Grocers of Despair – a blast from the past post from December 2012

*This is oddly topical for science fiction — and not just for science fiction, interestingly.  Oh, and those who are subscribers, I put out subscriber chow in the protected space.  Second chapter of To The Dragons.*

This is a post about the qualities and the effects of despair.  There are several reasons for it, the proximate one being that we are fed a lot of it – purposely? – by our art and entertainment complex.

I’m well acquainted with despair.  You could say it is an old friend of mine, except that despair is no one’s friend.

Despair accounted for how long it took me to break into publishing, to an extent, by creating long gaps of silence in my production, and several attempts at doing something else – anything else – with my life.  My basement is littered with the beginnings of would-be-money-making projects I tried to engage in to avoid what seemed to be a hopeless attempt at getting published.  Despair has accounted for how few of my books have been out the last two years.  Those of you who have followed my blog through that time know I hit the nadir of despair about a year ago, when it looked like despite all my best efforts to keep running on ice, my career in writing was over.

I was wrong.  I was wrong for several reasons, one of them being that Darkship Thieves – my heart’s darling at that point – did well for itself, and continues to do surprisingly well.  I was wrong, because indie possibilities opened.  I was wrong because I lost it – truly lost it – and started telling it like it is, and weirdly, surprisingly the “me” I’d suppressed so long, in order to have a career that would allow me to feed the kids, allowed me to find readers who helped my career.  Go figure.

But the point is not that I was wrong.  The point is that I know from despair and what’s more, I understand why despair is considered a sin.  This is not always the case, and I’ve always had an issue with, say, sloth, since – being active by nature – I can’t imagine a worst punishment than being forced to do nothing.

Despair is a sin because it eats you, from the inside out.  Despair comes with “I will never” and “what is the use” and “the game is rigged, so why bother?”  Despair comes with beating your head against a glass window that shouldn’t be there, and yet is.  Despair, in its ultimate form has blighted more artistic careers, destroyed more souls (and by soul here, I don’t require you believe in an immortal entity.  I refer only to that which makes your mind and spirit yours) caused more suicides than anything else.

Despair is that feeling you get when you’ve run the maze, you’ve done your best, and you come to the end and there’s nothing but a blank wall.

It is a powerful emotion, at least for those of us who have faced it.  It is dramatic, if you end a story with it, after a good run and a lot of hope.  It stays in the mind.

It is in fact a primary color, and it’s small wonder beginning writers use it, just like beginning artists – say kindergarten – use primary colors.

And it is a sin.  It is a sin against your future self.  It is a sin against humanity.  It is a sin against possibility.  Remember that.  We’ll come back to it.

However, the fact that it is an easily identifiable tint and primary doesn’t explain why there is so much of it larded around science fiction and fantasy, which SHOULD be the literature of possibility.  Sure a lot of this can be explained by the youth of writers (in truth or in practice,) the youth of editors (most of the ones working with newby writers are just out of college) and a certain fashionable air of the times, when it is considered smart and hip to dress all in black and moan about the evils of the future.  (Kind of like it was fashionable for Goethe’s Werner.  Never mind.  Hip, I tell you.  futuristic even.)

But wait, there’s more.  There’s what despair serves to do.  People who despair don’t try to change things and/or undermine the establishment.  People who despair, at the very least go away and shut up, even if they don’t deliberately kill themselves.

There is a striking scene in one of Leo Frankowki’s books, in which a Mongol Lord gets peasants to line up so he can behead them.  And when the hero comes along and kills him, the peasants turn on the hero because “now you’ve gone and angered them.”  And when the hero asks what can be worse than being killed, they have nothing, except “they will make it worse.”  THAT’s despair.  Despair makes you embrace death willingly rather than rebel, no matter how bad things get.

While I don’t believe in a grand conspiracy among publishing outlets and entertainment venues, I do believe in a tribal culture in what is – after all – when it comes to influential people maybe a few thousand people: a small village.  Tribal cultures are easy to influence.  I’m not saying anyone is, I’m saying it’s possible – and we’ve found that type of influence behind a lot of the recent “trends.”

