Dealing in Stereotypes

*Maybe the “I have no strength” is tiredness.  I’m fuzzy enough I almost posted half a novel here, instead of this blog.  Fortunately I noticed before I pressed publish.*

Sorry to be so late with this. I didn’t exactly wake up tired or in pain, which is an improvement over the last few months, just scattered and feeling rather as if I didn’t have any strength in my arms, which is odd.

So it took me a while to get to this.

Yesterday my friend Dave Freer blogged on stereotypes, and I’ve been mulling on what he wrote while I cleaned.

Stereotypes are of course a tool of the trade for writers. We have to know what the stereotypes are in people’s minds, and therefore use them to suggest things we can’t thoroughly describe. (No one can thoroughly describe everything, even in a long book. Nor would you want them to. It would get truly tedious.)

Sometimes I fail at this, the same way I have trouble picking fonts for covers, because the stereotypes in my head are not the same as in most of my readers’. Take Irishmen for instance. I actually know something about the stereotype here, because it’s all over the books everywhere. However, if I’d tried to write an Irishman (or woman) when I came here, and assumed that my readers knew to round out the character with extreme politeness, drive and organization, it would backfire, and at best people would think I was being creative. At worst it would be a “wait, what?”

I suspect the Portuguese stereotype for Irish tells you rather more than you want to know about Portugal, but also about the sort of Irish we got in Portugal. Here you go people looking to make a new living, perhaps not drawn from the higher echelons of society. There you got either rich people, or people who came over as upper servants to British residents. In either case, the unruly Irishman stereotype doesn’t apply, even if both agree on song and poetry.

In the same way I often disappoint on the Portuguese stereotype, because my family runs to relatively tall, I haven’t been in the sun much the last few years, and oh, yes, I fail to be outwardly and loudly pious.

Partly it’s because most of the Portuguese you get here are from the isles whose culture is about 100 years older than the continent. So my grandmother would be more like the rest of the Portuguese here.

For instance at Liberty con years ago, while I was sympathizing with a writer who is – I think – 1/6th Portuguese, I said my shoes were lovely but were killing my feet. (I have since ditched them. It’s a pity. Very steam punk, but painful.) She asked if my granny would have said I deserved it for my vanity and that it was the devil torturing me. I honestly can’t remember my grandmother ever threatening me with the devil for anything, and her only comment ever on vanity was that if I kept looking in the mirror I’d neglect the true beauty which was inside. (I was about five.) But more than that, if someone had said that, openly, in our circles, people would have looked at them like they’d grown a second head. It’s simply not something you talk about in public, unless it’s as a joke.

Anyway, so as with me picking fonts for covers, if I use national stereotypes I have to check that I’m not misfiring. (Historic fonts for me often read western or horror to Americans.) For instance, recently an Indian fan explained to me that yes, there is a stereotype for Indians in the US and it’s NOT as I’d have assumed from the ones who have worked with my husband “unholy intelligent, mathematically gifted, ambitious and hard working.” Who knew? I certainly didn’t.

So I’m not going to rely on stereotypes too much, of course. And sometimes the stereotypes I use are those of the character’s time, not mine. For instance a character in Shakespeare’s time would expect every Italian to be aggressive and possibly a poisoner.

However, as Dave put it, some stereotypes exist because they’re true. Not in the particular, of course, because each individual IS individual. But if you’re writing a Spaniard and make him small, black haired, voluble, and excitable, people will get some of those qualities even if not very well sketched out. (This leaves Jason Cordova right out, as he’s not like that at all, but again, it works in general.)

I prefer to use stereotypes for my secondary characters, which prevents my having to draw everyone fully out.

Anyway, so, what is this about other than writing?

The problem with stereotypes is not in writing – unless you populate your entire world with them, of course or use stereotypes only a few people share – it’s in life.

I find a lot of people think in stereotypes. I’d like to say it’s just the left, but you know that’s not true. Or at least I know. It took a long time for some people on the right to stop treating me like a leper because Latin, graduate degree in Liberal arts, writer. They KNEW I was one of them crazy European SJWs and they kept waiting for me to show it. (They probably are still waiting.)

However the left, particularly the left in my field, are particularly prone to stereotyping and completely unaware that they’re doing it.

It’s been somewhere between funny and sad to watch people like Madame Butthurt trying to fit me into their mental map. Having taken off after me, in the complete conviction that I was a white American woman who had never travelled outside the country (and a lot of them having made comments to that effect to me, Amanda Green AND Kate Paulk) she was thrown off base at finding I was Portuguese. Then she tried to say I fled to the US to escape the revolution and was therefore an evil fascist (which would have required me to pack really slowly, as I came over in 1985, at least permanently.) And then she wandered in circles, and for all I know is still wandering in circles (I don’t know. I have a life), making the perma Tourette’s-like accusations of “racist, sexist, homophobic.” None of which make any sense in my particular case, but never mind.

Then there are flowers like the persons who invaded my facebook page, the screenshot of one of which Cedar posted yesterday. First, the guy, who apparently has an history having managed SOMEHOW to make himself persona non-grata at HWA and who seemed to think that anyone not agreeing with his choice of (socialist) candidate for the presidency was a “fascist” and longed for a “fascist” dictatorship (Those libertarians, always longing for dictatorship.) He also seems to be a dyed in the wool anti-Semite (and here allow me to put on my stereotype hat and say “of course he is.”)

