America Is A Paper Wall

Back when I was growing up in Portugal, in the sixties and seventies, leftists were very fond of saying that America was a paper tiger.  They were almost right.

America, more than any other country is founded on paper — on words.  Oh, sure other countries have broken with established order, and other countries have founded their government on words.

But with us the seminal act, the one that brought us to life as a country started with words, in this case the words of the declaration of independence.

Before those words echoed, we were just British subjects, albeit in a far flung territory.  And there were those among us who were loyal to other countries, too, the ones they’d come from.

Heinlein captures this beautifully in The Moon is A Harsh Mistress with (I’m paraphrasing from memory) “… and there was many a Frenchman among us whose heart belonged to la belle patrie.  But patriotism to Luna?  The moon was rock, was place of punishment.”

While the territory of the US was not a place of punishment, not a prison colony, it partook somewhat of that. [And it wasn’t totally NOT a place of punishment.  Before/beyond Australia, the British always had the charming habit of exporting their trouble makers.  (I do mean that and not ironically.  Beat hanging them by the neck.)  The US got a lot of indigents and petty criminals.  (If some of the histories are true, so did my region of Portugal, before Britain had an empire.  It explains much.)]

I come from a country of emigrants, and I know how emigrants are viewed, and the lands to which they go.  They go over there to make their fortune or to achieve what, for whatever reason (Monetary or social) is denied to them in their own lands.  And they long to come back “home” and to come back wealthy.

Of course, most people living in the Americas of the time didn’t intend to go back (though the wealthy sent their children back, sometimes, for education or social exposure) but they were still mentally Englishmen.  They aped English fashions, they bought English furniture and the motherland was the heart of the far flung empire, without which the distant parts would perish.

Then came the rolling language of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

 

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

And the list of their endurance, their just grievances.

Was it achieved with those words, that separation?  Their Safety and Happiness?  Of course not.  There was war and a butcher’s bill, and there was quibbling too, and internal fighting.

But that was the moment, just as the creation of the world is supposed to have started with “Let there be light” before the seven days of creation.

We were born in words and we were founded in words.  In blood we parted from the parent entity, and somehow we became one: this new thing “Americans.”

Then came the constitution which united us into a single national entity.  That made us the United States. Our constitution established a wall of words between us and would be tyrants.  A wall that kept government small, starved and quibbling internally.  Our separation of powers, our tripartite system is supposed to harness the very ambition of those who would rule us so they spend themselves in fighting each other.

But more importantly, most important, are those powers that are reserved to the states and to the people.

Since the civil war it has become unfashionable to talk to state rights.  Maybe it was a stalking horse under which to hide the repulsive institution of slavery.  I don’t know.  I came afterwards.  Smarter people than I have argued it back and forth.

But it seems to me that we’ve thrown out the baby with the bathwater.  Perhaps the civil war was a high price to pay for those state rights, but perhaps also making the states utterly subjected to the federal government wasn’t the brightest of ideas – because we are a very large country and what does DC know of my life?  Or care for that matter?  I have lived in four states in this great country and I can assure you that the culture in each of them is as different, as strange to each other as the culture of any two European countries.  (And thinking about it, there’s more commonality than that between Spain and Portugal.)

Government works best when it’s small and local.  Oh, yes, there will be blinkered abuses locally.  We have only to think of Detroit and Chicago, and for that matter, California.  But those abuses affect only the locals who, last I checked, were to glued to the spot, and could fly, ride, or run away from intolerable abuses.

When the intolerable abuses come from the federal government though there is nowhere to run.  And by its very nature, being very large, it attracts more of the people who live for power only. People who will act only in the interest of extending their power.

The “commerce clause” has been used to render state powers meaningless for at least seventy five years.

But that is not enough.  People on the left, and our president among them, want to ditch the constitution altogether.  Tattered and bloodied though its, and as much as our president ignores all portions of it, that document bothers them.

They know many of us believe in it, and in the oaths we swore to protect it against all enemies foreign and domestic.

They ridicule it as “old” as though, somehow, being newer were a virtue in and of itself.  (Which one would you prefer, tovarish? The Three Musketeers or Fifty Shades of Gray?  Remember, The Three Musketeers is OLD.)

More importantly they compare it to other countries’ constitutions and they come away disappointed.  You see, our constitution, they say, is a list of “negative liberties.”  It is a list of everything that the government can’t do to you.  It can’t establish a state religion, it can’t take away your guns, it can’t quarter troops in your property, it can’t enslave you…

These are “negative” liberties, which to their minds stop everything nice that the government SHOULD do you for you.  So called positive liberties – granting you food or medical care, or a job.

Of course not all of these people are well intentioned.  I’m not stupid enough to pretend they are – and neither should you be.  The twentieth century filled mass graves with millions of people who followed pied pipers singing that song “we want to take care of you.  We’re doing it all for the people.” – but even if they were well intentioned and honest, and really wanted to make sure that everyone under their administration had the “basics” from which they could struggle forth or not.  Let’s suppose they wanted to make sure that everyone had enough to eat and a good place to sleep, and medical care when they needed it.

It would still be foolish to put that in a document that encodes the powers of government.  Because government CAN’T provide any of those things to anyone.  Government produces nothing.  It doesn’t grow food, it doesn’t keep houses, and it certainly doesn’t provide you health care.  And when it tries to do any of those things, we’re treated to wretched crosses between the DMV and public schools.  Because government has to compel the services of people who know how to do things — and one thing we’ve learned is that slave labor is never efficient.  And bureaucrats and functionaries can push paper, but not do anything that needs done.  TRUST me, you don’t want the health care government functionaries can provide. It is not their job to be innovative, or to take risks.  Their job is to fill forms and cover their asses, with a side excursion into empire building which happens in the bowels of any large bureaucracy. (Corporate bureaucracy as well.)

Government can do only one thing and do it well.  Government is force.  Whether it’s an elected government ruling minimally and justly, and therefore requiring minimal force because it has the consent of the governed; or a dictatorial power ruling with a rod of iron – government makes laws and trusts them to be obeyed, because if they’re not, they’ll send their police; their army; their occupying force to stop you disobeying.

When their enforcement arm stops working, governments fall.  The end of the USSR came when the soldiers sent to pacify Moscow accepted flowers and apples from the old women instead of firing on them.  The rest was prologue.  That was the point when the wheels came off.

Any food, any health care, any living space – ANYTHING – the government “gives” is exacted from your fellow citizens by force.

The question is not “do you want a minimum guaranteed income?”  (Who doesn’t?  I’m a freelancer scratching next month’s livelihood from uncertainty every day.  My husband is an employee and in these uncertain times, the continued survival of his employer is always a question. Guaranteed would be nice.)  The question is “do you want a minimum guaranteed income that’s secured for you by stealing it from other people?”  More poignantly it’s “from other people who might need it more?”  (No tax code can take in account the fine gradations of human need/obligations.  I have friends who make far less than we do but have more disposable income.)  and “from other people who might have used it to start a new enterprise that would make your entire region prosperous?”

