Refuse the Despair

*I am alive.  Long story, but I’ve only been awake a little more than an hour.  And last night I was too out of it to write a post.*

Yesterday I was looking at pictures of friends in France. They’re about my age and their kids are the age of mine.

Now, most of my pictures on line (though not all) are of conventions and fan events, because my facebook page is a professional page, not a personal one. (I would start a personal one, but most of my personal life is just my kids, and if they’re looking on FB for pictures, they’re ill. Now this might change as the kids move out/get a life/live in other states, but right now there’s no point.)

So, my pictures are different. But we also have family pictures. We used to do a thing every year where we took pictures of events throughout the year, and the things the kids participated in, then narrated it, put it together, and sent a CD to the grandparents.

We don’t do that anymore – mostly time issues – but we do still take pictures, now on the – increasingly rare – occasions when the four of us do something fun together, like go to a special event at a museum or take an overnight trip somewhere. (The last one I can remember, absent cons) is the Van Gogh exhibit in Denver which we took in last year on Black Friday.)

The thing is, in all these pictures, my kids are smiling, or goofing off, or even giving each other the stink eye.

Our family pictures involve stuff like mini-golfing together and posing around fiberglass animals. Or pretending to be swept out with the monumental dust-pan and broom outside the Denver Art Museum. Or Marshall looking very sophisticated (but not bored) in his leather blazer, looking at pictures.

Yesterday I read this at Ace of Spades, so I was primed to think how much people, consciously, try to make their lives look like “they should”.

And then I looked at pictures from France. I think all of us have watched at least one French movie, right?

Well, pictures from France, even pictures of people my kids’ age all transmit that “the world is a dingy place and we’re all hard eyed realists with incredibly complex sex lives” look of French movies.

Is it true?

Oh, heck no, no more than street cars mentioned by Ace are romantic or beautiful or anything like that. This is just the image sold in the movies. Most people in France, except for the issues brought on by socialism (break up of families, high unemployment, pervasive bureaucracy) live the same small, happy lives as anyone else. You know, someone to love, something to do, something to eat. Lives just comfortable enough they don’t struggle for more.

But how much you enjoy how you live and what you perceive as “the good life” can definitely be influenced by what you see. And that in turn changes what you do and what you see around you, and therefore your mood.

It’s probably not a coincidence that France has one of the highest rates in the world for consumption of anti-depressives.

For some reason – and it has to do with taking a really weird turn at the romantics and then getting stuck with more socialist realism than should be possible outside the Soviet union – they internalized the idea that high art is vaguely boring and definitely pessimistic (here I think it’s a great deal too bad that most of their “art” is protected from competition with foreign art by various stupid laws, and is subsidized with stipends allocated by bureaucrats, for whom, of course, life is both boring and pessimistic, with shades of sadism.)

And so, even though they might have been able to get around the blight of socialism, in time, and even though they live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, they’ve internalized self-hatred, unhappiness as a sort of chic accoutrement, and the meaninglessness of their own quotidian life. (Which, even without socialism would make their family lives a mess and taking daily pleasure in things difficult.)

So, what does this have to do with anything other than beating the French? (Admittedly always a good pastime, particularly since I’m writing stuff in Liberte seacity.)

Simple: a lot of our high culture is French. It is sometimes French by way of Germany, but it is French. Most of our glitterati love French culture and by that I don’t mean the good stuff like what Mr. Du Toit appreciates (I have some favorite French writers, myself.) No, most of them admire the more recent stuff, not even the French cinema, but the pictures they get from friends who go on vacation there. They admire the air of being unutterably bored and depressed and the way everyone there seems to accept the world is on a handbasket ride to h*ll. It’s so… sophisticated!

In their minds, most of our glitterati are hanging out in cafes, smoking thin little cigarettes and sneering at the world.

I mean, most of them aren’t even looking at France but at American movies that show France, but they think it’s all so unutterably romantic and so much better than our cowboy can-do attitude, and they want to think life means nothing and all is lost so they can be just like the French.

In fact, the insanity in SF/F now reminds me a lot of the French science fiction of the seventies. (It was excusable. It was after all the seventies.) Stranger and stranger sexual identities, tearing down of all taboos, life is a bitch. Humans are evil. And then you die. Check.

Look, yesterday a friend sent me a picture of what can only be called a cave-world in China. The first comment was “Now that it’s discovered, humans will destroy it.” And it was followed by upteen comments agreeing with this.

Now, the caves will almost surely be despoiled, because it’s a communist regime. (duh.) But not because it’s “humanity” and even if it were, why the heck SHOULDN’T they be despoiled? (Other than scientific investigation, natch.) I mean, what is their intrinsic value outside of humanity studying/admiring them? And yep, a dozen of the comments were “Humans should just die off, they ruin everything.” Uh… everything for whom? If there are not humans, who appreciates/gives aesthetic value to anything? If an elephant paints in the forest and no human sees it, did it really happen?

These people clearly did not believe in this – no, seriously – For one, they were all still alive. No one can go to life hating themselves that much and survive. But it was the pose to strike to appear intelligent, in comments, in novels, in drawings, in…

To be hopeful and happy is to be low brow. To show yourself intelligent you need to despair in the approved Socialist-realist way.

The problem with this is that this sort of thing seeps into the culture by forming the younger people. It forms their attitudes and their beliefs. They are too unsophisticated to know the adults don’t really mean it, so they mean it a little more.

After a few generations you’re stuck with people so depressed, they will accept overlords, even barbaric overlords who stone women and gays, if it will save them from their ennui and their depressive view of the world.

And therein lies the rub. The helplessness of modern “realism” is a gateway drug to being sheep in thrall of totalitarians.

You’re so tired of despair and sadness, and yet you know the world is terrible and you want to atone for any happiness you still feel. So you give in to petty tyrants like the people in SFWA who change the rules and tell you you’re bad because you used the word they just forbid. Or whatever. And you abase yourself and feel dirty and miserable.

Until a really big tyrant, like, oh, Mao or Stalin or the despicable Che, come along and free you from your guilt by more than likely killing you, and if not making you wish they had.

It doesn’t have to be like that. On comments, on books, on drawings, refuse to follow the blinkered “chic unhappiness” of the elites. Laugh at their poses of sadness and thoughtfulness. They’re like little kids trying to look serious so we’ll think they’re grown up.

Mock, contradict, ignore, replace.

In the end we win, they lose.

It has to be so, if humanity is to survive.

Refuse the easy rewards of the merchants of despair. Build your life on hard work and can-do.

322 responses to “Refuse the Despair

  1. Well said, and of all the countries I visit for work, including the middle east the one I like the LEAST is France… Their attitudes toward not just Americans but all non-French (except muslims) suck! The simultaneous superiority and woe is me just doesn’t fly…

    • I visited most of Europe when stationed in Germany. The one country that I have negative desire to visit again is France. Sort of like the areas in the US I have negative desire to visit again are bastions of the Elite. Should it become impossible for me to ever enter Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, or any of the others again I’ll never notice. Make it impossible for me to revisit Podunk or the tiny nation state of Andorra and I will be saddened.

    • Well I like France and many of the French I meet are great. But there are certainly exceptions – Parisians for example. I’d still be living there (ro at least visiting more frequently) if they could have a cluefull leader instead of the moronic Hollande.

      It helps to make your friends amongst the self-employed or those working for small businesses. All of whom work around the idiotic government regulations and taxes and spend far too much of their time finding ways around the bureaucrats.

      • Note, I still have French friends. What struck me is that their lives are not bleak, etc, but their pictures, their public “presentation” ape it.

        • So they’re sort of culturally Emo?

        • I grew up in France, from age 4 to age 14. I wasn’t old enough to notice what you’re talking about with regard to pictures and public “presentation”, but I did notice what French houses look like. Specifically, most French people seem to care a lot more about the looks of the inside of their house, and not nearly as much about the outside. I’m thinking about one family in particular right now: their house was a dingy grey stone building on the outside (that looked like all the other dingy grey stone buildings on that street — the buildings may have been several hundred years old), but on the inside it was nicely decorated and furnished.

          I wouldn’t have attributed it to a deliberate choice of “I want to look bleak and sophisticated”, though. I would have said that their attitude was “I almost never see the outside of my home, so why should I spend time and money on making it look nice, when that time and money could have been spent on the inside of my home which I see every day?”

          • There’s a lot of possible motives. For instance, they might think it was showing off. Depending on how traumatized the culture was by their revolution, the culture might really run on lying low.

            Or the historical significance of the street. they might not have been allowed to change it

            • Apparently in areas that were under the Soviets in Austria between ’45-55, people let the outside of the houses run down so they’d be less likely to get visited by, ahem, The Committee of Concerned Non-citizens for the Proper Distribution of Excess Bourgeois Property. The habit persisted into the 1970s in areas especially close to the Iron Curtain.

