A Fatal Confusion

Somehow Kate Paulk has managed to give me her sinus infection/throat thingy.  Since she’s in Pennsylvania and I’m in Colorado and we haven’t seen each other in the flesh in what? three years? this is very odd indeed.  And yet, having survived both kids sick and home for the holidays I’m now felled by the dreaded Paulk Computer Virus.  You heard it here first! ATH is science.  Breakthrough science, even.  And now you can pick on Kate over it.  Two benefits.

I only figured out I was sick when after a muddled conversation with older son, in which I mixed up Shakespeare quotes not once but twice, he told me I sounded like I had a fever.  What I wrote yesterday reads that way to me this morning too.

Anyway, I was sitting here, holding my head and thinking of what to write, and mostly thinking “I don’t have time to be sick” (though to be honest I’m much better than yesterday) when younger son came downstairs.  The pantless (he’s taken to walking around in his underwear.  I hope he finds a girl to tame him soon.  Either that or make it pay like Stephen Kruiser does) embryonic engineer told me that the problem of progressivism is that they treat people like animals and objects, and objects and animals like people.

And perhaps because I’m sinused (totally a word) which is sort of like being hungover without any of the benefits (I’ve always had issues with sinus infections.  Yes, I do use the neti, but I still do.  My mom used to think I was hungover whenever I had one.  You know, if I could have afforded that much alcohol…) I realized he was right, and also that it makes no sense whatsoever.

I had real troubles with math as a kid, until I developed a workaround for my tendency to twist digits around, but I always liked the… “cleanliness” of science.  So I read a lot of popular biology books.  And kept running into books that insisted we’re really just animals, that’s it.  Now, without getting into religion, yeah, of course we’re animals, but we have to assume there is a little difference, right?  I mean, you don’t see the other animals having to go around arguing that they’re really animals, right?

Lately this has become a “you don’t really think, you just think you’re thinking” and the “you’re just a programmed meat robot and don’t make any real decisions.  It’s all foreordained from the time you were born.”  (Of course, this runs into trajectories like mine which would require an active foreordainer.  I’m almost afraid to ask a philosophy that is mostly atheistic whom they’d like in that role.)

At the same time we see ridiculous anthropomorphization of animals — Cecil the lion and Tenderoo, really? — when everyone knows only domestic cats and maybe dogs are even vaguely human and that probably because they rubbed with us so long.

I’m only half joking.  It’s actually not cats and dogs, but any animal taken young and raised by humans will partake the Stranger in A Strange Land effect and not be quite like their wild counterparts. Interestingly those “animal companions” those who chose the human fire over the wild, the progressives are at great pains to lecture us on how they shouldn’t reproduce, we shouldn’t keep them, and they’d be better off (for cats and dogs) exterminated.

And things?  Oh, boy, the paeans to old houses that can’t be demolished because they’ve “seen” things make me roll my eyes so much they threaten to fall off.

I’m not sure why this confusion.

I mean, the philosophy they embrace, of necessity strips them of normal empathy and compassion.  When the philosophy treats humans as “units” that fit into a pre-determined “class” it will do that.  (And incidentally make their literature cryingly awful.)  Also what prevents their philosophy from working is that humans AREN’T objects.  You really can’t raise taxes to 100% and then distribute things equally because people find ways to prevent you taking their stuff and hurting them (even if it’s jumping the border, one reason that all socialist countries have obstacles to LEAVING which are directly proportional to how socialist they are.  When they reach the deep red tincture of communism, they have to erect walls or mine the border and become a maximum security prison.  (Fun fact: you can tell which system works by whether border walls are supposed to keep people IN or OUT.  Hint, it’s the in that’s a bad thing.)  Also giving the same to everyone doesn’t work very well, because some people make a lot of very little and vice versa.

But even knowing that: what kind of insanity leads you to want to hurt/humiliate/devalue your own species in favor not just of animals but of inanimate objects too?

At the heart of every progressive “bright idea” TM is this confusion.  They believe humans are little objects that can be moved around at will.  (Notice their insistence on diversity in awards.  They don’t care if the work is good or not, or if the IDEAS are diverse.  No.  They’re going for “units of many colors.”  And if you say you want good stuff, then they assume you’re racist, because… I don’t know.  In their heads, I guess units of different colors don’t produce good stuff?  Or all stuff is the same, because widgets, and you’re just trying to avoid having units of many colors?  My head hurts too much for this.)

How can one get so lost that a building is a human but a human is a thing?  That a domestic animal should be exterminated, but man eating lions (which older lions tend to be) should be mourned for weeks.

I don’t know.  If I knew how, I’d know how to cure it, and we wouldn’t be in nearly the trouble we’re in.

And now I go write.  And have more decongestant.

400 responses to “A Fatal Confusion

  1. The Other Sean

    Interesting. I have to wonder if the opposition to domesticated animals (i.e. pets) is somehow an extension of the “noble savage” concept into the animal realm. Progressives seem to embrace the idea elsewhere, consciously or not – perhaps this is another example.

    • It’s the whole “wild” concept, really–the idea that the primal is better, and everything that suppresses the primal is repressive and bad.
      No, no it’s not. Trust me, you don’t want to see me minus the moral training I’ve recieved.

      • The Other Sean

        Yes, I think you’ve put it better. “Wild” and “natural” are superior to “domesticated” or “artificial” in the minds of many Progressives.

        • Feather Blade

          It’s that damned Rousseau again….

        • I have seen a feminist describe a utopia in which men do all the unpleasant clean-up in the ecology, and women the fun stuff — like rehab animals for the wild.

          • I’d argue they already have that:


            When it comes to sexual equity in the workplace, the biggest “gender gap” of all is the fact that men suffer around 92% of all job-related fatalities.

            According to Bureau of Labor statistics from 1992-2014, women laborers accounted for 43% of total hours worked, yet they suffered a scant 8% of workplace fatalities. In what world could this possibly be considered respectful of women’s endless quest for equality?

            Yet I never hear feminists worry about closing that gap. Just like something less than 50% of lawyers being female is discrimination but that women are only 10% of plumbers is just dandy.

            • Nor does there seem to be any great rush to narrow either the suicide or the employment gap. The going-to-college gap is also increasing, but based on the outrageous prices people are being duped into paying by the academic Marxists to end up more ignorant than when they started, I think the guys are ahead on this one.

              • Also, from my 30+ years of observing young men from the vantage point of being an adult male, only about 1 of every 4 18 year old men are ready and capable of doing serious college work. The rest want to make money, party and chase girls. It even applies to my 4 sons. All went to college for a while, but only the youngest completed a degree (Civil Engineer). Two went into the Marines, and the other is a fireman/paramedic.

                A young man willing to work can make a great living if he learns a trade, like plumbing, electrician, I&C tech, welder, carpenter, machinist or mechanic. Hell, the plumber we use occasionally makes twice what I do as en engineer in the nuke power plant business, as does my brother who started out as an oil field electrician and now is a production supervisor for a mid-size company in West Texas.

                For the last 10 years I have been encouraging boys in our Scout troop to consider the trades, except for those few who show a more academic bent.

      • Have you noticed the same folk espousing the view of “primal is better” are often the same ones who declare that men must be taught not to rape?

        In my experience, the ones capable of learning that don’t need extensive coursework. Mostly it’s a matter of telling them, “Don’t rape; it isn’t polite.” … which admittedly uses twice as many words as necessary. For the ones who can’t take the lesson from that, deterrence is more effective than further instruction.

        Of course, the problem is that there are more than a few whose reaction is along the lines of “Don’t rape? I’d not had any interest in that, but now that you bring it up …”

      • I suspect that my sister(the vet tech)’s pet(s) would not wish to trade places with any wild cousins. Life of ease? Oh yeah, but also life of length. I doubt her (now) blind terrier would last very long even in a pack.

        • Yep anyone that thinks that felis domesticus didn’t get a major win from self domesticating is a blithering idiot. I grew up with semi feral barn cats. They got food and some shelter in exchange for mousing and some companionship. I’d say the average life expectancy was 3-4 (less for the males who fought and roamed and had run-ins with US Route 1). A 6 year old was a decrepit creature who often were in great discomfort (and wouldn’t let you help, proud they were). A true feral live maybe 2 seasons tops. In comparison sitting in my wife’s lap is one of our indoor only cats. He looks about equivalent to a 2 year old barn cat (actually better groomed and a bit chunky). He and his sibling’s lives have been quite healthy and all their needs are met. Nice work if you can get it…

      • Blame the third Earl of Shaftesbury. It’s like the concept of the “noble savage” cropping up again (or a long continuation on the order of several centuries). Read a lot of original enthnologies, you’ll get this idea that the closer to dirty, smelly, violent and vicious wildness you are, the better.

        Though Rousseau never used the phrase (at least, according to wikipedia and my faulty memory), blame him, too. His “natural state” and a profound disdain for the civil society that created and sustained him spawned much of the perfidy we’re seeing today in the Progressive political/cultural movement.

        Humanity without the firm moral training that most of us had is indeed a thing to be avoided. Those who actually want that “primal state” are either *profoundly* deluded or actually believe they’ll come out on top in the bloody furball that will result. When civilization falls, in the end, nobody wins.

        • There is a certain logic there, as can be demonstrated by the generally acknowledged flavor of poultry, cattle and pigs allowed to eat a ‘natural” diet rather than be restricted to only that which is fed them.

          To leap from that precipice of flavour, however, to a preference for people similarly free-ranged, confuses two distinctly different forms of good taste.

    • re: opposition to pets: Reminds me of an article a few months back – something about research done in Siberia on how a dog-genus animal (don’t remember which, may have been something like a coyote) is domesticated: it takes 4-5 generations of selective breeding, as I recall. For the reverse direction, I suppose it would take much the same, plus education on how to be wild from some remarkably tolerant wild animals of the species.
      I.e., I suspect just saying “we shouldn’t keep them [domesticated animals]” IS equivalent to saying “just kill them off”, there’s no practical way to “return” them to the wild. We made ’em, consciously or not; we have a responsibility to them.

      • Silver fox. But it was longer than 4 to 5.

        Fun thing was that the thing they were selecting for was “willingness to hang out with humans.” Nevertheless, the tame fox looked a lot more doggy than the wild one.

        • “Silver Fox” is a slang term objectifying men of a certain age and, as it represents the objectification of such men, constitutes micro-aggression.

          • The Other Sean

            Is your tongue stuck to your cheek? 🙂

          • Are you saying that you would object if a woman or girl called you a Silver Fox? 😉

            • The only thing I object to being called is late for dinner.

              However, as I have a mirror and I’m not afraid to use it, I can state with confidence that any persons – male, female, young, old – who called me a Silver Fox is in dire need of a review of their psychiatric meds.

              • yeah. Your hair is not white. Having said that, I still think you and spouse are the best looking couple of a certain age I ever met.

                • Beloved Spouse certainly brings up the average, that I will not deny.

                  Not just directly, either, but by reducing my drag on the team through such advice as “Nobody with your complexion ought wear that shade of green if they want to continue being counted amongst the living.”

                  • Ah. Green has the same effect on me. And on younger son. I can’t convince him that his favorite color doesn’t work for him.