So, before you give in to despair, ask yourself qui bono?  (And if you’re not into asking yourself Latin questions and are now wondering if you should have been paying more attention to Dancing With The Stars and supermarket tabloids, let me dispel your confusion.  That means “Whom does this profit?”)

Dave Freer talks about sheep and goats.  Most of humanity are sheep.  Some of us are goats.  The problem of any establishment, any power, anyone who abrogates influence over human hearts and minds is to control the goats and to make the sheep do more than stand in place and bah.  The more brutally repressive regimes eliminate the goats, often physically, and leave only the sheep.  The result is all the innovation and elan of… North Korea.

The best regimes manage to allow the goats their head, keeping them only off the things that will hurt other people.  They usually result in the highest production – both artistic and material.

In between there are several types of goat-herding schemes, including tolerating them within certain bounds and shipping them abroad to claim new pastures for the sheep.  The British Empire used both strategies with great success since the Elizabethan age.  They eventually stopped using it and resorted to despair.  The British Empire didn’t survive much longer.

So ask yourself what about the current establishment makes it resort to despair?  It’s surely the mark of a philosophical system that has nothing else to offer its goats.  It’s the mark of a philosophical system that is doomed, and wants to keep things quiet “just a little longer.”

And it has been THE culture in publishing since the seventies.  The embrace of declining numbers, declining revenues, declining living standards for writers – the willing embrace of decline – the meek submission to the people who are killing us, because you wouldn’t want to get them angry.  They could really make it unpleasant then.

We’ve talked about how going Indie is a mark of impatience… or something – at least according to the establishment.  We’re supposed to stay still, and let despair permeate us, and slowly tighten around us like a band, allowing us to make only the approved noises, which increase the cultural despair and get everyone accustomed to decline and darkness, and no way out.  When publishers say the mid-list should die, they expect us to curl up and do so.  How quaint.

Despair is a sin.  And, to quote Jerry Pournelle, it might not even reflect the truth.  Look at Heinlein, a smart man and most of us would say an optimist, who chose not to have children, avowedly (yes, I’m aware there might have been other reasons) because “the world was such a mess.”  And yet, if he’d had a child in his first marriage, that child would now be older than my dad, who has had a full life, and not an unpleasant one.

Do not take Mr. Heinlein’s example in that particular aspect of his life.  Take his example in his writing.  Despair is a sin.  And there is usually another way: a way through, a way around.  Find the way.  Pull the Mongol horseman down.  If you kill enough of them, they’ll go away.  Refuse to write despair.  Refuse to believe despair.  Look doom and gloom in the eye and ask them “you and what army?”  Yes, it might all come to the same in the end, but at least you’ll have fought and died like a human being and not a bah lamb.

Tell the Grocers of Despair you have better things to do.  There is a fight going on, and you’d rather fight.  And then go on and discover new pastures.  The poor sheep need somewhere to graze on.  And you’ll have more freedom to breathe.  And everyone wins in the end.

Remember qui bono?  If they sell you despair it’s because they’re afraid of what you can do if you don’t give up.  Don’t give up.  Nothing will piss the establishment more than your continued – and cheerful – battling on.  Do it.  Let THEM despair.

98 thoughts on “Grocers of Despair – a blast from the past post from December 2012

  1. It has always been my belief that if a nation constantly exports their goats eventually such will become very thin on the ground. And what you wind up with is a whole passel of sheep with too few goats to protect them. And when the wolves come baying at the gates the natural reaction of sheep is to sacrifice a few of their number to keep the rest safe. This practice has one very positive result, you get a lot more wolves.
    Personally I’ve always favored the sheepdog analogy instead of goats. Been cautiously suggesting to friends and family that this coming week would be a good time to avoid as much as possible large gatherings of people. Put that trip to the mall or shopping center off for a bit, be on higher than normal alert at work or school. Interestingly, several acquaintances remarked to me apropos of nothing in particular that they were thinking Thursday would be a great time to just go hang out at the local mall. My response in each case is “good luck, take care not to print, I’d hate to lose a buddy to friendly fire.”