Then there was the woman who posted “Hilary 2016” and when I said “Yes, she does have a vagina and got where she is on the back of a man, what a fine example for our girls” she said what I’d posted was “ew” (really? I could be a lot more “ew”) which seems like the objection of a two year old, and as we piled on the reasons her skankiness the carpetbagger SHOULDN’T be president, she said we were very angry people and that she’d have to block us and ran away.

The second one is more indicative of the type of non-reasoning I see involving stereotypes. The people most addicted to stereotypes learned them in college (which is why they think they’re the truth and not stereotypes. Hint: Marxist classifications of victim classes are NOTHING but stereotypes.) They not only learned these stereotypes, like that anyone who doesn’t agree with them or their professors is “racist, sexist, evil, doubleplusungood” but they have learned that if they find themselves agreeing with those people on the slightest thing, then you become one of them.

And this is why my colleagues on the left try to find ways to dismiss me (“Oh, the Portuguese were colonialist” – um… yes, but not as bad as the Belgians. All human breeds were colonialists. “The Portuguese are just Europeans.” “Fascinating. Perhaps you should share that wisdom with the bars in France who as little as ten years ago had ‘No Portuguese or dogs’ signs.”) or ways to make what I have to say irrelevant. “She’s just angry” (yeah, and? I actually am not, or at least only at some specific publishers, and not for anything public. But what if I were. Since when is being angry a reason to dismiss someone. Take the woman who came to yell at my mom because I’d bit her son (for good and sufficient reason but never mind) if my mom had said “oh, you’re just angry” instead of explaining why her son had come by his just deserts, the fight would have escalated to blows. Yes, the woman was angry. She thought I’d attacked her precious son for no reason. Which, were it true, would make anyone angry.) Or applied to everyone who disagrees with them “You’re jealous. You’re a bad writer.” Even if we were – and honestly, give us evidence, please, evidence we can’t cherrypick out of your darlings too – why would that dismiss arguments that have nothing at all to do with envy or our quality of writing, such as when I say that most books pushed and promoted are boring and incredibly predictable to anyone who studied Marxism as much as I was forced to?

I am admittedly jealous of some people’s writing skill. I have for instance, been studying P. F. Chisholm’s way with an historic mystery, because that how I deal with jealousy of another’s craft. I learn.

I am occasionally a bad writer, particularly in these blogs, which are unproofed and often written early morning or late night.

None of which means my opinions on stories or writers are therefore invalid.

And if I say something in a repulsive way, it might make you recoil, but a reasoning human being won’t say “that’s just ew” and dismiss it that way.

People, however, who are afraid to see real human beings behind stereotypes WILL. Because they can’t think of real people or of issues individually. They see only categories. And they KNOW that if they step outside the reservation they’ll find themselves BECOMING the stereotype they dread.

When they call us names, it’s a sort of incantation to make the bad thought go away.

Which is why when they (by which I don’t mean liberals, but people so impaired in reasoning that they respond illogically to any challenge to their world view. Not all liberals are like that, and some conservatives are) produce art it tends to be flat and lifeless.

Piers Plowman by any other name.

217 responses to “Dealing in Stereotypes

  1. We all employ stereotypes in everyday life — on meeting somebody new we pick a few obvious attributes to create a generalized assumption about what would and would not be suitable conversational topics, for example. The difference is whether we then adjust the statistical probability outline as we develop additional information or whether we insist that the newly made acquaintance conform to the stereotype.


    Here is an example of how not to proceed on a stereotype.

  2. c4c. talking of stereotypes, my ultra religious cousins haven’t a clue about Christians. They think that all Christians are like neighbors.

    • Well, sure. After all, nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

      • And everyone knows that pre-Vatican-II Catholics, Mennonites, UCC, and Dutch Reformed members are identical aside from a few hymns and prayers in their respective hymnals. 😉

        • Well, the Southern Baptists I grew up with call them all heathens, so of course they’re the same.

          • I can attest to this, from my neck of the forest.

            Our Southern Baptist neighbors (way on ’round the bend in more ways than one) thought that little me and little she (my older sister) were:

            “Heathen, Catholic, Indian, Redneck, Uncouth, Unsanitary, Rude, Crude, and Disrespectful of Elders!”

            And they got all that from us offering to mow their yard and feed the chickens. I am assured by our *other* Baptists that those two were right weird folks. Said other Baptists taught me to make to-die-for cookies and also how to swear like a sailor, but that’s another story. *grin*

          • I was once cautioned to avoid the heathen Methodists and to look out for Missouri Synod Lutherans “because they’re fast.”* **

            * Fast (adj) morally suspect; sexually profligate. Midwestern regional English usage.
            ** And the gales of laughter you hear are from the people familiar with Missouri Synod Lutheranism.

            • They gave one of my high school teachers a terrible fight about transferring in from back east.

            • RealityObserver

              Were your male associates advised (sub-rosa, of course) to seek out those Missouri Synod Lutherans?

            • I am not entirely sure if the Methodist thing has not become true.

              • Well, there may be some heathens in the Methodist Church, but I can assure you my local bunch are strict adherents to the Apostles’ Creed!

                • Apostles’ Creed! I really liked him in the first four Rocky Movies and found his death very sad making.

            • They might be laughing because of Christopher Walken and Marsupials. Just sayin’

            • Don’t forget the Wisconsin Synod. They used to have close ties with the Missouri Synod, but ended that about fifty years ago because the Missouri Synod was insufficiently fundamentalist and much too liberal.

          • I have actually heard someone posting a joke that turns on Catholic priests not being allowed to drink alcohol and insisting it’s true when called on it.

