Poor old Jim 23! I think some people on this list need to practice what they preach!! (sorry that sounds really conroversial!!
To answer your original question Jim, I too think think that this forum is merely an open and interesting way of sharing thoughts/ideas/experiences etc.. with other people (and not necessarily like minded either!). Also I'll echo your praise of Jason's response; very well put buddy!
I'd just like to add some thoughts on the atemi issue. I think I heard somewhere that 'atemi' could be translated as 'to strike the body'. Seems pretty straight forward! There are obviously many different takes on the use or necessity of atemi in Aikido.
My personal opinion and experience, through practice, contact with Aikido senseis (including my own), books (o-sensei, Ueshiba Kisshomaru, Saito etc..), and various other sources, is that atemi are an integral part of Aikido. To me they are part of every technique I perform. Even if I do not land a strike, or even indicate one, I am thinking about where one could go.
In my dojo they were tought from the start of my training.
I think one of the biggest areas of division concerning atemis, is their 'purpose', i.e. are they there to distract, disable, knock out etc..
Some people feel that if you can knock out an opponent with a strike, then why practise Aikido? Or that this use of Atemi is an offensive tactic, rather than defensive like other Aikido techniques. In my view, if they were good enough for O-sensei, then they are good enough for me!!
No seriously, they way I have trained is to make use of kyusho techniques. In my opinion kyusho are inseperable from the use of atemi and can often limit the damage done to you attacker - i.e. follow Aikido principle - while rendering them temporarily unable to resist you technique. If you render them unconscious though the application of an atemi - which is very possible through the exploration of kyusho techniques - then you are probably again saving that person from a hell of a lot more pain, after receiving a strong shiho-nage or kote-gaish (i.e. possible shoulder dislocation - wrist break).
What do you think guys?