    1. I’m of the opposite opinion–if you’re a sheepdog this IS the time to be hanging on the periphery of the flock watching very, very carefully.

      And of course staying away from backpacks and crock pots laying around.

      Carry and extra magazine, some spare tourniquets and IBDs and be ready.

  2. as I told the Brit friend lamenting “The {Stuff} is coming here” (talking about the beheadings in Merry Old), I told him “But here, we can shoot back.”

    1. cat posted ….
      He was pointing out the disparity in Birth rates, especially in the EU and UK.
      Putin saw this as a major issue not long ago. Ironically, the rates are affected by the policies of those relying on the disrepair, and may bring about the loss of that which they are trying to control.

          1. I thought she was Portuguese, poor lady. Running an “Italian” restaurant the way the Greeks used to in border North Carolina. The Athens used to be the Italian American when I was little.

            1. One of the best pizza places in my home town (G&D in Columbia MO) is run by a Greek family.

              1. Come to Rolla and hit Alex’s sometime. Same extended family, but they’re better than Arris’s in Jeff. Never been to G&D in Columbia, though.

            2. Almost all my in-laws are American-born Chinese from the west coast. (Since I have just two sisters and Dad was an only child, that accounts for just about all my relatives.)

              When my brother-in-law was working on his Psychology Masters at the U of Chicago in the late 70s, he claimed that the best chinese restaurants in the region were all run by Greeks.

              I think it’s changed since then (and having just moved to rural Minnesota, I guess we’ll find out), but that was the report from back then.

                    1. Oh… I’d thought it was “The worst restaurants are run by economies.” A rejection of Marxism, obviously.

      1. I heard that if Scotland bolts, the conservatives take over England and Wales.

        Which means we should start encouraging an independence movement for California.

  3. I think that on Thursday, we’ll stay home … and potter in the garden, if it has become cool enough. I’d rather avoid crowds and large venues – and my daughter gets antsy if there are too many people in too crowded a space.

    But a good time to put the finishing touches on my own next book – and start taking advance orders. I’ve got websites that need updating, the next book to get started on. Who said anything about despair?

      1. Unfortunately, I’ll be in the air…. and remembering that those seat cushions are both flotation devices and excellent improvised shields, complete with straps for carrying.

    1. Apropos of nothing, I’m almost finished with the Adelsverein (and I still can’t pronounce that) trilogy. Quite enjoyable in a bittersweet kind of way. It’s very effectively eaten most of my ostensibly free time this past week and weekend:-P.

      1. Ay-dels-verr-ine.
        Yes. I was in two minds about that title, knowing that it might be a barrier, pronunciation-wise. But nothing suggested as an alternative quite hit the spot . Or had the search-ratings.

        Glad you are enjoying it, otherwise – and yes, it was intended to be bitter-sweet….

  4. This reminds me of a quote from Admiral Thomas Hayward, in 1979…when the Cold War was at it’s height, and the West was clearly losing.

    “I’m sick and tired about hearing about ‘the threat’. Let US be ‘the threat’! I want to hear about how Admiral Gorshkov is losing sleep because of our threat to his navy.”

    The U.S. Navy took this to heart…and a decade later, the Soviet Union shattered.

  5. What a perfect example you used, the Mongols. An entity that used dread as a weapon, and the perception people in their path had of them was more terrible than the truth {though the truth was bad enough}.

    The Mongol Horde? How about only 40,000 of them entering Europe, half into Poland, the other half into Hungary. Apparently Rome was the eventual target, and the northern attack was just supposed to keep the German and Polish chivalry from assisting their southern neighbors.

    Without a long winded history diatribe, they succeeded in smashing the chivalry gathered in Poland to meet them, but were unable to dent the infantry {suffering more casualties than they liked in the process}.

    The eventually won the battle of Mohi {in Hungary}, but not before losing a horsebow versus crossbow engagement trying to cross a bridge. They scouted Austria, but never really attacked. Why not?

    They chased the king of Hungary out of the country and into the Balkans next to the Adriatic.

    They held the lowlands.

    But the surviving nobles whose homes were in the highlands, and other leaders began fighting back. The Resistance started.