            A whole bunch of people called him on it, including some who cited the difference between Catholics and Baptists being that Catholics, when they bump into each other at the liquor store, say Hi.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Well, one joke about Catholic Priests had a Priest get whiskey spilled on him and some well meaning woman wanted to perfume him to “hide the whiskey smell”. He informed her that he’s allowed the whiskey smell not the perfume. [Smile]

            • Yep. Baptists don’t recognize each other at the liquor store.

        • Mennonites, UCC, and Dutch Reformed members use Latin?

          • The Mennonites around here use German. Well, at least it sounds German to me.

            • Plaatdeutsch – a form of Low German. It is closer to Dutch than to Hochdeutsch. I’ve got a couple books by Mennonites and others who fled Russia for Canada, and a few include bits in Plaat. I can follow a little when spoken, but as written? Gives me headaches trying to decipher.

              Dutch Reformed usually have at least one service per week in Dutch. The UCC folks use English, but a lot of their ideas are pretty foreign to me.

      • Patrick Chester

        I expect them.

    • c4c

    • Hah! That’s a joke. Unless they mean neighbors like the Montagues and Capulets, who have blood feuds over the stupidest reasons and will gleefully and savagely destroy the other side’s lives and reputations out of spite or because their victims don’t fall into lockstep with their own personal religious ideology. And lest ye descend upon me with great vengeance and furious anger at me for saying that, that’s why we left our now-former church. Who still refuse to acknowledge that we’ve renounced our membership, btw.

      • are like their neighbors.

      • Sad to hear. Yep, churches are full of humans. As a preacher I know once described them, “hospitals for the walking wounded”. There’s the other side, too: “if you ever find a perfect church, don’t join it, you’ll ruin it :-)”.

        I also note that organized religion is … organized, and so subject to all the faults and corruptions that humans in organizations and hierarchies are vulnerable to developing.

        Still – it’s easier for most people to develop a real relationship with their God if they study and are in mutual support with others like-minded.

    • They’ve never put a Christian geologist and a Young Earth Creationist in a room together and started to discuss Genesis have they?

      • *chuckle* Now that’s one I’d like to be a fly on the wall for.

        • You should have been in my Sunday School class/Bible study for the 6 months it took us to get from the start of Genesis through Noah. And they wondered why I wanted to do Daniel instead.

      • They’ve never left New York. I don’t think that they know the difference between Catholics and Protestants..

        • Williamsburg, Boro Park, or upstate?

          • Boro Park. My upstate cousins made aliyah.

            • A former Cooper Union classmate, now a neighbor, reminded me of something that happened in a history class we shared:

              The discussion was the Counter-Reformation, and so students needed to be reminded of (or learn) the basic practical & theological differences between Catholics & Protestants. Prof. Buckley asks the class “Who knows ‹something regarding Christian practice›?”, and he calls on someone who’s raised his or her hand to explain the topic to the class.

              About the time he’s asking whether anyone can identify the Sacraments, it finally registers with him that I’d raised my hand for almost every topic. He looks at me—the Boro Parker with beard, payos, tzitzis, and all—and asks something to the effect of, “Joel, why do you know all this?”

        • That’s… scary. I probably shouldn’t try and explain the difference between Calvanist and Weslean either?

          • Probably not. We’ll be here all week. And once you get to semi-Pelagians and the Arminian controversy . . .

            • 🙂 I need more books on these subjects I think. I am too far from the most useful library of them. (My folks place.)

              • Do you have Thuesen’s _Predestination: The American Career of a Contentious Doctrine_? Highly recommend. It is mostly about North America, but his intro and first chapters are a good general overview of the doctrine and its history.

                • My personal theological library is pretty sparse, unfortunately. I’ll have to grab that one next paycheck. On a completely serious note, I’ve been getting into more and more theological discussions lately and noticing the lack of supporting material on the bookshelves and realizing I don’t remember the names of half the books my folks have on the topic.

                  • The Red Family collection is heavy on church/religious history and light on pure theology per se. And it is a forty year accretion, ranging from Eastern Orthodox to Calvinist to “What . . . duuude that’s strange.” (the Münster Anabaptists). I’m glad I live within easy driving distance.

                  • Don’t worry, they’ve got a mental ward ready for anyone religious.

                    If you haven’t given some thought on how to shoot these b*st*rds first, you’re not thinking clearly, because they are certainly contemplating killing us.

                    The Atlantic writer Jeffrey Tayler is annoyed at the “educated elite” in our country. Why have they not risen to the occasion and labeled passionate religious belief a mental illness?

                    • One of my Husband (Then Fiance’s) presents to me was a Mosin Nagat. 🙂 We’ve got 10 acres and plans for a range out back to knock the rust off. (Of our skills, the rifles and his pistol are very well cared for!) *polishes halo*

                    • He was just being pissy because he fell for a parody article. In rebuttal I present this from noted atheist Camille Paglia:

                      Interviewer: You’re an atheist, and yet I don’t ever see you sneer at religion in the way that the very aggressive atheist class right now often will. What do you make of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and the religion critics who seem not to have respect for religions for faith?

                      Paglia: I regard them as adolescents. I say in the introduction to my last book, “Glittering Images”, that “Sneering at religion is juvenile, symptomatic of a stunted imagination.” It exposes a state of perpetual adolescence that has something to do with their parents– they’re still sneering at dad in some way. Richard Dawkins was the only high-profile atheist out there when I began publicly saying “I am an atheist,” on my book tours in the early 1990s. I started the fad for it in the U.S, because all of a sudden people, including leftist journalists, started coming out of the closet to publicly claim their atheist identities, which they weren’t bold enough to do before. But the point is that I felt it was perfectly legitimate for me to do that because of my great respect for religion in general–from the iconography to the sacred architecture and so forth. I was arguing that religion should be put at the center of any kind of multicultural curriculum.