The question is – always – not “what do you want the government to do for you?” but “what do you want the government to do TO you?”  Because one can’t exist without the other.

If the government does something FOR you, it does it by doing something TO someone else.  And tomorrow it could be you who gets your religious observance curtailed, your food shorted, or your health care terminated “for the good of all.”

The question is – do you want the decision to be yours, or that of some faceless bureaucrat in the bowels of an inexorable bureaucracy?

Oh, sure, the free market for all these goods isn’t perfect.  For years now, for instance, “hunger” statistics in America have been compiled by asking people (particularly children) whether they’d eaten everything they wanted to, and the kinds of things they wanted to on any given day.  Unsurprisingly this yields very high results.  Even if you exclude the dieters, how many of us eat as much and the kinds of things we want to every day?  Even from a monetary point of view.  I know I spent five years living on rice and vegetables.  When there was money, it went to buy meat for the kids.  (Yes, we gained weight.  Rice.)

And of course people can’t have all the health care they wish.  Let alone money and, yes, that limits things, there is location.  I can’t – if I get sick – go to the top specialist in my field, even if I could pay for it.  He’s likely to be in the East or West coast.

So, yes, there will be injustices.

It’s just that the injustices of freedom are the result of a broken human nature.  They’re not systematic.  And usually they can be got around.  I have friends who have got top care, with no insurance and not much money.  Heck, I did.  (Okay, not top.  In fact, we probably had reason for a lawsuit, but hey the kid and I are here and alive.) And paid for it over those five years.  (If you’re going to have a complicated birth, chilluns, don’t have it on COBRA.)  You figure out what you can do.  You do it.  And you work towards it.  Success is not guaranteed – you won’t necessarily eat the finest foods, or have the finest care, or live in a million dollar home – but you can try.  You have the right to pursue your happiness.

Meanwhile when it’s guaranteed…  someone who doesn’t know you decides what your happiness is.  Or if you’re likely to survive.  Or, more insidious of all, whether your “value” to society is enough to justify the expense.  In fact, when government guarantees your basic needs, it has the right to determine what you’re worth.  You become a thing.  A figure in a spreadsheet.

I don’t know about you – your mileage may vary, and if it does, man, are there countries in the world you should live in – but I’d rather fail under my own power and still trying to claw my way to where I THINK I should be, than “succeed” at receiving what the government thinks someone like me “deserves.”

That is the difference between the negative liberties our constitution enshrines – the government shouldn’t have the right to do much to you – and the positive liberties of other governmental organizations… those same organizations that filled mass graves and sent people to Siberia.

It doesn’t matter if our particular proponents of governmental power THINK they’re doing it for our own good and to “take care” of us.

He who pays the piper calls the tune, and the tune called by central governments run by the numbers and “efficiently” always ends up being a sort of Danse Macabre.

The people who are doing their best to tear through the wall of paper that protects American rights and liberties, might be well-intentioned.  They might think they want to establish utopia.

We must protect and restore our constitution, because it stands between us and a chase for “Utopia”.

As we all know, utopia is a Greek word.  It means “no place.”

 

 

259 responses to “America Is A Paper Wall

  1. Well, I fully understand the importance of the Declaration, let’s not forget the rabble-rousing pamphleteers that roused the public to the point the Declaration was possible. We need a 2013 Thomas Paine out there spitting venom and breathing fire, someone with some Common Sense.

    • ^^^ This. Before we can fix the problems we need far more people to acknowledge them and show a desire to help us.

    • Tommy Paine’s we have a’plenty (and leave us not forget what an idiot the original turned out to be!) but when over half the people read him/her because they think she/he is a wild-eyed radical extremist preaching a destructive agenda …

      The main power of the MSM is its ability to confer and deny legitimacy. In 2008, all who looked at the four candidates for our nation’s leading offices and thought Barack Obama wasn’t the brightest bulb on that stage, raise your finger; all who thought Sarah Palin wasn’t the dimmest bulb in that room, raise your other finger. Yet what reports did we get from our professional journolists?

      Or look at the propaganda reporting from Hurricane Katrina and a) compare and contrast the storm damage done in Louisiana vs the much harder his Mississippi and b) compare the news coverage of the federal government led repair efforts vs the actuality in post-Katrina Nawleans and post-Sandy Joisey.

      I shudder to think where this natiion would be if we didn’t have college educated Journalists and instead were forced to rely on reporters who learned their craft the old-fashioned way.

    • Well, those last two words rule me out!

      • It is important to remember that Paine was a big supporter of the French Revolution until they got fed up with him for insisting it didn’t go far enough.

      • As Heinlein was so fond of pointing out in his inimitable way, common sense isn’t at all common, mores the pity.
        Young Portagee, this is one of the finest screeds I’ve seen in recent memory on where we come from, where we’re going, and what choices we need to make. You’ve done R.A.H. proud. I intend to insist that my kids, their kids, and any friends I can badger into it read this for their edification and enlightenment. I’d also suggest tucking it away and trotting it out again come July 4th or other such occasions.

        • Indeed; a beautiful screed. In part because it *doesn’t* rant and rave. More common sense than you’re giving yourself credit for. Thomas Paine may have had his uses, possibly, but I’m glad it was Madison and not Paine nor Jefferson who was principal author of the Constitution.

  2. Well and truly said, Ma’am!

  3. Do you want a good giggle sometime guys? Ask a leftist for their definition of the word “democtratic”. It seems that in a democracy everyone must be forced to act exactly the same way for the same rewards. One of my college professors actually referred to fancy rooms in a local hospital as “undemocratic” because not everyone got a hospital room that fancy.

    Freedom, by the same token, and again from their point of view means serving the people, meaning the government. It’s the Robespierrian concept of “forcing men to be free.” Read the man’s writing. He was a loon. He’d also make a GREAT leftist.

    For those of you who aren’t familiar, I’d like to suggest a book: Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm. It tells the story of the rise of Communism in Russia/The Soviet Union and the rise of Nazism in Germany. The thesis of the book is that when a society seeks freedom FROM something (hunger/medical bills, etc) they inevitably end up with a totalitarian government. He posits that a society seeking freedom TO do things (speak their mind/own a gun/worship as they choose, etc.) would be a free society, but being European he seems to think that no such place exists. It’s too bad he didn’t look across the pond because the US of the time was a good example to use. Increasingly though, we’re getting away from freedom TO and moving closer to freedom FROM. That’s what scares me the most.

    • I’ll give it a try.

      I’ll even add it as a recommendation on our goodreads group if I like it. 0:)

    • And while you have that leftist trapped in a corner you might also ask them how they justify so many of their elite managing to accumulate wealth and privilege for themselves and their friends along the path to equality and democracy. AlGore’s mansions and private jets, the millions the Reid and Pelosi families have tucked away while in public service, the carefully written exemptions Congress always writes to protect themselves and their actions from the laws inflicted on everyone else. But do be careful, a trapped rat often bites in their frantic attempt to escape the sunlight.

