A Destiny Beyond the Crab Bucket – Kate Paulk

*Kate is now in the process of becoming an American.  And this is why I’ll borrow beg or hitchhike to go to her swearing in ceremony.  She’s one of us. She won’t take that oath lightly.  And even despite the last 8 years and the present political insanity, she’s CHOOSING us.- SAH*

A Destiny Beyond the Crab Bucket – Kate Paulk

Nature or Nurture, DNA or Culture


In a sane world, the answer is “yes”.


It’s become self-evident that we do not live in a sane world. We have people trying to simultaneously claim that culture is race (that is, that nature/DNA is all there is) and that humans are endlessly mutable (that nurture/culture is the only factor in what we become). Meanwhile, some of the opponents of said mental midgets are claiming – without apparent irony – that DNA is destiny.


No, it’s not. No more than having poor parents is a guarantee of being poor one’s whole life, or that growing up in a slum means never being able to escape it. Unless, of course, you actually do believe that Nature, or DNA, is the whole sum of a person and therefore there is no free will, no ability to rise above one’s nature and become something better.


To which I say, bullshit. The evidence is against it. There is no tabula rasa, but there is also no predestined path determined at or before birth. We all, every last bloody one of us, have a choice in how we respond to the shit life dumps on us.


To claim that DNA is everything is to insult every person who has chosen to rise above shitty circumstances – to climb out of the crab pot, if one borrows Pratchett’s analogy. All of us have the ability to climb out of the crab pot that is our nature – but not all of us choose to do so.


To put it another way – all of us get a bunch of traits, abilities and so forth wired in. Some are more coordinated than others. Some are more intelligent. How we express those traits depends a lot on what our culture – both the local culture in our homes and the broader society we observe as we’re growing up – regards as the proper way. In Australia there’s an extremely strong streak of cutting down the tall poppies, so people with unusual abilities tend to be rather modest about them – yes, even in sports. The tendency is to attribute success to “luck” and misfortune to “not doing it right”.


The US cultures I’ve seen since I moved here are somewhat the opposite: success is because one worked for it and did it right, where failure is because you didn’t work or didn’t do things right.


Of course there are nuances: you don’t make broad sweeping generalizations without a boatload of exceptions. But the overall trend holds.


To claim that because someone belongs to X “victim group”, be it black lesbian unicorns with three legs or whatever they will always be this way is to claim that we are the sum total of our DNA and what happens to us – in short, that we have no free will and our choices are not our own. To reject this view and claim that DNA is destiny is equally short-sighted: DNA is the start. You can have genetic issues out the wazoo and adjust your life so their impact is minimized. You can let them hammer you and wail about your victimosity. Or anything in between.


Similarly, the claim that we in the West have to “accept” the atrocities committed by certain parties in the name of their disgusting ideology disguised as a religion is as bigoted as the notion that blacks or arabs (or anyone else, for that matter) are inherently more violent because DNA, and equally disprovable. Ask older American blacks (or check the statistics of the time): in the 1950s despite often blatantly bigoted policy in many parts of this nation, despite widespread poverty, there were a great many thriving black communities, with colleges and schools that – despite far less in the way of resources than their white counterparts – were the equal of many of those white counterparts, and the better of quite a few of them. The young men of those communities did not try to kill each other on a daily basis, nor did they make large swathes of inner cities no-go zones. Their descendants are hardly genetically different, as a group.


What has changed is the dominant culture: it’s gone from “beat whitey at his own game” – which ultimately leads to good outcomes for the largest number of people – to “whatever whitey does, do the opposite and call it good” – which does not. Why?


The Western culture, particularly the USA variant of it, values the individual independent from his or her ability to contribute to society at large.


This shows up in any number of little ways: the US habit of counting every live birth, no matter how premature, as a childbirth even if the baby only takes one breath outside the womb (which, incidentally, does interesting things to the US infant mortality stats as well as to the average expected life span); the notion of the three great inalienable rights – nobody else has this. Nobody. The other major Anglo nations (Canada, Australia, New Zealand) come close, but even they don’t go as far as the USA; the idea that an American – any American – is the equal of anybody else and this is why American Presidents traditionally do not bow to foreign royalty; hell, the arguments over damn near everything that spring up and get carried out loudly and cheerfully in public.


Nobody else does this. Every other culture I know about is less concerned about the rights of the individual than the USA. Even Australia, which in many ways comes closest, is more likely to favor the needs of society at large (and small) over the rights of the individual.


