Thursday, April 13, 2006

2005 Croc Match: Jungle Run Junior S. Kemper

The Jungle Run at the (Dundee, Oregon) Banzai Ballistic Croc Match YOU GOT BULLETS? must be the ultimate "IPSC Field Course".

The targets are hidden behind trees, bushes, ferns and the occasional no-shoot. Worse, it's sucha a target-rich environment, and extends over such a long linear distance (50 yards, give or take) that it would be virtually impossible to remember where the targets are hidden.

But that's not the worst part; the worst is that it's a Surprise Course, and you don't even get to SEE the stage before you shoot it. There are always one or two or more fern-cloaked targets that you don't see, unless you are paying very close attention, so if you're inclined to merely take CRO Loren's Mystery-Clue advise and "RUN!", you'll be sure to gain a couple of miss/failure-to-engage penalties.

Your only choice is to move carefully, watch both sides of the trail, and trust Loren and Sherrie to have hidden a couple of sneaky-buggers at the one place where you are sure to be distracted.

Here's Junior-shooter S. Kemper's first Croc Match Jungle Run. Pay close attention, as almost half-way through the stage he paused during a reload to make sure that the RO team is in a safe position, well behind him. This kind of dedication to Safety above all other considerations is a result of the kind of training which continues to keep IPSC a safe sport in even the most thrill-packed situations, and we're glad to see that "IPSC: The Next Generation" is alive and well in Oregon.

(Original AVI-format video courtesy Ron Downs)
We'll probably see a couple more Juniors videos during the next week or two, as they attempt the Jungle Run. (If I can get this furslignener embedded code thingie to work!)

If you think you're tough enough to face the dreaded Jungle Run, the 2006 version (which shall certainly be different ... and tougher!) will take place during Labor Day Weekend (September 2-3.) For early registration, contact Bill Marrs, also known as "Barsoom" for reasons which may not be obvious if you're not a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Entry forms are not yet available on the Internet, but you can bet your jungle boots that when they are, you'll find an announcement here at Cogito Ergo Geek, or on the Columbia Cascade Section or Dundee Club websites. Certainly, it will be available in the USPSA Front Sight Magazine, perhaps a little closer to the actual match date.

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Captain and the Nihilist

Captain of a Crew of One: The Sword of Damocles
As I age (speaking in terms of blogging experience), I find that I am increasingly reluctant to directly reference the writings of other Bloggers.

Those whom I especially respect, I link to on the sidebar and expect you to go visit them as frequently as I do. You read their stuff, you get their drift, and you can make your own damn decision whether you hold their work in as high regard as do I.

For me to quote them seems like some kind of perverse reguritation. You see their articles, you can make up your own mind.

Once in a while, though, we encounter a post which seems especially significant in light of something-or-other (which we may not be able to define, but dammit we know it when we see it!)

So it is that I draw your attention to the April 5, 2006 article by Captain of a Crew of One, appropriately entitled "The Sword of Damocles".

Damocles, you may recall, was a sycophant in the 4th century court of the Tyrant of Syracuse (Greece, not New York) Dionysus. (I always though Dionysus was the Greek equivalent of Baccus, the god of Wine, and Festival, and Drunken Debauchery ... but what do I know?) Dam casually observed one day how idyllic was the life of the Tyrant, and at the next feast he was treated to the sight of a sword hanging over his own head, suspended by a single horse-hair. The thrust of the legend is that being in power doesn't necessarily mean that life is always good for the boss; no matter who you are, no matter how powerful you are in your house, you are still subject to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

A Nihilist, on the other hand, is one who believes only in Nihilism: "an extreme form of skepticism: the denial of all real existence or the possibility of an objective basis for truth. "

That implies that your own decisions, based purely on subjective values, are sufficient without extential evidence. I've chosen the term "Nihilist" to describe a "New Jersey woman" (see below) who, in making decisions about the upbringing of her child, chooses priorities which differ from mine. It may be inapplicable, and it's certainly unfair ... but the jazzy title did catch your attention, didn't it?