      • In one of his Black Widower stories, Isaac Asimov suggested that members of a cult excuse the high-rolling lifestyles of cult leaders by telling themselves that it proves the cult is prospering. They’re so totally committed to the ‘all for the collective’ meme that they can’t separate the leader from the collective sufficiently to realize they’re being conned.

    • “It’s the Robespierrian concept of “forcing men to be free.” Read the man’s writing. He was a loon. He’d also make a GREAT leftist.”

      Humor: It is a difficult concept. Was this supposed to be ironic?

      • Nope. Robespierre and Rousseau, another Frenchman, believed in forcing men to be both free and virtuous. I can’t find the exact quote I’m referring to, but this is the same man that said:

        The attribute of popular government in a revolution is at one and the same time virtue and terror. Virtue without terror is fatal; terror without virtue is impotent. The terror is nothing but justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is thus an emanation of virtue.

        Robespierre was a large government murderer who killed any who disagreed with him along the lines of Mao or Stalin, just earlier.

        • ” In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone legitimizes civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and liable to the most frightful abuses.”

          Social Contract, book 1, section 7, Rousseau.

          “It has been said that terror was the mainspring of despotic government. Does your government, then, resemble a despotism? Yes, as the sword which glitters in the hands of liberty’s heroes resembles the one with which tyranny’s lackeys are armed. Let the despot govern his brutalized subjects by terror; he is right to do this, as a despot. Subdue liberty’s enemies by terror, and you will be right, as founders of the Republic. The government of the revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny. Is force made only to protect crime? And is it not to strike the heads of the proud that lightning is destined?”

          “On Political Morality”, Robespierre

        • What I mean is, Wasn’t Robespierre in fact, literally, seated to the left in the Constituent Assembly? So he wouldn’t just make a great Leftist, he was in fact one of the original models.

          • You may be right. I thought that the left/right dynamic came AFTER Napoleon, but I may be wrong.

          • Archetype, even.

          • It’s hard to say who was Left and who was Right — folks who started on the Left suddenly found themselves on the Right… and shortly thereafter, making love to Mme. Guillotine.

            I have always explained French-Rev. politics thus: Picture a room. On the floor of the room are benches stretching the width of the room. On the left side of the room are a series of doors, one per bench. On the right side of the room are a series of Large Rotating Knives.

            The doors open, and people start entering. They see the blades, and take seats on the benches as far to the left as possible. However, people keep entering the room, seeing the knives, and trying to take seats to the left. But the room keeps filling with people, and the “weaker” folk — those less able to remain on the left side of the room — are inexorably pushed to the right, until some of them are shoved into the knives.

            No one knows how long this is going to go on — all they know is: “I have to stay as far the fuck away from those knives as possible”. Do I need to tell you what some of those people are willing to do to compass this — and what happens to those unwilling to do so?

  4. Them thar negative liberties are the difference between citizens and subjects — they limit what the government can constitutionally do. Those so-called positive liberties are license for the government to do whatever it wants. As Humpty-Dumpty advised Alice, the question is, “Who is to be master?”

  5. One thing that I have noticed and drives me crazy. Legitimate immigrants who come to America to become Americans understand what Sarah says here. Most of our native born do not. What the hell is wrong with us?

    • Most of the native-born have been educated in the government’s schools, according to Department of Edumacation guidelines and standards. Think, briefly, of the effects of the United States producing the standards for educators in Soviet schools. Now invert that.

      • That is department of Indoctrination, No Thank You Very Much

      • Also, those born and raised in other countries see the effects of the policies that the Left is pushing firsthand, and know how badly it works, while seeing that they haven’t really taken hold here yet.

      • “Think, briefly, of the effects of the United States producing the standards for educators in Soviet schools. Now invert that.”

        Why invert it? They did just that except applied it domestically.

        • Carelessly written on my part. I had in mind US educators of the Forties & Fifties and ought have made that clear. Given the present exalted status and pervasive influence of Bill “Weatherman” Ayers in crafting contemporary standards for our schools it is clear that we have empowered Soviet propagandists to teach our coming generations’ values.

        • Actually… the public schools in the USA are WORSE than they were in the soviet era Russia. You see, the Russian pointed heads realized all their children in the US system were being turned into bullies, so they changed it. This from an immigrant who had been in Russian schools, then went to my high school with me. We had a field day discussing politics.

    • What’s wrong with us is that the natives don’t ever have to think about, or commit to the principles this country was founded on.

      Myself, I think that’s bad business. If I had been at the Founding, I would have argued for creating a two-class system, where you only gain citizenship by affirming your commitment and understanding of the Constitution. No demonstrated understanding? No affirmation? No vote. You get to be a resident, still a beneficiary of the Bill of Rights, but with no voice in the proceedings of government.

      Just having the great good fortune to be born here isn’t enough.

      I’d have thrown some other caveats into the mix, as well: Become a ward of the state, or of anyone else? Automatic loss of status as citizen, and a return to “resident” status. The state, politicians, or private parties ought not be able to buy votes by buying people via welfare, patronage, or other such entitlements.

      If the Republic is to survive, something is going to have to change along these lines. We can’t have a dependent class that outnumbers the independent class, and still has access to the vote.

      • I’ve thought of something a bit less extreme, which is that anyone drawing a government paycheck can’t vote until a year after drawing his last government paycheck.

        Would be mostly symbolic, given the use of contractors, but a useful symbol.

        • I’m in two minds about that – since I draw a government pension for active duty military service. Your scheme would have me disenfranchised until a year after my departure from this mortal coil.

          Which would make me then the perfect Democratic party voter, but that’s another discussion entirely.

    • The comedian Gallagher once said, “You want to educate your kids, send ‘em off to one of these piss-poor Third World countries, and when they come back they’ll be smarter.”

      • The Marquise de Custine observed in La Russie en 1839 that if your son is unhappy in France, send him to Russia. Anyone who has visited Russia will be happy to live anywhere else.