    It’s very likely if a couple of miracles hadn’t happened, that Subotai would have eventually tightened up the discipline of his forces, and they would have eventually crushed the resistance. But the winter that year was colder than usual, and the khan back in Mongolia kicked the bucket. That gave the Mongols the excuse they needed to leave the hornets nest they kicked over and go play somewhere else.

    The Church was in a state of panic, that was sure. But the Hungarians of the period didn’t give in. They may not have had an organized resistance, but they did resist. Changing the plans of the Mongols.

    They don’t get the credit they should. Historically the Mongols left because the khan died. Oddly enough, Hungary was the only place they left. They stayed in Russia and made it a home of a large branch of the Mongol army, becoming the Golden Horde.

    1. It’s been a while since I studied them, but wasn’t Subotai just kind of wandering into Europe on his own? Without explicit directions to do so from the khan? The Mongols a fairly loose-knit confederation in some ways, and certain leaders, Subotai among them, had a habit of wandering off wherever their interest took them and showing back up a while (often a few years) later and presenting the khan with a new addition to his empire that he had never asked or directed to be conquered. This is how Korea became part of the empire, I’m not even sure the khan was aware of its existence until he was told, “oh, by the way, we conquered this little peninsula over here, it’s called Korea, and here is their tribute. You really should think about sending some overseers out that direction to govern it.”

      This is my long winded way of saying, yes you are basically correct. But one reason that they left Hungary and didn’t come back is because they really had no reasons other than personal ones to be their in the first place. And without orders to prevail, they went home to set their house in order when the khan died (and didn’t leave anybody behind to oversee since they hadn’t subdued resistance, and leaving a token force would have been ill-advised) and found a nut that was easier to crack when the time came to go a campaigning again. If the khan had gathered his leaders and told them, “I want Rome, go get it for me, I’ll be along to take personal control in a year or two, if you haven’t succeeded.” The results would have been different, because they would have went about it much more seriously.

      If Rome would have publicly executed and disfigured the khan’s diplomats, like Persia did, the tactics used in Europe would have been very different.

      1. The wonderful thing {one of them anyway} is that there are quite often several different interpretations to them. Every so often a new “fact” will turn up, and another historian will add to the published works with their version, quite often contradicting much of what has been written before. Never mind that there are quite often contradicting histories written at the time, depending on who wrote it.

        Did you know that the English and the Holy Roman Empire’s view of Richard’s stay as a guest of the emperor’s differ a great deal?

        My take on Subotai’s expedition into Hungary is that it was not only deliberate, but was directed by the emperor. But I’ve read five different versions of this invasion, and they all contradict one another.

        I got involved in studying this period deeply because of my love of making medieval swords, and the study of medieval swordsmanship. You can’t really understand some of this without at least a minor understanding of the cultures.

        But as an aspiring writer, I love the contradictions, because it means one can pick and choose for a work of fiction, and still arguably be somewhat historical.

        Back to Subotai, there are so many contradictory writings now on this period, I don’t look at any of what is written as fact. There’s a lot of room to argue, and a good discussion over a decent beverage can be quite entertaining between open minded and fun loving individuals.

        1. I think it’s safe to say that if the Mongols could stay and dominate they would.

          And the Mongols really were the bad guys. Even to the point where Christians in the Crusader States wound up supporting the Muslims against them.

          1. Which was really screwed up, since the Mongols were the originators of Freedom of Religion. But then it wasn’t the ‘Christians’ that were supporting the Muslims so much as the ‘Governments’. It wasn’t that they were concerned about the Mongols forcing them to abandon their faith, because they wouldn’t (in fact if I recall correctly one of the Khans converted to Christianity). It wasn’t their faith they were worried about losing, it was their lives and their countries. It was really a secular decision to support the Muslim States against the Mongols.

            1. They might have been fine with freedom of religion providing the tribute was being paid but they were real SOBs nevertheless.

