Ungovernable — a blast from the past post from December 2012

*I have been reading a lot about how we’re ungovernable again, so I thought it might be a good idea to run this again.  I confess I’m not up to thinking logically, though in a few hours there will be some fodder for subscribers in the subscriber area.  Also, I’m afraid I jump-started the Labor day sale.  I did it because being me, I forgot what day it was.  (Yes, this happens a lot.)  All the Musketeer books (except the first which will be 99c tomorrow on countdown sale)  This is a link to The musketeer’s Seamstress. and the Shakespeare trilogy are on sale. This is the link to Ill Met by Moonlight.*

 

I’ve said before that I became an American by reading Heinlein books.  This is true at least to an extent, though I’d be at a loss to explain the process to you.  I mean, if you knew how to do that, book by book, chipping away, so someone starts out wondering what’s wrong with all those Americans who don’t like taxes (don’t they know taxes are civilization?  And have always existed) and ends up thinking getting a Don’t Tread On Me tattoo is a brilliant idea, even while immersed in a socialist, communitarian system, we’d have no problems.  We’d just use “the process.”

Mind, you, it is likely that the er… Heinleinizing (totally a word.  Don’t worry your pretty head) of my opinions came from watching socialism up close and personal.  Heinlein had help.  But all the same, and even so, by the time I came to the States as an exchange student I had been, so to put it, primed to react to the US as “home.”

Even so, things about the US surprised me – things that Americans thought were completely logical.  For instance, the fact that classes are – objectively – a zoo.  No, we’re not talking about a war-zone type school.  Stow High School had good teachers, by and large, enthusiastic about teaching and their subjects.

I’m just talking about classroom behavior.  People just TALKED.  In Portugal, once the teacher entered, absolute silence reigned, unless he asked a question.  More conducive to learning?  Sure.  Maybe.  But in the US it just didn’t happen.  There wasn’t that built in respect for the “master” who got up front and spoke, and therefore all must fall silent.

There were other things – a distinct lack of respect based solely on someone’s age and position (respect for real accomplishments was granted, of course.) – a wicked sense of humor that showed up in signs on hallways and doors of classes, the fact that people could talk back or joke with teachers.

But possibly the most surprising thing in the US was … how people interacted.  You could have ornaments and decorated trees in your front yard and no one stole them.  This made my jaw drop, particularly since my host family’s house didn’t even have a nominal fence.  (This  might be gone in certain areas.  At least someone stole both a cement giraffe and – months later – a cheap composite fountain from our front yard.)

And when something went wrong, say a massive snowfall, people grabbed shovels and went to the street, to shovel not just their driveway, but as much of the sidewalk as they could, and to make their area as functional as possible, before official rescue/help arrived.

This would be unheard of most other places in the world.

This image/these ideas gelled for me as I read P.J. O’Rourke’s comment about a restaurant somewhere – the Soviet Union – “An American would grab a bottle of windex and solve most of the problem.”  Or something like that.

Every time I go back to Portugal, now, I find myself thinking about that type of thing or wanting to do that type of thing about ten times a day.  Most of the time I don’t, because there’s a crab bucket thing over there, you know, the crabs pull the others down, i.e. if I – say – grabbed a bottle of cleaner to save a sanitation problem, I’d get asked “Who do you think you are?”   And my parents live there.  (If they didn’t, and didn’t have to live with the consequences of my actions, I’d probably do it anyway.)

Yeah, Americans talk back, and make classrooms noisy, and can sometimes be counterproductive.  On the other hand, Americans, faced with a gadawful mess don’t look around and wait for “the proper person” to fix it.  They roll up their sleeves and each of them goes “Well, I’ll do this.”

It’s hard to explain how different that makes us.  To most Americans it seems logical behavior (it is) and I only get the difference because I remember being brand new here and how ALIEN it was.  And I remember living in Portugal without the constant “oh, for heavens’ sake, just do it” moments I have when I go back now.  (I should possibly point out that most Europeans find most middle aged American women bossy, interfering and a bit terrifying.)

Yes, I know some of you are going to tell me that spirit is now lost.

It’s not.  It is, of course, in certain areas – but certain areas always had issues – and for certain people.  And it is more muted than it used to be.

Part of the thing with Europe is the worship of the “experts.”  “We’ll take it to the expert” or “We’ll have the expert do it.”  There is now some do it yourself (and my mom was always one of nature’s do-it-yourselvers.  I think given time to acculture, and if she’d come here early enough mom would have made a great American) but it’s nothing like in the US and it would never have started without the US.

They’ve – by which I mean the cultural establishment – tried to bring the same here.  I’ve railed here before about how cozies were – in effect – blacklisted by the publishing establishment because “amateurs can’t be better than the professionals.”  And how my books couldn’t have funny policemen because “Policemen are professionals and must be respected.”  And I’ve talked about how shocked I was when a bunch of high school kids came to beat me on my blog because I’d criticized their teacher (I actually hadn’t.  I’d criticized the curriculum which is is not teacher set, but they lacked the semantic ability to distinguish these) and how dare I?  She’s a TEACHER.  I’m supposed to respect her.  (She also was considerably less educated than I, much younger and I have reason to believe she sent the kids over to harass me – the harassment stopped when I threatened to scan in some of her (outrageous) grading handiwork and post it. – which leaves me in doubt of her moral character.)

While these things annoy me and shock me, as does anyone preventing my questioning him by saying “I’m the expert” – it is still new here.

The people on top are trying to do it, but I wonder how much of it will stick.

No, listen.  We’re still… Us.  Still likely to roll up our sleeves and do it.

Look at blogs.  Sure, there are blogs abroad.  I hear Portugal is one of the most connected countries in the world.  But are there newsblogs?  Big enough to rival, say instapundit?  Drudge? (There might be something like DU or the others – because, well, they’re funded and organized by organizations.  But, you know, I have problems enough without tampering with my blood pressure.)

Oh, please.  News have to be reported by experts.  It’s not the individual’s job.  And besides, why undertake that mass of work if no one will pay you?

There are tons of interesting recipe blogs, etc, but I have yet to find something with the scope that Americans cheerfully undertake.

The same could be said for ebooks and indie publishing.  They have access to the same facilities we do (though more regulations in the way) but do you see a flood of books in foreign languages appearing?  Some, sure (there are displaced and unaware Americans everywhere, in the sense that being American is to an extent a place in the heart) there are some.  But nothing like you’d expect.

This is to an extent why  – to quote Bill Whittle – the future comes from America.  We are willing to go ahead and try it, and see how it plays.

The spirit is still there.  Diminished, perhaps, but still much stronger than in the rest of the world.

And this is why I say we also don’t know what the result of what the people on the top – publishing, politics, news, etc – are doing to us.  We know how it works in other countries, but I don’t think they realize how different we are.

When people’s lives are made impossible, they find ways to live.  This was true, even in Portugal in the seventies, with a  flourishing black market and most regulations ignored.  How much more true will it be here, at the first signs of true pinching?

And then there’s the fact that in the rest of the world, if things get unbearable, you can always go to America.  But we don’t have an America to go to.  Which will only make us more determined to “ignore the order, buck the directive, roll up our sleeves and do for ourselves.”

This is why statists of any stripe so often throw their hands up and call us ungovernable.  Not that this gives them the idea they shouldn’t try.  No.  Instead, they try to devise more cunning ways of governing us.  You have them to give credit for dreaming the impossible dream.  It’s the one proof we have that the sons of beetles are Americans.

So…  after sixty years of creeping statism, they’ve now “captured the flag” – they have actually got all of the important systems sewn up: news, entertainment, education, government.

They think – can you blame them? – that they won.

I won’t say they can’t hurt us.  They can.  The mechanisms they’ve seized hold of are important and they are – natch – misusing them.

I’m not saying that this will be easy.  It won’t.  Our economy is likely to be an incredible shambles, and I’ve said before I think we’ll lose at least one city.

But, listen, the problem with these sons of… Babel is that they might be American, but they’re not American ENOUGH.  If they were, they’d understand “ungovernable” and this willingness for each of us to go it alone (often for common benefit, but on own recognizance, nonetheless) is not a bug.  It’s a feature.  And that it’s baked in the cake of a people who came here to escape the top-down spirit of other places.  Some of the black sheep (or as one friend of mine calls it, the plaid sheep) attitude is genetic, hereditary, inborn.  And enough of us have it.

Push harder and we escape harder, through crevices they don’t even know are there.  Forbid us from making a living, and we’ll find a way to go around you.  Make it impossible to defend ourselves, and I shudder to think what some of my friends and neighbors will come up with.  Make the economy impossible, and we’ll create another one you can’t reach.  Make regulations too binding and we’ll either ignore them or – more likely – creatively subvert them.

They captured the flag, and they think they captured the nation.  It’s the type of mistake that the bureaucratic mind makes.

Poor rats.  Try not to laugh at them too hard, as you go about the business of undermining them.

We have them surrounded.

328 responses to “Ungovernable — a blast from the past post from December 2012

  1. Sarah, this was a very enlightening and encouraging post. May I re-post it, with your name on it, of course, on a forum I frequent (a forum you might like, for that matter — check out TB2K)?

    The enlightenment in your post comes from your knowledge of the mindset of people in Europe as compared to here in the United States. The ‘get up and do it’ and the ‘help other people’ mindset is so ingrained, and so prevalent in most of the places I’ve lived, that I really didn’t understand how different it was in other places. Of course, I think it makes a difference that every generation of my family right down to my parents have been pioneers carving homesteads out of the wilderness. (My parents had a homestead in Alaska when I was small.)