    • Sanford, I know you’re asking this mostly rhetorically, but it’s useful for me to think about it and list it out. So, thanks for the opportunity to do that.
      Legitimate immigrants choose to come here, and choose to follow the requirements to become citizens. They are already separate from their former fellow countrymen and from a large number of ours in that respect.
      I imagine there’s been a lot of sacrifice and patiently working through roadblocks and problems to get to the point where someone is a US citizen. That also separates out some of the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
      Now, compare that with people who have grown up here, and probably haven’t spent large amounts of time outside the country, so they don’t have a reference point, or anything to really compare it to.
      Add to that the fact that they probably don’t read a lot of classics. (Shakespeare is so boring and hard.
      Add to that a cultural hostility to founding documents, and not just founding documents, but to the principles and values that led to those founding documents. In particular, a hostility to organized religion and the virtues that are were traditionally taught in them – faith, reverence, humility, charity, and doing good. So, in a way, you might almost consider the Bible to be one of our founding documents, and there’s a definite cultural hostility to it in particular, and traditional Christian churches in general. Granted, some of these churches have justly earned their fair share of disdain and disgust, but in an environment where those who are hostile to organized religion are already looking for weakness, any errors, any bad judgment, and especially outright immoral and criminal activity is magnified and amplified into a great big stick with which to beat all organized religions. (Hey! Look! I found another one of my soapboxes! Back to the list…)
      Add to that the fact that Americans’ education is steadily less rigorous, and further divorced from first principles…
      That standards of excellence are largely reduced or abandoned while standards of conformity are emphasized and expanded…
      That individual initiative and thought is discouraged in favor of the application and following of arbitrary rules (see, for example, Kate’s screed today about anti-harassment policies at cons as a response to actual rape).
      Add to that the fact that what people in the country do read, listen to, consume, in news and in popular media is largely anti-American, and anti-Western Civilization.
      Heck, you look at that, and I’m surprised I understand liberty in any significant way.
      I comfort myself in two things.
      1. The encroachment of statism and progressivism is not inexorable or inevitable. It is an enterprise of men, and as such, may be opposed by men (and women). So I work at making sure it doesn’t take root in me, and it doesn’t take root in my family. And then I should expand outward as I can. Writing this, I feel a little guilty that I’m not doing more of that.
      2. I believe truth – the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God, if you will – is on our side. In the end, we win, they lose. Truth prevails. The Gods of the Copybook Headings limp up to explain it once more and all of that.
      And we have a new birth of freedom.

  6. “…we’re treated to wretched crosses between the DMV and public schools.”

    Um. No. There will be a veritable Via Doloroso between the government schools and the DMV, and the cross — far from wretched — will be VERY well made. MilSpec, in fact.

    Oh? Did I read that wrong? Nevermind.

    M

  7. Christopher M. Chupik

    Fifty Musketeers of Gray. It *must* be written. :-D

    • You are evil…I like the cut of your jib.

    • You’re a bad man. Think shame on yourself. (Writes the idea down if she ever decides to write m/m — who knows? Could be a goldmine. — RUNS)

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        The cover: “Athos had rejected the love of women — but there were other kinds of love”. Image: two shirtless Musketeers, with suggestively placed swords.

        • I thought you suggested Fifty Musketeers of Gray, not Brokeback Musketeers…

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            Ah, but Sarah interpreted it as being m/m (that is, male/male) and I ran with it.

            • Well, that comment was kind of directed at both of you, but then again, I had forgotten which way so many of her MCs heads turn.

              • Not many — statistically about 2 to 3% for MCs. Sigh. It’s much easier for me to believe in people falling in love with guys. Sowwwwwwy

                • Same situation for me believing in people falling in love with girls. Such are the blinkers of my non-bisexuality — I see more of what is attractive in the opposite sex, less in the same sex.

                  • Sigh. The more experience of human nature I acquire, the less credible I find it that anybody finds anybody to fall in love with, no matter what the sexual biases. Dogs are more faithful and cats purr more soothingly. I am sure that had I not fallen while still young and naive I never would have. That anyone fell for me strikes me as proof that, like stinky cheese, some people have acquired odd tastes.

                    • Dear Wallaby,
                      Every pot finds a lid and vice versa. I found my hubby at almost 40. According to Jewish tradition(aggadah) making matches between men and women is what G-d has done since Creation; in addition to his more high profile actions.

                    • LOL. My grandmother said that. “Every pot finds a lid.” :)

                    • Yes, but sometimes multiple lids fit one pot… and I’m sleep deprived and lost my train of thought, so I’m not sure really where I’m going with this. But I’ll trust RES to finish out my thought with something pithy.

                    • Great — I don’t have enough demands on my time, energy and creativity with family crises, you want me to finish your !@&^# thoughts for you???? Mighty d- presumptuous, br’er bearcat, mighty d- …

                      Oh, wait a mo — you don’t lisp, do you? Umm, er, never mind.

                      Bang the lid onto enough different pots and it gets dinged and chipped and won’t fit none of them very well. And the pots tend to get chipped and warped, too.

                    • I just lucked out. I also thought I would never fall in love again… mostly because serious serial monogamy is hard when you don’t stop loving people after the breakup. Until…I met Matt. He was an old friend, and I realized I’d loved him all along. But still, I could never write that. No one would believe it.

                • Yeah, sometimes I wonder what men see in women.

                  • Well, many men wonder the opposite, so you’re not alone.

                  • I know the answer to this, but propriety and a sense of decency prevent my answering frankly.

                    • I will go so far as to say that it is often not what they see in them as what they see on them that attracts. Prepositions can be vital for understanding.

                    • I have often said “Men fall in love with their eyes, women fall in love with their ears.” This is very good news for me, as I am not model material. I am pretty sure I know the socio-biological reasons why this is true. My question is this – from where does that quote derive? A cursory search gets a few hits from Dr. Phil, but I know it was not there, as I’ve never watched his show, and I was saying that long before he came on the scene.

                  • SOMETIMES? It’s permanently bewildering to me, including my own husband’s preference for me.

                    • Whether you believe we’ve been created to desire each other or evolved (or, given He created Time so He could evolve us, both) the effect is undeniable. I hear rumours pheromones have something to do with it. Certainly it is true that most American women think their genitals stink and most men find the scent intoxicating.

                      I was discussing this with the Beloved Spouse and postulated this is one reason American women are so frequently insane: they have no idea why men are attracted to them (boobs have something to do with it, which seems equivalent to claiming it is magic) and, driven by the necessity of attracting the male eye are somewhat in the position of deaf people having to sing to attract mates. Eventually most learn some tunes that work but they don’t really know why.

                  • Good grief. It surprises me how little you females truly know of the fine qualities of the fairer sex. I mean, there’s reasons about half the species wants a good woman. Lessee if this old redneck bachelor can’t eddicate ya summat.

                    Women in general are prettier than men. Always have been, always will be. There’s some scientific backing to this (neotenous traits), and it ain’t all hip-to-waist ratio, but those visual cues are important in attraction. Pretty isn’t always what you might expect, either, clothing-wise. Prettiest woman I know wears a clean white tee shirt and scruffy jeans, hair in a plain-jane ponytail most days. I have yet to see the little black dress that could compete.

                    There’s the nurturing side that we like. Kindness. Girls, you aren’t the only ones who like to be pampered. Eating a decent meal I didn’t have to cook myself, that someone else made just for me, just because? Heaven. All those little things from the smile that lifts our hearts to a warm hug on a cold morning.

                    Relationships with women- of most types, not just the intimate- are different than with men. Guys like having someone (feminine) along they can be protective of. Cue grunty male sounds of contentment. *grin* Y’all don’t look at things the way we do sometimes, and that can be nice. It also helps that women are generally more socially adept- especially it helps the habitual hermit types like myself when we stumble into social situations that require more than a few stock phrases and bad jokes.

                    Even all sweaty and grubby, women smell better than guys. Don’t ask me why, and don’t say perfume because this happens even on a three week hike out fifty miles past the last human settlement and bar of soap. Okay, maybe I should put that you reek a bit less pungently in that situation? *ducks!*

                    Speaking of, there’s cleanliness to consider. Clean is sexy. Having a 5.0L DOHC engine block sitting in your only bathroom is not so much, I’m given to understand. Women tend to be cleaner, a lot of the time, and let me tell you I really appreciate that fact.

