Noblesse Oblige and Mare’s Nests

I was raised with noblesse oblige, which, as we all know is a kind of almond and mare’s milk pastry made in the mountains of outer Mongolia and eaten at wedding feasts to assure good luck.

Okay, I lie. Noblesse Oblige is literally – as all of you know! However, let me unpack it, because sometimes it’s good to reflect on things we know – the obligations of noblemen.

In a world in which station was dictated by birth (most of the world, most of the time) the way to keep society from becoming completely tyrannical and the burden of those on the lower rungs of society from becoming unbearable was “noblesse oblige” – that is a set of obligations that the noblemen/those in power accepted as a part of their duty to society. Most of these involved some form of moderation of force.

The amount of moderation depended on the culture itself. For instance, in those lands in which the nobleman got first night rights (or claimed them anyway) it might be noblesse oblige to return the bride after that. It might also be nobles oblige to stand godfather to the oldest child, who, after all, might be more than a godchild. And in other cultures, though the first night thing wasn’t there, the godchild thing still applied. A small return for faithful service to closer servants and courtiers, etc.

In the same way, while you might treat your serfs or villains like dirt, you forebore to take their last crumb of bread and left them enough to live on. This might not be because you were smart or merciful or whatever, but because someone had dinged it into you.

Noblesse oblige, by that name or others, appears every time there is a gross imbalance of power in human society. Or that is, it appears if society is to survive.

Perhaps the society that did it with the most style were the English before the world wars, where children were raised in an entire idea of service. The entire White Man’s Burden is about that. In fact, that poem codifies the obligations of “White male privilege” more than any SJW could, and in a more rational way, which is why they scream raciiiiiisssss and sexisssss because like vampires they hate mirrors. (Is it racist? Oh, sure, in a way, in that if you confuse race with culture, it admits that some cultures are inferior to others and that the more functional culture has a duty to the less functional. But to think cultures are race is to believe that behaviors are hard encoded in the human genome to an extent that makes people automatons, and which determines everything you think and do. So, to believe cultures are races, you need to be a stone cold racist, yourself.)

Depending on the amount of Noblesse Oblige as way as the colonizing culture, this worked better or worse for the colonized. Imagine how different Brazil would be if colonized by Britain, and you’ll see what I mean.

But noblesse oblige was not just about nobility or about different cultures with an imbalance of power, like that between colonized and colonizer.

Noblesse oblige applied at all levels of society and between the genders, and in transactions. Every time there was an imbalance, you can bet – in a healthy, functional society at least (and more on that later) – there was a rule, an unspoken law about what you didn’t do, what was beyond the pale.

In financial transactions, this might mean harming yourself a little, not pressing home the last bit of advantage. You find this encoded in a lot of Victorian and Regency novels (written at the time) in which if an “evil businessman” left the desperate person he was trading with “without a cent to bless himself with” he was rightly despised by all right thinking people, even if he had done it wholly within the law and no one could touch him.

This is why the Industrial Revolution wasn’t the Dickensinian hell that Marx and, well, Dickens, described. (My son likes Dickens. I say for a novelist he wasn’t a bad propagandist, and he distorted history of the time more than Marx ever could.) (Yes, it was brutal and horrible, compared to our time, but we’re living in a time of superabundance and everything more than fifty years back seems brutal and horrid. I know. I grew up in a time bubble and sometimes I don’t believe my own childhood.)

In the same way, between men and women…

Men are bigger and stronger than women. We’re talking women on average, of course. I think right now I’m bigger than my husband, though he’s still stronger. And probably Lizzy Lifter is stronger than Geoffrey Geek who spends his entire time playing computer games and never sees the sun. BUT on average, over the population, men are so much stronger/faster/physically able than women that any random man can overpower any given woman.

So, why aren’t ALL women victims of domestic abuse? Why are women even outside, without being raped? (And if you think all women are victims, you must be living in an Arab country, where those two above are the pre-assumptions of the cultural norms.) How is this possible? Why don’t men press home their advantage?

Well, first because men aren’t a group with “group consciousness.” Contrary to what “feminists” seem to think, men are not alien creatures who reproduce by fission. They’re women’s children, friends, brothers, fathers. So of course, being human, they care for some women and they’re decent enough to extrapolate their feelings to strange women. (And Women’s Studies programs make a lot of those.)

But more than that, there’s a built in noblesse oblige that prevents men from pressing home their last advantage. Our society runs with it, and is soaked deep with strains of female privilege.


Well, take your three year old boy to a playground. Have him get in a fight with a girl. At that age, their strengths are equivalent, and the girl might be larger and stronger (girls develop faster.) Have him punch her. What do you do? You pull him back and say “you don’t hit a girl. Ever, ever, ever.”

At which point if the girl is a little sh*t who wasn’t taught her part in the bargain, she will beat him to a pulp, but never mind.

You do it because you have to. This is not some fossilized rule. It’s because if your boy doesn’t have that trained into him REALLY early, he’ll hit thirteen and seriously injure a girl. Worse, in an intimate relationship with a girl (should he turn out to like them) he will lose his cool (we all do) and suddenly become a wife abuser. Because the chances his wife will be smaller and weaker than himself are high.

So you tell your three year old this “arbitrary” rule and establish the boundaries of “female privilege” to stop him from becoming a monster when the imbalance of (physical) power sets in.

Of course, the rule has its opposite. Because women have power too, in the relationship. Oh, sure, not at three, when they’re just annoying, extra-whiney little boys as far as boys are concerned. (Average, statistical girls, that is. Some of us were Vengeance of G-d hellions.)

I tell you as the girl who was often pulled back from these with “girls don’t fight” or “girls don’t hit boys in public” but most often (my being outsized for my time and place) with “you don’t hit people smaller than you. Ever, ever, ever.”

This – ah – female privilege of course established “the way girls fight” usually underhanded, and without the adult noticing. Pinches, kicks to the ankle (my poor male friends in middle school) and also gossip and character destruction and other, less physical means of retaliation.

Because women are still human and will still fight.

But by middle school, we had it well established. A boy understood he would take whatever the girl dished out physically, if a girl were so uncouth as to hit him, and treat it as a joke. (And by that time they were that much stronger – thanks to testosterone – that they could do that, in most cases.) The girl in turn knew if she’d hit a boy, short of self-defense in a dark classroom, where he ambushed her, thereby putting himself beyond the protection of social rules, she’d committed a social sin and broken a major unspoken rule.

This kept fist fights between the sexes from happening. And most girls, though they might character assassinate one another, had learned to keep the boys out of it, because they weren’t adroit in the art and therefore were as vulnerable to that type of war as women to punches.

Or to put it another way, as the good professor says, “Chivalry imposed obligations upon both sexes.” And it can’t continue when one breaks the compact. The same way that other imbalances of power in society can’t continue unless both parts play by the rules.

When one part forgets the rules, they don’t leave the peasants enough to live on, and the peasants chop their necks off.

Look, I’m a libertarian and in the US. I believe all men and women should be equal under the law. But you can’t eliminate imbalances of power unless you stop being human. Communism fails, in large measure, because it wants to eliminate imbalances of power completely by making humans into something different. They believe they can shape a social ape into something more like ants or bees (don’t argue. Yeah, they do want to have rulers. One ruler over faceless millions. Because someone has to enforce equality. Yes, I know about the myth of the vanishing state.) Hence the myth of the homo Sovieticus, the selfless, perfectly acting man who would emerge once the distortions of capitalism were removed from the “natural” man who was of course a Rousseaunian noble savage. No, I don’t believe it. No one should believe it. The rejects of that culling program have filled a hundred million graves and bid fair to fill more. Because Rosseau was wrong and the mythology of communism is a hot and sticky repulsive mess.

Some people will always be taller, larger, stronger. Some will be smarter. Some will, for whatever reason like “my ancestors got here earlier” have the advantage of a better adaption to the society they live in.

I, for instance, got both sides of the noblesse oblige speech because I was taller than most of my male teachers by 13, and probably stronger too. It took. Sort of. I knew how to subdue a badly acting male without hitting him by the time I was 20, and only psychopaths did not respond. (And for those there was hitting, hence the weaponized umbrella.)

Because I WAS a walking imbalance of power, frankly.

Noblesse oblige is needed to keep things from coming to extremes.

Unfortunately for us, starting with Rousseau, someone mistook those rules for “arbitrary and unnecessary.” Now, a lot of them were, of course. Human societies acquire unspoken rules, a lot of them dross, like a dog acquires fleas. And yep, if you follow all the unspoken rules, you’ll reinforce the power of the elites because that’s what the rules are designed to do. (Like, you know “you shouldn’t vote in the Hugos unless you’re a truefen” and “you can’t publish a list of suggestions, like the ones we’ve been passing around behind the scenes for years.” [What, me? Say anything? Nevah.])

But the Rousseau attempt to change those rules started from the idea that all unspoken societal rules were wrong. ALL of them. And that absent them, humans would live in a sort of paradise.

I wish he’d been acquainted with some savages, not the least because then he probably wouldn’t have lived to pen his awfully misguided ideas.

His ideas have been bouncing around society for a while, aided by Marxism (Marx MUST have been Asperger’s. No, I mean that. He looked at society and had no clue why things functioned, and couldn’t see people as people but as widgets belonging to particular groups which MUST of course be opposed to other groups they interacted with) in its feminist and racialist versions, cut the threads of things that were actually important, functional, and so early-set-in that they were never spoken of.

So women didn’t see the two sides of the bargain and just saw the way their side of it “oppressed” them, which led them to lose the power they did have in society, and now they want it back – see the way they’re racing back to the fainting couch where men can’t touch them or look at them – but since they don’t understand its origins, they’re trying to get it back in all the wrong ways. It’s all “check your privilege” but without ever checking their own privilege, even as it causes white knights to run to their defense.

I don’t know how long a society or a culture can last like this. Every time I know of in history, it ended in tears or guilhoutines.

I do know that humans are hierarchical apes who crave rules. The astonishing number of western converts to Islam (astonishing considering what Islam is as a way of life) particularly the women shows the craving for rules, spoken and unspoken is far stronger than rationality. And the fact that young men aren’t converting en masse to Islam (which gives them a much greater power than any western culture) means some traces of Noblesse Oblige remain. The idea of keeping your women imprisoned and veiled for their protection; the idea that those other men will of course rape them and hurt them; the idea that strange women are fair game, are still revolting and repulsive to men who were told “never hit a girl. Never, ever, ever” as little boys.

Which gives us some time to rebuild.

But rebuild we must. And that doesn’t mean teaching your boy he can’t hit girls, but teaching your girl that she has no obligations because patriarchy and she should go for the throat, every time. It means teaching your girl that what she is and what she can do will reduce most men – even strangers – to mush brains after puberty. And that her greater verbal ability (on average, statistically) doesn’t mean she should eviscerate and character-assassinate the poor bastage.

It also means teaching both sexes not to press home their every advantage in a business deal and not to use inside knowledge to eviscerate the defenseless financially.

It’s much better than “check your privilege” which requires you to apologize for the crimes of people you never met or heard of and then denounce yourself. It’s “Mind your noblesse oblige” which means if you find yourself in a position of overwhelming power over someone else, pull that punch. Because nothing is permanent, what goes around comes around, and guillotines in some form or another have a way of appearing when the imbalance gets too great.

Now eat your noblesse oblige like good boys and girls. Mare’s milk and almonds don’t grow on trees. Except the almonds. In outer Mongolia.*


*Yes, the writer is slap happy having delivered the cursed book. You should deal with it and be noble, for a change.


451 thoughts on “Noblesse Oblige and Mare’s Nests

  1. “in those lands in which the nobleman got first night rights”

    I must point out that there is absolutely no reason to think that such rights ever existed. All records of them claimed that it happened centuries ago or in another country.

    1. Practically speaking there are at least two issues. STDs and the usual dangers of sleeping with someone unwilling, including being killed in a moment of vulnerability.

    2. There weren’t. But then there were. Mostly after invasion, and as a punitive measure on the occupied people. They weren’t rights, but the noblemen had heard of them too 😉

      1. Do you mean that it was difficult for a peasant to bring a rape case against a noble? True, but that’s not “first-night rights.”

        1. Sigh. Mary. I doubt rape was needed in 90% of the cases. Oh, sure there were honest and modest women, I’m sure, but my observation of current crop has me believing they’re a rarity and it was an age that lived closer to the bone.
          If you’re imagining screaming and fighting the Lord off, you’d be wrong most of the time. It wasn’t the act, likely, but the power, and the fact that it meant he’d look after you. Ask Dave sometime about the later version of this, with Henry VIII or later still in the Regency. He did a post about it.
          Was it legal? Who the h*ll knows? According to the law of the church which prevailed there, we know it was not. But when each feudal Lord was d*mn close to his own law, it was a fictional cover up for what was going to happen anyway. It allowed the women to feel that after all they were doing what was “normal” and the Lord to feel he’d only taken his due.
          Proof? Probably not. Who the heck is going to talk about it to the stuffy churchman who kept the records? No one in my village talked to him about that stuff, unless under the seal in confession, and same went double to still prevalent practices of doing certain things on certain days that went all the way back to Rome. Why upset the poor dear?
          Rape only if you take the definition of oppressive patriarchy making women do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do. Yeah, it was true patriarchy then. But the women were obeying their instinct to get “security for the babes” as much as the men were obeying theirs to “spread the seed wide” I suspect the truly honest and modest were left alone. Why would the Lord want a fight when they were easier pickings. Unless the lord was a psychopathic bastard, which granted, happened, or wanted to humiliate the groom publicly, I suspect there was no screaming bride dragged off to be raped on her wedding night. BUT the “Droit du seigneur” and “first night” rites would be used by all three: Lord, woman and her husband, to think better of themselves in the aftermath of what happened quite often.
          Hence the persistence of the legend, and the amazingly widespread genome of the powerful.

          1. People who look at this through the modern lens are making a fundamental mistake.

            The custom, if it existed in other than people’s imaginations, didn’t exist to gratify the sexual needs of the nobleman, at least not in its entirety. The point that everyone these days misses is that it was intended to bind the nobleman/leader/chief to his people…

            We think of it as a one-way exercise of power. The true tribal attitude, back then, was “We have one of yours, and we’re raising him/her. If you want your line to prosper, you’d better take care of us, too…”. In other words, it was a two-way street, and all that bastardry we know about from history that actually did happen served the same purpose. If you’re the nobleman looking out over your fief, and you see kid after kid with your features, being raised by men and women who have your father’s features… What does that do to your mentality?

            Think about it: If your wife/daughter is screwing the nobleman or his son, and you’re living in the best cottage in the village, while living large as the “go to guy” for the entire village when it comes to negotiating favors with the lord, what the hell are you going to do? Upset the gravy train? Like hell.

            On top of that, you need to consider that the feudal arrangement basically meant that the lord of the manor was beholden to you, in very real terms. The deal was, you fed him, kept him in a decent lifestyle, and then his ass was first in line to deal with a Viking raid or to keep you safe from that bastard baron over in the next county. We think of the peasants as being victims; reality wasn’t quite that–If anyone got victimized, it was the nobles right along with them. Not always, and not the way we remember it, but in actual practice, the petty nobles had to do their part, or the whole thing crashed down on everyone’s ears when the Vikings came or the asshole in the next county over came to steal your flocks.