            • That may explain part of it.. I don’t know about the french, but German friends of mine, and my wife who lived there, have repeatedly told me of the lengths people will go to to obscure where their nice cars are parker if they have one, etc., to avoid the appearance of showing off.

          • When we lived in Italy, we observed something similar. One of the locals told (as I understood it with my rudimentary Italian language skills) us that property taxes were based upon the exterior appearance. As a result, people put more money into making the inside look beautiful.

        • And I think that attitude has infested a lot of the popular culture of the elites in Europe as well.

          I started watching, on the recommendation of a friend (from England), a series called “The Fall.” It had Gillian Anderson in it, who still looks pretty good, all told.

          OK, so it’s the story of the hunt of a serial killer in Belfast. It damn near personifies the attitudes you discuss. Everyone is hard and grimy. No redeeming characters, and not just “House of Cards” where it’s about politicians and those who crave and play in the halls of power.

          I should have known when there was a comment about it almost makes you feel sympathetic for the killer.

          The first “victim” has one of the very first lines uttered on screen – about a tribe in/near tibet that is matriarchal “and has not even the words for war”. And no marriage, no jealousy, etc.

          This tribe is mentioned later by the ballbusting lead investigator, who has a separate speech about “man f*cks woman, subject, object” vs the opposite. The only other competent sympathetic people, including the ME, other than the victims, are women.

          Every character has severe moral failings. Simply the men more so. Multiple adulteries, violations of ethics, ad nauseum. Feminist points are trotted out – admittedly more by example and thus with more subtlety than SVU.

          All of it in a drab palette.

          Yes, it was praised for being deep, nuanced, and sophisticated.

          I found something else to do while my wife finished the current episodes.

      • My Mother, the former high school history teacher, told me that the history of France is the history of what Paris decided to do and how the rest of the country dealt with the fallout. Add to that the basic observation that what the Elites love about France has more to do with Paris between the Wars than it does with any other part of the country now, and you’ve explained a hell of a lot. It really is a pity we didn’t let that despicable Austrian Corporal have his way and burn Paris. It might have loosened their sphincters.

        It’s possible to visit the major cities that the elite infest, and enjoy them. Whole sheaths of Washington DC, Boston, New York, etc are inhabited by the good patient people who serve the Elite drinks and walk their dogs, and their neighborhoods and hangouts are frequently charming. I doubt it’s possible to LIVE in those cities without giving in to apoplexy. Or a pardonable desire to run amok with a chainsaw in a Starbucks.

        I suppose it’s possible that the Elite imagine themselves as cafe infesting, Gauloises smoking Parisians, although I think if the consciously REALIZED they were fantasizing about tobacco I think they’d choke a little….

        • Really, forget Schicklgruber. The English should have let Blucher loose on the place, or, failing that, Baron Hausman should have done a better job of renovating the place.
          If the history of France is because of Paris, that city has a lot to answer for.

          • I met an Englishwoman once, who said (and imagine this in a terribly upper crust voice) that she didn’t like the Germans (she was old enough to have taken shelter in the underground during WWII), and didn’t like the Japanese, and didn’t like Indians – at least not en masse, “and as for the French, they cut off all their best heads in the revolution.”

          • William O. B'Livion

            If we’d not given the US GIs Condoms they might have improved the gene pool a little, but then we couldn’t treat syphilis back then…

        • Or a pardonable desire to run amok with a chainsaw in a Starbucks.

          Terrible idea.

          Chainsaws are horribly ineffective– they can maim one person quite well, of course, but the horror movie standard of slicing and dicing is ridiculous. I think it’s the loud noise. One of those far East run-around-with-a-knife flip-outs would do far more damage.

          • If you’re not worried about inflicting too many serious injuries, the terror level is deliciously effective, plus you can inflict more property damage with the chainsaw, if you’re not worried about having to replace the chain when you’re done.

            • this is more what I was looking for. I don’t actually want to kill that many of the little idiots; their blood probably carried whatever pathogens cause their abundant stupidity. I was more thinking of the “look at ’em dump a LOAD” pleasure.

            • I would actually expect you to throw the chain before doing very much property damage if you were waving it around and wielding it erratically like is shown in the movies.

              On the other hand they can do significant property damage quite quickly if wielded properly, as a former coworker who used one to install a new door when remodeling* can attest to.

              *marked out where he wanted the door, fired up the chainsaw and proceeded to cut it out of the wall, since he was cutting in nice straight lines without trying to cut any curves or otherwise bind the chain, it worked perfectly. Sliced neatly through everything in the way… including wiring and plumbing.

              • OK, that is a real facepalm-inducing story, right there.

              • One of my earliest memories is my Dad pulling that stunt. There was no wiring in that part of the wall, and the new addition was for the bathroom. (the village had just gotten city water) (incorporated village, not boonie village)

                • CombatMissionary

                  My dad decided he wanted to install a sliding front window in a camper so as to facilitate children crawling from the cab of the truck into said camper. Unfortunately, the sliding window he HAD was larger than the non-sliding window EXTANT. Out came the chainsaw, and cut like butter through the aluminum siding, etc.

                  Redneck engineering. 😀

              • Usually I give plumbers all the credit for that sort of thing (“What idiot put these floor joists right where I need to run my pipe?” followed by “ggrrawwrr” of saber-saw on wood).

          • William O. B'Livion

            http://www.stihlusa.com/products/chain-saws/professional-saws/ms880/

            Fifty-Nine (59) inch guide bar. Designed to cut down old-growth redwoods and turn them into decks to throw parties on.

            Get it spun up and swing it and you’re not just taking out the denizens, you’re getting the bar, the barista, and if you’ve got the right chain on it you’ll pretty much destroy the espresso machine.

            • I’ve run a 72″ bar before, they are a real pain in the, ahem, you REALLY have to pay attention, they are constantly in the way. Besides being unwieldy that long a bar seriously screws up the balance of the saw, and robs a lot of power, besides it becoming proportionally easier to throw the chain the longer the bar is. There are times that you need and/or want a long bar, but I don’t thinking waving one around in the coffee shop would be one of them. You would probably hook the cappuccino machine accidentally and throw the chain; then you would have a noisy and unwieldy club, more likely than not that was tied to the cappuccino machine.

          • My good friend Marcel Ledbetter can attest to their effectiveness at hasty redecoration.

    • Okay, I’m curious: how many of these experiences were more than 100 km from Paris? I’ve had bad experiences in Paris, and lovely experiences in southern France and Alsace.

      • Yup. That’s my experience too. Paris & environs suck, the rest of France has nice inhabitants – especially when you go off the beaten tourist trails. In fact if you asked many (most?) French people they’d agree too. As I think I’ve mentioned before here, our neighbors in France were much happier to have a foreign couple move in than a Parisian one (which was what they thought we were initially …)

      • Supporting the “Big cities are the issue” thing:
        Went to a “french cafe” in Japan, where the guy had learned to cook in France– it was awesome because he’d learned country cooking.

        Real food, real awesome. 😀

        • If you ever head over to Izumo in Western Japan a) try and make sure I’m there, and b) if not, go to Trente Sept bistro run by a Japanese couple who did precisely the same. Delicious food. But as with many places in Japan, you have to pay cash.

          • I watched a Japanese drama a few years ago called “Little Chef” About a daughter of a Japanese woman French Restaurant Manager. She became a chef in a Japanese French restaurant. Cute story.

      • Paris – a few good museums (the Cluney, the northern European side of the Louvre) and historic sites infested with a big city. Dordogne – neat part. Alsace and Lorraine – nice. Brittany and Normandy – quite nice. Basically I like the Languedoc and the Norman and Celtic bits and don’t care for the Languedoi.

      • Re: Paris and the rest of France, time for one of my favorite jokes.

        In an old French translation of the Bible, it was discovered that the translator had inserted an extra couple of verses into the story of how God created the world. The inserted verses went like this:

        And God looked at all that he had made, and he saw that it was good. But there was a little something missing. And so God created France. And God looked at all that he had made, and he saw that it was very good. But now it was a little too good. And so God created Paris.

        • Interesting. Mine had something about God creating the angels… and then perfecting the design by creating the French….

          • So Lucifer was the first Parisian? No wonder he became the Devil.

          • I know another variant of that joke, that has “and so God created the French” as the punchline. But having lived ten years in France, far away from Paris, I thought that version was completely unfair. So I much prefer the one with Paris as the balancing act.

  2. I think some of this sneaks up on us, and those disposed as we are, because we trend introspective.

    Whatever the new critique (barring the outrageous) I tend to pause and reflect, exercise some self-examination to determine if the accuser might have a point. Momentum is lost in the argument against those who never assess themselves beyond the signaling.