                    Women make babies. C’mon, you knew that one was coming. Most men like kids. Broiled at 350, turned once every half hour, basted with butter… Okay, okay, we’re not all cannibals. *grin* Families are important. My grandad always told me, “women make a house a home.” There’s some truth to that, and I don’t mean the place stays cleaner. Home is the people you care about much more than a place to put them in- though that in itself is important, too.

                    The right woman in a man’s life gives him someone to cherish and trust in ways he can’t anyone else. It’s a big job, keeping us hairy, crude, clumsy males civilized. Never doubt that the virtues of honor, discipline, courage, and faith start in the home. The right woman is a source of strength in a man’s life. Don’t sell yourselves short, ladies. Much is asked of you in this life, and you give much to make this world a brighter, better place than it would be without you.

                    Y’all can take that as a compliment from an unabashedly heterosexual male, if you wish. Most guys I know would agree, more or less. It takes more than a pretty package to make a woman truly feminine, and there’s not a damned thing wrong with any of y’all being feminine. It doesn’t mean weak. We do appreciate it, truly, no matter how crudely some of us express it. I can’t imagine it’s always easy, being female, but y’all do it with style. *grin*

                    Speaking of crude, I kept trying to put an education joke here at the end, but that idea collapsed under the weight of double entendres, so I’ll let your imaginations fill the gap. *grin*

                    • Thank you for the kind words. It’s certainly an ideal to strive for.

                    • Speakin’ as another redneck bachelor, there ain’t a ‘little black dress’ made that can hold a candle to a pair a wranglers on a woman ‘at is built right. Come to think of it, that is pretty much true on any woman, regardless of build. Them ‘little black dresses’ is only complementary to a certain type a figure, and that type a figger is more complimented by a properly fittin’ denim.

            • Well, the musketeers WERE all male, recent movies notwithstanding.

            • Running with swords is better than running with scissors…how?

            • Meanwhile, I’m running the other direction as fast as I can.

            • M/M is an entire sub-genre of romance.

          • I like that. I have friends who might buy that.

        • It would sell — oh, it would sell… ;)

        • I’m dead certain there already is Musketeers slash somewhere. I very much hope I will never come across it. But maybe Aramis with a whip and some willing lady in waiting… no. On second thought no thanks.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              An alternative suggestion: Milady. Cover: Woman with dress strap down to reveal her branded shoulder, carries whip. Caption: The whip is mightier than the sword.

            • Speechless, I know.

              So am I. I expected so much better of pohjalainen … ** sigh **

                • BTW, I have nothing against gay love. If the characters have originally written as gay I like it, if it’s well written, as well as any other love stories. What I do dislike is that slash which turns what has originally been a platonic love – friends or siblings (or worse alternatives, like maybe parent/child) – to sexual.

                  • The all purpose acronym is NTTIAWWT
                    “Not That There Is Anything Wrong With That”

                    (I was just teasing you)

                    • Heh.

                      My dislike for slash has probably something to do with growing up with lots of older books, where it was not uncommon to read descriptions of friends, even male friend, showing deep emotions towards each other, and even sometimes talking about their love to each other, which is something that doesn’t happen much in modern books. And I assume one reason is that now that would most likely immediately draw the assumption that they were gay. Hey, people can love each other without wanting to have sex with each other, and maybe we would be better off if we remembered that.

                    • Dang. Now that I have imagined Chingachgook & Hawkeye frolicking in the woods, I shall never again think of him as Natty Bumppo without sniggering.

                      I dread the thought of checking for Huck slash Jim stories, and as for thinking about Ishmael and Queequeg in the hold, count me in with Bartleby: ‘I would prefer not to.’

                    • There is slash with every possible combination of characters. I dared a friend of mine to write Clinton/Gore slash. She did.

                    • Uh — am I a bad person if I say that, done properly, would be hilarious and an act of political dissent?
                      As for slash — worst ever — Uncle Scrooge/Donald. I was looking for the new distributor for Disney comics (oh, heavens… 12? years ago) because the one publishing them had gone under. That page came up. I stared at it horror struck, before I could find the “off”. Dan came up and found me still horrified. His take “what do you expect? They go around without pants!” “They’re ducks.” “Yeah, and ducks have nothing against incest. Also, they’re sex obsessed to the point of necrophilia. Didn’t you and Dave Freer have a talk about that, leading to your wanting to start Necrophiliac Duck Press?” Very practical is husband. BUT he refused to look at the page when I offered to bring it up, because “ew.”

                    • “Uh — am I a bad person if I say that, done properly, would be hilarious and an act of political dissent?”

                      That’s why I suggested it.

                    • You and me both, pohjalainen.

                    • Don’t forget Rule 34!

                    • what’s rule 34?

                    • She asked the question. Answering questions is like a compulsion to me.

                    • Clearly a conditioned reflex inculcated by improper schooling. Keep in mind that “None of your d-business” and “There are some things man was not meant to know” are perfectly fine, all-purpose answers, as is “Google is your friend, but not all of your friends have your best interests at heart.”

                    • Nah, I was like that before school.

                    • You don’t want to know.

              • I TYPED LOL. Stupid WordPress.

              • Replying to your previous post. Many slashers only comprehend sexual love. They don’t about the other three kinds of love.

                • o yes, o yes

                • Only that attitude seems to be something that is spreading. Showing love, or confessing loving somebody seems to bring the assumption that the person doing it also wants to have sex with the other pretty often now. If nothing else there will be jokes. And it’s worse for men, to the point that even a father showing affection towards his own children in public can sometimes get that. And heaven help him if he is not the father, no matter how innocent the relationship at least some people will still assume the worst even after that innocence has been proven.

                  • I am deeply distressed over the constant repetition of that four-letter word here.

                  • This is EggZackly why I refuse to teach in the US. Other countries suck , and excel, in different ways, but I don’t have to worry if some third grader runs up and hugs me on the playground, and the common Commie Core can go take a flying Fsck at a rolling doughnut.

                  • And they go in for backwards smearing, marveling that earlier audiences managed to miss the “obvious homoerotic subtext.”

                    Like the man whose shrink used the Rorschach blots on him, and when the shrink wrote that he was sex-obsessed, retorted, “You’re the one who’s showing me all these dirty pictures.”

                    • Yes. Our sex drives may be pretty damn important, but they are still not the be-all and end-all of our existence, and reducing everything to that misses so much.

                  • I highly suggest the new Disney cartoon, “Frozen.”

                    I can’t really say more than that without giving stuff away.

                • Other three? I’ve always heard love divided into three pieces, Eros, philos (?) and agape, corresponding to romantic/sexual love, brotherly love and selfless love. Am I missing one?

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    C. S. Lewis in his _The Four Loves_ added storge (ie affection).

                  • I was thinking of the title of a C.S. Lewis book called the Four Loves.