            We tend to think in terms of the idea of a “power imbalance”, not recognizing that there was also a “responsibility imbalance”. Say you were a petty noble who screwed up the protection side of the racket: What happened to you? Oh, yeah… You’re dead. You and your legitimate kids.

            What happened to your peasants, and your bastards? Well, gee… Now things look a little different, don’t they? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss… Your risk wasn’t that high, really. Now, if you’d placed your bets wrong, letting the previous lord at your wife and daughters, leaving you with a couple of his by-blows, that could mean a bit of trouble and lessened circumstances under the new regime. However, with a bit of finesse, since you probably had the best-looking women in the village anyway… You could probably make things work.

            It’s also the same damn thing with regards to the masters boinking the slaves. You think the slaves didn’t seek that out, knowing that having had the master’s child, they were probably going to get better treatment?

            People of today just don’t get the dynamics of life in those times. It was a different world–Like living with a damn biker gang running things. The common man who just wanted to live? Well, he used the tools he had: If some damn fool likes fighting, and doesn’t mind the risk of dying, what the hell, let him do the dirty work. And, if the price is looking the other way while he makes loose with the wife, occasionally? What the hell–At least you’re not the one getting his head caved in by the other set of dumbasses who like to fight.

            1. Read your Livy and you’ll notice that one of the reasons for the arguments between the Patrician and Plebeian classes was based on the higher burdens (economic and physical) of defense of the Republic borne by the Patricians, burdens which they argued entailed commensurate privileges, privileges resented by the Plebes.

              1. Precisely. And, all that got started much the way I’m outlining, I think.

                Where you start to have major problems is when conditions change, and one side or another of the equation fails to live up to the spirit or letter of the “deal”. Right now, we’re seeing the effect of what goes on when the weaker side of things changes the terms of it, and we’re going to see a reverse of the situation with the Patricians and the Plebes. This time around, it’s going to be more a case of “Hey, you want my strong right arm defending you, after you pull this crap on me… Don’t think so, sweetie.”.

  2. Good article but….

    What’s the evidence for “first night rights” actually happening *and* being seen as “legal”?

    From what I’ve read/heard, “first night rights” are said to have happened “elsewhere” and “long time ago”.

    IE no real evidence that it was ever legal and actually happened.

      1. This way, the rich guy knew that the woman’s child might be his as well, and hence he felt inclined to favor the family. Plus, the rich guys weren’t choosing the poor girls at random; there was usually some sort of mutual attraction, even love, between them. So he was likely to be well-disposed toward any of her children, which was useful to the poor family.

        After all, the rich guy was in a position to dispense plum jobs — good, well-paid positions as servants and (in medieval times) guards — to the children of the family he favored. Plus, despite the power imbalance, he didn’t really want all the male relations of his lower-class paramours to hate him — that way lay assassination, betrayal or rebellion. So he would favor the family, and hence be seen to be honoring rather than degrading the woman in question.

      1. Noble/Rich man “having his way” with a “lower class” woman.

        Of course it happened.

        The idea that a Noble had the “right” to have sex on a girl’s wedding night before her new husband did, didn’t exist.

        1. Of course the idea existed; the question at debate is whether the right existed — an issue almost impossible to resolve for an era in which law was primarily oral and traditions often not exposed to outsiders/authorities.

          Two conflicting bits of evidence are available:

          1) widespread rumour of such a right, complete with terminology to express it (Droit du seigneur) about which Encyclopedia Britannica states:

          the evidence of its existence in Europe is all indirect, involving records of redemption dues paid by the vassal to avoid enforcement of some lordly rights. Many intellectual investigations have been devoted to the problem. A considerable number of feudal rights were related to the vassal’s marriage, particularly the lord’s right to select a bride for his vassal, but these were almost invariably redeemed by a money payment, or “avail”; and it seems likely that the droit du seigneur amounted, in effect, only to another tax of this sort.

          which suggests the “right” was a ritual obeisance to the principle of the serfs as chattel of the Lord or a conversion of a more ancient custom for contemporary mores. This is evidence of the “Where there’s smoke” sort.

          2) There is also widespread reporting of the ritual of the sheets, presentation of a bloodied bedsheet as token of bridal deflowering.

          Again, logic dictates that few women of such eras arrived at their wedding nights with intact hymen in a time when demanding physical labor was a norm for all.

          Therefore it is appropriate to discount such “right” as folklore employed to teach deeper truths about what society needed for its functioning.

          1. Or, as I outline above, it served another purpose: Binding the lord to his people, both symbolically and in fact. Are you going to abandon your responsibilities to protect the village, when you know that a bunch of the kids in it are more than likely your own?

            I think that if you went digging for it, going back to pagan times across Europe, you’d find this supposed custom had roots in the ritual binding of chief to tribe. Even if only by symbols.

            1. The other thing that occurs to me is this: Look at this picture from the standpoint of the low-level people who are looking to find the most effective protector for the village or the tribe. What the hell do you have to offer, in a world where much of your wealth is easily taken by force?

              You’re not going to go offer Conan the Barbarian gold; he’d probably just take it. Same with food and other portable wealth. So, what will you offer up? What the hell do you even have?

              You’re a village or a tribe. You want the best warriors you can get, out protecting you. So, not having much other means, you do what people have done throughout history: You earn what you want on your back.

              Plus that, you’re making an implicit offer to raise the guys kids for him. What warrior isn’t going to want that deal? Compliant women, kids he hasn’t got to be bothered with raising, and the ego-boos that go with being the literal cock-of-the-walk.

              Flip side of the coin? Say you’re a village of short Picts; you haven’t got the genetic traits to make a good warrior to go up against those bastard Saxons, who’re all above six feet and weigh what one of you does. Now, you’re sitting there, having had your ass handed to you the last time it came to blows. What do you do? Yeah, that’s right: Get some of those genes for yourself, and raise them to be your warriors…

              Start to look at it from a certain perspective, and the stance on who was exploiting who starts to shift. We think of the nobility as having exploited the peasant, but what if it was somewhat more a case of the peasants breeding their own guard dogs?

              Somewhere in the middle lies the truth of the matter. I don’t think that the way we’re looking at these things is at all entirely accurate, or realistic. Imagine the world if it all collapsed tomorrow, and you had to deal with roving packs of bandits and other such delights. You’ve been raided, in your little self-sufficient polity, and you’re scared spitless of the future. Comes a-wandering a small element of the former armed forces, men who are used to applying large-scale wrath-of-God violence on those who bother them. And, even better, they’ve got their war-toys still with them, and they work.

              What. Do. You. Do?

              Yeah, that’s right: “Susan, I know you’re not too hot on the idea, but we need those guys to stick around, and you need to go make sure they want to…”.

              Hundreds of thousands of human interactions like this, a few hundred years of time, and hey, presto! You’ve got a recapitulation of how we got an aristocracy in the first place.

                1. LOL… Poor choice of names there, on my part. I humbly apologize. I should have written that as , or something, so as not to personalize it.

                  And, I must point out that thinking of England wouldn’t have been a “thing”, since England or the idea of a nation-state framework wouldn’t have been in existence, yet–It’d be more like “Lay back and think of …”.

                  1. Oh, interesting: I shouldn’t have used the sideways carets on that…

                    After the “as” in that first sentence, please insert {generic female name}, and after “of” in the last one, please insert {generic tribe name}.

                    I’ll figure this place out, I swear. Eventually…

                    1. The door with the seven stars on it always leads to to the bar.

                      I admit it would be more useful knowledge if the door stuck in one place. . . .

                      And the dragon’s name is Fluffy. That’s reliable. (Unless you want to explain that it’s inappropriate — to the dragon.0

                    2. There is a Dragon named Fluffy (nobody kids him about his name). Then there’s Sarah, who is a Dragon. I’m Paul but my “alternate” dragon-self calls himself Drak. Please fellow dragons, forgive me for failing to remember your names.

                    3. Never was — not unless it changed it after seeing it could get a bowl and a collar with “Fluffy” on it.

                    4. Sometimes a dragon just wants to feel pretty!
                      (Or perhaps petite. They are complex creatures.)

                  2. “Lay back and think of….” [Insert some 12 hut, flea infested, wide spot in the road.]

                    As if! You must have mistaken me for that slut Gueniviere.

                    1. Ah, now we see the ambition inherent in the system…

                      Why settle for a village, when you can have the whole bloody set of islands? 🙂

                  3. For she who gave that advice and was surely aware of the importance of legitimate heirs to the crown such admonition was highly practical.

                    BTW – y’all ever stumble across the Victorian Sex Tips list on the Interwebz? Amongst other things it correlated the likelihood of a boy chile directly with the enthusiasm of the lady conceiving that chile. How crazy am that?

                    1. Now, I wonder if there’s actually some biology behind that one — certainly there are many other factors, but ovulation can affect one’s enthusiasm considerably (which would relate to the chances of having a kid at all) and I recall reading a claim that the probabilities can be a little skewed toward sons if the egg is already out and toward daughters if you have sex shortly before (because Y sperm move a little faster and X sperm are a little more durable).

                      On the other hand, I have read that the fastest sperm may do some kind of prep work instead of doing the fertilizing, so who knows. Although the reference I found was in fruit flies and I am familiar enough with bees not to assume things work identically in humans and insects.

                    2. ” I recall reading a claim that the probabilities can be a little skewed toward sons if the egg is already out and toward daughters if you have sex shortly before (because Y sperm move a little faster and X sperm are a little more durable). ”

                      I have known people who tried this with animal breeding, timing the breeding to attempt to coincide with whether they wanted males or females. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Probably mainly because most breeders are just using an educated guess to determine when actual ovulation will occur. Overall from very unscientific observation, I would say that you can skew the averages to an extent, but not enough to be able to say with any degree of confidence what sex you will get out of any particular breeding.

                      As for enthusiasm of the lady correlating with the sex of the conceived child, I have no idea. I did hear a doctor explaining that enthusiasm in the lady does raise the likelihood of conception however. Umm, I’ll try and keep this PG-13, the secretions she releases when enthusiastic change her chemical habitat and make it more habitable to sperm.

              1. Huh. Spotted a typo in the post this is under…

                The Picts are supposed to be contemplating a situation where the Saxons are taller than six feet and weigh what two, not one, Pict(s) weigh…

              2. Not emphasized, but implied in your argument: We know we’re gonna have to defend our village, damn it; we just want a better leader than last time!

                1. Like I was thinking, there’s an aspect of the village breeding their own guard dogs going on here. Since the warrior they picked might not have been too bright, he probably never realized he and his were getting the shaft just the same as he thought he was giving it to the villagers, just in a different way. The interesting thing would be to go back and track the genes through all this process: Who came out on top? The villagers, or the random roving warrior class they “recruited” to defend them? And, just how much intermixing went on?

                  We don’t think in terms of seeking out superior genes, but there’s a level where that is going on, even if it isn’t being done consciously. The village isn’t adapted to an environment of tooth-and-claw? No problem… We’ve got the comely maiden’s fair, we’ll draw some genes in that are fully adapted to this killing thing…

                  And, vice-versa: The war band’s genes are going “Wow… This day-to-day drudgery of raising food sucks… And, we’re not very good at it… Maybe we ought to go out and offer what we are good at, violence, to some that are good at raising food, and aren’t too good with the violence thing…?”.

                  1. I expect there was a certain amount of deliberate seeking out of superior genes going on. I know I was told from the time I was a little girl “Marry a man who’s smarter than you are so you don’t get bored.” Looking back up the female line and who my ancestresses married, I expect that advice has been passed down for a good many generations.
                    Makes sense that if your tribe isn’t good at defense you’d teach your daughters to find men who are, then they tell their daughters the same thing, after all, it worked for them, and so on down the generations.

                    1. … so you don’t get bored.

                      Shucks, most ladies like getting bored, if its done right.

                      (Yeah, like nobody else here was thinking it! You know the drill.)

      2. Remember also, that some women needed a socially acceptable explaination for the lack of a hymen on their wedding night.

          1. even more so in a culture in which the first child often arrived at seven or even six months. Remarkably hardy preemies were apparently a benefit of a virgin bride.

              1. I’ve read it as certain clerics allowing that some especially fertile and blessed couples might have a child sooner than nine months. *shrug* Similar basic premise however one chooses to couch, er, phrase it.

            1. Well, that child certainly wasn’t conceived on the wedding night, regardless of the father.

            2. Though most of the time, the bridegroom would be the actual father, the couple having simply jumped the gun. In fact, in medieval times, there might not be a priest handy to perform the marriage for months or years at a time, and then there would be handfasting unions, later regularizaed by canonical marriage.

              1. There was no difference. If the couple said, “I take you as my wife” and “I take you as my husband,” they were married in canon law. And if they had slept together, canon law wasn’t too fussy about the exact words they used. It was not until the Council of Trent that you even needed witnesses.

                1. If I remember right, a lot of the recognition requirements were attempts to keep folks from abusing others– weren’t the first batch or five along the lines of “No, you really can’t force your child to marry someone if they refuse”, and then it got followed up with various ways of trying to keep folks from either abandoning a spouse or taking several…..

                  Oooh, cool! The modern Sacramental marriage is still very similar to the one we’ve got from Pope Leo’s time, supposedly written by him…looks like there were a lot of local laws requiring a priest as a witness, just no Church ones.

                  *scribbles down notes for a Catholic Stand article* *glee* Ideas, yes!

                    1. Like Suburban Banshee said, it takes real skill to make this stuff boring. Maybe not of interest to everyone, but not inherently boring.

              2. Betrothal in most European cultures in the Middle Ages was more about agreements between the rest of the family, and as a venue for exchanging the dowry and/or brideprice and/or bridal gifts. Sometimes it happened long before, and sometimes it happened about two minutes before the wedding.

                1. Apparently there a goodly number of French records from the Early Modern period (say 1600-1770s) that are breach-of-contract cases from assumed or actual betrothals that went awry. And a bunch of academic articles about the problem/situation/custom.

                    1.         Watch Cosi Fan Tutti.  At the end, the supposed notary shows up, with a standard marriage contract that will bind the participants once they both sign it.

                  1. As I said to a gal at a card shop. “One of my coworkers is having a white shotgun wedding.” She agreed that finding the right card might be a tad difficult. (Thus far the couple are still together, 13 years on.)

                    1. My sister was telling me about her youngest daughter getting married and felt that she had to tell me that my niece wasn’t pregnant.

                      Mind you, my sister had gotten pregnant to “hurry up” her getting married to my brother-in-law. That child was still-born.

                    2. My (removed for deniability) in law got married the first time because she was pregnant. It didn’t even last until the kid was born.

                      She marries my (relative) and also felt the need to make sure everyone knew she wasn’t pregnant, because she’d been getting crud about it for the last decade…

                      Good thing she did, Baby showed up 10 months later, and it gave those of us who can recognize tact with a guide book the hint that we needed to Strongly Discourage any teasing about being in a hurry.

                      My parents, in contrast, have been making jokes about how they were married in December, and I was born in January, leaving out the “13 months later” part.
                      (Part of the joke is that they only met half a year before they married, and I was several weeks late. The side of the family most sure it would “never last” belonged to parents who’d met two months before marrying, and got teased about being slow because their best friends had married three weeks after first meeting. Both marriages lasted over half a century, of course, and my folks are still going strong.)

                    3. I joked that my parents were married on June 15th and I was born on June 17th. Of course, they were married in 1952 and I came along in 1954. [Wink]

                    4. As much as I am normally poor about reading people, I have a good track record at predicting whether marriages will last or not, even though I considered it the better part of valor not to tell my opinion to my niece when she married her first husband. It lasted somewhere between one and two years, as he showed more and more what a momma’s boy he still was.