    Kathleen (Cedar’s mom)

  2. Christopher M. Chupik

    Ungovernable? That’s a feature, not a bug.

    • The 50s and 60s in America were largely wonderful. Tremendous community, as you talk about in your post, very little “governance” at all. The big “problem” in our high school, as I recall, was smoking in the girls’ washroom.

    • My dad was military, and in the military, there is often a LOT of deference to superiors whether they deserve it or not. Obviously, there’s the necessary deference—your superior gives you an order, you follow it—but it can get taken too far, as when you’re in officer country and are supposed to give your opinion, but defer to the superior officer just because he’s higher-up.

      There was one point when my dad, retired from active duty but still entitled to the courtesy title of Major, got a new commander for his division (which was in the business of fixing airplanes.) This new commander told them that they needed to move to a new system of doing things, and my dad scheduled a meeting with him and told him, quite bluntly, why this new system was a bad idea. (I believe he employed the word “idiotic.” It would be the sort of thing he’d do.) Luckily, this particular commander understood him, and started introducing him as “the Major who chewed me out.” And then he gave my dad the job of going to the Pentagon once a year to explain budgetary stuff to people, because he could make it clear and didn’t defer to people unnecessarily.

      I can’t imagine that sort of thing happening in another country’s military. Somebody would get shot.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Didn’t you comment that years later this officer would still identify your dad as “the Major who chewed me out”? [Smile]

        • Approvingly. That’s the important part.

          • Oooh, that’s pretty awesome.

            I’m told by the mates that hubby is one of the few – if only – person/s they know that is capable of telling a superior officer ‘this is a bad idea, this is why, and doing it this way may work out better for you.’ Without pissing them off or being chewed out for being insubordinate – “That was a good idea, well done,” is occasionally told to him. He rarely does it, so that might be why. The mates aren’t sure how he does it.

            • I venture to guess that it’s all in the delivery. And being right of course.

            • I had a friend in the military who used to do this, (He was a Tech Sergeant). He said it’s always a matter of presenting it so that they believe you’re watching out for their best interest. I knew a lot of enlisted ranks before I went in (I was an officer) and so I had already learned the ‘listen to your men, especially the NCO’s, they’ve probably been doing this longer than you have – pay attention’.
              Needless to say, the enlisted always loved me, which pissed a lot of other officers off.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        When my brother started in his job as a manager at the grocery store chain who hired him after his early retirement, he called everyone in his department together and told them that he expected two things. First, they knew their jobs and he was not going to tell them how to do everything, as long as it got done well. Second, he told them that occasionally he would get visited by the Great Idea Fairy, and that he expected them to tell him when the Great Idea Fairy was off her rocker.

      • The Israeli Army?

      • Enlisted do have their ways. SAC AFB got a new officer who decided, on his own, to hold a surprise inspection of the enlisted barracks. Got in and was met by airmen walking out who saluted. Then more appeared, then more. Large barracks with lots of men…AND…everyone leaving went around to a different door and entered again. The never-ending line of saluting enlisted.

    • They say ungovernable like it’s a bad thing.

  3. Wayne Blackburn

    Erm, is the cover of The Musketeers Seamstress supposed to say, “Sarah D’Almeida writing as Sarah D’Almeida”?

    • Oh, Good HEAVENS
      Let me change that. I’m an idiot.

    • You know the worst part? This went through FIVE pairs of eyes other than mine. ARGH.

      • Eyes have real talents.

      • You need to upgrade to Mark 2 eyeballs.

      • You just need to upgrade to Mark II Eyeballs.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Are you saying the Eyes don’t have it?

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Well, Eye got it.

        • Who’s Mark, and why should eye care?
          Optometrist???

          • Wasn’t Mark the uplifted chimp in, I think, Ringo’s story from a couple of years ago. He was basically human intelligence and was being raised by human parents while he went to high school.

            • Wasn’t Mark the uplifted chimp in, I think, Ringo’s story from a couple of years ago. He was basically human intelligence and was being raised by human parents while he went to high school.

              What a horrible thing to do to someone.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Mark was a highly modified human created in the second illegal attempt to create a super soldier. He was around fourteen but isn’t expected to live past IIRC thirty. Terrible thing? Yep, but the US Government didn’t do the terrible thing, they legally could not kill Mark and his fellows because they were modified humans. Oh, while having human DNA Mark looked something like an Orc.

                • Mangling– sorry, “modifying”– a human is really bad, too, but there’s an extra chunk of horror in deliberately creating a non-human person. Recognizes the value of humans, but denies it to all people who aren’t….

                  Now I might need to find that series, sounds interesting.

                  • Eamon J. Cole

                    It’s a short story in the anthology Citizens edited by Ringo. Baen, if it need be said.

                  • William O. B'Livion

                    Mangling– sorry, “modifying”– a human is really bad, too, but there’s an extra chunk of horror in deliberately creating a non-human person.

                    Really? Where do you draw the line?

                    I’m really *hoping* that we can get down to some really serious modifying here soon. Preferably to do with arthritis, cartilage and knees.

                    • There’s an all-organic solution to that, but it’s really hard to get. I read about it in a book somewhere. It’s called Tree of Life or something….

                    • The simple way of explaining it is “fixing broken stuff isn’t the same as trying to make super-whatzit.”

                      There’s, of course, some more complications– but restoring proper function (even if someone never had it– like the kids born without legs or deaf) is different than trying to make something go beyond the proper function. (say, chopping off perfectly good legs so you can have those false legs that are better than normal legs for running)

                      You can see this in fiction some, too– if there’s a cyborg that mutilated himself to be more powerful, he’s almost always evil; if he used cyborg parts because what he replaced was nonfuctional (or flat gone), he can be good or evil.

                      Even the Captain America thing nods to this– the Cap just wanted to be strong enough to be a soldier at all, while several of his enemies wanted to be super soldiers.

                  • Patrick Chester

                    …odd, I thought you were horrified that they sent him to high school.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    It was a Ringo short story in the first Cosmic Tales collection from Baen. [Smile]

                    I wish that John Ringo would revisit that world. Mark was an interesting character and the Chimp Janitor who befriended Mark was also an interesting character.

                    • There’s an episode of Clone Wars that is kinda similar, including the mentor janitor. (He was a “defective” clone, though.)

                      Digression– my husband loves Clone Wars, but the Star Wars galaxy has officially gone into GrimDark. Between the droids (shown to have personalities, if being a bit dumb, and frequently killed for laughs) and the good guys mass manufacturing humans as cannon fodder…. *shudder* Even before we got to the implication that “defective” ones got thrown away somehow, and the deformities the janitor has.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Mark Second was a highly modified human which is why he wasn’t killed as an infant. He was adopted by a standard human couple and was attending a public high school. At the high school, the janitor was a modified chimp who helps Mark deal with some of his emotional trouble. Mark is the part of the second attempt to create super-soldiers. Guess who is part of the first attempt? [Wink]

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I guess that’s technically true . . .

  4. Oh yeah! There was a story in Analog in the ’80s(?) called “Peaches for Mad Molly”. The gist of it was that supposedly there were only a few upper class people in a tower and poor in the streets. However there were middle class. They lived hanging on to the outside of the tower.

  5. “if I – say – grabbed a bottle of cleaner to save a sanitation problem, I’d get asked “Who do you think you are?” ”
    ———————–

    This remind me of an exchange I’ve read from the movie ‘Barcelona’. I’ve never seen the movie, so I’ve no idea what it’s really about. But the end of the following dialogue exchange amuses me, and seems like the suitably American response to the situation. Ted’s an American working overseas. Fred is his brother in the USN, who’s come to visit. And the others are Europeans.

    Ted: Maybe you’d like an analogy. Well, take… take these ants. In the U.S. view, a small group, or cadre, of fierce red ants have taken power and are oppressing the black ant majority. Now the stated U.S. policy is to aid those black ants opposing the red ants in hopes of restoring democracy, and to impede the red ants from assisting their red ant comrades in neighboring ant colonies.
    Ramon: That is clearly the most disgusting description of U.S. policy I have ever heard. The Third World is just a lot of ants to you.
    Jurgen: Those are people dying, not ants.
    Ted: No, I… I don’t think you understand. I was reducing everything to ant scale, the… the U.S. included. An ant White House, an ant CIA, an ant Congress, an ant Pentagon…
    Ramon: Secret ant landing strips, illegally established on foreign soil.
    Fred: Where are the red ants?
    Ted: [pointing to an ant hill] There.
    [Fred crushes the ants]

  6. If you think about it, people in America are the result of 300 years or so of genetic self-selection of those that didn’t like where they were, so they left. For three centuries, when people got disaffected, they pulled up roots and came here. This is even reflected, albeit in a rather funhouse mirror sort of way, with the illegals that come here. They tear up their roots and come here because somehow, they find the status quo where they are unbearable. (This doesn’t excuse their flouting the law, of course).

    Three centuries of genetic selection against conformity. Of course we are ungovernable.

    • Also the people who were kicked out from where they were, as my Scottish ancestors were during the Scottish diaspora. And the criminals who were sent here to penal colonies. And various other unwanteds who were dumped here. They weren’t all self selected, but they were all misfits in Europe and Great Britain.