                      I’m speaking here as an atheist. I don’t believe there is a God, but I respect every religion deeply. All the great world religions contain a complex system of beliefs regarding the nature of the universe and human life that is far more profound than anything that liberalism has produced. We have a whole generation of young people who are clinging to politics and to politicized visions of sexuality for their belief system. They see nothing but politics, but politics is tiny. Politics applies only to society. There is a huge metaphysical realm out there that involves the eternal principles of life and death. The great tragic texts, including the plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles, no longer have the central status they once had in education, because we have steadily moved away from the heritage of western civilization.

                      The real problem is a lack of knowledge of religion as well as a lack of respect for religion. I find it completely hypocritical for people in academe or the media to demand understanding of Muslim beliefs and yet be so derisive and dismissive of the devout Christian beliefs of Southern conservatives.

                      But yes, the sneering is ridiculous! Exactly what are these people offering in place of religion? …

                      http://www.salon.com/2015/07/29/camille_paglia_takes_on_jon_stewart_trump_sanders_liberals_think_of_themselves_as_very_open_minded_but_that%E2%80%99s_simply_not_true/

                      BTW: the answer to Paglia’s ending question there is obvious: self-abuse.

            • Heck, if someone spelled it Wesleyan, they’d probably think ST:TNG. 😎

          • yup. I may be libeling them. I haven’t spoken to them in 20 years. They are self-ghettoized. 🙂 In case comment was a joke.

  3. It is after all a matter of faith that every Sad Puppy supporter is a white male Mormon conservative misogynist.
    Hey, it’s not a stereotype, it’s Revealed Truth. Just ask any of the True Fans.

    • And RAACCIIIIISSSSS!!! You can’t forget that part.

      • Well, duh. Everything’s racist nowadays but thinking blacks are too dumb to get photo IDs.

      • Already covered (with triple redundancy!) by “white” “male” and “conservative”.

        • RealityObserver

          All you really need is “conservative” to denote someone as “racist” and “homophobic” – at least to one self-labeled “libertarian” I’ve been dealing with elsewhere.

          • The fellow on TvP in the Bar? I think the Bar rules preclude the response he deserves.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Well, that individual has convinced me that he’s strongly pro-Constitution in a manner that I can live with. He’s still a Jerk. [Wink]

              • The Other Sean

                It even says so right in his signature. 🙂

              • RealityObserver

                Well, Drak, I use the same moniker everywhere – so you know that I am one of the people that most often tangles with him.

                He is a staunch defender of the Constitution – as he reads it. Amazing how he has not bothered to look at the history of the Amendment we are tangling over right now (or were, I finally decided to cede him his own territory – of about one square yard). When I tangled with him before (on “Native Born”) he was wild to dig back more than a hundred years before the Revolution to support his argument.

                I would be quite happy to have him as my lawyer – he’d fight my conviction to the bitter end even if I was caught with a bloody knife in the middle of Times Square at high noon. As a defender of the “USAIN” way of life – not so much.

          • Now that you mention it, I have noticed that those quickest to denounce stereotypes are often quickest to apply them, especially to conservatives. Likely some sort of psychological mechanism there, but perhaps i am simply stereotyping.

            The trick is, of course, to stereotype based on the correct criteria, such as “child of alcoholic parent” rather than weak criteria, such as “person with #% melanin content to their skin.”

            OTOH, if you cannot draw certain probabilities premised on culture, then culture don’t mean squat, do it?

          • funny, because libertarian means the same to the left.

  4. As I read someplace (Yes, a vague attribution, but oh well), you can’t reason a person out of a position that he or she didn’t reason into.
    This applies to all ideologies and political spectra.
    Thus, the TruCommies or the TruPatriots (to use convenient stereotypes on the extreme sides) can’t budge out of their positions via dialogue or words because they “feel” or “believe” in their worldview.
    The TruCommies often think that they have reasoned their way into (for example) voting for Sanders. They truly believe that the hoops they jumped through in getting a College Degree = reasoning in their minds. They have not learned reasoning, but they substitute Orwellian right-think posturing for it instead. And if your world is posturing, then naturally you think that everybody else is posturing too.
    This is known as SJW-think….unless you are one…

  5. Look, just because I greatly resemble a 19th century Irish washer woman in coloring and body habitus is no reason for anyone to assume I have a lively temper. I am exceedingly laid-back and don’t you forget it! *wags finger*

  6. Funny. In my own writing, I try to avoid stereotypes as much as possible. I realize I fall into them sometimes but I’m one of those Americans who’s lived all over the US (and aboard) so I have a hard time stereotyping people’s personalities. Physical traits — sometimes, yes, but not personality traits (I’ve known several humble French folk, shy Spaniards, and lazy Germans).

    • Often the stereotyping is projected by the reader (see comment below by raptor at | July 28, 2015 at 2:29 pm | ) rather than any work of the author. As soon as you mention any specific characteristic the SJW readers are whipping out their Stereotype Bingo and checking off boxes, looking for cause to ding you for either adhering to (their) stereotype (some Americans of African descent do like Fried Chicken and watermelon, after all, and a few do enjoy rap music) or ding you for injecting a false (i.e., non-conforming to their stereotype) note into the description.

