I Am Half Sick Of Shadows

To vary our fascination with English poets, today we’re going to hark to Tennyson who, yes, is an odd choice for this blog, being very much an aristocratic court poet, but who, never the less was touched by something.  (I’m not going to presume on what touches poets, though I’m to understand Tennyson was a very moral man and all.)

I like his cadences, but most of all I find his poems are a never-ending source of titles.  And if I can remember not to spell it like a type of onion, the lady of Shalott is one of my favorites among his poems.

Of course, this is not about poetry, except in the sense that I like to pretend to lecture you lot (ATH is culture) when most of you are way more educated/better read than I.

No, this is about separation, distance, and what it does to people.

The Lady of Shalott first commended itself to my attention when I was going through puberty because it was such a perfect resonance to my situation.  The poem, itself, of course, has a lot to do with a woman’s sexual longing and a wish for (a form of) liberation even if it costs you your life.  Well, at least it does to me, but it might have a lot to do with identifying with it as a teen.  We never studied Tennyson in school because he was an icky Victorian and everyone knew Victorians were repressed prudes, and exposing young people to them would probably scar them for life.

For those of you not conversant with the poem, it’s about a Fairy Lady living in her own enclosed space and looking at the world outside through the magic web she weaves.  Like her I felt very much set aside, though it wasn’t a matter of space.  I attended the local school until I went to school in the city; I shopped in the local general stores; I walked the same streets.  But though my family was materially poor (not that we knew it) we were still massively wealthier than the people around us (often a matter of the use we put resources to) and we were also educated.  Up to fourth grade I could have been one of the local girls, except I read too much.  But after fourth grade, when most of my classmates when to work in the textile factory, and others went to the local middle/high school, mom decided (having looked at scores) that my only hope at college was to go to a magnet school downtown as my brother had done.  And in our family college was sort of expected, because – I’ve told my kids this too – we were not wealthy through land (what there had been in the family had been lost long ago) and we were not wealthy through business or not in a general way.  My family has always eked out (or often icked out) its living in the affairs of the mind.  Mostly through engineering and medicine, but some have gone into law, psychology and even writing (no, I’m not the first, but I’m the first non poet.) My only inheritance as my parents pointed out to me and I point out to the boys is a mind and the ability to use it.

This meant that though I still came home every day, and spent a lot of time hanging around the village, I was no longer of it.  A year or two, and I couldn’t really talk to my old classmates and friends.

And then there was the old mating game. There simply wasn’t anyone in the village whom I could date.  It’s not just the fact we’d have nothing to talk about, but that well… there was a social distance.  Most of the local boys treated me as though I were a vaguely threatening alien.  (To be fair, my being an odd, most boys treated me that way once I opened my mouth.)

The normal way for this to go for people in my situation is that you met boys going to high school and you formed your circle there.  I went to an-girls’ high school (which is why I’m here to tell you that all-woman planet is not an utopia but all the circles of hell in one.)

I had classmates who made arrangements within the school (I know this because two of them were found beneath some bushes in the ornamental garden.  I’m still in the dark about how they managed to drag a double mattress there.  They lived nearby, but no one had cars. I’m also still flabbergasted about how I never noticed it, since they were both second-circle friends – i.e. not inner circle but the next level.) but I never had any interest in female bodies.

The more common way to cope was to do “classes in the café” where you cut class and hung out at the coffee shop where the boys from the all-boy school across the street hung out.

Unfortunately there was that thing where I was expected to make it to college.  Also, I was an odd, and probably wouldn’t get flirting if it bit my nose off and ran away giggling.  (In fact all relationships I’ve had, and those that I declined, the other person eventually had to come out and be blunt as in “Do you want to date?” or more such.  Because I’m VERY VERY DENSE when it comes to emotions.)

So I felt like I was living in a bubble where nothing ever happened while real life took place around and past me.  In that situation I couldn’t help but be fascinated by The Lady of Shalott.

This situation applies to what I’m going to say – but more applies, too.

What you have in the Lady of Shalott is someone very busy with work that’s not directly related to her sustenance and which only allows her to see the world at a remove.  Her life is comfortable: She lives with little joy or fear.

But everything new and everything exciting comes from outside.  She’s in a world of her own, both remote and insulated.

If you’re seeing our ruling class, you are right.  They too live in a world that has very little to do with the everyday world of men for most of history.  They weave their web – of theories, of regulations, of the involutedly just so stories that are Marxist analysis – and then they see the world only in it, reflected in it.  This is what I refer to as “drinking their own ink.”

They have been schooled to such an extent that instead of testing theory in the world, they view the world through the theory.  The stimulus didn’t work?  More stimulus is needed.  There are more unemployed? Well, we need more assistance.  Health care is too expensive?  Making it government controlled will make it cheap.  People want to kill us? We need to stop being racist, because little brown people.

Any one of those circumstances can kill us and destroy society, because stimulus only destroys the value of money; unemployed don’t want perpetual assistance and to the extent it works it encourages dependence and lack of initiative; as far as it’s observable from history, since the pyramids, no government project was completed on time or under budget; thinking that people with a tan are inherently oppressed and unable to have just as crazy and non-legitimate grievances as your next door neighbors is not just a form of racism, but one that can kill you when the other culture interprets appeasement as weakness.  (Oh, and for the record, I am a person of tannitude, and I can have just as crazy ideas as the my pale-skinned husband.  Crazier, arguably, given what I write.)

BUT since they can only see the world through their web, they can’t break out of it.  Curiously, they are also enamored of the more ah… carnal aspects of “normal life.” If you go over the Lady of Shalott and even without being an English professor (Maypoles, really?) you’ll see that a lot of courting and mating behavior is highlighted, and when Lancelot bursts on the scene it is as a vision of manly boldness.  There are also funerals, though, and that too is important.  Because what the Lady of Shalott is seeing in her poem was the “real life” through the rituals that people have imbued in it.

Charlie Martin and I are doing a thing on ritual and its need for writers, over at PJM (yes, yes, doing the piece after this.  Yesterday was eaten by re-doing some covers.  Sue me.) But ritual is not just needed for writers.  It’s quite possible (I ask those of you who know this better) that ritual is the thin layer of lubricant between humans and the world.

There is a tendency in Marxist analysis to view ritual as “the opium of the people” —  mayday and Halloween and all being ways of keeping the serfs from revolting.

They’re wrong on that as on so many things.  There is a fundamental lack of “getting” humanity which is needed of course, because if they “got” humanity, their beautiful, utopian vision would be ruined.

Humans, serfs and rulers alike, except where impairment exists, are all quite smart enough to know where this life leads.  You can say it bluntly, “We’re all dying of a fatal disease.  It’s called life.”  Shakespeare said it better.  Heinlein stole it better.  But your average guy on the street knows it too.

Into this knowledge that our time here is brief and that like those who came before us, we too will eventually be dust and bones and our memory forgotten, all we have is ritual.  There were ways in which life was supposed to go, and each of them was imbued with its own ceremonies – religious or just customary.  There is courting, and it has rules – though those of us who are Odd tend to not get them unless they’re written on the inside of our eyelids – so we have to contrive our own approximations) – there is marriage, there are children, and then there’s death, with its own rituals.

This is how life used to be.  The rituals changed, but they usually changed slowly enough – except through invasion or conversion, and even then it wasn’t instant – that people know what they were “supposed” to do.

I’m not going to tell you – I’m an odd, okay? – that I approve of people being forced into a pattern, but even for people like us it is a good thing to know the pattern is there.

The problem with our ruling elites is that their theories say all patterns must be discarded – all traditional patterns.  They take the idea of culture-influenced development so far they think ALL development is cultural.  They see life through their webs of theories so much they think only the theory is real, and reality can be infinitely molded.  Thus their ideas on raising “genderless” children (because hormones don’t matter before the beautiful theory) their ideas on how women should act just like men in sex and life (because hundreds of thousands of years of different evolutionary pressures are for sissies!  They have theory, d*mn it), and their theories on how punishing the producers will make us all rich, rich I tell you!

The problem is reality is hard and has sharp corners, and Tennyson knew no less than Kipling that contact between the lovely visions in the web and the real world ends only one way.

At least the Lady of Shalott wasn’t trying to govern those people out there that she knew only from glimpses and longing.  But our intellectuals are.

As things spin more and more out of control, their theories are becoming more tattered and strained.  Despite their fascination with and longing for “real” – for violence and sex and anything that will break them out of what they know to be an artificial paradise – they cannot see where the true problem lies.

The true problem is in that wheat harvesting and reaping, in the marrying, in the business of life.  They’re disengaged from it, separated from the rituals that gave meaning to the lives of humans for centuries.

Instead, they have theory and they want to “change the world” and “make a difference.”