    ‘Course the flipside is they’ve been tossing out the same tired accusations for so long it’s no longer necessary to check (heh), we already know it’s B.S.

    Makes ot easier to win, in the end.

    • Whatever the new critique (barring the outrageous) I tend to pause and reflect, exercise some self-examination to determine if the accuser might have a point. Momentum is lost in the argument against those who never assess themselves beyond the signaling.

      /agree

      Although what some of the accusations that we find non-outrageous about ourselves is amazing.

      • *wry grin*

        The things I’m willing to consider myself guilty of…

        If I was actually guilty of them, I wouldn’t like myself very much.

        • Or at least under reasonable suspicion– I’ve burnt a lot of time trying to figure out if something I’ve been accused of is a reasonable interpretation from the facts available.

          If I was actually guilty of them, I wouldn’t like myself very much.

          Isn’t that why we try to figure out if we’re guilty or not?

          • *considers. snorts. laughs*

            Well — yeah. But usually the folks accusing me/mine aren’t the sort to consider their behavior, much less change it. So I guess I don’t consciously think about/express my intent to change my faults when I find ’em. Just — cultural camouflage.

            • But usually the folks accusing me/mine aren’t the sort to consider their behavior, much less change it.

              Ain’t that the ever-lovin’ truth.

              *shrug* Never much understood the desire to announce one’s flaws to a general audience; the folks who are decent won’t want to embarrass you and will be embarrassed on your behalf by over-sharing without good cause, and the ones that deeply desire an extra way to do you wrong will just abuse it.

              Maybe they do the hypocrisy accusation so often because they know that we’ll actually check– and maybe because they feel the prick of it themselves?

              • …maybe because they feel the prick of it themselves?

                In my darker moments I very much doubt it. But I aim for optimism so I’m all for hoping!

                As to knowing we’ll actually check: Yeah, this I do believe. It’s wielded as a weapon far to often to be otherwise.

                • Oh, I’m convinced that they feel it quite strongly, and accuse others of it in order to try to deflect the feelings onto someone else.

                  • Professor Badness

                    Agreed. I thinks it’s why claims of racism seem so disingenuous. The same people who scream “privilege” would never walk through Compton after dark.
                    Or during the day for that matter.

                    • Eh, if you look at their definition of privilege, they manifest it most strongly. They never have to listen to anyone else or see things they don’t like.

                    • William O. B'Livion

                      Pfff.

                      Me, I don’t walk in L.A. because it means *more time spent in LA*. The last time I was there was to get my truck off the dock, and as soon as I could get a new battery, oil cap and a full tank of diesel I was heading east as fast as was safe.

  3. Not an expert, but I have travelled in Europe on occasion, and was always struck by an almost palpable pervasive sense of history could be felt everywhere, and not in a good way. It’s as though there was a terrible weight dragging everyone back, keeping them from leaping into the future with joy and enthusiasm.
    As for cowboy, feh! Europeans use it as a derogatory term, though always with that slight hint of envy. I take it as a complement. While the actual period most think of as cowboy was really only from 1865 to 1898, the American cowboy attitude was born with our revolution and still exists very much today. It is a can do, take charge, we can solve this problem no matter what. In a very real sense all the cowboys (and cowgirls bless them) left the old country to their everlasting loss, and came here to our everlasting benefit.
    As for the French, Pfui. May their chains rest lightly upon them as they enter into the new caliphate. Pity about all those vineyards burned and plowed under, but at least the California wine country does better anyway.

    • Based on reports from multiple sources (not just A YEAR IN PROVENCE) the French peasant is armed, truculent, and less than willing to go along with idiocies like Income Tax or Sharia. I think the ignorant, self-important camel-pestering twit who tries to burn those grape vines will be very, very sorry.

      Briefly.

      • There will be no caliphate in France. There may be pogroms against the Arab/African immigrants though, and possibly a civil war when the immigrants try to fight back.

        I expect Mme Le Pen to be elected the next president of France to the shock of the bien pensants in their ivory towers and I imagine she’ll halt any government driven dhimmitude

        • If the French were like Americans, I would agree with you about the next election. But my perception of most Europeans is that even the most Libertarian of them have the gut reaction of “It’s the Government’s Job” when things go in the crapper.

          That is what’s behind a lot of the Left’s passion for things European; a deep desire to see tugged forelocks, which is likelier in Europe than in America. In America what you’re likely to see when the self-appointed Gentry pass, is some redneck reaching for his gun.

          • But my perception of most Europeans is that even the most Libertarian of them have the gut reaction of “It’s the Government’s Job” when things go in the crapper.

            An advantage to that mindset: when it gets far enough, they get really pissed about the gov’t not doing its job.

            It doesn’t do a lot of good for turning things around American style, but it’s really not healthy for whatever gov’t is failing to do it.

          • If the French were like Americans, I would agree with you about the next election. But my perception of most Europeans is that even the most Libertarian of them have the gut reaction of “It’s the Government’s Job” when things go in the crapper.

            Yes and no. The local government perhaps. And that’s in large part because pretty much every French commune has some variant of the Chicago machine keeping the Maire in his post and the machine does it’s best to keep the populace happy (or at least the part that votes for it). But the local government does actually deliver stuff and do things and is local enough that it can respond quickly. Some communes are better than others and the villages are definitely better than the larger cities (in general , E&OE, YMMV …). But that’s the level at which the pogroms will occur. Each town has it’s block or banlieue or area where the majority of immigrants live and most of the time it’s pretty easy to limit access to/from.

            The national government is mostly seen as a source of plunder and idiotic regulations to be avoided, evaded or grudgingly accepted when forced. And of course the national government is the tax man which it is every Frenchman’s birthright to defraud in every way possible.

          • William O. B'Livion

            In America what you’re likely to see when the self-appointed Gentry pass, is some redneck reaching for his gun.

            HEY!

            I am *NOT* a Redneck.

        • I agree. My reading of the future history of Europe is that, instead of bitching about being allowed to come in, the Muslim immigrants will within a matter of a decade or two be screaming to be let out. A generation is growing to political age who has felt the lash of Muslim scorn and violence personally, whether upon themselves or upon their loved ones — and they will be out for blood. As in, they’ll want to kill the Muslims rather than simply deport them.

      • William O. B'Livion

        The proto-french countryside was where the invasion was stopped the last time. Might as well let them take another shot at it.

    • Oregon grows wine, NY does wine. and Chile as well as Australia.

      • Texas has vineyards, and damned good ones. If we have to dismount to protect them we’ll be seriously pissed off.

        • CombatMissionary

          I see no reason to dismount in order to mount a defense. Unless, you know, you’re getting ready to fire an RPG or a sniper rifle. 😀

          • I’m too old for all that marching and charging shit…Ghille suit, a thermos, a little patience…

            • CombatMissionary

              What do they say? “If you’re in a fair fight, you’ve already messed up.”?

              I was having a discussion on reloading 7.62x54R with a buddy of mine once, and he was saying that the Finns had a jolly time cross-country skiing into an area, sniping Russians or Germans or whoever it was, then skiing back out again. Got them really bogged down.

              Mosin Nagant: takes down big game, either four-legged OR two. Although you may want to invest in a decelerator if you don’t want a dislocated shoulder after expending your first magazine.

              • William O. B'Livion

                These days we’ve got better rounds for that sort of thing (practical biathlon). If I can get some extra scratch next year I’m going to have my Savage .308 re-barreled to a .260 Remington. Much longer legs with a (slightly) shorter barrel.

                • CombatMissionary

                  Yeah. If only my wallet were thicker!

                  Talking to the same friend, I speculated about how fun it would be to learn machining and create a .45 rifle round, then build a revolving rifle to shoot it with. JUST for the sake of, “What in the crap is THAT thing?!”

                  • You have to see what Ringo has invented for killing zombies in Black Tide Rising!

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Is Black Tide Rising that a video game my wife won’t let me spend money on and which would distract me from my already highly distracted life, or is it a book series that I need to go find from a used bookseller on Amazon that my wife will tolerate while I binge-read it over a weekend? 😀

                    • It’s a book series. 4 books:
                      1. Under A Graveyard Sky
                      2 To Sail a Darkling Sea
                      3. Islands of Hope and Rage
                      4. Strands of Sorrow
                      1-3 are available in hardcover.
                      1 & 2 are also available in paperback.
                      Strands of Sorrow will be published Jan. 2015.

                    • It is a book series, and the final one is coming out in January, so you are hitting it at about the right time and won’t have to wait long for the last book to be published.

                    • I bought the e-ARC 6 weeks ago.

