In This Hub:
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Some of the authors listed in the other column also write fiction. In many ways it's easier to learn application of this information in that context.
with absolute conclusions and rules? Then it is of no
practical use. Theory must also take into account
the human element; it must accord a
place to courage, boldness, even to rashness.
The Art of War has to deal with living and moral forces,
the consequence of which is that it can never
attain the absolute and positive.
Carl Von Clausewitz On War
On this page
The Animal List is a fully moderated, multi-topic, e-mail list about issues relating to self-defense, personal safety and other subjects. These topics include martial arts, crime prevention, firearms, defensive tactics, women’s self-defense, psychology, criminology, philosophy and teaching. There also is chat, off topic and humor threads when list members wish to discuss other topics of interest.
It is not an Internet forum, it is an internet mailing list. This list can be extremely high volume. Or it could be crickets chirping. We highly suggest you set up an alternate e-mail account to receive the list.
This list is designed as a place for information, discussion and exchange of knowledge, not to aggrandize any one person (including the moderators). There are a large number of experts, professional law enforcement officers, career military personnel, psychologists, authors, lawyers and world class martial artists on this list -- all of whom contribute to the effort. (Take a look at the sidebars -- that's who you'll be rubbing elbows with). Their presence, in combination with moderation and applicant screening, has kept the caliber of the list very high. Marc "Animal" MacYoung and Dianna Gordon MacYoung are co-moderators of the list.
The list is invitation only.
1) Keep an open mind
When it comes to this topic: If you aren't confused, you don't understand the problem. Every person holds a part of the puzzle. Even if you don't agree with the significance the person ascribes to the issue, it doesn't mean he or she is wrong. Much of the discussions that go on about topics and problems extend far past the "dojo's version" of the subject.
This has led to a very distinct "technique is easy, application is where things get complex" attitude.
2) Bring your sense of humor
3) List debate rules.
This is the only place where the list is going to be Ameri-centric. You can challenge your opponent’s logic or facts. Furthermore, if you attack your opponent’s premise you must present the facts, evidence and a clear basis for your challenge. In other words, you must be reasoned in your challenges, too. Under the rules of debate for this list, you can only challenge a person’s logic, facts, sources and premises. NO ad hominem attacks. (Putting that in English: Flame wars and personal attacks are forbidden.)
4) He or she who asserts must prove
If it is worth posting, it is worth researching. When "called," present your sources. Don't expect other people to do your research for you by saying "it is out on the Web." Supply URLs. If it is a book, cite title, author, ISBN number, page and paragraph. If you don't feel like doing the work, don't say it in the first place.
If it is second-hand information, qualify it as such (i.e., my instructor told me), but be prepared to do the research to prove it if called upon to do so. Personal experience is an acceptable source if it is qualified as such. You don't need to have a PhD in ichthyology to know when you see a shark. Your personal experience is valid -- as long as you remember it may not apply all the way across the board. As you will often see on this list, the whole of what you might have experienced is not necessarily the whole of the issue. So making a blanket statement about it will get you called.
5) Assume you're so dangerous that you can afford to be polite.
This is not a list for hairy-chested drivel on how tough you are, how you study the ultimate fighting art or "if I ever had to use this, I'd...". You are among people who have used it and survived. No keyboard warriors, no dojo darlings, no cavalier bravado, no blustering how you will kick someone's butt and NO challenges. If you want to do that, go join the rec.martial-arts list. No "my style is the ultimate", "my instructor is the greatest" and no "this technique has never been known to fail" kind of BS. This isn't a forum of people trying to convince themselves that they are dangerous because they know some ultimate system, study under some guru or have a one trick pony.
Add to this that there are serious legal, moral, social and psychological ramifications surrounding the use of violence. Discussing and handling those long-term issues is what this list is about, not dabbling in martial arts politics/fantasy or Reality Based Self-Defense forums' bluster. You'll be among people who have lived through all kinds of violence. When they talk about the problems, complexities and issues involved it's because they live with the repercussions of their experiences every day.
You can also gain great insights on how truly dangerous people interact with one another -- which is a lesson in and of itself.
6) Define your terms
Recognize that you are stepping into a room of people who have learned to be specific with the terminology they use. Unfortunately, in the MA/SD world there are all kinds of blurring of meanings, poorly defined terms and intentional misuse of words.
People lump all kinds of things under "self-defense," for example. Actions that are anything but self-defense (to the point that you will be convicted of assault if you use them) are called "self-defense". Basically when most people use the term, it's as a catch-all phrase. It means almost anything they want it to mean at the moment. This is fine if you want to play in macho fantasyland. But in real life, self-defense is a clearly defined and demarcated legal term. It doesn't matter what you think self-defense is, it's the courts definition that you will be judged by. And that is the definition we use on this list.