                    5. Every woman in the village knew I was pregnant when I got married. The idiot wedding dress place decided I COULDN’T be that tall and took ten centimeters of silk off the skirt. Then they “made it up” with lace. There’s a rounded puffy look to the dress around my stomach. So they “Knew” — also there was no other reason to get married for a college woman in Portugal in my time. They were of course wrong. I wonder if I would have got pregnant if I started earlier, sometimes, and am sorry I WASN’T pregnant.

                    6. White shotgun wedding – Everyone outside the family pretended not to know why the daughter and my co-worker got hitched on very short notice. It was a formal church service, just with the father-in-law and a number of the bride’s large male relatives acting as groomsmen. (Or so I was told in the post-wedding report. I didn’t belong to their denomination so I wasn’t invited to the wedding or reception.)

                    7. “The wedding was a formal one,
                      her father had a white shotgun.”

                      from “The Prettiest Girl I Ever Saw”

                2. However, a betrothal that was consummated was a valid marriage. That is, if you promised in the future tense to take someone as your spouse, and the two of you slept together. As opposed to saying, in the present tense, that you did take someone as your spouse, which could be dissolved if not consummated, but was a valid marriage.

                  I recommend The Knight, the Lady and the Priest: The Making of Modern Marriage in Medieval France by Georges Duby

                  1. Mary, I seem to remember hearing that one of the reasons that the Church wanted a priest involved in marriages was men were tricking women into a marriage and afterwards the witnesses would support the man when he claimed “he never married the woman”.

                    Is my memory “all wet”?

                    1. Witnesses? What witnesses? You could trick a woman (or man) into marriage in the absence of all witnesses and deny everything after.

                      There was a lot of wrangling over that until the Council of Trent required witnesses — one a priest unless one of the couple were in danger of death, or a priest could not be obtained in a reasonable time.

              3.         Heck, in some places, once the engagement was announced, the two started having relations regularly, and the marriage didn’t take place till after the bride was known to be pregnant.

                  1.         Parts of Europe I’ve read of.  I can’t remember any country names at the moment, though I believe the local religion tended to be Protestant.  One anecdote specifically referred to WWII, and the effect of German occupation in a certain village.

                            I also seem to recall that it was a specific room in the house that the couple used, and the groom-to-be entered through the window.  But I read this years before the ‘Net, and didn’t think to keep a reference.

      3. Perhaps what was happening was the Lord (or a son of his) “breaking-in” the maiden and then hastily finding a man of her own status to pair her to and take responsibility for the get.

        From the husband’s point of view, not only did he get a wife (and all services therefrom) and a stipend but — in a time when “breeding” carried many associations, an endowment to care for his dotage and a benefit to his family.

        Liken this to the many tales of farmers eager to breed their daughters to Heracles, Theseus and other itinerant heroes.

        1. That’s just marrying off your mistresses — or casual flings. Happens all the time in cultures without anyone making up “first-night rights” and imputing them to the culture.

          1. And it often wasn’t exactly mistresses or flings. Some (most depending on time and place. With very religious/saintly exceptions, almost every European king in the ages we have records for, for ex.) people with power really initiated practically every girl who came of age under their sway.
            Yes, I could have explained the more complex arrangements, and perhaps should — but “first night rights” is a short hand and d*mn it the essay is long as hell. Take it as meant I didn’t mean the simplistic legend but the far more complex practice.

              1. England — “court lady” was a byword for “will sleep with the kind, then with everyone else” — and that’s without going into France, etc. (There is a reason that Ann Boleyn was assumed to have been deflowered by the French king.) There is a post about this from Dave at MGC. Well, it’s actually about the state of SF, but you get thepoint.

                    1. At the time that Slick Willy got caught with his pants down, there was a “defense” of “everybody lies about sex”.

                      Unfortunately, there is an element of truth in it but perhaps not as intended.

                      Guys have been known to lie about their “successes with the girls”. Many guys would have “embarrassed” to admit that they were virgins.

                      Stories get started about women “being good lays” even if they are still virgins.

                      I’m afraid that I’d take stories about “Royal Courts” and “loose” Ladies of the Court with a ton of salt.

                    2. Sarah, I’m not saying “it didn’t happen”. I’m saying that there were stories about it that were false.

                    3. Oh, sure, and that’s why I put in “where it did happen” — I’m sure it was by no means universal. Contrary to socialist propaganda, not all noblemen were pigs/psychopaths. But heavens when they were, up to damn near current era…

                  1. One Adage of Life I hold dear is always avoid giving offense to those who have access to your food out of your site and to your throat while you are sleeping.

                    1. Which is why I boggle at the gaystapo trying to force bakers to make wedding cakes for them. Flowers is one thing, but a cake? That you will put in your mouth?

                1. She probably wasn’t, though — one of the ironies of the accusations later heaped upon Anne was that she was remarkably virtuous for her rather decadent era. Her sister, on the other hand …

                  1. You know, I’ve studied the time and place, and even for that time and place — literate, etc — it’s d*mn hard to know. The dead keep their secrets, and people don’t knowingly mock the king.

        2. I think there was a much stronger vein of this sort of thing than we realize, and that there was far more of a two-way street going than we think.

          Also, consider: You’re a farmer or herder. You breed animals. Do you not breed your strongest animals, and cull the weakest? Now, consider that you’re very likely to apply that same mentality to your own kids: You’re going to breed your line with the likely underfed, undernourished fellow males, or are you going to try for that top stud who’s managed to make himself the local warrior chief? Having at least one child by that guy makes a lot of sense, when you consider it as an opportunity to enhance your line. And, of course, he’s probably taller, bolder, and better muscled than the competition–The ladies on this side of the equation are probably going “Hmmm… Why not?”.

          We think of things far differently than they did, back when. The idea of romantic love didn’t play as much of a role as we would like to think, in the day-to-day life of the lower classes. Then, as now, they did what it took to survive and prosper. The wife or daughter sharing the bosses bed? A tool, likely eagerly used by both the men and the women in the situation.

          1. Ehhh… These are all sensible, if rather brutal, reasons to accept that particular practice. I am unconvinced they were as characteristic in practice as you suggest. Pre-industrial feudal folks may not have thought about romantic love the way we did, but they knew about love, loyalty and keeping promises, and they knew about the jealousy, humiliation and fear of yielding what’s supposed to be yours up to someone else solely as a matter of power.

            Accepting a lord’s advances when they happened with a certain resignation, and probably without half the trauma we would most likely feel, is one thing, but eagerly welcoming them for their benefits? No, I don’t buy that; not for most folks, anyway. It simply doesn’t pass the smell test for what I know of people — they may have thought very differently about a lot of things, but I doubt they thought that differently.

            1. You’re thinking about things from your position in the world of today.

              Now, picture yourself as someone living in a world where might literally makes right, and not in terms of morality, either. The wording there doesn’t include the meaning of right in terms of right and wrong, it means that because I’m stronger than you, I’ve got the right to what you have.

              Now, tell me how you plan to motivate someone to take up arms on your behalf, in that world? If it means the difference between you and your family starving to death next winter, what are you going to find suddenly palatable to keep that armed man around to protect you?

              I’m not arguing the morality of this whole thing, I’m arguing the transactional nature of how these things worked. You’re a village of peasants; what do you have to offer the warriors?

              1. You are imputing to the era a brutality that it did not, in fact, have. Remember that “gentle” behavior derives its meaning from being the way a gentleman should act. And it had its moral meaning throughout the Middle Ages.

                  1. H*ll, read Dumas, whose father WAS a count. Beating your servant? Completely acceptable. Running over peasants? Nothing to think about. AND this was in semi-civilized times.

                    1. The French nobility, the Romanian nobility (keeping Gypsies as slaves), and the Russian nobility had a reputation of being really nasty to peasants. Other countries, not so much.

                    2. Oh, there were differences. I was reading a mystery the other day, and it went flying against the wall, because it was set in England, but the MC behaved like a Frenchman to “peasants” — in the regency.

                    3. “The peasants feel you have no regard for them.”

                      “What? I have no regard for the peasants? They are my people. I am their sovereign. I love them. PULL!”

                    4. This is something I’m going to have to tweak in the WWI stuff – the protagonist is too western in his attitudes. (OK, the Houses are very different from our ordinary Eastern European nobility, but still, he needs to be more of a thoughtless autocrat.)

                    5. Dumas was writing after the revolution, and it’s not clear to me to what degree his writing is highly influenced by revolutionary ideology. That is to say: is he reporting accurately the mentality of the nobility, or is he reporting a hybrid that is accurate in parts and influenced (in part) by the myths people of his time had about the nobility?

                    6. Since his father and grandfather were noblemen, I suspect there was family legend too, but more importantly he’s not in any way writing it with condemnation. These are admirable characters who just beat the servants and treat peasants like dirt.

                    7. Sure. And yet it’s hard to disambiguate “describing it without meaning criticism” from “describing it without explicitly criticising but doing it in a way which you know most people will interpret as being so awful as to constitute criticism per se”.

                      I don’t know enough about the reading audience of Dumas’ books to be able to tell which of these it is; but I know that in the post-revolutionary mood, there was a general prevailing assumption that pre-revolutionary nobility were awful. So it seems to me that it’s at least a possibility that Dumas was intentionally playing on that.

                1. Mary, I’m not talking about the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages are what happened a long damn time after this sort of thing was going on. I’m talking more in terms of “Oh, great… The Roman Empire just left us here alone in Britain…”.

                  Call it “proto-feudalism”, if you like. It’s what happens when a formerly civilized or unwarlike people lose civilization or whatever was protecting them against the biker gang mentality. A society like the German tribes probably didn’t have these issues to the sort of degree that I’m positing–More of them were warriors, and while there was likely a good deal of genetic transactions taking place between high-status warrior types and the lower-status women, the power imbalance probably wasn’t as high.

                  And, again–Ritual binding of the leader to the led. Would you want the guy running your war band to not have ties to your tribe? Blood ties? When you went out to draw the best warriors to your band, what have you got to offer? The quality of your weaving? The more effective way you raise wheat? Your beer-brewing technique?

                  Yeah… I don’t think so. Although, the beer would be a nice side-benefit, along with the access to the comely women.

                  I think we have to face the fact that the reason the warrior lifestyle was so damn popular was that it got you laid. Yeah, higher risk of an early and ugly death, but your genes are telling you through the imperative drives, it’s worth the risk to spread them that way. There’s a damn good reason there are some huge numbers of Genghis Khan’s descendents among us today.

                  1. “I’m talking more in terms of ‘Oh, great… The Roman Empire just left us here alone in Britain…’.”

                    Kirk, I’ll concede the difference between Dark Ages anarchy and Middle Ages feudalism, but I still think you’re overlooking the basic element of human jealousy and possessiveness that manifests even in situations of collapse or chaos: people can be cold-blooded or desperate enough to ignore these things temporarily for survival’s sake, but I simply don’t buy that they do so reliably and regularly enough for that to become a widely, peaceably accepted custom.

                    (A custom enforced by the people on top I buy, but even there, it usually meets fierce resistance — I suspect part of the reason Islam as a faith produces such internecine violence among its practitioners is precisely because, despite both a religious and secular power structure that formally teach that success and power are their own proofs of virtue, and which enshrine the idea that the powerful can justly arrange to take or use the women of those beneath them, the indulgence of such authority seeds nothing but resentment and hatred and eventual rebellion — ironic in a faith whose name means “submission”.)

                    Besides, in the typically small groups of such circumstances, the binding of leader to led through kinship had typically already taken place within a generation or two; the claim that it would need “reinforcing” to keep the warriors around seems tenuous, to me. Yes, the warrior lifestyle got you laid, but the degree to which everyone who wasn’t a warrior would peaceably accept this if you persisted in ravishing women of your own group who’d already chosen someone else? Modern perspective or not, I don’t think human nature has changed that much in a mere few hundred years. You make a plausible case, but I’d need to see some more evidence before I buy it.

                    1. RE: The Islam and submission thing you mention. That’s not ironic, at all. You’re simply seeing the flip side to the coin, because what’s the opposite of submission? Rebellion. The nature of Islamic society is to enforce control upon the lower classes, above all. That’s why the entire idea of submission is baked into the religion. It’s not really a religion, anyway–It’s a total package of political and economic custom justified by religious underpinnings, intended to aid in the conquest of other cultures.

                      As to human nature, I think you’re wrong. You come at this from a position of safety: You’ve always been safe, you’ve always had rights, and life is pretty damn predictable. You resent it when rules are broken, because you feel entitled to them. I’d submit that you are the exception to the general rule of things, especially from the standpoint of the common man.

                      If you’ve never had any of the above, what are your attitudes going to be? Are you going to get jealous of the guy who’s been out protecting your village from starvation, by preventing the other guys from taking your food? You might well look around at your other kids, the ones with your same dark hair, and not really mind that Edvard the Blond, blowhard though he be, boinked the hell out of your wife after the last big fight with the raiders. Hell, he was drunk, anyway, and grieving the loss of his brother, who died in the fight… Who cares if he took a little license? Hell, he might die the next time ’round, and then where would we be…?

                      Hell, come to think of it, that big bastard kid might not be a bad idea, to have around in case Edvard gets himself killed… And, if Edvard takes some time to train him…?

                      Jealousy had no place in that environment. It’s a luxury. And, the other thing is that we don’t really know how those “lower classes” looked at things, either–How do you feel about cops? Want the job? No? Do you mind if they take a few excesses, like really good pensions after 20? I don’t, because I don’t want their jobs. I’d submit that the “lower classes” probably thought the same way, in the early days. It was only later, once the whole thing was set in concrete, and the benefits were no longer so clear, as well as the need not being there. When the privilege was taken without the sacrifice, resentment followed. But, when Edvard was getting hacked to death to keep the food in the cellars, it looked damn good.

                    2. We do not have to discuss it in purely hypothetical terms. We do not have to guess whether people in hierarchical societies feel jealous. We can go look.

                      And we discover that lo and behold, they do.

                      One of the complaints against Gilgamesh was that he exploited the women. If they are willing to complain to the gods about that when the man is literally semidivine, no lesser being has a chance.

                    3. Mary, I think there’s a possibility that those tales are enshrined as stories precisely because they are the exception to the rule… And, as cautionary tales to the powerful.

                      In actual practice, I just don’t know. Safety and survival trump all, and petty human emotions can become regarded as luxury items.

                    4. Except that you are arguing that they would sacrifice their own Darwinian survival. Not having children is dealing yourself out of the game. Jealousy is not some invention of civilization; some biologists did some genetic testing of bluebird eggs, and found that they were more likely to be the offspring of the apparent father than of the apparent mother, and then went, “Aha! That explains why the female bluebirds, unlike the males, fight so savagely that sometimes they kill each othe.r”

                    5. The Chinese had legal polygamy and all sorts of permissible concubines and prostitution and such. But what do you get? Endless true crime reports of crimes of passion committed by both men and women, on both men and women.

                    6. Stephen – “..ravishing women of your own group who’d already chosen someone else? ” – attraction and preference are not the same as agency to choose, especially if you’ve been trained from birth to understand that the agency to choose your life partner belongs to the older, wiser father or lord. Since jealousy is based on violation of a perceived right, if you believe you have no rights, The reaction is more likely to be watered-down to intense envy… and possibly a decision that you’ll just have to wait until the big guy’s gone on a long patrol to comfort the girl you desire…

                    7. Even the cults that actively remove those males who won’t get with the program haven’t managed to severe the mate-bonds.