                    • CombatMissionary

                      [FURIOUSLY SCRIBBLES AGAIN]
                      “Dear… Santa… This… year… I… have… been… a… very… good… Sergeant…”

                  • Uberti Cattleman Carbine; Taurus Judge Carbine, I know there were/are others…

                    • Beat me to it, while I was searching for a link. 😦

                    • both still suffer from the major design flaw of revolving rifles.

                    • Draven, if it was good enough for Lee Van Clief…

                    • … who was shooting 1/4 load or less blank rounds, hence why revolving rifles were never a big commercial success. Blow-by on a revolving rifle is both painful and unhealthy.

                    • CombatMissionary

                      I need to go through and clean up the Martini Henry Enfields I brought back from Afghanistan. They fire a .577-.450, come to think of it. But it’s a single-shot, rolling block. I’d love to see what a .45 ballistically redesigned along the lines of a 7.62 would do to engine blocks. You know, just for the fun of it. 😀

                    • (To Draven) I thought revolving rifles died before cartridges, and just never got picked back up. I can see blow-by being a problem, but it doesn’t compare to a chain-fire in a percussion rifle.

                    • it was largely because slow-by and the pretty bad burns you could get. Was watching a Forgotten Weapons a couple weeks ago about a revolving rifle…

                    • Combat Missionary,
                      You have any spare Martinis that you want to get rid of?

                    • CombatMissionary

                      It probably won’t surprise you that I get people asking if I want to part with the Martinis a LOT. 😀

                      When I came back, I brought back half a dozen that I picked up. For some reason, the Infantry guys I was embedded with weren’t interested in them, and they confiscated them on raids, so I got four for free. Actually, the Infantry guys just tossed them in a closet at the TOC. Apparently the 1SG had been telling his Soldiers to clean out that closet and they hadn’t gotten to it, what with, you know, some lame excuse about running combat operations and whatnot. So I was walking to my hooch from the chow hall and I heard the 1SG use some ‘colorful metaphors’ while flinging the contents of said closet into the FOB courtyard. I waited for him to run inside for another armful and I just grabbed an armload of rifles. 😀

                      The fact that the 1SG didn’t keep the rifles for himself clearly shows he was unfit to be in the Army, the Infantry, OR the NCO Corps. 😀

                      I shipped home two for friends since I was the first one back to Bagram. I did a lot of Googling, because gun shop owners don’t believe in ‘real’ Martinis coming out of the Hindu Kush. I checked for all the tooling marks, the right crest on the action, backwards letters, etc. Five were genuine. The knock-off was one that belonged to a friend, and had been cut down into a carbine anyway.
                      The nicest one I gave to my dad. The other three I still need to clean up, and they all need at least one or two spare parts.

                      My one regret is that I was a moron. I got my hands on a Brun (Bren?) machine gun from the British Army, still packed in cosmoline. If I’d had any brains, I’d have gifted it to the Colonel. He’d have found a legal way to get it home and put it in a historical display at HQ. Instead, I traded it to the guys at the motor pool. for some badly needed supplies under the table. And somehow, there was a bolt-action rifle with the logo of the Colombian Army stamped on the breech. But it was too new for me to bring home.

                      Ah, to be young and dumb and have access to off-the-books crew-served weapons again!

                    • Actually the Taurus addresses that with a “blast deflector” at the cylinder gap…

                    • But how can it see with the blast shield lowered?

                      (sorry, first thing to come to mind)

                  • Like this?
                    http://www.alloutdoor.com/2013/08/28/rossi-circuit-judge-45colt-410-carbine/

                    I have the 22lr/22 mag version (changeable cylinders) which comes with a synthetic thumbhole stock, which I converted to a takedown rifle, that fits nicely in my backpack, unfortunately it isn’t offered in a stainless version. The 44 mag version and I believe the 45/410 ones do come in a stainless option.

                    Personally I think the 45/410 is fairly useless, except as a snake gun, but it is popular in both pistol and rifle.

                    • Taurus should make a carbine of the .454 Raging Judge…

                    • CombatMissionary

                      [BEGINS WRITING FURIOUSLY] “Dear… Santa…”

                      One of the things that appeals to me about that is the simplicity and reliability of the revolver design, not to mention that since it’s not semi-auto, it’s not federally tracked. If there were a magnum charge, and if the bullet were shaped along the lines of a 7.62, and if the barrel were longer, it might fare very well against large, heavy vehicles. It was an idea for that novel rattling around in my brain. As a medium-range sniper weapon, it could be useful in certain fictional circumstances.

                    • Eamon J. Cole

                      See blow-by concerns elsewhere. Stripping the skin from your off hand/arm makes the second shot much less pleasant…

                      For fictional redesigns check out the Winchester 1895. Box magazine (I’d redesign for a swappable magazine) which allows the use of Spitzer bullets, lever action so can be very rapid for a semi-auto, JMB design, designed for smokeless and large mil calibers.

                      Just a thought.

                    • CombatMissionary

                      one of the first things I bought after Basic was a .44 mag lever gun. The only advantage the semi-autos have on it is reloading speed.

                      Now that I remember, the idea of a revolving carbine was for the story in the head. Reason for a revolving rifle? It’s not tracked by feds, and you don’t have to disturb your position to chamber the next round like you do with a lever gun or a bolt-action. Plus, like I said, “What the crap is THAT?”

                    • ‘tracked by the feds’? not unless your gun shop is within a hundred miles of the southern border….

                    • CombatMissionary

                      If you’re that close to the border, your gun shop is probably patronized by the feds to supply the hermanitos of their leadership on the other side of the Rio Grande. 🙂

                    • my point is, other than being sold in those locations, semi-auto rifle sales aren’t ‘tracked’ by the Feds any more than any other rifle sale.

                    • CombatMissionary

                      What I meant is, manufacturers have to deal with federal licensing, although since I’m not a manufacturer of anything as of yet, I may be in possession of faulty information. Sorry I wasn’t clear there.

                    • revolving rifles go through the same hoops as any other rifle unless they fire non- cartridge blackpowder (and thus aren’t considered ‘firearms’)

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Good to know. Now it’s back to contacting the Jesuits about getting a Holy Hand Grenade…

                    • Wouldn’t the Vatican’s Swiss Guard be a better group to ask about a Holy Hand Grenade? They are after all, the Vatican’s troops?

                    • CombatMissionary
                    • Eamon J. Cole

                      I do like me some levers. Probably too much John Wayne as a boy…

                    • CombatMissionary

                      Not to mention Chuck Connors.

                    • Eamon J. Cole

                      Oh, yeah.

                    • A lot of the blow by concerns can be alleviated by making sure the gun is well timed (I saw serious blow-by out of a revolver that was out of time enough to shave bits of lead, as in eroding the cylinder levels of serious) and tightening up the fit, so that the cylinder actually lightly touches the barrel. My Taurus Ultralite was tightened up so that you actually feel the cylinder rub lightly on the barrel when you swing it in. Not only did it totally eliminate blow-by, but it drastically improves accuracy. Do NOT hold a flashlight past the end of a four inch barrel with your off hand, while firing full power 44 mag loads, however.

                    • That’s too tight for a revolver. .002 is considered the minimum. Mine is a bit long atm, tho 😦

                  • William O. B'Livion

                    http://www.wildwestgunsak.com/the-alaskan-copilot-rifle.php

                    Comes in .457 magnum. And there’s the ever, well, not popular but useful 45-70.

                    .44 Mag is, or should be a carbine round (If I ever win the lottery I’d get one of those in .44 mag).

                    • The take-down is cool, and assuming they lengthen the ejection port the 457 WW magnum could be nice (you can fire standard 45/70 in it) but I had some 500 grain 45/70 loads that you had to fire to eject out of my guide gun, because crimping in the crimp groove made the overall length too long. Adding a tenth of an inch to the cartridge would exacerbate this problem exponentially.

                      Also DO NOT have it ported! I repeat DO NOT have it ported! If the porting is anything like Marlin did (which is actually done to reduce muzzle flip, not recoil) it does absolutely nothing to noticeably reduce felt recoil, which is minor anyways, at least until you move up clear past what are considered “safe for lever gun loads” and are moving into Ruger No. 1 load territory.

                  • Kind of a variation of the Nock Gun?

                    Wikki:

                    The Nock gun was a seven-barrelled flintlock smoothbore firearm used by the Royal Navy Royal during the early stages of the Napoleonic Wars. It is a type of volley gun volley adapted for ship-to-ship fighting, but was limited in its use because of the powerful recoil and eventually discontinued.