The story told by The Captain is of a New Jersey woman who is so Politically Correct that her jaws must ache every time she clenches her teeth to speak. She has forbidden guns in the house ... even (or especially) toy guns. But one day her young son breaks his piggy bank to buy a plastic sword, a plastic dagger, and a bow-and-arrow with rubber suction darts. He is aware that "mommy doesn't like weapons", but loves her son so much that she is unable to deny him this small freedom ... as long as he is just "shooting vegetables". (She actually quotes this line, and abhores the attitude in an acquaintance of hers, but still she adopts it when her son promises "I'll just shoot trees". One wonders if she sees herself in this apparent aside, but one suspects that she doesn't consciously realize that she is just like the mother of the boy that she "feel(s) sorry for".

The Captain takes this grain and mills it into fine grist. As he discusses the boy-ness of boys, the male-ness of males, and how important it is that overly protective mothers not spend the entire childhood of their children stifling the natural instincts of developing men to teach themselves to protect the family, The Captain develops the theme that it is not only doing a disservice to our children when we attempt to over protect them, but also that love will triumph as we instinctively perceive that our intellectual priorities my not be as important as the proper development of the ego of our children.

That is, we can teach our children our own personal political priorities, but there comes a time in every child's life when we realize that in insisting that they cleave to our beliefs, we are no longer teaching them; we face the danger of dominating them. The wise parent must eventually acknowledge that our children are not ourselves writ small, but are developing their own personalities and their own judgement. The danger is that we can exercise our parental power to their detriment.

That moment inevitably comes at a much earlier time than we have prepared ourself for, and we always doubt that our permissions are more valid than our domination.

It is to the great credit of this mother that she is able to accept the inevitable and trust in the values she has instilled in her son. She can step aside and, having reinforced the warning that these are toys and weapons, and must be treated as weapons, they must never be turned against people -- she is willing to aquiesce in his desire to buy his own plastic sword, plastic dagger, and bow-and-arrow with rubber suction tips.

The Captain is eloquent in his analysis of the quandry. My favorite sentence in his essay is:
... parents like Ms. DeVoe seem to suffer from “ostrich” disease. You know, that ailment that causes you to imagine that if you ignore reality it will just go away and leave you alone.
He is speaking, of course, of her early indicision and the way she at first agonizes over her situation. He may have also been referring to her initial embarassement when her friends see that her son has 'weapons'. Her response to her son is:

"I don't like the fact that it involves guns and you shoot each other," I objected feebly.

Her justification to her PC friends and acquaintances:

Naturally, he couldn't resist showing off his new arsenal. He chooses two weapon-hating moms in the grocery store and unveils his new toy. He doesn't notice their obvious lack of enthusiasm or their questioning looks at me. I feel my face getting red.

"He spent his own allowance," I mutter. "He had his heart set on it."

Fortunately, the mother does allow her love for her son to prevent her 'natural' instinct to dominate him. After all, it's not the Evil Cap Pistol, and he has sworn to her that he will 'only shoot trees'.


My own reaction is probably less gentle than The Captain. In this post-WWII, post-Korea, post-Vietnam / Bosnia / Twin Towers / Afghanistan / Iraq and "they choose life, we choose death" era, I would suggest that there is a reasonable liklihood that the young man's life will not always include the protective influence of a PC mother. It is possible that he will find himself in apolcalyptic situations, no matter how far removed, where he will be opposed by a people who do NOT accept his learned pacifist tendencies, and he will be required to choose between acceptance of a dominating 'ology' and continuance of his own way of life, or even his physical life and the life of his family.

He would be better equipped if this young man had at least some smattering of experience which suggested that the world does not always turn as we would like it, but as it will.

When the choice is not always yours, it is well to be able to recognize the difference.

Life is what happens when you have made other plans.