                    • I like color. No, make that I love color. I have long wished that I could get away with wearing any and all colors without problem. When I was little I told The Parents that I wanted to be mahogany colored when I grew up, so I could wear any color.

                      There are greens, and then there are greens. I avoid the ones in the olive/drab/khaki family or those that show distinct yellow/gold/brown tones and the pale minty hues. Wearing any of them usually results in a someone asking if I am feeling well. I have found some saturated hunter greens and teal blue-green shades that I can wear without eliciting such concern.

                      It is possible that with careful shopping you might find a green that is kind to you or Marsh. Of course this all depends on what the industry marketers decide to make available on any given season.

                    • Sales gal: Oh you’re a readhead! You can wear ANY green!
                      TXRED: (Silently holds proffered piece of lime colored clothing beside face)
                      Sales gal: (far more subdued) Hunter or emerald.

          • Sounds like we need a thousand of them. Then we can get a full blown aggression!

          • Aren’t there more qualifications required for said appellation? Normally, it is applied to those who employ underhanded means to reach their goals after having reached that certain age, does it not?

            • Not that I ever recall. It is a purely complimentary term referring to a man whose hair has gone grey but who remains attractive to (primarily younger) women — with nothing underhanded nor even any element of the Sugar Daddy.

              A quick check of urban Dictionary (the only source of direct information I could find on this) finds:

              An attractive older man. Generally, one that has gray hair and is often desired by younger women.
              That Sean Connery may be old, but he sure is one silver fox!!

              Wikipedia does not offer a comparable clarity but does offer a list of men in American public life who have been nicknamed “Silver Fox”, such as George Clooney, Anderson Cooper, and Charlie Rich.

              There is also a female Marvel Comics character using the name Silver Fox, “a former love interest for Wolverine, and currently works for the terrorist organization HYDRA.” [Wiki]

              Nothing in there indicates anything underhanded or coarse in the behaviour of such men, nor anything carrying even the slight negative undertones of the female equivalent, Cougar.

              • I hasten to add:
                “A purely complimentary term” which objectifies its target, stripping him of human identity and reducing him to animal qualities.

  2. IF “you’re just a programmed meat robot and don’t make any real decisions. It’s all foreordained from the time you were born.”

    THEN there is no point your trying to persuade me of that, because it runs counter to my programming and my views are all foreordained from the time I was born.

    THEREFORE you do not actually believe what you are arguing.

  3. C. S. Lewis once wrote that “Humans are amphibians…half spirit and half animal.” He noted that as animals they belonged to time and the physical world, but as spirits, they belong to the eternal world.
    In that he was following Ecclesiastes: “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart.”

  4. “There’s no grays, only white that’s got grubby. I’m surprised you don’t know that. And sin, young man, is when you treat people as things. Including yourself. That’s what sin is.” -Sir Pterry, speaking through Granny Weatherwax.

    Also, they know in their hearts that they are evil. Therefore, since they are the pinnacle of humanity, all others must be demoniacal. Therefore, since all these people are so bad, they must be exterminated for the greater good. (Greater good of whom, they’re a little vague on.) And anything these wicked people make or do must also be vile.

    Basically, they hate everything good and light, and admire everything dark and wicked. They are orcs. Or morlocks. Same difference in the end.

    For a more eloquent statement, see about half of what John Wright writes on his blog.

    • Eh, you can use people as things without sinning. If you want to avoid someone in a crowd, you can shuffle behind some people just as you can shuffle behind a pillar or a potted plant, without sinning.

      • Now, Mary, there’s nothing wrong with “treating creatures with physical material properties useful for concealment like creatures with physical material properties useful for concealment”. That’s not a confusion of categories.

        If, however, you stop expecting the person to have a potential to turn around and speak to you, but you do expect that of the potted plant or the armchair, you do have category confusion.

        (Or an audioanimatronic art installation.)

        • It is treating a person as no different than a potted plant. If that is not what is meant, the original definition needs more clarity.

        • “you stop expecting the person to have a potential to turn around and speak to you, but you do expect that of the potted plant or the armchair”

          Ah, but would it be a sin? Remember that is what Granny is defining.

          “Treating people as if they were things when it is wrong to do so” is correct — but not useful for defining what is wrong.

          • I do not consider Granny Weatherwax (nor, for that matter, Pterry) the authority on sin. Nor do I accept Barry “Being out of alignment with my values” Obama in that role.

            Handy rules of thumbs are a different matter, useful but not complete. Some applicator experience must be brought to bear.

            • Except that rule of thumb entirely turns on your already knowing what is wrong.

              • As I said, “Some applicator experience must be brought to bear.

                If you find yourself lacking sufficient such experience I strongly advise against attempting to apply that particular digit.

                • And here I thought we were discussing a universal rule applicable to all intelligent beings.

                  Not to mention that your proviso would gut the rule because you don’t know what experience has and therefore what he deems against the rule. For instance, I would have said that making insulting personal remarks in a general philosophical discussion — such as imputing ignorance to the person who disagrees with you — would be against the rules.

                  • A universal rule applicable to all intelligent beings? Where’d you get a crazy idea like that? Certainly nobody here has argued for anything such?

                    I, for one, explicitly argued otherwise, that it was not universal. (See: comment regarding Granny Weatherwax as moral authority.)

                    As you have advocated no universal standard, it hardly seems fair to hold others accountable to ad hoc rules as if they were universal. Moreover, I’v seen no evidence of others imputing ignorance simply based on disagreement. If, perchance, you are interpreting my comment regarding lack of sufficient such experience as imputing ignorance, you impute incorrectly (some might even say maliciously, but I’ve no basis for ascertaining your purpose, whether Socratic or pedantic.) Certainly it is up to every individual to determine whether they have sufficient experience to employ a given rule of thumb, and lack of comfort with one’s own experience may indicate greater caution and appreciation for complexities rather than mere ignorance.

                    Taking the worst, most invidious possible interpretation of any statetment might be against some people’s rules — if ever they expressed any such, but to my thinking it simply represents a person as overly contentious, disputatious and a general irritant. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; I gather some people hold much that view of me and, while I think them wrong, see no point in attempting to persuade them otherwise.

                    • “Certainly nobody here has argued for anything such?”

                      Nonsense. It was quoted as such up front.

                    • The first person to apply “universal” to that thesis was you, Mary. I (and apparently all others reading this) took it as an example of a guideline, but certainly not a universal standard. Note, please, multiple specific denials of Granny Weatherwax (or even Terry Pratchett) as moral arbiters.

                      In fact, I note, your introduction of universality was a third level response to my own comment explicitly denying such universality. If you go about trying to put words in other people’s mouths, Mary, you’re likely to find yourself mistaken for an SJW. It is certainly simple enough to disagree with the quote as made without having to distort it beyond all glory*.

                      *By which, of course, I mean “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!.”

            • There’s the ancillary problem (**bows in the general direction of St. Minutia**) that Weatherwax’s formulation has the unstated implication that “treating people as things” is not merely A definition of sin, but THE definition. Which is foolish if accidental, and sneaky silly-buggery, if not. There’s a fair bit of that kind of thing in Mr. Pratchett’s stuff.

              That said…

              I’d say its always wrong to take a utilitarian attitude towards other people, even to the extent of using them as unwitting crowd.-shields, but there’s wrong and then there’s wrong. One might not mail thank you notes because one is a self-absorbed, ungrateful barbarian. Or because the truly grateful, hand-written, because-one-appreciates-that-the-gears-of-civilation-require-frequent-oiling thank you notes were mislaid…. But at bottom the latter is still on the spectrum of “doesn’t care enough about the importance of the thing” wrong.

        • “(Or an audioanimatronic art installation.)”

          Or are just plain nuts.

      • The Other Sean

        But can you shuffle off to Buffalo?

        • You can’t rollerskate in a buffalo herd, but you can be happy if you want to.

          • Never say the first part to an adrenaline junkie; I just might try.

            • It would be interesting, for awhile.

              • American version of the Pamplona Bull Run?

              • No, umm I’m pretty sure it would not be interesting :-). I and my family went to Yellowstone National park a few years back. At one point we were stuck on a road surrounded by a herd of Bison (aka buffalo). there were maybe 25-50 of them and they were just laying down all over the road or strolling along looking into the windows of the cars. Even these mellow bison were quite terrifying. Beautiful, Majestic, yes but also terrifying due to their sheer size and utter indifference to people. Running with them like Pampalona would just be a sure way to end up trampled in about 1-2 minutes.

      • That’s not treating a person as a thing– “that guy over there can’t see through it” isn’t a characteristic exclusive to things.

        Some examples of the difference can be seen in Deadpool’s very dark humor; a lot of the “jokes” there are because he so outrageously treats people like objects. (No idea if it will carry over to the movie, but there are a lot of favorite comic strips floating around the ‘net for those who are curious.)

        • If treating a person identically to the way you treat a thing is not using someone as a thing, the original definition is too loose to be useful

          • A statement does not have to be immune to equivocation to be useful, especially when the misunderstanding required is so Elfishly creative.

            Dang good thing, too, because it’s not possible to state things in such a way that they cannot be misunderstood.

            • Treating a being of inherent moral dignity as if they are an item which lacks the same– to rephrase the original quote.

              Anybody who reads theology and philosophy, as I know Mary does, should know how incredibly easy it is to twist a statement; the rephrasing can be easily abused.

              Shocker, in a fallen world where understanding from a stance of goodwill can be hard, someone who’s actually trying to misunderstand can do so!

              • “Treating a being of inherent moral dignity as if they are an item which lacks the same”

                I would say imputing evil motives — such as claiming someone’s “trying to misunderstand” — is a pretty good example of it.

                • Evil motives, not mischievousness nor Puckishness? Mayhap you’ve fallen into comparable error?

                  • Willfully trying to misunderstand is always wrong. It doesn’t matter what other accusations are made.

                    Except insofar as applying to them to a good-faith objection is also wrong.

                    • What if the goal is to test the degree to which statements are subject to misinterpretation? How is one to determine what is “willfully trying”?

                      By what moral authority do you define “always wrong”?

                    • “Willfully trying to misunderstand is always wrong” is the straight man’s job, or part of it.

                • Oh, so you’re accusing everyone who plays the Devil’s Advocate of being evil? That is, after all, a rather major reason to deliberately try to maliciously interpret things.

                  I don’t think you seriously think that the exchange about “treating people like things” had the slightest to do with acting on shared characteristics of a specific person and any object.

                  You attempted to make a devil’s advocate style argument against the phrasing, and that was so overwhelmingly unsuccessful that you’re now down to proving my point about how very easily things can be misinterpreted. (Although frankly this is a very weaksauce attempt– accusing someone of ‘imputing evil motives’ when they didn’t say a thing about anybody’s motivation? Good grief, Charley Brown.)

            • … it’s not possible to state things in such a way that they cannot be misunderstood.

              If He can’t do it, I’m not going to fret over minor failures on my part. I will simply try my best, knowing the task is challenging indeed.

    • “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.”

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s light!

        • I lean toward the Alan Scott version:
          “And I shall shed my light over dark evil,
          For the dark things cannot stand the light;
          The light of…THE GREEN LANTERN!”