      • And their horror at the Cultural Appropriation by Whities of liking fried chicken, watermelon, okra, gumbo (and the dreaded shish-kabob)! Worst of all must be corned-beef or pastrami fried rice!

        • Fried chicken is awesome. They can shove off. 😉

          • RealityObserver

            One of those things – if you have chicken (which just about everyone does, except those living where they’ll get flash-frozen), and something to fry it with, it’s a part of your diet. In fact, if you have something to fry with, just about everything gets fried at some time or another. Family favorite here is chicken-fried round steak, mashed potatoes, and milk gravy.

            Fried foods are something that calls to just about everyone. (Now, deep-fried Snickers are going just a bit overboard, IMHO…)

            • I might consider trying a deep-fried Snickers sometime, but I think of fried candy (and fried ice cream, or ice cubes, or whatever) as relating to food in somewhat the same way as roller coasters relate to transportation.

              • Fair food – you eat it as part of the county or state fair experience, enjoy it for those few days, and ignore it for most of the year. Funnelcake is different, of course.

                • Yep!

                  Some people seem to have the confused impression that things I consider distinctly fair food are stuff that gets eaten all the time and I am not entirely sure why.

                  • Ain’t nothin’ wrong with chicken ‘n waffles any day.

                    (No, I have no idea what you were actually referring to)

                    • Deep-fried candy bars/cookies/ice cream/ice cubes/butter. Chicken and waffles are… okay, not a combination I’ve ever especially wanted to pursue, but they have less of an air of “Hee, look what I can do!” 😀

                • Also, argh, now I want funnel cake.

                  • churros. Bought in summer at Saints feasts. If available year around I’d have lived on them.

                    • RealityObserver

                      Indian fry bread. Honey, confectionery sugar, and cinnamon.

                      Dang, can hardly wait for the horse races back in the home town to start – the Apache American Legion booth makes it best (IMHO).

                    • churros available daily in Dallas

                    • where’s home

                    • Feather Blade

                      Indian fry bread. Honey, confectionery sugar, and cinnamon.

                      We always called those mormon scones ^_^. But you really need honey-butter to go along with them

                      Why wait? They’re easy enough to make at home. Just make sure the bread dough is sufficiently chilled.

                    • RealityObserver

                      Ran out of nesting space, durn it. Emily – home town is Globe, Arizona – you can just about walk to the San Carlos Reservation. The Whitewater organizations have booths at their local events too, but I rarely find time to get up into the Rim country.

                      Easiest time to get the Apache fry bread is during the county fair races, which is when I try to visit back there – the kids would live on it for two days if I let them, since you can add refried beans, meat, etc. on the basic bread. Living there, you could keep your eyes open for other times (church fundraisers, annual stock sales, etc.) The O’Odham always have booths at the Pima County fair, too (it’s not an exclusive Apache food, by any means) – but somehow it doesn’t quite taste the same; no idea why.

              • RealityObserver

                Mmmm. Fried ice cream. Still trying to get that one right.

            • No, overboard is deep-fried butter.

              • RealityObserver

                Point… (Covertly adds to “figure it out” list…)

                • Roughly the same as deep-fried ice cream: frozen butter plus thick batter. Why you would want to try something to raise your cholesterol to 10W/30….

            • Replying to RO: 1. If it ain’t FRIED, it ain’t FOOD. 2, How do you chicken-fry mashed potatoes? And milk gravy?

              • I can do it. Well, the potatoes. In fact, I’ve had them at a fancy restaurant.

                • RealityObserver

                  Do it all the time with left-over mashed potatoes. Well, not all the time, the family rarely leaves any…

                  Cold mashed potatoes, mix in some chopped scallion, form into “pancakes” (or balls work too), coat with an egg/water wash, dip in some bread crumbs, fry in butter (or bacon drippings if you have some handy).

                  Heaven (or some address in sight of it, anyway).

              • Sam, what the guy down at the TX State Fair did last year was to make mashed potato balls with the gravy in the middle and a light crust of dressing/stuffing, then deep-fried them and served with deep-fried turkey. The deep-fried meatloaf was less successful if memory serves.

              • I can think of a couple of ways. One is the way TxRed just mentioned. Another is to make the gravy the day before, let it congeal in the refrigerator, then batter and fry it. Stiff mashed potatoes are easy to form into patties or balls.

                Still another way would be to use the gravy as the base for holding Panko bread crumbs to the mashed potato balls.

            • Actually, fried chicken has long been a rare and expensive dish. Chicken itself has — I have read of a writer discussing ordinary and extraordinary care, and stating that you can eat eggs and other cheap and easy to get foods rather than expensive and hard to get ones like chicken — because you kept them for eggs, not meat. And when you did finally eat one, it was a tough old bird that needed stewing or casseroling. Fried chicken needs a young, tender bird. Only rich people were profligate enough for those.

              • It’s one of those things I get reminded to be grateful for at odd moments. Being able to read in bed without worrying I’ll set it on fire. Air conditioning. Cheap chicken.

            • I still remember fondly the deep-fried corn on the cob I had at Hemisfair ’68. Stick shoved up its cob and dunked in melted butter. Haven’t seen it since, unfortunately, and I don’t do any deep-frying, myself (deep-frying for one doesn’t seem like something I want to get into).

        • Okra? Isn’t that what mucilage comes from?

      • Life is a multiple-choice quiz, y’know. If the first stereotype or two don’t fit, then it’s GOTTA be one of the others.

