The Human Condition – a blast from the past post Jan. 12 2014

When I was in a writers’ group years ago, my friend Alan had this gag he did when commenting on an obviously short or funny story.  “I found what it said about the human condition profound and illuminating.”  Or “This is obviously about the human condition, but other than that—”

Well, that gag made me hesitate to make this post, but this post IS actually about the human condition.

Yesterday just before going to bed, I read an article linked from Instapundit about poverty in the Appalachia.  Of course, this meant I spent most of an unquiet night (yesterday was one of those days where real life and interruptions intervened to keep me from going for a walk or even using the treadmill – by the time I had time to, I was dead on my feet.  For some reason just walking around most of the day, but not an uninterrupted, full out, fast walk of three miles, doesn’t allow me to sleep well at night.) dreaming of buying land in that region.  It was the line about violent crime being below national average and also the line about how cheap cost-of-living was.  Something in my back brain went “Well, it would be a place we could live in on my writers’ income.”

While this is probably true it would be quite stupid at my age, since I doubt there is any easy way to access emergency medical services.  (Yes, I’m only fifty, but my health has been iffy from early on, and I tend to work myself into sickness.  Also, given my inability to catch on that I’m ill till I’m VERY VERY ill, I have needed medical services in emergencies more than I should, and I don’t expect this trend to taper off.  Also, if we bought we would be buying for the rest of our lives, and I hope (fingers crossed) for another forty years with increased need for medical services as I go.  Which is one of the reasons for considering relocating to a LARGER city.)

Now I’m awake, and not shopping for land amid verdant hills I’ve driven through once or twice in my life, I was thinking about the article.

I have reasons to add some salt to it.  First the characterization as a “White Ghetto” brings with it a whole lot of freight which the journalist should have been wary of and clearly wasn’t.  Because of the title and leaving the correction about how low crime (other than welfare fraud) actually is, I imagined the images that “Ghetto” conjures: shootouts in the glades, women murdered in their houses… that sort of thing.

Turns out no.  While it is inhabited by a bunch of welfare recipients, has almost no stores (this possibly to the lack of population density) and lacks opportunities for local employment, this region is not a hell hole of gang shootings and violent theft.

Which immediately makes it completely different, and far more desirable as an address, than any urban ghetto.

In fact, the author says that for those who have money and who are “well connected” (though this is likely true I think the more important part is “self controlled”) it’s a paradise.

Which brings us to what is wrong with the rest of the local population, and how to help them.

The first is obvious and is going to make me sound horribly heartless.  The second… Ah the second is far more difficult.

The answer to the first is “There is nothing wrong.  They are normal, sane humans.”

And now you’re going to gibber at me about drug use and child neglect.  And – not here, but elsewhere – someone is going to call for more federal money dumped into the place.  They’ll call for more Head Start, more jobs programs.  The left who – with more than a bit of self flattery – will flap gums about how our technological society is leaving people behind, how all these poor people simply aren’t SMART enough to make money and thrive in the new new technological world.


This flatters the left insanely because they clearly are “smart” enough to thrive in the new technological world.  Lately in reading their stuff it’s all about power couples and marrying intelligent people and – bah.  They wouldn’t know intelligent people if one bit them in the arse.  They are what in our school system were A students.  These were never – at least when I was going through school – the actual SMART people (unless the smart people made a great deal of effort.)  True geniuses tended to be odd.  They dressed funny, sometimes had er… hygiene issues, and they had the confounded habit of correcting teacher.  As such, they were heartily despised by all right thinking people, and usually managed Bs, unless they were really really smart, in which case they trolled the D/F region.  In adulthood the geniuses I’ve known – those functional enough to hold a job – tend to hold jobs in convenience stores, fertilizer plants, or other menial positions where the fact they don’t dress fashionably and haven’t attended Harvard doesn’t matter.

This is why the beautiful people hold on to CREDENTIALS over accomplishments as signs of their specialness.

Which is why the “economy” the left is thriving on is a combination of glitz, glamour and valueless money printed at speed and of crony capitalism which devours the real substance of prosperity accumulated by our ancestors.


Part of the reason that even as the welfare model is collapsing all over the world, the left is hysterically seeking to bolster it is that they really think they are in a “With Folded Hands” future, where everything that “the little people” could do has been mechanized and therefore we should give the little people the means to survive and let them get stoned out of their minds, because, what else is there to do?  Kill them?  Oh, please, the left aren’t monsters.  They just hold on to monstrous ideas.  (Note I said “part of the reason” – some of the left is doing this for the power, of course, and to create a neo-feudal society.  But the rank and file of the evil party are not actually evil.  They’re just human and know a lot of things that just ain’t so.)

(Is there a lack of work for uneducated/not particularly intellectual people?  What, in the last 20 years?  Show me where the advances in manufacturing/computing/etc put these people out of work.  What is really happening is that our personal do-gooders have priced the US worker out of competition – and it’s not even the minimum wage, an effort as sane as legislating air humidity, as the crazed and increasingly futile environmental and other regulations – so the jobs have moved overseas.  This will correct itself either when the other lands create a middle class that demands better treatment – though they’re unlikely to demand crazy enviro regulations – or when we hang the komissars with their own guts.  Because as has been pointed out on this blog, there will always be need for the kind of mind that thrives on detailed, repetitive work, and which really really really doesn’t want to speculate about the causes of the Spanish-American war or read about Elizabethan England.  Whether these minds are less able, I refuse to even consider, because look… I couldn’t do what my plumber – or my hairdresser! – does.  I certainly couldn’t do what factory workers do.  It would drive me as batty as for them to do what I do.  Yeah, they test lower on IQ, a test designed to measure achievements of a certain kind.  We’ll just say they have different types of mind and that, without interference, there would be work they could do.)

So, what is wrong with these people is that they’re human.  When war on poverty was declared, it’s obvious what they were thinking of as an explanation for poverty was what is now called “The beesting theory of poverty.”  That is people are poor not because of any one big problem/injustice, but because of an accumulation of little things.  Car broke down, children got sick, got laid off, and is so held down that nothing – nothing – can lift you up again.

Does this happen?  Yeah, sure.  I’ve known cases of its happening to my friends and relatives.  I’d call it “crisis poverty.”  But I’d dispute the theory that this explains long-term poverty.

The facts seem to dispute it too.

I’m not just going on my own anedoctal experience – though I have that – having been in that situation at least twice in my life, and having clawed back out of it, or even in the experience of my friends and relatives, ditto, but on the fact that very few middle class people “fall” that way and never get up again.  In fact statistics seem to show the middle class moves up far more frequently than down.  I can’t find it, of course, but someone did an analysis of middle income in constant dollars, and the middle class has shrunk, as has the poor class, but the upper income has grown.

No, the sort of ground in, long lasting poverty is, as instapundit noted in linking this “the condition of the human race.”

Heinlein has a quote about it, and I’ve mentioned it here before:

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as “bad luck.”RAH

Insty mentions this, but Heinlein doesn’t go deeper into the mechanism, and neither goes insty.

Look, I’ll admit I don’t have any study on this, except what everyone has: that minimum income guarantees don’t make regions markedly richer (I understand that there was a program in Denver that spectacularly had the opposite effect.  I don’t remember when – the seventies?), that people on welfare that covers their bare minimum needs have trouble escaping it, and their kids have trouble escaping it, that socialist countries tend to go the route where no one quite starves but no one thrives, and everyone sort of simmers on at “poverty” level, more so as the years go by.  (Sweden? Norway?  Well, not enough years.  Despite the oddities of culture there – and yes, culture does count – they seem to be heading down, just not as dramatically and as fast as bigger and more diverse countries.)

Part of the issue with the war on poverty is that it seemed completely reasonable “Give people just enough to lift themselves up out of dire need and they’ll do the rest.”

Only people don’t work like that.  No?

Okay, do an experiment with your toddler: offer them a food they like well enough but aren’t crazy about – say eggs – and tell them they can have chocolate cake instead if they clean their room to your satisfaction.

Sure they’ll take the bait SOMETIMES, but most of the time they’ll shrug and have the egg.

I don’t know about other human beings, but I know one of the most prolific writers I know says he’s the world’s laziest writer.  He just FORCES himself to work.  And I can attest that I too often think I’m two people: one that wants to go bum out on the bed with a book, and the other who chases her around and makes her write.  (The chasing around time usually involves my bummish self trying to justify her leisure with increasingly crazy stuff like “I’m cleaning the litter boxes.  Scrubbing the toilet!  Ironing!)

I also know my older, extremely driven son, often tells me he is incredibly lazy and doesn’t force himself to do a quarter what he should.

I think all humans are lazy and all humans given a “minimum to live comfortably” don’t do anything else.  It’s not a bug.  It’s a feature.  A Neolithic hunter who continued hunting after he’d eaten enough for the day would deplete the food supply and the meat would rot.  This idiot left no descendants.  We’re descended from the sensibly lazy ones.

So, what about that “despised minority” – well, the despised minority that does more than strictly needed and thereby makes themselves “rich” and advances the wealth of all human race are usually, in social terms, deeply flawed.

It either has a tribal identity which needs security in mobile goods for the next time its crazy neighbors try to kill them, or it – one on one and individual on individual – is deeply broken.  Often they are Odds, and no, don’t get recognition just for “being smart” or whatever their oddity is, so they keep trying to get some recognition for SOMETHING.  And often they have other issues.  It is not coincidental that the lives of almost all great men often resemble horror tales, particularly the childhood parts.

There is another driver and that is a cultural identity that prizes work above all else.  The famed “Protestant work ethic” though I always thought that was funny as obviously there is the same thing on the Catholic side (but maybe there wasn’t at one time) was a powerful driver.  People would judge you for being lazy and not trying as hard as you should, and that in turn made people try very hard indeed.  Most people.  Because as Heinlein also pointed out the strongest motivating force for any simian, member of a highly social species, is the approval of its peers.

So you can see how when the “war on poverty” started and there were still fumes of this social judgment going on, the bee sting theory would apply.  Oh, sure, there were still ne’er do wells who weren’t even pretending to try, but they were few and far between.  Most people would at the very least PRETEND they were trying to climb out.

So people looking from the outside would think “let’s make it easier”.

But the very fact of giving people unearned income makes two implicit assumptions: that poverty is not their fault and that it can and should be treated from outside.  (I.e. that there’s nothing they could do.)

That in turn changed the culture so people don’t at all feel guilty for not trying to climb out.  In fact the poorer they are, the more “deserving” and the more obviously burdened, and they should be given more stuff to bring them to parity with “luckier” people.

And then you have vast regions of poverty.

I resent very much the implication that the people of that region are good for nothing but being “peasants” – although in a right wing publication, the writer clearly buys into the left’s nonsense about “too dumb to thrive.”

Medieval peasants were in their unenviable condition because they needed the Lords to defend them in case of attack and this meant giving the lord rights to micro-manage their lives.  Which meant they could never climb out, because this was their “condition” – and yes, the lord looked after them in terms of keeping them alive.  And could kill them as well.

It might seem primitive to us, but it’s a highly sophisticated structure and far from natural.

As soon as the Black Death burst the bounds of the middle ages structure, the peasants took off into the wilderness, where they could take risks for their own survival AND they could innovate and be richer than ever before.

So, am I suggesting we abandon the people of Appalachia to their fate? Isn’t that cruel?

How much crueler can it be than what we’re doing to kids raised by drugged-out parents?  And what business is it of ours anyway?  Keep the payments for the elderly and the too young, and cut everyone else off.  Let them make their way to where they can make a living, or learn to wrest a living from the land again.

Horrible, right?  Well, it sounds horrible, even to me.  Because I grew up in a time when it was assumed it was the state’s right and duty to improve human lives – even in contravention of human condition.


The chances of it happening?  Not high.  So these people will go on living in pill-happy serf-like poverty (but producing nothing useful, unlike the serfs.)  Until and unless the gods of the copybook headings in terror return.  Or until the culture takes a turn where work is again enforced as a virtue.

And then we’ll find the vast majority of those “too stupid to thrive” people do indeed thrive and that most of them aren’t stupid at all.  They’re just human.

And here’s the truly stupid thing about humans: as much as we hate work, work is good for us.  When we work, we create something of value to others, and that raises our simian status among our peers, and in turn that’s good for our mental health and even our physical one.  (Work here being defined as doing something useful, not filling federal forms or polishing dog poo.)

And the more we work and the more confidence we gain, the more we find we can do, and the more interesting it becomes.