      • My grandparents came here to leave pogroms behind. They also read the writing on the wall about Germany etc.

  7. Where is the post with the invasion from high school? I found the original to this post, and R-E-S-P-E-C-T where you also refer to that post (referring to it as the “blog-invasion by Desperate Teen Brownshirts ”)—but could you please link to the discussion itself?

    • The problem is that post was ported from Livejournal, so hard.

    • I would love to, but just looked, and both the imported posts and my LJ account seem to have gone to the graveyard of bits and bytes. Unless someone is better than I at this…

      • I looked, too, and ‹http://sarahahoyt.livejournal.com/› seems to still exist, just with no posts since 2010-11-29.

        Were you dual-posting to LJ and WP for a while? I also found ‹https://accordingtohoyt.com/2012/11/21/a-scattered-post-on-schools-kids-and-parenting/› which looks like its LJ doppelgänger could have been the triggering post.

  8. Pardon me, but what is a cozie, as in “I’ve railed here before about how cozies were – in effect – blacklisted by the publishing establishment because ‘amateurs can’t be better than the professionals'”?

    • IIRC, they’re “cozy mysteries”. Somewhat in the style of Agatha Christie.

    • Cozzie is a mystery with an amateur/not detective. Think Agatha Christie.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Everything is cozy except, you know, the murder.

      • Oh, you’re all all wrong! A cozie is a quilted cover you put over a teapot full of hot tea to keep it from going cold.

      • They’re cool, as long as I can stop myself from thinking that there’s this wonderful little village that has a murder rate worse than the south side of Chicago and an elderly expert knitter solves them all. I guess it’s what you have to accept from any series, the most unlikely and interesting things keep happening to one person over and over.

        • I know a lot of the based-on stuff does that, but… Miss Marple doesn’t actually have that many local murders. It always happens when she’s on vacation, or people actually invite her over because she’s so good at figuring out drama, and then she’s got the friend that was a police chief who found out she’s amazing at that because of a parlor game and he started counting on it and telling his co-workers.

    • Generally situated in a nice small town or other such idyllic setting. Where most murders don’t take place, in other words.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      “Cozies” as in “Cozie Mysteries” like Agatha Christie’s mysteries. They are stories about amateur detectives (ie not police or not even PIs) solving murders.

      • And where usually everything except the murder itself, and possibly the last act where the murderer may threaten the amateur detective is mostly nice – it’s usually some very inviting looking area, populated by good, mostly middle class and decent people. Usually no slums and no gangs and no habitual criminals, at least not in the foreground. And once you have unearthed the skeletons the assumption is that the place will return to full nice, with nice people being good neighbors to each other. Until the next murder maybe happens in the same town or neighborhood, and we find out there were at least one more skeleton in someone’s closet. 🙂

        In television series I suppose the best known would be ‘Murder, she wrote’ (unless you go by the idea that as many murders as she ran into, it’s highly likely that lovely older mystery writer was actually a very successful serial killer who repeatedly managed to pin the murders she made to innocent if usually in some ways in character unpleasant bystanders).

        And I love them.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Well, they had to move the settings of the murders in “Murder She Wrote” out of her home town because otherwise nobody would be left in her home town. [Evil Grin]

          • “Singlehandedly, over the course of about five years, she managed to kill off every person that irked her in any way without tipping her hand. Until the final murder – when she realized she was the only one left in the town and she had nobody to frame for the murder but herself.”

            • If somebody in real life managed to ran into even a fraction as many murders as she did, no matter how innocent she was she’d have a hard time proving that she really truly was not ever in any way involved in any of them, except in the aftermath. I suppose her best defense might be to claim that perhaps there was a serial killer who stalked her. Maybe a crazy fan or something. 😀

          • The police chief, or sheriff, or whatever his title actually was, griped that he moved to Cabot Cove from the Big City to get away from murders, not to have more of them.

        • yeah. Those who complain too much about the realism do not realize that it’s as much a convention as superheroes’ secret identities being protected by those half-masks, and Shakespearean characters speaking in blank verse. The point of it is that the snake in Eden is found and removed, so that the idyllic state can continue.

        • I also love them. But we should note that Miss Marple and sundry other cozy detectives are forever noting that there is at least as much human nature and wickedness in a pretty village as there is in the big city. 🙂

        • Rob Crawford

          Well, she WAS a Chinese agent.

        • You saw the original, good The Manchurian Candidate, didn’t you? Angela Lansbury gave one of the ten or so most terrifying performances I’ve ever seen in a movie.

      • “The British cops endure is with their customary stocism, but I shudder to think what the homicide boys in my town would do” or words to that effect.

        Raymond Chandler “The Simple Art of Murder”

  9. Interesting. Now that you mention it I see this everyday (working for a multi-national is educational if nothing else).

    American: We’ve got a problem and this is our solution.
    European: That is not according to the process.
    American: The process doesn’t work, This solves the problem.
    European: But it’s not according to the process.
    American: Screw the process! I’ve got work to do!

    And so on and so on…

    • I have heard that after D-Day, when the Allies captured a port and then had trouble with it, the British were stymied, and the Americans looped back to the Mulberry ports. . . .

      • The Mulberries have got to be right up there toward the top of the list of engineering marvels. First, *building* a port in and of itself is no easy task. And then *towing* it across the English Channel.

        And the Allies made two of them.

    • Two Soviet women, coming to America in the 1950s – and being routed through Chicago. One remembers that great Communist novel ‘The Jungle’ (slightly rewritten by the time it got to her ESL class in the USSR).
      —–
      “It is not like the book,” Raisa complained at one point as they were riding the bus. “Why are there no slums surrounding the stockyard?”

      “The book was written 50 years ago.” Mika shrugged. “Things change.”

      “So much, in so short a time?”

      “Short? For us, yes. For them? No. Americans…” Mika frowned. “They do not think as we do. If something clearly does not work, they discard it and try something else. We, on the other hand, are so used to not throwing anything away that it is difficult for us to discard something that seems to work. We will try and make it work, because there’s nothing better to be had.”

      “You almost sound critical, Mika.”

      “They started with a blank slate.” Mika shrugged. “Who doesn’t make mistakes? But we…” She shrugged again. “They obviously found a better way.”
      —–
      Culture shock. Take your standard college student today and tell him/her they MUST live like this – and you’ll see them understand that Communism doesn’t work. There’s a big difference between theory and reality.

      http://kommunalka.colgate.edu/index.cfm

    • Wayne Blackburn

      My company has “Europeans” in the IT Administration dept. They have a process for everything, whether it works or not. Have mercy on our souls.

      • Centralization and control gradually expanding to the point the engineers can no longer use their computers as tools to get work done. You are then reduced to begging for exceptions to “policy” every time an update is pushed down on you from above.

    • Similar to the process argument:
      Functionary: “That’s not our policy”
      Avg American: “So the policy’s wrong; who do we need to talk to to get it changed?”

  10. But possibly the most surprising thing in the US was … how people interacted. You could have ornaments and decorated trees in your front yard and no one stole them.
    ———————-

    Victor Davis Hanson has written about how, sadly, this is no longer the case in California’s Central Valley. If it isn’t nailed down, and it’s in your front yard, then it’s gone in the morning. And even if it is nailed down, they might just use that as an excuse to take the nails. Or your door lock.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Yeah, but it’s not Americans (mostly) doing the stealing.

      And it was *never* true for the inner cities. My relatives in STL had theft problems in their back yards since the 1970s.

      Oh, holiday ornaments are pretty safe–they’re not useful and have no resale value, but anything else has legs.

  11. amiegibbons15

    I’ve never thought of us that way, but I think you’re right. I have a lot of European friends from law school who are very much the, that’s just not how things are done, type.

    Now, just to play Devil’s Advocate :), being “governable,” having regulations, respecting authority, having procedures to follow, ect… all came out of years of social evolution with the goal of getting shit done. We made regulations to get rid of transaction costs. Procedures for the same reason, so you can just do something without having to figure out a channel or how to do it. Professionals to make sure things in that field are done well.

    So, perhaps this idea has been taken to the extreme in some places, and that’s where the rigidity came from, but it was born out of trying to solve the problems that come from a society without organized ways to handle problems.

    Yep, I’m posting an argument here 🙂 (puts arms up to protect face).

    • I think we’re not nearly ungovernable ENOUGH. Trust me. When people start leaning into regulations instead of private decent behavior, they’re already not civilized.

      • amiegibbons15

        Oh no, that’s where I agree with you. Regulations and procedures came out of ungoverned society for a reason. It’s going too far when people use that as an excuse to not do something or to make something more difficult, especially when it’s a way of life for entire societies.

        • I’m suddenly reminded of an old joke. Unfortunately I don’t remember the exact lines, but it went something like this –

          God comes to Noah, and tells him to build an ark because God is going to flood the Earth. Some time later, God returns to find that the Ark hasn’t been built. He asks Noah about this, and Noah tells him that he had trouble getting the lumber due to timber regulations. The local HOA filed a lawsuit when he started building the ark in his yard. His attempt to gather two of each animal ran into trouble when the local authorities informed him that he didn’t have a permit to run a zoo. Etc… etc…

          And then God said to Noah, “Now do you understand why I’m going to flood the Earth?”

        • It’s been my experience that people who talk about the spirit of the law rather than the letter generally intend to violate both in their favor and to my deteriment.

        • It’s just too easy to forget, in time, that the process was created to help people do something, and therefore the doing-something has priority over the process.