      • I like fried chicken and I’m so pale I got called ghost in middle school.

  7. SJWs just LOVE stereotypes… so long as they are the “right” stereotypes about the “evil” people. But dare stray outside those boundaries and they will come down on you harder & faster than a school of piranha that smell blood in the water.

    Bit of background to this one: back in college, I was an English Major: Writing Concentration. Yes, that’s what the school called me. Anyways, I didn’t have a thesis per say, but rather a “Senior Seminar” where I had to write a certain amount of material for a creative writing project. It was an actual class where us EM:WC types were set up in little writing groups. Once we all graduated, my group agreed to keep the group going. We’d send out whatever projects we might start, and the rest of the group would critique it. I, naturally, started an action thriller. With an MS-13 clique as secondary antagonists.

    Did I mention I was the only non-SJW in the writing group?

    Hoo-boy. Let’s just say that did not go over well. I was accused of sterotyping Latins in particular and minorities in general as criminals and villains. Never mind the fact that the lead police detective in the story was black, and the one cop I explicitly stated was white turned out to not only be dirty but also a contract killer to boot ,and that I never explicitly stated the race of any of the main protagonists, and that the actual baddie turned out to be an old, white, racist, Christian oligarch. How dare I cast minorities in a villain role!

    So to get the writing group off my back, I changed the the MS-13 clique to a group of Volksfront-esque KKK-offshoot white supremacist skinheads. Problem solved, right? WRONG! Then the same harpies (I was also the only male in the group) who came after me for making the bad guys Latinos came after me again because now I had too many white characters! Never mind the fact that I’d made the exact changes they demanded of me, how dare I remove any minority characters from the story?!

    I took the hint after that and unceremoniously dropped out of the group. It’s also why I’ve given up trying to combat SJWs: it’s an unwinnable fight. No matter how hard you try to please them, they’ll always find something that’s offensive, even if they have to pull it out of thin air. Or their ass. Speaking of which, remind me some time to tell you the story about the cookie.

    • Trying to please the Stalinist Jacobin Wannabes is indeed an exercise in futility. The more they are accommodated, the more outré their demands become because they one-up each other in their zero-sum quest to win the virtue-signaling competition.

      Better to just go straight to an audience that might grok you. Many of us are starting to tune out the lib-left Leitkultur entirely.

      • Which is why most of my work is now posted on a web forum that is frequented by gun nuts. Though I should have something available for mass-market consumption by the weekend…

        • Are there flame wars over caliber and manufacturer? .45 vs ? etc.Colt v. Browning v. Remington v. H&K etc.

          • Actually, not often. Almost never, in fact. It’s a smaller forum that’s pretty laid back and relaxed. We all have our own preferences, naturally, but by and large the membership is respectful of differing opinions. If such a flame war is started, it’s almost always quite obviously in jest.

      • They would also have to get a life if they didn’t stop fighting the bad fight. And turn to quotidian goodness to get their moral egoboo, which takes time and effort and money (instead of the fun of being a bully), and doesn’t elevate them over the ranks of ordinary mortals.

      • I t’ink may be you haz an spelling error. I be fix that for youse:

        Trying to please appease the Stalinist Jacobin Wannabes is …

        Danes, Danegeld.

      • Yeah, it’s getting to the point where I just don’t care what the Left thinks about anything. Which I sometimes worry about because they are beloved children of God as well. I possibly worry too much.

        • Beloved Children they may be, but damned few of them honor their Father.

        • “The Left” is hard to reason with. Sometimes you can get through to an individual leftist. (Sometimes it takes 10-20 years though.)

          • That is because the Left isn’t much concerned about reason. The Left is greatly concerned about feelingz, and only employs reason ex post facto to justify and support their feelingz.

            How else can you explain their widespread support for a $15 minimum wage in the face of all reason that it would reduce the number of legal jobs, reduce the hours worked in such jobs, eliminate many low-income workers from various benefits provided by the State and would increase the number of “under-the-table” jobs? (List of negative consequences of raising the minimum wage is not intended to be comprehensive.)

    • I read “the Sum of All Fears” and skipped the movie, with the Muslims replaced by Serbians or Russians or something very white.

      • I saw the movie. Believe me, politically-correct villains (also Neo-Nazis, ironically enough) were the least of that cinematic abomination’s problems.

      • Yep, the studio forced the script be changed so the movie villains were all pasty-complexioned South African and Austrian neonazis, that change being made ABSOLUTELY WITHOUT ANY NOTICE OR REGARD TAKEN to the many-months long campaign by CAIR once the rights to the book were acquired by the studio to convince them to not use Arab villains.

        Pure coincidence.

        Absolutely no connection whatsoever.

        The funny thing is, the director’s “oh we changed it for plot reasons” explanation (according to wikipedia, this from the DVD) also has him saying he and the studio found it implausible that mere Arabs could handle the intellectual and technical challenges of reworking a recovered intact nuke so it would go boom, so they had to change it so white people were doing that work. Just to make it believable.

        Amazing what happens when you let the Hollywood folks speak their minds.

        • In the novel, the reworking involved a long string of suicide technicians who got buried out back after they got too sick to work and died, and replaced by new teams.

          • That’s basically how the Soviets did it at Arzamas-16. They had little graveyards beside the work huts.

            Lavrenti Beria was in charge of the Soviet atomic bomb project. So it was perfectly logical to spread their atomic bomb project throughout the gulag system…

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          Clancy is one of those authors Hollywood likes to make money off of without actually adapting their work. Like Robert E Howard. Rumor says that the new Arnie-starring Legend of Conan is based off of David Gemmell’s decidedly non-Conan novel Legend.