Only the web only shows shadows.  You can keep printing money and mask things for a little while.  You can keep more glitz, more glamour, more cowbell coming. It has to be kept going, in frantic running to catch up with what can never be caught, like the curse of the lady of Shalott:

No time hath she to sport and play:

A charmed web she weaves alway.

A curse is on her, if she stay

Her weaving, either night or day,

But the web affects the real world, not just threads and not just watching it.  And the web doesn’t match with the world.  And the more they do the more things break.  Their theory tells them they are on their way to paradise, but things keep getting worse.  The only way they know is to keep weaving – to keep supporting models that don’t work, because if they say or even notice they don’t work they’ll find themselves ostracized.

Maybe they like their ideological predecessors eventually they’ll fight those people affected by their crazed weaving.  Maybe they’ll decide it’s all the fault of humans.

Let’s hope not.  And if yes let’s hope we have enough guns and enough gumption to keep the mass graves from filling.

But one way or another, the web will tear and the lady of Shalott will make her doomed trip to Camelot, where she can only arrive dead.

One way or another – the long route or the short – whether they get their very short splendorous (ah!) reign of equality in poverty or not, the history of humanity shows that sooner or later sanity returns and the rituals of human life: plant and reap, marry and reproduce, die and be briefly remembered.

They can take many forms and I’m not advocating a return to agriculture – but the underlying form will be there again – because despite moments of cultural insanity, our species usually finds a way to survive.

So – be not afraid.  1984 is impossible in the long run.  Brave New World also.  There might be choppy waters ahead.  They might last the rest of our lives.  But in the end, we win, they lose, because reality is on our side, and all they have is fairy weaving.

‘The web was woven curiously,

The charm is broken utterly,

Draw near and fear not,—this is I,

The Lady of Shalott.’





224 thoughts on “I Am Half Sick Of Shadows

  1. I am a person of tannitude

    Note: LOL.

    Digression: poked a thought about palor, and that reminded me of the albino Mexican kid I’d seen a few times back home, and of pictures of albino African kids, and how skin color is only slightly more useful for identifying race than hair color– but it’s a lot easier to point to with exactness.

    Gotta stop reading before coffee…except that the other option is not reading at all until nap time, because of kids, and I WANT to nap!

    1. Although deficient in that regard myself, I prefer the term person of melanin.

      In fact, I’m suspecting that Sarah wouldn’t object to the term ‘person of melanin’ as long as no insult was intended. Obviously she has the abstract & people smarts to tell if insult is intended. (“…most of you are way more educated/better read than I.” Yeah, right. On reading that, why did I instinctively clutch my wallet & keys? 😉 )

      If our hostess called me a bigot for innocuously saying ‘person of melanin’, one might look at her askance. One might consider me an idiot if I caved & called for hate speech legislation to outlaw the phrase.

      1. I’d have to object to that on the same terms I object to the term “organic food.”

        All food is organic, not counting, oh, salt and such– all folks are “persons of melanin.”

        What they mean is “I think they are notably different in this regard,” which would make the person insisting on the term someone that’s calling darker skinned folks strange….

        Kind of like how the liberal claim that they get to define racism would mean that they are racist.

        1. I once had a comment responded to with a good bit of vitrol.

          It was to a post about how he was ever so negligent about including racial issues in a certain series. Since it was taking place in an imaginary world, I pointed out that he probably shouldn’t assume that the racial classifications are the same — they certainly have gone all over the place in this one.

          Apparently pure poison.

          1. Yes, some people behave as though being too toxic to interact with means they “win”.

            A thought or few have lodged in my brain to keep me sane online (to the extent that I am):

            1. I am not obliged to have the last word. Getting (or foregoing) the last word does not mean I’m right and it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

            2. For certain discussions: If an onlooker buys into my interlocutor’s “argument”, anything I say will not change their mind.

            3. Some things are not worth the time to talk about.

            4. I like to talk with people who have something to offer me, whether or not we agree, whether or not I persuade, am persuaded, or neither. If they have nothing to offer me, why am I talking with them?

            And if my counterparty doesn’t view me similarly—it’s highly unlikely that they are Richard Feynman, posting anonymously from Beyond—, why are they talking with me?

            5. Unfortunately, my belief in suasion by reason has declined since I went online. Some people in effect demand to be manipulated. (Nor am I necessarily always immune.)

        2. Gah, “organic food” is one of my ‘splodey buttons. Fortunately, I’m learning to keep my head all in one piece when I hear or read it, because having to pick up splattered skull & brains was getting tedious.

          1. Me too, I was at a friends this weekend and he told me to, “try the lemonade in the fridge, it says it’s organic but I like it.”* Which tends to prove that the ‘organic food push’ has kind of backfired, when people automatically assume something can’t be good if it is labeled organic.

            *I’m getting better at practicing restraint, I cut my rant on how all food is organic down to less than two minutes 🙂

              1. Walmart is selling a green frying pan. With Green prominently on it, and you can just see the color.

                One suspects the target market is the extremely dumb crowd.

                1. They are also selling purple and pink frying pans, BRIGHT purple and pink, and lime green. One suspects the target market is not only the extremely dumb, but also the colorblind crowd.

                  1. sometime — she said tartly — I should introduce you to my son’s ties. No, not my son, just his ties. Sometimes in the middle of the night I can hear the louder ones scream from the closet…

          2. What, exactly, is wrong with “organic” food? Fewer pesticides are involved.

            1. Well, for one thing, it takes about twice as much land to grow so it’s a danger to the environment.

              For another, it has “grandfathered in” old pesticides which can, in fact, be more dangerous the modern ones.

              1. Mary, IIRC its 3x or 5x more, not twice. That’s the point of failure of Malthus et al in their gloom and doom predictions…

            2. It’s no more nutritious than “inorganic” food, and it’s more expensive. I have no problem with people buying it for the snob value, or because they suffer under the delusion that it’s healthier or more nutritious or better for Holy Mother Gaia(tm), but when they get all preachy and forget that other people either don’t have the money to waste, or have other priorities for their money, then they become annoying.

            3. It’s not the food, nor the method, that is the problem. It’s the hijacking of a term with a particular definition to name something which doesn’t really describe what they are trying to do, and bastardizes the original term.

              ALL food is organic. It’s in the nature of food to BE organic, except, as Foxfier mentioned, such things as salt, or else we could not eat them. I don’t THINK the people who started using the term this way meant to imply that “non-organic” food is inedible, but I’m not sure.

              1. What of “free range” meat? Certainly the factory method of raising meat and pumping them full of growth hormones is no good. I hear it’s been causing early-onset puberty in children.

                1. Still, it’s all organic. Organic means that at least the original products were derived from life processes. This HAS kind of been expanded to include some things that are synthesized, but only because they contain the same kinds of molecular chains as the others – most plastics are “organic”.

                  I’ve also seen another explanation for early onset puberty – the presence of members of the opposite sex in the home that are not genetic family members. On another site, which i haven’t visited in a while, one of the members had been on the team that did the study. They said there was a very high correlation, especially in females, with having a live-in boyfriend or stepdad present and early onset puberty.

                  By the way – I’m all for Free-Range meat. I want my chicken to eat worms, bugs, and the occasional mouse. it gives it more flavor. I had some chickens one year, and it is very entertaining to throw out a chuck of corn on the cob, and watch one chicken pick it up and run away with it, and the other chickens chase it down and take it away, then over and over until all the corn is gone. It’s also fun to drop a live mouse and watch them go after it. I have to fix my coop (I didn’t seal it well enough before, and all the chickens got killed), then I’m going to get them again.

                  1. I figured free-range meat wasn’t so bad.

                    Live-in boyfriends causing early-onset puberty? Never heard of that one.

                    1. Oh yes. Stepfathers too. Now, girls living with their own fathers have later puberty than those without adult males in the house

                    2. Well, there have always been some, and really, 11 isn’t all THAT early. I’m thinking of the ones who start to hit it at, say, 9.

                    3. I was 13.5 (not .4… not .6… .5) 😉 All of my sisters were the same. I started to grow during that year as well– August baby here… So I think anything under 12 is young for puberty… but I have those Nordic genes so–

                    4. Well, according to Kidshealth.org and Wikipedia, puberty begins between 8 and 13 for girls, and between 9 and 14 for boys, with the predominance being 10-11 for girls, and 11-12 for boys, while what they call precocious puberty beginning before 8 for girls and before 9 for boys.

                    5. Turned 30 this year.

                      We moved when I was 13, and most of the class hit it either that year or the next– blooming, those I know had their cycle.

                      I suspect different definitions of “hitting puberty” may be in use.