But none of us would start without some incentive that makes it more painful not to work.  For a lot of us that’s being not quite right in the head (what, you think a person who sits around writing lies for a living is sane?); for others it’s having something to prove; but for the vast majority of sane humans it is to need to eat and have a roof over their heads.

And this is why in the war on poverty we lost.  We met poverty and found that the seeds of it resided in each of our very sane normal brethren.

Poverty is normal.  Sloth is normal.  It’s we who work who are crazy. Absent that madness we’d all be living in caves and feasting-starving on hunted mammoth.

340 thoughts on “The Human Condition – a blast from the past post Jan. 12 2014

  1. In my admittedly limited observations over some+ years, the human condition most commonly on display is confusion, followed closely by in error. Certain professions typically display some conditions as a form of occupational hazard, such as politicians prevaricating or journalists expounding at length based on only slight understanding of a situation.

  2. I’d say the “Protestant work ethic” is really the “Puritan work ethic”. Most people these days think that Puritan is an insult, which just goes to show how ignorant of history the typical American education leaves most people.

  3. I talked about this last week, in about three different posts.
    The fact is that Williamson wasn’t sneering at Appalachia. He was sneering at upstate NY. And the people there aren’t poor because the are lazy, they are poor because the government has made it impossible for them to do any jobs and then had waved the consequences away.

  4. Disagree about keeping welfare for the very young. In my experience and that of others who I have discussed this with that causes the barely adult girls to have kids they cannot support out of wedlock to get the welfare. I suspect that we are at five or six generations of this now, where the planned carreer path for a girl is to get pregnant at 16, move out and go on welfare, then pop out another every few years to keep the welfare coming.

    In my view, it is better, if more heartless, to say “Your kid, your problem. Either adopt it out, or get off the pot and work.” and if they won’t let them both starve if she cannot find private charity.

    1. Oh, trust me, I have own set of notions about how we could solve that problem without too much fuss. Of course, it would also be tyranny of, if not the worst kind, definitely the kind that would be pretty bad.
      (As it happens, not all of my ideas are morally good, although they would probably work…)

      1. I considered the idea of just taking the kids, but that is a slippery slope that leads nowhere good. Better to let a couple starve than have thousands taken by an abusive bureaucracy.

        1. Certainly not give the poor kids over to the bueaucracy (we have laws against cruel and unusual punishment) but end the prohibitions against orphanages? Sure, why not?

            1. I believe it’s not a blanket prohibition, but the root is….well, you know all those books that were about people being horribly abused in orphanages, because “they’re an orphan” explains why the family isn’t stopping the Bad Things?

              A lot of folks interpreted that as “so get rid of orphanages. No bad stuff!”

                1. For varying values of “care”…both in the actual system and when they pull the kid from a good family since mommy’s out of jail and working part time at McDonalds…

        2. You have no idea how many people out there would do *anything* legal to adopt a mostly healthy child.

        3. Take the kids and institutionalize the mothers (and fathers) because they can’t control their behavior and pose a risk to themselves or others (namely the kids). As an added bonus, a good number will probably learn they can control themselves.

          1. I don’t trust the courts and child welfare agencies to make that call. Do you?

            1. They already have the authority. “Can’t support” would be a more objective standard that what we’ve got.

              1. Not really, remember the comment a couple days ago (I have no idea on which post) about someone not being able to buy their preteen the newest smartphone? There are plenty who would claim that was an “inability to support.”

                Objectivity is only as good as those implementing it.

                  1. True, unfortunately I’m unsure that those currently in the child welfare agencies could be less objective if they tried. So no I’m not in favor of giving them more power, but rather taking it away. Would there be tragedies from doing so? Yes. But I believe that if you ran the numbers, statistically there would be less tragedies from taking away their power, than there would be from adding to their power, or even keeping the status quo.

                    1. I don’t know how the numbers actually shake out, but all the tragedies I can think of are where the adults involved were doing criminal assault to the kids, stuff they should’ve been in jail for, and they kids were handed back.

                      In some cases the kids had been adopted out, they “won” the kids back, and then the prize wasn’t what was expected. 😦

                    2. I guess I view that as a problem with the child welfare agency, they are the ones taking the kids from the people raising them, and giving them to someone else (in this case the biological parents). Admittedly in a fair number of cases, if the child welfare agency hadn’t intervened in the first place, the kids would have went to the grandparents or some such, and at least a fair percentage of those would also have given the kids back, when the parents were released from jail.

                      I do however know of multiple cases where the kids were taken from a parent, who either a)was financially struggling b) the other parent (usually mother, not because mothers are more prone to selfishness, but because child welfare agencies are biased towards mothers) wanted the financial benefits, but was uninterested in actually putting any effort into raising the child or c) was falsely accused of something deemed worthy of taking the child away, because their former spouse knew that was the most effective way to hurt them. While these don’t always end in tragedy, per se, some do, and they almost always end up more poorly for the child than leaving them with their caring parent would have.

                      Quite frankly, if there was no financial benefit to having kids, most of those who are uninterested in them, would end up leaving the kids in a better place, whether that be at their grandparents, with their other parent, or at an orphanage. The real monsters who want a child as a plaything to torture and molest, wouldn’t, but then the proper cure for that problem is 158 grains of lead, applied to the cranium.

      2. Morally bad ideas are pretty common and often refusing to do something that is only mildy squeemish results in doing something much worse in the end.

        Ask me about my plan to solve the Israel-Palestinian conflict some time.

        1. I’m almost afraid to ask.
          I will say that the idea I’m referencing would be approved by Oliver Wendell “Three generations is enough” Holmes, Jr., although he’d probably think it was namby-pamby. (Like I said, moral compass was turned off for this one.)

          1. Simply announce that for every Israeli killed by a suicide bomber, rocket, or mortar shell 100 Palestinians will be rounded up and executed. Those rounded up will exclusively be children under 13 and women of child bearing age.

            Within 2 years the bombings will end or Palestinians will be a bunch of old women and grown men with no future.

            It is barbaric, immoral, and genocide…however, whatever the real solution ends up being it gets closer to that (perhaps with nationalities reversed) with each day.

            1. I think they are perverse enough to accept and like that trade, and the Israelis not perverse enough to do it.

              1. In one of the stories I mapped out, one of the groups had a philosophy of ‘Of course we’ll trade with you, but…If you attack us, we’ll backtrack your movements and find your families. Anyone not killed outright in battle will become a slave. Males castrated before sent to the mines. Females branded and any who reproduce will bear slaves for 4 generations. Those that can’t/won’t work will feed the fires.’

            2. Simply announce that for every Israeli killed by a suicide bomber, rocket, or mortar shell 100 Palestinians will be rounded up and executed. Those rounded up will exclusively be children under 13 and women of child bearing age.

              Better idea:
              They will be rounded up and adopted out.

              Then you doubly piss off the psychos, and aren’t wronging innocents so much.

              1. Adopted out and converted to a different faith.

                Muslims don’t like it when their kids are Janissaried. They don’t like other people stealing their tactics, and think it’s immoral and wrong when it’s done to them.


              2. Only those much younger than 13, like say, under 5. Much older than that and you run into the problem with

            1. The thing is, I agree with you, and with Chesterton. Which is why I would never actually consider doing it.
              However, I am worried that eventually we’re going get people in charge who are okay with coercing people into sterilization for various reasons.

              1. I share your worry, which is why I want you to be looking at better ideas to beat the crud out of their “but we must!” ones. 😀

                1. What was that line from Chesterton about Christianity? Something to the effect of “It has not been tried and found wanting, but tried and found too difficult?”

                  1. “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

              2. Were almost there. An O-bot praised Red China and said that we should be more like them. I guess it was power hungry.

              3. Unfortunately, sterilization will not address the Progressive menace. On the bright side, their reproductive rates are already low. That leaves the Education-Media Complex to be dealt with. It must be taken or shattered to decisively address the Progressive menace.

        2. Morally bad ideas are pretty common and often refusing to do something that is only mildy squeemish results in doing something much worse in the end.

          There’s a difference between “morally bad” and “squeamish.”

          I understand if you do not want to raise Sarah’s blood pressure by going into details, and I will drop it immediately after this if no details are returned.

          Just morally required to say that a properly formed morality will not have this result; either the squeam is set too low– I’d guess on a prudential avoidance, to Talk Catholic– or the “much worse” is a prudential choice itself which takes the whole thing into Prudential Judgement, AKA “humans can be idiots” zone. (In which case you’re taking probabilities, and in THAT case I do not disagree with your statement, just disagree about what we should do about it– basically “yeah, people can be idiots; doesn’t mean we should preempt them in making a bad choice.”)

          1. The “fun and games” is that the idiots may get other people killed because of their idiocy.

            If only the idiots were killed thanks to their idiocy, I’d feel much better about “allowing idiots to be idiots”.

            Still it’s hard enough for an individual to decide “when to stop an idiot” therefore no way do I want the government to decide “when to stop an idiot”. 😦

    2. They were at 4 generations when I was a kid, when Clinton lost on the welfare reform.

      That stopped it, at least significantly.

      It’s started back up by those reforms being “waived.”

      Simple start at fixing it would be to remove those waivers.

      1. Some states have. Maine and Kansas are two Fox highlighted online today. At the very least making it state specific (or state and neighbor such as RIMACONN) so Maniacs are not subsidizing Florida…or the Mohegan Sun Casino

  5. What many of the handwringers bemoaning Appalachian Poverty fail to understand is that many of those ignorant hillbillies don’t want the benefits of “civilization.”

    Watch some damned commercial-laden reality show or watch the sun set across the ridge? Get carry-out from “The Colonel” or raise and kill your own chickens?

    A great deal of farm living is peaceful repetitive work which allows a body to ponder matters while the body does its thing. Those folk praising “Civilization” are engaged in ethnocentrism and deriding alternative lifestyles of which they do not approve.

    And, as many of them expect to be in position to skim a little (say, 90%, cumulatively) the money going to help those poor ignorant hillbillies they are not a little self-serving in their concerns.

    1. While I agree with the superiority of sunrises to reality TV, and homemade meals to bulk takeout, my reflexive argumentativeness obliges me to note that revering the physical labour of farming as “peaceful repetitive work” sounds a lot like something people who don’t actually do a lot of it would be more likely to say. The old gag about “how you gonna keep ’em/ Down on the farm/ After they’ve seen Paree?” didn’t come from nowhere, after all.

      But that caveat notwithstanding, your last paragraph is dead on. It is one of the fundamental human paradoxes that the very attempt to make alleviating poverty a business means that the people in that business immediately acquire an incentive to keep from ever permanently alleviating poverty.

      1. Gotta agree with that. Farming is hard, never-ending work. Not really repetitive in the modern sense, as while you’re doing the same (or at least similar) tasks every year, you’re not doing exactly the same thing over and over every day. “Peaceful” is also a value judgement I’m not sure I’d apply to most farm work, either. Dirty, sweaty, tiresome, definitely. Occasionally painful and frightening. Peaceful, not so much. Fulfilling is a possibility, though.

        1. If you are interested in a man who labors to fix up his house (starting with a long series on plumbing), may I commend to you . He’s quite a writer.

        2. Drive a combine around in circles for a couple of weeks, then tell me it isn’t repetitive. Or milk cows at 3:30 (both am and pm) every day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year.

          On the other hand, fixing the combine after some dumb kid got bored and wasn’t paying enough attention and tried to combine a fence post, is not at all repetitive.

          1. The cow milking, perhaps, if you have more than a few, but I think of “repetitive in the modern sense” to mean something where the repetition rate is a little more close together, like in manufacturing jobs, where you do exactly the same thing, day and day out, day after day after day. At least with farming, you have different things to do from one day to the next. Or at least one week to the next. You might till up the soil in the spring, and spray herbicide to kill the weed seeds likely to be there, then next week plant seeds, but the next week you might be setting plants instead of planting seeds. Fertilizing, weeding, watering, harvesting. It’s got a lot more variety than, say, packing petri dishes for 12 hours a day, (7 days every two weeks in a rotating schedule), every work day.

      2. I’ll confess the “revering the physical labour of farming” was a bit of tongue-in-cheekishness. Having labored with mattock and spade to excavate clay from a four by sixteen by four trench to create a raised garden bed I acknowledge there is much to be said in praise of a back hoe — and now that I am in my Sixties rather than my Twenties I will say it three times as heartily.

        But the labor of farming, especially if you’re mostly dong it for your self rather than commercially, is not as bad as some of the alternatives.