                • Is your Savage a bolt gun or the model 99 lever rifle? If it is a bolt gun Savages are remarkably easy to change the barrel on yourself. Shaw makes complete kits with not only the barrel but the wrench for the barrel nut and headspace gauges for less than some premium brand barrels. Their barrels get somewhat mixed reviews and if I was building a serious long range or competition rifle I would probably go with a Hart or Shilen or the like. But I put a Shaw 22-250 on my old 110L myself and it shoots sub 1/2 moa groups; so I’m perfectly happy with the barrel. As soon as I replace the trigger with one that I can adjust down to an acceptable pull weight, I expect those groups to tighten up even farther.

                  • William O. B'Livion

                    It’s a 10FCM. About 4 months after I bought it I fell and badly tore up one of my shoulders, and a 6.5 pound .308 *HURT*. I’ve spent a lot of time rehabbing that, but a bolt gun in .308 just doesn’t appeal any more–I don’t live in CA, and my PTR-91, while stout, isn’t nearly as bad.

              • Once shot off 300 rounds of 40mm from an M-203 in two hours. Pretty much redefined my idea of recoil…

              • So what loads did you come up with for the Mosin? I asked because I have no idea at all my wife is surprising me with one for Christmas for a property gun (feral hogs, Democrats, whatever…)

                • “feral hogs, Democrats”

                  How do you tell the difference? excepts that feral hogs are less dangerous.

                • CombatMissionary

                  I’m still building up my capabilities. I have a four-station turret press now, plus the dies. I’m hoping to get a lead casting kit and the bullet dies for Christmas. I checked with my local metal recycling center. They told me that they’ll give me old wheel weights for about forty cents a pound, and they have about four TONS of them in the back. So once I get that done, I think we’ll be putting together some experimental loads and doing some purely academic trials on the local coyote population. The four-legged coyotes, that is. Uncle Sam hasn’t gotten back to me yet on my suggestion for an open-season, no-limit declaration for the two-legged ones. 😀

                  • The sparkly wheel weights have something (I forget what, right now) in them that causes them to cast poorly. The good thing is they also melt at much higher temps, so if you toss one in your pot with the good stuff by accident, it will be the one that hasn’t melted yet when all the rest are molten, so it is unlikely you will ruin a batch that way.

                    Otherwise standard wheel weights are just about the perfect alloy for cast hunting bullets, hard enough to resist leading barrels (I don’t use gas checks on my 45/70 or pistol bullets I cast out of wheel weights) but soft enough to mushroom nicely, without fragmenting.

      • Washington and Idaho, too. (With areas that make “ice wine,” too– you let the grapes freeze before harvest. The bottles that I’ve seen are at most a quarter of the size of a small wine bottle, so I’m guessing it’s quite strong.)

      • Every little hillside property with spare unshaded acreage in the higher-rent areas has wine grapes planted on them out here. It’s become a relatively standard landscaping choice for the Google/Facebook/whatever.com newly rich when setting up their mountain retreat.

        The preference seems to be either rows of wine grapes, intended to be bartered with the local winemakers for a run of private bottling, or Llamas, apparently for fleece.

    • Sad thing right now is that the “cowboy” attitude is under attack in our culture like never before.

      The “free and the brave” are in many cases now becoming the “safe and secure”, though they’re neither safe or secure.

      Liberty doesn’t mean as much to a lot of the young today as it did when I was a youth.

      When people like Elizabeth Warren are considered someone to look up to you know you’re in trouble………

      • Oh, relax a little. There have ALWAYS been politicians like Warren; mountebanks, pocket-pickers, and swine. The beauty of the American system, which the Left is dismantling as fast as ever they can, is that it was designed to work fairly well with such vermin in many posts, because they simply weren’t that important as individuals, and (despite appearances at times) they cooperate badly.

    • The French angst when a blind taste test was done and Californian wine won out over French was delicious.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Well, IIRC French Wine comes from American (Californian) grapes. A few years back the French lost their grapes to a plague and they were replaced with shoots from California.

        • Another piece of wine trivia: Australian wines are more consistently good (usually without being spectacular) because the wine makers source grapes from multiple vineyards where the French ones tend to be a single source – so a bad year for a French wine can be really awful where a good year can be magnificent. (We will not go into the implications of me typing French whine… and having to fix that little typo).

        • I remember a story about that, but I think it was just the root stock that was American. After all, most American grapes were wild and not particularly good.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Well, the first California wine grapes appears to have come from Spain via Mexico.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_wine

            • Yes, wine grapes came from Europe. However, the Americas are infested with phylloxera, an insect that bores into the roots. North American grapes have evolved defenses and can tolerate the damage — European grapes are either killed or weakened to the point they’re useless for growing grapes.

              Thankfully, no one took American grapes to Europe until AFTER grafting was a thing, so as far as I know, every productive grape vine in the world has American rootstock. Wine grapes have American rootstock and European scion.

        • Oh, that’s lovely– I know that several French wine making families came over to the US, with their grapes, because the rules in France were ruining the wine; I bet that’s the source for at least some of the replacements.

    • Cowboy– great American cowboy! Big high boots, Stetson hat and a leather vest…. Cowboy, great American cowboy! With a horse and a rope and a gun he tamed the west. 😀

  4. C4C

  5. I found this a very pleasant and thoughtful use of 1.5 hours of my Sunday. An interview with Peter Thiel (paypal cofounder etc.) about his book Zero to One.

    [audio src="http://bowyerbriefing.com/upload/thiel1.mp3" /]

    Warning: it reminded me a bit of listening to William F Buckley Jr. 🙂

  6. “When people tell me they are happy, my ass begins to twitch.” Luc (Kevin Kline) in French Kiss

    It’s an American caricature but I think an accurate one.

  7. Communist China is now trying to ban puns.

    Of course some tool writes to the Guardian saying that she’s actually worried that her kids won’t learn Chinese correctly if they are exposed to puns, but that it should be regulated by taxes and fines.

    Anyway, just one more example of the Chinese government having a hard time dealing with Chinese linguistic creativity and rebellion: languages that aren’t Mandarin, Hong Kong people giving their kids weird names, use of the Latin alphabet to replace characters that aren’t commonly used or are difficult to write….

  8. Sarah ,

    +1, but how we not lose hope?

    “You can’t go around building a better world for people. Only people can build a better world for people. Otherwise it’s just a cage.”

    –Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

    “To put the world in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order; we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

    Confucius

    “The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.”

    -Milton Friedman | Why it isn’t Necessary to “Throw the Bums Out”

    “”The strongest argument for free enterprise is that it prevents anybody from having too much power. Whether that person is a government official, a trade union official, or a business executive. If forces them to put up or shut up. They either have to deliver the goods, produce something that people are willing to pay for, are willing to buy, or else they have to go into a different business.”

    – Milton Friedman | From The Tyranny of Control, an episode of the PBS Free to Choose television series (1980, vol. 2 transcript)

    IMO – We need to focus on spreading the ideals of freedom. We need to focus on teaching those skills that allow us to live freely. We have entirely to many people dependent on the status quo to ever consider vote against it, and until this is changed we will continue on the path that we are on.

    • P.S. If it wasn’t clear I believe the focus should be on replace.

      • Hell, so far as the rest of the world is concerned, I’d happily settle for teaching them that coming to our negative attention was likely to lead to unpleasantness.

      • The Friedman quote particularly hits the spot with the SFWA problem Sarah mentioned. I had decided that all the good SF writers were dying off. I had found Sarah as a fantasy writer… Imagine my joy on discovering she is pretty good at SF too! Additionally, I rely exclusively on book recommendations from here or Instapundit. The SJWs may be taking the SFWA by storm for ‘their’ kind of writing, but I am not buying. In the end money talks and SJWs walk.

        • I hope you’re right. There for several years the only SF or F that I’d read was over twenty years old. There was some current urban fantasy that was readable, but only once.

          Indie has changed things but indie has its own challenges.

          I haven’t taken much time for reading this year. Once I finish the current novel {6th this year}, and the first one actually is up on Amazon, I intend to take two weeks and read some newer stuff. In fact I’ve taken a note or two here. Since I haven’t read a good {new} space opera in 16 years, I’d like to start there.

          • OK, I’m curious. I read a broad swath of Baen writers, most of whom are still active. Not to your taste?

            • No, I wouldn’t say that. I’ve read the Colonel. I liked Ringo for several years, haven’t read anything recently. I was a David Weber fan for years, but haven’t been able to get into his newer stuff.

              I would say that my “day jobs” take up a lot of time {anywhere between fifty and seventy hours a week}, and if you write 400k words a year {where I’m at this year so far}, you don’t have much time for reading {or a social life, or much of a life period}.

              I’ve been following this blog, maybe six months? In that time, I’ve seen several names that I intend to investigate further {like buy their books}. But I need to take the time to get away from the word processors for a couple of weeks {otherwise I tend to try and write}.