                    6. Er… I used that one too. Got my first cycle at 11. My mom was convinced I’d be scared — of course I wasn’t. I’d read medical manuals. She still says I freaked out. I did. I was going “I’m eleven. I’m nowhere near ready to be a mother. This is messed up.”

                    7. 11 — 1973. My best friend hit it at 17 — much paler, blue eyed. There are ethnic differences. My sons could shave at 13 and needed it by 15. Their pale blond friends are now starting to shave and don’t need it.

                    8. Ummm… if true it reminds me of when a male lion takes over a pride after killing or running off the old male– first babies are killed and young males not ready to leave the pride, and then all the adult females go into estrus. Also the young females will go into estrus early– it is a way to keep the young females alive. Sometimes it doesn’t work.

                    9. l have heard of that one — (adult male boyfriend living with a family that has young girls) however, I don’t know how “right” the information is… if so I would think there would be a problem with adopted or foster girls.

                    10. It only makes sense. In nature, offspring of a male who is defeated in a leadership challenge (only predator types, AFAIK, which man is) are killed unless they are breeding females; it therefore offers survival advantage for a female to become breeding if her family unit is taken over by a new male.

                      That also probably underlies the known fact that the biggest single risk factor for child abuse and death is Mothers new boyfriend / husband.

                    11. That also probably underlies the known fact that the biggest single risk factor for child abuse and death is Mothers new boyfriend / husband.

                      I’ve definitely heard this one.

                2. Free range has nothing to do with if hormones are used or not– although the folks selling you free range stuff won’t say that.

                  Depending on the local laws and/or certifying agency, “free range” can mean anything from “was raised in an area at least X size” (with no mention of how many other animals were there) to “had at least X amount of space” (which you would likely have trouble telling from a non-“free range” cage)

                  For the record, my folks raise certified natural free-range black angus calves– our certifying agency guarantees that the animals basically got their baby shots and medical treatment as needed, and we can use a hormone that “cycles” their mothers so they all go into heat at the same time.

                  Almost all of the stuff is not aimed at actually being more natural, it’s at giving the guys who are really freaking huge an advantage.

                  Kind of like outlawing farrowing crates– that means that the mother pigs roll over on, or sometimes eat, their young. Big places can afford to lose a third of their piglets, small ones can’t. Ditto having a ton of chickens in a large area– lots of them will be pecked to death, and that would ruin a small chicken farm. (Please also keep in mind that most of the videos you’ll find online are of “animal activists” doing horrific things to animals and claiming it’s normal.)

                    1. Thank you for giving us the straight dope, Foxfier. It’s good to hear from someone on the front lines, as most of the time it’s just mis- and disinformation formatted to support any given agenda.

                    2. Well you’re at the right place for it, there are plenty of us around here likely to volunteer all sorts of information whether anyone else has an interest or not. 😉 If you ask for it prepared to be inundated with lots of info (the majority of it only tangentally, if at all, related to your question). 🙂

                  1. Last year, I got so angry I could spit nails, because someone was posting a video and claiming animal abuse in large “industrial” farms, but based on the quality of the video and the fact that I knew that such practices had already been through the wringer a long time ago, I’m pretty sure it was a recycled video from the ’70s.

                    But maybe it WAS activists doing it. The video looked REALLY stupid from a corporate standpoint – it would have resulted in bruised meat on the chickens they were gathering up.

                    1. This is a favorite tactic of animal rights activists. Back in 96 when the initiative to outlaw hound hunting was on the ballot in Washington, some activists hired an outfitter to guide them on a cougar hunt. I happened to know the guide, so got the story first hand. The ‘hunter’ claimed he wanted to use a pistol to harvest a lion, the guide was somewhat nervous about this, because many people are not that good of pistol shots, particularly with a magnum pistol, so he took the hunter to a range first. Where the ‘hunter’ proved he was an excellent shot with the pistol he was planning on using. They treed a cougar with dogs and the ‘hunters’ buddy filmed it, while the ‘hunter’ proceeded to intentionally gut shoot the lion. Now admittedly the guide wasn’t doing what I always did when guiding and wasn’t at the bottom of the tree prepared to finish of the animal quickly and humanely if the hunter made a poor shot, in fact I don’t believe he even had a gun (or had set it down up the hill, I don’t remember) and the ‘hunter’ refused to shoot the lion again and finish it off. So they got plenty of ‘good video’ of a crippled lion, that was then used in TV ads to promote the banning of hound hunting.

            4. Other than the absolute utter stupidity of the term? Not much if your talking about your backyard garden, quite a lot if your talking about commercial producers. As a teenager I worked on a truck farm, and one year they raised all ‘organic’ vegetables, let me tell that the ‘less chemicals/pesticide free’ claims from many of these successful farms is an absolute joke. Ignoring the fact that many skate around the edges on such things, we’ll look at the true-blue, old hippie, organic farm. First commercial fertilizers are right out, because they are ‘chemicals’ and ‘refined’. Anything refined is evil, doncha know, the more refined the eviler it is, this is why avgas is extremely evil, while regular unleaded is only very evil, and the old leaded gasoline was simply evil. As for ‘chemical’ fertilizers, well we can’t use them, you don’t want somebody spraying a bunch of nasty chemicals on your food, do you? So instead if your lucky they’ll cover the fields in chicken manure or cow manure, or perhaps sludge from the local sewage plant. Now this isn’t necessarily bad, I use chicken manure or cow/horse manure on my own garden, I do admit to having a gag reflex though when driving past fields in the valley where I grew up and the are covering them in the sludge from the sewer plant (which has a distinctive and unmistakeable odor). Spraying the plants with such natural fertilizers while they are growing can result in a lot of nasty diseases and bacteria being present on the outside of the plant itself though, so make sure you wash all your organic food extra good. To get slightly back to the point however, WHAT THE HECK DO YOU THINK THE CROPS ARE GETTING OUT OF THE ‘NATURAL FERTILIZER?’ Yep, that’s right, the exact same chemicals that are bad, bad, evil, if they are separated out and sprayed on the crops. Now moving right along to pesticides, they are spread on the crops to kill little bugs that eat, burrow into, and otherwise damage the crops. They are generally expensive, but farmers use them because it is cheaper to use expensive pesticides and get a good harvest, than to not use pesticides and get a poor harvest of damaged and low quality crops. Pesticides are VERY thoroughly tested before being allowed on the market, and unless you are an idiot and try to drink them straight out of the barrel are generally quite safe. They also are very effiecent and produce much better results with much lower labor costs. Drive by a true ‘organic’ farm some time, look at their fields, note the number of weeds, undesireable plants, in them, not the quality of the crop. Now drive by a real farm and look at their crops, notice the difference. To grow ‘proper organic’ crops without cheating, takes a lot more time, effort and money, to produce an inferior crop. This is why ‘organic food’ is not only more expensive, but also subsidized.
              One final note, check out the outbreaks of ecoli and other food borne illnesses, a totally disproportionate number of them are caused by ‘organic foods’ because they must be much more thoroughly cleaned and properly prepared to make them safe to eat than *oxymoron alert* ‘inorganic foods.’

              1. Now that everybody else answered you while I was writing this epistle, I will note that although I rant about this, many of the vegetables I eat are grown in a garden using ‘organic’ methods. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with them, they are just inefficient in any large scale and prone to misuse.

                1. One notes that we seem to have all hit on differing issues.

                  Not that any of them are unreal.

              2. Informative. I know nothing about farming, so forgive my ignorance on this matter. Good point about bugs and disease — food-borne illness is no joke (I actually caught something once when I was eight, though not from organic food.)

                But what about the charge of “copyrighted” seeds that farmers cannot replant due to Monsanto’s alleged perfidy?

                1. The environmentalists didn’t want artificial Frankenstein seeds being able to breed and spread, so they demanded that Monsanto make them sterile. Then they complained that sterile seeds don’t breed and spread, which is mean to farmers.

                  I’m pretty sure that there’s always been hybrid strains of seed that don’t breed, though, and nobody thought that was unfair to farmers. You pick a breeding version or you don’t.

                  1. The environmentalists didn’t want artificial Frankenstein seeds being able to breed and spread, so they demanded that Monsanto make them sterile. Then they complained that sterile seeds don’t breed and spread, which is mean to farmers.

                    Didn’t know about that double-talk. Enviros can never be satisfied, it seems.

                2. I’ve read something that claimed that most “stomach viruses” are actually food poisoning. I’m not sure I agree, but probably people get food poisoning more often than they think.

                3. I think it’s actually a requirement that they can’t be replanted — by law. Forget Monsanto. Imagine GMO corn invaded a field next door and took over. can you imagine the screams?

                  1. I HAVE heard that Monsanto has sued farmers who wound up with areas of their fields having been cross-pollinated by the Monsanto crop. That kind of thing needs to be stopped by massive countersuits, in my opinion.

