logging started. Similarly, unsustainable slash-and-burn agriculture had already turned large parts of the Kapuas and Barito basins into grasslands by the start of the 20th century.

Of course, the scale of environmental destruction significantly increased after the 1960s when the technological and financial means became available to exploit the natural resources in vast parts of Indonesia. This represents a scale difference though and not an essential difference between local communities and all the other people, businesses and institutions.

Community wisdom may exist, but it doesn’t transfer to new conditions. If the old ways weren’t sustainable, they died out. And sustainable doesn’t mean awesome:

Most anthropological and social research in Indonesia shows that the forest people of Kalimantan and Sumatra cannot wait to get out of the forest, get their kids to decent schools, access to good hospitals, and comfortable roads to drive bikes and cars on. If they are stuck in their environment, it is more often than not because they do not actually have the means to get out. As soon as someone strikes gold (literally, or maybe a village-head selling some land to mining or oil palm) these forest-loving people in harmony with nature are off into the provincial cities on the next boat, bus or plane.

Hunting and Conserving Rhinos

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

A Texas hunter bid $350,000 for the right to hunt a rhino in Namibia:

Knowlton’s $350,000 will go to fund government anti-poaching efforts across the country. And the killing of an older rhino bull, which no longer contributes to the gene pool but which could harm or kill younger males, is part of the science of conservation, he argues.

Naturally, this makes him a terrible person:

“I think people have a problem just with the fact that I like to hunt,” Knowlton said. “I want to see the black rhino as abundant as it can be. I believe in the survival of the species.”

Grab a Weapon

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

As far back as the 3rd Century B.C. military men were ridiculing any concern with empty hand fighting as beneath them, James Lafond explains:

In an age when military men hacked each other to pieces at arm’s length, they could have cared less about unarmed fighting, as they knew it to be all but useless in a military context. Over the ages military establishments have either ignored the empty hand question, or have farmed it out to specialists, or made it the personal duty of officers.

For one example of the later let’s take the British military during the Zulu Wars of the late 1800s. The foot soldiers were recruited from a stunted and malnourished population living on starvation rations, and stood about 5-foot 6-inches and weighed around 140 pounds.

The Zulu warriors they fought were drawn from a well-nourished beef-eating population and stood about 6-foot and weighed in between 160 and 180 pounds, with some chiefs and famous warriors being of goliath proportions. The Zulus supplemented their thrusting spear and shield training with wrestling and stick fighting. These were formidable hand-to-hand warriors. As with most warrior cultures throughout history, the Zulus concerned themselves with weaponry and grappling; grappling being the way to obtain a weapon once one has lost his own, as well as a way to neutralize an enemy’s weapon once one has lost his. It is exceedingly rare to see any concern with empty hand striking as it is largely useless in armed combat.

The man in charge of the ‘physical education’ of the British soldier was his officer, a well-fed spoiled rich boy who stood 5-foot 10-inches and weighed in at about 170-pounds. This man would wrestle with pro wrestlers that he and his rich fellows would sponsor at home, as well as spar with famous prize-fighters. [Teddy Roosevelt did this in the white house when he was president!] This officer would then wrestle and box with his entire unit, lining them up and beating their emaciated asses, just like the prize-fighters had worked him and his rich friends over. The wrestling was intended to develop one’s ability to maintain his footing and his hold on his all-important rifle-bayonet, a fearsome weapon even when unloaded. The boxing was purely psychological conditioning, intended to fill the soldier with a tenacious confidence that he could endure the worst.

When the Brits were overrun in one battle, and their ammunition ran out, the Zulu’s suffered horrendous casualties in hand-to-hand combat. It was all about the bayonet. Even with empty guns, it was still the gun that mattered. We cannot forget, when writing unarmed combat scenes involving military combatants, that they are all indoctrinated — a most potent indoctrination, as it is built on a natural primate impulse to seek a weapon — to fight with empty hands only as a way to access a weapon or to deny enemy access to a weapon. There are patchy records of military men striking with fists when in desperate straits, though this is more an act of final defiance than a tactical option.