We define other uses of force just as precisely. This list is populated by writers, editors and lawyers. They won't accept the "Uhh, well, yeah, that's what I really meant" excuse after they have a) torn you a new one and b) shown you why what you were talking about is not self-defense, but murder.
7) For the first month LURK!
Wanting to jump into the fun too fast is a sure way of getting into trouble. Wanting to prove you are just as smart and funny as everyone else is a common way to get in trouble. Having read one book on a subject and wanting to pontificate on what you know is another way to get in trouble. Not closely reading the post you are responding to and missing the specifics is still another way. Perhaps the most common way to get in trouble, however, is not realizing who you are arguing with.
There is a lot of teasing and "busting each other's chops" among list members. There are references, jokes and kidding based on incidents that happened years ago or are running jokes among list members. (Not all of them are mature, and, quite frankly, some of them are just downright tacky -- and believe us when we say the women can be just as bad.) While this makes for often hysterical reading, it is important to remember these people often have very impressive positions in the real world (e.g., a colonel in the military is being teased by a university professor, who is being egged on by someone who has been in the martial arts for 50 years). They come to the List to let their hair down. And while they tease each other, make self-deprecating statements and tend to "hide their lights under bushels" if you were to meet these people in their professional capacities, you'd never dream these were the same people you've met in cyberspace.
Unlike many lists and forums, when someone asks a question, here the answers tend to come from experts in that field. The number of people who respond might not be that high because Listies know who on the list knows more about that field than themselves. And they'll let that person answer any query on that topic. There have been many incidents where a new poster found himself or herself unwittingly arguing medicine with a doctor, scientific subjects with scientists, psuedo-psychology with psychologists, criminal behavior with cops and psychologists, law with lawyers, computers with system administrators and designers, animal wrangling with veterinarians and professional dog handlers, street fighting with ex-gang members, and killing with combat vets.
Usually these people didn't pay close attention to the subtle hints and references during their required month of lurking. Had they done so, they might have realized that -- on this list -- 15 years experience in the martial arts is pretty much a youngin'. Twenty years is the norm, 30, 40 and 50 years in the MA is not uncommon. Or they failed to realize the "Mad Scientist" jokes were really referring to someone who not only has a PhD in chemistry, but has written several books in that field and has over 30 years experience with Chinese herbal jows. Or that the person who is saying "killing isn't that easy" has killed more people than John Woo in all of his movies. That person IS a warrior, has a drawer full of medals from decades of military service and fought in multiple wars, conflicts and deployments.
The month of lurking is an important time to watch, to learn who these people are and how they interact.
These seven points are not impossible standards. Once you grow accustomed to them, you will discover that they protect you from making a fool of yourself or from being publicly embarrassed. This is because you will know who you are talking to. You will also learn how to be able to substantiate your statements through facts and well-reasoned arguments. You also will begin to spot serious flaws in what is being taught as self-defense, martial arts and what is posted on other lists.
Application, Subscription, Screen Names, Server Hiccups, Putting the
List on Hold and Unsubscribing
The subscriber list is not available to anyone (this keeps you from being spammed). Unlike the information on your driver's license, this list is not for sale nor will it be used for any kind of mailing. The information will be kept in the strictest confidence. If you are uncomfortable with giving your address on your application, your home city will do.
Upon submitting your application you will receive an acceptance letter to make sure you understand the rules. Read it. Respond to it, then you will be put on the list. (This prevents joke/harassing subscriptions)
Screen names Use your name. We do not allow the use of screen names like "Ninja Studmuffin" or other silly pseudonyms to hide behind. This is not the kind of SD forum where you are allowed to flame other people or make stupid comments about what a total bad ass you are while hiding behind a screen name. We feel that hiding behind false names encourages this. Nor will that behavior be allowed to happen to you. The bad behavior that goes on in other forums is not tolerated here. If you are uncomfortable using your full name on list, then your name and last initial will do. The use of your real name discourages Internet trolls, as your words, your responsibility is taken very seriously here.
List members do have a tendency to develop nicknames, but they are usually to differentiate among people of the same name, (Michael, Mike P, Michael-dot and Mama Duck, John H, John O and John the Nicknameless). These develop over time and are both a sign of acceptance by and a matter of convenience for the group. Nicknames are often used as 1) signs of endearment and friendship (the Fuzzy One, the Mad Scientist, the Rebel Redneck), 2) physical locators (Denton and Singapore Rick), 3) are inside list jokes (Chimpy Nuts, the Commie or Wildman) or 4) based on a professional past. A bit of advice: Do not try to assign yourself a nickname. Let it develop on its own. Or better yet, use your own name until someone with the same name starts posting.
