Nice house when it's not obscured by wicker-smoke.
A spontaneous night off last night. One of the side effects of clearing the crap-hole that is my garage/workshop is finding things I'd forgotten about. I found a box of DVDs I thought I'd lost forever. A few Red Dwarfs, some Vincent Price hamtastics, the John Hurt version of 1984, the Wicker Man with Ed Woodwoodwood and more. So I was fully videoed out last night.
Today I considered talking about the budget but this one has been leakier than a shotgun-treated sieve so everyone already knows. Smokers get another kick in the nuts, no surprises there and no concern here. I don't buy mine from the taxed shops. Man with a Van will increase his prices because criminals don't do things for the benefit of others, they do it for profit. Like politicians. He will increase his price, maintain his price differential and do more business than ever. The more they clamp down on smokers, the better the criminals will do. Well, with a bit of luck, this time next year I'll be starting on my own crop and I can ditch Man with a Van too. I think I'll also try Rose's mead with the apple starter, perhaps refined with an isolation on Sabouraud-dextrose agar followed by alcohol acclimatisation because well, it's my job. I think I might also build a wicker man in the garden, just in case it's ever needed for something.
Sod the budget. It's all fiddling around with other people's money, no matter who is in charge. Ozzy will still give money to the Dreadful Arnott and Donkey Shagger so they can sneer at and denormalise those he's taken the money from to give to them. Nothing will change, at least nothing that actually matters.
Instead, let's have a little story.
A long, long time ago in a place far, far away, there lived some peasants. These peasants had no money because they were taxed on the basis of how much they earned so the more they earned, the more they paid. As a result, nobody ever managed to save any money because no matter how hard they worked and how much they earned, they ended up with the same amount anyway.
Now it would seem obvious that they should do the least amount of work needed to earn enough to live on after tax. Of course it's obvious. Why would anyone bust a gut to get the same pay as Lazy Keen Meng who sleeps under his coolie hat half the day and picks a tenth of the rice everyone else picks? The clear result must surely be that everyone works at the pace of the slowest. The word of the day would be Mae win-ti, every day.
Ah, but the peasant-owners have Enforcers, equipped with very sharp swords and bows and really snazzy armour and the peasants aren't allowed any weapons. The Enforcers make sure the peasants work as hard as possible even though the pay is actually the same whether they try or not.
Oh, but these peasants must surely revolt? They must rise up and overthrow their masters, it must surely be so? Ah, but remember, peasants cannot own weapons. No weapons at all. Not even defensive ones. So what can these peasants do?
In that land, long ago and far away, the peasants learned to fight without weapons. They learned to use themselves, and anything available, as a weapon. Today we call their methods by names such as 'karate' and we think it's all very cool and trendy to learn. We think 'numchucks' are a fancy weapon when really they are a tool to dehusk rice. We think the three-pronged short swords look really cool when they are just tools for lifting hay.
The peasants learned to fight back using the things they were already proficient at using. Their hands and their tools. Dehusking rice with a flail is dangerous if you don't have control of the flail - but when you do have control, it can dehusk more than rice.
The peasants were not allowed to own swords or bows or knives or any weapons at all. They did not become weak and subservient. They learned to turn the everyday, and themselves, into weapons.
Banning weapons achieves nothing more than a redefinition of 'weapon'.
So what of today? What do we have? Computers? Well, blogs have become weapons of a sort but they are a weapon the peasant-owners can simply switch off. It's not as easy as they would like, as Egypt discovered, but it's a weapon that can be at least easily blunted. It doesn't help much against a backstreet mugger, either, unless you have an early Amstrad laptop that was heavy enough to brain a rhino.
The old saying, 'the pen is mightier than the sword' is self-evident bollocks to anyone who owns both. Even if you have a really good Parker pen filled with the best Windsor and Newton ink, the sword will win every time. Even if it's a first-time sword user against Shakespeare and his well-practised quill skill. However, 'the pen is easier to hide than the sword' is always true.
I have carried a steel-barrelled pen on every flight I've been on and nobody has ever even questioned it. Try getting on the same flight with those Inquisition-style eyebrow curling devices. The worst you could do is give someone unusually curly eyebrows. With a deft push and twist, a pen (even a cheap Bic) could be right through your heart in a second. A HB pencil will work just as well, even better as they can be sharp, and they come with rubber ends so you don't even bruise your palm.
There are places you can hit a human body that will cause pain, unconsciousness, disability (temporary or permanent) even death, agonising or instant. You don't have to be Chuck Norris to do it. The papers often have stories of someone who 'killed with one punch' when it's clear they didn't intend to. They just hit the right spot by bad luck. They should still be punished anyway, because they are too stupid to realise just how much of a weapon they are.
As should those who ban weapons. Give someone a gun and they might miss or inflict a flesh-wound. Give them a sword they don't know how to use and they are more at risk of being cut than the one they're attacking. Likewise a knife. The best way to fight with a knife is not to use the knife. If you hold it in your left hand, way out from your body, your opponent is focused on the knife and will never see the right hook coming.
I'e never taken a self-defence class. I learned the hard way, which isn't recommended because although it's quickly effective, it does hurt a lot and can cost a few teeth. Favourite line from a long-ago dentist visit - 'There are gaps in these teeth that aren't in your record' 'Yeah, well, I don't always win'. I still have my unnaturally big canines, and I'm pleased about that. They've got me out of a few potential fights over the years.
I also learned from friends who worked as pub bouncers and were taught what not to do. Now, if you come at me with a knife, it'll likely end up in your chest with only your fingerprints on it. My fingerprints will be on your hand and elbow.
I have never set out to harm anyone. All I have ever been interested in is in learning ways to not have the crap kicked out of me. So far I have never come across anyone persistent enough to need a total stop.
So I can't carry a gun. I don't care, I don't own one and never have. What troubles me about the ban is that every backstreet mugger can be certain I don't have a gun on me. I didn't have one anyway but before the gun ban, they couldn't be sure. Now they can.
Burglars now know I have no gun in the house. Muggers know I have no Crocodile Dundee blade up my shirt. Both know I have no defensive weapons because all forms of self-defence are illegal. As is interfering with a criminal in the course of his duty.
And so history turns on a wheel. Once again we are denied all weapons, and denied the right to defend ourselves. Once again we are the peasants pressed down by the enforcers.
Out there, everywhere you look, are the means to defend yourself. Often, it's the thing your assailant holds in his hands. Or the cigarette you're smoking, the paper cup of hot coffee, the pencil in your pocket.
You take the risk in defending yourself. Sometimes you lose and you take the dents. If you wake up breathing then on some level you've won.
If you give in and bow down every time then on every level, you've lost.