          Contrary to rumour, there never was a Green Lantern whose oath began:

          This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
          This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
          This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.
          Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

          I’m gonna take this light around the world and I’m gonna let it shine.
          I’m gonna take this light around the world and I’m gonna let it shine.
          I’m gonna take this light around the world and I’m gonna let it shine.
          Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

          I won’t let anyone blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine.
          I won’t let anyone blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine.
          I won’t let anyone blow it out, I’m gonna let it shine.
          Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

          Every day, every day, I’m going to let my green light

        • In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night!

    • Gray is a blend of black and white; gray cannot exist without those two absolutes.

      • The Other Sean

        Gray can exist without black or white, given equal values of red, green, and blue.

        • I thought red, green and blue made brown?

          • Feather Blade

            Depends on if you’re painting with light or painting with pigment.

            Actually it doesn’t. You can still get grey form RGB (…that would sound so much better as “You can still get grey from CMYK” darn it!) in the right proportions.

  5. they’d be better off (for cats and dogs) exterminated.

    Okay, this is a new one for me…and just in case any of those idiots read this probably the only thing that would get violence resistance more than seizing my guns would be trying to hurt my cats (yes, the wife too but she can also fend for herself).

    • It’s been the stance of peta and the US Humane Society and all AR nuts since they were founded.
      I keep forgetting that most people don’t know that.

      • AR nuts=Arkansas nuts?
        (No, wait, animal rescue; gotcha.)

        • Uhun. I know animal rescue / rehabbers. Not all of them are nutbars.

          Animal Rights activists on the other hand are practically Payday bars.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Payday Bars?

            I love to eat Payday Bars.

            Are these Animal Rights people good to eat? [Very Big Dragon Grin]

            • -giggle- Maybe for the carnivores.

            • Most of the animal rights fanatics I’ve met had pretty bad taste in general, not sure if that affects the flavor.

              Oh. Oh no. Now I’ve got a mental picture of a dragon on his back, sick and miserable, because he ate a PETA type who wandered into his . . . drat you, Muse! ‘Scuze me.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                One of the early Sluggy Freelance comics had a PETA person deciding to “return” Bun-Bun to the wild.

                Bun-Bun decided that he didn’t want to live in the wild.

                Must have been his off day because IIRC the PETA person survived. [Evil Grin]

                • Likely Bun-Bun thought the PETA nut would be more useful as a witness-cum-example than as just an example.

              • OK, enough of the story is written that I can go back to what I’m supposed to be doing.

                • This is what you’re supposed to be doing?

                  ‘Tis the gift to be simple,
                  ‘Tis a gift to be free,
                  ‘Tis the gift to come down
                  where you ought to be,
                  And when we find ourselves
                  in the place just right,
                  Will be in the valley
                  of love and delight. …

                  • Not quite so organized or polished. I’m transferring my plot sketch and notes for the next Colplatschki book from dead tree paper to the computer so I can start writing this weekend. I’ve got a little more research reading to do, but the broad outline is locked in and the main character has given me his story in general. For the curious, it takes place during Elizabeth von Sarmas’s lifetime, between _Elizabeth of Vindobona_ and _Elisabeth and Empire_, but on a different continent (mostly. The northern coastal cities will play a bit of a role).

                    • My apologies – the “This” in my inquiry referred to hanging out at this blog. The rendition of Simple Gifts was in tribute to that idea that you had come down right where many of us would like to be.

                      But what you do describe yourself as doing is well worth doing if you are doing it well.

                    • Any cat and dragon stories coming up? Will you write the story of Rachel’s conversion to Christianity?

                    • Emily, the next Cat and Dragon book is scheduled for this summer (not counting the next pure Azdhag prequel, which is being edited as I type). The story of her conversion is written, just not in any of the books. I’ll post it on the blog for later this week.

                    • RES, sorry about missing the point yesterday. I was juggling too much after a slightly-more-chaotic-than-average morning and the brain locked into literal mode.

              • Silly dragon, every animal knows you don’t eat peta types; you just bite off there heads so they won’t re-animate like vampires.

                • Throwing their heads and bodies into the Sun also helps. [Big Dragon Grin]

                  • I always thought that this was what we ought to be doing with ‘spent’ radioactive materials. Shouldn’t this be one of NASA’s duties in a more logical universe?

                    • Jerry Pournelle had a proposal in one of his Byte columns to turn it into glass and drop it into the subduction zone trenches off the Pacific coast, where the natural plate movement would funnel it back under the crust.

            • Do you want kuru? Because that’s how you get kuru.

          • I was an animal rescuer for a long time: orphan kitten fosterer. We actually preferred our animals alive.

            • How does one foster orphan kittens without a resulting 100% adoption rate by oneself?

              • the local shelter takes them back and puts them for adoption. No, I’m not fond of the Humane society, BUT I found out that idiots bring in babies who aren’t weaned/are under 10 weeks of age. By CO law you can’t put them for adoption if under 10 weeks of age. So they just euthanized them. UNLESS they have volunteers who take them home, socialize them, then bring them back.
                I stopped doing it when they wouldn’t give me guarantee with the last litter that if they weren’t adopted I’d be called to adopt them. Their policy had changed. And I COULDN’T foster in those conditions. It was hard enough letting them go.

            • Fortunately, the nutbars are the exception, not the rule where animal rescue/rehabbing is concerned.

              • Big argument back in college on what to do about the semi-feral cats on campus. What would the poor things do over summer break. No one to take care of them. Gracious! What if the had kittens? The student council decided to round them all up and place them for adoption. Any not adopted were euthanized.

                It was the only humane thing to do. A-holes. Two years later we had feral cats again. This time the let nature take its course group won.

                • There is a practice called TNR (trap, neuter, release) used with feral cat colonies. From what I have heard, it works. The cats live out their lives but don’t produce more.

                  • well. And then one of them will become wildly attached to you and will follow you around purring like a faulty motor. Or maybe that’s just me and he who is named Greebo.

                  • Bu-, bu-, but what about all the poor widdle songbirds those cats kill? Oh, the humanity avianity!

                    • Yeah….. since this is clearly a cat blog I’ll pass on what I think of folks who let domestic cats run loose outdoors.

                    • By and large we don’t, but it took the move to convince Greebo he had to be outdoors OR not with us.

                    • I find it depends on the cat whether [it] lives indoors or enjoys both worlds, as some are not suited to the outdoors life.

                      But having seen my garden yield go from bountiful to zero after the passing of our yard cat I have scant sympathy for birds, squirrels and other disrespecters of my property. I do not grow those tomatoes in order to supply those avaricious beasts, and deer can stay the heck away from our herb garden!.

                    • Feather Blade

                      (sub) urban areas need some find of small predator, otherwise the whole cycle of nature would get out of whack. ^_^

                      Though… it is a curious thing that cities tend to permit the ownership and keeping of predators, while consciously and deliberately forbidding the keeping of such domestic livestock as would be good for feeding the citizens.

                    • Eh, my cats live outside, in fact some would call them semi-feral, you certainly can’t touch them, on the other hand they will come when called because they know that means there is food being put out. Personally I call them barn cats, although I don’t have a barn and woodshed cats would be more accurate.
                      Their purpose in life is to eat mice and voles, not leave hair on my furniture… and they do quite well at fulfilling their purpose in life.

              • Sooo…. the folks who get their hands dirty at the pointed end of the stick with actual critters are many orders more sane than the folks theorizing about what the gummint should do to bring on the Great Wildlife Utopia?


          • Animal RIGHTS, duh. Like the individuals who set 5,000 minks free in the English countryside a few years back, not considering that they had loosed a legion of vicious killers.

            Vice animal rescue people who rehab raptors, sea turtles, etc.

      • Thank you! I am so glad to see other people make the connection between PETA and HSUS.

        Two stories from personal experience:
        Years ago, my family raised registered Manx Cats. We showed these cats. (just like a dog show) We had PETA protest our show, claiming that the cats were being mistreated. How cruel we were to keep them in cages. Folks, many of these cats lived a life of royalty. Fed the best food, lived in climate controlled catteries. A top producing stud or dam could bring in money and fame (okay, just in the cat world). The last thing a responsible breeder/exhibitor would do is mistreat the cat. As far as living in cages go, see what I said above – they were waited on hand and foot, not out in the cold dealing with other predators that would have them for lunch. In the end, we just ignored the protestors because when the media came out to do a spot on them, the show got free advertisement. (yes, we laughed at the irony.)

        A couple of years ago I attended a wildlife rehabilitator conference with my sister. It was put on by a group of local rehabbers. Two of the presenters were private citizen who give their time and money to help animals. They brought in home printed sheets to hand out, had some of their “teaching” animals with them (ones that cannot be released back into the wild) and in one case, puppets. They gave some good information. The third party was from the local state raptor center. He had some Kinko’s type printed hand outs since he had a slightly higher budget, but nothing over the top. The fourth presenter was from HSUS. They were dressed in business attire (everyone else was in jeans and t-shirt/polos) and had this fancy powerpoint presentation, swag, and professional printed material. Hmm, wonder where the money for all that fancy stuff came from?

        Guess who I paid attention to and who I tuned out.

        • One of the things HSUS does is lobby state legislatures on animal rights/cruelty issues. Thus the business suits; they apparently don’t know when to dress down.

          HSUS != PETA. Everybody in PETA is a nut job; there are some in HSUS who are not.

          • Oh trust me, I know that HSUS is a PAC, nothing more. They do not operate any shelters. Yes, they “rescue” animals, and there are reports of some of those animals are put down as “unadoptable” without any real effort. (I’m sure my sister could come up with sources if I asked her.) As to those two chicks, I suspect they were trying to impress us hicks. (and failed in my case)

      • To say nothing of the stuff they get up to in VA.

    • If this became law, and the government sent PETA activists into the Blue Ridge country where my mother grew up, the kids would simply vanish. And the parts of their cars that had traceable numbers would vanish, and the rest of the parts would enter the scrapyard recycling circuit.

      • Many USDA inspectors these days are Peta members. Back when I had to deal with them, I managed to get one fired for her behavior, but I’ve heard it’s only become worse in the last 5 years.

        • Sarah, yes. The Blue Ridge Mountains are where all the modifications on James Bond’s Aston Martin came from, except for the machine guns. Rotary license plates, oil slicks, smoke screens. The bootleggers started racing their heavily modified cars on weekends, it was the birth of NASCAR. And cars vanish into urban chop shops all the time.

          • I recall a long ago conversation, back in the Clinton Administration, at a scenic overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, with a park ranger who told us which of the visible ranges were what. He allowed as the pollution from the TVA was a serious problem which the state governments could do nothing, on account of a certain family named Gore.

            And he told of hollows and mountains where the state officials never went, except to cut a ribbon … and then, with sizable entourages of armed state troopers. There are those living there descended of the olde Schottische clans who recognize no laird but their aine, and nae law but his. It is not in them to welcome authorities’ intrusions, nor let them leave unmolested.

            • When I was in Georgia (USA), we had a rule that you NEVER flew less than 2000′ above the ground over the mountains. Partly because of “where do you go when the engine fails” but largely because of territorial mountaineers with rifles. Still had a fool of a renter come back with bullet holes in his wing. He’d seen a little smoke and went down to investigate . . . The thought that a still needs to be ignored never crossed his mind. The shots missed the fuel tank, thanks be.