Server hiccups/problems If you do not receive any mail for a full day contact us, because the server has hiccupped. This often occurs when the list's server has crashed or the server encounters a domain that is temporarily not responding.
On your end, however, consistent delivery failure will automatically remove you from the list. The most common cause of server hiccups are not server problems -- although unless you specifically tell your ISP to allow AL: mail, many spam blockers will arbitrarily decide that too much volume is occurring from the list, and block it.
The most common problem is a full mailbox. If you do not check your e-mail on a regular basis and clear it out it will quickly fill. When that happens your ISP sends posts back to the server, which will immediately unsubscribe you. So regularly clean your box.
This does bring up another point. As stated, this is an incredibly high-volume list. It can average 100 posts on a typical day. When there are popular threads, you can receive upward to 200 posts in a day. This is why we highly recommend setting your browser's filters to reduce the volume. Threads are broken down into categories that you can easily filter on most browsers.
We also recommend subscribing an alternate e-mail account to keep your main account from being overwhelmed. Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo are common sources for free/cheap e-mail accounts.
Putting the list on hold If you are going away for a few days, contact the moderators and have us put you on hold. When you get back, contact us and we will resubscribe you. If you don't, you can have upward to 400 messages waiting for you when you get back. Some folks have had over a thousand.
ADMIN: From the moderators regarding running of the list (Do not
put this into kill filter)
Therefore a post header would read MA: Karate tournament incident or GUN: New Kimber Compact problems. These headers will be preceded by the letters AL (Animal List) in your mailbox. Such headers will help you winnow out topics not relevant to your needs. You can set your browser to edit out certain topics. The kill filter also allows you to filter out a poster you find objectionable or are not interested in listening to -- a function much seen and used in Usenet groups.
In addition, do not change the subject line or add commentary to an existing subject header. If your mail program isn't set up to just reply to the message, unless you are a crack typist -- who can exactly reproduce a subject line -- it is preferable to just cut/copy and paste the subject line. The list is archived, and small changes in the subject line fragment threads and drive the archivist nuts. As his sanity is tenuous at best, when he is unhappy he shares it with us ... and we share it with everyone. So do everyone a favor and leave the subject line alone ... we'll decide when to change it.
One of the best ways to understand the caliber and flavor of this list is to realize that the people who are swapping computer tips, birth announcements, silly stories and recipes are combat vets, street fighters, cops and name martial artists. Mix in doctors, lawyers, college professors, scientists and more computer geeks than you can throw a motherboard at. They are experts in their fields who have nothing to prove. They come here to relax and learn -- and sometimes they get silly. In fact, they get downright goofy. (You will soon learn the importance of putting liquids down before reading this list. That is unless you like replacing keyboards.)
However, this can dramatically increase the flow of e-mail you will receive from the list. If you are not interested in such a high volume, you can greatly reduce the flow by putting the following topics into your browser's "kill filter" CHAT: OT: NEWS: and GUN. (You might want to do the last two if you are outside the United States as much of the news tends to be local, and firearm issues are not really germane to other countries)
Alternate E-Mail Boxes
G-mail is very popular because not only is it a free account, but unlike many free account systems, it has massive storage capacity. Remember a full mailbox will get you unsubscribed, you'll have to contact us to resubscribe you.
Specific Rules of the List:
The list is a benevolent dictatorship. One where members are protected from flame wars, personal attacks, dogma, fanaticism, posing and posturing too common on the Internet. Before it gets to the list, it has to get past the moderators. Please read before joining and keep a copy to which can refer from time to time. These rules will be posted periodically as a reminder.
Posting, Formatting, Responding, Returning Posts, Language
The list has a very distinct format. A uniform format makes it easier for the reader. The moderators will return posts of people who forget to: 1) put subject tags on their posts 2) sign them 3) fail to name whom they are responding to 4) or reprint entire posts in order to reply to one line.
When you respond, first put who said it Second, put *only* the part of that person's post that you are responding to, NOT the whole post. Identify this by either karats > in front of that person's words, or, in the case of HTML put a line of asterisks (***************) beneath . Third, put your response. Fourth, sign your name at the end.
As such a post will look like this
John Q said >blah blah blah
(Your answer) blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah blah, blah
Once again -Do not repost the entirety of the other person's post to respond to only one sentence or small section. -Cut it and karat it. -Do not let the HTML program you are using put the entire post beneath and assume that people know what part you are responding to.
Trimming posts down like this is the major source of editing that we do. Other editing will be of a purely grammatical and spelling nature. This kind of editing, however, is much more sporadic and rare.