                    1. Last I heard, the guy claimed that was what happened…but he’d bought the exact same crop a year prior, and claimed that THIS stuff must’ve “drifted over” from a neighbor.

                      As my dad says: “all your calves died, and my cows had twins.”

                    2. I see. Well, the co-worker who told me this is an anti-Monsanto evangelist, so I am not surprised, because he believes any anti-Monsanto story he reads.

                    3. I either got the update from my dad or directly from the Capitol Press (I believe that’s the right spelling…) It’s an ag industry newspaper my folks subscribe to.

                    4. Capital Press. Good paper.
                      Remeber, like the guy who wound up with a field of GM wheat, if you get tested positive you may be responsible for the entire region being banned from selling to Asia or Europe. This can make your neighbors cranky.

              3. Incidentally — they never notice that their “free range” chickens and cows can’t possibly be providing that manure. There’s only one way to concentrate that enough that it can be gathered up and used.

              4. One of us could have just copied and pasted the entire ‘organic foods’ paragraph from The Last Centurion and saved us all some typing 🙂

                1. I was going to help you out with that, but about ten pages in without hitting the end of Bandit Six’s rant I decided it was way to long to post here. 🙂

            5. Some of the pesticides approved for use on organic crops have longer carry-over times (how long they stay effective) and are more dangerous to the applicator than are “synthetic” chemicals. I used to work for an aerial applicator (spray pilot) and he had me look up some of the chemicals because he didn’t believe what he’d just read in a trade publication. Nope, the author was right: some of the synthetic stuff had less environmental and health effect than did the equivalent organic-approved stuff.

              1. Sounds pretty backwards to me. Then why are they considered “better” than the synthetic stuff?

                    1. Why not? There are people who think FDA’s regulations are too lenient and yet take aspirin and penicillin, neither of which could be approved today.

                1. “Sounds pretty backwards to me. Then why are they considered “better” than the synthetic stuff?”

                  Because they are NATURAL!

                  1. Snake venom is also “natural,” yet that doesn’t make it safe to chug down by the pint — or even the milliliter!

            6. More pesticides in lower dose per use– and if you think “that sounds like what you’d do if you’re trying to make pests resistant to pesticides,” you’ve hit on why they’re so unpopular with their neighbors.

              The guys who do spray-for-hire in our valley LOVE the organic orchards– you do two or three times as many applications, which is employment security.

  2. Are you sure we’re not related? My dating-hint-blindness is so bad I actually went on a date without knowing it. Excuse being we were part of a circle of friends that did fun things together, so I didn’t pick up on the “just you and me” part for about a week. Until our *other* friends, giggling madly, informed him he would have to tell me or I’d never know. Sigh. Oh, and I did this more than once. Different guy even.

    So, Sarah-my-sister-in-Odd, are there any therapies you can recommend? 😉

    1. Are you sure we aren’t triplets? I think someone did ask me out many years ago, and I made a joke instead lol… no, he never asked again… and I was clueless– As for the hubby he used my girlfriend to get me to the beach where he cornered me away from the girlfriend. I was totally clueless again. 😉

    2. Dating Odd guys. Mind you, you might find yourself on the bring of marriage before both of you go “oh, yeah, it IS what I want” — rolls eyes.
      I think I dated a guy without knowing. I mean we went out to movies and coffee and he was okay, though not my type. Then he tried to kiss me and it was “ick, why are you trying to do that?” He still hates me, I think. He thought he’d been spurned. I was just oblivious.

      1. I went to an all-girl school, and my high-school boyfriend was the result of matchmaking on both sides: his friends (all-boy school) and mine thought the best way to get rid of obnoxious, brainy, geeky, whackjobs was to point them at each other. It worked, for a while.

    3. At least quads. I had/have the same problem with date-hint-blindness. Actually, I don’t catch the nuances in social situations at all.

      1. Heh. I’ve reached the point, after inadvertently hurting several guys feelings, that I ask if we can meet for coffee rather than accepting a dinner invite, unless it is 1) with a group or 2) someone I know very well. Apparently coffee is friendly, but a meal means a date with intent to repeat and possibly to move to second or third base, something I learned rather late in the game.

      1. The funny thing is that I’m fairly sure I am NOT in the spectrum. In fact, I often get taken for an extrovert. My issue is more that I see myself mostly as mind, so stuff directed at ME escapes me.

    4. My first date with Samantha (now wife), I was on my way to her house wondering, Is this a date, or are we just friends who are hanging out. It didn’t help that my previous romantic experience was . . . shall we say, limited. She says she didn’t have time to think because she was frantically getting her house cleaned up.

      And then the next day I drove two hours away where I’d be working for the summer. It was an odd start to our relationship, but I think it worked pretty well, on the whole.

    5. I have the date-blindness problem too. The power of obliviousness is a detriment here.

    6. Me too. Dating-without-knowing, I mean. That went on for several months before I got it. We’re married now. We tell our kids to be friends first, then date. They don’t listen.

        1. I’ve never known it to work. Once you’re in the friendzone, you’re not relationship material, at least if you’re a guy.

          1. Um… wrong. My husband was friendzoned for 4 years. If there is an interruption, or a break in the relationship (like one going away for a while or changing status) it totally can work.

            1. There are exceptions to all rules. That said, expecting to *be* the exception is not usually a viable strategy.

              1. Generally, the boy/man puts himself in the Friend Zone, rather than the girl/ woman. It’s an attitude thing. If you are self-confident, you can avoid that place, but if you’re trying really hard to please someone by doing things for them and being their crying shoulder, etc, then why would they want to lose that for someone they have to relate to in a normal fashion?

                1. I know a lot of my Navy Geek group can’t believe how “lucky” Dear Husband is to have not been stuck in the “friend zone”– but they’ll never take a risk in trying to get serious!
                  Or they try to go from “friend” to “bedmate” instead of trying to be really serious…….

          2. You can be friends without being “friendzoned”. That’s a different place, where the girl sees the “friend” as her emotional crutch, and somewhat of a substitute girlfriend who she can complain to, but who will also do other things for her.

            Believe me, I know the difference between them, having been in both.

            1. The only guys I’ve ever considered substitute girlfriends are gay. (And even then, males are males — I like them for different qualities. But they are in that “nothing sexual there” set.) Friends who are men are people I a) wouldn’t be interested in b) wouldn’t be interested in me (the category I assumed Dan was in for years, because he was above my league intellectually) c) it doesn’t matter because I’m married and monogamous and often he is too.
              Doesn’t mean we don’t flirt — even if it’s with an implied promise nothing will ever happen. There’s different degrees of flirting, too.
              I don’t think it’s possible for a functioning female to fully “friendzone” as in consider non-sexual men who have a minimum of testosterone/interest in females. It’s not the way the species is designed. I think in that the “game” devotees are as nuts as the people who think humans can be made genderless.

              1. Well, of course not completely (and maybe the ones I’m thinking of thought I might be gay, so I’ll give you that one), but still, we consider that you’re an Odd, so somewhat different rules apply. I still believe that most girls who friendzone someone have found that they can treat as their “bitch” and get away with it, and wouldn’t want to complicate that by having a relationship with them.

                I also have personally observed that MY level of self-confidence makes a huge difference in this dynamic.

                  1. I’m just saying that somewhere, somehow, you were probably giving a sign that said, “Yeah, you can walk all over me, and I won’t say anything to you about it.” This can be hard to identify from the inside. One thing I had to fight was the influence girls had on me by simply putting up the sad puppy eyes and saying, “Pleeeeaaase!” But that’s a fairly obvious one.

                  2. Let me guess- you had manners?

                    That’s unusual enough that it tends to send teenage boys to the friend zone these days… (husband learned his manners from his grandfather; I’m thankful for it, even though he was so friendzoned that moms didn’t mind when he was invited to all-girl sleepovers)

                    1. Manners, a willingness to listen, and wasn’t all ‘ME ME ME’ like most of my male classmates.

                    2. Oh – when I was in school it was different. But then again, I live in an area where, back in the late ’70s – early ’80s, a boy who didn’t show a girl manners would have had his butt kicked by his father.

  3. Writers who tended to produce dystopias tended also to produce eutopias because of their unwarranted belief in the malleability and placidity of mankind.

    1. Think of it as a lust for total control. If they can make humanity live their preferred way, they would be as gods, especially in a social climate that frowns on theism.

        1. If you ever are in an online discussion where writers wonder how come so many of them are liberals and muse about how it must be that their wonderful wonderfulness makes them so much better as writers, too, tell them it’s the bad habit of trying to push people around as if they were characters.

          It certainly changes the discussion.