                  • Sadly, the “love” most dominant in contemporary culture is not love at all, but lust — the desire to use another person, place or thing for one’s own sexual satisfaction. Using somebody else’s hand (or other body parts) for sexual stimulation does not make it less masturbatory.

                    • You can produce hysterical incoherence in many people by observing that refraining from infecting one’s (purported) beloved with a fatal and incurable disease is a fairly basic requirement to call it “love.”

    • The funny thing is that there were “grey musketeers” and “black musketeers”, based on the colors of their horses:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musketeers_of_the_Guard
      Late 17th and early 18th Century European militaries did some weird things:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musketeers_of_the_Guard

  8. “… but perhaps also making the states utterly subjected to the federal government wasn’t the brightest of ideas – because we are a very large country and what does DC know of my life? Or care for that matter?”

    Not only that, but we, as citizens, can’t keep track of the entire federal government and all the myriad ways it is probably interfering with our own self-interest. The ultimate result? We vote irrationally.

    If government were smaller and more local, more of us would have a vested interest in becoming informed because more of us would have an opportunity to influence how the government interacts with the populace. Moreover, more of us, I think, would be happier because we’d have more control over said smaller, more local government. If we practiced genuine libertarian federalism, people in San Francisco and people in Greenville, SC, would be free to live in the kinds of communities they prefer without worrying about outside interference.

    • The particularism you describe isn’t particularly (heh) libertarian in character; the idea goes back to Edmund Burke and the debates over British policy in India, making it conservative by lineage. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.

      • A pure libertarian state would not care, since the laws are only against force and fraud it would not matter much what level they were made and administered. A slightly more realistic one would care.

    • This is why the Constitution may turn out to be a blunder compared to the original Articles of Confederation. The Constitution was thought so bad that the Bill of Rights was written protect citizens from it. Worked for a while.

  9. speaking about Musketeers, why are they using swords and not Muskets?

    • They do use muskets, but only in war. In the book.

    • I believe they did use muskets in war – as a distance weapon, closing with swords.

      • Yes, because from what I understand the firearms of the time were MADE for me. The best you could get was “hit broadside of the barn” accuracy.

        • From your descriptions, I’ve determined that the best way for you to shoot is with your eyes closed, and aim with your hearing.

        • Poor range as well. Little to no time to reload before charging armies closed. And, once armies did close to one-on-one, you could get diced very fine with a rapier in the time it would take to reload once. Thus, early muskets were pretty much the 1600′s equivalent of the Roman pilum – used once at a distance to whittle down the enemy before the real fighting began.

          • The advent of the bayonet changed things to an extent, but a pike was still far superior to a bayoneted musket after it was empty.

            • Specifically the SOCKET bayonet – There were plug bayonets for some time, but only the socket bayonet allowed firing and reloading with the bayonet attached and ready for use.

          • Hence the mixed formations of musket and pike in the era. Gustavus Adolphus was a master at their maneuver.

          • And developing the “fire by rank” drill, so at at any given time, someone was firing, someone was moving back under cover, and someone was reloading. Or doing the drill while in place instead of on the advance.

            • There is a film with good scenes of musket and pike formations, but I’m blanking on which one, maybe “Cromwell” with Richard Harris. Or “The Last Valley” I can’t be sure which I’m thinking of.

              • I’d speculate that almost any film with musket and pike formations is bound to be good.

                Though perhaps not if it has M/M themes.

                • You don’t want to watch the story of Gustavus Adolphus and his lover?

                  • I don’t know if you’re just pulling Kent’s tail or if this was the king who liked riding naked with his (male) lover on the same horse… Swedish, I THINK.

                    • Not aware of that king, Gustavus had at least one bastard son (served in his army, under him) as well as legitimate children, but I’ve never heard of him having a male lover.

                    • Then it must have been another. I remember vaguely reading about it in a book about Russia and going “Man, that’s weird.” But I didn’t pay any particular attention, so for all I know it was a rumor-of-the-time or joke about Swedes or something. Meh. Horseback riding bare, as opposed to bareback riding strikes me as HOUCHY particularly for males.

                    • I’m from Texas. I’ve known a few girls that seemed to like it.

                • “The Last Valley” is ghey? NTTIAWWT. Oh, why didn’t someone tell me? I’m always the last to learn.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              That and the Pike Formation was also slow moving and slow maneuvering. That made a Pike Formation “sitting ducks” for field artillery.

              • The large Spanish tercios were indeed, which is why Gustavus Adolphus’ innovation of mobile artillery pieces helped him dominate the battlefields. But otherwise, field pieces of the day were themselves slow moving.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Massed volleys were pretty much the only way to inflict damage with them. And a sword doesn’t need to be reloaded.

        • You can do a lot of damage with aimed muskets. It was not chance that by the end of the Battle of Bunker Hill there was a British regiment being commanded by its senior private. Of course, the range was very short.

          • Yes, at short range and with well designed muskets (and balls) you can aim them, matchlocks are extremely difficult to aim accurately compared to flintlock or percussion muskets. Add in the generally non-concentric and nonstandard barrels, with undersized balls (to make loading easier with fouling in the barrel) and accuracy with the muskets commonly available at the time was such that the only way to be reasonably positive of hitting the barn was to be inside of it… with the doors closed.

            • The American forces no doubt had the advantage of having learned while hunting. Volleys are not very effective there.

          • The US militia like the defenders at Breed’s Hill were primarily armed with their personal hunting weapons, which were rifled muskets. Much better accuracy, but far slower reload time (not much of an issue when you’re looking to bag a deer). The lower volume of fire and increased cost were why smoothbore muskets were standard military issue until the Minie ball was invented.

    • Matchlocks. Smelly and unromantic.

      • Same reason they didn’t smoke mackerel – Theyre too hard to light.

      • Yep, point the barrel in the general direction of the enemy (no need to be more exact, since the balls tended to fly wherever they wished; besides you would have your eyes closed when it went off, and aiming with your eyes closed is notoriously difficult) grab the big ‘trigger’ lever with a lighted fuse on the other end, close your eyes so you don’t get sparks in them, and pull the lever back, lowering the fuse into the powder charge.

        • It’s amazing how long it took to go from “aim gun at enemy and hope” to “aim gun at specific target and hit specific target, repeat successfully.” Both with personal weapons and with artillery.

          • What’s also amazing is how few are willing to acknowledge the big reason that the early firearms were taken up so eagerly had more to do with the “boom” than with the actual effect downrange…

            There was far more psychology involved in early modern warfare than most outside of historical research are really aware of. Guns were adopted willy-nilly, not because they were better at killing, but because of all the flash and bang, which was good for troops morale, on your side, and bad for morale on the other. The real killers weren’t the musket balls, but the cannons firing grape, and the denouement once the lines on one side broke. If you managed to remain stolid and unmoving, you lived, and probably won your battle. Panic? You died. More likely than not, with a bayonet in your back, or a cavalry saber slash across it.

            If they ever start mass-issuing silencers in the modern military, I predict we’ll soon find we need to make them optional, and only used on occasions where sound and signature would be a bad thing. Hell, in some situations, I want a damn “loudener”, to coin a term. Particularly when I’m trying to establish fire dominance during a close-in ambush…

            • Also it was easier to teach a man to use than a crossbow.