        1. True enough. And I will freely confess to erring on the side of po-faced seriousness much of the time, so that part’s on me.

          1. I have been reliably informed that the twinkle in my eye does not appear in internet comments. As I have very twinkly eyes, I view this as the internet’s loss. As I have a face made for radio, I think the net benefit accrues to the internet all the same.

            The net result (hah!) is that I am no longer startled at something I’ve commented being interpreted as other than intended. Alas, I’ve abandoned hope of SJWs ever learning a comparable lesson. When folks have convinced themselves that the line of people in the loo are there to enjoy their flatulence they are beyond the limits of reason.

            1. You know why southrons’ diction is often difficult to understand? It’s because our tongues are pretty much constantly imbedded in our cheeks. 😀

            2. I have been reliably informed that the twinkle in my eye does not appear in internet comments. As I have very twinkly eyes, I view this as the internet’s loss.


              The net result (hah!) is that I am no longer startled at something I’ve commented being interpreted as other than intended.

              Trial being telling “don’t get” from “don’t understand.”

              Baron on off arm, sorry so short.

        2. There were stretches when working on an oil rig was pretty cool. At a certain level, repetitive physical labor is good. Once you learn something down to your bones, ones conciousness can roam freely. I was in awesome shape and making reasonable money. But then you’d look over at an older coworker aged way beyond his years and realize it was a young mans game. For me it was a short side trip while I floated along in life. For some, it was the best job they’d ever have and their future looked grim.

          Those who romanticize physical labor have only done it as a hobby or perhaps one summer in their youth. Me I like being paid to figure out problems.

          1. I won’t romanticize it, but it would be great if more people in government and management had actual experience with real physical work.
            You’d be hard pressed to name 12 Democrats or Republicans in the main three branches of the US government that have worked in sweat raising, hand blistering, gut busting physical jobs.

            And that’s not likely to change, as Our Precious Children (anyone up to 25-26) are Too Delicate to rate anything but the most careful, privileged treatment! Summer and after-school jobs are too much like child labor, and need to be regulated to near death.

            1. Work on the rigs was hard, dirty, and oily. I met many excon coworkers. I still fall over laughing when some snowflake complains about a ‘hostile work environment’ because of someone else’s innocent remarks. The not so innocent remarks on the rigs were to weed out the weak.

              1. Military is similar. In all honesty I think I was something of a pansy compared to other submarine guys but these special snowflakes couldn’t have surviving learning how to clean out an oil filter basket.

                1. Most of the special snowflakes would, apparently, get PTSD from being yelled at to get off the bus by the drill sergeant on day one of basic training.

                2. My coworkers are roughly half military veteran – usually nukes leaning heavily towards Machinist Mates – and half college graduates. The workplace can sometimes get…interesting.

                  1. That is actually a major issue for me. I broke out of my shell in 911 EMS with a FF, Marine and Navy guy. I tend to be somewhat uncouth from time to time. It gets me in trouble at work quite often…as does my black sense of humor.

                    1. You’re silly. Everybody knows FF = Fast Forward.

                      Or is it Fetid Flatulence? I get confused.

                    1. Military veterans with degrees generally work in other parts of the yard, or the civilian sector.

            2. I won’t romanticize it either, but I’ll bluntly state that I prefer it. On the other hand there is physical labor, and physical labor. I worked for a year or so, just out of high school drilling and blasting rock. Slinging drill steel for ten hours a day may be a young man’s game, but breathing rock dust that entire time will make an old man out of you, fast.

              Our child labor laws are more detrimental than practically any other laws I can think of. It used to be, not only did kids learn how to work, but they learned if they wanted something, whether it be a video game, a dirt bike, or a car when they got old enough (or within a year or two of old enough) to drive, they needed to go out and earn the money to pay for it. Nowadays they learn one of two things, either a)mommy and daddy (to eventually be changed to daddy government) will buy it for me or b) how to circumvent the labor laws, which quickly leads to circumventing tax laws, because paying taxes on money you earned illegally is admitting to earning the money illegally. After being forced to work around and break nonsensical laws, it is a short step to breaking inconvenient laws, and then to disparaging laws in general. And there goes our nation of laws.

              1. “Our child labor laws are more detrimental than practically any other laws I can think of. It used to be, not only did kids learn how to work, but they learned if they wanted something, whether it be a video game, a dirt bike, or a car when they got old enough (or within a year or two of old enough) to drive, they needed to go out and earn the money to pay for it.” – bearcat

                *nod* And a hearty “Hear! Hear!” (and Here Here!, even)

                First .22 rifle was a gift: a .22 single-shot. Second, a repeater (10/22 carbine), I was told okay, but that I had to pay for. I saved up the money earned on my paper route over the course of a summer and most of a fall. IIRC, I was eleven-ish.

                Following that, between summer and holiday jobs, and after school work program in Junior High and High School, between 13 and 17 I worked variously at: a carpet store, a hardware store, a BBQ joint, a riding stable, fry cook, fast food both counter and grill, a hobby shop, a used bookstore, bagging groceries, another (different riding stable – I liked horses), a veterinarians office, and at the Texas State Fair three seasons running.

                Summers from nine up until I was about sixteen, my cousin and I earned money for Cokes and .22 shells by collecting bounties on coyote and bobcat while spending the summer at our Uncle’s place in Oklahoma, and ten cents a beak for keeping grackles and starlings and blackbirds out of various crops in the area. (Crows were worth a quarter, but crows were harder to shoot with a .22… )

                I earned my own money for my first multi-speed bike, my first and second car, and my first date(s).

                But I grew up in the 60s and 70s when it wasn’t considered “child abuse” to be a latch-key kid, nor to be expected to work after school and contribute to the household. I’m not sure that the special snowflakes could handle growing up in our era.

                1. I’m enough younger than you, born in 79, that I quite a few of the laws were already in effect. But my parents hadn’t caught up to modern ideals, and so I learned to circumvent the laws if I wanted something. Because frankly my parents couldn’t afford to buy me the toys I wanted. My first dirt bike (10 years old) was bought by picking and selling mushrooms, same for my first deer rifle. I lived on the end of a dead end road, twenty miles out of town, there weren’t any cops. So I road my dirt bike to various farms and worked there (farm labor wasn’t as highly regulated yet, and some paid cash) as well as doing some other odd jobs, by the time I was old enough to drive, I had saved up enough money to buy myself a fairly decent Toyota 4×4. With wheels I thought I could work a real job, I only held one non-farm labor job during high school, and it for only a couple weeks. The pay was too low, the government took too much in taxes, and the hours were too short to bother with the twenty-five mile commute each way.
                  But by the time I graduated, I knew HOW to work, and understood how capitalism worked.

                  Your getting paid for shooting crows and grackels reminds me of when I was a kid, my grandmother used to pay me a dollar a bird to shoot bluejays and kingfishers. Because they would pack off all of her duck food, a couple of bluejays would pack of a fifty pound bag of rolled corn in a day or two.

                  1. Ranch work, baling and hauling hay, oh yeah. When my cousin Michael and I used to get shipped to my uncle’s for the summers, we had chores, too: churning butter and separating cream after milking, and feeding and currying the horses. (Working ranch: he raised draft horses and boarded Morgans and some cattle for other people.)

                    I did line riding and fence riding for a few places out in New Mexico too, when I was nineteen. Brush popping cows out of draws and thickets with a horse and dog.

                    I learned how to work with and train cattle dogs on my uncle’s place as a kid. Came in handy.

                    “Your getting paid for shooting crows and grackels reminds me of when I was a kid, my grandmother used to pay me a dollar a bird to shoot bluejays and kingfishers. Because they would pack off all of her duck food, a couple of bluejays would pack of a fifty pound bag of rolled corn in a day or two.” – bearcat

                    That’s decent money for popping pest birds. Same with the grackles and blackbirds, too – a flock of starlings or grackles could absolutely ruin a crop of summer barley or maise. And they’d wreck vegetable gardens, too. They’d eat sweet corn on the cob as well, before it was ripe, and ruin whole fields of ears.

                    If you were careful, using a scoped .22, and picked off the big males doing sentry duty, you could pick off a substantial number of a flock from 75 yards away before you’d wound one and spook the flock into taking off. (Both grackles and starlings, and redwings as well, will travel in flocks of up to a couple of hundred if there’s lots of feed. Noisy and messy bastards.)

                    Let’s see… bounty on coyotes was $25 a pelt in Oklahoma at the time, and bobcat was $35, IIRC. You had to be a decent shot to peg a coyote or a bobcat with a .22 long rifle… but all we did was shoot, hundreds of rounds a week or more. My cousin and I were pretty good. 🙂 And I had a big pointer and a big red mongrel that were good at teaming and tagging and bagging coyotes, as well.

                    “I’m enough younger than you, born in 79, that I quite a few of the laws were already in effect. But my parents hadn’t caught up to modern ideals, and so I learned to circumvent the laws if I wanted something. Because frankly my parents couldn’t afford to buy me the toys I wanted.” – bearcat

                    Likewise, although it was a bit more lax between ’68 and ’79 than after 1980.

                    We were… “dirt poor and proud” if you get the meaning, when I was young, and by the time I was in my teens, we’d moved up to lower middle class after my dad made Assistant Executive Chef at the Fairmont. But still, while I got an allowance, it wasn’t much. Anything I wanted more than just snacks and the occasional movie I had to earn myself.

                    I honestly think that we’ve lost a LOT as a nation and a culture by losing that aspect of growing up.

              2. I was lucky enough that I had a local family farm that could hire persons under 16 and pay under the table. Legal, not really but definitely got experience even if it was effectively retail.

          2. Yah. My Polish girlfriend in Panama and her roommate (both translators/interpreters for the German Bank of Panama) were shocked! Shocked! That I was actually working at fixing airplanes on May 1, the ‘Day of International Worker Solidarity’. I them they could be in solidarity with me, at least in spirit, while I was working that day. They did fix me a nice home-cooked meal that evening.

            1. Sad part is that in the world that Mayday (intentional) wants to bring around, being interested in the job is the only way for it to be done well since you will have political fingers on the market scales for labor.

        3. As a child one of my jobs was shoveling out the chicken coop and horse stalls. That eradicated any “glamor of the simple life” before I encountered the scholastic indoctrination…

          1. I got paid $8/hour to clean out the chicken barns on a local chicken farm every 8? (I forget now, how long it takes fryers to mature) weeks. That was about three bucks an hour more than any of my friends were making, and that has a glamour of its own.

        4. I remember a recreationist on a farm observing that it was no wonder peasants were not revolting most of the time, they were too tired.

        5. I hate digging pits with a shovel and mattock (glacial till. Ptui.) But I find making stack stone beds deeply satisfying. It’s just as hard and painful withall.

          The part about farming that is non-idyllic is not the hard labor so much, as it is the random recalcitrance of the natural world which tends to fail critically and catastrophically. And then you go hungry or freeze to death. Or both.

        6. Mattock and Spade, Obstetrics and Gynecology.

          Because I was tired of the Attorneys at Law joke. Yes, it is in poor taste.

  6. While this is probably true it would be quite stupid at my age, since I doubt there is any easy way to access emergency medical services.

    I would love to have you closer to where I live and in the area I have come to love, the mountains of the east … but … in most of those places where there is easy access to emergency medical services the land is no longer cheep. Further, I recall from other posts that you also would not appreciate the diverse people biting insect life which you will assuredly find throughout the area.

    1. Well, you’d do worse than looking in east TN. Knoxville has the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Maryville (where I live) has Blount Memorial Hospital, Sevierville has LeConte Medical Center, etc. And land isn’t really expensive here, especially if you’re used to the prices you’d expect around most large cities.

      As for bug bites, they build character… 🙂

      1. Sarah has plenty of characters. If she has more, our chances of getting the next book we each want next most go down, right?

        1. One of the many things I am allergic to is bug bites. I can take individual bug bites, but not the egg sized lumps that form under my skin, or the spreading raw flesh. I used to have raw flesh legs all through summer in NC and SC.

          1. Bugs are not that big a problem as long as you aren’t near standing bodies of water. Here in the city, the local songbirds that have grown wise to the cat population have kept me and mine bug bite free for the past three years. *grin*

            I’ve a couple that tend to nest in the old pine on the chimney side of the house. They’ve kept me from being late to work a time or two, what with the five a.m. jam sessions… Of course, not so much fun on the weekends, but eh, it could always be worse.

            1. I believe that our esteemed hostess is one those people who bugs deem to be a desirable delicacy and eagerly seek out.