  4. Oh yes absolutely! Unfortunately I believe my husband when he says that: “You’re an optimist Sarah.”

    Fortunately since adopting Nemo he has been neither suicidal or homicidal (in his speech.)

  5. We’ve prepared somewhat, for the coming disruptions, and now I am just enjoying as much of our current era as I can before it goes away.

    1. I’ve taken to gloomily intoning “Reality is Coming” when I hear the news. Maybe that should be the motto of my House. 😉

    2. I wish I could prepare. Lots of things I’d like to do, but the budget just doesn’t allow ’em. Concentrating now on learning skills and hoarding antique schoolbooks. I may not be able to farm or fish any too well, but I think I could make a decent teacher if the one-room rural schoolhouse ever makes a comeback.

      1. Preparation need not be expensive. Don’t buy expensive equipment that really has no use. Just buy ordinary things that you use anyway, and have a need for, that improve your preparation level. Just be sure to maintain a useful level of parts, fuel, etc. for the equipment you have.

        Consider what is likeliest to happen in terms of your local – don’t focus on “big things” but focus on small things like extended power outages – what would you do if your water supply got unreliable or untrustworthy for a period of time (e.g., water purification tablets are cheap, liquid chlorine is also cheap).

        1. dilute bleach is supposed to be a good water purifier. We live in a dry part of the country, so we have something that allows us to convert a bathtub into water storage.

          I like to buy kitchen gadgets for fun (I sometimes use them, often they’re closet queens.) I have some stuff for using our living room fireplace for cooking as well as heating. We used it to heat our living room one time when we had a power outage.

          We buy wood a half cord at a time and have a large stack of it in the back yard. For preparation I’ll add a long term storage item to my grocery list. I also take advantage of sales. We have a back up generator and a propane fueled capacious grill in the back yard.

            1. Good point. That the first trading relationships among early man was salt should be a clue to its survival importance.

              1. Iodized salt is shockingly important– my home valley has effectively no naturally occurring iodine, and thus before Europeans showed up it had no non-migratory large animal population, and zero Indian population.

                It’s a big enough problem that I’ve never heard of even the “fluorine in the water kills us all” folks rail against the “adulterated” salt.

                Plus, salt is very important for preserving food, and anybody can use it.

                1. “What are animal blocks of salt?”

                  Google “salt blocks” and you will find farm supply houses selling many varieties of large blocks of salt for animals.

                2. Usually they are large chunks of iodized salt with trace minerals added. You can get special blends if you need them, depending on the soil chemistry in your area. You can use carefully positioned salt licks to attract cattle to specific areas if you need them to graze in a new location. Deer like them too, not that anyone would ever use that to their advantage in deer season.

                3. Hm, my family always used blocks because they’re so much easier to put out– we supplement our cows with them– but this might be a smart thing for folks who want to try out salt-curing:
                  American Stockman Fine Stock Salt, 50 lb.More Sharing Services

                  The most common American Stockman feed rock salt, Fine Stock is 95% pure and contains anti-caking agent YPS. Effective as either a mixing or free-choice stock salt for all classes of beef and dairy cattle, sheep, pigs and horses.
                  Salt, Yellow Prussiate of Soda (YPS) (free flow agent).
                  Guaranteed Analysis:
                  Salt (min.) 95.0%, (max.) 98.0%.
                  Feeding instructions:
                  Allow livestock free access to this feed salt.

                  1. Here all the grocery stores carry salt for water softeners in fifty pound bags, I’m not sure if it is iodized or not, but do know it is commonly used to ‘spike’ natural salt licks. The deer and elk seem to prefer it over the salt blocks*, although many of the ranchers here put out salt in a barrel (not sure if it is stock salt, or just the water softener salt they can pick up for about the same price at the local grocer) and sometimes a separate one with mineral supplements in powder form. Surprised me because where I grew up on the coast it was always salt blocks and mineral blocks that were used, never granulated. Possibly because it rained so much over there the granulated stuff would have dissolved away two fast.

                    *I don’t salt deer and elk, simply going by how much sign is around the existing salt licks, the manmade ones intended for wild critters, and the manmade ones intended for open range cattle. The last when using granulated salt seem to get quite a lot of use by deer and elk, while if a salt block is used deer and elk seldom visit them.

          1. Exactly. A couple gallons of bleach is a few dollars at a dollar store. Compared to a $1000 Birkenfeld water filter.

            1. “Pool shock” that’s just calcium hypochlorite; cheap, dry, shelf-stable, and relatively safe to store (keep it dry and away from petroleum products). Mix according to US gubmint provided directions to make bleach; use that bleach for cleaning and water treatment. The “all you need for a year” supply at the pool store is under $50 and will treat some ungodly volume of water to drinking quality — seriously, YEARS of drinking water. Often sold in smaller packages for “as-needed” use at the pool, it’s even cheaper.

              When you’re shopping just buy a little bit more than you immediately need; three cans of beans instead of two. You’ll build up a reserve over time.

              Secure a supply of toilet paper, and you’ll be able to barter for anything you need. Feminine hygiene products, too.

              1. Good cloths that can be used for diapers– there’s some really nice terrycloths that would be great for wrapping-style diapers, since I don’t expect safety pins will catch on much. (I was raised in them, but… it just freaks me out to use them on my TODDLER, let alone my baby.) And it will most likely be “just for a little while.”

                A good herb patch– even if it’s just mint, it smells nice and mint is a blessed menace once it’s established– and learn to make soap with fat and ashes.

                Oh, here’s a kinda silly one if you’re looking for barter– you know those silly little multi-tools that they put out for $20s each Christmas, that are then something like $4 for New Years? Bet those would be popular. Ditto the sharpening sets.

                Want to be useful, get a good sharpening setup and learn how to use it– my grandfather got good pay doing that in the 90s! (A foot pumped one is really not that hard to use, and much faster than doing it by hand.)

                1. On mint- my folks had all of *one* stalk of lemon balm, one of spear mint. Just under the window sill, because they both liked the smell.

                  The latter is dangerously close to evolving sentience. The crabgrass fears its steady approach. I mow it like grass, just to keep its ambitions in check.

                  Also, not to be forgotten- grow some veggies. May just be my roots, but I’ve always had a vegetable patch, and have canned some of bloody *everything* since I was big enough to snap beans. It’s another task to keep track of, but there’s times in my life those canned veggies have made the difference between ten dollars to eat ramen noodles for a week and good vegetable soup that’s actually worth eating (and using that ten bucks for gas rather than walking to work).

                    1. Out there, you may need to start it inside, then transplant it in a bed of mulch, to keep moisture in the soil. After it gets established, though, it should do its own job of keeping the moisture in.

                    2. Be careful. Mint really does invade every square inch of available soil. I put some in a flower bed three years ago, and have spent the last two eradicating it. And that was with weed blocker cloth.

                    3. PLEASE let it be true. Right now all we have is weeds and bare soil. NOTHING grows on our yard because of tree roots. If Mint does that, it’s my new best friend. However, given younger son’s love of mint, he might get arrested for rolling naked in it! I’ll advise him to do it at night, in the full dark.

                    4. To plant mint at our house in Briargate we just had to clear away the rocks, cut the plastic, and plant them. Then we just occasionally watered. They did fine.

                      Not sure if they survived the renters.

                    5. Try thyme, one of the creeping varieties. It needs sun, and doesn’t do much the first year, but the second year it starts to take off. Inexpensive, so doesn’t hurt to try it.

                  1. I’ve seen mint described as “invasive”. I’ve seen it transplanted by dropping a cutting on the ground and stomping on it.

                    There’s a small patch of mint in the woods behind my condo, started by the mint I’ve ripped out of a planter. The patch in the woods is spreading along the edge of the trees…

                    1. Mint is more or less just a weed that we like the smell of. If weeds will grow, generally speaking so will the mint. Of course, my area of Appalachia does get enough (occasionally more than enough) rain…

                      A neat trick is some forms of mint are actually decent mosquito repellant. Mush up a few fresh leaves and rub on bare skin, fewer bites. My blood is like heroin to the little buggers otherwise, they can’t get enough when I work in the yard.

                    2. Oh my heavens — yes. Fortunately in CO we don’t have the little stingy sobs much, but if one comes within a hundred miles, he FINDS me. And I’m so allergic I form an “egg” under the skin and it hurts like heck.

        2. “Consider what is likeliest to happen in terms of your local”

          Preach it brother!

          I gave a presentation on preparedness to our local ham radio club, and in it said that the most likely emergencies are personal. For example a personal financial emergency. Less than two months later I lost my job.