              • Back when I was working for Evil Oil Companies, I had a boss who worked for the US Geological Survey. Doing field mapping in the Appalachians. In a USGS vehicle. The USGS part was the small print under the US Government official seal on the door. . . “First, you go to every small town. To every bar. You buy lots of drinks for people and talk loudly. And in the field, you bang on every rock available, so you don’t surprise anyone. You never even _look_ at any sign of ‘junk’ sitting around. And if you accidentally do surprise someone standing around some unidentified apparatus, you just keep your head down and keep walking.”

                • *chuckle* The hills have long memories. Be polite and keep your nose outta other folks business, you can get by just fine. We tend to remember the good ‘uns, even the less… civilized sort do.

            • I grew up around a bunch of transplants from West Virginia and North Carolina. This describes one clan to a T, and a couple others nearly as well.

        • “Once two strangers climbed ol’ Rocky Top
          Lookin’ for a moonshine still
          Strangers ain’t come down from Rocky Top
          Reckon they never will”

          U of Tennessee – the only public university to have a fight song describing the murder of federal agents.

          What’s less well known is that those pesky revenuers stopped going into the Ozarks after the first 40 or so that they sent in (way back when) never came back out again.

          • Murder? Please. We consider it recycling. We’re all so ecologically-minded, you know…

          • Look up entries on David Marshall “Carbine” Williams, the ex-bootlegger ex-con inventor of the short recoil mechanism of the M1 Carbine. The only time I ever took my dad to a book signing was when he saw a signing for “Carbine Williams, Genius with a Gun” by Richard Cooper and he just had to have that book, Williams was a personal hero of his.

            • If you can’t find a copy of the book (which, Praise Bezos, is not the problem once it was) there is always the movie:

              I do love me some Jimmy Stewart.

              • For those preferring a less fictional history …

                “[Carbine Williams] made his first firearm out of a piece of wood and some reed wrapped in twine.”

    • Those clowns would get “violent resistance” if they tried to hurt me or my human family. If they tried to so much as touch our dog… I’m not sure “roaring rampage of revenge” would quite cover it.

    • PETA members went into a neighborhood to befriend the pets, came back when people were gone, stole the animals, and put them down. If they hadn’t been caught on tape, no one would have known, and nothing happened to them.

    • Interestingly enough, it seems that the same nutbars who cry over the HSUS and SPCA adds are the same ones who have no issue with killing an unborn child.

  6. How can one get so lost that a building is a human but a human is a thing?

    Glenn Beck has been on the theme of “we’re supposed to love people and use things, and the fundamental problem of our society is we use people and love things” for several years now.

  7. A large part of the Liberal conceit is that it is noble to act in ways contrary to one’s self-interest. Thus by proclaiming their support for the rights of animals or in sympathy with “oppressed minorities” they imagine they are being noble. Same thing when they support military intervention so long as it does not further any clear national interest (and when they oppose military action they perforce assume that action must be in furtherance of some direct national interest, thus their “No blood for oil” twaddle.)

    Such feelings of nobility are, of course, in their self-interest. Their assumption that their enlightened concern for the welfare of others entitles them to exercise broad-ranging authority over the economic and cultural realms also furthers their self-interest, they having largely perfected the art of doing well by doing good. Because their denial of self-interest acts as a shield against close examination of their practices, that too is in their self-interest.

    It is a paradox that nothing advances self-interest so well as denying any self-interest.

    What a comfort to be sure
    That their motives are so pure

    • The sarcasm of the priest in that song is what makes it. 🙂

    • (Waggles hand) I’m not entirely sure if that is the exact nature of the the progressive conceit.
      Everyone agrees, I think, that is noble to assist someone when it will neither benefit you or possibly be a net loss to you (up to a certain point); the progressive conceit lies in the belief that it is always bad to act in a way that will benefit oneself.

    • This. Yes, this. I think you’ve nailed it. A prog has definitely arrived in the elite winners’ circle when their “compassion” and “selflessness” assures them of a comfortable, leisurely life.

    • This reminds me a bit of the gorilla that took a selfie with a phone someone had dropped in his enclosure and the animal rights organization that was suing in order to get him his royalties from the use of that image.

      The animal rights organization had determined that, by shear coincidence, what the gorilla wanted done with those royalties was for them to be deposited in said organization’s bank account…

  8. Speaking of writing, Sarah, when will I be able to pre-order Through Fire for Kindle?

  9. I’d like to share an observation from David Berlinski’s book The Devil’s Delusion. He quoted a Famous Scientist’s “observation” that if the Space People were to visit Earth, they would be very hard put to recognize any differences between gorillas and humans; for example, both build spaces for themselves. To which Berlinski pointed out that humans have built New York, London, Paris, and Tokyo. Gorillas pile up leaves and twigs into sleeping nests. No difference. Riiiight.

    Personally, I don’t think the issue is that progressives use people and love things necessarily. It’s that they love THEIR people and THEIR things (whatever means something to them) and are happy to use and discard, or simply ignore, OTHER people and their things. Dennis Prager has for years been asking audiences whether they would choose to rescue their own pet or a stranger’s child from drowning, and at least a third of them (increasing to over half as time has gone on) unhesitatingly and without embarrassment say they’d opt for their pet, as their primary duty is to what they love. There’s no confusion involved at all, only an utterly self-centered frame of reference.

    Speaking of epic, nay Obamic levels of focus on one’s own concerns, I’m briefly hijacking our hostess’ space here to drop in a link to my Lovely Daughter (TM) and her Indiegogo. She and her stalwart colleagues have only a weekend left for fundraising. (I mostly just want everyone in the solar system to see how beautiful she is – look for the dirty blonde in the black leggings.) In a moment of candor, though, I confess that our hostess is luckier in her kids’ career ambitions than I am!

    • Is she dating? Should I point my kids at that site? (says the yenta.)

      • She is at present keeping company with a man of whom we do not approve, although we don’t interfere. (At least we have the comfort of knowing that she doesn’t love him for his money or career, IYKWIMAITYD.) By all means, have the Boyts (as I think of them) take a look, even if only to know what’s out there. Besides, it’d be an honor to be your wolf-in-law!

  10. And perhaps because I’m sinused (totally a word)…

    My wife furifies when I verb like that. But when she nouns and I catch her at it, she excuses all over the place.

    • Sexual preference is of as much concern to me as melanin content. None, in other words.

      I refuse to take that stance…when meeting an attractive lady I consider this informatin vitally important like knowing I have a Powerball ticket. Sure, my odds of winning in either case are low but know her preferences line up with mine at least let me indulge myself mentally for a few mintues like owning a Powerball ticket does about all that money.

      I sill wind up going home alone and broke though.

    • “Verbing weirds language.” — Calvin

  11. Reality Observer

    You know, this is the one thing that has allowed me to put a chink into the righteous armor of several Regressives.

    Every time one of them hits me with the argument of “Homosexuals are genetically programmed for homosexuality,” I counter with “Ah, then you believe that Blacks are genetically programmed for criminality.”

    Every once in a (long) while, this manages to connect two brain cells together that didn’t know each other before.

    Of course, most of them are quite comfortable with hosting both a homophile AND a racist in the same skull (along with several other things, of course, that flatly contradict each other).

    (Standard disclaimer: Sexual preference is of as much concern to me as melanin content. None, in other words.)

    • “(Standard disclaimer: Sexual preference is of as much concern to me as melanin content. None, in other words.)”

      A foolish conceit, if carried out to the inevitable end-point of that line of thinking.

      I strive to behave as though I didn’t have concern about either feature of my fellows, but the sad fact is that I’ve had extensive experience that indicates that doing so is extremely stupid. Both features are markers for likely behavioral patterns inimical to my well-being and health–To ignore them is both foolish and suicidal.

      You don’t want to casually have blood-to-blood contact with an active homosexual who frequents bathhouses and partners with other gay men who use intravenous drugs; nor do you want to assume that that group of young black men coming towards you on a darkened street necessarily have no intent to harm you. To conduct yourself fairly towards these people while simultaneously taking steps to protect yourself from their ill-judgment or ill-will is both wise and fair. To treat them as though they represent no threat, while opening yourself to injury because you’re too high-minded to take precautions? The very height of folly…

      But, that’s not what you meant, is it? I don’t think you’ve thought through the implications of what you’re saying, here, at all.

      You were virtue-signalling, if you stop to think about it. You’d lock your car door, just as my black friend did, when he saw a small group of likely gang-bangers headed down the street towards where we were parked. You also would likely exercise caution, rendering aid to an accident victim who was driving a car prominently displaying a bunch of different “Gay Pride” stickers on it, just as anyone with a lick of foresight and sense of consequence would. Both of these reactions would indicate that there are limits to your altruistic behavior, wouldn’t you say? And, they’re completely rational impulses.

      So, I don’t think you seriously mean what you wrote, in that last addendum. Nobody with any sense would, unless they were people whose ideology trumps their common sense–Which, if I’m not mistaken in my reading, is exactly the group of people your post is railing against, no?

      • Reality Observer

        That whizzing sound you just heard – was the point going by at about Mach 3…

        The sexual preference is not the determiner. The melanin content is not the determiner. The BEHAVIOR is the determiner.

        All of your examples of “reasons to be additionally prudent” are just that – BEHAVIORS.

        In my neighborhood, two clean-cut guys in suits and ties? Most likely Mormon missionaries, whatever their shade happens to be. Bunch of kids running around in pants obviously from their fat baby daddy’s closet? Most likely thugs, whatever their shade happens to be.

        Two men walking down the street, perfectly normal except that they happen to be holding hands? Most likely homosexuals, but not a hazard to me or mine. Guy running around in leather straps and a penis sock? Doesn’t matter what gender he takes the sock off for, I’ll lay him out cold if he gets within range.

        • The point I was making was based not on behavior, but markers for such as presented in appearances alone. If the first and only thing I know about a car accident victim is a bunch of “Gay Pride” bumperstickers on the back of his car, am I wrong to infer that a wise person should take precautions against blood-borne contaminants? If the only thing I know about a group of young black males walking towards me is that they are dressed like gang-bangers, am I wrong to make sure my pistol is easily accessible, or that my door is locked?

          Appearances signal likely behavior. You ignore such signs at your peril. Which is why I kept having to tell my younger brothers that of course the cops are going to stop them more than they stop me–At the time, both were unkempt and long-haired, and I was a clean-cut GI. Appearances matter, because that’s the first thing the rest of the universe has to take as a clue to your likely behavior, and you ignore such things at your peril.

          Which is why that black friend of mine who reached across me to lock the car door when he spotted those likely gang-bangers did what he did, and the look we gave each other was funny as hell, me expressing a look of “What, you think I’m too stupid to lock the door myself…?” and him a look of rueful “Yeah, they scare me, too…”.

          Anyone who proudly announces they don’t demonstrate prejudice is either mistaken, lying, or too dumb to live, and that’s why I was calling you out on that point. If you’ve any sense, at all, you judge people by appearance every day, and successfully so, or you’d likely be dead by now. Some so-called “stereotypes” aren’t signs of bigotry, they’re signs of common sense.