              • I’m liking the recent Honorverse, but I can take the non-Baen Weber or leave it (I’ll probably take it; I’m a fast reader, and all my favorite authors write too slow, stopped entirely (I’m looking at YOU Robert Frezza and Barry Hughart) or died a while back.). Has somebody gotten you to try Miller and Lee’s Liaden stuff? Not strictly SF; more good Space Opera combined with good comedy-of-manners.

                • Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll jot it down.

                  • I recommend our own Jerry Lawson. His stories are quite good imo. He has several books up at Amazon. Don’t forget T. L. Knighton’s After the Blast. Bloody Eden was good too, even if he did nuke Dallas.

                    • Thank you

                      I’ve started the official “jot list”, and added Sarah’s name to it too.

                      I’ve taken so little time to read this year, except a classic or two that I thought might hold a lesson for me, that I’ve got a new Harry Dresden here and have had since May, and haven’t read it. I’ve got the third “Hard Magic” by Larry Correia, and haven’t read it yet, and have the latest Patricia Briggs story and haven’t read it. Fortunately, I’m nearly finished with the first draft of the current wip.

                      Thank you

                    • I preferred Corriea’s Monster Hunter books to the Hard Magic ones, and in my opinion the Dead Six ones are the best he has written (or co-written) but anything with Larry’s name on the cover is worth reading. If you are looking for space opera, which it appears you are, besides those mentioned I recommend you check out Sabrina Chase, Alma Boykin, and Elizabeth Moon.

                      Looking at who I just recommended, I must wonder about all the SJWers whining about women being blocked from writing science fiction.

                      Also if you like a little darker Urban Fantasy/Alt-history I’ll recommend Randall Farmers Transform Universe books. They start out dark with just the slightest glimmer of light/hope at the end of the tunnel and gradually work their towards the light as the series progresses. I would classify them as dystopian human wave, so if you are looking for fluffy lightness they probably aren’t it, but they do have the ‘humans struggle to overcome/hope/promise of a brighter future’ meme.

                  • Barry Hughart’s “The Bridge of Birds” has one of the best endings I’ve ever read.

                  • In addition to our own hostess, I second the Correaia, including his Warmachine tie-in, love Freers dog and dragon books, and liked Wrights “Night Lands” book enough that I’ve got more titles of his in my queue.

                    The latest Honorverse has been much the same, and despite his overall non-PC politics re: history, there have been stronger and more blatant “you go grrl” scenes in his more recent books.

                • BTW ; has anybody here had any recent contact with Robert Frezza (SMALL COLONIAL WAR)? Gat an email to him some years back, to say how much i had enjoyed the five books he’d managed to get published, amd in his reply he mentioned he was working on a historical/military novel. Since then, bupkiss.

                  Kinda hoping to hear that he’s well, and that if he isn’t writing it’s for good reasons (happily married, getting rich, the therapy worked, something).

                  • Patrick Chester

                    Haven’t had any contact. I loved those books. I need to dig them out and read them again.

            • Baen is fine! But I had to find them first. Practically all the hard copy before I switched to Kindle, Baen published. Draw one in the Dark is the specific Baen title that I discovered where Sarah and the other talents were hiding out (from the SJWs I guess – although at the time I just figured Baen understood good SF that the other publishers were clueless).

              • Jim Baen had this odd silly notion that he should find out what people wanted to read, get good writers to produce it, then sell it to them. By all appearance he managed to infect Toni and company before he left us. This naturally flies in the face of the noble calling to make people read what’s good for them whether they want to or not, which is the motto of all the major publishers, or so one must believe given their actions of late.

          • Professor Badness

            I hear you. I’m in the same boat. No time to read or write. I only get to read the blog because I can catalog on one side of the screen with the blog open on the other.
            I picked up many of the Baen books on Kindle and inadvertently converted my wife, who never much liked sci-fi before.

            • Literary SF: all the negatives of Literary fiction, none of the pluses.

              • What pluses? All the “Literary Fiction” i’ve ever read that I respected has basically been grandfathered into the lodge, and couldn’t get in on its merits now.

                Y’know, because even the SJWs don’t quite have the guts tomsay that Steinbeck doesn’t meet their standards (though he doesn’t).

        • William O. B'Livion

          Every time you guys write SFWA I see SWFA. As in http://swfa.com/

      • William O. B'Livion

        Somewhere I have a political cartoon from some anarchist rag that where the anarchist was asked “after you get rid of government, what would you replace it with?” and the reply was along the lines of “If you remove a cancer, what do you replace it with”.

        Of course the smart ass response to that is “Generally silicone”.

        • William,

          To answer your question, that is implied in the joke. You don’t replace one broken political system with another.

          When I was talking replace it is replacing the ideology of collectivism with the ideology of freedom. Replacing learned helplessness with learned independence. It’s not enough to want freedom you also have to know how to live freely and self-govern.

          What you replace State Governments with is Self-government. And that is a process.

          I heard you’re an anarcho-capitalist

          😉

          • William O. B'Livion

            I have a great deal of sympathy for the anarcho-capitalist position, and particularly on a bad day. I figure most people *deserve* an anarchist society.

            There are solutions to almost every problem presented by AC, but the two biggest problems are (a) most people are peasants and *WANT* someone in charge and (ii) Roughly 2-3% of the population are sociopaths and more than willing to give that to them good and hard. And since you can’t have complete freedom without the freedom to give up your freedom, you’re fuxored.

            Even if you solve #1, (B) is still going to roger you good and hard. As Blank Frank once said:

            …Warning grunts are
            useful. The ability of a charistmatic speaker to fuck with your head is
            disastrous.

            • Out that 2-3% how many of them do you see as functionally able to lead and get results?

              Out of the other 98-97 % :

              How many of us are incapable of running our own lives?

              How many are just lazy and looking for someone to take care of them?

              How many are or would be willing to take care of themselves, if they how but just don’t know any other way?

              How many know the skills of self-reliance and willing to teach and stand up to those who would enslave others?

              One final question; how is such a minority able to dictate to the majority?

              Because they need others to do for them, we too need others to defend us from them, to take care of us, to protect us. That right there is some seriously circular logic.

              Let’s have a little hope and faith in humanity.

              • William O. B'Livion

                Out that 2-3% how many of them do you see as functionally able to lead and get results?

                If it’s .1 percent you’re still looking at 1 mild problem out of every 1000 people (say 4 or 5 in a small town) and maybe 1 percent of those are a moderate problem–one or two in a medium sized town. These people are basically Gang Leaders.

                And you get people like Jim Jones, Nixon and Clinton.

                Out of the other 98-97 % :

                How many of us are incapable of running our own lives?

                How many are just lazy and looking for someone to take care of them?

                I don’t care, they aren’t the issue. If you can fix the *first* problem (the sociopaths who will gather them unto the tribe for a power base) then they are irrelevant–they will either learn to take care of themselves, or they will die. Their problem.

                In a modern society there are things that *individuals* can do out of malice (back to the sociopath) or out of naive or deliberate ignorance that can do a LOT of damage to the people around them.

                As a personal example, my mother was a nurse–RN from about 1960 to the early 2000s. In the ’60s she would take a tablet of penicillin every night before bed to keep from getting sick.

                Yeah. That didn’t go so good.

                Other examples abound. People *generally* might not be stupid, but they’re often not very smart at all. How many people still, despite decades of research, swear by Vitamin C to keep from getting sick. It doesn’t[1]. Or any one of a hundred other things.

                But other than the issue with penicillin, there’s *lots* of things that folks can do that have anywhere from a small to dramatic impact on the world around them. Folks who are reasonably to *highly* intelligent sometimes get notions in their head that are *horribly* wrong.

                For a ludicrous example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3VKzqAefBVY

                We’ve got all kinds of f*tards pushing all sorts of nonsense, from Colloidal Silver as the Cure For Everything to Acupuncture and Spinal Manipulation cures the flu and cancer.

                Not people who want to do the *wrong* thing necessarily, but people who have wrong notions about what the right thing is, and the ability to ruin 100s or 1000s of lives fairly quickly.

                In a libertarian or minarchist world you have a bit of control over that sort of thing, but if you have a government with harsh limits on it’s power you can keep it from telling you which slot B you put tab A into, and how much salt to put on your chicken.

                It also makes other things that are *possible* under AC easier and more uniform (roads as an example).

                And yes, in a AC world you can just shoot them when you realize what is wrong, but because they *think* they are doing good you can’t prevent them a

                Like I said 2 posts up, I have great sympathies for A-C,

                [1] Fbzrbar jvyy abj cbc hc naq vafvfg gung nyy gubfr fghqvrf ner jebat.