          “don’t focus on “big things” but focus on small things like extended power outages”

          That is not such a “small thing”. Our local ARES group exercises with FEMA and Homeland Security, and their last two exercises have been based on an assumed wide area (multi-state) power blackout that lasted from 3 to 10 days. One of their big concerns is that many folk with city sewers may find their homes uninhabitable when the electrically powered sewage lift stations stop working, and the sewers back up into the houses. Apparently the vast majority of such lift stations do NOT have backup power.

          Anything important needs to have multiple ways of getting done. For example water: I have stored water, water filters, bleach, and know where the nearest source of water is. Repeat this for everything that is important to you.

          1. With the “don’t focus on big things” comment, I think you are missing my point. People who view preparedness as “OK, I have to prepare for the Third World War …” end up doing things that make no sense. By “focus on small things”, I mean that the most useful preparation is to prepare for immediate local disruptions like contaminated water, lack of electricity for a period of days, etc. If you’ve fully prepared for those and still wish to expand, then you can scale up those preparations or consider new kinds of disruptions to prepare for.

            I am also advocating away from spending money on Mel Tappan inspired $5,000 per person firearms personal armories.

            1. “People who view preparedness as “OK, I have to prepare for the Third World War …” end up doing things that make no sense.”

              Absolutely. I see folk who are trying to prepare for The End of the World As We Know It, but have not made preparations for the more mundane “everyday” emergencies such as fires, all sorts of bad weather, injuries, financial reverses, etc.

              “I am also advocating away from spending money on Mel Tappan inspired $5,000 per person firearms personal armories.”

              I like shooting, but yes you are absolutely right.

              Mel Tappan preached the very isolated rural lifestyle. He also (from what I have read) died from that same lifestyle, because he was too far from medical services when he needed them.

              Dean Ing on the other hand believed the ideal place to live was in or near a college town. I suspect that Ing is closer to “right” than Tappan.

              1. But not needing $5k in guns does not need you mean *none*. I’d be glad to provide what I feel is a basic list if y’all care to hear it

            2. “I am also advocating away from spending money on Mel Tappan inspired $5,000 per person firearms personal armories.”


              Ok, ok, I could probably accomplish anything needing done with a single 22 mag rifle* but I LIKE having a choice of which gun to grab. Some are just better for one task than others, will the above mentioned 22 mag will accomplish any task suitable for a rifle in North America, it wouldn’t be the ideal one for many of them. If you could only afford one gun for an emergency ‘Apocalypse gun’ the 22 mag would be high on my list, with the only ones really competing with it being the 22 lr (because of the much cheaper ammo, I was going to say cheaper and more available, but for the last year 22 mag ammo has been much more available than LR ammo) or a smaller center fire (probably 22 caliber) because they can be reloaded. Although possibly larger calibers than can be easier to find bullet molds for casting your own bullets might also have their place, meaning you need only stock primers and powder in any quantity.

              *Not legal in most states on large game, but still extremely effective, and honestly if it ever goes so far in the pot that you need a survival rifle the chances of there still being hunting laws in effect, or anyone to enforce them are virtually nil.

              1. Well, the biggest argument against some form of .22 magnum or other varient (.22 WMR, .17 HMR etc. ) is that the ammo is just orders of magnitude rarer than .22 Long Rifle.

                1. Have you been by the store lately? I would have agreed with you a year ago, but if I hit enough stores around I can find a box or two of 22 mag (22 WMR) but it has been about a year since I have seen a box of 22 LR for sale.

                  1. Within the last 30 days, I’ve started to see some make a reappearance on some on-line place like CheaperThanDirt or AIM.com. It’s still the more expensive stuff usually about 10 – 15 cents per round, but I’m even seeing some bulk deals.

                    1. I’ve been checking through Gunbot fairly regularly, and yes CheaperThanDirt has been having some, but that is because they are charging two to three times what other places are for the same products. The only bulk deals I have seen have been selling by the brick, but limit one per customer, after you figure the shipping charge for ammo it isn’t any sort of deal, but my uncle got some at Cabela’s a week ago and they had boxes of 1000 and Sportsman’s Warehouse had some in for about 45 minutes a few weeks ago, so it is starting to show up, it just doesn’t stay on the shelf more than a few minutes.

      2. “Concentrating now on learning skills and hoarding antique schoolbooks.”

        Good for you!

        All too many folk concentrate exclusively on physical preparations (stuff) and neglect mental and spiritual preparations. Learning skills, and then practicing them, is in my mind even more important than having a lot of “stuff”.

        Mind you I am a tool junkie, and like “stuff” as much as the next guy, but if you don’t have the experience to know how best to use all the “stuff” you have piled up, what good is it?

        1. Skills I’m currently learning: 1. Growing foodstuffs. This year’s experiment with apple trees and container-grown potatoes was disappointing, but I think I know what I did wrong and am planning for next year accordingly. Also designing a grape trellis for next year. 2. Tool use. Planning to build the trellis myself. I’ll be buying the components, but assembling them myself. 3. Marksmanship.

          1. Learning to cook from staples, if you were not raised that way, is a good skill to have too. Anyone can boil rice, a veg and some meat or beans and make a meal, but tasty stuff like bread, cornbread and potroast need technique.
            (oh, and potatoes are heavy feeders. I’m thinking of raising the potatoes is the year-old compost heap from now on)

              1. < nods. North Carolina. Our yard was better for pots than potatoes. Incongruously we grew great tomatoes but the guys in the construction site behind us stole them while still green. We didn't know why till the movie Fried Green Tomatoes came out… After that theft I gave up.

              2. That’s why I went with containers. I have about 18 inches of topsoil. Under that, blue clay. Growing the potatoes wasn’t tough. Figuring out how to store them after harvest? I’d need heavy equipment to dig even a small root cellar, and my house doesn’t have central air. My provisional root cellar is a couple of sterilite tubs lined with newspaper and stored in a room with a window air conditioner. I know a farmer at my church; I’ll ask him for advice.

                That reminds me of a valuable preparation: make friends! Particularly friends with knowledge you don’t have who are willing to answer questions.

                    1. If you have the room in the tiny yard for a composter, you could make more, a few vegetable scraps and coffee grounds at a time. But that’s a fairly long-term project, and I know you want out of the house, so probably not feasible.

                1. Your storage method should work fine, but it at least in part depends on the type of potatoes you have, all potatoes are fairly good keepers compared to most other vegetables, but some varieties are much better than others. You can also can potatoes, I love canned new potatoes.

                2. If you’re desperate, you could always do a half-buried cellar— but I don’t like either option because they attract black widows.

                  1. It’s also not terribly expensive to rent a miniature Loader called a “Terramite”. Might not be able to dig out a BIG root cellar in a weekend, but it would do a decent sized one if you plan it right.

                    1. Keeping water out of the root cellar once it’s dug might be an issue. Rainwater can’t soak into that clay, so it super-saturates the topsoil (very wet summer this year). My house uses a small, one-room half-basement to house the water filtration system. It’s damp in there even during a drought. Speaking from personal experience, without a sump pump there’d be two-three feet of standing water in that room.

                      I have seen a design for a mini-cellar using a buried plastic trash can. That MIGHT work if I could drill/dig a trash can sized hole into that clay.

                    2. That would probably work. If you found the capacity to grow enough so that you wanted a lot more capacity, and had the money to buy one, it just occurred to me that a plastic septic tank would work well for that purpose, too.

                    3. Honestly I think the method you are currently using is probably the best available to you. I store potatoes in buckets either in the mud room or out in a shed. A cool dry area that doesn’t freeze is preferable, but I haven’t had a lot of problem storing them in shed where they freeze as long as it is cold enough they aren’t freezing and thawing regularly. Oftentimes I’ll have the bucket I am currently using out of stored under the kitchen counter.

                    4. I read an article on the history of potatoes, and it said that farmers in South America, besides other methods of keeping them, will put potatoes out and let them freeze, then thaw them and press out the water (I think they do this more than once, but not sure), and they will keep almost indefinitely.

                3. oh we had 8″ or so deep planters made from scrub pines we cut down in our own yard (5 acres of land plus owning half an acre of a 1 acre pond) but that was on top of hideous red clay that got on everything and the entire hard was scraped down to clay to build the house (only way to get ridda the scrub pines)

                4. One of the suggestions for storing potatoes form the 20’s or so was to pack them in sawdust in apple-boxes under counters in the back room/storage area. They would keep dry enough to keep from molding or sprouting, dark enough not to go green, and are easy to get to. Green potatoes can give you gut-aches.
                  Really old storage was to make a circular mound with a ditch around it, place the potatoes single layer deep on it, cover them with hay, and then lay down corrugated roofing over it to keep the rain off to keep them from spoiling. I don’t think this is suggested by the county extension any more.

                  Once upon a time I accused one of the kittens of getting into the back room and pooping, lots, where I couldn’t find it and I was starting to get worried that it was a sign of some serious internal disorder until I found a bag of potatoes had gone liquid back there. Sterilite tubs are good because they don’t leak.