              Fleas don’t need water, nor do chiggers.

              1. Not being Sarah, I can’t say what her reaction is, but I get a golf-ball sized lump that lasts for three weeks minimum from each mosquito bite.

                I might harbor an entirely rational hatred of the beasts.

                1. One of my grandmothers told me of a cartoon (newspaper editorial type) that pictured a large hangar at the then-active KI Sawyer air base in the upper peninsula of Michigan. The hangar was signed ‘Dastardly Weapons Division” and a crew was (wheeling?) out what could be called a Heavy-Lift mosquito.

                  There was some suspicion that they might have actually tried this, but more wondering at how they could have settled on such a small one.

      2. I know Maryville and almost went to college there. I lived for two years in a small town called Friendsville in Blount County.

    2. This is one reason Carol and I left Colorado Springs for Phoenix: The healthcare resources are just better here. Carol is a Mayo Clinic schools alumna, and understands the Mayo system very well. So it was a fairly easy choice for us, especially now that we’re in our 60s. (There is a *huge* Mayo Clinic campus here, along with much else healthcare-ish.) I have a lot of novels to write in retirement, so making the meat suit last is very much a priority.

    3. I think it wise for you to avail yourself of advanced medical services if you’re dealing with chronic illnesses. A friend of mine from the South Pacific, upon returning to the US, was bound and determined to stay on the ‘old home place’ in (very) rural Kentucky, despite the illnesses she contracted on the island and despite the fact that her folks were living in Louisville and had plenty of room. It eventually ended up killing her.

  7. Regarding the idea of government help — in many areas the people don’t want government help, particularly that of any non-local governmental body. They feel that much of their present problems arise from such prior government interference.

    Some of the unemployment has been a result of restrictions placed by the Federal government on the use of the land, on manufacture and the mandated costs of employment. It is now cheaper to harvest wood in NC and ship it to China, and then ship furniture back than it is to produce the same furniture in NC.

    1. I can’t recall the source of this, as it has been a decade or more, but I recall reading of bureaucratic frustration with North Carolina’s dwellers in the Western Mountains. It seems those demmed stiff-necked Scots-Irish descendants thought it beneath them to accept gummint hand outs and would rather do without than accept something they hadn’t earned.

      Naturally our bureaucratic overlords amelioraters of poverty couldn’t allow that to continue, so they initiated numerous programs in the schools and communities to “prove” that those f-ing rednecks benighted citizens had earned those benefits and were not only entitled to them but had a duty to accept.

      The articles I read were about government congratulating and promoting bureaucrats for the success of such efforts at stamping out dangerous strains of self-sufficiency amongst the populace.

    2. A goodly number of people also recall stories about the land grabs of the 1930s and during the creation of Great Smokey Mountains National Park (and more recent “wild and scenic rivers” takings) and are less than trusting of anything federal.

      1. The land seizures a decade earlier to create Shenandoah National Park were just as bad if not worse – although the actual seizures there were performed by the state of Virginia. Its a nasty story of deliberate deceit by the government of Virginia and ignorance and/or contempt for the citizenry on the part of several Congresses and the Coolidge, Hoover, and Roosevelt administrations.

        1. {I]gnorance and/or contempt for the citizenry“?

          If only that were all there were to it.

          1. I’ve never heard a whisper of these stories! Are they short enough to summarize here, or can you point me to a good source? So educational, stopping by here…

            1. Wikipedia and the National Park Service web site give decent overviews. The park’s visitor center has an extensive exhibit on the parks formation, and doesn’t spend much time sugar-coating things. I’ve run across some material in print books I’ve read, but can’t remember the titles off the top of my head and am not at home currently to look.

              1. Thank you! I’ll check those out. (Sorry for the delayed response– I asked, and then forgot to check back. 😳)

      2. In 1935, as part of the New Deal, the Federal government instituted an attempt at collective farming in the Blue Ridge and Appalachians. They would bring in people to work government owned farms. There experts would supervise and train them in the application of the latest modern scientific farming methods. This failed. It seemed that the people wanted to own their own land.

    3. Having lived in Appalachia for most of my life (first in rural central PA, now in east TN), I have to agree with this. As I say, the majority of people in this culture hold to a philosophy very similar to this:

      I’m not bothering anyone, it’s none of your business, leave me alone!

            1. From what I read of Dave Freer’s experiences on Flinder’s Island, yup. Save for the lack of large bodies of water, any Flinders folk that managed to find themselves around here would probably drop right in with hardly a ripple, save for accent.

        1. Yep, and the revenuers of the Carolinas would probably understand the three S’s quite well, as well.

            1. Oh, I think the revenuers probably learned to understand them just fine! At least what they mean for the revenuers. Hey, how ’bout our legislature and governor? You think they got the concealed carry thing right finally?

              1. I think so, from what I understand, still not legal to pack on a University unless you have an Enhanced permit, but otherwise you can pack most places (Post Offices, Courthouses, etc. excepted) with no permit. The way it should be.
                Not that I won’t keep my permit for use in reciprocating states, but it is nice to live in one where it isn’t necessary.

            2. I remember reading of the Navy’s light-than-air forces getting shot at by moonshiners. A portions of airship training involved free flight in balloons, and moonshiners sometimes thought large balloons marked “US Navy” and floating over the Appalachians made great targets. It happened so many times the airship crews were nervous crossing the Appalachians.

    4. Regarding the idea of government help

      All too often (IMHO), government “help” is destructive, and not constructive. If the poor, benighted recipients don’t fit a mold, they’ll be pushed into the darned mold ’cause its good for them. “Help” is done to people, as opposed to asking what they actually need. Maybe people are just fine without running water, but they really need X.

      It is now cheaper to harvest wood in NC and ship it to China, and then ship furniture back than it is to produce the same furniture in NC.

      And here I was thinking that skills training might be useful (& I was even thinking about woodworking for furniture!) …

      1. But these are government-certified experts who have the latest and greatest theories about how to make people…better. How can you possibly think that you know better than top men? Top. Men.

                    1. No, there is only one mad cow, the rest are all bulls… (well ok, Sanders might be a steer).

      2. Oh, yes.

        I live in Arkansas. Arkansas is a lumber producer. Not at the levels of Oregon and Washington, but not tiny, either. Several large companies log, saw, and manufacture plywood here.

        Despite that, no local lumber yard has any locally-produced plywood. What’s in the racks is either painted with a Canadian maple leaf or stenciled with “Product of Ukraine.”

        We make plywood seventy miles away, but the stores claim they can buy it in Ukraine and ship it here for less than they can buy local? I don’t see how they could do that even if the plywood was free in Ukraine.

        1. Ukrainian companies bribe purchasing officers for lumber yards. Maybe some perverse incentive set up by the Feds. AL produces lumber too. Where in AR are you? Hubby’s folks are from near Eldorado.

          1. Near Little Rock, at the center of the state. I’ve been to El-do-RAY-do a few times, though…

            A friend thought a town named Smackover was amusing, until I pointed out he was from a state with a town named “Bath Addition.”

      3. Designated Hero vs Designated “help.”

        The furniture thing is still possible– it’s just a luxury good, right now.

  8. One of the things I simultaneously admire and find immensely aggravating about my father is that he is one of these people who has to be doing something with his time, which is one of the reasons he’s as much of a Renaissance man as he is in terms of aptitudes and activities. I have my own talents, but the one thing I’ve never had is his drive, and I’ve struggled all my life with the conflict of simultaneously wishing I did and relieved I didn’t — maybe it’s different for him, but for me the notion of never being able to enjoy having nothing to do feels horrible.

    In a book of Chinese horoscopes I read long ago, the description of the Dog — my sign — included a line I have always kept with me: “A Dog will work hard when he has to or wants to; otherwise, he has a certain ‘lie by the fire’ kind of laziness.” I take astrology both Eastern and Western with all the grains of salt it merits, but that’s one of those coincidences when it nails its subject completely: I am not so much “lazy” as that to really get my best effort out of me, I either have to really want to do it or be convinced it’s utterly necessary (usually to the point of fright). And I wonder if perhaps that’s more broadly true than suspected — when it comes right down to it, the real motivators of effort are either deep desire or sincere fear.

    1. Oh yes, this is so much my Dad and I. He’s always doing something. And he has the knowledge to do it. Me? I’ll occasionally get a wild hair and do something (built an entertainment center and a play house), but mostly I just want to sit on the couch and relax, not have to think about things. I look at what he does and feel like a failure most days.

      1. Don’t compare yourself. It hurts you and you begin to feel worthless. Then people can push you around.

    2. I have bought two descriptions of my astrology sign.

      One, everyone–even me– says fits.
      The other, everyone– even me, usually– says is nonsense.

      My goal is to find them, fix them up pretty in a poster, and hang it on the living-room wall.

      1. Western sign is… well, ain’t it obvious? (Admittedly, mere chance) and as to if it fits, well, that’s not really for me to say as I’d read what I liked into it and all. The “Chinese zodiac” has me as goat/sheep/ram and make of that what you will. I think both systems (if they can be dignified with such a claim) say that $HOUSEMATE and I are not compatible. There might be a degree of truth in that, but what two people are 100% compatible, really?

  9. [quote]The famed “Protestant work ethic” though I always thought that was funny as obviously there is the same thing on the Catholic side (but maybe there wasn’t at one time) was a powerful driver. [/quote]

    The “Protestant Work Ethic” (at least as it was passed to me, ICBW) is that in (at least some of) the Protestant Faith(s) you are either destined to go to heaven or not. One works hard to show that one is thus worthy of the gift *probably* bestowed on you.

    So no, there was no same thing on the Catholic side, where entrance into heaven is based largely on getting forgiven for Original Sin (Baptism), not sinning further (or trying not to and being REALLY sorry when you do AND getting forgiven for them).

    [quote]Medieval peasants were in their unenviable condition because they needed the Lords to defend them in case of attack and this meant giving the lord rights to micro-manage their lives.[/quote]

    You know what goes here right? Yeah, here we go again:

    85% of all people are peasants constitutionally. Probably genetically. They may be BRILLIANT programmers, they might be talented and caring doctors. Very few fiction writers, but probably most Technical Writers. Good at their jobs, maybe even masters of their craft, but they’re *peasants*. They want someone to order the bits of their life they have no interest in. They want *someone* to give them Insurance (they are willing to pay some of it, but their master has to pay some too). They want someone to keep the bad people out of their neighborhood (now, some $RACE == “Bad”, and some $CRIMINAL==”BAD”, but in either case THEY don’t want to deal with it. Except in the middle of the night with torches and pitchforks).

    The difference is that the Lords of the City Peasants haven’t utterly failed them, they still have their ox and their fields to plow (metaphorically), while the Lords of the Appalachians have UTTERLY misunderstood what was needed and failed them.

    People don’t clammer for the boot on their neck, they just want a velvet slipper. But the boot is comfortable because they’re used to it.

    [quote]It might seem primitive to us, but it’s a highly sophisticated structure and far from natural.[/quote]

    Oh, it’s utterly natural in, er, nature, if a bit excessive in scope. Look at how the Alphas run ape and monkey “tribes”. Wild horse packs, etc.

    Poverty is normal. Sloth is normal. It’s we who work who are crazy. Absent that madness we’d all be living in caves and feasting-starving on hunted mammoth.[/quote]

    There are two types of “Poverty”, the first is “not having *quite* enough to live on over time”, or as Slade the Leveller put it “Always hungry, never starving” (because if you’re routinely “starving” you’re soon dead). Being one bad storm away from famine is not, and has not been normal for large parts of the world in a couple thousand years. Yeah, until the late 1800s it happened here and there, but it was still a *rare* event. People had the skills (usually) and the materials (again usually) to put shelter of some kind over their heads and food in their bellies. Well, our ancestors did.

    Yes, Potato Famine. Not natural. Yes, Haiti. Not natural. Yes, Ukrainian famine, unless we count “communism” as “natural”…

    The other “Poverty” is “a political term meaning people well below the normal income”, which is how you’re using it here.

    Thing is, in the second term is UTTERLY RELATIVE. Those WV Hillbillies have water, housing and clothes. Food is relatively cheap and plentiful. Yeah, it’s handouts, but tell an African Bushman that those people are poor.

    And yeah, you’re right that most people won’t fix the leaky roof because it’s raining, and when it stops, why, no need to fix the roof, it ain’t leaking anymore.

    But we *used* to have a word for those kind of folks. Well, lots of words, and we’re not allowed to use them any more.