Responding As this is an e-mail list and not a forum, you do not need a password or to go to a URL to respond. The fact that you are receiving the e-mails means you have membership. All you do is hit reply to the post. (See Intro and Lurking rules)
If your post is particularly "foot in mouth" what you will often get is an "Okay, we will post your message, but this will be the response" message. The attached response will take your post apart step by step. While such a response may sting, it will keep you from being publicly embarrassed in front of other listies. We also send back posts with comments like "the guy you just blustered to about 'not knowing what it is to be a warrior' is a three-tour Vietnam vet." Like we said, it's important to know who you're rubbing elbows with before you lip off to them. We also will occasionally edit out a single line in a post that is racist, inflammatory, insulting, likely to get you hammered or just downright ignorant. You will be informed when this happens. If your entire post is like this because you are losing a discussion and have reverted to being just plain nasty and mean, the entire post will be rejected.
But, unless your post is in direct violation of the list rules, if you insist, we will post it. Just don't get pissy about having to "defend your contentions" or dealing with it if your unsubstantiated opinions have drawn ire from list members or the moderators. Around here it is: "Your words, your responsibility" If you aren't ready to do the work to defend it, prove it and do your homework -- don't say it.
The same applies to posts in particular languages. Occasionally when someone from a country does an introduction another listie, who speaks that language, will respond in the poster's native tongue. This is acceptable as long as there is a translation included.
In light of the subject at hand and what is involved in rockin' and rollin', if you want clean language -- join a church. If you want PC idealism or support for your agenda...you won't get it here.
Copyright, Permission and Credit
This is not a martial arts issue, it is a legal one.
Forwarding posts without permission is the equivalent of pirating software. It is participating in copyright violation. With this warning and by applying to and joining the list, you are accepting legal liability if you forward posts or information without permission. We keep records of your acceptance of these terms. If despite this, you do decide to pirate someone's e-mail, we'll throw you off, and the author can sue you. As there are several professional authors on the list, plagiarism is not a minor offense, nor is it easily forgiven.
The thing is, list members love to give permission. This is one of the few places where asking permission is easier than asking forgiveness.
The real problems with forwarding someone else's e-mail are the unintended consequences, however. These can occur in several ways. The first is that all to often information you forward to your instructors is pirated and presented as the instructor's own. The instructor doesn't have any idea of the depth of the subject, but now he is going to claim to know it. This is also, incidentally, why the archives are not publicly accessible, nor is the password given out to new list members. There is too much good information for pirates to plunder.
Another reason for not forwarding posts is there are a lot of instructors out there with touchy egos. While the list does not allow cheap personal attacks (dissin') of other instructors, we do allow for well founded critique. System flaws, conceptual holes and bad physics will be discussed as such. However, generalized condemnation of the instructor or the system is not allowed.
Having said this, often instructors -- especially ones who do engage in generalized attacks, criticisms and personal slurs -- become upset when their system is critiqued. A forwarded e-mail often results in problems for the poster from such an instructor or one of his true believers. Several instructors have attempted to create flame wars with the list moderators or sent their cult members to confront them. (Funny how they don't do it themselves and in person ... oh well). Listies just don't need the grief. No matter what your intentions were by sending a post, it often results in the equivalent of "do you know what he said about you!?" instigation of a fight between two others.
Finally, there is the issue of security. There are some list members who are trying to put bad times behind them with these kind of instructors. The last thing they need is you to contact the old instructor and tell him where the person is now. A related issue is that there are professionals on the list whose jobs rely on a degree of concealment. The list assists these conditions -- by not sharing information about members without first getting permission.
After all this it, should not even have to be said, but some people mistake an absence as permission. Do not take someone's post, ideas, words or links and strip the header off and post it as your own on other lists. While forwarding a post might have some leeway, doing this is copyright infringement, pure and simple...with no justifiable excuses in the eyes of the law.
Give credit where credit is due. NIH (not invented here) is a problem rampant in the martial arts community. It is a close cousin to pirating, where people regularly steal information and present it as their own. Don't enable this dysfunctional behavior in martial arts culture
Posting from outside sources
At the same time, if you wish to pass the list member's responses onto that person, ask his or her permission first!
Spying for your teacher/group
So one more time: This rule about copyright infringement is strictly enforced and failing to comply will result in automatic removal from the list. Remember: What these teachers, writers and experts give you through this list, they charge to teach other people. Do not abuse this gift.
Warnings and Despotic Moderators:
Restating a point made earlier: The moderator reserves the right to veto posts that are antagonistic, hostile or insulting. When you get a post returned to you with the word "NO" at the top, you will know you crossed the line. Take the time to reconsider your words, your tone or your logic.
Failure to respect your fellow list members will result in a private warning from the moderators. If the unacceptable behavior continues, you will be booted. A similar note will be posted to the person who was the recipient of the original post indicating no response is necessary. If you don't see someone respond to an insult it is because we've dealt with it.