                    8. Jealousy is not based on a perceived right. Women who live in polygamous societies have no perceived right to their mate’s fidelity, but jealousy rages. The World of the Shining Prince: Court Life in Ancient Japan by Ivan Morris covers it nicely, citing (among others) a jealous wife whose schemes were thwarted and who tells herself that she’s just going to have to endure in silence like other women. (Ineffectualness being the reason, not lack of jealousy.)

              2. Imagine you’re some dirt-poor farmer or fisherman knowing the likelihood of surviving the next raid; what are you going to do to increase the probability of your children being taken in by the Lord?

              3. @Kirk: I’m inclined to say otherwise. Even Machiavelli, in the 1500s, said that men will be okay with just about anything except going after their women and their land.

                1. One thing that those of you arguing for the prevalence of human vanity and jealousy are missing is that you’re talking about times and places where things were relatively set and stable, and I’m talking about the periods before those times, when it was “a wind age, a wolf age…”.

                  When you’ve got the Vikings coming down on the settlement every couple of years or so, that right bastard up the castle on the hill suddenly becomes your favorite guy, because although he has a tendency to get all grabby-hands with the womenfolk on feast nights, he’s also hell on wheels with a sword, and he’s a dab hand at getting fighting men to follow him. When he’s led the levies out, in the past, he’s been prudent and kept most of you alive. That’s something to value, more than rubies.

                  Look at men like Bill Clinton, for gawd’s sake. I’ve got the feeling that there are men who’ve been cuckolded by him that just went “Oh, that Bill…”, and shook their heads ruefully, not really that angry over it. Look at what the guy has gotten away with, that we know of. Tell me that there weren’t people like that back in the day when all these customs and legends had their beginnings. If we’ll put up with Bill, when the wolf is hardly at our doors, I wonder what would have been acceptable to the poor bastards living down at the sea’s edge, when the Vikings were just over the horizon?

                  The dynamic isn’t comprehensible to someone from our safe and boring era, I suspect. After you saw what was left of the village down the river, I wonder what would have suddenly become palatable.

                  The relationships between feudal parties are pretty much incomprehensible other than in the most remote intellectual way, for most of us. Put your life on the line, and have a combat leader show up whose charisma and presence is a 10 to your 1, and you’d likely give the guy whatever he wanted, to keep him around. Not only that, you’ll do it gladly, out of a sense of obligation–Mostly because many of these guys are truly tragic figures, sacrificial animals on the altar of combat. They’re only going to go up to that altar so many times, and then it’s their turn to be hacked into hamburger. I wouldn’t be surprised if you were to actually be able to interview a bunch of those old pre-feudal proto-peasants about the whole thing, they’d actually tell you they pitied the fighters, and wouldn’t take their place for all the oats in England.

                  There is a primal, visceral thing with these men: You’ll follow them anywhere, even knowing they’re leading you into dire danger. Off the fighting line, you don’t give a damn at all about things they do that normally you’d happily kill them for. Why? Because they brought you back, and you won through whatever it was you faced. You’d gladly grant someone like this a few favors, even intensely personal ones, when the fat was out of the fire.

                  We moderns don’t live like that. Our lives lack true risk, in a lot of ways, and we don’t grasp the intricacies of these relationships, because we’ve never been in that sort of in extremis situation. And, once the customs to support this sort of thing are in place, they’re going to be very hard to uproot. That’s why we still hear the echoes, but are deaf to the power and glory that were there, at the root of it all.

                  1. Historically it is also important to recall just exactly what combat consisted of: lines of men standing toe to toe ever since the Greek phalanx, where your survival depended on the line not breaking or even wavering. Holding the shield wall (yes, I’ve been reading Cornwall’s Lord Uhtred — what of it? Read David Gemmel’s Druss and you get the same ideas) involves a degree of charisma we moderns don’t comprehend.

                    Go back further to the Age of Warriors and the effect is even greater. A Horatius or Orlando who survives? Your life is his gift; what would you begrudge him in return? Had he not stood and anchored the defense you would have been dead and your women raped and killed or sold into slavery.

                    One of the great illusions of modern man is that we can see the world through the eyes of our ancestors. Sorry, we can no more understand the way a tribe looks at the hunter who stands in the Mammoth’s path to draw it into the killing field than we can comprehend the astronaut’s perception of the Earth.

                    There are times when the menu of your choices is limited. Those times are the majority of human history.

                    1. There are still such men. I have known two. People may not recognize such traits consciously, but such men can still get the needed reaction. I’ve yet to meet a woman with that kind of Charisma. There are very charismatic women I have met, but they get a somewhat different response in the people they talk to.

                    1. Great stability, no. High quality of life for all, no. Peace on Earth and goodwill toward men? Hardly.

                      But Renaissance Italy did have a full measure of wonderfulness. It was the Renaissance, afterall.

                  2. One thing that those of you arguing for the prevalence of human vanity and jealousy are missing is that you’re talking about times and places where things were relatively set and stable, and I’m talking about the periods before those times, when it was “a wind age, a wolf age…”.

                    Several of them have given you a range of examples from times that were even rougher than the middle ages that we’re discussing, and a wide range of cultures; you just keep repeating your theory that it goes away if the rewards are big enough, and some situational things where it seems plausible if everyone involved is working on pure reason– but nothing like even the same prevalence as their examples of it not working that way.

                    If you could find some examples of it actually working the way you think it would, that might help, but you just keep saying it *could* work that way.

                    1. Part of what they’re not taking in account too is the class thing. This is a charming American thing, and I confess I never GOT class at the level say, mom, who grew up barefoot in a slum in Europe gets it. Mom could never understand or conceptualize that I felt entitled to answer rudely when the wife of the richest farmer (not even a minor manor house lord) was rude to me. And she melted into a neurotic puddle if I was rude to anyone she perceived as better/richer than her NO MATTER HOW DESERVED. Jealousy of the “lord” might NOT have been possible.

                    2. If that was how it worked, though, there should be a ton of examples– instead, we even have literal half-gods being dinged for it, and a lot of records of people trying to do it individually.

                      The avoidance of trouble with those who *will* abuse their power is a different metric– one we don’t know in terms of class, but we’re all familiar with it in the more gross forms, aren’t we?

                    3. The essential American attitude:
                      A hundred years ago, an Englishman visiting Texas was attempting to find the owner of a huge cattle ranch. He rode up to one of the ranch hands, and inquired, “Pardon me, but could you perhaps tell me where I might locate your master?” To which the cowboy replied, “That sumbitch ain’t been born yet”.

            2. You know, the other thing I just made a connection is this: We’re thinking from our perspective, where every kid that makes it to birth stands a good chance of becoming an adult.

              People living in a world of tooth-and-claw did not live that way. With infant mortality rates as high as they were, how big a deal was it if you got stuck with one of the laird’s kids? Sure, you were out nine months of effort, but what are the odds that the kid would live?

              Conversely, the fact that so many did…? That has certain interesting implications, when you stop to think about it. How hard would it have really been to arrange an accident for that kid? “Oh, him? Yeah, the cow stepped on him…”. That so many passed on their genes indicates that they weren’t that unwanted, and that the practice of bastardry apparently had some perceived benefits to the purported “victims”.

              1. Generally speaking, the fishwife who has a child by the Baird has something to lord over the other, not so favored, fishwives.
                There is a rather fierce pecking order among the hens.

                1. Precisely. And, if the fisherman is short, dark and ugly, who wouldn’t want a golden-haired tall child in the mix? It’s a life-long testimony to the fishwife’s onetime allure–“See? I pulled the Laird, once upon a time…”.

              2. And survival could turn on what we would now consider small things. Most peasants ate a relatively low-protein diet. A little extra meat could make the difference between growing up big and strong and disease-resistant — or small and weak and possibly dying of disease early.

                Now consider that one thing that a lord can easily do for a woman he remembers fondly, who may be caring for his bastard, is simply give her a little extra food, including high-quality food such as meat from his own table. And that this little extra high-quality food may help not only the bastard, but all the woman’s children, including those by her husband.

                Do you begin to see the advantage of this even from her husband’s point of view?

                1. The other thing to consider is how it would work from the standpoint of the lord, as well. Consider that he’s pretty likely to be in the position he’s in because he’s bigger and badder than the average run of male in the village or tribe. He wants to enhance the odds he lives. He looks around, and realizes that the men he has to call on to serve in his warband as levies are kind of… Errrmmmm… Squingy? Unfit specimens, as warriors?

                  Yeah. All of a sudden, it makes a whole hell of a lot of sense for him to get out there and start breeding more war-appropriate males, does it not? Even if it is his legitimate son who benefits, he’s got that inducement to get out and breed with his people.

                  On top of that, if he or his son recruits his warband from among the sons and half-brothers of the village, doesn’t that tend to make it more likely they’ll defend him?

                  By the time you hit the late Middle Ages, this stuff looks like abuse of privilege. But, in the earlier times? It makes damn good sense.

                2. In earnest of which, the lord presents the newly-married couple with a brace of chickens at the wedding feast.. (Where did you think the bloody sheet got its stain from?)

                3.         It’s important to remember cultures vary.  There are Polynesian cultures where visiting males from other islands get to sleep with the wives of their hosts, but those same hosts would object strenuously to their wives sleeping with guys from the same island.  And the wives would be pissed if their husband was fooling around with that floozy from the other side of the village, but expect that when he visits other islands, of course he’ll sleep with local women.

                          And people within cultures vary too.

                  1. An example of ‘Darwinian’ survival, where the gene pool is speaking louder than ‘social norms’. Each island represents a small pool, so there is absolutely no advantage of your wife sleeping with her second cousin twice removed. Males from another island? A totally different set of genes? A little hybrid vigor? Yes, the wonderfully plastic minds of human culture are going to do whatever it takes to implement such a gene replenishment without recognizing it.
                    As a thought example. Two islands, one has culture of sharing with off-island guests, the other one no. Fast forward 200 years. Guess which island has healthyhildren and which one has inbred morons? Jealously and rational thought mean nothing to the gene pool. Survival trumps any culture because the culture that accepts the strange counter-intituive rules survives and your ‘natural human nature’ culture is in history’s dustbin.

                    1.         Yeah, I know the genetic advantages.  I can see how it would help the culture survive.

                              But this “survival trumps programming” idea is false, imao.  I’ve read too much WWI military history, and seen mistakes being made in the last year of the war that were demonstrated to be mistakes in the first year.  And later in the 20th Century, Britain and France went from Great Power to second or third rate power because they couldn’t integrate their imperial subjects into the society.  (Think of what Britain would be, if India was still part of the Empire).  And the background “causes” of WWI come down to Imperial Austria, Germany, Russia, and Turkey being unable to adapt to their changing circumstances, and choosing to die rather than change.

                              People do damn-fool things with great regularity.

                    2. Saintonge, by WWI, the civilization was established with a bureaucracy quite capable of repeating the same stupid idea, like, say America the last 75 years. Europe was in no danger of dying-off, so they could easily turn their bravest and brightest into fertilizer. By then, the gene pool was so large that no amount of purging would restore it and no survival pressure remained.

                4. ” Most peasants ate a relatively low-protein diet”… “Now consider that one thing that a lord can easily do for a woman he remembers fondly,”

                  Hey! This is a PG-13 blog.

              3. another thing to remember is that the high mortality rate of children (not counting abortions by the way) did not ease until there was better medical treatment for women and unborn children. When I do genealogy, I see women die during childbirth. Plus many babies dying before the age of five. A family man ended up with two dead wives and four children. There were 10-14 who died as babies or died during plagues (i.e. influenza).

                1. Another major cause of death for women was house fires. Cooking over an open flame (or even stoking a stove’s firebox) while wearing multiple petticoats is a good way of ensuring burns won’t be superficial. That beautifully tied bow on your apron bears appalling resemblance to a wick.

                  1. Thank you, you just gave me the justification I needed to ask my wife to always cook in the nude. Now, all I need to do is find a wife…

                    1. Made that mistake personally when I was just out of college. Fortunately not a lot of the hot oil slopped on me. Yes, there! Never did it again.

                    2. That sort of thing usually requires you to do it first.
                      Frying bacon in the nude? Yeah, you first.

                    3. Up here in Seattle there’s a fad for bikini/lingerie drive through coffee shops.

                      There have been reports of very predictable results of steam, hot coffee and exposed skin.

                    4. Amateurs. We old married hacks know the virtue of a good quality apron covering ~ neck to thighs. From the front. What (if anything) you wear under it, is your business.

                    1. ?????? Wool is not very flammable, in fact if you read old survival books that is one of several recommendations of wool over cotton, it is MUCH harder to accidentally catch on fire.

                      As for comparing it to the new synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester…

                    2. But I almost set fire to the house with wool, once. Wool smolders a long time before catching, so you might have your apron ties catch and not notice, and then suddenly your clothes burst into flame.

                    3. Sarah, are you sure you aren’t related to James Nicoll of the many potentially deadly accidents?

                      And isn’t the smell of burning wool kinda noticeable?

                    4. Err… wearing wool or other natural fibers instead of melts-to-the-skin synthetics is the standard recommendation for SAFETY when cooking around open flames, e.g. outdoors.

            3. Kirk doesn’t believe that jealousy is human nature, which pretty much throws your argument out the window as far as he is concerned.

              1. Kirk doesn’t believe that jealousy is human nature, …

                Neither, to judge by what he was willing to put in his stories, did Heinlein.

                I am not sure I agree, but in order to disagree I think I would have to come up with a working definition of “human nature” and that exceeds even my hubris.

                1. That is why so much of later Heinlein reads as totally ridiculous to me. I cannot generally suspend my disbelief that far, it just throws me out of the story.

                2. One big part of jealousy is relative *scarcity*. It applies from jealousy over sexual partnership to who gets the bigger scoop of ice cream. The other factor is what color of mud is supposed to be in your bellybutton.

                  This is why we can see the large differences between cultures – both in an environmental sense and a chronological one. Sexual behaviors that *reduce* your resources (on a net basis) engender jealousy; behaviors that *enhance* your resources do not (perhaps among your neighbors that are not receiving the same enhancement, though).

                  RAH posited situations in which non-exclusive sexual behaviors either enhanced your position (the Howard Foundation practices), or had little effect (Tertius colony). Some of those situations require a bit more elasticity in my suspension mechanism – but the consequences of them really do not.

              2. While I’m not Kirk, in my particular case, I believe that, while jealousy tends to be prevalent among humans, the psychological effects of being in the situation of being a peasant would mitigate the issue towards being more lenient if there is any reasonable expectation of improved favor from the local lord.

                1. Ah… You underestimate the suckitude (yes, that’s totally a word) of pagan tribal life. You absolutely get and participate in the handing over of your wife or daughter to the hotshot warlord who can slaughter 100s of the philistines who are out to despoil your vineyards, steal your goats and make off with your womenfolk. You ALSO get the jealousy and resentment viz the same. Sheesh, people. This is human nature 101. It’s not either/or.

          2. We think of things far differently than they did, back when.

            The working out of this type of error is one of the pleasures of the brother Cadfael (amongst other) mysteries.