Thing is, as Sarah has mentioned a few times, when you allow the rights of the individual to take precedence, you get a whole raft of things happening, the majority of which wind up being massively beneficial to society at large and small because the misfits are able to spend more energy being themselves instead of fitting in. Hell, the non-misfits with bright ideas are able to spend more energy being themselves instead of fitting in.


It’s a small thing, but over the course of years and millions of people it adds up and you get the USA instead of, oh… Russia. Or China. The average Russian or Chinese person is no less capable than the average American, but both Russian and Chinese culture actively discourage individuality. The State, Mother Russia, whatever… these are more important than any individual Russian or Chinese life.


But be warned: America may be more resistant to the culture of conformity, but we’re not in any way immune. Our media and education system have spent decades indoctrinating us with the “society above all” culture and calling it good.


It isn’t. The radical American experiment has borne fruit far beyond anyone’s expectations. The poorest American has a standard of living more or less on par with middle-class Europeans (and Australians), and thinks this is normal.


Let’s not allow anyone who says race is culture or DNA is destiny to screw that up.

229 thoughts on “A Destiny Beyond the Crab Bucket – Kate Paulk

    1. Welcome, indeed!

      And just in time to participate in one of the weirdest presidential contests on recent record. You must be so thrilled 😉

    2. I have my interview and civics test next month. I presume the ceremony will be some time after that.

      1. Ah, before or after LibertyCon?
        I know the con is for serious scholarly discussion, but surely we could squeeze a bit of a celebration in between the mud wrestling and naked twister.

          1. Considering some attendees, I think Lar just convinced me not to attend; or at least to bring a blindfold if I do.

            1. LC is easy to be lost in, if you want to. It’s as much a “family reunion” as a con- there’s these groups and those, the mil sci-fi folks and the adventure sci folks, the hard science, the humor, the “What’s Toni going to bring us next?” Also, your first time at a traveling Baen road show and prize patrol, you might get a free book. Unfortunately for me, I had *all of them already,* but others lucked out.

              I did not witness any naked twister, but mud wrestling might be a euphemism for some of the discussions I heard. Though the former *could* have happened several dozen times for all I know- room parties and such. There was drunken con-going, which was pretty hilarious. I think someone was trying to get Mike Williamson to give himself alcohol poisoning on the “Social Justice and the Undead” panel.

              Truthfully, it would be worth it for *just* the science panels. Or the what’s-coming-next book panels. Or just the spec panels. Even the humor panels. Steve Jackson was there last year, so if you are into the in-person gaming thing, that’s a reason. Howard Taylor was a great MC, worth meeting in person (very cool guy).

              If you’re an introvert, not problem. You don’t have to talk to anybody, and most people there are some flavor of Odd. I’ve had fewer “overheard at the bar/con/party/afterparty/jail-cell-after-the-after-party” incidents in most all of my previous thirty some odd years than I had at one LC.

              If you’re an extrovert, not a problem. Strange, but not a problem. Plenty of people you can just start talking to and they will talk back like they’ve known you for years (seen that happen several times). Good place to discuss anything from pre-Roman metallurgy to what exactly an elf is, and how authors and storytellers have treated the concept over the generations to orbital physics.

              Best con I’ve been at bar none. Registration is limited to 700-750 I think, so it ain’t huge like Dragoncon. Ain’t too small like some locals. It’s just about right.

        1. in between the mud wrestling and naked twister.

          Those aren’t the same thing?

          1. Mud wrestling requires mud, as opposed to olive oil, lime jello or some such. Naked Twister requires no emollients of any kind.

            1. Plus if there’s mud there it’s kinda hard to see the Twister mat. Unless the spin wheel is all just different shades of brown.

        2. I’m starting to think volunteering to help in the Con-suite was not such a good thing. I may be too young for this party. Or too old.

          1. Had that thought several dozens of times, myself. *chuckle* Didn’t spend much time in the Con-suite, but what time I did was… enlightening, let’s say. *grin*

          2. As long as you didn’t volunteer to referee you can probably come up with an excuse to leave when certain events start.

        3. Pass the brain bleach, please!

          (The down side of an active imagination.)

    1. I’d love to have you guys there. First I need to pass the test, though.

      1. That ought be no problem — just tell them that you identify as an American and that any further demands constitute hate speech.

        1. But isn’t that the way it works? I mean there’s a huge difference between being born in America and being an American.