              • Do you have a cite for this? I’ve used both crossbows and muzzle loaders (obviously not in combat) and crossbows always seemed easier to use to me. I’m a nerd though, and a good argument in the other direction sounds like a fun read. Just wondering.

                • I think I heard about it first in the Cambridge History of Warfare… Was a library book, so I don’t have it on hand to check that. If anyone here has a copy, they might be able to tell you better. There are other sources, of course, but that’s the one I can recall off the top of my head.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                IIRC a crossbow is as easy to learn to use as the early firearms. What was (and is) hard to learn to use is the bow (long or otherwise).

                • I suspect than neither the crossbow and the early firearms were not so easy to USE, but after a few weeks training, you were just about as good as you were gonna get. They were simpler to lean. Best possible weapons available for the yokel the sheriff harvested off His Lordships’s land. A longbowman had to start as a kid.The same with the “Mongol,” recurve laminate bow. Shootin from a running horse added extra degrees of difficulty.

                • Until firearms became 1) more accurate and 2) lighter, crossbows seem to have dominated as far as _effective_ distance weapons. Arquebuses, hand cannons, et al had more psychological effect (unless you happened to get a crossbow quarrel in your psychological, in which case you didn’t care about anything anymore). But once carrying and firing a musket required less physical strength than using a crossbow, gunpowder weapons became more common. (One of the crossbows I saw in the hunting museum in Munich this summer had a total of eight pulleys built into it to make cocking it easier!) I suspect improvements in mechanical reliability of the metal components also had an effect on the transition, but my research hasn’t gone into that level of detail. Plus I’m more interested in post 1600 practices and tech.

                  • Apart from the noise and the grapeshot aspect, I’d say a good longbow would be a very effective distance weapon right up till you got rifled cartridge arms. High rate of fire and accurate and pretty good range.
                    Most of the ancient crossbows looked pretty klugey – heavy and slow to load for sure, though some of the Chinese crossbows were repeaters.

                    • See again: a life dedicated to becoming a decent longbow archers, plus the stamina needed to rapidly repeatedly draw a 100+ lb bow.

                    • The downfall of the longbow compared to either muskets or rifles (besides the LONG learning period to proficiency already mentioned) was the requirement to expose yourself much more so in order to fire it. Admittedly in open field battle at the time muskets were used in the same manner. Line up in the open, face the enemy, and fire a volley. In siege warfare however you could fire a musket or rifle from a battlement while generally exposing considerably less of your body than was necessary to fire a longbow remotely accurately. They also could be fired from many more positions in such instances than a longbow could.

                    • Surprisingly enough I figured out on my own that for all their similarity in range and rate of fire, the rifle had two advantages: easier to learn, and you could fire it while flat on your tummy.

                      Surprising in that I am not big on military stuff and it seldom if ever gets mentioned.

                  • Earliest “firearms” in the 14th century weren’t much more than miniaturized bombards with a rather frightening tendency to, erm, explode in the handgunner’s grip. Once you get to true arquebuses, the innovation of the priming pan/matchlock combo was truly revolutionary. But I think it was a combination of the fact that the arquebus was faster, cheaper, and easier to manufacture than the crossbow (which had about the same rate of fire), and *training* folks to use it was easier than the crossbow, too.

                    More weapons in the hands of your grunts for less money, faster, and faster training once you got ‘em. Useless in the wet, dangerous (bit less so with corned powder, around 1429- predating the arquebus), somewhat unreliable, but compared to getting enough of the weapons *now* in adequately trained hands…

                    Wheellocks (1500?), then snaphance (1550s, paper cartridge a bit later) followed (more mechanically complex and expensive, therefore maintenance issues increase) were more expensive, but the firearm was pretty well established in modern armies of the time by this point. By 1600 we get flintlocks.

                  • It’s the relative mechanical simplicity that put firearms over crossbows. The early firearms were just a metal tube, a lever to bring down the match, and the furniture necessary to keep everything together and give you something to hold. Crossbows, on the other hand, had big springs, strings, a latch to hold tension, a trigger to release it, and whatever extra pieces of flair added to ease cocking. A heck of a lot more to go wrong and mission-kill the weapon, and (probably more importantly) a heck of a lot more to spend money on.

                    • Yup. ‘Cept my way, I get to say “cheap and easy” without even having to make a naughty pun. *grin*

                    • I’m confused. When did the conversation turn to the topic of my dream woman?

                    • Gets even weirder when you consider “arquebus” means “hook gun.” *chuckle*

                    • The mechanical simplicity argument won’t fly. A longbow is about as simple as it gets. A 35# bow is effective at 100yds and quite accurate at 50, and contrary to some opinions, it not that hard to get good at. Archery used to be a common sport until the safety trolls came along. Silicon Graybeard has a bit about crossbows up right now- http://thesilicongraybeard.blogspot.com/
                      Given blacksmith technology I’d say a decent crossbow would be easier to build than a matchlock, and black powder is tricky to make and keep usable.
                      Anything more complex than a matchlock requires at least some industrial capability. Yeah, I know, Afgani hillsmen making AKs out of shovels, duh- but not the ammo.

                    • A 35# bow will not penetrate even the lamest of armor, except maybe soft leather. I have also seen documentation that even a 100+# bow would not penetrate plate mail (though the article did say that they did get some penetration with a particular arrowhead). Now, truthfully, in wartime battles, longbows were typically used also as volley weapons more than sniper weapons, so the accuracy argument is a little off, but you still had to practice with them for a long time to get the musculature to pull them back at the power level that they were using. The same page where I was reading this indicated that skeletons show significant deformation of the shoulder and arm due to the overdevelopment of the muscles.

                    • Don’t underestimate the engineering that goes into a longbow, it’s quite a bit more complicated than a bit of yew with a short string rung between the ends.

                      And the gunpowder would be around to supply your artillery, which even early guns beat the pants off of their mechanical-energy predecessors, so that’s only a marginal cost for the firearm.

                    • Couple more things, just because: Bunch of bolts vs. little lead balls. The former requires a highly skilled, trained fletcher to produce, the latter any blacksmith’s apprentice can make in job lots. Weight/mass: carry 30-50 bolts and you’ve got a heck of a load with all your other gear (and heavy weapon). Same in musket balls ain’t much, comparatively.

                      Firearms have great penetration and a much flatter trajectory compared to bows and halfbows (crossbows). They don’t require much in the way of physical strength compared to the other two (remember that armies of the time averaged *more* casualties from illness than from combat). You didn’t so much “aim” a matchlock as point it in the general direction and volley fire.

                      Mechanical complexity-wise, the trigger and windlass assembly of the crossbow is the kicker. That’s a bit more intricate tooling than the tube/touch-hole/stock assembly of the arquebus. Without the windlass (or cranequin, etc), you either can’t reliably respan the bow or need a *lot* of brute strength. Making a tube ain’t too difficult, it’s more or less wrapping plate around a rod and welding it shut, then removing the rod. Well, maybe a little more complicated considering double thick walls and multiple short tubes welded together, but look at a cranequin sometime like the ones used in South Germany circa late 15th century. Tooling’s definitely more complex.