              Worse than the Muslims even (who would also let you keep your religion if tribute was being paid)

              1. My understanding (and like I said it has been several years since I studied them, so my memory could be in error) they did not charge tribute according to your religion. They charged tribute to conquered territories, but that tribute was charged irregardless of the citizens religion, unlike the Muslims who charged jizya to non-muslims.

                Not saying they weren’t SOBs, just that the decisions made to support the Muslim states against them were made on secular grounds, not religious ones.

                1. My understanding (and like I said it has been several years since I studied them, so my memory could be in error) they did not charge tribute according to your religion. They charged tribute to conquered territories, but that tribute was charged irregardless of the citizens religion,

                  That’s my understanding too, but my view is tribute to a conqueror is tribute regardless.

                  Not saying they weren’t SOBs, just that the decisions made to support the Muslim states against them were made on secular grounds, not religious ones.

                  I agree with you.

              2. Somewhere I have a list of laws (sort of a Bill of Rights type) made by Genghis Khan, and I know it discussed the freedom of those in the Mongol Empire to practice whatever religion they chose. But I can’t find it right now.

  6. Sarah,

    I don’t know if you saw this story, but as one who has regularly slept in the car between jobs…

    What struck me was that even though things were rough she still set aside things that she was working toward and looking forward too. I’m not a big fan of Michael Jackson – I liked some of his songs – but the fact that she was setting aside time for a memorial for him that was important to her says a lot about her optimism and her refusal to despair.

  7. A small contribution info-bit for positive news: note that ebola survival rates are rising steadily with access to IVs for dehydration, standard meds to reduce fevers,plus oxygen. (same that is used for treatment for advanced malaria) The 90% mortality has been for sufferers who got zero medical inputs. zero. The rural clinics of the initial outbreaks had nothing. zip. most of those ebola patients were only served water and meals, which they vomited up, so they got dehydrated and weak fast. As patients arrive at better clinics and hospitals, more IVs and oyxgen as treatment is being given and more and more are surviving on just the basics. Meantime, at last, vaccines are being fast-tracked. At this rate, there will be vaccines for ebola before there is a vaccine for malaria, which kills one million people a year, far more than all the known ebola outbreaks put together. If ebola patients can get through the worst of it, stressed less with the help of IVs, and oxygen, they will recover without any other help, but malaria requires more treatment to kill the parasite. So, ebola isn’t as inevitable as it’s been made out to be, malaria cure/vaccine/eradiction still needs more investment and panic is dangerous to the whole world.

    1. Terrible thing malaria. if only there were some way for us to kill off the primary vector, mosquitoes.
      Well, at least the victims can die content with the knowledge that we’ve saved quite a few song birds.

      1. Thank you . It is only necessary to break the life cycle of the parasite. America had malaria, but public spraying, public health laws to clean up property, drain stagnant water, covering sewage drains, install window and door screens quickly reduced the number of people bitten by infected mosquitoes, so fewer parasites were moved around. Denied opportunities to reproduce inside humans and the parasites died off. In American, the anopheles mosquitoes that carry still bite, but they don’t have the parasite. just the itchy now. So, it’s not complicated. Read how it was done in Panama Canal – no high tech, just good practices. Can be done. The missionaries with Ebola, to read the media it sounded like there’s just two somehow foolish doctors working in west africa, but there are MANY! and they’re pushing it back steadily, more now with more supplies coming in and the FDA shamed into freeing the drug companies to do what they were founded to do.

        1. EPA’s working hard to get that stagnant water left alone. I really wonder at times whether the folks running that agency have any concept of ‘unanticipated consequences’ when it comes to their edicts, or do they just figure “Hey, it sounds like a good idea according to current ecological theories postulated by people who have no real world experience – what could possibly go wrong?”

        1. I don’t think Carson actually ordered any genocides. She’s probably more a Marx-figure. Her writings convinced *others* to commit actions that resulted in lots of unnecessary deaths.

          1. Last I heard, her body count is around a hundred million, so either way she deserves a seat close to the fire.

  8. The thing is, they try to sell you on despair because if YOU despair THEY can continue to tell themselves that they are successful, when in fact the majority of them are work shy bums.