                  1. Green potatoes can give you gut-aches.

                    Yes, because the green part contains alkaloids, which are poisonous*.

                    * However, according to that article I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, consuming an edible clay at the same time will soak up the poison and allow you to remain undisturbed. Apparently that was originally the only way potatoes could be eaten, which it is believed the South Americans learned from watching animals do it, but South American farmers later bred non-toxic varieties, a few of which are the origins of the mass production potatoes we know in stores today.

            1. Now, really, cornbread just requires a box of Quaker corn meal and the ingredients for the recipe on the back.

              OK, there IS one thing to remember: When they say that a toothpick should come out clean, they don’t mean with absolutely nothing on it. They mean without globs of wet batter stuck to it. This is something I was never told, and took a long time to figure out.

              1. One cup of corn meal, two of flour, teaspoon of baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, two eggs, a teaspoon of oil or fat, and 1-1/2 cup of sour milk (or 1 cup water and 1/2 cup of greek yougurt) and as much sugar as you think right (none works fine). Mix it together until it is mixed but not smooth, turn into a 9″ pan and bake for 30 minutes at 400F or until a knife pushed in comes out clean.
                Bragging points if you grind your own meal from your own indian corn.
                I have more dratted recipes for cornbread/johnny cakes/Indian pudding than I can use, but that is my favorite.
                And don’t get me started on boiled puddings.

                1. reheated the next morning and soaked in a glass of milk it makes an excellent breakfast.

                2. Just keep in mind that cornbread, depending on the recipe, can sour much faster than wheat bread gets fuzzy (unless you are in Seattle or along the Gulf Coast).

                3. I used to make my corn bread by eye. Sigh. Corn is the one thing I CRAVE on low carb, which is weird. I grew up in Europe. It should be wheat. But of course, I grew up in a village. The rich ate wheat. We ate a dense corn and rye bread called broa (which is interesting, since it has germanic roots, unlike the good wheat bread — pao from panen — I wonder if until the renaissance and its reintroduction of latin as an affectation, all the bread in Portugal was called broa.)
                  I’ve gotten over missing potatoes. You can eat your fries in front of me and I don’t even care — but corn chips… sigh.

        1. Haven’t yet read it myself, but I’m inclined towards cynicism where the future of the country (and the world in general) is concerned, so it seemed a worthwhile addition to the thread.

  6. I’ve thought of ritual as a way of marking your place in time as well as space, both secular time and sacred time (for those who believe). It becomes identity once enough people say “we’re [group] and we do it this way,” whether that way is giving thanks for the sunset and the start of a new day or cutting out the heart of an enemy to feed the sun god so he will return again. There’s a sense of expectation and relief in ritual and ceremony, at least for some people, that here is a time and place set aside, where things will be done a certain way, be it a family’s traditions of celebrating Christmas, or a farmer getting ready for planting, or a young man asking for a young woman’s parents’s blessing before he “pops the question.”

    I wonder, in part, if that is why so many of the great requiem masses are still done as concert pieces, long after the format of the funeral mass has changed: it’s not just the magnificent music, but also a link to the past and a reminder that out of an ending can come something amazingly beautiful. Even in death, or singing about death, we are connected to the past, the future, and each other. The pronouncements and culture of the Annointed have no sense of that.

    1. The problem with a “ritual approach to life” (if I can put it like that) is that a ritual is open to all sorts of complications when it’s not understood by all concerned. To give a couple of examples:

      – Sarah cited the ‘dating game’, where she was (or would be) oblivious to the reality of dating unless explicitly alerted to it – but society functions on the ‘dating as generally understood ritual’ approach.

      – Gender roles and expectations are also ritual, in that sense, and if you step outside them (i.e. “you’re not a typical girl/woman/whatever”) you give the guys hives. They aren’t set up to expect differences from the norm. (That’s assuming they like Norm, of course.)

      TXRed’s point about ‘ritual as identity’ is therefore dangerous in its ambiguity. I’m not disagreeing, of course; only pointing out that unless the ritual is clearly understood on both sides, it can lead to a holocaust of misunderstanding. In relating to each other, it can make a group very insular (“Oh, he just doesn’t understand us – don’t bother with him!”) or, at the other extreme, dangerously naive (as in going out with a guy who regards a girl’s acceptance of an invitation to dinner as signifying agreement to sleep with him afterwards, and who’ll get cranky – to put it mildly – if she “won’t keep her end of the bargain”, even if she never understood or agreed that sex was part of the deal).

      I guess that’s one reason why I was never much good at the dating game. Fortunately, I found a woman and fell in love with her before we ever met (and she with me), because our exchanges were by telephone and e-mail. Since only 7% of communication is verbal, that forced us to concentrate on understanding one another, dealing with misconceptions (of the mental rather than the physical variety), and learning to get along. By the time we met, I think both of us knew this was a done deal. We cut through all the ritual before we had a chance to try it!


      Just my $0.02 worth . . .

      1. Oh, yes — but that’s not ritual as such, but ways to do things. The “ritual” I was talking about was more… the passages through life. This time of year we do this; this time of life we do this. It’s still dangerous for us Odds who usually don’t, or do it all out of order. But enforcing a “no ritual, no boundaries, no social expectations” seems to send most people adrift without a clue.

      2. I agree with you, Peter, but I was thinking more of rituals in the macro sense of culture than in the day-to-day patterns of relationships and living. I should have been more clear in my word choices.

      3. I just wanted to point out a fallacy: Only 7% of communication is verbal is absolute nonsense. I’m not denying there are important non-verbal aspects, but the vast majority of our communication is through words, which is what made us the species that dominates this planet. There’s a version that says 79% of communication is non-verbal, but that specifically relates to a study of interpreting ambiguous messages, not communication in general.

      4. That’s to be expected. Cultures, including the rituals, are evolved (though the evolution is more Lamarckian than Darwinian). The biggest fallacy people have of evolution is that it works toward perfection rather than good enough. Rituals that help 70% of the population survive, reproduce, and thrive will persist and expand even if they cause serious harm to the other 30%.

        That’s probably why I don’t fit well into political categories. I’m too interesting in changing social structures to benefit the minority to be a conservative, but I’m too aware that social structures exist for a reason – and we need to understand that reason before we start mucking around – to be a full-bore libertarian. Of course, I think too much to be a liberal.

        1. LOL. You fit with me, then, politically.
          And yes, some of us — some of “us” will always fit very badly in any ritual, natch. BUT telling the majority they can’t have rituals because it bothers us imperils the society’s survival — and our own.

    2. Point of order: the format of the Requiem Mass has not changed. You just don’t use it in the Ordinary Form of the Latin Rite, only the Extraordinary Form.

      I’ve been lucky enough to attend EF requiem Masses at which Requiem Masses have been sung, and the same for some orchestral Masses by famous composers. It’s a totally different experience than listening to a concert, because the music is… at work, doing its job? not acting, but being? alive and not in a museum of sound? I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s totally not the same thing as a concert.

      And btw, the Church Music Association of America will be holding its Colloquium week of classes and workshops in Indianapolis next summer, and each day the CMAA sings a Mass that is free and open to the public (because it’s a real Mass in church, of course!). There’s always a requiem Mass for the souls of all the deceased members of the CMAA. Whether you’re Catholic or not, it’s worth attending. (And if you’re a musician or at all interested in church music, the Colloquium itself is amazing if you can go.)

      1. I apologize, Banshee, I had incorrect information.

        I have heard several Hyden masses (the “Lord Nelson” and St. Nicholas) done as masses, and you are right, it is a very different sense.

  7. Thomas Sowell writes well and at length about the theories-viewed-as-reality in his The Vision of the Anointed.

    Sowell’s thesis is that rather than believing in a world of systemic processes—logic and science—these politicians believe in a world of intentions and anointed heroes—a world, in other words (not Sowell’s), of magic and sorcery. In this world where intentions have physical effects upon the world, their intentions are good, while the intentions of their enemies—the benighted—are bad. This is by definition: their intentions are, by definition, good, and so anyone who disagrees with them is, by that same definition, bad.

    Thus, when a well-intentioned program fails to achieve its stated goals, this is not, to the anointed, a refutation of a testable theory, but proof of the interference of evil intentions.

    And so we have mass graves, because reality never obliges just because you make sacrifices to it.

    1. Which is why a conservative CEO who has sex with an intern is exploiting his position and power over her, while a liberal President who has sex with an intern is simply succumbing to her feminine wiles.

      Or a moderate Senator who might, or might not, have had an affair is unqualified to be President, while a (vile) progressive Congressman who trades political favors for sexual favors is more than qualified (after two weeks of treatment) to be Mayor of a major city.