    • I would have suggested cut-and-paste changes after changes to horrify them more and more.

  8. I’ve run a number of times into conservatives who saw “Ph.D.” (actually two), “Jewish, works in [stereotypical New Class profession]” and expected that I’d be another liberal leftie. I was more amused than annoyed, truth be told.

    • hah. Try being a pear-shaped middle-aged white woman with a college degree–people always assume I’m on the side of light, goodness, and social justice.

    • If you are going to walk like a doc, talk like a doc and wear white like a doc it is probably a good idea to stay out of the swamps of academia during doc hunting season.

    • We really need a secret handshake or something.

      • How about a code phrase that no SJWs could say without head explosions?

        Sign: God bless the USA.
        Countersign: And the Republic for which it stands.

        alternately:

        Sign: Where’s the safety on a Glock?
        Countersign: In the holder’s hand.

        • Or something quite obscure to them, maybe a couple lines from a later verse of the Star Spangled Banner.
          “Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,”
          “And this be our motto–‘in God is our trust'”

  9. Also, just out of curiosity, why did you bite the angry lady’s son?

  10. fredericmora

    >the bars in France who as little as ten years ago had ‘No Portuguese or dogs’ signs.

    Hey, that’s a stereotype!

    • Back before I was in existence, Dad was stationed at Fort Bliss. A number of the places in El Paso put up signs that read, “No soldiers or dogs.” Upon hearing about it, the base commander restricted everyone to post and ordered no expenditures on the local economy – including by dependents. It took about a week for the GI’s and their families not buying anything in El Paso before the city cried uncle.

      • Y’know, the weirdest thing about that stuff is that the people doing it are usually mostly former military, themselves. Lawton, Oklahoma was filled with two-bit grifters out to rip off every naive young GI that came through their doors, but the majority of them were former soldiers, themselves. And, they treated the right to rip off GIs like some sort of God-given right, resisting any measure or step to cut it down.

        I never quite figured that one out.

        • Oh, they were probably ripped off themselves and think, “I suffered, it’s time for you to suffer.”

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Something exists under Lawton that has profoundly twisted the local geomancy. People who spend significant chunks of their life there develop oddly.

          Folks in Norman are just plain nuts.

          • Between the weather people and the University, Norman never had a prayer of being a “normal, well-adjusted” city. IMHO.

            • The Other Sean

              Norman never had a chance to be normal and well-adjusted. I blame the mother. 🙂

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                The state hospital used to be in Norman. ‘Reforms’ meant letting all the inmates out, so there was a big boost to the population of mentally ill homeless.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Maybe, but coming from a Texan, that could be chalked up to football rivalry. Aggies at least seem to make Sooner fans look tame.

    • Yeah! What’ve they got against dogs?

      • At least they aren’t at the bottom of the hierarchy:

        “A messmate before a shipmate,
        A shipmate before a ‘lubber,
        A ‘lubber before a dog,
        But a dog before a so’jer.”

  11. “It’s only water/In a stranger’s tear
    Looks are deceptive/But distinctions are clear
    A foreign body and a foreign mind
    Never welcome in the land of the blind
    You may look like we do
    Talk like we do
    But you know how it is…
    YOU’RE NOT ONE OF US (x3)”

  12. The late Joseph Sobran called stereotypes “informal sociology.” I see them as a labor-saving device, and not just when I’m writing. Like any labor-saving device, they can be misused, but they can also save you time, money, effort, and risk to life and limb when judiciously applied. None of which refutes the maxim that individuals should be judged on their merits, whenever possible

  13. I’ve never felt that stereotypes were wrong, in writing or real life. Now rudeness–that’s wrong.

  14. Stereotypes are the zeroth order approximation of reality. If you don’t care to get any closer than the (rather large) ballpark, they’re much easier to use. If you’re planning on interplanetary navigation (or interpersonal relations), you need to expend the effort to be more precise.

  15. I remember reading, yearrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrs ago, a John W., Campbell editorial titled “Freedom For Dumb Blonds”. (i.e.–IIRC–it should be acceptable to have a stereotypical person occasionally, and there is a reason for that stereotype).

  16. RealityObserver

    Now, I would have been deeply offended if you had posted half of a novel. (But wouldn’t have left, just in case you woke up under the weather on another day…)

    As I noted on MGC – a large body of work involving a certain “group” that has everyone conforming to the stereotype is terrible work. Conversely, a large body of work involving a certain “group” that has no one conforming to the stereotype is also terrible work.

    The other fact is that, no matter how extreme your stereotype, whether expressed in society or in writing – in real life there will be the over-achievers that manage to exceed your wildest imagination. The “perfectly stereotyped character” may strain your belief in a piece of fiction – right up until you meet one of these “exceptional” individuals.

  17. Get’cher stereotypes heah, get’cher red hot stereotype ri’chere! We got ones that fit, we got ’em overbroad, we got them binding, too! All stereotypes, any size, any style! We got ’em old, we got ’em new, we can make them fit for you! Get’cher stereotypes heah, get’cher red hot stereotype ri’chere!

  18. Heh, I LIKE it when I get stereotyped as a dumb southerner… 🙂 Gives me ALL kinds of options. Reality is that stereotypes are seldom right, and even less so if you’ve actually interacted with that particular group. I try to stay away from them in my writing, as they would lock characters into particular behaviours that I don’t necessarily want them to use.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I’m sure Travis S Taylor gets a kick out of people making assumptions about him based on his Southerness.