Advocating illegal or illicit behavior, spamming or harassing fellow list members are grounds for immediate removal. Complaints of such behavior need to be sent directly to the moderators, along with copies of the offending post.
In a particularly heated debate, e.g., gun control for Americans, women's self-defense, etc., participants may be asked to take the discussion off list if all points pro and con have been made. The horse is dead, let it lie.
The list moderators reserve the right to squelch a topic by saying enough is enough.
By separate, we mean a post solely dedicated to introducing yourself, who you are, what you do, what style you study, what areas of interest you have, where you live, something about yourself, etc., etc.
A quick "hi there" combined with your response to a thread that you want to comment on does NOT constitute an intro.
Your second post can be in response to a thread that has piqued your interest and/or a question. You can send an INTRO and immediately send a post about another thread, but the introduction MUST come first.
Such posts are titled INTRO: (your name here).
Again let us stress, these serve to introduce yourself to the community and to tell list members a little about who you are, what you do, where you live, your interests and what you hope to get out of the list. After lurking for a while, you will get an idea what to put into your intro. It also tells other list members your qualifications to comment on the subject. Functionally, this is like introducing yourself to a group who is having a discussion at a party instead of just throwing your comment in from a where you have been standing quietly for a while listening to the conversation.
Trying to post without an intro will result in your post being returned to you.
And there is most definitely a specific list "flavor." You are in the company of some "big dogs," who have nothing to prove and know of what they speak. Finding out that you just parroted misinformation your sensei told you about self-defense laws to a lawyer can prove embarrassing. Spouting "student union" ideology about how soldiers oppress people to a room full of veterans is a sure-fire way of pissing people off. Five or 10 years of MA experience sounds impressive until you realize you just spewed unsupported opinion (regardless of how well it is accepted at your dojo) to someone who has been in the MA longer than you have been alive.
A lot of the time, list members have fun chatting, exchanging quips, jokes, and teasing each other. One might mistake the banter for a lack of personal substance. It is NOT. These are people relaxing and enjoying themselves among known and established friendships. There will be times, however, when these people will "square off" in disagreement. When this happens, you will see a level and degree of "firepower" not found on other lists. These people can "back it up" on many different levels. (Think of the list as MENSA with bandeleros, and you won't be too far off base). If you are used to being the smartest person in the room, take care -- there are very intelligent people who can debate most self-styled "smart" people under the table.
You will also see the truth of the statement that the mark of a heavy hitters is how they treat -- and are treated by -- others. Big dogs treat each other with respect. When list members are in disagreement they don't get hot-headed, they don't just fire off a post without thinking about it. They tend to become very reasonable and polite towards each other as they present differing points of view -- up to and including agreeing to disagree.
There have been multiple occasions where someone seeing the banter jumped into the "fun" too soon. Such a person started splashing around, not realizing who they were splashing. When they are called on it, they reply sharply instead of wisely and with caution. This is about as smart as walking into a biker bar and picking a fight with a member of a biker gang. You're gonna get stomped if you piss these people off. Watch and learn the list's etiquette. You impress these people by your patience, self-control and asking questions, not trying to get too chummy or spouting your opinion too soon.
And if you do offend someone, don't be too proud to apologize. That is another sign of a heavy hitter, a willingness to admit that he was wrong.
Seeking Answers Outside the Dojo
Our reasoning for this is that the goal is long-term survival. And the best way to live a long time is to engage in as little violence as possible. Our goal is not only to help you stay alive if violence does occur, but to help you find all kinds of ways to prevent violence from happening. Not only is the acquisition of people skills stressed, but if a problem is beyond the scope of list members to handle, we will gladly refer you to an expert who can help you.
Who You Are Rubbing Elbows With ...
The people on this list are not only competent martial artists and instructors, but Vietnam veterans, law enforcement officers, professionals, university professors, bikers, psychologists, scientists, ex-brawlers and master level martial artists. No matter what their profession, they are a group of people with years of "live fire experience" rather than one or two bad episodes. Many of them are still in high-risk professions.
As this list is populated by people for whom delivering a lethal response is NOT an academic question, topics of conversation tend to address "next level" issues, such as legal, ethical, psychological, and moral issues and responsibilities arising from use of force. We know we can do it, now the problem is learning how to live with that fact.
One day, we decided to "do the math" about the skill level of the list members. In the martial arts alone we came to the conclusion that the statistical average amount of time in the MA of list members is about 10 years. Realize that statistical "average" doesn't mean what you will commonly encounter. It only describes the numeric middle ground between the highest and the lowest. While 10 years is the "average" 15 years in the MA is common on this list. Realistically, people who brag about having 20 years of MA training -- who anywhere else would be calling themselves "master" -- are met with the attitude of "20 years?...Wow, that's a long time...here, have a hamburger." That's because the people who are politely offering the hamburger have 30, 40 or, in some cases, 50 years of experience in the MA. Recently three list members got together to write a book on the martial arts. In the bios it was discovered that they had a 120 years collective experience in the martial arts. And that's just three list members.