          • Rob Crawford

            A process should be nothing more than a rough road map on the way to getting things done. In the software world, recent “process think” holds that if your process isn’t changing every month, you’re not trying new things and learning.

      • It’s also one of the major differences between our militaries and several other countries’. In our military our people are taught that they’re supposed to question authority when appropriate (and we’re taught when it’s not appropriate… Usually the whole ‘if I question we get shot dead’ is an automatic veto.) But it’s the sergeant’s job to slap the officer upside the head if he’s being a moron and every private is taught to be ready to take over the squad leader’s job if he eats a bullet. This isn’t taught everywhere. It was downright unnatural and bordering on insubordination to the Brits I dealt with. I suppose it also comes down to understanding… we were expected to understand why we were doing what we were doing at some level. The mission has to be accomplished, and if that means three privates are the ones who get the job done, then they better be ready to step up.

        • Eamon J. Cole

          Ring had a great piece talking about this, derived (if I remember correctly) from some French soldiers favorable observations.

          I’ll see if I can dig it up when I get back to a real computer. I have an anecdote about one of my company commanders I’ll share as well.

          • Eamon J. Cole

            Cursed phone/auto-correct. Ringo.

          • Eamon J. Cole

            Found a location with a copy of the piece I was talking about here. An excerpt:

            This is the main area where I’d like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: ‘If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white/remember it’s ruin to run from a fight./So take open order, lie down, sit tight/And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. ‘In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.’ Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other ‘incident’, the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day.

            It is hard to stress how significant “In the Absence of Orders: Attack!” is for those who haven’t been involved. It’s embodied in the Little Groups of Paratroopers rule.

            It is also a significant strength of the American people, and it ain’t dead by any measure.

        • There’s an old joke about this involving generals from different militaries, and pilots.

          Three air force generals from different countries – Russia, China, and the US – are seated together and talking about how courageous their pilots are. The Russian general decides to provide an example, so he calls one of his pilots over, and gives him an order. “I want you to fly your plane due east until your fuel runs out.” The pilot replies, “Yes, sir!” and runs off to go start the pre-flight sequence on his plane.

          The Chinese general says, “Bah! That’s nothing! He’ll probably eject before his plane crashes!” He calls over one of his pilots. “I want you to disable your ejection seat, and then fly straight west until your fuel runs out.” The pilot replies, “Yes, sir!” and runs off to go start his pre-flight sequence.

          The US general waves his hand dismissively, and says, “He might be able to dead stick the plane into a field.” He calls over two of his pilots. “Men,” he says, “I want you to both launch your planes, and then crash into each other at top speed.” The two US pilots look at each other, look back at the general, and then in unison reply, “Screw you, sir!”

          The US general looks at his two counterparts and says, “That, gentleman, is an example of real courage.”

          • Different version, just as longish, but … I’m posting anyway.

            3 generals and an Admiral were golfing, discussing the bravery of their enlisted men. As the stories went on, the Admiral just smiled knowingly at thre general’s boasts. So to settle the argument, they went off on a joint tour. First to an Army base holding manouvers. “PVT, jump in front of that tank and stop it with your bare hands!” bellowed the general. And the PVT dis so. The otehr generals admitted it was brave, as the Admiral knowingly smiled. Off to an AF base. “Airman, stick your head inside that running jet intake and tell me what you see!” He did so, and was sucked in. The generals admittd tyat was bracve, as the Admiral knowingly smiled. Off to a Marine base. At a safe distance, the general ordered, “PVT, pull the pin on that grenade and hold it at arms length.” The PVT did so, the seconds counted down, and BOOM. The MArine General noted this was the bravest so far, the PVT knew what was coming, for a longer time, and still did it. Off to a Navy base. High up on a mast the flag officers see a young seaman working aloft. The Admiral yells, “Seaman, I want you to jump down right here in front of me!” The seaman, not sure he heard correctly yells back, “What’s that admiral?” “I want you to jump down, right here in front of me!” The seaman looks at him, and yells back, “F— You, Admiral.” and goes back to working. The Admiral turns to his counterparts and exclaims, “Now there’s a brave man.”

    • Eamon J. Cole

      Standards and procedures are in service of getting things done, regulations are a mechanism for limiting activity. Regulations frequently stifle innovation and advancement.

      As to ungovernable, I’m with our host, we’re not ungovernable enough. There’s nothing about cooperation and getting things done that requires we be governable. And so very many things that suggest we should not be.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I would say that in modern times, the tendency to not automatically take the “Expert” at his word has been exacerbated by self-identified Experts being complete and utter incompetents, at least until they have had their faces rubbed in it a couple of times.

    • That maybe the origin, but the end result is people not respecting the rules at all– just using them when it’s useful.

      While Americans don’t LIKE rules, but if someone bothered to make one and make it stick, we (at least generally) think it’s important enough to follow to the letter.

      It’s like… we don’t like fences, and so we don’t have many, but the ones we DO have are really important. While Europe has at least 2k years of fences that were built, but the ones that weren’t useful nobody bothered to pick up. One of the things that one learns to keep an eye out for when you’re out riding to gather cows is hints that there WAS a fence somewhere– a lot of jerks never cleaned it up.

  12. Comment mostly to get comments.

    My political views were to a large degree shaped by Sci Fi. Lucifer’s Hammer was a biggie (thank you Jerry and Larry) and a lot of things maybe nobody has even heard of.

    There was a short story that was written shortly after WWII and before the French lost North Africa. It concerned a scientific expedition being escorted by some French Legionaries to investigate the crash of a UFO in the Sahara. It was pure existentialism in the good sense.

  13. Arrrggggg. Forget to hit the comment boxes.

  14. –I’m not saying that this will be easy. It won’t. Our economy is likely to be an incredible shambles, and I’ve said before I think we’ll lose at least one city.–

    Went back & read more closely. Pretty good predicting. Hope you are wrong about the city but considering what’s been in the news . . .

    • Haven’t we already effectively lost Detroit?

      • Hey, we might be getting it back. The police chief has told the citizens to get guns and defend themselves — and crime has plummeted.

        I’ll grant you there are still other issues but it’s progress.

        • How long until the City decides to replace him for his heresy on gun control?

          • Be positive. As Sarah points out we might be winning in ways and places the leftists who think they control everything can’t even begin to fathom.

          • Eamon J. Cole

            Consider: Detroit is, right now, teaching its citizens multiple lessons about the governing philosophy and efficacy of that “City” you reference. These are the sort of lessons that scrub away educational indoctrination and comfortable elitist notions.

            So, how long before the citizens of Detroit see enough of the gilding rubbed off to replace the “City” for their incomparable incompetence?

            Long, uphill battle. I’d rather believe in ’em than drop cynical rocks in their faces.

        • I have an odd window onto the area. My wife is from there and is still in contact with any number of people all over the region from Port Huron to Ann Arbor. There seems to be a mix of outlooks from wry lifeboat humor to stubborn denial. A lot of people seem to have great affection for their nostalgic memories of the city from before the fall. And, yes, many of them are liberals.

          M

        • Patrick Chester

          So… that bit from the Kentucky Fried Movie might stop being effective?

          “Take him to Detroit!”

    • I hope it’s not where I live or NYC. Could you imagine the grief of lost so many relatives at once? Also Mercenaries aren’t in the Yellow pages. Mercs hired to extract relatives.

  15. About experts, and large informative websites —
    Many Americans want to be AN expert, few believe there is such a thing as THE expert. Thus we’ll study and learn and share and hope to gain some honor thereby; but our attitude to someone else who claims to be the expert is more like “We both know more about some things than the other. Tell me what you know, I’ll decide if it applies to my problem.”

  16. *Sigh*

    Off topic, but BTW anyway: according to our newspapers Russian planes have violated Finnish airspace at least three times in one week just now. Busy fellows. They’ve been doing that a lot lately. And not just our airspace. Unless the pilots’ moral has gotten shot and they have been going to their vodka a lot lately I suppose there is some reason to these, er, tests? (One may have been a honest mistake, due to a bad thunderstorm). Okay, there is a Nato exercise starting this week, and while Finland is not a member we do have some agreements, and are hosting some of it this year. In fact I may go and take a look at the ships in the harbor this weekend. 🙂

    Well, I still don’t assume they are getting serious about expanding their liebenstraum in this direction, not unless they have totally lost their marbles, except there is the fact that as a country that country occasionally does seem to be a bit butterfingered and having a hard time to hang on to those marbles. But I suppose they are just trying to make us nervous right now. Maybe scare with what their reaction might be if my country were to actually consider joining Nato (which, in any case, seems highly unlikely for now).

    • You’d think after 1939 the Russians would’ve learned to leave the Finns alone.

      • The Soviets actually pushed the Finns back in the next encounter.

        Then the Germans invaded and the Finns pushed the Soviets back.

        When Germany was on the run near the end of the war, the Soviets negotiated a treaty with Finland that granted the Soviets most of what they’d been after, but without the fighting.

    • We’ll keep you in our thoughts pohjalainen. keep us in the loop.

      • Thanks. I will, but as said that is kind of typical behavior for Russia so it doesn’t necessarily mean anything more alarming. It makes people in the neighboring countries nervous, but presumably that is one of the main purposes. A bully reminding others that yes, they are still there, and still big and scary.

        • Winter is coming, the Finns have traditionally kicked ass in the snow and the bear knows it. Keep your powder dry and buy precious metals such as brass and lead.