    • Randy Wilde

      Heh, I LIKE it when I get stereotyped as a dumb southerner… 🙂 Gives me ALL kinds of options.

      Not quite the same… but when I was in the Army I was stuck as an E2 because I had regular problems passing the PT test (I was in a medical MOS, so failing the 2 mile run by 15-30 seconds didn’t impact my regular duties).

      Occasionally, I’d come across people who think rank corresponds to ability, and I’d get ignored as just a Private. Could be amusing at times.

    • That’s why I have made it a point to NEVER lose my Texas accent even though I’ve lived in Illinoisy for over 18 years………

  19. Sarah, your tiredness post- surgery: are you low in iron (from blood loss)? People (aka doctors) underestimate how much that can wipe someone out.

    • I am low on iron, but it’s sort of endemic for me. Back before the madcow rules, when I donated blood as often as possible, I often was sent home for being low on iron.

      • After the third abdominal surgery the Beloved Spouse was low on iron (you would think the three or four units transfused* would have fixed that, but there it is) and the doctor recommended taking an iron supplement with eight ounces orange juice first thing in the morning, then wait an hour before eating anything more. We packed a cold bag with a container of juice to put bedside to ensure it got taken first thing.

        It may have worked — hemoglobin is back up where it ought be.

        Some formulations of iron [e.g., ferrous fumarate, ferrous gluconate, ferrous sulfate] are more readily processed than others, so check with suitable expert for the optimum type. What you are looking for is a form which delivers the optimum “elemental”’ iron.

        Excess iron has severe potential risks, so do under a doctor’s direction.

      • Eat food with vitamin C at the same time as iron-rich food can help absorption.

      • I don’t mean to harp, but there seems to be a strong trend here of “Just because you’re used to it doesn’t mean it’s okay.” That is likely to go double when something else has disrupted your balance of resources, so to speak.

        At any rate I doubt increasing your iron consumption a bit would hurt.

      • If you are generally low on iron, surgery might have made it really low. It would be nice to get a ferritin level test, not just a hg. At any rate, eating sources of heme iron (meat!!! red meat!!!) is the best absorbed and safest source of iron.
        If the doc says take iron, chelated iron aka ferrous gluconate or ferrous bisglycinate is gentle, in my experience. It’s usually sold as easy iron, or gentle iron, etc.

        • A. Nony Moose

          Sadly, taking iron supplements when you don’t *know* you have an iron deficiency (based on blood work) can damage your heart and liver. Please don’t start iron pills without appropriate evaluation by a medical provider. (Typically ferritin, transferrin, TIBC [total iron binding capacity], and serum iron.) That being said, orange juice is definitely a good idea to have with iron pills–the vitamin C helps in absorption. Even carbonated soda can work, due to its acidic nature.
          When in doubt, eat more dark green, leafy vegetables; spinach in particular is an excellent source of vitamin A and iron. Go easy on the red meat.
          Mrs. Hoyt, your blog is always a pleasure to read. Best wishes on a full and speedy recovery.
          Respectfully,
          A. Nony Moose

  20. Christopher M. Chupik

    “And then she wandered in circles, and for all I know is still wandering in circles (I don’t know. I have a life), making the perma Tourette’s-like accusations of “racist, sexist, homophobic.”

    Last I saw, the Usual Suspects were saying Sarah didn’t understand American because she’s an immigrant.

    Seriously, that’s what these idiots said.

  21. Long ago, I ran a stereotype machine. I’d start with a flat tray of type, and press a soft paper-like matrix into it such that it took a negative imprint of the type. Then I’d take that paper, wrap it around half a cylinder, and cast some more type-metal into it. Now I had a half-cylindrical version of the original flat tray of type. It went to the rotary press, I went to the next page. And now you know about stereotyping.

    The eigenvectors of the inverse of the covariance matrix of a data set are the principal components of the data. The few largest eigenvalues frequently capture most of the mutual variation of the observations. By keeping them, and discarding the others, one obtains a simplified model. And there’s your stereotype, right there.

    About 50 years elapsed between my learning this and understanding it.

    • I thought stereotype was where you had two images of words that you could look at through a stereo viewer, and the letters looked like they had depth. (runs)

  22. Stereotypes arise for a reason, Sarah. I am an old world white male – so of course, to all the progs in my family – I was not worth listening to because I was by definition – an idiot.

    As the years passed and they met the exact consequences of their actions that I said they woud – the anger multiplied. After a few more catastrophic family melt downs and failures they turn to me with utter looks of bewilderment…and I can’t even scrounge the effort to say ‘Told ya so…’.

    Stereotyping works for me all the time, every time. All it takes is common sense and logic to apply them where they’re needed.

  23. ” The people most addicted to stereotypes learned them in college (which is why they think they’re the truth and not stereotypes. Hint: Marxist classifications of victim classes are NOTHING but stereotypes.) They not only learned these stereotypes, like that anyone who doesn’t agree with them or their professors is “racist, sexist, evil, doubleplusungood” but they have learned that if they find themselves agreeing with those people on the slightest thing, then you become one of them.”

    Well, isn’t that JUST what you’d expect a cishetero partially-pale non-native rightwing deathbeast to say, ISN’T it? /sarc

  24. Patrick Chester

    *Maybe the “I have no strength” is tiredness. I’m fuzzy enough I almost posted half a novel here, instead of this blog. Fortunately I noticed before I pressed publish.*

    Were you mostly dead? /Princess Bride