You will also encounter a knowledgeable resistance to a great number of popular martial arts "myths," "misconceptions" and "perceptions" regarding self-defense. Ideas, that are commonly published in commercial martial arts magazines, promoted by self-proclaimed "experts" or are widely accepted in groups (that, in truth, never expect to really have to use their training) are effectively disassembled on this list on a regular basis. This "reality break" is not an attack or a snub, but instead a gentle "We know you have heard that, but you need to consider this, this, this and this, too. Because if you don't, you're going to end up in some deep trouble." When they tell you something isn't that simple, they know of what they speak ... often from bitter and harsh personal experience.
The list is not real kind to "dojo darlings" who tend to rattle their keyboards without an ounce of actual experience or true believers who think that they have found the ultimate answer (or teacher) and will argue endlessly over the internet based on no experience what-so-ever. While questions are always encouraged, insisting about the efficacy of a fantasy knife technique as a proven self-defense move will draw the ire of those who have "been there."
Our premise is, no matter how well trained we may be (and we have some first- through master-level martial artists on the list) we are all students and all of us will learn until the day we die. And for the list members who are in high-risk professions -- the day they stop learning is the day they will be hurt or killed.
< What you will see on the list is how competent people interact with other, equally competent people. That's why we recommend lurking and watching, it will keep you from committing a faux paus. The person who is teasing another list member or talking about his "worthless opinion" is very likely to have been doing the martial arts longer than you have been alive.
Slices of the Pie vs. Looking at "the Whole Pie."
Eventually a larger picture will be created. For example, recently on the list there was a discussion about the Chinese herb ma haung (ephedra). The proponents of Chinese herbal medicine were arguing against making it a controlled substance. Their contention is that it is merely a matter of controlling the dosage (obviously, they're herbalists and alternative medicine advocates). Other list members brought up the overdosing of teen athletes using it as performance enhancers and ensuing deaths. Still others brought up problems with dieters engaging in long-term overdosing and creating long-term physical damage. The LEO list members brought up pseudo-ephedrine (a derivative of ephedra) use in "cooking meth." So far from being a simple matter of "controlling the dose" as the Chinese herbalists were contending, different "slices" brought different perspectives and created an understanding of the complications and factors that make up the "whole pie."
You may be accustomed to being very well versed in a particular "slice," but on the Animal List, you're going to find out that there's more to the subject than just that "slice" view of the subject. And one of the biggest "whole pie" topics on this list is what is involved in self-defense. You can pretty much expect to get your mind melted with how big and complicated the subject is when discussed.
Emoticons/Smilies, Speaking vs. Writing, Cliché?, Regional
Interpretations, English as a Second Language and Typos
To emphasize a point (or to stress the fact that a comment is your own personal opinion), do not capitalize your words. That is shouting. Use asterisks. Therefore the comment of "the way we do it in my school" would not read "the way we do it in MY school," but rather "the way we do it in *my* school." Don't expect italics or bolding to translate from one e-mail reader to another.
You also want to seriously avoid parroting many current "self-defense" clich?. A few sterling examples are "I'd rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6", "expect to get cut in a knife fight" or "a woman should have the right to walk naked into a biker bar and not be molested." You may have thought long and hard about the significance of these pithy lines or sayings and researched it deeply. Unfortunately, many others who use those same phrases haven't. There is a lot of dangerous nonsense being taught as self-defense ... and way too many people who are guilty of that sin use these kinds of phrases and sayings to appear sage and wise. Neither the saying nor the person using the clich?cover the depths and complexities of the problem. What it means to you may not be the same thing it means to other list members. And if you do use them, be prepared to supply the research why the are legitimate ideas rather than popular oversimplifications.
Avoid flip comments or clich? that can be easily misinterpreted. And if you do make a smart remark that offends rather than entertains, don't be too proud to apologize.
Please remember this list is international. Although English is the list’s primary language -- for many members, English is a second language. This can easily lead to misunderstanding. As can local interpretations of terms. A term that means something in one part of the country can have totally different connotations elsewhere In the same vein, there is massive difference between written and verbal communications. While there are professional writers and editors on the list, most people are not experts in written communication. Therefore, before you assume what someone means, ask!
In fact, if you find a post emotionally upsetting, we suggest you "put it on hold." Continue reading other posts and see if anyone else reacted the same way. When you have read the other posts, then return to the post and reread it. Often you will find other interpretations on second reading. This prevents you firing off an emotional response only to discover you misinterpreted someone else's intent.