        • The Russkis have been crowding American air-space, too, of late. The administration has expressed deep concern over these intrusions and are seriously considering whether the purchase of Alaska was legally proper. I believe they are waiting to decide that after November’s election returns the incumbent Democrat senator or sends a Republican in his place.

          • Are we going to give Alaska back?!? Grrrowwwlll!

            • Given the furor it would raise, I doubt President Obama would return Alaska to Russia unless it would eliminate two GOP senators and tip the balance back toward Democrat control.

              • I don’t care what reason he gives. Giving away part of the US makes him a domestic enemy along with his trampling all over the Constitution and gangster government.

            • Several years back, pre-200 I think, there was a stink about the feds handing control of some Alaskan islands to the Russians. Not covered by the MSM. There is currently another similar recognition of Russian control over some islands going on now, but in this newer claim it appears the Russians have had control over the idslands in question.

          • The Chinese have also been using their aircraft to harass us. In a repeat of the incident that caused the mid-air collision back in 2001, there’s been at least one recent occurrence involving a Chinese fighter crowding a US intelligence aircraft.

            Our administration has helpfully explained that incidents like this are the work of *Rogue* Chinese fighter pilots. So, you know, not officially sanctioned by Beijing, obviously.

            /rolleyes

            The Chinese, of course, are demanding that we pull any and all aircraft that might be used for intelligence gathering back away from China’s borders.

            • Yeah, that darn Communist system, forever allowing *Rogues* to operate in disregard of party discipline!

            • The major difference this time: They picked a better Chinese pilot, so he didn’t actually slice through the wing of the U.S. Navy plane flying in international airspace like the last guy did (they probably made the new guy practice flying like an idiot close to a much larger slower moving airplane for the entire intervening time period since the 2001 incident).

              China has been doing this stuff at sea in the same area for years too – they “bumped” (i.e. crashed into) a U.S. Navy destroyer a while back, and they have been committing similar nautical idiocy against the Vietnamese and Philippine navies around the slightly submerged coral reefs that they call “islands” in the South China Sea.

              Note they seem to have knocked off this stuff for several years after 9/11, but have been really ramping up in the last six years or so.

              • Six years ago? Since 2008? Gee, I wonder what could have happened back then to give them the idea we had mislaid our national spine.

                • Biden has only got one ball
                  Obama’s are so very small
                  Eric Holder’s so very similar
                  And Kerry has no balls at all

    • The Russians have been pulling this a lot of places – into US identification zones around Alaska, and into Brit airspace as well.

      The Shirtless Tsar seems to be making a point.

      • Finland was once Russian, and that’s a status similar to dar al-islam: If the territory was once held, it is a point of honor that it should be reconquered and held forever.

        The difference is that Russia will dress up its imperialism as protecting ethnic Russians who are “persecuted” in neighboring countries. Orson Card suggested a work-around for this attitude in his Empire (or perhaps the sequel Shadow Empire), but I don’t know how well it could work.

        Good luck, and keep your powder dry.

        • Didn’t we hear this same reasoning back in 1936 about the Sudetenland?

          • You have to hand it to Vlad for the “acting to protect ethnic Russian populations” ploy. Especially when you consider how many of those ethnic populations are a result of Soviet forced importation — IOW, occupying forces. It is almost as if he considers people of Russian ancestry his property or something.

            And yeah, the “ethnic population” ploy was another one employed in the 1930’s.

        • If V. Putin is sensing real weakness in European and American leadership, he can champion the cause of Russian minorities in Estonia, where they make up 25% of the population.

          Since Estonia is a member of NATO, this could be an opportunity for Russia to destroy the alliance if NATO leadership reacts pusillanimously to Russian threats and demands.

          A second option would be for Russia to use its geographical advantages to prevent an effective NATO response. Would the NATO countries start WW3 if presented with an occupied Estonia as a fait accompli?

          The only way to prevent the previous two scenarios would be prompt aggressive American led action in response to Russian threats and demands. This action would have to include large military reinforcements in Estonia and the other Baltic nations.

          Does anyone imagine current American leadership reacting promptly, vigorously and militarily to Russian provocation? I believe current experience would incline one to doubt it.

          Such a ;move by V. Putin would be risky and I hope he doesn’t risk it.

          Is my foreign policy analysis too grim?

          Please tell me it is!

          • It is a ‘good on paper’ scinario. The issue is Russian equipment. Their primary advantage is they have a lot of it. The other side is this: He’s smart enough to NOT want to try anything that would push the US into removing its head from it’s fith point of contact administratively. Yet if he wants to gain any real headway he knows he’s not going to have a better time than now, but they do not understand how our electoral system works. He doesn’t know if November (which is only a couple months away) is going to tip the scales against him or not. He’s still fighting the cold war, rather than the current world. If he was fighting the current world he’d’ve smash and grabbed the Ukraine and he wouldn’t have given Georgia back in ’08. (Note: this is my read of the situation based on what I can dig out of the news and prior experience. I don’t have access to make more than a stab at it. The salt lick is in the corner.)

            • Thank you for the encouragement! Like you I believe the US military can take Russia in a stand up fight.

              I question the ability and resolve of American National Leadership, not simply that of the President but also the former Junior Senator from Massachusetts and the token Republican (Secretary of State & Secretary of Defense respectively).

              I hope I am misreading the character of Russia’s leader. After seizing the Crimea, he has now sent Russian soldiers into eastern Ukraine. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/news_112103.htm

              The West’s response has been nothing but talk.

              I hope you are right and I am wrong!!

            • The Russians really don’t have much equipment any more and damn near all of it is second rate or worse. Even worse from their viewpoint, over half of it won’t run at any given time. Add in the fact the lousy training of their army and very low readiness, any stand-up conventional fight with NATO forces would be a slaughter.

              If NATO resists, Putin will retreat. He’s counting on Euro and American leaders to appease at the threat of war.

              • “If NATO resists” is the key!

                NATO resistance to Russian action in the Ukraine has been all talk and no action, all moral support and no materiel support. Of course Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

                My question is not NATO’s ability to resist. If NATO resists, I believe Russia will back down quite quickly or get knocked back quite conclusively. I believe effective NATO resistance requires prompt, aggressive, American military action. I am not convinced that the current National Leadership Team will provide any such thing. The President in particular seems quite prone to dithering over National Security questions when a decision is called for.

              • I seem to recall a similar stage in the German re-militarization in the 1930’s. Is it too much to hope our enlightened leadership has learned from History?

        • Ukraine is even more “Russian” to the Russians than Finland is. The Rus, from whom the country gets its name, originally settled in and around what is now Kiev (or Kyiv, I guess, as the Ukrainians are now spelling it).

          That, for obvious reasons, goes a long way toward explaining the current events in Ukraine.

          • “Long ago, when the Tsar lived in Kiev,” is the Russian equivalent of “Once upon a Time.” Has been since about the time of Alexander Nevsky. Neither side has forgotten.

      • Yeah that we are toothless. Ya think he would’ve gotten away with this W’s day, let alone the Gipper’s?

      • Yes, they have. The number of incursions is just about back to 1980s level.

        I remember being jarred out of a sound sleep many times by a 3:00 AM scramble out of Elmendorf. Oddly, that never made the papers in the Lower 48.

        I also remember the wave of nervous laughter that ran through the theater in Anchorage when Elmendorf was the first place to get nuked in the move WarGames. Having a front-row seat for the Cold War was…interesting.

  17. BTW, when I was wondering on facebook about what had happened to the once so popular private investigator movies and television series which have now mostly disappeared (although they still seem pretty popular in written fiction, at least in indie), perhaps that is the real reason. PIs may be professionals, but they are still just private citizens, and stories where they solve the crime imply that you maybe don’t always need officials to get justice – and as well that maybe the official channels are not always good enough for a private citizen to get that justice, after all the stories often are of people who go to the PI when the police has in some way failed them. So now those stories are perhaps seen as undesirable.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Interesting thought and may be correct.

      One older TV Series (Probe?) had an official high-tech investigation group but the Main Character was somewhat a “rogue”. That is, he was always showing up his “by the book superiors and co-workers”.

      On the other hand, there’s the Mission Impossible movies. While the original series was a team of agents working together (experts) for the government, the movies seem to have the main character working at cross purposes with what his superiors wanted him to do. Of course, in the first MI movie the main character was working alone trying to clear his name.

      • Do Not get my sister started about the MI movies. -shudder- To say she didn’t like it would be a gross understatement. (I suspect it has to do with who the villain turned out to be.) Having seen the movie myself, give me the original series. Tighter plots.

        • I hated the first one for that reason too, you just should not reboot something by turning one of its old long time heroes into a villain (sorry, spoiler, but that is a pretty old movie by now…). Besides, the series was about a group of pros working together, the movies are of a hero who has some not-very-important and quite replaceable helpers. Different types of stories. And I liked the ensemble version much better, the lone hero stories (even ones with helpers) are a dime a dozen but ensembles are much rarer so I was not overly thrilled when they decided to change one into a lone hero story.

          • Perhaps the worst thing about the plot twist in the first MI film is that it appears to have only really worked on long-time fans of the old shows. Most of the people who I spoke with that weren’t familiar with the old shows spotted the plot twist almost immediately.

            • That too. So the story either angered old fans who didn’t immediately get the twist because the character with that name had been one of the well liked heroes in the show, or it was too obvious to those who weren’t old fans. Not good, either way. 🙂

              • you wrote:
                “You just should not reboot something by turning one of its old long time heroes into a villain.”