    But if you’ll excuse me, I have to go yell at someone because I’m not getting my files delivered to the right spot and it’s not MY job to move them.

    1. I’m not sure on that interpretation of the PWE. My thinking is that “any work done well is worthy of respect” — thus the servant who works to the best of his (her — dunno, don’care) ability could be more respectable than the “Quality” who shirked his (ditto) duties to the peasants.

      This establishes a system of mutual responsibilities in which the important measure is the fulfillment of said responsibilities, not whether those responsibilities lay above or below the salt.

      Lackluster lords tended to find this measure of their merit … uncongenial.

    2. You know what goes here right? Yeah, here we go again:

      85% of all people are peasants constitutionally. Probably genetically. They may be BRILLIANT programmers, they might be talented and caring doctors. Very few fiction writers, but probably most Technical Writers. Good at their jobs, maybe even masters of their craft, but they’re *peasants*. They want someone to order the bits of their life they have no interest in.

      I suspect your definition of “peasant” and hers don’t align.

      It looks more like what those who don’t agree would call “not a control freak”– this is from someone who is frequently accused of being that, not as a pejorative. 😀

      Pretty much by definition, people aren’t interested in changing things that don’t bug them.

      Now, define the difference between “I like how it works now” and “I want someone else to order what I’m not interested in.”

      Said in a friendly way, since the internet can’t let me pass you a coffee cup of cheap wine and/or apple ale.

      1. I work in a field, and have backgrounds in two others where there is a major capital investment (aerospace) or government regulation and control (Fire/Rescue and EMS). I enjoy both of them, but there is no way I could enjoy the morass of trying to wiggle thru laws, regulations, and politics required to do any of those without the superstructure. And on the same level, without the engineers or smoke eaters the white helmets and business suit boys are worthless (or should be in a non crony environment).

        So yeah, in terms of my work I am a peasant but in terms of the rest of life…no. I’ll take care of as much as I can on my own.

    3. “So no, there was no same thing on the Catholic side, where entrance into heaven is based largely on getting forgiven for Original Sin (Baptism), not sinning further (or trying not to and being REALLY sorry when you do AND getting forgiven for them).”

      Actually that is exactly what I learned and believe as a Protestant. What you describe as the “Protestant faith” sounds like Jehovah Witness, or even kinda sorta (if you tilt your head at the right angle) Mormon theology, but that whole predestined thing might be Lutheranish, but it doesn’t fit as well with most Protestant faiths I am familiar with as your definition of Catholic theology does.

      And frankly your definition of Catholic theology would seem to fit much better with a “Protestant work ethic” than the whole, it’s predestined, so it doesn’t matter what you do, theology would.

  10. I note that all of the welfare systems are set up such that, the more you attempt to work your way off of them – the less well off you are financially. You have be well beyond a full-time minimum wage job in most cases before you actually get back to the same point you were when completely on the dole.

    Considering how long this has been the case – and how every “reform” has only made the situation worse – this disincentive is certainly by design.

    A real system to get people out of poverty (or get them back on their feet after a fall) would make their financial condition better as they worked their way off of it. That doesn’t mean perpetual welfare, at least not for most – eventually they go away, but only when the recipient is financially far more secure on their own two feet than they ever were on welfare.

    1. The best way (to my thinking) would be to reinstitute “the poor house.” Rather than paying people to do nothing, if they can’t support themselves they can apply to a public dormitory, where they’re housed with other indigents, taking their meals communally. While there, they’re obliged to work on public work crews that either do work for the government or are hired out to private businesses. Being “on the dole” should have some stigma attached.

      1. “But you are harming their self-esteem!” Yup. The problem is too much self-esteem among those who have little reason to deserve it. You want to feel good about yourself, earn it!

        1. Downside, people with no self esteem and nothing to lose tend to riot at the drop of a hat. See Chicago for details, or LA, or New York, or…

          Morality cannot be imposed. It can however be cultivated, see 19th C. New York City and the Irish for details. The Catholic Church did good work there. Work now fallen upon evil days in the same town, to be sure, but deeds live on when the doer has fallen.

          1. “Our sovereign lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God save the King.”

      2. I’m not sure on that interpretation of the PWE. My thinking is that “any work done well is worthy of respect” — thus the servant who works to the best of his (her — dunno, don’care) ability could be more respectable than the “Quality” who shirked his (ditto) duties to the peasants.

        This establishes a system of mutual responsibilities in which the important measure is the fulfillment of said responsibilities, not whether those responsibilities lay above or below the salt.

        Lackluster lords tended to find this measure of their merit … uncongenial.

        1. Ohhhh … bugger WP!!! This comment was supposed to have posted in response to richard mcenroe’s 5:14 pm comment!

          The comment that was supposed to have posted here is:

          [R]einstitute “the poor house”??!??! “Obliged to work on public work crews??!?

          Are you NUTS????!? Them’s gummint employees you’d be putting out of work! Them’s gummint union employees! Hard-working, loyal, honest, Democrat-voting gummint ‘ployees whose families you want to make starve.

          1. Word Press keeps saying “posting comment” but apparently actually freaking posting the comment is not something WP is interested in effing doing.

      3. A slightly more publicly popular option would be making boarding houses legal again– I know there’s been several actually grass-roots attempts at making community living possible that got shut down by laws writen to stamp out boarding houses. (In fairness, they were centers of crime– unmarried, young and male is kind of the gold standard for “will have higher criminal rates,” especially if they don’t have any family smacking them down.)

        Even if they just apply what I think of as the Trailer Park rule to them– “OK, you can have that, but only in THAT really bad area!”– it would be an improvement.

        1. Another plank for your platform…

          Reform tax and wage rules. No minimum wage. So a farmer (or otherwise employer) comes to one one of said boarding houses, as construction foremen used to go to the corner where the illegals hung out.

          “I need six men. Three days, working with your hands. Hard work. You’ll be fed well and paid a percentage of what we make. Takers?”

          Give folks a way to support themselves without taking from them at the same time you are giving. Or think of it another way. You get more of what you reward. Nowadays, we reward sloth and irresponsibility…

          1. Hell, stop applying rental housing standards to strawberry pickers!

            The standards they put on the housing for that are LUDICROUS.

            1. *nod* Yes, very much so. And that’s just a single tile in the whole bloody mosaic. The regs and standards for opening a simple coffee-and-muffin shop can be downright bogglingly stupid, too. Or any other of a dozen that I’m sure you can think of as well.

              The regulatory structure has gotten *far* out of hand, and needs to be nuked from orbit. We passed “killit with fire!” a ways back.

            2. George Orwell wrote of hops picking and how the net effect of laws about providing proper housing meant that all non-local workers were cut off from work they desperately needed. (Made no dent in his socialism, alas.)

    2. I note that all of the welfare systems are set up such that, the more you attempt to work your way off of them – the less well off you are financially.

      Recently looked it up– if we right now spent our savings down, our household would qualify for food stamps. (Even with all our bad luck, the only thing disqualifying us is that we’ve got about three months of Not At Fault in the bank.)

      That is ridiculous– we’re barely able to reasonably move to a new place without going into default, and mobility is a major part of getting into a better financial place. We’re talking to a veteran who is one customer complaint from being homeless, again, and if they had the money they’d go back home– but a ticket across the country and a deposit for an apartment aren’t possible for him/her.

  11. The Protestant Work Ethic is a British invention to explain why they were living in the fine houses and the Irish were mucking about in the peat moss and potatoes.

    (It certainly isn’t reflective of any Protestant ethic of the time or the original collectivist Puritan colony in America wouldn’t have nearly starved.)

    It was later imported into America with the rise of Irish immigration as a rationale for keeping the Papist layabouts down. Problem is, in America, the Protestants didn’t have the machinery in place to make it stick.

    Ironically, in a classic case of “better the lie that exalts us than ten thousand truths,” the fiction of the Protestant work ethic actually served as the spur to the development of a genuine work ethic.

    Damn, this is a large hat; wonder what else I can pull out of it?

    1. Eh, the guy who coined the term was German (Max Weber), writing what we would call a sociology of northern European culture. A long, tome in very 1800s academic German.

    2. You could argue that the work ethic ascribed to Protestants came from the idea of worldly labor as being a sacred vocation, which fits into Luther as well as Calvin (more so Calvinism over the years), but that’s getting into theology and I ain’t sticking my tail into that socket today. 🙂

  12. Item the first: It is not just the unskilled workers who economic regulation has priced out of the market.

    Item the second: The stuff coming out now about Trump suggests that Republican Oppo sorts haven’t done a really through job on him yet. His campaign manager, now in legal trouble essentially for carelessness and arrogance, worked as a police officer in New Hampshire. He probably didn’t become that way in just a few years.

    1. Yup. Look at how many colleges and universities are going all-out adjunct so they don’t have to mess with benefits, tenure, et cetera. And that have all sorts of diversity-this-n-that because of the feds, thus sucking up money that could have been used to fund faculty.

      1. This is what discourages me greatly. I know of a campus, college and all, for sale not too far from Speck in the middle of a middlin’ sized city. I used to think, “If we could crowd fund that place, put a decent staff in, we could go private and run online courses for all over the world for a pittance, and be *rolling* in money as long as the courses were practical and useful.”

        But the education-indoctrination-regulation mess goes and reasserts messy reality, and that half-dream goes away for a while.

          1. It would greatly reduce the regulatory burden, yes. But the campus is old- not European old, but about a century give or take (or maybe more, for some of the post-Revolutionary buildings). The city wants it to fit their building code, which is… not well connected with reality, given the state that it’s in. To be fair, it’s not all the city’s fault, state has its own dirty fingers in the pie.

            For the college credits to be transferrable, I gather some other things need to be in place (been a bit since I researched this, so fair warning, I could be wrong as all heck).

            The idea hasn’t gotten much traction in the last few years is the big discouragement. On the upside though, the city is going to have to step in and pay for at least part of the upkeep. The college was put up for sale when the administration missed a payment, according to the papers. From what I know of, there were deeper funding issues than just *one* missed payment- you don’t shut down a client as large as this private, formerly exclusive all-girls university, just for that.

            So yes, going private is a big help, but finding people interested enough and with *money* enough is the issue. It’s not impossible, just very difficult. *chuckle* Apologies if that seemed too downer- I am trying to be realistic, too. *grin*

            1. At the moment I’ve been thinking that a youtube series could be made that could partly remedy the public education deficiencies that are otherwise further choking off the STEM supply pipeline. (I think the STEM fad is partly because of a decline in other fields. I think the ‘diversity’ push accompanying the fad could be harmful.)

          2. What the college is selling is its degree certificates. In order for anyone to recognize those certificates, the colleges have to subject themselves to endless Federal and state regulation and be recognized members of at least one college association.

            Remember, it’s not about the education, it’s about the accreditation.

            1. Yes. I have a BS in Aeronautical Engineering and an MS in Aerospace Engineering. My BS was at a small school that had just started its program up, but they were tough on students and made sure that we had our ducks in a row. We did get accredited by both the regional and national orgs but could barely get an interview. Graduate with an MS from a top 5 and I’m hired on the first interview. And what got me the job was what I had learned in UG.

    2. His campaign manager, now in legal trouble essentially for carelessness and arrogance

      He’s on video laying hands on a woman, and there’s video evidence it resulted in bruises.

      Right now, in San Fran, there’s an investigation going on because there was video supposedly of a female college employee grabbing the arm of a guy she was harassing for wearing dreds while the wrong race. (turns out she’s not an employee, so it will probably blow over)

      Grabbing someone is NOT “careless” or plain old “arrogant.” It’s getting physical.
      A teacher who does it is in trouble– a cop who does it? Dear Lord!

      1. I despise the guy, but on the other hand, having watched the video I see nothing wrong with what he did (it is a rather poor survelliance video, that almost, possibly, looks edited, so I’m not saying he didn’t do anything wrong, simply that I can’t see it in the video). On the gripping hand, regardless of what I think is wrong or right, by the LAWS AS WRITTEN, he plainly committed an illegal act. It doesn’t matter whether I think it should be illegal or not, the fact is that it is illegal to TOUCH some one, intentionally, without their consent. He is plainly on video, doing so.

        1. Moreover, the appropriate response is “O’m so very sorry.” not “The crazy 8itch is making 5hit up!” much less the current “She was asking for it.”

          1. Yeah. If apologies had been made right away, nothing would have happened. Maybe even if the Trump supporters on twitter weren’t saying “press charges or it didn’t happen” charges wouldn’t have been pressed. If Trump had offered some brief interview time as an apology, Fields might have happily accepted it.