      2. Shouldn’t be a problem. You simply must know more about your adopted country than 95% of the high school graduates this year.
        In other words a snap quiz.

        1. *twitch* Oh, gads, for heaven’s sake don’t confuse the results when kids are handed YET ANOTHER test, told that it doesn’t matter, but they’re forced to do it anyways with what they actually know.

          Even our teacher recognized that a lot of people were going to deliberately blow it, even more than deliberately screwed up the ASVAP.

      3. Seconding Nicki. 🙂

        You got this. A few years ago I helped a young lady prep for her Naturalization test. Never mind that I know of several dozen American’s by birth that could not pass the test, from what she said, it wasn’t too hard.

        So, does this make you a true USAian?

        1. “So, does this make you a true USAian?”

          With apologies to Kipling,

          “But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
          When a USAian enters the ranks, though they come from the ends of the earth!”

          “They have looked each other within the heart, and there they found no guile,
          They have taken the Oath of the Citizen to uphold the Law for all.
          They have taken the Oath of the Citizen by Liberty’s eternal fire,
          On the hilt and the haft of the Sword of Truth, and asked the aid of their God.”

    1. Thank you!

      Sadly, no matter where you are in the world freedom is losing ground. I’m doing my bit to try to prevent it going all the way back to full-on feudalism.

  1. What’s “funny” are the people who believe (or talk as if they believe) that “Free Will” is an illusion.

    They never realize that “You didn’t build that” applies to their own accomplishments.

    Note “You didn’t build that” in this case doesn’t mean the “government built that”, it means that your success or failure don’t come from your actions (or lack of actions) but because of circumstances beyond your control. 😦

    1. We’re descended from troupe living apes. Personal responsibility is the hardest thing for us to do when there’s a little monkey in the back of our skulls telling us “If they know how badly I screwed up nobody will pick bugs off of me anymore.” How glorious for the paranoid primate in our minds when you can blame your failings on anything but yourself.

      1. I can understand “blaming your failure on something/somebody else”.

        But I don’t understand a belief structure that strongly implies that your successes are “completely because of outside (of yourself) factors”. 😦

        1. That’s blaming your own lack of an equal or superior measure of someone else’s success on forces outside yourself. They can’t have it ‘cos they worked on it, ‘cos then *your* not working on it isn’t your fault, it’s just “bad luck” or “the man” holding you down.

          1. The whole “You didn’t build that” scam is to undermine the idea of the individual. In claiming what we do is not individual effort, they are asserting all success is due to the collective, and thus individual efforts – and liberty – are illusions.

            Yeah, what I think of that turns holy water to steam.

            1. And yet members of the “collective” tend to be very jealous of their positions within it. Each imagines themselves as the planner, not the prole.
              Being a member in good standing lets them borrow that imagined glory from the more productive among them. Those that envision those sorts of system never put themselves at the bottom of the ladder willingly, even if that’s generally all they’d be able to manage in an individualist system.

              1. “Borrow.”

                Interesting word. Every applicable definition I find for it includes wording to the effect of “with the promise or understanding of returning it or its equivalent.”

          2. Once, a black student was assured that a certain professor was racist and never gave any black a grade over C-. He needed that course, so he went in and studied hard. The social atmosphere about him grew positively chilly.

            1. Turned the Telly on this afternoon, tuned to local PBS and was surprised by this in progress:

              Gee, i do love me some Walter E Williams.

        2. *nod* This.

          It’s interesting though, that the more I own my mistakes (and I make them every day), the better my successes. If it’s my mistake, I can do better. If it ain’t my mistake, that takes the control out of my hands. Freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin.

    2. Many people aren’t happy with the idea of “free will.”

      They like the idea that their failures are not their fault.

      1. A surprising number of people condemn the Creator for giving them free will … although they usually phrase it as “letting bad things happen,”

        1. They don’t necessarily object to free will for themselves, just when it’s applied to others. And that’s such a subtle trap I don’t fault them for falling into it.

          The other is a deterministic meat machine view of life, which is given the exactly same background, genetics, and circumstances, anyone would do the same thing. They go to great lengths to argue that free will is an illusion, to the point that they think we alter our own memories to make us believe we had a choice. It doesn’t answer the question of whether, if there is no free will, why our brains bother to manufacture such as illusion.

      2. You notice they never believe it absolutely. The Approved Victim Groups were forced to do it by circumstances forced on them by the Approved Villain Groups — of malign free will, apparently.