                That’s exactly what happened to Hal Jordan the Green Lantern. He was turned into the worst villain. When there was a massive outcry from the fans at this treatment of their beloved hero , Hal Jordan was rehabilitated. I guess an alpha male like a fighter pilot Korean War vet, makes lib progs heads explode.

            • P. said:
              “You just should not reboot something by turning one of its old long time heroes into a villain.”

              That’s exactly what happened to Hal Jordan the Green Lantern. He was turned into the worst villain and then rehabilitated. I guess so they can have him as a tainted hero. They can’t have a hero from 1959 who isn’t tainted.

        • Rob Crawford

          One of the oddest MI episodes I ever saw had Ricardo Montalban as the commander of a prison named “Baradur”.

      • Multiple variants of Law & Order, NCIS, CSI Here, There and Everywhere — even Hawaii Five-O and Blue Bloods are police procedurals.

        While by no means conversant with all mysteries on network TV, there seem to be only a few outliers, shows which do not feature purely “official” investigators. Bones, arguably, although the forensic team is tied to the FBI, Elementary — while Holmes does work with the police he is not a “trained” detective. Castle is an amatuer sleuth, working with the police. So all of those are what we might term hybrid shows, with at least semi-official investigators.

        I haven’t watched Arrow, Grimm or Supernatural but those shows seem likely to be outside the normal detective story. While there is no telling what Gotham will bring, it at least seems likely to center on James “Commisioner” Gordon, setting it squarely in the professional detective milieu.

        Almost all of these shows have in common that they are focused on “street level” or middle management detectives. These are the active investigators, working against the challenges of the criminals and against the constraints from upper management. In film the trend has been the rogue operative — guys going Snowden, exposing corruption at the highest levels. But these are still professionals, fighting to remain true to a system that has betrayed its principles.

        • And it seems to me that many of the Police shows tend to glorify going outside the rules to get things done, though Blue Bloods appears to be a significant exception to that.

          Oh – Grimm is not about detective stories so much as monster hunting, by the way.

          • re: Grimm

            I know, even though I couldn’t get through the first half season. But he was a police official during the episodes I watched, so the show kinda straddles the line.

            Note the trend: supernatural stuff is not a police matter, so don’t go calling 9-1-1 when the vampyre knocks on your door.

            • Sleepy Hollow is another TV series that has a cop involved in supernatural detective work.

              Almost Human took policing into the near future this past year. I was disappointed when I found out that it wasn’t going to be renewed.

            • Every Horror RPG I’ve ever played tends to show the cops as a useful distraction / meat shields.

        • “Psych”, played purely as farce I think, although it has serious moments. “The Mentalist”, often referred to by the main character in Psych as one of his favorite shows. Outside consuiltants, working with police to solve the crimes, skirting rules as they go.

        • We’re only a few episodes in to Arrow, but the cops are more something to be overcome than someone you work with.

    • Burn Notice was sort of PI. Michael Westen & crew generally operated outside of government control.

    • The classic Hammett and Chandler stories were based around inability (in the Continental Op stories) or unwillingness to investigate (Phillip Marlowe stories) on the part of the police. One is because of the relative inexperience the police had with unusual investigations and the other was the amount of money and influence convincing the police to keep their distance.
      They both were paid for results, and Hammett had an interesting way of handing justice to people who weren’t expecting their just desserts.
      Chandler seemed to have a more client-based approach.
      I’ve been interested in Noir, where the detective is peeling back the layers against all common sense to get at the truth, the exposure of which will never make anyone happy. I suppose it is supposed to be morally ambiguous, but once sludge is exposed to sunlight it tends to loose much of its power over people.

  18. William O. B'Livion

    I submit that there is a difference between “being governed” and “being ruled”, and that a significant (but decreasing) number of Americans are amenable to the former, but seriously resistant to the latter.

    To keep this short, consider: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governance, wherein we find:

    In general terms, governance occurs in three broad ways:[citation needed]

    1. Through networks involving public-private partnerships (PPP) or with the collaboration of community organisations;
    2. Through the use of market mechanisms whereby market principles of competition serve to allocate resources while operating under government regulation;
    3. Through top-down methods that primarily involve governments and the state bureaucracy.

    To distinguish the term governance from government: “governance” is the concrete activity that reproduces a formal or informal organization. If the organization is a formal one, governance is primarily about what the relevant “governing body” does. If the organization is an informal one, such as a market, governance is primarily about the rules and norms that guide the relevant activity. Whether the organization is a geo-political entity (nation-state), a corporate entity (business entity), a socio-political entity (chiefdom, tribe, family, etc.), or an informal one, its governance is the way the rules and actions are produced, sustained, and regulated.

    We’re fine with governance–the sort established by tradition (“don’t touch your privates in public, don’t spit on the sidewalk”) and by ad-hoc relationships.

    We’re really unhappy with top-down “expert” rule, mostly because we don’t trust experts to have our best interests in mind and because they have a really bad track record of being *wrong*. (Example: in the 1970s polyunsaturated fats were declared “evil” and we were pushed to using vegetable based fats as much as possible, including transfats. Then we found out this was wrong, and the same f-tards who pushed us to use transfats threatened to sue companies that didn’t stop using them. Then we decided that dietary fat lead to obesity. So we removed it from many foods and added in sugar, then high fructose corn syrup. Now we’re being told by purported exports that HFCS is The Devil. And other experts are saying that “Carbs are Bad”. We had “experts” telling us that Gluten was responsible for a lot of bad things, and now they’re saying “whoops, no, that study was incomplete…”.

    And this is just one aspect of our lives, let’s not even get into the sorts of policies (tax, immigration) where it’s even easier to hide motives.

    Governance is just rules that tribes follow. It used to be these rules were class based (Priests had one set, Kings another, peasants && etc.) but we all knew what they were.

    Even as late as the 1940s or 1950s we had *lots* of informal governance. My father got a whupping from the beat cop for being some sort of shit, and got hauled home to his mother. Who then beat him *again*. Today that same cop would have hauled my father down town and booked him.

    Heck, when I was kid a police officer caught me doing something not-quite-right and got word back to my father. There was never a DOUBT in my fathers mind that the cop (who, oddly and irrelevantly, was black) was telling as close to the truth as a man could tell. There was NO CHANCE IN HELL that I could have gotten off with “the cop was lying” or “No, it didn’t happen that way”.

    That’s governance.

    What we have today is because stopped enforcing the informal rules because they were mean or judgmental or “unclear”, and now we have to have formal top down structures to replace them.

    Phuq Dat Shiznit.

    I’m American. I do what I want.

    • Americans tend to like self-governance. Not so big on the other sorts.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Only in our dreams.

        Remember the first guys to settle here from Europe? Puritans.

        Different factions in this country have a LONG history of trying to tell other people what to do and how to live (Remember Prohibition and the War on Some Recreational Drugs?) , it’s only through 200 years of rubbing up against each other that SOME OF US have learned that That Shit Don’t Work.

        We mouth about freedom and liberty, but too many of us for too long have wanted the freedoms and liberties that *we* thought were OK, but wanted restrictions *we* thought were ordained by god, “proven” by science or recommended by “experts”.

        And sometimes they are right. Smoking IS bad for your health. So are Cocaine and unprotected sex with dozens of people.

        But you’re either in favor of liberty, or you aren’t.

        Me, I choose liberty warts and all, but I’m really pretty certain I’m in the minority there.

        • The national myth of the Puritans makes me LOL. It is a direct result of the victory of new england interests in the war of southern independence. It was almost unknown in other parts of the country until that Bastard Lincoln made Thanksgiving a holiday.
          The first English settlement in CONUS was Jamestown, a for profit venture. That should have been the legacy rather than the dour evangelism by the sword that has mutated into the War on Various Amusements and P.C. thought police.

        • –Remember the first guys to settle here from Europe? Puritans.–

          Actually, the first guys would be Spanish Catholics in Florida.

          The first English to settle here were entrepreneurs in Virginia. They were followed by the Pilgrims — who were not Puritans.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          The Puritans didn’t force others to “live as they wanted”. They came to America to live away from people who didn’t want them to live as they wanted. The Puritans didn’t take over somebody else’s “country”. They made their own “country”. Did they frown on people trying to move into their country and disagree with the Puritans’ way of doing things? Yep, but they made no secret about how they wanted to live. They had a higher percentage of people able to vote than England had at their time. By all accounts, over 80% of the male population could vote.

          • You’re confusing the hard core puritans (a near communistic sect, which is why they starved) with all religious dissenters who came over.

            • If you are getting that from Rush, don’t forget that they changed their thinking pretty quick.

              And those that died that first winter didn’t really starve but succumbed to disease and climate (they were staying aboard the Mayflower, generally).

              The Plymouth Colony was very successful starting with 99, dropping to 50, then growing to 7,000 by 1690.

              • I don’t listen to Rush. One of my minors was American history. Also, my husband is descended from those people. We have letters, diaries and accounts.

                • OK, so if the Pilgrims landed in December 1620 and half of them were dead by April, how can the failure to farm be responsible for their deaths?

                  I’m not arguing the initial flirtation with communism and maybe by starved you meant went hungry later rather than starved to death. But it seems kind of unfair to blame that first winter’s death toll on their economic system.