Due to the international spectrum of this list, commenting on or correcting other people's writing is prohibited -- whether this be grammar, spelling, punctuation or other minor details. Even if English is your native language, e-mails are often "dashed" off and contain many minor errors. We both give and expect "slack" to be given over such trivial errors. As long as it is obvious what the person means there is no need to comment or correct, as often such actions are disguised ad hominem attacks.
First, limit advertisements to seminars, institutions and training. Pointers to established, legitimate businesses related to self-defense issues are acceptable posts.
The second rule is limit advertisements to five lines only. The fifth line should be "For more information visit our Web site at __________," where interested parties can get more information.
Debate, Logic, Rhetoric and Supporting Your Ideas
We require that you give open sources. Both your sources and arguments are subject to peer review. As such, expect biased sources to be challenged; expect skewed statistics to be called on the mat. And that means if they, too, are challenged, you will have to do more research to find other, more credible and/or unbiased sources to support your contention. In short, don't be surprised if you cite a libertarian op/ed piece about the Whiskey Rebellion and are asked to provide a more reliable historical account of events to support your contentions.
He who asserts must prove. If you make a statement be ready to back it up with reliable sources and references upon demand. And demanded it will be, so you might as well cite your sources when you say it. There are many "urban legends" about self-defense, violence and crime. When tempted to cite second-hand information, use the journalist's credo: If your mother says she loves you, check it out.
Think of writing a college paper and footnoting it. That is a pretty good standard of what you will be called upon to provide if challenged. The more sources you can quote the better. If you aren't willing to do the research, don't bother to post.
Don't just state a conclusion. State your argument, too. Tell why you believe this. A) Not only have other people come to different conclusions, but B) even the most rational conclusions can seem like they came out of left field without the explanation of the logic used to arrive at them. By creating this mental "paper trail," you will see elements that you might have assigned different value to, didn't quite understand or just flat overlooked. Conversely, you will be able to see the same in other people's arguments.
Beware "freight train" thinking. Closely related to the previous point, freight train thinking is when you have a point, but attach other issues that you value to it like train cars. It is these issues that will get you into trouble with people who would otherwise agree with you. For example "crime is bad" is a point that we all agree on. However, statements like "crime is bad, and it is because of the oppressive white-male oligarchy that it exists" will paint a target on your chest. Freight train thinking is a matter of personal agenda, over-simplification and relies heavily on spin doctoring facts and figures by like-minded people. There are many sides to a problem and people on the list who can bring forth the facts and figures that will derail this kind of sloppy thinking.
Avoid "glittering generalities" (comments that are emotionally charged and sound good, but upon further examination are seriously flawed). Glittering generalities are comments like "we need gun control to save the children." To begin with, glittering generalities are not directly provable (e.g., that gun control would save THE children). GGs often hinge on nebulous and overly generalized definitions (e.g., what exactly is meant by "save" the children?) While appealing to people with particular agendas, GGs don't make much sense to anyone who doesn't ascribe to the same philosophy. GGs are usually flawed in either logic or exact effect (i.e., the exact nuts and bolts of how this grand idea will be put into effect). They also tend to ignore the fact that it tramples the rights of others. Or they ignore pesky logistics problems (e.g., who will run the sewer processing plant if the evil gub'ment is overthrown). Little details like that don't bother the person who uses GGs.
This is why glittering generalities are seriously challenged on this list.
These standards also prevent "grand-masteritis." There is no: "It is so because I say it is so." It doesn't matter if you are the highest ranking person in your style in the entire country or how famous you are -- the "back up what you are saying" rule applies to all (including the moderators). If you are, or intend to be, a teacher, being able to do this will improve not only your teaching skills, but your credibility.
Definition of Blanket Statement: If it sounds like a conspiracy, it's generally a blanket statement.
While different groups tend to get together and reinforce each others' beliefs, this is a priori thinking. People, who tend to engage in this, are infamous for citing poor or inadequate sources in order to launch a general diatribe against all perceived social ills or society. They take weak attributions and sources and run with them without giving credence to or recognizing other points of view or mitigating factors. Many blanket statements are based on flawed thinking where the person only selects the facts that fit the perceived problem and ignores or negates those facts that don't fit. It isn't until you step outside of your favored group, which generally reinforces these preconceived notions, that you begin to realize how shoddy the logic and thinking may be behind many of these statements. While supportive of one's own predetermined emotional stance, this kind of thinking not only doesn't convince other people, but it leaves them wondering what planet you are from because it has no resemblance to reality as they know it.
This is why the rule of thumb: "Does it sound like a conspiracy?" is important to remember before you write. Do men oppress women? Do Whites oppress Blacks? Are Blacks and Mexicans lazy? Any time you make it sound like a group gets together and makes a conscious choice to behave in a certain way, you're making blanket statements. Unless you want to be embarrassed -- always run your posts through this standard before you send them.