          • In my lifeguard training, I was taught to use precautions against blook-borne diseases with everyone. Not out of political correctness, but from the simple awareness that there was a real risk no matter how the person presented. (Less risk, perhaps, but not sufficiently less to matter much.)

            • The med-crew used the code “liver involvement” if we needed to move beyond the usual blood-borne disease protocols and there were non-crew around (air ambulances attract attention and interested hangers-out at small airports). One patient in particular had everyone wondering how one could catch that many STDs and other infections in the far western end of Flat State. Because the patient had sworn up down left and right that they’d never gone to Denver or Mexico City or San Francisco or Olongapo.

              • Then the patient must have known (Biblically) quite a few folks with wander- and other -lust.

                • The Other Sean

                  How pleasantly euphemistic.

                  • Truckers. When Dan drove through KS returning from Virginia by car after 9/11, he swears there were billboards advertising sex shops/services to truckers EVERYWHERE. In fact part of how he kept awake was calling me and reading the billboards alive.

                    • Contra Freud, sometimes an invitation to a guy to get his oil changed is just an offer to change his engine’s oil. You can distinguish such from the euphemistic offers by the fact they include a new filter.

                      That, or I’ve been badly misinformed — in which case I don’t want to know what it means to get your tires rotated, your radiator flushed, or your spark plugs re-gapped.

                    • Er… they weren’t even vaguely veiled. It was “Stop at xxxx shop for …” Well, the stuff we sometimes didn’t know, but often could figure out.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well RES, when driving between the Denver area to East Central Illinois (a few years ago) and back, I saw the signs Sarah is reporting.

                      Those signs were obviously selling “services to the truck drivers” not “services for the trucks”. [Smile]

                    • yes, indeed. I should be embarrassed to confess that after almost twenty years of marriage (then) Dan and I had no idea what some of that stuff was, but I’m not.

                    • Same phenomenon driving along I20 from Dallas to Montgomery.

                    • I’m not entirely sure as to how not knowing outre sex acts should be embarrassing.

                    • I’m a writer. I read A LOT. I should at least have heard them mentioned!

                    • There are “Lot Lizards” at every truck stop providing in cab relief for horny truckers.

                    • Reality Observer

                      Dang. You guys drive much more interesting roads than I do. I just get the ads for stopping to see the oversized iguana. (And, yes, I did once, after some 40+ years – the spouse and kids talked me into it…)

          • Reality Observer

            OK, I was this close to pulling the clue bat out again. But I think I see the disconnect. You are conflating appearance (clothing, apparent political affiliation) with the underlying attribute (skin color, sexual preference) – while I am not.

            Any color can appear as a thug – and I will presume that they are a thug, without bothering with the skin color. Any sexual preference (of a promiscuous kind) can be a heightened blood borne disease risk – and I will presume that they are (I would be wary of any one with “Free Love” or, actually, “Coexist” bumper stickers).

            The latter, of course, IS a mistake for anyone to make, as noted. Unfortunately, these days, a blood borne disease might be walking out of the local “bathhouse” – or the local Presbyterian church.

            • PC (USA), at any rate–PCA is pretty hardcore on the topic

              • Reality Observer

                Well, Kirk would say (and I would agree) that the chance in the apparently devout Presbyterian is far, far lower.

                BBs are like tornadoes, though. My forebears lived for decades in Kansas. In all that time, there is no known instance of a single one of them being injured, or suffering significant property damage, from a twister. BUT they all had storm cellars – and got into them when one began to form anywhere in sight. (One reference my mom did find of a field being taken out by one, in a letter. Not emphasized though, just a tossed-off bit of news.)

  12. t the problem of progressivism is that they treat people like animals and objects, and objects and animals like people

    And all of it without respect.

    Even if I have an object I don’t need, I’m not going to destroy it unless there’s a good reason to do so; that doesn’t respect what the object is.

    A lot of folks who treat animals like children refuse to respect the animals as animals– most everything a dog does makes sense, from a dog’s perspective. Someone goes into His Place that isn’t recognized as part of the pack? OF COURSE he’ll respond differently than he does to those humans that his pack leaders have “signaled” are part of the pack.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      IMO people who treat “pets as children” often make the mistake that some “parents” make.

      They treat the pet (or child) as an extension of themselves not allowing the pet (or child) to be a separate being.

      My beagle Lilly isn’t human but is a living being separate from myself.

      She going to do things because *she* wants to do things not because I want or don’t want her to do.

      Sure pets, like children, need to be taught “what not to do” but to expect them to be puppets is foolishness and can be cruel.

      • It’s what Sable wants to do when he goes out that bothers me. I swear, he’s joined a gang or something (lost two collars in three days…one the first time he went out after he got it).

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          “Why should I wear this silly thing?” [Wink]

          The few times I tried to put “doggy boots” on Lilly, that’s the “reaction” I got from her. [Smile]

          • Sister makes “jester collars” for dogs. I asked how her dogs reacted to them, figuring that a regular was bad enough but these things were getting silly or obnoxious. Perhaps the first time, or two, but they quickly learned that those collars meant “We’re going somewhere different and exciting.”

      • I’ve often suspected that the worst kinds of parents are those who treat the child as an extension of themselves, instead of a separate and self-willed human being.
        “Oh, my child would never do that!” really means, “Oh, I WOULD NEVER do that!”

      • The lady who trained both of my four-foots put it pretty well: “It’s like living with a permanent 3 year old: They know exactly what they’re not supposed to do, and every so often they’ll do it anyway.”

  13. Oh, boy, the paeans to old houses that can’t be demolished because they’ve “seen” things make me roll my eyes so much they threaten to fall off.

    Ever notice how seldom those come right before “And that’s why I’m working my tail off to get enough money to buy it fairly, and will be restoring it to proper glory as a shrine to that awesome stuff”?

    At best, it’s usually “no, I don’t want you to do that, I want YOU to pay the price for it staying the way that makes me comfortable.”

  14. First: Azelastine – the only decongestant spray with no “kick back” and that actually works.

    Second: NeilMed Sinugator Pulsating Nasal Wash — this allows you to keep your head upright, and the mild pulsing action actively removes stubborn mucus. I used to recommend Dr. Grossan’s sinus irrigation pump, but this is portable, cheap and works just as well.

    Third: These people are the same ones who tell us that the optimum human population is — well it varies depending on the individual from 1 million to 1 billion, but certainly far less than the current population. Oddly, when it’s suggested that they kill themselves as a start, they don’t get the joke.

    • Third: These people are the same ones who tell us that the optimum human population is — well it varies depending on the individual from 1 million to 1 billion, but certainly far less than the current population. Oddly, when it’s suggested that they kill themselves as a start, they don’t get the joke.

      Well, given we’re on the way to a war(s) that I figure will kill off 2 billion at a minimum they may get their wish.

      They may also be “part of the solution” as you suggest.

    • Acquired. Given my sinuses, if it works it will be a lifesaver.

      • Had no idea you had sinus issues, or I’d have mentioned this thing before… They’re a lifesaver, and changed my life. If I’d known about the sinus rinse thing when I was a teenager, my life would have been a lot different than it turned out to be…

        Also, recommend you try mixing the solution for the irrigation separately from the irrigator, adding a tablespoon or two of Xylitol, and perhaps picking up a bottle of Alkalol.

        My regimen for non-optimal sinus conditions is to mix up sixteen ounces of boiled water (key thing, here–You don’t want contaminated water with brain-eating amoebas to flush your sinuses with…), two packets of the Walgreens nasal rinse, which seem to be balanced better for me than the Nielmed stuff, and a couple of tablespoons of the Xylitol. When really plugged, add in some of the Alkalol for a nice mentholated change-up. Heat in microwave for one minute, make sure that all solids are dissolved, and then run one load through each nostril. Checking temperature is a good idea, on the back of your hand.

        Don’t forget to rinse out the pump, afterwards–The reason they don’t last is that the salt solution causes corrosion in the pump and motor.

        • Reality Observer

          Noted for my own spouse. (Strange thing – the majority of people that I know with severe sinus issues are female. Any studies ever been done on that?)

          • I don’t think it’s a gender-related issue. My sinuses suck, my mom’s suck, and so do my brothers. I think it boils down to having a physical system that was designed for horizontal living adapted to vertical, and instead of the crap draining out the nostrils the way it would if we were still ambulating about on four limbs, the way God obviously initially designed us, we’d be OK. Since we insist on standing upright, and going about on two limbs, the crap drains back into lungs, where it was never meant to go…

            Try the flush, and have her use the Xylitol. The stuff is a lifesaver, so long as you use sterile water. Can’t stress that enough–Use either distilled sterile bottled water, or boil it from the tap. You want the chlorine out of it, and the pH balance right, which you get with the salt/bicarb packets. The Walgreen’s brand seem more in keeping with my personal pH balance, so I like them better. The Xylitol serves to rebalance the chemistry back in the sinus, and makes it a little easier to take, when you’re doing it. You can experience a bit of a burning sensation from the plain salt/bicarb solution.

            Plus, you’re basically waterboarding yourself, so when they start the round-ups and interrogations, you’ll be well-prepared for it… 😉

            • “. My sinuses suck, my mom’s suck, and so do my brothers.”

              I don’t generally have an issue when my sinuses suck, what I don’t like is when they don’t suck.

          • Hubby is most definitely male and has serious sinus issues.

          • The Other Sean

            My vague recollections from human osteology class are that with respect to sinus structure the variations may be a heritable trait, but if so, variation is very widespread and diffused. We weren’t able to use sinus structure in a useful fashion for identifying the sex or race/ethnicity/population of a person using the sinus structure. Having been exposed to dozens of sectioned human skulls during that course, I observed a wide degree of variation in sinus size and shape.

            I’m not sure how this correlates to sinus problems, or if it is in fact a complete non sequitur. Still, I think it makes sense to mention.

            • Reality Observer

              OK, just my experience being off by a standard deviation or so. (Somebody has to be there, after all – as my QC professor noted the first night of class, he could use a much easier word than “Six-Sigma” if “Perfect” wouldn’t be lying through his teeth.)

    • On the gripping hand, I notice there have been a lot of “The pump breaks” for the neilmed pump, which takes me back to the old-reliable Grossan Hydropulse, which I admit is expensive, and not portable, but has been my standby for over a decade

      • The NeilMed fails due to corrosion. Rinse the machine out after use, flush the salt, and they last. I’m still on my first one, and its like three-four years old.

        • Good to know, and that explains why mine has never failed.

          I’ve used the plug-in Grossan pump for more than a decade, and still have my first with no failures of any kind, but i run clean water through it each time.

          I completely agree with the “occasionally add alkalol for a Menthol goodness” idea.

          But warm salt water, with or without xylitol — although with is better… in a pulsed stream is damned near magic for sinus problems. Used twice a day it pretty much just freaking prevents them. Used reactively, it shortens infections and allergic responses by a huge factor. As classic as Neti Pots are, the pulsing of the pump results in a very mild back-and-forth action that breaks free both rubber-cement-like and dried pieces of mucus resulting the the membrane being moistened which it needs, and it opens and closes creases resulting in them being flushed which the smooth flow from a neti pot, or a gently squeezed rinse bottle doesn’t do.