          • –They had a higher percentage of people able to vote than England had at their time. By all accounts, over 80% of the male population could vote. —

            Good point. A lot of times we b*tch that some past group falls short of modern standards while failing to comprehend that what they did was a huge leap of progress over their contemporaries.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Nod. The Puritans also preferred to exile those who disagreed (if those who disagreed went too far). IIRC one person who was finally executed had been exiled twice and kept coming back. [Smile]

    • Rob Crawford

      Self-governance is hated because part of it is the requirement that screwing up has consequences. Much easier to demand a society where the school-skipping, drug-consuming, fatherless-children-spawning are supported by the hard-working, studious, sober, and chaste.

  19. Ungovernable? Goddamn right we’re ungovernable. We’re Americans. Being ungovernable is our birthright.

    • Well, it’s not just the libprogs that want to take that away from you. It’s also a lot of the really, really rich. A recent article mentioned how Bill Gates just got upset by the NRA and decided to invest $1 million in a local gun control vote. The article also mentioned a few other local billionaires that have invested in attacking the second amendment {my interpretation, after all this is just an attempt to make background checks more rigorous}.

      The really rich and the libprogs are beginning to work together to attack the constitution, American liberty, and American traditions.

      • most really rich are also libprogs. It’s social signaling.

        • why are really rich libprogs? It doesn’t make sense to me. Is it no more than a label for them? Like wearing Prada?

          • Once they get rich by being ruthless Capitalists, they veer toward Crony Capitalism to protect themselves from those who are like they were when they were younger, and from there it’s just a step over the line into full Libprog-ism.

            • Not so much a step as a leftward shuffle.

              • The “Creative Class” took the message when the Clinton Administration went after Microsoft, firing a warning shot through their bow to remind them that they have to pay if they’re gonna play. Once you have to pay lobbyists it only makes sense to get full value by raising the drawbridge.

                Insert your own observations about the historical tendencies of the nouveau riche.

              • looking for brainsssss to eat.

                • Since they don’t have any of their own, it makes sense that they seek to eat what they lack.

                • Won’t find many on that side of the fence. And those of us on this side have semi-auto 12 ga shotguns with 60 shot drums……..

          • yep. The libprogs have built a really good association of “our brand is smart” and well…

          • I suspect that, at least for some, its a conscience-easing thing. “I might be rich, but I support expanding all of these programs that help the poor.”

            • –I suspect that, at least for some, its a conscience-easing thing. “I might be rich, but I support expanding all of these programs that help the poor.”–

              You are much nicer than me. I am convinced that for just about all of them it is a power thing (or at best an ego thing).

              I think those leading/funding the progressive movement see the poor as tools to be used rather than as people to be helped.

              If I was ubber rich and I wanted to ease my conscience I’d set up my own schools, scholarships and hospitals and try my best to keep the gub out.

              • But with your way, they can’t just throw a lot of money at the problem and let someone else deal with the fiddly bits.

                Back in 2012, I heard a secondhand story involving a poster over at a liberal website. They were discussing the incident when Romney went over to the home of a fellow Latter-Day Saint, and removed a wasp nest. Their response to the incident was to complain that Romney didn’t hire someone else to do it. After all, Romney’s rich. He can afford to do something like that. And Romney’s time is more valuably spent than taking an hour or two to personally remove a wasp nest. Or so this individual thought.

                That’s the sort of mind-set that we’re dealing with.

                • There are a lot of differences between us and them. One of them is that they really are neo-feudalists. The ones that don’t want to be king or queen, want kings and queens and hope to be made dukes and earls.

                  As much as they praise “the little guy” they look down on menial labor and those who get their hands dirty.

                  Me, I kind of look up to them. They are not only doing things I don’t particularly want to do, they are doing it better than I could likely do.

                  BTW, I met Mitt’s son Tagg during the last campaign. He was a heck of a nice guy. We were late for the event and we caught him coming out, without much of an entourage, maybe just an assistant. I asked if I could get a pix of him with my mom & dad, he insisted I get in the shot as well and had the assistant take it. I didn’t feel like he was rushing to get away from us at all.

          • It isn’t that the really rich are Libprogs, it’s that both the really rich and the Libprogs are would-be Aristocrats. They both believe that they were placed upon earth to tell the rest of us what to do. At the moment the Libprog model of pseudo-aristocracy is the only one not subject to wild hoots of derision, but should that change we will see the very rich investing in forms of peasant control that don’t fit the Libprog model.

      • Alan Gottlieb of the SAF has challenged Gates to a debate on gun control. For more info check out http://www.waronguns.blogspot.com Mr. Codrea does an excellent job on this subject.

  20. Birthday girl

    You have a tattoo !? 8-o

    • No. Coming from a family where there was earnest hand wringing about whether my ears should be pierced, body modification doesn’t come easily. BUT if I had a tattoo it would be a don’t tread on me flag.
      OTOH if it makes you feel better I DO sleep in American flag pajamas and hugging a stuffed eagle.

      • Did you know that flag pj’s are a violation of the U.S Flag Code?
        Should you care? Probably not. Just interesting (to me) trivia.

        • Um… not these ones. It’s not a flag flag. It’s a faded portion of flag with an eagle on top and USA underneath. I wouldn’t desecrate the REAL flag.

        • Eamon J. Cole

          Fine example of ungovernable, really. The image of the flag is not the Flag of the United State of America, regardless of the overreach of the code.

          The value of the symbology of the flag is greater than the enforcement of a code which is properly (in my theoretically humble opinion) restricted to actual flags. The patriotism, enculturation and mutual identification engendered by and signaled with flag imagery is an important component in the greater American culture. Embracing the imagery, adopting it and displaying it proudly, and embracing the larger and more important things it stands for should be encouraged.

          Restricting the imagery of the flag in the same fashion as an actual flag is counterproductive.

          I know this was not your intent, sir, no criticism of you or your statement is intended. It was just a handy springboard.

          • I fully agree with you. I thought it was interesting trivia. The “who the hell do they think they are?” Is deeply ingrained in the American psyche

            • Eamon J. Cole

              Yeah, there’s a couple of spots of “who the hell…” that pop up in the code. For me, at least.

              The section on when the flag is flown at half-staff being one of those. Lots of reverence for governing officials in there.

              • I have a seriously hard time reverencing any of my employees. Respect for the job they were hired to do, if they do it well but no reverence.
                If they want reverence they should go to work for Kim Jong What’s-His-Nuts in jolly free North Korea.

        • That’s Ok. The code itself says it’s a guideline and not a hard and fast rule*.

          * Yes, I read the whole thread about the flag PJs, but, as with Eamon, it provided a handy springboard. You should be proud of such a springy comment! 🙂

      • Birthday girl

        So it’s a tattoo on your heart 🙂

      • My last screen printing job, I worked with a very well-put-together woman (our boss, who was also her cousin [What? I live in Kentucky] privately referred to her as either Blondie or Tits). The company had an outing to a major amusement park, and she wore shorts and an American Flag bikini top. I was walking around with her and a couple of other people when we passed two guys who just stopped and watched her walk by. When we were about 20 feet away, we heard one of them say, “God bless America”.

  21. I suppose this is a large part of why charter schools are taking off so strongly, and homeschooling is so popular–and becoming more popular ridiculously fast, despite the fact that homeschooling is a really difficult job that will completely change your life. A lot of Americans are quite willing to just start doing education themselves if they don’t think it’s being done well. We’re creating another education system, one based almost entirely on self-governance (or, in the case of charters, parent choice about educational philosophy and effectiveness, which comes to the same thing if there are enough choices).

    When a California judge created a small kerfuffle a few years ago by trying to declare homeschooling illegal, somebody in the CA union claimed that letting parents teach without a certificate would result in educational anarchy. And all the homeschoolers said, “YES! That’s exactly what we’re trying to do!” “Educational Anarchist” t-shirts popped up everywhere…

    • Of course, if that CA union member had referred to a bomb thrower as an anarchist, it probably would have been meant as a compliment.

    • On charter schools, see: http://ricochet.com/the-hillsdale-conspiracy/

      One lesson Homeschoolers grasp is that an expert is merely somebody who has invested in the conventional wisdom. Experts said Pasteur was mad. Experts at IBM in the 80s declined Bill Gates’ offer to take a majority interest in Microsoft, because “We’re not interested in toy computers.”

      When you are in the market for a Maginot Line, the experts are the people to see.

      • I’d say, as best I can tell, a third of the students at Private School are homeschooled at some point, a third come from religious schools (lots more K-6 than Jr and High parochial schools in the area), and a third are escapees from public schools.

      • Heheheh. IBM teamed with WANG to make a mainframe that would last the ages in government. There are still some holdouts in my state’s agencies that are using that mainframe, but is not really lasting the ages, it is more like some mythical plateau in the Amazons, a sort of digital Land of the DOS

      • Actually that isn’t quite fair. Quite often the experts gave their opinion … and nobody want to hear it. I believe that the experts were all for the Maginot Line provided that it extended along the border with Belgium (where the Germans had attacked during WWI). But fortifying the Belgian border would have implied that the Belgians couldn’t stop the Germans, so the French politicians nixed that part.

        • It also would have been prohibitively expensive.

          The French military was badly understrength when compared to the German military, and that was after a lot of effort on the part of the French. Running the Maginot Line clear down to the Channel simply wasn’t going to happen.

        • “[T}hat isn’t quite fair”? Son, this is the internet, nothing here is fair when a joke can be made.