Maternal Mortality

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

Between 1990 and 2013, the US’s maternal mortality rate surged 136%:

Even with that increase, the US’s current rate maternal mortality rate is still much smaller than that of many poorer countries — but by no means not all of them. Mothers in Uruguay, Lebanon, Libya, Kazakhstan, Chile, Albania, Azerbaijan, Russia, and Thailand die at lower rates. The average for developed countries, excluding the US, is just shy of 11 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.


It’s not just the deaths. On top of the 1,200 American women who die every year of pregnancy-related causes, there are 60,000 “near misses,” or women who were really close to dying but survived. The combination of deaths and near-misses makes American women over 10 times more likely than their peers in, say, Austria or Poland to die of pregnancy-related causes — this despite the fact that the US’s per capita spending on maternal care is higher than any other country.

What’s behind this alarming spike in US maternal mortality?

Priya Agrawal, obstetrician and director of Merck for Mothers, identifies three leading causes of maternal death in the US: postpartum hemorrhage (heavy bleeding after giving birth), preeclampsia (high blood pressure during pregnancy), and complications arising from pre-existing health conditions. Women getting pregnant are increasingly less healthy, she says. “This year, one in five women [in the US] who become pregnant are obese,” said Agrawal at the Women in the World conference. “Then there’s diabetes and hypertension.”

So, American women are fat and out of shape? Well…

Good health care isn’t always available to mothers before and after giving birth, says Monica Raye Simpson of Sister’s Song, a non-profit group promoting reproductive rights for women of color.“The first barrier is access,” Raye Simpson told Forbes. “The second barrier is racial discrimination.” The black community is particularly affected by maternal mortality, with black American women being over four times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white peers.

MMA and Honor

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

James Lafond discusses MMA and honor — starting with some history:

In the 19th Century boxing was a joint effort between working class ‘sports’ and aristocratic ‘sports’ to preserve a manly tradition of honorable combat in the face of a rising industrial war machine that overshadowed the single combatant. This was done in opposition to the middle-class who now ruled the political and economic world. Boxing was a spasm of masculine reactionary angst on the part of the now disenfranchised upper class that was no longer permitted to legally duel [for they officered the armies of the middle-class politicians and dueling to such a military establishment was as taboo as suicide to the catholic church] and the perennially disenfranchised lower class which had always aped their lords with less expensive and less lethal forms of man-to-man combat. Boxing therefore preserves much of the duel.

The referee generally does not use force but his voice and is regarded as more of an admonishing voice that one is breaking the code, than the MMA style ref who often yells and dives in and throws one fighter to the side. While the MMA style ref comes from boxing he is more of a law officer than an advisor and has little connection to the dueling second of old.

Boxing, like dueling, has such a severe limitation on combat options that a small margin of skill can achieve victory. This results in a usually stable fighter hierarchy in which top fighters reign for decades and second tier fighters act as gatekeepers. In contrast there are so many ways to lose an MMA fight that the sport will never have a decade long reign by a single champion in a given weight class, with the second tier fighters taking on more the role of circling wolves in relation to the champion than a hierarchy of gatekeepers and challengers. This does make for a good simulation of street level violence, down to the referee acting as law officer and ending the encounter.

Each generation of men to suffer under the mother-rule of civilization has sought their own masculine culture, usually as an attempt to keep alive the form of man-to-man combat engaged in by their immediate ancestors but in a current context.

Officers dueled with the weapons that their grandfathers had fought battles with.

Boxers fought with fists, not in the manner that brawlers did in free-for-alls, but according to the conventions of the duel.

MMA fighters keep alive some of the conventions of boxing, of the manly art of old, but also honor their fathers and grandfathers who once lived in a world where one could engage in a fight with another man and not be shot or stabbed or gang stomped, but pulled apart by the bartender, bouncer or peace officer.