                      And, because I just couldn’t resist, there’s maybe one thing simpler than a longbow… The atlatl. *chuckle* Longbow’s still the better weapon, though. *grin*

            • “Loudener” is MY trademark. I’ve wanted one for years. (55 Gallon drum on a 50 cal.) I WANT people to know when I’m shooting. D–n this quiet s–t. I don’t want things that go BANG, I want things that go _*BOOM*_.

            • I don’t know if someone will mention it further down thread, but there is in fact a “loudener” available for purchase. One of the gun bloggers I read mentions it, and thinks that there might be a use for it in exactly the situation you cite, demoralize the enemy.

              z

              • Most of your muzzle brakes have that practical effect. Fire my STW without hearing protection and the muzzle brake on three or four times and your ears will ring for a couple of hours.

            • This was the theme underlying a short story by Robert Sheckley (I had recalled it as by Mack Reynolds, so memory is a treacher), The Gun Without a Bang.

              ‘The Gun Without a Bang’ (1958) (9 pages) 3.75/5 (Good): One of the weaker installments, “The Gun Without a Bang” is a satirical take of the fetishization of technology. Dixon is a manly explorer on an alien world — he carries the Weapon — a disintegrator beam that removes the assailant from the scene without a cry or even a whimper of pain. Unfortunately, his canine enemies have no idea that their companions are dying and press on. Dixon has to resort to less powerful and more traditional means to defend himself.
              http://sciencefictionruminations.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/book-review-store-of-infinity-robert-sheckley-1960/

              A rather unfairly forgotten author, Sheckley, yet one who greatly influenced my early reading in thei genre. I shall have to reread his work to see how it stands up to my more experienced eye.

          • How true. It wasn’t until the American Civil War that any gun reached the accuracy and range of a longbow.

    • Realism. Historical accuracy. Did you know how long it took to reload a musket properly?

      • In 1800 it took 10-20 seconds for a trained soldier IIRC. But that was with premeasured paper wrapped cartridges of powder and soldiers who drilled every day did it twice as fast as those that didn’t. Before the paper cartridge (i.e the 17th century when the 3 musketeers is set) I believe the best case time was double that.

      • A good experienced musketeer could get off four rounds a minute. Probably not with hopes of hitting something smaller than a hillside however. A muzzleloading rifle takes much longer to reload, because of the tight fit of the patch and ball (or bullet) in the rifling. Which is why as late as the Civil War the US waffled back and forth between issuing musket or rifles.

        Using old fashioned black powder fouling of the barrel is severe, and exacerbated by rifled (or pitted, really any non-smooth surface) barrels, therefore muskets could be shot many more times between cleanings than rifles.

        • There was no waffling — the Union’s James Ripley is singlehandedly responsible for extending the ACW by at least a year due to his decision to keep building muzzleloading muskets instead of going full-production on repeaters. Best example of Hidebound Traditionalism in the military (esp. the Army) out there.

        • I also think you have late 18th / early 19th century muzzle-loading flintlock muskets in mind here, bearcat. 17th century muskets were usually matchlocks (very unwieldy and unreliable) or wheel locks (delicate and expensive), and they needed more steps to load. The machining was worse on the 17th century than on the 18th-19th century muzzle-loaders too, which meant that the earlier muskets were horribly inaccurate even by Revolutionary/Napoleonic War standards.

          You’re dead right on the problems with the muzzle-loading rifles. They were essentially sniper’s weapons, more expensive and slower-firing than smoothbore muskets, and consequently to be used only in (relatively) long-ranged combat. Rifles were issued to skirmishers who attempted to disrupt enemy formations before contact on the battlefield, and who trained in making organized retreats behind friendly lines as the forces closed to melee.

    • Do you know what 17th century musket looks like? Not the thing you want to be carrying around in your daily rounds. Not very practical with its matchlock and the fact that you only get one round.

    • Because 17th-century firearms were almost useless against single man-sized targets save at point-blank range, and at that range you only got one shot because they took well over a minute to reload. Serious man-to-man combat then meant swords, half-pikes or cudgels, with the sword due to its cost and usage flexibility (it could cut, thrust or batter depending on the way it was wielded) being the preferred choice of the gentry. It wasn’t until the invention of the ring bayonet that muskets became useful even in mass combat without pikes in support, and not until the invention of smaller flintlock pistols that anyone would really want to rely on firearms in personal combat.

  10. May the Lord bless and keep the Tsar far away from us!

  11. As usual for me, I am about to pick nits. They make lice you know, so better to get them young.

    Our hostess has summerised the purpose of the Bill of Rights (the first ten ammendments to the constitution) admirably. However, the Bill is not the whole of the Constitution, in fact it was a backup in case the rest of the Constitution failed (as it has).

    The Constitution does not say what the govenment may not do to you. It says what the government may do to you. The important part is that it says that the government may do this and this and this, but NO MORE. There is a distressing habit in this country of believing that if it is not forbidden to the government by the Bill of Rights, it is allowed. This is not true no matter what excuses the Supreme Court makes. The genius of the founders was in giving the government few and defined powers rather than restricting it with few and defined rights of the people. This has been discarded by the courts since Rosevelt’s court packing scheme in the Depression however it was the core of the system of governance set up by the founders.

    My thanks for an interesting article and best wishes in all your many endevors.

    • Yup. The feds were to have limited and enumerated powers, leaving broad police powers to the states.

      Which is a nuisance when you’re trying to build Utopia. There’s just no where to go.

    • Of course, I meant “this and no more.”

    • You have just summarised the argument made against the Bill of Rights — that the limitations of government authority were inherent in the Constitution and enumerating those limits implicitly suggested that other limits on government did not exist.

  12. I seem to recall that the EU constitution lists all sorts of positive rights – such as the Right to Healthcare and the Right to Education. But then just the Table of Contents to the EU constitution is half the length of the entire US one – http://www.di2.nu/200505/27b.htm – so I doubt anyone has read it. In all the EU constitution is about the same size as Obamacare, and about as popular. Fortunately it also seems to be rather less successfully implemented.

  13. A useful quote:
    “The conqueror is always a lover of peace; he would prefer to take over our country unopposed. ” — Carl von Clausewitz

  14. Since the civil war it has become unfashionable to talk to state rights. Maybe it was a stalking horse under which to hide the repulsive institution of slavery. I don’t know. I came afterwards. Smarter people than I have argued it back and forth.

    A fellow recently pointed out that it came to a boil because of the Fugitive Slave Act– a major offense against state’s rights.

    Just to throw that out into these waters.

  15. The military knows the Prez and many/most of the Dems don’t like them. The officers swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, not the president whomever it might be, nor the administration, nor the Congress; The Constitution. I feel good about that.

  16. Utopia’s are boring. Give me a little strife. It will help me grow.