            1. Maybe we think differently maybe not. I maintain that the rich and powerful with the right connections can still have whomever, whenever and non. may call it rape or murder.

              I enter Ted Kennedy, Lion of the Senate as Exhibit A.

              And Bill Clinton Exhibit B.

              1. The lady nails it in one…

                Why else would these characters get away with what they did? You’d be forgiven if you started to wonder if it wasn’t hard-coded into the genes for people to genuflect sexually to the powerful…

                1. What was the name of that Democrat Operative w/Byline reporter who declared she’d have happily donned her knee-pads and blown the Slick Willie in gratitude for keeping abortion legal?

                    1. Back when Teddy was planning on challenging Carter, some medium “popped” up to claim that Mary Jo said that Teddy didn’t know she was sleeping in the backseat of that car.

                    2. Didn’t hear about that one.

                      I wasn’t talking about an ACTUAL medium. I was joking about the woman who claimed that Mary Jo Kopechne would have supported him running for President.

                    3.         Stop and ask yourself: what is the evidence that, when that car went off the bridge, Teddy was in it?

                              Right, it comes down to “He says he was.”  Now, explain why you think he should be trusted on that.

                              A lot of people couldn’t believe Teddy’s story that he was driving and went the wrong way by accident, because he was familiar with the island and its roads.  Well, with the exception of that night, no one ever went off that bridge.  So I find it easy to believe that Mary Jo was in that car alone, and went off the bridge by herself.

                    4. Now you’ve gone off into the realm of utter fucking lunacy. Even a Kennedy would not claim to have been driving someone’s car into a lake and leaving them to die if he hadn’t.

                    5.         Don’t be too sure of that.  The two had left the party together.  If she was driving the car alone, where was she going, and why?  And where was he?

                              If you look at his documentable behavior, Teddy seems to have been trying to establish that he was at his motel, alone.  He seems to have been caught by surprise by the news that Mary Jo was dead.  And his story later was ridiculous: ‘I came to a big reflector sign that pointed left, and turned right into the barely visible road to the bridge, and transitioned from pavement to blacktop, and never noticed, though I’ve been here before.

                              His behavior makes no sense that night if you believe his story, and neither does that of the two people who supposedly knew that Kopechne had died.  (They claimed to have gone back to the bridge with him, and watched him dive the car, trying to free her).  It makes lots of sense if he expected her to be alive, was trying to establish that they hadn’t been together, and then had to scramble to make up a story on the fly.

                    6. Wayne, I would suspect a Kenedy to be able to lie about their actions in a routine setting and quite capable of any amount of fantasy to destroy their love child. To call the serial abuser of waitresses in DC the lion of the senate invokes nothing but disgust to me. How anyone could tolerate the b*st*rd is amazing. I hope he has the hottest seat in hell and is the center filling of a demon sandwich for eternity.

            2. Margaret Frazer’s Dame Frevisse series is very good “shooting down” such matters.

              In one story, the Prioress is nervous about a murder in her Abbey because it means that there will be an investigation.

        3. Sounds much more likely– if I remember the “evidence” right, the first night thing was usually a threat type thing. Like “the guys we’re fighting eat babies.”

          1. I think there is a good chance that the idea references an ancient folkway, as well. We’re really remembering what was probably just an echo, in the first place.

            I don’t have time to go look it up, but I vaguely remember reading somewhere about the ritual bindings of kings to people that included sex with a woman who was supposed to be the personification of the nation or tribe, and that the whole thing was tied in with the same tradition that required the king to be sacrificed when things went badly. Which puts a decidedly different cast on the matter, does it not?

            1. I’m not investing the time, but I vaguely recall evidence of this in the Greek myths, such as Andromeda, and a quick Wiki reveals:

              Her name is the Latinized form of the Greek Ἀνδρομέδα (Androméda) or Ἀνδρομέδη (Andromédē): “ruler of men”,[2] from ἀνήρ, ἀνδρός (anēr, andrós) “man”, and medon, “ruler”.

              As a subject, Andromeda has been popular in art since classical times; it is one of several Greek myths of a Greek hero’s rescue of the intended victim of an archaic hieros gamos (sacred marriage), giving rise to the “princess and dragon” motif. From the Renaissance, interest revived in the original story, typically as derived from Ovid’s account.

              This seems to support the thesis, although one must always exercise care about swallowing academic pills.

            2. Or it would be a different cast on the matter if we had any reason to believe those were anything but the wild speculations of myth-making Victorian folklorists.

    1. I think you people are way overthinking this ‘first night rite’. The French have a phrase for it. The phrase has an idea behind it. It might have taken much longer in the ‘good ole days’ for a meme to spread, but if the meme exists, there is good reason to suspect a basis for it.

      1. Problem being, that basis may be “humans like making up nasty stories.”

        When the phrase has a meaning and background that would mean there was actual evidence, from the time, but it’s only found either in totally different cultures, ancient mythology, dramatic stories, or a greatly watered down version used as an accusation…

        Sort of like the enduring myth of “nuns are the whores for the priests and monks, they kill the bastard children and hide the bodies.” There are some cases of nuns having illegitimate children, but other than that the evidence consists of the shocking surprise that the people who take in abandoned infants have a lot of graveyards, in times when even the healthiest kids often died.

        1. Also, “humans like making up porn.”

          It’s always somebody else far away who has the weird sexual custom imposed by their lords. If it happens close by, it’s that one psychopath doing it, and everybody else trying to get the heck out of Psychopath Land.

          And then Lord Psychopath tends to try something like that with the wrong woman with the right connections, and ends up dying young or getting executed.

        2. Sort of like the enduring myth of ‘nuns are the whores for the priests and monks, they kill the bastard children and hide the bodies.’

          That one has its roots in the ancient Ba’al worshipers, I believe. Whence do you think their supply of new-born babes for the altar came?

          1. There were several temples that had “sacred prostitutes,” IIRC.

            Of course, the “sacrificing babies” thing has been shown false often enough that now you’ve got experts thinking it’s always false, and trying to explain away obvious ritual slaughter.

        3. In Portugal one of the convents was the King’s preserve, but there were reasons for that, including young noble girls without dowry being professed against their will.

      2. The STEM disciplines actually have scholarly pun on it: “droit de signer”, where somebody (usually very senior) gets to add their name to a paper without actually having done any work on the project.

          1. At least he was parathentically related to the effort. How about a peace prize to the man that has brought conflict worldwide and terrorists to our back door?

        1. I know of an academic (history of engineering/environment type) who has at least 42 pages of publications attached to his CV. And still teaches and does academic service and is the head of international scholarly associations. Uh huh. Droit de signer indeed.

  3. Through Fire is done? Woohoo! Go take a break and heal up some, please.

  4. The Jews have that beautiful phrase for a young Jew who feels a need to return to the old ways and traditions: “Yearning for the Law.”

    1. I’ve never heard that phrase, and I have friends & relatives to whom it would apply (raised unobservant and came to observance in early adulthood) if it were at all in use.

      1. He may be thinking of “chozer be-tshuvah”, literally “one who returns in answer/repentance”, but which idiomatically is more like “penitent” or “born-again Jew”?

  5. “*Yes, the writer is slap happy having delivered the cursed book. You should deal with it and be noble, for a change.”

    Much obliged, ma’am.

  6. Congrats on the delivery. Would a chant of “eARC” be welcomed or an incitement for carp carpet bombing?

    1. Well, this morning I started fixing what I have of Darkship Revenge, in order to finish that. Right now I need to talk to Speaker about the gimmick for that book.

          1. Like syphilis in its later forms? Treat with Salversan (sp?) and it went dormant for a number of years, then showed up again in the neurologic form. Oliver Sachs talks about it in _The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat_.

          2.         And now I’m picturing Mission Control monitoring the viruses, will the second stage virus separate cleanly from the first?  Yes! *CHEERS*

    2. Once a book has been delivered eARC chanting is always in order, but you’re in the wrong venue. The power to grant that request now lies with She Who Must Be Obeyed over at Baen. I understand she really likes chocolate.

      1. Yeah, though you can get earcs from me for the indies (makes a note to have earcs, because, according to JB (PBUH) It’s “like sheep fleecing themselves.”)

        1. Yep, I remember Jim being disgustingly proud of the idea to turn what had been give aways into a revenue stream, and one with nigh onto zero additional investment.
          If you listen very carefully you can hear his mad cackle even to this day from wherever he wound up. Hard telling, sometimes it sounds like it comes from above, other times from below.

          1. He’s in that place writers’ and editors and hard=core readers of SF go. It’s a con bar with writing rooms on the side. Some say it’s heaven, some say it’s hell. I don’t know. I know Jim is editing Heinlein and Asimov and all the names and having the time of his lif– dea– Whatever. THAT is how I think of him.

            1. Are there hangovers there?

              And how do you define “hard-core” readers of SF?

                1. But are there bars that serve long island ice-teas, have the Ramones, Sisters of Mercy and New Model Army on the juke box, and allow smoking?

              1.         “Lester, why are you looking so terrible.”

                        “I tried to outdrink Gordy.”

                        “Are you crazy?  You have only half his volume!”

                        “I almost did.”

                        I thought No, you almost died.

                        {Somewhere in Asimov’s memoirs, quoted from memory, so probably with wording errors.}

            2. You my dear young Portagee are a poet and a romantic.
              And a bloody butcher, and I’m only about 50 pages in so far.
              I fear you’ve been hanging with the wrong sort, ie Weber, Correia, and Ringo.

            1. Simple, it’s become pretty much self evident that they really are not that smart. Their business model fails while Baen’s succeeds, yet they double down on stupid.

      2. All women love chocolate. It is due to widespread use of chocolate as a host gift by Lords during the ‘first night rite’ with the young peseant lasses. 😉

          1. Fellow choir member [sees me pawing through choir room post-Valentines chocolate stash]: “What are you doing?”
            Me: “Just checking for Lindt.”

  7. The Left is trying to give more power to those who are perceived as having less power, in order to make everyone equal (except that usually, they’re they’re trying to reverse the power imbalance), and it will only make things worse.

    1. Actually, I don’t think they want equality as much as they want revenge.

      I mean reparations. Yeah that’s it. Reparations.

      1. Reparations includes a sense of making the “victim” whole. I think their goal is somewhat less ambitious.

      2. You notice that when arguing for slavery reparations, they never say the one thing that would get them the money in a month:

        If you do this, you will have made reparation.

        So they can never bring up slavery again.

        1.         Yeah, my response to reparations proposals is always “Well, we’d have to determine who pays, and who gets paid, and how much, but let’s leave that aside from the moment.  Assume that we’ve all agreed, and the reparations have been paid.  Now what?  Does this mean affirmative action is OVER?”

      3. Revenge? No, they’re often not the “victims” or even closely related. More like they want the power (and income) of the middleman.

  8. There is I believe a deep and constant need in most people for an equal partner to share life with. Not identical, but with an equal balance of power such that you can open yourselves to each other and develop an enduring trust.
    This ongoing destruction of the noble sense in both genders by the social justice bullies is well on its way to making such relationships difficult if not impossible.

      1. And when your beloved betrays and abandons that trust, which young ladies today are being told is only their right and due, something dies in a man. Which goes a long way in explaining why I list my status as formerly married.

        1. They’re both told that it is Only Right that they’ll use and abandon a long string of sex partners– why would a ring change that?

          Rather than smacking down, hard, on a known temptation/hazard for men– it’s not only encouraged, but any woman who objects is a sex traitor because Sexual Empowerment means acting like a cad.


            1. I prefer “perverse,” but yeah, ew covers it, too.

              What the hell did folks expect when they started shaming 16 year old girls for being virgins?

              1. Okay, who are these people and how do I avoid them.
                (And more specifically, protect my children.)

                1. Avoid public schools. They think nothing of telling the kids that they need to know contraception with the implication that they will of course fornicate as if in heat.

                2. When I figure it out, I’ll tell you.

                  It was normal when I went through high school for any known virgin to be attacked for it, pretty much like “loose girls” in movies.

                  TV, books, movies… they all act like it’s abnormal to not have sex by the time you’re driving. And heaven forbid if you are flatly not interested.

                  Heck, it’s even in the sex ed classes. The assumption is flatly presented that you will be having sex. (Even then, the studies where I couldn’t find a Really Big Obvious design problem showed a majority of teens weren’t having sex.)

                  Teach your kids to respect others, and themselves? I hope?

                  1. Thinking of the “Fun” of telling a teenage boy that “he can’t control his sex drive” and then telling him that “he must control himself if the girl says no”. [Sad Smile]

                  2. I am inclined to think that the rise of “demisexual” as an identification is a direct result of this kind of mindset. “I only become sexually attracted to people after developing an emotional connection” is surely true of some people and just as surely not true of all, but I think it says something about your social circle to start calling it an orientation.

                    1. I’d only heard of “demisexual” recently and had to have it defined for me. My response to that is basically, “That sounds like it’s on the ‘normal’ spectrum to me.” (Well, yeah.)

                      Note that people who are asexual get met with total disbelief as well as “conversion” assaults, because it actively offends a whole lot of people that there are individuals who are totally disinterested in sex. In fact, a lot of people don’t believe that asexuality is an actual thing, which seems to be a huge failure of logic in people who believe in the functional equivalents of nymphomania and satyriasis—if there’s a gradation of human sexual desire, why on earth will people believe in one extreme but not the other?

                    2. Because they think that the functional equivalent of nympho is normal, and anyone who is less interested is repressing it?

                      It explains the results, anyways.

                    3. There’s also the fact that with some people, desire can take a while to show up. For example, one of my (female) friends once told me, “I never really used to feel the desire for a husband and kids until I met (name of fiancé), but now I really do!” If there’s someone for whom sexual desire is lying dormant, so to speak, until someone awakens it, they might think they’re asexual at one stage in their life, then discover otherwise later on.

                      Not that that means there wouldn’t be some people who are truly asexual, or close enough to it to be functionally so. (E.g., they might feel a small amount of sexual desire, but not enough to ever want to act on it, because they’re quite happy with their singleness for other reasons).

                    4. I have very small children. It’s a good thing that sex isn’t as necessary as food and water to life. 😀

                    5. vaseline. Not on you or your spouse, but on the outer door handle. Did wonders for OUR sex life at that time of life. Told me by a friend who was then a Mormon housewife with 5 small kids.

                    6.         Asexuality is an offence against The Church of the Holy Orgasm®, and the heretic must be brought into conformity with doctrinal requirements.

                3. It would be great if you could build a habitat at the L5 point and only invite parents with home-schooled children to live there.
                  An alternate selection method would be to have them read, ‘If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love’, and only invite those who hated it.

                  1. Well -I’d hate to make do without John Wright, as he didn’t HATE it, he just thought it wasn’t SF….


                    1. Some people will like a story just because it has a dinosaur eating hapless victims.

                    2. OK, I guess I didn’t hate it. I just wish I had spent those two minutes reading anything else (The Spanish part of the Charmin package for instance). So, just anyone who thinks it deserves a Nebula Award?

                4. @Professor Badness –

                  Okay, who are these people and how do I avoid them.
                  (And more specifically, protect my children.)

                  This is a slightly late answer, but here goes. The best way to protect your children from such people is, first, to teach them not to be one themselves. Teach them the importance of fidelity, and the corresponding importance of saving one’s virginity for marriage — because sex inevitably creates pair-bonding feelings through the normal biological mechanisms involved (oxytocin, dopamine, etc.), BUT the strength of pair-bonding drops off over multiple partners. The drop-off is especially strong between the first and second partners, which is why even people who don’t particularly value virginity will tend to say things like, “You never forget your first time.” And if that first time is in a context of total trust, such as after both spouses have stood in front of witnesses and sworn lifelong faithfulness to each other — the pair bonding is even stronger, and likely to last a whole life long.