  22. Somebody on another blog refered to those people(statists, progs whatever) as TWANLOC(those who are no longer our countrymen). Not sure but what he might have a point there.

  23. Ahhh…it is hard to take freedom from those who already know what it is.
    I have thought that is why the American Revolution happened as it did.
    175 years of unusual freedom already had passed in the ‘colonies’…and the colonists fresh from the Great Awakening and most cutting their literary and faith teeth on the one book they owned…the Bible…knew and understood true biblical freedom. “Unto freedom ye are called.”
    It was not a socialist revolution as would happen in places in Europe. It was a true freedom reformist one. And frankly for the same purpose the Tea Party (really not a party…but the educated part of Christian middle America and those with the similar values essentially rising up to say no! you cannot take our freedoms for your disfunctional utopian ideas and Constitutional overruns!) And that is why it is called that. It says…no…you may not stamp our every piece of paper (now electronic communications) in order to ‘control’ us…and tax us without our consent.
    Someone once asked me if those of us from early American families have a strong sense of freedoms…and i said…knowing your forebears lay on the frozen ground at the battles of Princeton and the winter of Vally Forge is without a doubt…part of your ‘dna’.

    • Ralph Raico lectures on the growth and later destruction of classic liberalism in France and Germany, which first started with the philosophers of the French revolution (he mentions Candorcet in particular) through such luminaries and Bastiat, and on to the liberal Germans that were stopped and overcome by the politicking of Bismark and his wonderful idea of spreading the risk of industrial insurance through his social insurance programs. At one point Liberalism was a massive force in Europe, it was just swamped by co-opting everyone into these free-money programs.

      And you can watch it in YouTube if you have an hour and 16 minutes to spare. Look up “Ralph Raico: The History of the Industrial Revolution and the Social Policies of Otto von Bismarck

  24. “Heartbreak Ridge” with Clint Eastwood is a study in the git it done attitude vs. follow procedure. Interestingly enough, the movie was supposed to be about the Army. There’s a scene where the platoon uses a calling card to call back to the States for an airstrike, having lost their radio coms. Actually happened during Grenada. In an Army platoon. When vetting the script for Army support, the Army said, “No, no, you can’t use that.” The powers that be that approve scripts and Army cooperation said if the scene stayed, Army cooperation in making the film was OUT. So, they changed the movie to make it Marine oriented, and went to the Marines. The Marines pointed out that that scene had played out for the Army, and the scripwriters explained what happened. The Marine’s shrugged their shoulders, and said. “Well, if the scenario had heppened to us, we hope someone would have used their calling card. Go ahead and film, we’ll provide support.” And it became a hit for the Marines. And everyone remembers that scene.

    • Apparently the US Army ultimately changed its views. The first of Michael Bay’s Transformers movies has a scene early on in which a squad of frantic US troops uses a cell phone belonging to one of the Arab locals to call in air support – complete with an aggrieved Indian operator who’s upset because the guy making the call doesn’t have time to listen to any of the special offers provided by the operator’s company.

  25. I didn’t realize you had a LiveJournal. I’d add you, but I doubt you’ll be using it any more.

  26. Sarah, if you’re not already familiar with it, can I recommend Steven Den Beste’s “USS Clueless” site? Steven stopped writing there a few years ago, but while it was active, it was amazing. Your excellent piece reminded me immediately of one of his: Non-European Country – http://www.denbeste.nu/cd_log_entries/2003/11/Non-Europeancountry.shtml

    Excerpt:

    “You’re French if you’re born in France, of French parents. You’re English if you’re born to English parents (and Welsh if your parents were Welsh). But you’re American if you think you’re American, and are willing to give up what you used to be in order to be one of us. That’s all it takes. But that’s a lot, because ‘thinking you’re American’ requires you to comprehend that idea we all share. But even the French can do it, and a lot of them have.”

  27. Because of Heinlein, I got an engineering degree and became an officer in the USAF (I wanted to go to space). Never made it in to space sadly, mainly because we abandoned it, but I did get to play with some cool toys and fly jets.

    And yes, people in this country really have no idea how different the mentality is in the rest of the world. They can not grasp the ‘bowing to authority’ or in some areas the ‘life is cheap’ mentalities.

  28. Most of the time I don’t, because there’s a crab bucket thing over there, you know, the crabs pull the others down, i.e. if I – say – grabbed a bottle of cleaner to save a sanitation problem, I’d get asked “Who do you think you are?” And my parents live there. (If they didn’t, and didn’t have to live with the consequences of my actions, I’d probably do it anyway.)

    How dare you interfere with their chosen course…..

      • Loved that movie. So much good stuff in it. Roger L. Simon thought that it should have won the Oscar for Best Picture.

        • Quoth several friends:
          “The best movie I’ve seen in years happened to be a CGI super hero movie.”

          Mrs. Incredible’s expression when she suspects the infidelity–!!! (*sound of heart cracking*)

          • I have actually read, with my own eyes, a review that said it was wonderful as long as Mr. Incredible was stuck in his job impeding insurance claims, but it shouldn’t have let him escape and accomplish anything.

            • During my High School years we lived in Cleveland Heights, and the Critic in the Cleveland Plain Dealer was a very special kind of dependable; he was always wrong. If he hated a film, it was worth a look (that’s how I came to see the 1970’s Three Musketeers). If he raved about a film, it was sure to be tiresome at best, and very likely loathsome (he raved about The Warriors, a cult film the popularity of which I have never understood … and I like cheapass violence films as a rule).

              The only time he deviated from his pattern was with Star Wars. And on that he was a week late. He gave it the most listless rave review I think I have ever read. The rumor around town was that he had turned in a ostentatiously negative review and his editor had given him The Word; something along the lines of “This film is a hit. People are lining up around the block to see it. You can’t hurt it, but if you stand against it, it can hurt you. Now, I don’t give a damn about your career, but if you pan this fpm you make the paper look stupid. Don’t”

              • Thus the principle that the most important thing about any critic is knowing his (her) taste and biases. Siskel and Ebert were successful because they were consistent and their reviews conveyed enough info to enable the reader to decode the “seasoning.”

                This is important to remember when you write reviews on Amazon or in any other venue: make your biases sufficiently clear that anybody reading your review will have a chance to understand why you liked or disliked the item reviewed.

  29. Speaking of rules and how they worked, it used to be (unfortuneately not so much anymore) that there was a really major difference between the Army and the Navy as far as rules went.

    In the Army, if the rules didn’t say you could do it, you couldn’t. In the Navy, if the rules didn’t say you couldn’t do it, you could.

    Major difference in mindset between those two sets of rulemaking. From what I’ve read above, it seems the average American prefers the second way, the average European the first.

  30. ….

    This probably deserves it’s own post. Preferably by Larry, because holy crap what is this. And there is NO WAY it will stay to just as a ‘campus/university only’ law.

    http://legalinsurrection.com/2014/08/video-guide-to-new-california-affirmative-consent-law/

    I have no idea how to give it to Larry though. o_o

    • People who imagines such regulations are practicable, tolerable and enforceable should probably just f – – – themselves.

    • SUMMON THE LEVIATHAN CORREIA!!!

      FREE THE KRAKEN LARRY!!!

      BRING FORTH THE SJW TO BE SACRIFICED THAT HIS HINGER MAY BE APPEASED!

        • Hey, when you’re caught up in religious ecstasy spelling (and penmanship) don’t count!
          You DO believe in the Larry Kraken don’t you Shadowdancer? You’re not a heretic are you?

          “Mine eyes have seen the coming of larry kraken. He has trampled out the coffeehouse where the glittery hoo-haas were hid”

          Gotta love that old time religion

          • *grin* I prefer the mental image of a giant Larry making like Godzilla and shooting laser beams from his eyes (and he’d probably find it amusing). Kaiju-Correia sounds awesome, don’t you think?

            • Kaiju Correia-sama rises from the ocean’s Stygian depths summoned forth from his slumbers by a million GHHs crying out in stupidity.
              An unremarked watcher views this apocalyptic spectacle and whispers “The Jedi are really going to feel this one”
              The lasers of the kraken’s monstrous gaze lay waste to the hallowed halls of the SJWs as the shrill shrieking of Code Pink goes wholly unnoticed. His only goal, that Temple of Folly that is the State House in Sacramento.

              That’s all I got, maybe we could get Jason Cordova to write it.

    • Hollywood gave us the Cherry 2000 movie nightclub scene, and California is turning it into reality.

  31. Josh A. Kruschke

    “We are willing to go ahead and try it, and see how it plays.”

    Thanks Sarah! I needed to hear this.

    But, Sometimes ( OK, Josh let’s be honest ‘most of the’ time.) I do feel like we are loosing that spark that makes us Americans. That independance of spirit.

    So, if I’m being a downer, say, “Josh you’re being a downer!”

    Sarah, Thanks.

    🙂

    P.S. Sorry for the Long posts, but was trying to avoid the your only addressing the points you want to and ignoring the ones hurt your position.

    Won’t happen again.

  32. I couldn’t refrain from commenting. Exceptionally well written!

  33. Great stuff. My own “becoming an American” started with Ayn Rand, courtesy a college girlfriend who lent me “Atlas Shrugged”. Heinlein was next, and L. Neil Smith of course.
    On the bit about the bad guys trying to mess up America: that’s why it is so important to keep (or add to) your guns and ammo.

  34. Pingback: Quote of the Day – Sarah Hoyt Edition | Xcuz Me