                • William,

                  The flaw in your logic is here:

                  “…but if you have a government with harsh limits on it’s power you can keep it from telling you which slot B you put tab A into, and how much salt to put on your chicken.

                  It also makes other things that are *possible* under AC easier and more uniform (roads as an example).”

                  Who’s enforcing these harsh limits? Government? Do we really expect it to police itself effectively? We, according to you and others aren’t capable enough to govern and defend ourselves from petty thugs at the local level, but some you guys feel we are some how capable enough not to elect those same sociopaths to elected office giving them access to the mighty club of State to bash us over the head with.

                  It’s a matter of scale how many people did Jim Jones have under his thumb, how many lives can be effected with the wave of a pen by our President?

                  You don’t care 89-97% because they not the issue. What they just going to sit around and do nothing? That good portion of these people will have a vested interest in keeping the status quo operating. Do you think that the only reason that people join the military or the Peace Core is because some is forcing them to or do they want to give back.

  9. Anyway, there are happy French people out there. Apparently your conservative French Catholic young people manage to be edgy by being non-ironically happy and optimistic in videos. I’ve seen similar things from conservative French Jewish and various flavors of French Protestant kids.

    And if you image search for family words in French, like “soeur frere” or “maman papa fils”, the images that come up are pretty sunny and happy. They can’t all be Quebecois, so some French people must be openly happy people. (I did really like the Scottish-persona SCA guys from Quebec who camped near us, back in the day. Cheerful folks.)

  10. An excellent example of the need to counter the current literature of despair with something more positive. Thank you.

  11. There are essentially two Frances: Paris, and the rest. (There are actually two Parises: the arrondissements and the banlieus, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

    The Parisian attitude is the one Sarah has delightfully outlined: ennui, merde alors, and the shrug.

    The non-Parisian French attitude is more like… Boston: insular, wary, occasionally rude but can be pleasant if you’ve lived in the place for, oh, fifty years.

    Myself, I have no problem with either, because at the heart of both is: “leave me the f**k alone” which is an attitude near and dear to me (must be my long-ago French genes). It’s strange that they’re socialists, but then a brief history of pre-revolutionary France, and a cursory study of Jacobinism will explain everything.

    French culture, on the other hand, is mostly crap when it pertains to the late 20th century and onwards. There was a decent cinematic wave in the 1920s (Bunuel) and then again in the late 50s and 60s (Truffaut, Godard etc), but then it became depressive and horrible. The current trend in French cinema is so crappy (1e Nuit) that I’ve quit watching them — which is a pity, because the current crop of French actors and actresses is superior to that of any other nation on Earth. Too bad they’re wasted by appearing in French movies.

    And wherever that charlatan Sartre is today, I hope the temperature is set to “BROIL”. [20,000 words of further exposition deleted for reasons of brevity]

    But however bad the French are, they’re better than the Germans.

    • Germans or Prussians?

      It strikes me that, with the exception of England, a lot of the Nations in Europe became the Nations we are used to by amalgamating a variety of peoples and then putting the assholes in charge. Germany used to me The Germanies. Italy used to be a lot of little City States that couldn’t agree on what time of day it was (unless they were discussing breaking for lunch).

      France, I don’t know so much about, though what little I do know seems to indicate that there is a swine magnet of some potency buried under Paris.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Blame Cardinal Richelieu. [Wink]

        Seriously, while France was considered “one Kingdom” much longer than Germany and Italy, like most feudal states the King was only slightly more powerful than the Nobles.

        Under Cardinal Richelieu, the power of the Nobility was lessened and the power of the King increased thus centralizing power in France.

        • Which makes the dynamic in THE THREE MUSKETEERS so odd. Not that I really expected historical realism.

        • Correct, only it was Louis XIV who REALLY consolidated it.

          • I highly recommend de Tocqueville’s _The Old Regime and the Revolution_ because he describes the process of centralization that started under Louis XIII and how the Revolution just accelerated it. You can almost see the line then extending forward into the EU. (Especially if you read the first 2/3 of E. Weber’s _Peasants into Frenchmen, about how Paris unified the cultures of France between 1849-1914).

      • It strikes me that, with the exception of England, a lot of the Nations in Europe became the Nations we are used to by amalgamating a variety of peoples and then putting the assholes in charge.

        … I’d like to argue with you on the England one, but– sourcing my known ancestry to all but Wales in the UK and thus having some personal experience– I find that I have to agree that they didn’t put the most difficult folks in charge, if only because that is an ongoing contest with no winner in sight.

      • If you go back far enough, England was a bunch of little kingdoms, too. Don’t know about the ‘putting assholes in charge,’ but the variety of peoples does apply there.

      • And double on Rousseau.

        • The Other Sean

          When I read Rousseau’s “On the Social Contract” I felt a strange sense of cognitive dissonance. About half seemed reasonable, and reminded me of some of the themes of Locke and of our own Revolution. The rest made felt like ideological fodder for the bloodier, more violent portions of the French Revolution.

          • They added on to rights this idea of positive rights things that you can demand of your government and others. Where as in the American tradition we only look it recognize those things that the government must not do; Negative Rights.

            • The Other Sean

              Yes, the revolting French added problematic “Positive” rights (or at least mad insane policies in pursuit of their “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”, but that’s not so much the problem I have with Rousseau per se. The sanctification of the will of the majority, even at the expense of the minority, is more at the heart of my dislike of portions of “On the Social Contract.” I have even more problems with his conception of the fundamental nature of man – there’s too much of the blasted “noble savage” in his concept.

              • The problem is that “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité” constitute the three-legged stool of social policy: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/2/20/Blivet.jpg/200px-Blivet.jpg

                Try to sit on it and you land on your fundamental contradiction.

              • I was trying to point out why there a sense of cognitive dissonance and of how we can agree with half of what Rousseau says.

                Most of us can agree on Life, Liberty, Property and the Pursuit of Happiness, but where we balk is when he gets to that point of “And the Government and “others” are obligated to provided it for us.”

                The irony is that one of the greatest refutations of the Rousseau school of thought was by another frenchman Frédéric Bastiat.

                😉

                • The thing you have to understand is that Rousseau, like so many of our present day “Intellectuals”. was a work shy bum. Once you have that in mind, everything else falls into place.

                  • The Other Sean

                    Isn’t that the case with most philosophers? And cult leaders, for that matter. Hmm. A certain similarity, there, that I hadn’t seriously considered before.

                    • Equality of results over Equality of Opportunity.

                      Abdicating personal responsibility over to another; in this case the state. Rousseau put’s forth that we are our brothers keepers; and, that to be truly free one must be free to live however one wants irrespective of reality; that it is someone else responsibility to take care of life’s necessities.

                      But what happens when we turn over our responsibilities is that reality still rules our life as well is the other. You gain two masters instead of one.

                      Liberty is not about freedom from consequences, but freedom of choice. To be able to choose, and then live with the consequence of that choice.

            • *lightbulb*

              It’s a Catholic (or maybe just Christian) heresy– to (probably over-)simplify greatly, they’re taking the “rights” in the sense of “things people should have, if they don’t it’s unjust, and you as an individual are morally called to try to fix injustice*” and shove it into “rights” in the sense of “stuff that others must provide for you.”

              That, like any other attempt to make heaven happen on earth, is gonna turn out REALLY UGLY.

              * a major point that’s removed in the shoving– you’re called to provide for yourself in as much as possible. Others aren’t supposed to work harder to feed you than you do to feed yourself, although if you’re flatly not able to feed yourself you don’t lose the right. It’s not a system, although they’ve successfully made it so that even I instinctively try to think of it in terms of that. Probably the best way of trying to explain it is that speech Kenshin gives in the Samurai X dub, about if a sword is for killing or for protecting.

    • Now I am curious, how are the Germans worse than the French?

      • a.) Cuisine, b.) Architecture, c.) 19th C Literature. Music is almost a tie, because 19th C French is as good as the ditto German — but Beethoven, Bach and Schumann bring it home for the Germans.

        In terms of Weltanschauung, however, nobody does gloom like the Germans.

        • But not all Germans do Weltanschauung. I don’t think that’s a Bavarian trait at all, they’re too busy making fast cars and beer and lederhosen

        • On the other hand, unlike the French, the Germans produce something that on occasion makes me wish I still drank.

        • I don’t about the gloom. Pretty much nobody does dry brown leaves blowing in the dilapidated courtyard like the Russians.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Is there where someone has to insist that the Americans are best at that also? 🙂

          • ‘War and Peace’ is probably the most upbeat bit of Russian literature that I’ve been exposed to… and it has a character die mid-way through the novel quite literally because he decides that his life is going too well at the moment.

            • There are some fun Russian fairy tales.

              • I have liked Baba Yaga stories, as well as The Fool and the Flying Ship. Rabbit Ears did a lovely production of the latter.