                  That’s not just unfounded opinion. I’ve seen a survey that asked, among other questions, “Was your first sexual experience with your spouse, or with someone else? And was it before, or after, the wedding? And was that also the case with your spouse?” The survey also asked whether that marriage ended in divorce, or in one spouse’s death, or whether it was still ongoing. About 400 people answered the survey. Of the people who answered “My spouse and I were both virgins until the wedding, and our first time was on our wedding night”, only 2% had had that marriage end in divorce. For reference, the divorce rate for those where both spouses were virgins before sleeping together, but their first time was before the wedding: 13% of those who said “we slept together before the wedding” had ended up divorced. And from the survey’s total population, 12% said they’d experienced a divorce.

                  Now, that survey was an unscientific Internet survey with self-selected respondents, so keep that in mind. More research would be needed to verify the conclusions. But there are a few conclusions I feel safe drawing. The 12% divorce rate among that survey’s respondents is quite a bit lower than the national average, so the self-selected population that responded tended to have better marriages, on average, than the typical American marriage. But those who slept together before the wedding, even if it was the first time for both partners, had a divorce rate in line with the total divorce rate reported in that survey — so the “I’m sure I’m going to marry him/her, so it’s okay to jump the gun” feelings, it would seem, don’t produce nearly as effective pair bonding as the “This is my wife/husband, I’ve promised to be faithful to her/him for life, and now we’re going to consummate our promise” feelings.

                  Short version: teach your kids to stay virgins until marriage, and to seek out other virgins to marry, and that anyone who says otherwise does NOT have their best interests at heart.

                  Note that I haven’t mentioned religion at all. (Until now.) I am a Christian and have chosen to stay a virgin until my wedding night because I believe I should follow what God has told me to do. But even if I didn’t have religious convictions driving me, the research I’ve seen (not limited to this one survey, but this one is all I have room to mention right now) would persuade me that virginity should be something to be valued highly. It should be given away only to the right person, instead of being tossed aside casually like it didn’t even matter, or (worse still) treated as some kind of disease to be gotten rid of ASAP (as in movies like “Almost Famous”, or “The 40-Year Old Virgin”).

                  So teach your kids that virginity is important, and especially WHY it’s important (the “just don’t do it” approach never works), and you’ll have gone a long way to protect them. If you can model a good marriage for them, and/or let them see other couples who have a really good marriage, even better.

                  1. I’d suggest some salt with that survey. In my religious community (Orthodox Jewish) pre-marital sex is highly discouraged and fairly uncommon (I’d be surprised if even 10% of people getting married for the first time have had sex, whether with their fiancé(e)s or with anyone else), but the divorce rate is above even the 12% in the survey.

                    1. I was going to say, it might be self-selected. If you have the will power to stay legs crossed pre-marriage, you will have the will power to make it through marriage. Which doesn’t mean it’s having sex exactly. Like the thing with “people who stay married do better.” Or “people who own a home do better.”

                    2. So, what is the divorce rate in your community? Anywhere near the national average? (Which is, I grant, hard to quantify, especially since California, one of the states with the highest divorce rates by all accounts, no longer reports its rates and thus is not included in the average). Is it on the order of 20%? 40%? What? Now that you’ve mentioned it, I’m very curious.

                      That survey does indeed have some problems as far as being replicable elsewhere (the self-selection being one of them), but it does line up with what the Heritage Foundation found in the NSFG data (the National Survey on Family Growth) from 1990. There, it turned out that among sexually-active women, those who’d had only 1 lifetime sexual partner had an 80% chance of being in a long-term marriage when surveyed (long-term being defined as “lasting 5 years or more”), while those with at least 2 lifetime sexual partners had a 53% chance of being in a long-term marriage when surveyed. (The numbers for 3+ partners were similar to, and a bit below, those for 2 partners, slowly dropping down to a low of 30% for the 10+ cohort). In other words, those who slept ONLY with their spouses had, at worst, a 20% divorce rate within 5 years, and since some of those 20% were never-married people who’d slept with a boyfriend, the actual rate was lower than 20%. (The survey, of course, couldn’t predict whether those marriages would go on to last longer than 5 years).

                      So the survey that I found, with its “virginity on the wedding day is a good predictor of low divorce rates” results, is more or less in line with other data. The 2% rate might be hard to replicate elsewhere (of course, “two virgins marrying each other” is rare enough these days that THAT alone would be hard to replicate), but I don’t find it hard to believe given other evidence I’ve seen.

                    3. So, what is the divorce rate in your community? Anywhere near the national average?

                      As you point out regarding the national average itself, this is tricky to quantify. I don’t recall the numbers I’ve most recently seen quoted, but they are only slightly below the national average.

                    4. And in response to Sarah — yes, if you are both still virgins on your wedding morning, you’re already in a “plenty of willpower” group. So that probably is another factor coming into play. For example, it probably also predicts a lack of either spouse committing adultery later: people who can refrain from sex even with their fiancé(e), whom it would NOT be a betrayal to sleep with, will probably also manage later on to refrain from having sex with other people whom it WOULD be a betrayal to sleep with. And since one spouse committing adultery will often break up a marriage, that right there is one reason less for divorce among that group.

                    5. In a community which disapproves of pre-marital sex as strongly as the Orthodox Jewish one does, the willpower needed to conform to this social standard may not indicate as much stubbornness & dedication as pre-marital chastity would in other societies.

                    6. Does the community disapprove of divorce as strongly as it disapproves of premarital sex? Because whether the answer is yes or no, I could see that coming into play as well. Especially if the community doesn’t express disapproval of divorce, because then you’d certainly tend to get people who just give up instead of sticking it out when they go through the rough patches. And from everything I’ve been told about marriage, those rough patches tend to smooth away if you just stick it out, whereas if you give up you’ll never know what might have been.

                    7. Good point. Unlike (many versions of) Christianity, Judaism does not consider divorce & subsequent remarriage to be sinful. So while there is some social disapproval of divorce and while divorcées are less-desirable on the marriage market, the disapproval of divorce is nothing like the disapproval of pre-marital sex.

                      (Unsurprisingly, the more traditionalist segments of the Orthodox Jewish community, where divorce has a somewhat higher social cost, have somewhat lower divorce rates. But the numbers are hard to quantify.)

              2.         I think they expected exactly what they got: non-virgins who expect to “put out” on the second date at the latest.

                        Why buy a cow, when milk is so cheap?  Especially with such willing cows?  And so many of them!

        2. Been contemplating the many layered horror of it….

          Assume that, somehow, both manage to have their deepest expression of trust ground into the mud and it being treated like nothing more important than a tennis match.

          Now they’ve got to find someone else who has also either avoided being harmed and didn’t absorb the publicly promoted norm, or who also has recovered from the betrayal of the deepest trust they can offer.

          Or they’ll have to recover again. And hopefully won’t maim anybody else during that recovery…..

          1. Ugh. I’ve got a mean streak a mile wide, but even so I don’t think I could do that to one of my characters, let alone a living person.

            1. And it’s been done to our entire culture.

              In the name of equality, and free love.

              Amazing how it turns out to look exactly like what a cad would design, eh?

      2. “Susan – here’s your options: you get to choose who rapes you. Choose these guys who will stay around and protect you (if only in order to rape you again) or choose those guys who will rape you and, if they don’t kill you, come back and rape you again next year.

        “No, I’m sorry; guys who won’t rape you at all is not on the menu although, if you lie back and think of Heinlein you might convince your local rapists to spend enough effort that you can enjoy it.”

        BTW – I think this may be the most critical element in the SJWs animus toward RAH: he resolutely does not depict rape as a fate worse than death.

        1. Y’know, I’m starting to think this Susan the Straw-girl character is a woman who gets around a lot… 😉

        2. As my wife says, “Even a rapist has to sleep sometimes.”

          Of course, she’s also the one who’ll watch a movie with the Bad Guy holding the Girl in front of him as a hostage, ordering the Hero to drop his gun, and she’ll shout, “Shoot, you idiot! He’s going to kill her anyway. I bet you wish you’d spent more time at the range.”

          If she wasn’t such a shy and unassuming sort, I’d suspect that woman is dangerous…

          1. eh, the Girl should “faint.” Standing rigid makes the Villain’s work easy. Even a hundred pounds of dead weight will seriously hamper him.

              1. If the girl is a SJW, you could tell her a sexist joke to cause her to swoon… of course, if she is a SJW, leaving the villan in her hands is more cruel than shooting him.

            1. I do this all the time when we watch movies!! I’m always hollering at the screen “Go limp, you moron!” We get thrown out of movies a lot 😉

              1. Heck, go to town on his calves and backpedal as hard as you can– he’s going to have a heck of a time with that dang gun if he’s trying to hold you up at the same time, to keep using you for cover and get your feet off the ground.

                I’ve got a lot more confidence in my ability to shove an SOB’s arm up and away to be more of a threat to him than I am of him not shooting me because I didn’t move.

                Trying to rip into someone with your teeth is usually good for a mental advantage, too.

              2.         I still rememeber the moment in Aliens when the corporate weasel suggested capturing an Alien alive.  “Kill him!” I said.  “Kill him right now!  Kill him before he gets you all killed!”

                        But did the characters on the screen listen?  NO.

      3. Who, if she plays her cards right, will have you by the ying-yang.

        Which, i am told, is a wonderful experience.

        1. *Gives RES a sidelong glance, cocking an eyebrow Spock style.*

      4. Even the people I have known who wanted to simply retreat from society all together still yearned for the companionship of another.
        i.e. Deep wood survivalists who took their wife with them, or the couples who want to spend months crossing the world’s oceans alone (plural), rather than alone (singular).

  9. I grew up with (and still feel the bounds of) noblesse oblige, but under the rubric of “what ladies do” and “because you should.” Which in turn came from the verse about “Of those to whom much is given, much is required.” Treat your employees well, help their children (quietly, perhaps even anonymously), give to charity whenever you can, be polite to everyone and that means everyone no matter rank or station, don’t vent on strangers or your employees and/or subordinates. Because it’s the right thing to do. A proper lady is polite, well-groomed, competent, appreciative of favors and wary about being manipulated, and able to back-stop and support her man.

    The little book, _A Southern Belle Primer_ is supposed to be humor, but there’s a LOT of truth in it. I’ll never be a belle, but I certainly learned from watching them how to act and how to deal with trouble gracefully.

    1. There is the premise that improvement of one’s community confers benefit to all members, particularly those at the top. There is also at play the same principle as is evidenced in rose gardens: people like to beautify their surroundings.

      One way of beautification is teaching the peasants to bathe regularly, thus not only ensuring less malodorous chapels but reducing disease vectors. Teaching peasants to read can make them more productive workers, and various other arguments I do not feel inclined to present at this time.

      1. I am fairly convinced that block printing lead more or less directly to the enlightenment.

        Teaching people to read doesn’t do much but give them entertainment.

        However wood block printing gave us the playing card.

        Dice games might teach them a little about odds and math, but poker, bridge and related games teach odds, math, strategy, planning &&etc.

      2. Most peasants in post-Roman areas did bathe pretty regularly, until the water distribution systems and village/farm bathhouses started getting messed up/infected in late medieval/early Renaissance times. Even in outside-Roman areas, you had things like the turf bathhouses in rural Ireland and the saunas and bathhouses in Slavic and Finnish areas.

    2. One of the reasons the nouveau riche were looked down upon was because they didn’t have the “breeding” to realize you don’t rub your money in the peasant’s faces. And they hadn’t had proper behavior drilled into them from birth on.

      1. Another of the reasons was that the fortunes of the nouveau riche were often growing while the aristocrats were suffering a decline in wealth. Combining the two explained the tendency of American heiresses marrying English aristocrats: a rise in social status for the nouveau riche and more money for aristocrats trying to maintain expensive estates and pay their gambling debts.

      2. For an example of how this was observed in popular culture, look to the comic strip Bringing Up Father in which Maggie’s pretensions to upper crust status were contrasted with Jiggs’ insistence on living according to the comforts and standards of his earlier status. It is also a primary plot element of the Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown

        — which also contrasted American vitality against European état de grande fatigue morale.

    3. A Victorianism: “A gentleman _never_ strikes a lady; a lady _never_ provokes a gentleman.” Actually worked pretty well, so long as almost everyone took being a gentleman/lady as an ideal, and the great majority took it as an achievable goal.
      Since the beginning of the great deprecation of the civilized virtues, there’s little to provide a central meme for noblesse oblige, courtesy, or anything else that makes a society work.

      1. The Glove and the Lions
        King Francis was a hearty king, and loved a royal sport,
        And one day as his lions fought, sat looking on the court;
        The nobles filled the benches, and the ladies in their pride,
        And ‘mongst them sat the Count de Lorge, with one for whom he sighed:
        And truly ’twas a gallant thing to see that crowning show,
        Valour and love, and a king above, and the royal beasts below.

        Ramped and roared the lions, with horrid laughing jaws;
        They bit, they glared, gave blows like beams, a wind went with their paws;
        With wallowing might and stifled roar they rolled on one another;
        Till all the pit with sand and mane was in a thunderous smother;
        The bloody foam above the bars came whisking through the air;
        Said Francis then, “Faith, gentlemen, we’re better here than there.”

        De Lorge’s love o’erheard the King, a beauteous lively dame
        With smiling lips and sharp bright eyes, which always seemed the same;
        She thought, the Count my lover is brave as brave can be;
        He surely would do wondrous things to show his love of me;
        King, ladies, lovers, all look on; the occasion is divine;
        I’ll drop my glove, to prove his love; great glory will be mine.

        She dropped her glove, to prove his love, then looked at him and smiled;
        He bowed, and in a moment leaped among the lions wild:
        The leap was quick, return was quick, he has regained his place,
        Then threw the glove, but not with love, right in the lady’s face.
        “By God!” said Francis, “rightly done!” and he rose from where he sat:
        “No love,” quoth he, “but vanity, sets love a task like that.”

        1. I’ve always been fond of this Childe’s ballad,

          ‘though I’m thinking what he proved was not love.

          Maybe Sean Bean is available to make the video?

  10. if you think all women are victims, you must be living in an Arab country …

    Or an American University hothous campus:

    ORWELLIAN DOUBLETHINK, RAPE EDITION: “Inspired by the recent performance of The Vagina Monologues” on the Claremont-McKenna College campus, student Jordan Bosiljevac has penned an exegesis of the progressive view of sexual relationships, titled, “Why Yes Can Mean No.” Ms. Bosiljevac explains:

    See also:
    Student Op-Ed: ‘Yes Means Yes’ Is Not Enough Because Sometimes ‘Yes Means No’
    Apparently, you can be “raped by rape culture.”
    By Katherine Timpf — May 4, 2015

    1. That ranks down there with “If you have sex with me and I don’t like it, its rape. If you don’t agree to have sex with me, its sexual assault/harassment.” And then they marvel at the long lines in the campus psych clinic waiting room.

        1. Whoops — the “don’t agree” part is domestic violence. Though the University of Minnesota DID take it down from their webpage on domestic violence.