          I’m not a huge follower of homeopathic medicine, but Grossan and the Ear Nose and Throat team at Cedars Sinai in LA have been publishing peer reviewed clinical trials on this since the 1980s. Among other things, they were able to prove that the pulsing pump as opposed to the smooth flow of the neti pot or squeeze bottle actually increased clearing action of cilia. — which I wouldn’t have believed without good solid research evidence.

          Finally, of the various pre-mixed saline formula on the market, I agree that Walgreens is better than Neilmed’s, but the Breath Ease XL from hydromed is better than booth and available either as packets or a “scoop from the jar” version. I’m not completely certain, but I suspect it has more Xylitol.

    • Agree with the Neilmed. But since I started nasal irrigation- over 10 years ago now- haven’t had to use a decongestant spray or take an antihistamine of any sort.

  15. borders… in…out. Is there any significance in the us .gov deciding that if you owe back taxes your passport in now not valid? Passed in the latest funding debacle.

    • And a lot of progs compare a border wall with Mexico to the Berlin Wall…are they tipping their hand about their plans?

      • I can recall when American leftists were saying that the Soviets did the West a favor (!) by building the Berlin Wall: Without the wall, the West would have been inundated by refugees that it would been unable to feed or house or employ. Which only goes to show:
        (1) Leftists have no idea where jobs and wealth come from.
        (2) Leftists are willing to tell any lie in defense of the most heinous evils.
        But then, we already knew that.

  16. Whut?
    I swear I saw Kate at LC this last year, and I damn well know you were there. But the con theme seemed to be let’s whip Sarah like a rented mule, you may have forgotten a few minor details.
    We are going to do better this year aren’t we niece of my heart, are we not? Or does kindly ol’ Uncle Lar have to get all German on someone?

    • Oh, good Lord. I was so out of it I forgot. Last time I remembered seeing her was Ravencon 3 years ago.

      • Well, you were doing a very credible zombie impersonation the entire time, and after all Kate is such a quiet and unassuming wall flower.
        For those who may not know our favorite impaler, the only reason Kate has not struck me dead for teasing her is that I’ve pledged fealty to her for the duration of SPIV. And offered her a supply of hardwood stakes of her choosing as required during the campaign.

  17. Kate Paulk got you sick? Man, you can send anything through a USB port.

    • Especially if your virus scanner isn’t up to date.

    • We need to stop frenching our modems, clearly.

      • For some reason that image isn’t nearly as disturbing as it should be.

        • C’mon… Admit it: You love the idea of hot modem-on-modem action, and probably have it as a saved search term on your browser…

          We all have our little kinks, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Why, I myself have been known to view some electromechanical porn, when the mood arises. Although, to be honest, I’m more into the mechanical stuff, with a little interracial black-rifle-on-magazine imagery…


          • Actually, be very careful searching for electromechanical porn…there are some…interesting genres out there.

            As for everyone having our little kinks, I’ve found a rigorous stretching regimine will work that out.

            • Foam rolling. Or a nice massage. NOT the “happy ending” kind.

              • With a foam roller, the happy ending is “oh thank god THAT’s over…” How can a stupid thing like an IT band hurt so much? I’m pretty stoic about pain, but that makes me whimper every time.

        • Yeah, I’m having trouble seeing how slicing their modems into long thin strips affects viral transmission.

          “The process of cutting food in a specific way to assist with the preparation of the item. When vegetables such as beans, peppers or potatoes are cut into long thin strips, the preparation process refers to the vegetables as being “frenched”. To “french” meat is to separate a portion of the meat from the bone, such as a chop or a rib, by cutting the pork from the end of the bone.”

          Although I s’pose it is possible she meant they were soaking their modems in an egg/milk batter and grilling them.

          • I think a few of my colleagues were about to do that today – chop the modems into small thin bits. The ‘net went down for the entire regional school group on Tuesday, and today the managers of the electronic gradebook system installed an upgrade. Without telling anyone. Yup, e-mail came out from the Boss “Here’s the work around while they work on it. It’s not you, its them, be not dismayed.”

        • Far better that than a rousing game of Let’s Lick the Light Socket.

          • Actually, those old 1/8″ chargers for calculators in the 70s could give you a fun tingle on the tongue if you were bored.

            • Wow. I’ve never been that bored.

              • You forgot the “…yet.”.

              • The submarine service can teach you whole new universes of bored. Of course, once you’ve experienced excitement in that environment you’re good with bored.

                • Dull is fine. I like dull. I could use more dull in my life.

                • Did anyone ever steal your sock????? 🙂

                • I understand that sentiment. On night watches in Berlin, we used to calculate the flight time to various targets (us, our barracks, the PX, etc.) for the Soviet Artillery Division in Potsdam. That’s a few hundred tubes, the smallest of which was 122mm. That’s the kind of excitement we looked forward to never experiencing.

                  Not quite like waiting for the tin can you live in to suddenly implode (or worse – slowly fill with water), but similar.

                  • Berlin: World’s Largest POW camp…

                  • slowly fill with water

                    It surprises most people but flooding isn’t the scary one. As long as I can turn the screw and the planesman can get an up angle I can put us on the surface. So while water in the people tank is a concern it isn’t the one that scared the hell out of me.

                    The inside of the people tank being on fire, on the other hand, is scary sh!t…turning the screw doesn’t get smoke out of the air.

                • There are certain jobs where boring is good. Boiler operator, fireman, and submariner of any rate or rank.

            • Was it similar to the tingle you get from touching your tongue to both 9V battery terminals at once? I don’t think I ever did that for entertainment, but it was a quick-and-easy way to tell if this battery is still good, or should be thrown out, when I didn’t have a voltmeter around.

  18. I’m not sure about your take on the “life” of things. This is a subjective thing, but there seems to me to be a definite difference in ‘feel’ between setting foot on the USS Constitution and even a splendid modern reconstruction like the privateer Lynx (I recommend both if you ever get the chance). Or picking up a beat up old .45 from the arms room rack as opposed to a shiny new Glock at the shop. Things may not have a life of their own, but I wonder if something of our lives can’t cling to them.

    • “Don’t anthropomorphize machines. They hate it when you do that.”

      • Honestly, I think I half-way believe that there are “ensouled” machines, that are capable of both aiding and thwarting my needs of the moment. I mean, I don’t, really, but… I could be convinced. Without a hell of a lot of effort, either. It would explain so very much…

        • Honestly, I think I half-way believe that there are “ensouled” machines,…

          Seanan McGuire used a clever twist on that by having one of her Fae characters (October Daye series) incorporated in a router. That character figured prominently in several of the subsequent novels in that series.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Nah, that’s the work of the Gremlins (the real ones not the movie ones).

          They were well known for causing annoying problems in machinery/computers but were also well known for making sure machines “held together” when the machines (ie airplanes) should have crashed. [Smile]

        • Techie people spend a lot of time talking about the gremlins that live in computers, how to appease them and about how they can smell fear. And we’re kind of joking about that. But we’re kind of not too.

          • Terry Pratchett’s story of the pixie that brought down the nuclear power plant. . . and how the engineers weren’t 100% behind his statement they didn’t, of course, believe it. They were engineers, they knew about Murphy, and they weren’t going to offend no pixie.

          • Reality Observer

            Tch. Ignorant superstitious people.

            There are no gremlins in computers. There is smoke in computers. You have computer problems when the smoke escapes the spell put on them to keep it in the computer.

            You have not lived until you have dived out of the way of a colleague running full tilt down the hallway with a 30 pound monitor and trailing a plume behind him as he got it outside.

            (Which finally did prompt the IT honcho to get extinguishers in the building that were rated for electrical fires.)

            • The closest I’ve been was when a repairman pulled the heater blower motor out of the unit in Grad School Apartment #1. We both looked it in awe and wonder and I asked, “Um, are you certain there’s a motor under all that fur?”
              “Well, ma’am, it was in the right spot and weighs about as much as a motor, but beyond that, your guess is as good as mine.”

              Nothing gets maintenance people moving like the phrase, “I have to throw the breaker because it starts to smoke.”

            • One morning I woke up and (my office was on the other side of the bedroom) and there was smoke coming off the computer. I said “Dan, my computer is on fire.” He said “you’re dreaming.”
              I ran out of bed to unplug the computer. He sat up, opened his eyes “your computer is on fire.”
              THAT was fun. Problem in the motherboard.

              • Polliwog the 'Ette

                I’m starting to think that our habit of leaving computers on at night, in practically every room, *may* be a bad idea.

                • Yes and no. It might save power, but most of the stress on the system comes from power up. At east that’s what I was told. Also depends if you’re hosting your own website, etc.

                  • Polliwog the 'Ette

                    Not hosting, afraid of one catching on fire after the stories here.

                    • Dad had a computer fire once. Fortunately not while sleeping, or the house would have burned down. *looks around at the house* On second thought, UNfortunately not while sleeping, or we wouldn’t have this albatross.
                      It would’ve been exciting for the fire department, though. Hey, we got through all Christmas season without a call out! Our neighbors are pretty awesome Christmas Tree Maintainers, I guess.

                    • It helps to occasionally do a true full shutdown and clean the dust out and off of things.

              • Real fun would have been had if he had told you to add “NOSMOKE.EXE” to your autoexec.bat file. 🙂

                I’ll just wait here in my hip waders while the carp rain down on me…

            • Not just computers, all electrical items run on magic smoke. If the smoke gets out you need to get the electrician to put new smoke in.

          • Giving the computer some percussive maintenance often shakes the gremlins up and causes them to cure the problem in fear that you will disturb them farther.

            • On a related note, I subscribe wholeheartedly to the theory, “If you can’t fix it with a hammer… you have an electrical problem.”

              • Yet most electrical problems are mechanical problems: something was disconnected. Now, it might be by corrosion, or by shear, but the result is the same. The nasty ones are the intermittents that don’t have the decency to fail and stay failed for a proper diagnosis and treatment. And then there’s the ones where there’s no visible smoke… yet, but there is the singular aroma of too-hot electronics. Very similar too, but not quite the same as, “Those windings smell too hot.”

                Once upon a time, when the “panel shop” at the place I worked at had a slow time, I was moved over to the motor shop for about a month. Spent most of the month winding coils[1]. A testing area had walls almost to the ceiling (like a cubical, but much taller) and one day the start-up sound of a big motor wasn’t quite right. That got everyone’s attention. Then the area filling with an orange glow for a moment really focused things. And there was the puff of smoke after that. Bit of dirt had been on some contacts, and that much current.. well, things got incandescent for a moment. No damage but perhaps to an ego. Was still rather memorable.

                [1] The remainder was stator testing. That involved passing a cable from what was roughly a welder through the stator, running a current, and feeling for hotspots that indicated shorted laminations. They get VERY hot as I found the one time I found such. A fellow gets to wondering just what effects currents and near fields have when his arm is right next to 400 amps, as happened for one rather large motor. And this shop handled the smaller stuff. There was another facility for the Truly Big motors.