            She was working for Breitbart, and the Trump campaign apparently tried to pressure her through her employer.

        2. If I am summarizing it correctly, you agree he illegally (per on paper) laid hands on a person, but disagree that such action should be illegal?

          (Zero zip zilch judgment involved in statement.)

            1. Cross-commenting—
              I think it is illegal, but only in some expressions, and then it only gets applied if folks press the issue.

              He, reasonably,should have known that it was illegal *AND* that the issue would be pressed if he GRABBED A WOMAN he was not intimately familiar with to make her do what he wished her to do.

              His crime is more “expressing intimacy with those with whom he has no right” than “violent physical assault,” but the consequence is very much in his own yard.

              1. Unless I wasn’t clear, yes what he did was illegal.

                Also he is an idiot, which isn’t illegal, although his idiocy is likely to both cause him to do illegal things and to open his mouth and exacerbate the problem, afterwards.

            2. I think it has more to do with the harm being trivial — but the courts have enough problems without attempting to decide what level of contact is hurtful — and the only alternative is to say any contact to which the recipient objects. Physical “contact” constitutes a bright line amenable to the justice system.

              And beyond doubt, acknowledging the contact and apologizing is the appropriate response and should generally insulate against charges being brought.

              Thus we see in practice the problems of bringing to court that which ought be handled informally.

          1. I’m tempted to joke that ‘gender is a social construct’ and that ‘no level of force that is social for a 320 pound six foot four brawler should be out of bounds for anyone’.

            1. I get the joke, and kinda support it, but I’ve been on the receiving end of too many folks with no dang-blasted SENSE to support it fully.

              I value my time playing soccer with Marines who didn’t notice I’m five and a sneeze as well as a girl; I’d MFing kill somebody who assumed the same liberty without the same assurance of protection (I never, ever, ever doubted my Marines would want me safe, even if they had to kill someone to keep J. Random Classmate intact) in their interactions with me.

              1. I often dislike touching or being touched, and the minimum level of human contact I’d be comfortable with would probably drive a lot of people bonkers.

                The ‘signed notarized consent before every sexual activity’ level of legal intervention into social matters wouldn’t actually impact my life.

                What’s fine for me isn’t necessarily good for society. I think there’s room for reasonable men to differ about what the law should be.

                That said, I would prefer to discourage men from getting carelessly physical with women. If that makes me a misogynist, so be it.

        3. With judgment involved, if from a funky angle:

          Getting physical is taking a risk.

          The guy wrongly judged that it was a good risk to take.

          In my judgment, he assumed that he to assume that privilege and not be rebuffed; I had a situation where someone hit my car with such force that I later checked for a dent on a similar assumption.

          In the case with me, he followed up with an attack that (though legally flawed) was aggressive and persuasive enough to get the result he desired in the short-term and did not result in long term complications.

          In the case with the reporter, he (wrongly) assumed that his highly physical reaction would not be rebuffed.

          In my judgment, he was a raving freaking moron to make that assumption; to judge where my metrics lie, I think the same of any adult human who has sex in, say, a standard issue college situation.


          I am a small, adult female in Seattle. I think twice before I actually physically touch someone’s shoulder, even if I’ve already said something to you, and even if you have actually invaded MY legally protected space.

          1. Which, since he was a cop, suggests there may have been incidents in that part of his career.

            1. Depends heavily on the assumptions invoked.

              Any cop that *I* knew, that used that kind of involvement?

              On film?

              Would have a record we’d be referring back to, not guesses.

              Contrast with the cop in Seattle that was in the middle of a violent mob, got grabbed, and responded to it– he was cleared, but it took criminal investigation.


              1. I can think of one, and only one, justifiable reason for grabbing someone like that: if you were acting in self-defense or in defense of others. In other words, if he had a reasonable belief that Fields was reaching for a weapon, or about to attack him or Trump, he would have been justified in grabbing her arm to stop her from attacking. Basically, something like what happened with your “talk to the hand” incident: you perceived an attack, responded to it with force*, and neutralized the perceived attack. The incident was investigated, and you were cleared.

                Which is not what happened here. But if he had said, “I apologize for grabbing her; I thought she was about to punch me and reacted accordingly,” then I don’t think she would have pressed charges. But the “She made the whole thing up” nonsense? Yeah, that was the WRONG way to react.

                * Just enough force to counter the perceived attack, which I’m sure helped in the later investigation.

      2. A sensible campaign would’ve been better at selecting senior staff for self restraint. A sensible campaign would have replaced the staff member who had done such a thing. A prosecutor might show leniency if someone isn’t showing no remorse while thumbing their nose and saying “you can’t touch me, because soon I’ll be in the White House”.

        1. Honestly, the biggest thing that bugs me with the whole Trump thing?

          The feeling that he would change his behavior based on if he thought I was armed or not.

          That scares me to bits.

          My dad? Unless he thinks you’re an immediate violent threat, he won’t change his behavior. He does what he thinks is RIGHT.

          Trump? I think his people would RADICALLY change based on if he thinks I’m armed.

  13. Lately in reading their stuff it’s all about power couples and marrying intelligent people and – bah. They wouldn’t know intelligent people if one bit them in the arse.

    Marring intelligent people, and then– what? Failing to have kids?

    You know, generally people who are so stupid they self-sabotage into not being able to reproduce are the butt of jokes, not the shining light of brilliance.




    (Please note, for those who are childless through no fault of their own– be it any stage of infertility, being single, what-have-you; this pretty clearly ain’t you. There was a time, incidentally before I ever visited Sarah’s, when I was quite sure we’d never be able to have kids barring extreme immorality or adoption. I don’t think someone is deliberately childless unless they brag about it– and sometimes not even then, depending on who they seem to be trying to persuade. Sour grapes, the deeply painful version.)

    1. I truly despise the anti-‘breeder’ propaganda in SF these days. All the ‘smart’ couples not having children, all the single mothers suffering from Motherhood, all the ‘Ozzie and Harriet Are Satan’ tropes. Gah!

      Just more of the ‘humans are a disease’ crap from the enviro-Left.

      1. Some people would absolutely not vote for a prolific breeder such as Romney. Only someone clueless or evil would have FIVE children.

        1. Absolutely true. And that attitude did not come to be so common accidentally. Took them since the late 1960’s to make that one stick.

            1. I recently found out via she-whose-only-flaw-is-keeping-me-on-facebook that he really is at least willfully ignorant, not just “didn’t know”– one of his prime examples was India.

              Here’s a quote from a site that’s a LOT more generous with the blanker than I would be.

              Borlaug was inspired into defining a mission for his life: to spread the benefits of high-yield farming to the many nations where crop failures on the scale of the Dust Bowl were a basic fact of life.

              In 1964, India was reeling from the death of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India. The world watched anxiously to see how the fledgling democracy would handle this crisis of political succession. However, there was an ever greater crisis looming on the horizon–Nehru had tried to fashion India’s centralized economy by focusing almost exclusively on heavy industry, while seemingly intractable problems of food shortages and famines had arisen to plague the agriculture sector.

              Two consecutive droughts in 1966 and 1967 threatened to bring on famine on a massive scale. The new prime minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri, inherited a country on the brink of a human catastrophe. These developments seemed to confirm the worst fears of biologist Paul Ehrlich, who famously wrote in The Population Bomb, his 1968 bestseller: “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” and “In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Ehrlich also said, “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971.” He insisted that “India couldn’t possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980.”

              Little did Ehrlich know that Borlaug and his team were already engaged in the kind of ‘crash program’ he had declared would never work. Working in Mexico, they had developed a special breed of dwarf wheat that resisted a wide spectrum of plant pests and diseases and produced two to three times more grain than the traditional varieties.

              The Population Bomb was a ’68 best seller.

            2. and Rachel Carson got DDT banned on totally bogus evidence. Think of all the malaria induced misery that could have been avoided if they continued using DDT.

              What about the people who tale their political and health advice from celebrities. All the anti-vaxx people.

              1. Yup, lots of people who deserve to rot in hell. I’d even be willing to send a couple there myself should circumstances fluctuate

              2. Perhaps in Heaven such as Paul and Rachel will have to wait upon those whose lives they’ve spoiled.

      2. A good deal of that seems to stem from the hatred of motherhood that came from radical feminism.

        If you’re willing to dive into the article, it’s actually quite illuminating at how incredibly broken and damaged and stomach-churningly bitter the leading lights of feminism were.

        Meanwhile, “Dialectic” was stoking a small revolution at the Morrow offices. The female employees began asking questions: Why were all the secretaries and publicists women? Why were the few female editors underpaid? “We started having lunchtime meetings behind closed doors,” Sara Pyle, an assistant in the publicity department at the time, told me. “We all stopped wearing our little heels and skirts.” What made the women at Morrow “go a bit nuts,” Pyle said, was the book’s unvarnished radicalism. “Firestone took Marx further and put women in the picture,” she said. “This was our oppression, all laid out.” And not just women’s oppression. The book’s longest chapter, “Down with Childhood,” chronicled the ways that children’s lives had become constrained and regulated in modern society. “With the increase and exaggeration of children’s dependence, woman’s bondage to motherhood was also extended to its limits,” Firestone wrote. “Women and children were now in the same lousy boat.” The argument drew the appreciation of one notable feminist, which must have pleased Firestone. Simone de Beauvoir told Ms. that only Firestone “has suggested something new,” noting how the book “associates Women’s Liberation with children’s liberation.”

        Notably Firestone had intense father-issues, but seemed to take it out on her mother instead of her father.

        In 1977, Sol and Kate Firestone announced that they were moving to Israel, and Shulamith flew to St. Louis to collect her paintings from the house. “Shulie and my father got into it again,” Laya said, and Sol threatened to cut her out of his will. Some weeks later, he received a certified letter from Shulamith, disowning him first. Laya and Tirzah still have copies of a letter that their sister sent at the same time, to Kate. It was titled “Last Letter to My Mother” and finished with a jeremiad:

        When I see that in the final analysis, you are his, not His (let alone Hers); that you will let your loyalty to Sol (or even to his death), rule you (to the bitter end); that you have never made a serious attempt to govern your own life, (seizing it if necessary) but instead choose to go down with him (complaining all the way)—then . . . I can afford no pity for the maternal sufferings you (continue to) bring on yourself.

        Be grateful that you will not have the madness of this daughter as well to atone, for hereby I DISSOLVE MY TIES OF BLOOD.

        Sol died, of congestive heart failure, in 1981, at the age of sixty-five. (Kate, who has Alzheimer’s, still lives in Israel.) Laya had to send friends to Shulamith’s apartment to get her to call, and, when she finally did, she was “ranting delusional stuff about how we were all part of a big conspiracy.” Tirzah told me, “It was when our father died that Shulie went into psychosis. She lost that ballast he somehow provided.”

        Seriously, the whole article is particularly enlightening on how ‘temperamental’ (emphasis on ‘temper’ and ‘mental’) the whole feminist movement was. Notably, the section on ‘trashing.’

        Gee, whose tactics are those which we recognize being used against their own today?

    2. Back in the LJ days era, I got convos from friends that it’d be nice if Rhys and I would have lots of kids, since we’d raise them with the good old fashioned mindsets and work ethics. I dryly replied, sure, gladly, but are you willing to help fund the part about ‘raising them’ because at the time, Rhys was still just fresh out of Basic, and there was no way we were going to be able to raise half a dozen kiddlywinks on that salary.

      And even if we managed to do the get-a-farm-support the kids that way, there’s the whole issue of getting the farm in the first place…

      1. *nod* That’s the sane-responsible side; “we cannot afford to have a lot of kids now, so we will practice self-control.”

        The insane-responsible are…well, to steal from someone a few weeks back here: “there’s a term for people who wait for the PERFECT time to have kids: childless.”

        1. I wouldn’t have minded having more children with smaller gaps between them, instead of the near-decade between the two surviving ones, and the very much likely to be a decade between Vincent, and the next bub we’ll try for.

          Got an unexpected compliment from Aff recently, where he’d gone to fix something at someone else’s house, where he said he was so glad that we were raising the kids the way Rhys and I were, because there was a little girl there, younger than Vincent, bitching at her mother that she had better get the next iPhone upgrade, or everyone would laugh at her in school.

          “If that was my kid, I would have taken her bloody iPhone away and crushed it under my foot. Goddamn, what’s wrong with kids these days?”

          Talk about being horrified at the realisation that that kind of entitlement is ‘normal kid’ these days. Yegads.