    A lot of the Left’s attitudes come from academia, and the thing to remember os that academics are not necessarily scholars. And the ones that aren’t HATE having to maintain any kind of professional standards. They went into academia in the expectation that they wouldn’t have to, you know, WORK.

    My Father ran into this all the time. HE was a scholar, and acutely aware that scholars re a luxury good so roar as society is concerned. He felt that the very least he (and his fellows) owed society was to publish. And this message was hugely unpopular. They didn’t gang up on him, but only because they were scared to death of him.

  9. I was suicidally depressed in my late teens after my mother’s death. I thought that I’d never have a life. Here I am in my early 50’s, married a dozen years to the love of my life, co-owner of a nice little house and living well enough despite attacks of ill health. The secret of course is to keep on going no matter what, even if it includes a change of direction.

    Sloth is a sin because more would get done people overcome their aversion to work b y just starting. You can always fix things later. Just need to start and keep on going. Sloth and Gluttony are the two major sins I commit.

  10. I spent about 15 of the last 20 years basically giving up on writing because of all the discouragement I got from ‘friends’. Finally, a couple of years ago I started again, and now I am re-doing all the lessons learned from before.
    Discouragement is a thief.

  11. Cui bono?

    Patrick Nielsen Hayden bono.

    What are the twin fountainheads of the Social Justice Warriors trying to destroy SF today? Patrick and Teresa’s “Making Light” blog, and, edited by . . . Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

    With these two pulpits, Patrick has completely neutered science fiction’s professional organization. He has encouraged it to choose SJWs as leaders and alienate the “old white men” who happen to be the biggest sellers in the genre.

    How useful is a professional organization which doesn’t include any of the genre’s biggest names? Not very useful if you’re a member, but very useful indeed if you’re an editor who wants to make sure the authors don’t get too demanding.

    It’s also useful if you are worried about a competing publisher which has some of the best sellers in the field. You can damn them as racists, get your SJW pals to condemn Toni Weiskopf as a right-wing extremist. And all while keeping Patrick’s hands clean.

    I am completely convinced that all of the political fights within SF today are the result of a conscious effort by Patrick and his wife Teresa to keep SF writers disorganized, absorbed in infighting, and obedient to him.

    1. Well, I don’t know about it being conscious.

      What I do know is that it’s addictive to run a clique and be the cool kids, but very few people get addicted to trying to be smofs or bnfs who are selfless. It’s work to nurture an entire community of very different people with very different dreams and goals.

          1. Had a friend who prided himself on being a Big Name Fan, AND a Secret Master of Fandom.

            Rolled my eyes so much around him I had to have them refinished… 😉

    2. Well, then he’s missed the elephant in the room of publishing and is, to steal an expression over at the PG’s blog the Bagdad Bob of publishing. Or perhaps the Obama.

      1. Has he really missed it? Isn’t dismissing and demonizing indy authors part of the strategy? Validation only can come from the Holy Editors; everyone else (like Sarah Hoyt) is a crazy right-winger unworthy of serious attention.

        1. Um… I am an hybrid writer, but yes, he’s missed it. Or he’s missed what it means.
          Look the whole point is I know people in indie who can buy and sell traditional authors, and they couldn’t care less what organized fandom thinks. THEY ARE NOT SELLING TO THEM but to the general public who left years ago.
          So, keeping hold of fandom for PNH would be like Bagdad Bob insisting there are no Americans at the airport.
          It’s entirely possible that’s what’s happening. It’s hard for people to REALLY think outside the box, particularly at a certain age. BUT.

  12. Sarah A. Hoyt, time traveling psychic.

    How can you be rummaging around in my brain for a post — in 2012?!

    Time travel, and psychic powers.

    Don’t give up. Nothing will piss the establishment more than your continued – and cheerful – battling on. Do it. Let THEM despair.

    I’ll just put this on the board behind the computer screen, yes?

  13. “Don’t give up. Nothing will piss the establishment more than your continued – and cheerful – battling on. Do it. Let THEM despair.”