Blanket statements don't convince, they in fact undermine your credibility. For example, "all martial artists do ..." is a blanket statement. There is no way that you could know that for sure unless you went out and had met every martial artist on this planet. However, a statement like "all the martial artists I have met do ..." qualifies the statement as to the best of your knowledge.
This list is populated by people not only with lots of first-hand experience, but who can easily access solid and reliable statistics and sources to back up their statements. Canned rhetoric, regurgitated cant, simplistic summations and sweeping generalizations -- which might fly on other lists or among like minded people -- will only serve to draw fire from people who know how complicated and difficult these issues are.
The same goes for unsupported and generalized opinions. The nature of the list tends to be conservative, although we tend to refer to it as pragmatic. (That's what happens when you have given up "fixing" the problem and are faced with the daily problems of just keeping the whole mess from crashing down.) Idealistic "Student Union statements" on how things "should be" or flat blanket statements about complex issues will tend to get you steamrolled. Student Union statements sound profound, but they in fact are very narrow-minded. That is because your mind is already made up on the basic premise, and there is no room for compromise, negotiate or finding a working solution to the problem. An example is "guns in the hands of the public are bad." That standpoint shuts down rational discussion. It does not help in finding a working compromise with other opinions and interests. The reality of society, however, is it operates on compromise and finding a working balance between opposing points of view. Closed minded, Student Union statements don't allow that.
Mrs. V: Care and Feeding
If you say something and are challenged by Mrs. V, a bit of free advice, it's a trap. Her ducks are in line and her resources at hand. Unless you have equally reliable sources and citations at hand you might want to carefully consider whether or not you really want to make a blanket statement or unsupportable contention. (Another free hint OP/ED pieces don't constitute legitimate sources). The idea of "your words, your responsibility" is strictly enforced on this list. And on that subject, Mrs. V is a bad-assed street fighter.
How you react to being called to defend you assertions -- much less how you handle being shown otherwise -- is pretty much a sign of maturity and self-control. On this list, sooner or later everybody either gets out-argued, smacked down or offends someone. It's how you handle it that matters. There are all kinds of misconceptions and behaviors that fly around the Internet. Bringing those into this list can result in a rude awakening. Chat room clich?, martial arts fantasies, urban legends, disregard of legal/scientific realities, junk science and "if I ever had to use this I'd ..." attitudes don't last very long among "Mama V" and "Listies." If you take it personally every time someone disagrees with you, calls you to support your premise, challenges your assertions or points out a flaw in your pet theory, this list is not for you.
The long and short of it is that we require responsible and well reasoned debate, and it is this standard that keeps the quality of this list so high. Keep this rule in mind and it will save you no end of grief. If it is worth posting, it is worth doing the research. If you aren't willing to do the research, then it ain't worth posting"
Put a blank line after each paragraph. This spacing make for easier reading.
Don't abbreviate. Keep the acronyms to a minimum unless you have defined them at the beginning or they are well known.
Don't use all capital letters. That is considered shouting in Netiquette. We understand if you are handicapped by learning to type in the U.S. armed forces, but instead of all caps, do all lower case.
Don't post in HTML or MIME It causes the server to crash. Use plain text/ASCII. If you don't know how to set your browser for plain text, ask. We'll help you find the answer.
Don't add lots of quoted material. Keep quotes short. Cite sources and links freely, however.
Try to stick to one or two basic ideas in a single posting. It is okay to chop up another post to respond to different points.
< When replying, DO NOT repost the other post in its entirety Type the name of the person who you are responding to. Cut and paste the salient point you are responding to, put that on the top of your post (make sure there are karats > to indicate the original). Put in a space then respond below that. At the end, sign your name. This is the format for the list. Posts that do not conform to this format will be returned to the author. If you need help learning how to do this, contact the moderators privately or look again at the formatting section of this page.
These can be very complicated issues, therefore, as a courtesy, mention at the beginning of the post if it is long. Just type the word LONG as your first line, we'll do the rest. This allows readers to decide whether or not they have time to read it.
Do not start your posts with the word "Howdy." There is a
particular list member whom we have granted exclusive rights for
that word. The reason is that when you see that word, it is a
warning to put your soda/coffee/tea/water down. Do NOT drink when
reading his posts -- unless you like replacing keyboards. There have
been several occasions where people have had to try to explain to
the IT department what happened. An example of the kind of
off-the-wall humor you are likely to encounter on the list can be
found here at
animallist.org. Now while it may seem off the wall, pay close
attention to the IQ that went into this little bit of silliness ...
that was just off the top of his head. And many other equally
intelligent people populate the Animal List.
For more info about the list contact
For more info about the list contact