                But on looking for one particular production I came upon this modern take, I don’t know if I am utterly delighted or what:

      • Off hand, the French are more open about not caring for outsiders. The Germans seem friendlier on the surface, but there’s walls (and disdain) not far below. But I have a lot less experience in France than in Germany-speaking countries, so I’m sure I miss a heck of a lot more.

    • I will disagree with the caveat that my data is 30 odd years out of date. The french are worse in Paris but basically rude, arrogant pricks everywhere. The Germans were a friendly hospitable people with a down home friendliness that was equal to rural folks here. I should add that my experience may have been tempered by my Germanic appearance and Hessian accent

    • CombatMissionary

      “I’d rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me.”
      -GEN George S. Patton

      😀

  12. Georgetown student mugged but understands why.
    http://www.thehoya.com/i-was-mugged-and-i-understand-why/

    UCLA and racial “micro aggression”.
    http://www.city-journal.org/2014/24_4_racial-microaggression.html

    SWJs are a product of our education system. The Long Marchers own much, if not most, of our education system at this time. They, the Long Marchers, are immune to ridicule and proof against debate due to the absolute refusal to limit themselves to actual true facts. Nor do the Long Marchers have any sense of personal honor which can be addressed. They are also completely devoid of integrity.

    They, the Long Marchers, and all those they’ve put onto their knees to serve as useful idiots won’t be defeated by words. The rot is already too deeply embedded into each and every piece and part of our systems of governance and education.

    Our national body is already suffering from gangrene.

    • If it makes anyone feel more positive about the world… the first time I responded to one of my lab partner’s fake “Minne-soh-da” accent with “why are you microaggressing me over my heritage?” no one knew what I was talking about.

    • Nobody has ever accused me of “microagression”, probably because they know my answer would be “I don’t microagress. When I’m agressimg against you, you will know, and so will everybody in the room.”

      • BLACK OUTLAW
        You ain’t puttin’ them chains on me.

        CAHILL (John Wayne)
        Mister, I ain’t got a bigoted bone in my body. I’ll shoot you as quick as I would a white man.

        (CAHILL US MARSHAL)

  13. Yesterday I read this at Ace of Spades, so I was primed to think how much people, consciously, try to make their lives look like “they should”.

    Is it true?

    Oh, heck no, no more than street cars mentioned by Ace are romantic or beautiful or anything like that.

    Thing that may delight you:
    the downtown merchant’s association for Wenatchee– city “near” my folks’– has several custom buses that look like street cars/trolleys, but can close the windows and have heaters for winter.

    They run for free, from a nice big parking area to the downtown. Yes, this has resulted in a jump in sales, far outweighing the cost of the “trolleys.”

    They took something that looked classic, and then I’m betting they talked to folks who remembered what they were really like and fixed the issues. 😀

    • Huh.

      I started my LDS mission just outside Wenatchee – up in Cashmere and Leavenworth. Didn’t get into Wenatchee all that often, though. And it was only for a couple of months.

  14. Well, this may be a trifle depressing: our January theme is Nonfiction on Communism.

    Nominate a work here:
    https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2102070-january-2015—-nonfiction-on-communism

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Chang and Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story.

      I haven’t put it in because I’m too lazy to figure out how goodreads works, and because I didn’t finish it, because it was screwing me up more than I valued the additional information.

    • _Iron Curtain_ by Anne Applebaum – a very well written history of how the people survived Stalinism in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, between 1944-1956. Very Human wave.

      • i’ve added these, but you can’t rely on my noticing others.

        Also, you can’t vote for the work or join the goodreads discussion without registering there. (It’s not difficult.)

  15. ” I think all of us have watched at least one French movie, right?”

    Key word there being ONE. I like La Femme Nikita, but I have never felt nor expect to feel a desire to watch any other French film.

  16. Eh. Despair is easy; comedyis hard. Laughing in the face of Death takes commitment.

  17. IMO, the French, or at least Parisians, still consider themselves the center of culture worldwide… and i daresay that axis has moved to NY and LA years ago.

    • CombatMissionary

      I can’t resist leaving this comments section with a few words on the French by Mark Twain:
      “A French married lady cannot enter even a menagerie without bringing the purity of that menagerie under suspicion.”
      – Mark Twain’s Notebooks and Journals, Notebook #19, July 1880-January 1882

      France has usually been governed by prostitutes.
      – Notebook #18, Feb.- Sept. 1879

      M. de Lamester’s new French dictionary just issued in Paris defines virtue as: “A woman who has only one lover and don’t steal.”
      – quoted in A Bibliography of Mark Twain, Merle Johnson

      There is nothing lower than the human race except the French.
      – quoted by Carl Dolmetsch, Our Famous Guest

      It appears that at last census that every man in France over 16 years of age & under 116, has at least 1 wife to whom he has never been married. French novels, talk, drama & newspaper bring daily & overwhelming proofs that the most of the married ladies have paramours. This makes a good deal of what we call crime, and the French call sociability.
      – Notebook #18, Feb.- Sept. 1879

      Trivial Americans go to Paris when they die.
      – Notebook #18, Feb.- Sept. 1879

      An isolated & helpless young girl is perfectly safe from insult by a Frenchman, if he is dead.
      – Notebook #20, Jan. 1882 – Feb. 1883

      A dead Frenchman has many good qualities, many things to recommend him; many attractions–even innocencies. Why cannot we have more of these?
      – Notebook #20, Jan. 1882 – Feb. 1883

      😀

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Only barbarians value what comes from those places. Real culture is not in dancing, singing, food, movies, clothes or those lying newspapers, but manufacturing.

      Houston.

      The oilfield is second only to the defense sector in my interests.

      Okay, okay, I kid. I’m serious about my personal tendencies, but I had to stretch things a little to come up with a clear alternative.

      • There are oil fields all over L.A.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          A very great many of the big oil field and oil field services companies I know of have headquarters or an office presence in Houston. I’ll admit that a lot of the actual manufacturing is often enough in places like Tulsa. I have the impression that the doer side of the real energy sector is less heavily represented in regions like LA and NYC are in.

          Does UCLA have a petroleum engineering program? How is it ranked?

          • No, but USC does:

            http://www.toppetroleumengineeringschools.com/

            Nice to see my alma mater on the list. Not that I’d recommend going into PE. It’s great when the industry is booming but the boom usually goes bust. Like right now.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Not sure that I buy that the California schools are ranked so high in that. That said, the information I have about others on the list being higher may well be obsolete, or simply an artifact of variability in rankings and their measurement.

          • I guess Dallas helps on the financial side. Also I heard that there’s a little drilling in Dallas.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              If I was doing a longer list, I would have mentioned Dallas, and no doubt missed quite a few others. Baker Hughes, Halliburton, and Schlumberger all have an HQ in Houston, so I don’t feel I’m too much at fault for picking it.

              • I live just outside of Dallas so it’s always my slant on things.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  I too have viewpoints and biases from where I’ve lived.

                  I’ve the impression that there are more opportunities relocating to Houston than to Dallas for my own skill set. Presuming the oil bubble isn’t collapsing again like Byron suggests. I could easily miss such.

                  I get the impression Texas generally has a widespread awareness of the oil/energy sector, and the benefits which it provides.

          • You can grease the courses pretty easily.

          • No. It does have PhD engineering programs, though. Stanford has a petroleum Engineering program. (There’s a bunch of oil pumps littered through the central valley as well)

        • William O. B'Livion

          Are you implying it’s the only thing of value created from the Grapevine to Camp Pendleton?

    • They think so. They are mistaken. Desperately chasing after novelty and outrage to remain part of the in crowd is not culture.

  18. Tangent Warning;

    Speaking of despair; we are soon going to lose Sir Terry Pratchett. This isn’t fair, but OTOH I’m sure God needs that sense of humor in Heaven.

    It is my impression that there exists in British publishing a general or sub-general of social-commentary farce. Terry is one example, and Douglas Addams was another. They aren’t all Fantasy or SF, though. This seems to be something that isn’t acknowledged by having an actual category, though, so it’s hard to find others. Further, there is a tendency for the plot to blow up about two-thirds of the way through leaving the author reaching for Deus ex Machina, like a trucker reaching for the ketchup to make a plate of grease edible. But there are exceptions. Pratchett is the very best of them.

    I already know about Tom Holt (he does, after all, get imported into America), and Tom Sharpe (PORTERHOUSE BLUE).

    Does anybody here know of others?

  19. I suppose it is just as well the majority of my exposure to french culture came from the Monsieur Hulot movies.

    He always seemed to me to enjoy the absurdities of life, as he wanders through the complex social machinery of french life, breaking it in absurd and humorous ways.