        • I like the breakon/fixon particle theory. It postulates that there’s another pair of fundamental particles, opposed to each other, that have yet to be positively identified by science. (Probably because of the extreme difficulty in identifying breakons without letting all the magic smoke out of your equipment.) But as it turns out, most people are natural emitters of one or the other of these fundamental particles.

          That theory would explain the many, MANY times I’ve walked up to the person with a computer problem, said “Show me,” and the problem went away — before I’d even touched the device. Sometimes I hadn’t even approached the computer yet, just walked into the room.

          • I gather Harry Dresden is a proponent of that theory.

          • Reality Observer

            So true. Auto mechanics are big emitters of fixons, too. (That “check engine” light NEVER comes on when I take it to the shop.)

            • Thus my term “Mechanic Effect” – the problem goes away as soon as anyone who can deal with gets close. Sometimes there’s shielding (or weak emitters?) as there have been many times I’ve removed a cover or case, decided I couldn’t really do anything or find anything, reassembled the gadget.. and the thing worked. At times I’ve resorted to the threat of “I have a screwdriver and I’m not afraid to use it.” Or soldering iron.

              • This has been labeled “Gumperson’s Law:” In TechSpeak, it goes thus: “THE CONTRADICTORY OF A WELCOME PROBABILITY WILL ASSERT ITSELF WHENEVER SUCH AN EVENT IS LIKELY TO BE MOST FRUSTRATING.” In Colloquial English, “The car won’t make that funny noise when the mechanic’s around.” It is, of course, a corollary of Murphy’s more general and better known Law.

                • I actually had a car that made the noise I took it in for, while the mechanic was checking it out.

                  It sounds like brakes. It acts like a braking related thing.

                  Other than informing me that my (several year old) brakes look brand new, he couldn’t figure out what the sound was, either.

              • Terry Sanders

                There was a story in ANALOG decades ago, in which a starship crew landed on a planet that was roughly early Iron Age and sold them agricultural equipment. Part of the sales process turned out to be extended lessons in basic physics (“You ain’t sellin’ no magic stuff here, uh-uh…”)

                They lifted off, went into hyper–and the subspace radio they’d left behind went off. Everything had quit working.

                They went back, checked everything, found nothing wrong. Lifted off, went into hyper–and here we go again.

                Eventually, they figured out that humans have the psionic ability to FORCE complex machinery to work. Otherwise, *something* will fail to mesh with something else–there are just so many places where that can happen. Some people are better at it than others–they tend to *like* machinery and get mechanic jobs. But we can all do it.

                These people couldn’t.

                But they didn’t have a problem with “magic,” as long as THEY weren’t doing it.

                The story was a letter from a crewman to his brother. “You want a job? Great pay, nice place to stay, and all you have to do is sit on a hill and watch tractors run…”

          • I subscribe to the theory that some people, who tend to gravitate to doing above-first-level support, radiate an electronic intimidation field. This field imbues the device in question with the extreme dread that it will be sent to the kindergarten where the messiest kids reside, who would use them while their hands are coated with mud, flour, paint, or peanut butter and jelly on their hands, forever, if they don’t start working correctly RIGHT NOW.

      • Mine don’t. Really. thassa gooood computer. Yes, yes, thank you, _run_ the nice program… parse the nice data… good data… yummy data. thank you…

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          The computers I used when I programmed were very nice ones.

          They almost always showed me the flaws in my programs when testing so I didn’t get the 1 am wake-up calls. [Wink]

        • I had a computer, back circa 1994ish, that had this habit of being nearly sentient in its ability to figure out when and how to screw things up for me. It always, always picked the precise moment when I was getting ready to hit “Save”, and then blue-screened on me. This was a government-owned Dauphin laptop, and the biggest POS that Sears Business Systems ever pawned off on anyone.

          Now, the situation this first manifested was in a field environment, in the Army. What was interesting is that I found, through misadventure, that if I were to place a largish mass of steel in a certain location, whatever issue that laptop had would not recur. That mass of steel happened to be a five-pound engineer hammer I used for pounding in stakes during setup of the CP, and I placed it there after uttering imprecations and threats to the physical integrity of that laptop. It was a joke, at least at first, but the damn thing responded. Why? I have no idea, and as to the mechanism by which this all worked?

          I simply don’t know, or care, but I think that the computer in question got the picture, because the “blue screen of death” quit happening, and never recurred as long as that mass of steel was within about six inches of the right rear of that laptop. My boss removed it, and promptly lost six hours of work, one night. I put it back, and the laptop never misbehaved again, so long as the hammer was there, as a standing threat.

          Did that inanimate object understand threats, and respond? Was there some bizarre electromagnetic fault, that was prevented by the hammer being there? Ya got me… All I know is, it worked. And, it was repeatable–Put hammer on table, and the laptop stayed up. Take away hammer, and it would randomly crash, always at the worst possible moment, and take your work with it.

          I have no rational explanation, other than that the damn thing had to be intimidated into working properly. So, yeah… It wouldn’t take a hell of a lot to convince me that inanimate objects have some sort of “presence” and/or identity, and that they respond to us because of that.

    • Airplanes pick up personae. But they are still mechanical devices.

      Oh yeah, and January 8th was Roy Batty’s birthday.*

      *Another case of a P.K. Dick story inspiring a far better movie, IMHO.

      • I love both. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a very different story from Blade Runner, but both have interesting things to say.

    • Feather Blade

      It’s hardly a new concept… Just applied to new things ^_^


    • It is like they pick up something from being around people, almost an echo of how animals become like their people, eh?

  19. Wayne Blackburn

    Somehow Kate Paulk has managed to give me her sinus infection/throat thingy. Since she’s in Pennsylvania and I’m in Colorado and we haven’t seen each other in the flesh in what? three years?

    I’m guessing you’re taking antihistamines? Surely you didn’t really forget she was at Liberty Con last summer?

  20. A couple of thoughts…

    1) I was discussing with a biology professor a while ago about the fact that we share something like 70% of our genes with a pumpkin. She emphasized that this does NOT mean that we are 70% identical to pumpkins. For starters, no pumpkin is dumb enough to go around saying it is 70% identical to a human.

    2) As far as old houses are concerned, I’ll admit to a touch of sadness whenever I see one torn down. Most of that is just the “we don’t make ’em like that anymore” feeling. Yeah, I know that putting in central heating and indoor plumbing is both important and really expensive, but sometimes it seems like modern houses are designed to be as ugly as possible, and it’s sad when we lose a house from a time when they were still allowed to be beautiful.

    Of course, this does not apply to every old house. In my old neighborhood, there was a “historic” (defined as older than 50 years) house that was the subject of much controversy when someone wanted its lot. As far as I was concerned, the only reason it was historic was because we’d been half-a-century too slow at tearing that eyesore down.

    • Feather Blade

      Most of that is just the “we don’t make ’em like that anymore” feeling.

      Well if we were using lumber whose actual dimensions matched their nominal dimensions…

      • THIS — says the carpenter (well, not since writing took off, but yes.)

      • But where’s the fun in that.
        It’s always a hoot to attempt to explain to non wood workers how lumber dimensions actually work, if for no other reason than to watch their eyes glaze over.
        Still, I’ve done work on new construction and I’ve done some restoration. New is a snap by comparison. In restoration of old construction even if it was originally built to a standard measure, age and the natural shift of most materials over time means every task is measure and cut to fit. Less carpentry and more jigsaw puzzle.

        • I’m remodeling a house originally built in 1943. “Wartime expedient” lumber was mostly 1-3/4″ thick, but width, other than the floor, seems random. It was remodeled and expanded sometime in the 1960s, with 1-5/8″ lumber. Inexpertly. Now I’m working on it with modern lumber, which can be anywhere from just under 1-1/2 to a bit over 1-5/8 thick, and a 2×6 can be anywhere from 5″ to 5-3/4″ wide. And tapered in both dimensions. What they’re selling as “A” grade lumber now, I would have tossed in the scrap pile 30 years ago. Even though my state is a big lumber producer, almost everything for sale, no matter where, says “Product of Ukraine”. Apparently the Ukrainians have Soviet attitudes toward quality control.

          Notches and shims, notches and shims…

      • Well, there were actual reasons for the changes…

        We went to planed/smoothed lumber in construction as a safety measure, because all that rough-sawn old-school dimensional lumber is just plain crazy when it comes to catching and spreading fire. If you’re a person who starts a lot of fires, like I did as a kid when we had wood heat, one of the things you’ll rapidly learn is the alacrity with which old-school dimensional lumber catches fire, due to all the “fuzziness” and sharp, clean edges. Contrasted with modern, smooth lumber? The old stuff is a hell of a lot more likely to catch and burn faster. Part of why they did that has to do with insurance policies, too.

        If you go back and look through the old buildings, the ones where you had actual craftsmen building them, you’ll find a lot of the beams and so forth all had their edges planed down or rounded off. That’s a form of fireproofing, and it works to delay that wooden beam from “catching”.

        Disbelieve me? Experiment yourself–Get a piece of wood, fuzz it all up so that there are all sorts of sharp edges, and then compare it to one with round, smooth ones in the fireplace. Which catches first, burns quicker, and which doesn’t? There’s a reason we split wood, and it’s not just that the pieces are smaller…

        • Reality Observer

          Of course, the sensible thing to do would have been to either a) mark the nominal size as the actual size, or b) start with lumber just a bit larger than the nominal size before planing it.

          Not that it would help all that much these days. I am now in the habit of measuring every piece of lumber I use – you can’t depend on the machines at the sawmill being in any kind of consistent alignment. I’ve had pieces be as much as 1/4 inch off, in either direction, from the “expected” 1/2 inch less than nominal.

          • Feather Blade

            Well… the nominal dimension are easier to say than the actual dimensions…

            If I remember properly from the lumber mill tour we went on recently, they saw the lumber to nominal dimension, and it shrinks to the actual dimension.

    • On houses (or rather, in houses) . . .
      One lovely evening I was strolling the older part of College Town and discovered that one of the very early Queen Ann style monsters was being returned to its original role (single-family dwelling) from being student “apartments.” The exterior paneling had been left off and I sauntered onto the veranda for a look-see. Indeed, the frame was real 3X8 hardwood timbers, and a few 4X10s, with plaster-and-lathe on the inside. The plaster would have to come down because it had water damage from a flood in the 1890s(!) – the horsehair had wicked water higher than would otherwise have happened. But wow, the wood in that house! If the restorers take care of it, barring an F-4 tornado, it will be around another 100+ years. Beautiful wood, tight grain, it looked almost as if someone had varnished it before installing it, maybe as an attempt at moisture control?

      • Beautiful wood, tight grain, it looked almost as if someone had varnished it …

        Yeah, they don’t make construction wood like that any more. It isn’t worth letting the trees do the slow growth required (inventory holding costs on that kind of capital are a bear.) A friend who was a home assessor told of seeing circa 1910 houses with hardwood, tongue & groove sub-flooring!

        • Reality Observer

          I remember when (and there may still be) companies that will come and demo an old house for free – or even pay the owner a little bit. So long as they can take a week at the job.

          The salvaged materials (hardwood, the old brick, etc.) are worth that much.