      1. “while a (vile) progressive Congressman who trades political favors for sexual favors is more than qualified (after two weeks of treatment) to be Mayor of a major city.”

        Of course he is, he is experienced.

  8. Rituals – the expected ones – are partly a scaffold for us as a society, and partly a comfort; this is who we are, this is what we do at this particular point or in case of this event. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Speaking of the poem, there is no better rendering of it than Loreena McKennitt –
    (skip the commercial as soon as you can – the person who edited this together put in many artistic visualizations of the Lady.) http://youtu.be/ttv0ljOiPSs

  9. If I may make amends for some admittedly rude talk in at least one of my earlier postings, may I recommend this song setting of Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott:

    I will note that the pre-Raphaelite and pre-Raphaelite-inspired paintings that accompany the song are rather easy on the eyes, and quite appropriate for the music.

    And, of course, if we are going to speak about Tennyson inspired titles, then we must include The Mirror Crack’d From Side to Side by Agatha Christie. I also recall a rather well-done movie version of this book (The Mirror Crack’d), which included one of the last serious performances by Elizabeth Taylor.

    1. Yes, Loreena McKennitt was my introduction to the poem. I have a replica of Waterhouse’s painting hanging on the wall behind my computer.

  10. I love Tennyson, a true master of meter. There’s nothing like The Charge of the Light Brigade. Not to say he was a slacker on content either. See Locksley Hall and Locksley Hall Sixty Years After. And of course, my favorite, Ulysses. JMS actually snuck the full poem into an episode of Babylon 5.

  11. 1. Obviously I’m not getting into the spirit of the thing because my immediate reaction is a wish for retribution against who or what laid the curse.

    2. I’ve generally considered that poem a bit weak, but that’s because of the ending:blockquote>Who is this? and what is here?
    And in the lighted palace near
    Died the sound of royal cheer;
    And they cross’d themselves for fear,
    All the knights at Camelot:
    But Lancelot mused a little space;
    He said, “She has a lovely face;
    God in his mercy lend her grace,
    The Lady of Shalott.”Meh.

    Apparently there are two versions of the poem because I also found the ending you quoted. IMO the latter makes the whole much stronger and validates your interpretation.

    3. You recently asked what to blog about. I would welcome occasional counterattacks for the cultural heritage that the Left has tried to discredit (but not to the extent of turning ATH into a lit’ry tea). If you know of Web-accessible Iberian work in English translation, great..

    1. I messed up the blockquote. The foregoing looks legible but let me try again:

      Who is this? and what is here?
      And in the lighted palace near
      Died the sound of royal cheer;
      And they cross’d themselves for fear,
      All the knights at Camelot:
      But Lancelot mused a little space;
      He said, “She has a lovely face;
      God in his mercy lend her grace,
      The Lady of Shalott.”



    2. Interesting, GS, because I’ve always looked at it (probably not the way Tennyson intended) as the Lady finally saying “I’m going to see the real world, and love, no matter what happens.” She knows the penalty and pays it willingly for the chance to live, even a little. Still depressing (and very Romantic) but not quite so bad. *shrug* Which is probably why I do history and not literature.

      1. That’s how I look at it too, with either ending. However, to my taste, the ending Sarah quoted delivers the message more dramatically & ties the whole poem together more effectively, than the version I mentioned.

        1. After making multiple comments, I’d like to, um, digress to the topic :oops:.

          The brilliant—and, more importantly, wise—Richard Fernandez has overlapped with Sarah’s post. He seems slightly more optimistic about the near term than she. The whole thing is worth reading but, speaking of endings, the concluding portion especially so.

    3. eh, the condition being under a terrible doom is not necessarily anyone’s fault. horrible problems are the human condition.

  12. Ok, kind of far down and late in the game, not to mention OT, but I do hope our hostess takes the time to read this http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/08/06/The-Pro-Slavery-Roots-of-the-Modern-Left

    Seems a very intelligent break down of the chain of logic “Progressives” have used from the early 1830’s on through until today. That is, the educated, scientific minded must enslave the simpler folk … for their own good you understand. They’re just not smart enough to make it on their own in the rough and tumble – not to mention evil – world of capitalism and freedom. I especially like the near mirror image arguments made by pro-slavery southern intellectuals and the “you didn’t build that” speech.

    Now, to quote Bill Cosby “I’ve fooled around long enough!” Back to this dam story. If I don’t pull it out of my brain it’ll fester like a dirty splinter.

    1. Short version: The Democrat has always been about the maintenance and upholding of Slavery — only the terminology changes.

      “No, really, ya think?”

      1. As I put it, Democrats have never forgiven Republicans for ending slavery, and have done their very best ever since to reinstate it.

        Heck, I’ve seen a self-described “anarchist” flat-out state he wants to impose slavery — and favors enslaving “the rich”.

          1. Many anarchists have protested the decrease of government benefits in recent years.

  13. Humans, serfs and rulers alike, except where impairment exists, are all quite smart enough to know where this life leads.

    …our species usually finds a way to survive.

    So – be not afraid.

    I’m not that keen on what little I recall of Tennyson, but this is an exception:

    For nothing worthy proving can be proven,
    Nor yet disproven: wherefore thou be wise,
    Cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt,
    And cling to Faith beyond the forms of Faith!
    She reels not in the storm of warring words,
    She brightens at the clash of ‘Yes’ and ‘No,’
    She sees the Best that glimmers thro’ the Worst,
    She feels the Sun is hid but for a night,
    She spies the summer thro’ the winter bud,
    She tastes the fruit before the blossom falls,
    She hears the lark within the songless egg,
    She finds the fountain where they wail’d ‘Mirage’!

  14. “For those of you not conversant with the poem, it’s about a Fairy Lady living in her own enclosed space and looking at the world outside through the magic web she weaves.”

    Waitaminute…. the poem is a Victorian version of “Jackie Blue?” (Ozark Mountain Devils)?

  15. One does have to remember *why* Marx referred to religion as “the opiate”. No, it wasn’t “because he was a moron” — in fact, he had a very specific reason for using that metaphor.

    What does an opiate do? Does it fix the problem? No. It only covers up the pain. Worse for the user: Since the actual problem isn’t getting fixed, the pain gets worse over time, which forces the user to take ever-increasing amounts of the opiate to cover the pain. So, eventually, the problem is going to kill the user (if the opiate itself doesn’t first — see next); it’s just that the user won’t feel it until the very end, if then.

    More, after a while, the opiate has its own effects on the user; pretty soon, the user has to take the opiate not because he needs to deal with the pain, but because he needs to deal with the effects of not having the opiate. Eventually, then, the user is taking so much of the opiate… well, as a certain other Baen author likes to point out: “Toxicity is in the dose”. So if the problem which led to taking the opiate doesn’t kill the user, the opiate itself will.

    I expect by now y’all have seen where I’m going with this — people who find their Beliefs do not hold up against Reality rarely take the step of dropping their wrong Beliefs and finding ones which do work; they instead cling ever-more-closely to their Beliefs, taking ever more of the opiate to cover the pain, until the real problem which led to taking the opiate kills them (or some idiocy connected to the wrong Belief gets them killed).

    This is one of the rare instances where Marx knew *exactly* what he was talking about; he (and his followers) just didn’t think to apply it to his own group as well….

    1. One also notes that in Marx’s era, there was very little you could do to cure the patient.

    2. If you ever have to be bolted back together after a nasty fall and a worse break, you may be surprised at how important opiates can be while you heal. From personal experience a crucifix on the wall can be comforting when you are on a gurney in pre-op wearing a backless gown and inflatable trousers, “for the risk of deep vein thromboses”.
      I always held that Marx didn’t like the ideological competition for healing the world’s hurts, since his sugar pill had nothing but bile and class envy behind it. Granted, I base that on the attitudes from the avowed marxists that I was unable to avoid in my life. Actual scholarship may yield different results.

      1. Nahhhh. I studied the d*mn thing for years in every course — forced to — the more you study it the more you go “Envy is a virtue? Come off it Karl.”

  16. Tennyson who, yes, is an odd choice for this blog, being very much an aristocratic court poet

    Eh, both democracies and aristocracies are forms of government and not free-form expressions of the human heart. True, there are elements to aristocracy that do not spring from Human Wave impulses, the confinement according to birth in the teeth of talent, but then democracy’s grinding tendencies to flatten everyone down to the Lowest Common Denominator are also anti-Human Wave. (The USA is not a democracy. It is a republic. At least, it was when founded. And for good reason.)

  17. Tennyson’s immediate family were C of E vicar’s-kid gentry. Not rich. He did have ancestors who were of higher station, but he was the first Baron Tennyson.

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