    2. I’ve actually been working with Arab refugees for the past couple of weeks. That their womenfolk suddenly seem to have more power than they do, seems to be the hardest part of assimilation. (Which isn’t helped by their wives and girlfriends enthusiastically taking full advantage of the imbalance.)

    3. That…

      Aside from the alarming rejection of her own decision-making abilities under any emotional stress whatsoever, that’s not even “rape culture” — at least by any sane definition, which I realize is asking a lot of some people — it’s explicitly the “no-strings recreational sex is fine and dandy” one.

    4. So if she means yes when she says no, does she mean she wasn’t raped when she claims she was?

      Does she even realize that she just nuked her reliability from orbit when she not only admits to lying, but claims to have done so regularly? For reasons that even a psychologist would have trouble parsing.

      1. Other way around — she means no when she says yes. Your point about her admitting to lying, OTOH, still stands. And no, I don’t think she realizes she just nuked her reliability from orbit. I think she believes she’s establishing her bona fides as a proper right-thinking member of Ingsoc.

  11. You have put it very well, as usual.
    And it’s true, we do crave structure, by and large. All the happiest, well adjusted kids I’ve known were raised in an environment that required discipline/cooperation/obedience. (That makes it sound like a military academy, but you know what I mean.)
    It’s no wonder that a person raised without constraints might seek for an alternative. It’s just sad that they have to go with such an extreme choice.

  12. Your story about not hitting girls struck a personal and painful note. I am only a year older than my sister, and when we were kids we got into our share of wrestling and shoving matches, neither able to do much damage to the other. Then one day, when I was about twelve or thirteen, one of our usual shouting matches ended when I grabbed her and swung her away from me… and she went hurtling nearly eight feet across the room, slammed into a chair and fell over it, knocking it down en route.

    She was more amazed and bemused than hurt, thankfully, but I was so aghast that from that day I never again laid a hand on her, or any girl. It was just one of those gobsmack moments of “OK, things are different now,” that we all remember in our lives.

    1. Yep. My younger kid is the stripling of my family. He’s now um… en bon point as a result of too much chair time while studying, but as a kid he was 100% for height, 20% for weight according to the charts. So we tended to think of him as “weak” certainly compared to his ox of a brother. Imagine my surprise when I was shopping for cement with him, when he was 12. The store had the sack wrong side down and I couldn’t see the instructions. So he reached down and FLIPPED it. I couldn’t budge it. the thing weighed at least 100 lbs, which was I think about what he weighed. And that’s when it came home to me that no, one of these things were not like the other, and that testosterone had an effect. (It should have dawned on me earlier, but my brother is 10 years older, and so was housebroken by the time I started attacking him. He never retaliated, and I never saw the withholding.)

      1. Yeah, I could have done that at 12, and I was smaller than average. Not quite as skinny, but still, the bag would have outweighed me. And I thought I was not very strong at the time. Then again, a lot of kids at my school were farmers.

        1. I know it wasn’t uncommon for us male high schoolers (even the skinny ones) in the theater tech team to carry 50 pound lighting bases around with minimal trouble, although we often used two people if it was going to be a long distance or up a flight of stairs. It always took two females, and even that was often problematic over a long stretch. A male and a female could handle a long distance OK, though.

          1. This is just one more example of male privilege at work. Like this example of attempted rampant discrimination against a woman — Woman to become NY firefighter despite failing crucial fitness test — just because she couldn’t match the physical demands of the job:

            “In the FST exam, probies must breathe through a mask attached to an air tank while carrying up to 50 pounds of gear.

            “They must climb six flights of stairs, stretch hose lines, raise ladders, perform tasks that simulate breaking doors and pulling down ceilings, and drag dummies through tunnels with no visibility.

            “They must complete the course in 17 minutes, 50 seconds or less.”

            Fortunately, authorities stepped in to point out that the probie’s superior academic performance offset her lack of physical capability in the face of a standard so unrealistic that only two females in the graduating class could pass it.

            There is no word about whether male probies with comparable physical/academic ratios are similarly granted approval.

          2. Sometimes it’s not the weight so much as the leverage points—when I was a teenager, I could easily carry a sixty-pound bag of concrete if it were laid across my shoulders, but I couldn’t carry the same sixty pounds if I had to do it with arms alone. And when we were moving canoes into storage at summer camp, the guys never seemed to get that we couldn’t carry over the head very well, but two girls could carry canoes just fine at hip height.

            1. Nobody else in my driver’s ed class could lift a tire, or change one– the guys could lift more than I weighed, but not something that shape, because they only knew lifting.

              Against someone who knows how to work with their body, I know I’m not strong– but I keep getting a reputation for it (or for being a fool who will hurt herself one of these days) because I do know how to lift a lot of things.

              1. I refer to myself as a “strapping lass.” I’m not the strongest person around, but one of the reasons being pregnant really bothers me is that all of a sudden my strength and stamina go through the floor. I like being able to move furniture around. (Which has suddenly become much easier with the acquisition of laminate instead of carpet. Little felt pads… whoa.)

                1. Ugh, tell me about it. I actually have to ask my husband to help me bring the groceries in, and I dang near hurt myself getting kitty litter. I could get it into the cart, and into the car, but up the back steps….

        2. At 12, my dad owned a farm store. Unloaded a truck of 100lb bags of animal feed every week, to resupply stock. I _could_ carry them too (at least a few), but he restricted me to the 50lb bags of dogfood for the good of my immature bones. And I was a town kid; the farm boys were quite a bit stronger.

      2. This is a concern of mine: the oldest girl is three and the youngest boy is six. The boys can simply sit there and take the punches she throws as long as they protect certain parts. So they aren’t much help in teaching her ‘We don’t hit the boys because they can squash us flat.’ Hopefully as she and little sis get bigger the boys will stop thinking that ‘Sissy hitting us is cute.’ I’m never going to convince Daddy and Poppa that not everything the girls do is just adorable.

        1. When I was younger, I hit my brothers and they hit me. (We only had age differences of 2 years between us all.) As we got older, I stopped hitting my brothers and vice versa.

          It’s not entirely bad for a girl to know how to punch and be willing to punch boys. Also, little kids don’t really understand the concept that some fighting isn’t fair (unless it’s stuff like biting or pinching). Four year olds are a lot more amenable to this concept than three year olds, who are just little bundles of aggression. 🙂

          1. Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with continuing to tell the girls not to punch the boys, but I just don’t expect it will stick until they’re old enough.

            Alternately, it may turn out that once the oldest girl gets it, she will make all the other girls do it. Peer pressure is a real thing, even if it’s elder sister pressure.

          2. I have my daughter (8) in Krav Maga for that reason.

            But the rule is *never* hit first, *always* hit back, and if you get a KO you get ice cream.

        2. I had luck getting it across to the one that had “terrible two” fits by grabbing her hand… and not letting go.

    2. Yah.

      One thing I – for better or worse – trained myself out of. I go by “never hit a lady” these days. I’ve seen both in person and other documented accounts too many people who aren’t ladies, who take advantage of “knowing” they won’t get hit back.

      1. If you do have to hit a “lady”, assume that you will have to “stop” (read disable) roughly half the men in the room.

        1. Yah.

          between that and common DV assumptions, even hitting a decidedly NON-lady of the female variety will get you in deep crap, and requires calm consideration of the consequences rather than rage. Because assumptions.

          Note how easy it is to pull a “let’s you and him fight” by telling some guy nearby that a man who’s pissed you off is bothering you in some way.

          If I remember the actual breakdown – 50% of all DV cases are mutual, 50% unilateral, if including what would constitute assault, most of those cases include battery.

          50% (just over) in each category are initiated by women, with surveys recording a significant percentage of them BRAGGING how they could torment a guy and get away with it because he wouldn’t hit back/ no one would believe they started it

          Talk about a perfect pressure cooker to torture someone until they snap.

          Hell – there’s a case where a guy (who was fortunately recording) tried to pick up his kid for visitation. The MOM staged an argument and shot him, then accused him of assaulting them.

          Fortunately he came out of the coma and was able to unlock the phone to provide the recording, including the bragging about how she was going to set him up.

  13. The mention of a desire for rules reminds me of the concept of anomie, which I encountered in different social sciences courses. The basic concept is that a lack of societal norms (or alienation from them) results in profound distress in humans.

    Ironically, despite the prominence of concept and its originator even before the turn of the century, a slew of leftists have spent more than a century trying to wipe out the existing norms without having a viable replacement available. Its like they think that if they crush existing society utopia will magically replace it, and then they get frustrated (and violent) because it doesn’t happen that way. And that this time, despite the previous umpteen times it has failed, this time it will work.

    This isn’t to say that all deliberate attempts to change norms are bad. I think the efforts in the 1955-1985 period to eliminate systemic racism and sexism in America were both reasonably successful and mostly admirable.
    But those efforts were aimed at a change to only parts of the societal rules, to new rules that already enjoyed support among a significant portion of the populace. They also were not a wholesale destruction of existing societal norms and rules.

    1. The effort in the 1955-1985 period was to eliminate certain double-standards, not eradicate standards, period. Thus their effectiveness as derived from a sense of fairness.

      1. That’s generally my point. It was change in a subset of standards, with widespread support, and was therefore possible without disaster. Attempting to eliminate or change ALL standards, OTOH…

  14. I believe all men and women should be equal under the law.

    Heck, you believe all moral equals should be equal under the law– male and female, all shades of the rainbow, all the intelligence levels able to function in society, all the physical abilities ditto.

    This really screws up folks that think moral and legal equality should mean equivalency, which is ridiculous, and that recognizing that some folks are simply not morally or legally equal is Inherently Wrong (rather than just being at risk of abuse), which is evil. (Pretending a three year old is morally and legally the same as a 45 year old of average intelligence and physical ability, either sex, illustrates the difference rather solidly.)

    Instead of dealing with the hard work of trying to figure out where the line is to be drawn– how retarded or distorted must someone’s development (mental, physical or moral) be before it’s so big that they’ve got to be removed from society by some method?– they want to pretend there’s no need for judgement at all.

    Other than when something they object to happens, of course.

      1. Also box office returns.

        Important thing being that I just realized that a lot of the stuff I’ve been teaching my kids about respect, and responsibility, and rights having two edges, can come from yet another root.
        And, thank goodness, it all meshes correctly.

      1. Nah, got it in Japan as a gaming/dinner table. Military movers didn’t manage to break it, although we did crack a leg of one of the chairs.

        1. Besides, you can look at it two other ways – 1) That statement has already been beaten to death by Spiderman, which made it easy to think of, or 2) You explained it so clearly that it was easy to boil down to that pithy little quote.

        2. All skulls are penetrable. It just varies as to whether AP rounds are required. 🙂

          1. However, as noted in the anime ‘Dragon Half’, some brains occupying those skulls are more… compact… than others. Thus, even if you penetrate the skull, you might still not penetrate the brain.

      1. Sarah, don’t feel bad. The market for pithy science fiction and fantasy haikus is tiny, and doesn’t pay well. The fact that you can expand a 14-word idea into 2000 is a feature, not a bug…

        Just remember: Pithy may get remembered (and, stolen a lot…), but it don’t pay very well.


      2. Expressing ideas is like gemstones– the more you turn a well cut one, the more the sparkles can shine, so the cutting is important, but the material that’s cut matters, too.

        Some folks can manage diamond, some can manage CZ, some are plain quartz. I occasionally trip over a pearl by extended meditation on comic book tag lines and am smart enough to not try to chop it up!

        1. And now I’ve got an elaborate metaphor about catching attention so that people can be enchanted by inherent beauty as compared to take it or leave it stuff, and wondering how to shoe horn in mother of pearl…..

    1. I prefer the Master’s original, which my father drilled into me: “To he who much is given, of him much will be required.” (Luke 12:48:

  15. All of my life, I have observed that those who were supposed to be granted deference because they were “weak”, ruthlessly exploit that advantage. The current crop of bullshit “Rape” charges on college campuses is a strong example. The girls (they aren’t women, and given the state of their maturity, they may never be) know that they can make wild accusations with little or no fear of it backfiring on them, and so they do. The Universities that enable them end up paying large settlements, but the lying bitches who started the whole mess (and the Feminista professors who encouraged them) pay no price.

    So I say; when the SJWs tell you that, by reason of your gender, sexual tastes, or ethnicity, you have more rights than white men, consider carefully what all happen when the white men decide they have had enough of your shit.

    1. You can be comforted by the realization that the weak exploiting the strong can only go on so long, and that there will be another turn of the wheel.

      Sad thing is, the current lot of idiots doing this are not going to be the ones who suffer the inevitable turn of the leaf. It’ll be their kids, or grandkids, most of whom won’t have one clue about Grammy’s responsibility for the ugliness of their lives.

      Of course, knowing what we do about the birth rates for these folks, it will not be their direct descendents who suffer. All the more reason for the rest of us to man the barricades against their stupidity and foolishness.

      1. Oh, they are suffering. Between hook-up culture that happened because there were not enough men in college to make women a scarce resource and MGTOW which is making it harder and harder to find a husband/boyfriend when out of college, they are suffering.

        Personally I am smiling as I would rather laugh than cry and this calls for one or the other.

    2. Track this back and you will find much of this is being pushed by the current Administration’s policies, bundled in with the monies delivered from various gummint programs and Title IX.

      Want to be eligible for Federal grants, tuition scholarship programs and all the other sludge spilling out of the Federal $$$hose, your school better be right correct with the programs. The fastest growing component of college tuition is the Administrative burden, a burden needed to document compliance with Federal diktats.

      1.         Let’s see.  The Administration decides how the money is spent, and they think more should go to the Administration.  I wonder if that’s just coincidence?

  16. The concept of noblesse oblige owes a great deal to Judaism and Christianity. Jesus’ concept of the servant-master and his teachings to restrain passions of anger, lust, and greed all emphasize self mastery above and before mastery of others. Even though this wasn’t very well practiced by European nobility, the concept was there. It became better known when moveable-type printing and the translation of the Bible into the common language let the common people become more familiar with the concepts, and especially in what became the United States where people had a chance at practicing self-government to see how it would work.

    The great defect of Marxism, and the European philosophers who preceded and influenced Marx, is that they assume that there are no universals standards of morality, but that universal human happiness will be achieved when the underdogs of society violently overthrow the powers that be. They rather overlook the evidence that when the underdogs achieve power, they are likely to first go after revenge on their enemies (including rivals within their own movement) as well as making stupider mistakes due ignorance, (new boss, worse than the old boss). Somehow they expect those habituated to violent class struggle to become peaceful and benevolent. How, exactly, that is supposed to happen they never do say, because they have no idea, or because it’s an inconvenient question to ask, or both.

  17. “In the same way, while you might treat your serfs or villains…” Villeins
    Plural form of villein, ►
    One of a class of feudal serfs who held the legal status of freemen in their dealings with all people except their lord.

      1. Dang you, AutoCorrekt!

        At least you are in good company — Powerline’s Steven Hayward notices this in a Sports Illustrated article about new outfield bleachers at Wrigley Field:

        Portable and fixed concussions will be open to fans starting Monday as well, with an outdoor concession area scheduled to open in July.

        It should be recognized that this might explain a fan base so loyally supporting a team now in its second century of rebuilding.

        1. Well, any concussions I had would be both fixed and portable–fixed in my skull, and portable wherever my legs carried it.