          • We did a remodel, once, of a dentist’s office. The wives of the partners were decorators, so they wanted one of the interior doors to come from a restoration/salvage place.

            The one they picked out cost some unGodly sum, like $5,000.00, and came out of a “restored” (probably, more like “destroyed” in the course of renovation…) New York brownstone. This door… Holy spittle-flecked madness… Gorgeous, hand-made tropical hardwood, tough as nails, and still sound after God-alone-knows how many years.

            The jamb? I don’t even know what wood it was, but it was so hard and dense that you could not make out the grain. Cutting it? Virtually impossible with the tools we had–Trimming the ends of the jamb wore out carbide-tipped blades. Putting the screws back in? Didn’t happen–They were hand-forged, and snapped the moment we tried to re-insert them. No modern screws were even slightly usable, they all snapped no matter how carefully or slowly we sank them, or how deep and big we made the countersink holes. Eventually, we had to go down to the industrial supply place, and get bits, screws, and taps to get that set of hinges back on. The wood was that hard–Modern power tools could barely make a dent in it.

            I saved a chunk of it, that we had to cut off, and I still haven’t been able to identify it, to this day. Whatever the hell it was, it’s some tropical hardwood that’s denser and harder than anything I’ve ever seen before or since. We have a specialist lumber yard up here that does nothing but hardwoods and so forth, and they couldn’t even begin to ID the stuff. It isn’t lignum vitae, or anything anyone recognizes, any more. Amazing stuff, but no longer available, and I’ve got no idea what the idiots were thinking when they took that door out of the building it was in–There’s no way in hell’s half-acre anyone can even come close to duplicating that door and jamb, with today’s materials.

            • Reality Observer

              My sister has the front door (and casement) from our grandparent’s house. Considering how long it was on the house, and how long they’ve had it in their basement, it has to be well over a century old, and in near perfect condition.

              Someday, one of us will have enough money to actually use it on a house (it is, of course, not anything near to a standard size for any other building – and all of us have block construction.)

              • My parents’ home has window sills made of mahogany. Solid, red mahogany. How? Well, grandad went to a barn demolition and bought wood for them. The doors too. Yep, in the 18th century or so, Portuguese barns were made of rare woods. Eh.

            • Got a friend who does custom pistol grips. On some of the exotic woods he has to use a milling machine with carbide bits to shape the stuff.

              Side bar – My house down here is ~100y/o and was framed with yellow pine heart wood. You have to drill a hole to put a nail in it and the drill bit comes out looking like you just ran it into a solid piece of fiberglass. The pine pitch in the stuff has completely hardened. Termites come out of the attic and complain bitterly to me.

            • Could it possibly have been, um, pernumbuco, I think it’s called? The stuff they use to make bows for string players? It takes a hundred years, I’ve been told, to grow the tree big enough. It’s tropical, it’s hard, rare, and super expensive. There’s a reason people are going for the graphite bows, and it’s not because they play better, because they don’t.

              If you think it could be, take your chunk to a luthier–the guy who makes instruments. There’s no way anyone would use it for furniture today.

            • The chart on this page is a hardness chart for various types of wood. You’ll notice that hickory is near the middle of the chart, and the ones at the top rank a bit more than double Hickory’s hardness.

          • I have a friend whose dad owns one of those companies, my friend works for him, running a sawmill remilling such old wood.

            It is kind of funny, but used lumber costs much more than new lumber.

          • Reality, there still are companies that do that. “Architectural salvage” is the gourmet term.

            • Chicago brick is a type of brick made in the 1800s from local clay mainly by Irish immigrants in the Chicago area. Popular at that time as a cheap building material, and a great deal more so during the rebuilding after the great Chicago fire of 1871. The clay beds that were used were either depleted or rendered inaccessible around the turn of the last century.
              Reclaimed Chicago bricks are quite valuable. I recall 30 years ago they could bring over a dollar a piece, I suspect much more these days.
              Back in the mid 1980s I remember a news story where a family went away on a weekend vacation, and when they returned found that someone had come in and totally dismantled their brick garage, making off with every brick.

        • 1908, and yes, tongue and groove subflooring was common enough. In local red oak, rich, tight grain? Yep. My window sills would cost as much as the *whole house* did if I had to set them as they are now, with the same wood.

          And don’t get me started on matching hundred year old, multiple layer varnish. Which must be done. Because this wood *deserves* better than nine dollar a can cheapo stain, over cedar, which the previous owners tried to do. *shudder*

    • How do you feel about things like dumping a plate of good food in the trash?

      It took a while, but I finally traced most of my reactions like you describe back to that kind of a root– it’s so wasteful.

      • Feather Blade


        That’s why it’s awfully nice to see the old wooden grain elevators in town being disassembled, rather than demolished.

        The concrete ones…? Meh, not so much. They’d make great apartments though, with the right remodeling plan.

        • The loonies in Seattle have a lot to answer for, but I do love the number of businesses that are centered around “but it’s still good!”

    • Regarding point #1, I offer John Boehner.

  21. c4c

  22. You didn’t comment on my least favorite characterization of animals – as “furbabies”.

    Really? The same people don’t have those tender feelings for ACTUAL babies, but DO for animals?

    • Feather Blade

      I always congratulate myself on not rolling my eyes when the vet refers to me as my cat’s “mama”.

      It not worth my time to correct them… especially since they probably got chewed out by someone for failing to do that.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        It is slightly annoying to hear me referred to as Lilly’s Daddy but it’s not worth saying anything about. [Smile]

        • It is annoying, however, especially when there is a perfectly suitable and technically apt term available for the purpose: Legal Guardian.

          Heck, even God[parent] would suit the relationship.

          Guardian ad litem would simply be going overboard. Responsible Party is accurate but seems overly stiff and formal. Owner was eminently acceptable but seems politically adversarial in the current climate.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            While not as bad as a cat, there are times that I wonder “do I own Lilly or does Lilly own me”. [Wink]

            • Sometimes I wonder that about Nemo; most of the time the Science Is Settled. 😉

            • There was some disagreement as to who would train whom when Punky was younger. Fortunately, I was forewarned that Jack Russels are both stubborn and tricky, and likely to turn the tables on you if you’re not careful.

              • The way it was explained to us regarding Nemo, who’s half terrier / half poodle, aka “toodle”:

                “Terriers think very highly of themselves.”

                • Nemo thinks he’s a direwolf in toy poodle disguise.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Ever read Barbara Hambly’s _Bride Of The Rat God_?

                    The three Pekingese dogs in the story have that attitude and at one point actually grow to lion-size to take on an embodied demon. [Grin]

        • Free-range Oyster

          “What exactly are you implying about my wife?”

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Well, Lilly’s a “Daughter Of A Bitch”, but I never knew (in any sense) Lilly’s mother. [Evil Grin]

            Of course, I’ve been married. [Wink]

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              “Of course, I’ve been married”

              Grumble Grumble

              I meant to say “I’ve never been married”. [Embarrassed Grin]

      • Well, we refer to ourselves as the cat’s mommy and daddy, but that’s because it carried on from having the kids. It was easy to say “daddy” to everyone. On the “be grateful for little things” we haven’t started calling each other that…

      • Oddly, my wife and I refer to ourselves as our dog’s “mommy and daddy”, especially when talking to her, but I was jarred at the last vet visit when the receptionist finished checking us in with, “OK, your baby is checked in.”

    • What about those who use child/parent like terms for their animals and DO have tender feelings (even greater) for actual children?

      I mean we call each other mommy and daddy when talking about the cats but we have no illusion that they are real human children. They are not substitutes for children (except perhaps in the sense that we both wanted children and she didn’t find anyone she trusted to father a child at a young enough age and no one judged me father material at a young enough age) and we have no illusion about the relative importance of our cat compared to our nephews or niece. We don’t compare what we deal with concerning the cats with other people’s trials (or triumphs) with the children.

      So, I think nitpicking our use of the term among ourselves and the cats to be a bit obnoxious.

      • yeah. Same thing. We know our boys are our sons, but the cats are “baby kittehs” (the youngest is 5) and Havelock-cat is “daddy’s boy.”

        • We’re Nemo’s mama and daddy because we don’t have children. We were sure that we’d be horrible parents.

          • you know, so were he. It doesn’t seem to be true. Or actually I should say everyone are horrible parents. The truly horrible ones go ahead and have small tribes without a thought.
            I’m not rebuking you for being responsible, I’m just wondering if humanity is doing itself out of its potentially most thoughtful parents, now that we can.
            Sorry, it’s probably the lack of coffee.

            • Not at all…I look at how is having kids and in what numbers and who is not and with the exception of some very religious families the people we are encouraging to have large numbers of kids (often not as families) worries me. But that’s one of the things you can’t discuss without getting called some kind of ist.

            • Sarah, we were also both 40 when we met and got married, and Em ended up with a full hysterectomy about 3 years in. I doubt she could have physically managed a pregnancy.

              • Yes. That is a more material thing, however take it as a “I like you both” that I am sad there won’t be little ones of you two running around for a few more generations.

      • What about those who use child/parent like terms for their animals and DO have tender feelings (even greater) for actual children?

        Not the problem.

        Heck, even the folks whose response to whatever kid problem I’m dealing with is to launch into a story about their (pet) aren’t usually a problem– they’re just trying to empathize.

        It’s the ones that, by all apparent measures, hold their pets in the place of actual human children with a mildly psychotic version of every parents’ belief that their child is probably The Most Awesome.

        I’ve got an aunt who does the “furbaby” thing, but her reactions are in the right place– her “furbaby” went for the face of a toddler that happened to be crawling towards the aunt and she backhanded the dog.

        If you haven’t run into the “furbaby” folks who would go nuclear on her for that, you’re lucky!


        Some of it might be regional; I know that a geeky southern lady-friend uses “furbaby” the same way that I call our nine year old cat a “kitten,” while the Seattle folks that use “furbaby” are likely to be the “my pets are substitute children– and you had better treat them that way!

  23. On a certain base chemical level I can see thinking we’re thinking up a Kate Upton, but what’s the ‘thinking we’re thinking’ crowd’s explanation for thinking we’re thinking up a Mona Lisa or Pieta or Bill of Rights?

  24. Somehow Kate Paulk has managed to give me her sinus infection/throat thingy. Since she’s in Pennsylvania and I’m in Colorado and we haven’t seen each other in the flesh in what? three years?

    I believe it was less than three years ago that The Spouse surprised me with a quick trip to Richmond and I got to meet you both at Raven Con — BTW — for anyone who has not seen them together, if you get the chance DO IT!

    Um? And weren’t you both at this year’s Liberty Con? Or were things so busy that you missed each other in the excitement?

  25. Were you not recovering from surgery, attending a wedding, having your own renewal of vows and very busy being a extremely over scheduled guest at Liberty this year? I am not surprised that you are a bit blurry.

    I can swear by the hair on my head that it is not yet three years since Raven.

    • ah. Well, then I’m experiencing time dilation. 😉

      • Your problem is you have been packing too much into your years and thus warping them out of shape. You want to space things out more to reduce that, lest your years develop stretch marks.

    • That was supposed to be a reply to Sarah above, but I experienced a unexpected reboot and was less than careful afterwards when rewriting … dang me.