          1. Took the kids to an egg hunt.

            A lot of those kids were behaving worse in public, at an older age, than we scold our kids for behaving in private.

            1. Parent’s primary job is to civilize the little barbarians they bring into the world. Many, if not most, modern parents are failing their primary task. Of course a big reason is all the HELP they receive from the government, public schools and the all pervasive media.

              1. I gotta say, I got a kick out of some of the community “civilizers.”

                Unstated Group grandparents were grabbing the big kids who’d run up and gone all rabid dog on the eggs, taking their bags, dumping them into boxes and giving the eggs to the little kids who had maybe one or two.

                Note, for those going all indignant: the rabid dog kids had broken the rules about letting the 6-and-under kids go first, and in several cases were actually taking eggs from the Littles– in one case taking it out of a four year old girl’s hand. The grandparents were watching this and those were the ones they targeted.

                There were LOTS of eggs, and they got their candy, they just didn’t get to glory in “look at the garbage bag of eggs I grabbed.”

                1. I’ve always hated the old phrase “easy as stealing candy from a baby” Sounds like the rabid dog kids checking the phrase’s verity.

            2. I remember seeing stuff like that. My siblings and I were horrified to see ‘older’ children behave like that and were embarrassed by the display of gross immaturity. My youngest brother, being, well, very young, said as much to my Dad, who simply said, “Then you know how not to behave.”

              As a shaming tactic though, our presence worked a treat for the beleaguered parent in question. “Aren’t you ashamed of showing that German children aren’t capable of being more behaved and disciplined than those younger Auslander kinder over there? You’re an embarrassment to Germans!”

              The boy stopped screaming but it took a while for him to get to just ‘red-faced sullen glare’ in our direction.

              But this was in an age where being seen as mature and capable was seen by children as a desirable thing.

              1. But this was in an age where being seen as mature and capable was seen by children as a desirable thing.

                We can do something about this.

                I can and will inform kids who are Behaving Badly and are functionally unaccompanied (not the case with the Easter Egg kids) why what they’re doing is wrong, and I’ll act like it’s wrong… And then I will drop it. Just stop, and ignore the rest.
                That seems to make it work better, and hits the “it’s wrong” rather than “that mean lady is wrong” response.

              2. Example:
                “(Neighbor boy), is making a girl cry the kind of thing you should be doing? She’s not even old enough for school. Of course she cries when you say mean things to her.”
                (He was saying the truth, but in a way to cause pain. He hasn’t done it since. Obviously, he’s a decent kid or he wouldn’t be in my yard in the first place, but– heaven’s sakes, he’s 8 and goes to a “good” but public school, and he’s a boy. Of course our two big girls will have some clashes, especially because they dang near worship him.)

                  1. Weber’s been saying for some years that kids want boundaries. That sometimes when kids test rules, they do so because they want to know that someone will care enough to enforce the rules.

              1. I saw news articles about that.

                Similar thing, but without the grandparents (literal and otherwise) there and authorized to do something.

                Was a public egg hunt, in the news article I saw; so nobody had authority to go “no.”
                So parents tried to exercise authority.’
                And that ran into folks who…did not agree with them.

              1. I did scroll down to check if someone else had already mentioned that story, but apparently I didn’t scroll down far enough. Ah well.

                  1. I did Ctrl-F, but not on this page. I also see that it wouldn’t have helped anyway; I checked for anyone else having posted it, then went and spent 20 minutes hunting for the best link. (The original NBC story had auto-play video. Nuts to that!) Then another five minutes writing up the story, for a total of 25 minutes between when I searched and when I posted. And someone posted 22 minutes before I did.

              2. Cautionary impulse:
                just because the news says it, doesn’t mean it’s true; I got in trouble for “fighting’ in the Navy– when someone did the “talk to the hand” movement (from her view) and I responded to someone smacking a palm a quarter-inch from my nose (from my view).

                Note– it was a simple wrist-block with a twist to the side and I jumped away, at no point did I have any kind of control to cause them harm. The only outrage came from them thinking “I’m just SAYING talk to the hand” and my interpreting “PALM STRIKE TO NOSE, RED ALERT RED ALERT RED ALERT!”

                1. … just because the news says it, doesn’t mean it’s true …

                  True enough, but the Daily Mail version of the story has quotes from a high-ranking official of the company (Pez) that organized the hunt in question, confirming the story. I checked Pez’s website, and they have no statements up; if the story were false, I would expect them to have put up a “This widely-spread news story is false, and our employee never said what he is alleged to have said” statement up pretty quickly.

                  Not that the story is actually damaging to them as a company; other than “They weren’t expecting parents to get out of control and weren’t prepared to handle that situation,” they were not at fault, from all I can see.

                  Anyway, pretty sure this story is true; but your reminder of the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect is well-taken. Thanks.

                  1. I don’t think I’m saying it quite right… I’m not trying to say the story is false as in didn’t happen, but rather that the interpretation of events may not line up with how you would interpret it if you were there and watching.

                    Going back, because I know with absolute certainty that there was zero “fight” involved on the “aggressors” side, to my military fight– the objective facts were that I initiated physical contact, displayed knowledge of combat and was physically able to cause dire harm.

                    When I can say, with absolute certainty, that the thought process was more like “HOLY FREAKING CRAP MY NOSE BONE DOES NOT BELONG INSIDE OF MY BRAIN!!!” *block* *jump backwards*

                    For the Pez story, I’d guess that the process was a mini tragedy of the commons– some parents go “for heaven’s sakes, they’re kids, let the go about a bit,” a few waves of kids go about getting the close eggs, some parents notice there are now NO eggs around, some one goes about getting eggs for someone that should have eggs, a few more rounds, then chaos.

              3. A generation or two back, my uncle got in trouble because he talked like a rural Oregon guy– “Boy” is any unmarried male not in authority position– to a deep south guy– “boy” was either a male child under 13 or a statement of deep disrespect based on race.

                During Vietnam.

                The only reason he didn’t get in serious trouble was because he could cite MULTIPLE uncles– and gave phone numbers– who were still “boys” at 40+.

            3. Well…when you have parents instigating a mini-riot at (IIRC) the WH Easter Egg Hunt you see where it comes from. Or just work emergency response in any suburban area. Typically the least critical make the biggest scene.

      2. Amusingly, hubs recently went through a head-wall-bang thing because of the disconnect between what we think we really need, and what some friends we have think is absolute bedrock needed.

        Even when I wasn’t a housewife, the stuff they do was ridiculous.

        1. *chuckle* I still have conversations with Aff, because he’ll occasionally puzzle over why I need this thing for the kitchen, or a supply of that other thing in the pantry. To be fair, it’s because he’ll forget that I manage more than just the computers – but at the same time not forget. It’s weird to have him ask about something he thought he’d asked me about, but hadn’t, yet have the strange certainty I should know this piece of data (for example, a password for something that he’d set from before I’d even met him.)

          Rhys at least gets why I do things a certain way – things run smoother.

        2. My aunt (public school teacher) once asked why my parents were not taking my siblings out of private school so they could buy him a horse. There is a reason I tend to try and work when we have family get togethers…

          1. Was anyone blunt enough to tell her, “because we don’t want you teaching him,” ?

            1. I was not at this one. Kinda just a shock reaction as I understand. Recognition that they had lost touch with reality. My father and I are not supposed to talk and often I make plans to work over the weekend and they then decide to schedule the get together while I’m working.

      3. Hey Shadow, is your email fixed? I’ve got something you might like to read.

      4. Well, I suspect that I’m not going to be having kids, based on the way my life is going, so give me a few years and get back to me on that.

    3. Some people are childless by choice because they feel that they would be ‘orrible parents. With a smidgen of medical uncertainty as to the ability to conceive.

        1. Never Ever!! Children are good and necessary for civilization to go on. They just aren’t for us. Also we were 40 when we married. Having a 1st child at 40+ is risky. There is an obverse to Anti-breeders. People who think that absolutely everyone should have children. My GP in AL was like that. It’s made it a sore point with me. People are not widgets! It’s a good thing when people are different. Everybody shouldn’t be just like your cousin Ruth.

          1. 20 years past peak childbearing is pretty dang different. 😀

            I know there are folks– a LOT of people, my age even– who’d chop off their dominant arm to be able to have a kid. I desperately, desperately don’t want to hurt them.

            I know there are folks who on wise and prudent judgement decided they’re not going to have kids, be X really good reason.

            Sadly, both of them combined don’t come close to the “We’re not having kids, and you’re a moron for even considering it” folks, even minus the ones I think are sour grapes.

            1. Well at 60+ and single, I’d have a hard time finding a woman who’d “put up with me” to marry. Finding a woman young enough to have children and willing to “put up with me” would be even harder. 😉

              1. If you won the lottery, you might be surprised.

                On the other hand, any woman who was willing to put up with me, would be deeply suspect. 🙂

        1. Do you think we should become parents because we are better than welfare and drug abusing filth that many children get? Yes you might be right. However I know for a fact that my hubby is allergic to children. If somehow I’d conceived and bore a child he would’ve helped helped me raise it.

          However I don’t like it , if when I say I don’t want to do something because I’d be bad at it, that someone else says:
          “You’ll be better at it than some other people would be”.
          It doesn’t matter whether I would be a better parent or not parent. My and hubby’s choice was to not be parents. Since we have only met on the internet, I highly doubt that you know us well enough to all the factors that went into that decision.

          1. I can lament a sad fact of life without wanting to push people to change their choices.

            I mean think about how that would play out: Out of numerous couples who currently make that choice, there would be some who, if they were pressured into changing their minds, would (either consciously or unconsciously) become worse parents than they would if they suddenly became parents by happenstance, simply because they were pressured. I certainly wouldn’t want to cause that.

            Note also that I don’t think you and your husband would do that – I’m just pointing out a statistical probability. I believe that you would do your level best to do as good a job as you could.

            But no, I don’t think you should change your decisions. I was merely pointing out that there is a fairly large contingent of people who would make better parents than they think they would. I did not intend to ruffle any feathers.

  14. Over my time on this Earth I have been given to understand that I am Doing It Wrong. No matter what job, no matter what place, I’m Doing It Wrong.

    An objective outside reality check reveals the things I make work properly and don’t fall apart, the patients I treated got better, the things I sold stayed sold, with happy customers. But at the time, I was Wrong, Wrong, Wrong.

    From this I conclude I understand nothing regarding Humanity. I am weird.

    However, one thing I’ve noticed in all my endeavors, is that if something isn’t working, results usually improve if you stop doing it. Something else I’ve noticed is when you work somewhere, and there is something blatantly not working, and they keep doing it anyway no matter what anyone says… somebody is making money out of it. Maybe not the company, but somebody.

    Car loans, for example. They give car loans to -anybody- these days. Your dog can get a car loan. This is a problem because the ones that default raise the costs for the rest of us who pay. But if you’re a loan manager at a bank, your boss is screaming at you to write loans to dogs, which you know to be a wrong thing. The smart thing would be to fire that boss guy, but they never do. They fire YOU instead, and hire some schmuck who writes loans to dogs a mile a minute.

    So, why do banks give loans to people they know are not going to pay?

    Because there are things called Asset Backed Securities, which take all the car loans, cut them into little pieces and pay a dividend. The ones that blew up in 2008 were the mortgage backed securities, so now they have ones based on automobile loans. No doubt also personal loans, credit cards, all kinds of debt. The may even be an ABS made of little pieces of other ABS’s. Stupendous amounts of money are changing hands based on loans which will never be paid.

    That’s why.

    So why is there poverty in Appalachia? Welfare, obviously. Why do we still have welfare in Appalachia (or Chicago!) despite the OBVIOUS bad results? Because somebody out there has some scam like an asset backed security that benefits from bad loans, is why. Except they benefit from other people’s continuing poverty. What that scam might be I don’t know, but whenever I see something that big staying that stuck for that long, there’s a scam.

    What would fix it? A tax cut, probably. The thing keeping all this stuck is government, less of it would probably work quite nicely. See anybody out there running on a tax cut? Nope. Because that’s what keeps the scam stuck, isn’t it? Tax dollars.

    Nobody gives a shit about poor people, not really. Not even the poor people themselves. If they did, this wouldn’t be happening. They’d fix it themselves.

    1. Government bureaucracies. They are formed to solve a problem. But, due to Pournelle’s Iron Law, they must preserve and grow the problem. Bureaucracies are like cancer. They just keep growing until excised or the host dies.