    Them: Why won’t you die?
    Us: Not until I bite your legs off …

    In other words: Never give up; never surrender. They think that’s said in irony …

    I had a patch of despair that came just this close to killing myself in the couple of years after a devastating family tragedy, but obviously didn’t do it. Someone asked later what kept me from it and my answer was that I didn’t want to give the bastard (the devil) the satisfaction …

    1. Yep – I am surviving a chronic illness and I won’t let them kill my hubby. If he dies after we work hard and do our best, I will not accept it of course. But I will feel better than to lie down and let them kill us without treatment. I just heard of a guy that they decided not to treat anymore. The person telling me the story didn’t know if he had a DNR. But the nurses are only wiping his lips with water once a day. He has lived like that for three days. I wasn’t complimentary after hearing the story.

  14. Oh yea – I am using everything in my power to make my husband feel useful and loved. Despair is so easy when you have a serious illness. I am tired…

  15. I will not be cowed. I’m going to be at a public event this Thursday, and frankly, I’m more likely to be killed on the drive to the airport than on the flight or at the event.

    I won’t let them make me fear.

    And besides, if they did somehow manage to kill me, I know I have you lot out there to avenge me.

    (Well, I hope you will. Pretty please?) 🙂

    1. And besides, if they did somehow manage to kill me, I know I have you lot out there to avenge me.

      I think it’s fair to say redress would be sought.

  16. Not to be picky — or, more accurately, to be picky — the spelling is “cui bono”. And that’s important! “qui” and “cui” are both real Latin, but “cui” is in the dative case, so it means “to whom” or “for whom” instead of just “who”.

  17. That’s what “Qui Bono” means?

    I thought it was “Who’s the lead singer of U2 that used to pal around with W and Jesse Helms?”


  18. One reason the young and over highly-educated are prone to despair is that they have been trained to perceive complexity but not how to resolve it. Thus they are prone to paralysis in the face of life, which is nothing if not complex, so they whinge about new-aunts and deride as cowboys those (like Reagan and George W. Bush) who grasp the solution Alexander employed for the Gordian Knot.

    1. Speaking as one of those young’uns, I’d have to say yes to your first sentence, but would also like to point out that when all you have is a sword, every problem looks like a rope. (Grin)

    2. There’s also more than a bit of after filling out all the right forms and checking all the boxes instead of a nice middle class paycheck their primary work qualifications are the ability to smile nice and ask “may I take your order please”.

    3. One reason those types positively HATE engineers. We are trained to break down complex problems into more digestible parts and get started on a solution. You pick a point and get started hacking away at it. (Just like that obscene mess known as my garage!)

      1. Well, that and you get a decent (as in pay and benefits) job right out of college doing something vaguely related to what you studied.

        With my BFA I got a job working Tech Support at an ISP. Never worked in the graphic design world again.

        1. *laughs* Rhys went from 3D graphics animation study to enlisting in the army and becoming an armorer / mechanical engineer. The recruitment officer said he’d be bored as an infantryman and they weren’t looking to turn him into a corpse as he was a new dad. He thinks this was a good thing, since he plays and works with guns and firearms more often than the infantry does, and apparently out-shoots most of them (the range instructor likes to yell at infantry that ‘the RAEME guy outshoots you!’ to tell them to shape up), since he got what he always calls his ‘cross rifles’ patch. I believe he goes to requalify for it next year.

        2. You’re lucky. According to a friend of mine who got a graphic art degree and made a go of it, it’s a horrible field to be in. Low paid and abusive. She went back to school recently and got an accounting degree.

          1. One of the Eagle Scouts in our troop got a graphic arts degree, even though I and his dad had advised him to go get a computer science or EE degree (he loved tinkering with electronics). After working in a low paid job, he is now back to school full time going for a BSEE.

      1. The fact it is valued with a $ in front of the value instead of a cent* sign after it is cause for despair.

        *I find it despairing that keyboards no longer come with a cent symbol, apparently because the manufacturers of keyboards realize that due to inflation that is no longer common symbol.

  19. …at the Grocery of Despair, is there an albino greeter?

    “Welcome to the Grocery of Despaiiir! Don’t even thin-*cough*hack*wheeze*-Don’t even think about escaping.”

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