  18. Another facet of “first night privileges”, if it even existed. Contrast the handsome young Duc de Chateau, perfumed and fashionably dressed, to Jean Claude the muck wrangler, the peasant gal’s arranged groom. Power & fame attracts- just ask any rock star.
    And who knows? If the gal makes a favorable impression, she may wind up as an official mistress.

  19. OT: but of interest.
    “Behavior matters and facts matter, more than the prevailing social visions or political empires built on those visions.”
    from Thomas Sowell’s 5/5/15 article.

  20. Unfortunately, for far too many of our self-anointed betters, noblesse n’oblige plus (“nobility no longer obligates”). That’s a recipe for disaster; just ask David Nilsen*….

    *He’s the game writer who wrote Survival Margin, the SFRPG supplement that both bridged the gap between the MegaTraveller and Traveller: The New Era rules and settings, and explained the fall of Traveller’s Third Imperium.

  21. Moved down for room:

    PK | May 5, 2015 at 7:06 pm |
    Now, I wonder if there’s actually some biology behind that one — certainly there are many other factors, but ovulation can affect one’s enthusiasm considerably (which would relate to the chances of having a kid at all) and I recall reading a claim that the probabilities can be a little skewed toward sons if the egg is already out and toward daughters if you have sex shortly before (because Y sperm move a little faster and X sperm are a little more durable).

    If I remember correctly, natural family planning with charting and records have supported that timing has an effect on what sex the child is, although it’s not a huge percentage and a scientific study would first have to build a relationship with women who were actually taught proper charting methods. (A lot of studies shovel all calender methods into one pile, or assume all women have the theoretical 28 day cycle.)

    1. I encountered it in Taking Control of Your Fertility — so, as I recall, it was definitely based on people who had been instructed in proper charting, but what I don’t remember is if there was a study or if it was a case of “enough anecdotal evidence to be

      (I never have been really consistent about it myself, I’m afraid, partly because I wanted to do temperature but it called for more regular sleep patterns than I was maintaining. I’ll have to tackle it again.)

      1. Just means Marshall is improbable (in a sense) – which I expect his mother knew, already.

        1. I don’t think that there’s anything you can do to determine the sex of a baby.

            1. Seriously, though, exposing the father to high G loads on a regular basis has been proven to raise the probability of female offspring.

              1. There’s actually a glut in the dairy business right now because they figured out that you can sex-sort bull sperm with something like 95% accuracy by spinning the sample.

                Made for a lot more dairy cows than there are demand, though I presume that it’ll eventually make for a better selection in cullings.

            2. I meant pre-birth and pre-sonogram. I meant that you can’t make the baby a particular gender after conception and before birth, unless you abort babies of the undesired gender.

              1. The timing thing is a pre-conception matter– basically, an attempt to influence probability of which sperm makes it there first.

                I’d imagine it’s far too complicated to do more than slightly increase chances of one sex or the other.

          1. Sigh. Oncet upon a time you could just look between their little thighs once they was outta the oven, but these days even that is no guarantee.

  22. I don’t know where to shoehorn this in, but it belongs up there higher with the jus primae noctis speculations. Kinda.

    Basic idea is that I am not quite thinking of this the way I should, from a holistic all-gender viewpoint. I’ve been mentally putting women into the passive victim box, without consciously thinking about it, and forgetting that they likely played a key role in how all this worked out, too.

    And, probably didn’t tell their menfolk much about it, either.

    First, I have to state that hanging around here is dangerous to your preconceptions and illusions. Just saying… I swear, I’ve had more disturbing discoveries and thoughts about things that I had long-standing preconceptions about since coming here on a regular basis than you can swing a stick at.

    And, as an exhibit, I’d like to share the following with you all:

    Had occasion to talk to an old friend this afternoon, name of Marnie. Marnie is a grade-A character, outspoken and a bit of what my grandmother would have called “a pill”. She’s also a bit of a free thinker the way I am, and we can throw things at each other without having to worry about the other party calling the men with white jackets in.

    Marnie’s the girl who, at around the age of nine, greeted the news that she was going to have a little brother with this statement to her Mom and stepfather: “Great!! I was afraid you guys weren’t having sex…”.

    Marnie’s stepdad is a minister. Aaaawwwwkward…

    So, I brought up this discussion we’re having here. Hell, Marnie’s opinion couldn’t be anything other than entertaining, no?

    Couple of things: Marnie has a slightly older brother. They both went to the same school for college, starting a year or two apart, and to roll out Chekhov’s rugby team, one of the things you have to know is that Steve, Marnie’s brother, is inordinately proud of the fact that he managed his dying-on-the-vine rugby club to championship status, with good coaching, inspired play by himself, and… Well you get the idea. Al Bundy, kinda, but with some jsutification to actually think highly of himself. He really did preside over the club’s resurrection. Second of Mr. Chekhov’s guns: Marnie was one of the club groupies, in a “Hey, let’s help big brother out…” sort of way.

    That said, I lay out the points that I was bringing up earlier to get a sanity check with Marnie. She’s good at that, and we had some time to kill, and I’m not really good with inane small talk. So, I spread it out for her, and ask what she thinks.

    She says, and I quote “Yeah, I can see things working like that… [long thoughtful pause} Y’know… That’s basically how Wendy and I made Steve’s team the division champions…”.

    I should point out that Marnie is married to one of the guys who played on Steve’s team. Who joined it after this little plan was hatched. He apparently caught Marnie’s eye, you see.

    I’m looking at her like “Errr… Tell me more…?”

    “Oh, yeah… Steve was so bummed out about losing all the time, Wendy and I decided we had to do something… So we started introducing all the other really good players to our girlfriends, and got the girls to have them come over to Steve’s team…”.

    I should note that the word “Hot” would not be out of place describing either Wendy or Marnie. They have friends like that that I’ve met, too. Can you say “Pretty ladies…” and drool for me? Thought you could. That’s what their friends are like, even now that they’re most definitely edging into Stacy’s Mom territory.

    I’ve been threatened with death over this, should Steve ever find out, so names and details have been changed for my protection.

    Soooo… Upshot? I think we might want to entertain the idea that the ladies may have influence in these matters, as well. Hell, they might have been running the game, behind everyone’s back.

    Everybody loves a winner, after all.

  23. Mind boggling; Courtesy Steven Hayward, blogging at Powerline:

    The Australian Broadcasting Company has found a philosopher named Adam Swift who thinks …

    ‘One way philosophers might think about solving the social justice problem would be by simply abolishing the family. If the family is this source of unfairness in society then it looks plausible to think that if we abolished the family there would be a more level playing field.’

    ‘What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children’. . .

    ‘The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t—the difference in their life chances—is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,’ he says.

    This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion—that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted.
    ‘We think that although in practice it makes sense to parent your biological offspring, that is not the same as saying that in virtue of having produced the child the biological parent has the right to parent.’

    ‘Nothing in our theory assumes two parents: there might be two, there might be three, and there might be four,’ says Swift.

    Sure, eliminate bedtime stories because little tykes are so easy to settle in at night without them.

    It begins to look as if Harrison Bergeron was optimistic.

    1. Bergeron is optimistic.

      Over at ESR’s, the recent Penguincon thread devolved into a discussion of sexism/etc in programming, compleat with Kafkatraps. Included in the discussion – a requirement in the penguin flier to obtain consent before doing anything that may affect someone else’s experience of the con.

      In short – and admittedly taken to an extreme – I have to get permission before I decide whether or not I leave my room?

      This kind of “subject to the whims of the most sensitive victim” language is becoming far too commonplace.

    2. To be fair, that may be a devils’ advocate sort of position.

      To be unfair, it’s idiotic and could well be seen as advocating the idea that the LOWEST possible denominator (IE NOT reading to the child) is to be the ‘norm’. This… is a disturbing idea.

      1. If it’s a devil’s advocate position, he needs to read more. “Helping your kids hurts all the kids whose parents don’t give a ****” is one of the main arguments against school choice, and has been for at least half a decade.

        1. Yes. There are people willing to argue that putting your kid in private school is evil even if kids are murdered in your local public school

          1. Ran across some of those back when we were getting ready to move to a better school area. The argument was that I should stay and work to improve the local school.

            My thinking was – I’ve already got a full-time job. And it’s the teachers’ job to manage/improve the schools – not mine. THEY are the experts, supposedly.

            We moved. And put the little guy in a private school.

  24. Sarah Hoyt wrote:
    “Now eat your noblesse oblige like good boys and girls.”

    And now I’m thinking of Saki: “THEY DIDN’T EAT THEIR FILBOYD STUDGE.”

  25. Meanwhile, as a side note, anyone know why John C. Wright’s blog is “temporarily unavailable”?
    Ordinarily I wouldn’t think anything of it, but another blog I frequent was rendered in the same state by a DDoS attack, and the author has very similar views to Wright on the current whatever-the-acronym-is-today movement.

    1. There’s a couple of nasty idiots who like doing DDOS who recently hit on a “new” exploit to zombify systems– might’ve decided to go for him.

  26. The “don’t hit girls” thing came up in a discussion with a friend a few weeks ago.

    He was describing the unhappy marital situation of an acquaintance. I mentioned I wouldn’t tolerate being hit and I’d hit back.

    The reaction was interesting. “You’d hit a GIRL?!”

    “If she swung first.”

    “You can’t do that!”

    “She makes a stupid decision, she gets a learning experience.”

    The friend was appalled. It bothered him enough that he brought the subject up several times in the time since. His father had impressed “don’t hit girls” on him at a very early age, and it was something that became part of his world view without him actually thinking about it.

    Maybe this is just another part of “everyone knows” that I missed while growing up, but letting somone pound on you just because their naughty bits are different makes no sense at all.

    1. I had a girlfriend for a while who felt free to hit, because ‘you can’t hit back’.

      She punched me in the arm one time while I was driving (not in fun), and I punched her back in the arm – not in fun.

      She threatened to call the cops if I did that again. I told her to go ahead.

      That stopped the hitting. Didn’t stop the mind games and psychological shit, but it stopped the hitting.

    2. There’s a certain degree of restraint that appears to be biological, as humans are not the only ones whose males tend to let females get away with shit — dogs are the same way. A female dog can pick on a male dog repeatedly, and be quite mean about it, even inflict minor damage, and he will just graciously put up with it.

      But if he does finally lose his temper, he’ll probably kill her (tho that’s extremely rare).

  27. I’ve been thinking of this in another context. A friend is in process of closing his business mostly due to being screwed over by a large and prosperous supplier. It got me thinking about power relationships and how necessary they are for successful business ventures. Essentially he was too nice and assumed that someone was going to look after his interests or even cared about his interests without making sure that they had to look after his interests at some personal or pecuniary costs. Describing some of the interactions made me imagine what blood would have been on the floor if I was in a similar situation. If it was impossible to have such an arrangement, then recognize it for what it is and don’t expect it to turn out well.

    A rather surprising thing happened in another context. A fellow who works for me, he has 10 inches in height and close to a hundred pounds. He is somewhat insecure for various reasons, and I would watch with amazement where he was bullied by people I have had good relationships with for years. He came across as vulnerable and people got nasty. I had never been treated that way, even close.

    Almost everybody has an intuitive notion of any interaction where the power dynamic lies. The way to engender great relationships is where the power dynamic runs your way to use it in a way that benefits the other. This builds trust, and is the basis for any relationship. I can hurt you but I take care of you instead.

    There are lots of blithering idiots who would like to rewire how people work rather than figure out a way to work with what people actually are.

    Another little thing; passive aggressiveness engenders mistrust and even open hatred. Probably a darwinian process.

  28. Being in the biological sciences, I can’t help but consider some of this in a genetic vein. This, for instance, is an interesting snapshot on how much it may have BEEN happening….

    Of course, trying to convince the Left that many more aspects of our behavior and personality may be biologic/genetic that we are aware of is an exercise in futility. They like to cherry-pick. I can’t quite get my head around the insistence that homosexuality is biologic but gender is an artificial construct.

    1. 100% of Norwegians are descended from Harald the Great. I could have royal blood on both sides!

      As to inheritance of personality traits, here’s a starter kit:

      Spinath published another paper a few years ago that I couldn’t find offhand, but the conclusion was that heritability of behavior and personality traits was about 0.35, in other words about 35%. (Which in the real world translates to “almost everything”.)

      And all the breeders of working dogs are laughing and saying, “I told you so…”

      1. And of horses. Look at a foal’s dam’s sire and you’ll see a lot of what you will get. And the dam contributes a great deal of the temperament (alas, given the mares I’ve been around.)

    2. If you really want to make them froth at the mouth, point out that the future is going to be filled to the brim with people who want, crave, and desire kids above all else — because that’s what evolution is selecting for, on overdrive. that’s one personality trait that they will not allow is affected by genes.

      1. I would assume so. People who don’t want kids often won’t have any. No more kids, no more people.

    3. Did Niall of the Nine Hostages come from somewhere out of the area or some similar story origin?

      If not, wouldn’t that Y marker actually suggest that one in 12 Irish men are related to him?

      (Alright, that growl is actually aimed at National Geographic, which should be a bit more careful about that…..)

      1. Well, it’s a quirky little Y chromosomal thing that, given the genetic “clock” of mutations, appears to have arisen 1700 years ago. It’s enough of a quirk to have been a single large mutation in a given individual. So it’s not really wrong to call these men his descendants, if you’re accepting the premise that this quirk happened once, and since then, accumulated point mutations have been introduced over time. Much in the same way that genetic bottlenecks can be identified that left a specific number of individuals in a given population, which has since rebounded. Which is really much more likely than that this quirk appeared in multiple men at the same approximate time.

        1. What are the chances that the guy would be famous and be the first one with it, though, rather than, oh, his great grandfather being the initial mutant? Unless he’s from outside of the area or some other thing that would make for a very high probability of whoever-it-was being the source for the trait, like having killed off all his male relatives for Nth generations out…..

          Like the “proof” that Thomas Jefferson must have been someone’s ancestor, because of a Y-marker that is also in his brother, cousin and nephew.

          1. To be fair, they never really say it IS Niall of the Nine Hostages. Only that the trait can be dated back to approximately the correct time and is most common in men from families with the surname constructed as a patronymic of Niall. Basically, the thrust of it was that there was enough evidence to suggest a potential similar figure that just MAYBE medieval genealogies shouldn’t be disregarded as pure fiction.

            In this case, the evidence implies that there was a single original individual who developed this mutation, and all of these men are his descendants, in the patrilineal line. Whether that was Niall, his grandfather, his son, or someone else that history did not record, cannot be determined. It’s sort of circumstantial evidence for a real historical figure resembling the legend. Though generally the genetic “clock” is accurate enough that you’re not going to be more than a couple of generations off, if your sample size is large enough. Eukaryotic DNA Polymerase makes an error every 3 x 10^8 base pairs, statistically speaking. So from there, the math is, if not easy, relatively straight forward.

            1. To be fair, they never really say it IS Niall of the Nine Hostages.

              They go one worse– they say it was him or a similar figure, implication being “king” figure rather than “common ancestor” figure, immediately after saying that 3 million are descended from the 5th century king.

              I don’t have a problem with the estimate of it occurring, or it only happening once, I have an issue with the article over-reaching to all the instances tracing back to the famous guy rather than the well supported “related to” the famous guy, most likely existing by the time he became powerful.

              (12 sons, if they all managed to have at least a couple of sons themselves, would be one heck of a big promotion, especially if they made a lot of alliance marriages or were sent away from home to establish their own little kingdoms.)

Comments are closed.