    2. The reason that we have “Asset Backed Securities” to paper over those car loans to dogs is because the Consumer Financial Protection Board thinks that any “disparate impact” in rates of car loans issued is proof of racist discrimination and will use that proof to cost the loan issuing financial institutions more in legal fees than it is worth to not write bad loans based on established poor credit risk factors.

      Basic rule of government naming is that an agency will do the opposite of what its name claims it is supposed to be ding.

    3. See anybody out there running on a tax cut?
      Yes — Ted Cruz. Check out his 10% (15 for businesses) flat tax proposal.

  15. Because as has been pointed out on this blog, there will always be need for the kind of mind that thrives on detailed, repetitive work, and which really really really doesn’t want to speculate about the causes of the Spanish-American war or read about Elizabethan England.

    You mean like being a waitress or other “service person”?

    My sister is not dumb, but she’s not intellectual— and she absolutely thrives off of various service-type jobs. If I could, I’d set her up as the hostess for a high-class townhouse– she’d be perfect for watching what kids were trouble, what kids really did live there, who really did lose their key, etc. But the labor laws mean that the job she’s utterly perfect for (house mother on a gated community, etc) not only doesn’t exist, it’s not legal.

    1. I feel the need to point out that I couldn’t do the “running a coffee stand” type job– not because it’s beneath me, but because it requires a kind of people skill I just don’t have. I’ll remember faces, usually, but these ladies remember drinks, how many kids I have, that we moved six months ago, that the kids are home-schooled and they can tell someone who will answer over-personal questions from someone who will blow up and never come again. (Even if I’m mildly offended at the “are you done having kids yet?” type questions, I’ll answer the question, and I’ll come back if the place is good; a lot of folks won’t, but these folks tend to not screw up and confuse the two groups. I’d never manage that.)

    2. When we lived in Paris, the apartments there tended to have a manager. The manager would get an apartment (I don’t know if for free or reduced cost) at the ground floor, where s/he and family would live. What you describe as not legal was pretty much her job.

      That said, I kinda want to watch Sherlock again now…

  16. Okay, do an experiment with your toddler: offer them a food they like well enough but aren’t crazy about – say eggs – and tell them they can have chocolate cake instead if they clean their room to your satisfaction.

    Sure they’ll take the bait SOMETIMES, but most of the time they’ll shrug and have the egg.

    We’re training the kids with a variation of this– the trick is that you have to PAY ATTENTION to the specific kid, and the bait has to be just tempting enough to overwhelm the immediate satisfaction.

    And by God you’d better always come through, or you’ll break them.

    I’ve failed once or twice, and “fixed” it by very serious apologies and immediate payment with interest. Part of why immediate is more interesting than delayed is that long term might not ever show up, and then you lost everything.

    This, incidentally, is basically why the middle east– and a whole lot of the rest of the world– sucks rotten eggs.
    There is no reason to build strong walls when you might not be in them tomorrow, because someone stronger went “hey, nice walls. I like them. You’re dead.”
    There’s no reason to improve an area– spending your time and labor and resources– when it’s significantly likely that it will be taken from you, rather than that you’ll benefit.

    Rules that don’t change quickly are very, very important. They encourage commitment for at least as long as the rules will last.

    And yes, this does apply to the interactions between the sexes, and no, I don’t want to hear about it for the 4kth time.

    1. Every house Arabia, it seems, are inside walled compounds. Definitely NOT a trust culture.

      1. Well, yeah. Can’t have rapey uncivilized male eyes see the uncovered womenfolk after all. Or else the women and girls are raped and then they’ve got to be executed for adultery because the walls aren’t high enough for them to have ‘a safe space’ to be outside their abayas.

        *grim smile* I am fully aware that the SJwhiners are wholly incapable of seeing what I just did there.

            1. I’m disappointed in you Shadow, you passed up that perfectly good opportunity. If I didn’t know better, I would think you were growing up. 😉

                1. Perhaps it isn’t that you’re shrinking but that the universe is expanding and you’re just not keeping up?

                2. Were you measuring yourself in the morning or evening? ISTR that people measure 1/2″ to 1″ shorter in evening due to spinal compression over the course of the day.

            2. Well, that’s sexist. You need separate-but-equal train cars and facilities for all eleventy cis-whatevers.

              You White Male Patriarchs just don’t understand sexism and microaggressions…

              1. “You White Male Patriarchs just don’t understand sexism and microaggressions…” – TRX

                And I’m just awfully glad that I don’t, too. *ducks*

              2. Just the cis-whatevers? What about the ever increasing trans community (which is getting downright silly in expanding its borders).

          1. I didn’t think the Middle East went for that kinda thing…oh! you mean trains like Biden.

            1. The Germans are (discussing?) adding a females-only car to their trains, to help keep them safe.

              1. Ya. I remembered that after my first thought. More ‘safe spaces’ and segregation vs allowing people to actually protect themselves or dealing with troublemakers.

              2. They already have them (“ladies only” trains) in India, in the extremely-busy Mumbai commuter system. Keeps the gals from getting pawed in the crush, apparently.

                1. Same reason why they have the ladies only train car in Japan, and in the Philippines. The female-only cars tend to get used more though, by women with young children/babies and elderly who would otherwise get crushed during rush hour. Also, those with prams.

    2. There’s no reason to improve an area– [SNIP] – when it’s significantly likely that it will be taken from you, rather than that you’ll benefit.

      I feel like watching <IThe Magnificent Seven again. Or maybe The Seven Samurai. Maybe both.

            1. There are a lot of us who will, for giggles, deliberately ignore subtle cues if it makes for entertaining teasing, discussion or argument. Or maybe that is just me. Not to mention if we haven’t had enough sleep.

              1. Heh heh. I was hoping the pure, unadulterated idiocy of that remark, plus the comment responding to was enough… *Registers Bob for the camps*

      1. What? No Battle Beyond the Stars? Johnboy Walton, a farmer from the planet Akira collects 7 heros to save his planet. Robert Vaughn even reprised his role from the magnificent 7. Oh, and the big boob spaceship. 🙂

        1. Starbrat by John Morressy had an episode where a farming world was looking for somebody to protect their world from Space Pirates and got seven heroes to help them out. 😉

  17. The famed “Protestant work ethic” though I always thought that was funny as obviously there is the same thing on the Catholic side (but maybe there wasn’t at one time) was a powerful driver.

    I think it’s attributing to religion what is actually from culture– the English are… well, English. And the Witch Hunts in history seem to be 90% cultural (largely the German area) not anything much to do with religion, since it continues through the religious changes. (although religion can dampen it, if they’ve got enough respect and stamp hard enough)

    1. I certainly never thought that it showed in Filipino culture either. One of the ways that the friars abusively controlled the Filipino people was through fear that they, if they were excommunicated, would not be able to have the priests absolve their sins, and thus they’d be damned to hellfire. And also the whole concept that if you did any of the deadly sins – as well as any perceived or declared sin by the friars – you’d end up in hell unless the friars and priests absolved you said sin.

      (Aside: gee, what group these days can we see rather horrific similarities to that which I described above?)

      So you had people working hard to buy indulgences, but at the same time there’d be the average Filipino who just concentrated on the reality that well, food needs to be put on the table and its’ better to get the farming done before it gets too hot.

  18. Some truths about Appalachia, from someone who lives there. (Manchester, KY)

    1. Urban vs. Rural perceptions (distances). It’s amazing how many urbanites think that, because there are no businesses within a few miles, that it’s some kind of wasteland – yet they think nothing of hour-long commutes and shopping trips in totally-urban areas.
    What’s the difference between crossing through an hour’s worth of 25-35 MPH traffic, stop and go, to a job or shopping – and driving 55-70 MPH for an hour (or much faster)? In many cases, the destinates for both are the same, located near the interstate exits.
    Similarly, I have had urbanites think I’m crazy to go to the next county over to buy groceries, or to go to a movie – when they take longer to go a much shorter distance, to do the EXACT same thing in their concrete jungle.
    Some of them are learning – in some cases those that married a local. IF you’re going to spend 45 minutes to drive to work and back, each way, in Lexington, wouldn’t living in Mount Vernon or even London be better, where the travel time is the same, local activities cost 20-50% less, and you can own several acres and a 1500 square foot house for 1/4 (if not 1/10!) of what you’d pay for a Lexington or suburban townhouse or condo half the size? Some people commute 90-100 miles each way from here, and still have a cost of living (including the car wear and fuel) half of what they’d have living in the city they work in (and of course can still shop there before heading home), though the ones that work in the Knoxville, TN area got bit recently by the landslide closing I-75 on the large mountain just south of the state line.
    You can go deeper into the mountains, but even then, you’ll rarely get further away in travel time from most amenities than many urban residents are from the same – the biggest hassle is, in fact, the mountains themselves making cross-connecting roads (and therefore, alternate routes) rare, and cell phone & satellite signals hard to come by due to their blocking line of sight. The main thing one misses are sidewalks – especially when you’re a driver having to pass a pedestrian on a rural road.

    2. The primary forms of crime around here are various forms of welfare fraud (including food stamps), and drug-related (mostly pot-growing, meth-making, and prescription pills). The latter often ties into the former, as the people getting welfare through subterfuge often are getting prescription meds through the same, or became disabled through drug use. Food stamp fraud is not the “non-existent” (according to the people who claim fraud doesn’t exist at all) people wrongly getting Food Stamps, but instead people who get them legitimately trading their value for drugs, or cash to get drugs (or pay other bills).
    That said, people will go out of their way to help each other – even more so if you hook yourself that is the support net that is a local church. My mom’s coworkers would take up collections at the drop of a hat, if someone was sick (or dealing with a critically ill family member), having a child (and sometimes grandchidren), having a funeral for a family member, etc.

    1. I grew up in suburban RI and lived in Midtown ATL. Now I am in a rural/suburban area of OK (Far enough out to see cows in the field across a street, but only half hour out of the city). For all of those it has typically been about 20 min to get to a grocery store. Amazon works for all of them. And when I moved from the larger city in the area to where I am now (about 5 miles further from work) my commute didn’t change.

      1. Are you using the Engineering there, or do I remember you saying something about police work?

              1. Thanks. I have another question, but I’m debating whether I want to ask it in the open.

  19. “In adulthood the geniuses I’ve known – those functional enough to hold a job – tend to hold jobs in convenience stores, fertilizer plants, or other menial positions where the fact they don’t dress fashionably and haven’t attended Harvard doesn’t matter.” – Oh, now I understand why I spent 7 years working the graveyard shift at a convenience store.

    Actually, even working at the convenience store I made more than poverty level. Heck, I would have had to been married and have three kids before being under the poverty level, and I didn’t really make that much. Picking up a 2nd job got me completely debt free 5 years after college. Compared to my Dad (or either of my grandfathers) I’m a slug. But I can still do more around the house than most of my neighbors.

    Having a little place all your own without interference, and without the population density and crime against persons sounds like paradise to quite a few people I know. Perhaps the author of the article simply wasn’t viewing the situation through the correct lens of perception.

    1. The biggest problem that I see with the chattering classes and politicians, is their total cluelessness to how the government is regulating the economy to death. We do not have free markets. America has been tweaking, suppressing, guiding and generally interfering in the free market for a hundred years. And every time the government regulations sour the economy, politicians say the free market doesn’t work. We need more regulations.

      1. More like 111 years and change – since the start of the second presidential term of Theodore Roosevelt. (First term he somewhat stuck to many of the policies of the late William McKinley.)

          1. It is, but sadly Big Government faction has been in power and enlarging the Fedzilla for quite some time longer than that now. Signs of any end are not in sight.

  20. Here’s my theory of the End of the Middle Ages.

    Henry Tudor wins the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

    Then the Tudors disarm the nobles and demolish their castles and create a national army, financed and run by the King.

    The nobles, stripped of their personal armies of peasants, decide that if they can’t have their own armies, they don’t need no stinkin’ peasants hanging around the manor. So they kick them out.

    Around 1600, the Tudors pass the first Poor Law to “do something” about the landless poor.

    1840 or thereabouts. The poor finally get jobs, after 200 years on the dole.

    1. You forgot about the role of the monasteries in helping the poor — and that that went away with the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII, well before 1600.

  21. I think it would be of great benefit to give Hugo voters a list of puppy nominees together with a copy of these comments.

  22. I love this.

    I figured out when I was relatively young that most people are generally lazy and will get away with not doing something if they can skate by. I love to think in evolutionary terms, but for some reason it never occurred to me the impulse to live paycheck-to-paycheck could be an evolutionary adaptation.

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