    3. Free will is scary. It’s not just the freedom to do your own thing – it’s the freedom to fail and die penniless in a ditch.

      In a lot of ways slavery is more comfortable – there’s always someone else to blame for your screw-ups.

      What many of these people don’t get is that it cuts both ways. If you’re free you own your successes AND your failures. If you’re not, you don’t own either, and anything you have can be taken from you on a whim. The number of people I’ve spoken to who simply don’t *get* that is amazing.

      1. Function of education. Real education, not classrooms.

        Even when I was a kid, I had responsibilities. Everyone did, soon as they were old enough to understand and follow instructions (about four, I think). I peeled potatoes, snapped beans, kept animals and garden in decent shape (my portion of those grew larger as I did). Cleaning and suchlike.

        Seems folks are afraid of giving kids that responsibility these days, too many of them are anyway. Freedom/responsibility is like a muscle- the more you use it, the easier it gets. The more experience you get, the more confident you get in making those free choices and accepting the consequences. Without that practice, the instinct to seize chance as it passes your way atrophies.

        You get adult children more terrified of making an actual choice than almost anything else. They’ll coast along, even if that coasting is miserable. It’s easier. Safer. Risks are to be avoided, rather than courted for reward.

        Either you strive to practice freedom and responsibility, or that impulse weakens. Even if where you are at doesn’t encourage free choice, consciously deciding and accepting the responsibility come what may keeps that mental muscle active. Without that, it’s a gray, colorless world to live in.

        1. I think one problem is that when parents in some places try to give children responsibilities, wanna-be do-gooders call Child Protective. You can’t have a 12-14 year old mind the younger siblings while you run to the store – child abandonment. You can’t let them go to the park at the end of the block on their own – neglect and child endangerment. Heaven forefend a 13 year old mow the lawn unchaperoned!

          1. Anent nothing in particular …

            Baby Sitting May Prime Brains for Parenting
            Animal study finds evidence that caregiving affects brain chemistry
            Teens who baby-sit may not only gain confidence in caring for young children, they may also alter their brain chemistry in a way that could make them better parents, suggests an animal study in Developmental Psychobiology.

          2. I’d go nuts as a kid now, I think. I recall being told, at or 8 or 9 AM in the Summer, “Be back in time for supper.” And then be out of communication range for hours and hours. At 13 it was *expected* to mow the lawn… without any assistance at all. Helicopter parenting? Heck, a lot of them we (sister, myself) weren’t even on the RADAR screen.

          3. This is why I’m glad I live way out in the country. 10 acres is a lot of land for a kid to run around on and we have TWO neighbors total in the mile.

        2. Yup to all the comments in this sub-thread. I was changing my younger sibs diapers by the time I was 8 (oldest of 5, the youngest is 10 years younger than I am), cooking meals by 10, and by 15 could do any/all the general household management stuff.

          My parents didn’t force us to do homework – they asked us if we had any, and if we chose to lie and say no, well, we got to live with the consequences. And so on.

          A stock phrase in our household was “You’re big enough and ugly enough to do it yourself”.

  2. Welcome, Kate. My daughter-in-law is going through the process, too.

    Interesting to learn Australia isn’t as individualistic as we are; I hadn’t thought about it much, but a focus on society explains a couple of the Australian TV series we’ve watched. And also explains why I’ve never moved somewhere else – I knew, growing up in Mexico, that I had to get home to the States. It must happen somewhere around the age of 6, because I was 7 when we moved, and never really fit in, but my sister Jackie, who was 5, is as Mexican as you get. Age of reason?

    1. Thank you! Australia is probably as close to the USA as far as individualism is concerned as you’re going to get, but it’s still noticeably less individualistic. From what I’ve seen, Canada and New Zealand are less individualistic than the Aussies – although I strongly suspect that the rural Canadians and rural Aussies match the Americans. Rural Kiwis less so – smaller country and much less inclined to kill you if you get it wrong.

      The difference between you and your sister could be anything, really. I’m the oldest of 5, and me and my 10 years younger brother are the only Odds in the group. We all grew up in Australia, in the whitest of white-bread suburbia, too.

      1. The younger three were born in Mexico – and are Mexican to the core. The upper middle class lifestyle there is very convenient; it makes me a bit uncomfortable, always has. A bit too much Eloi and Morlock.

  3. Welcome aboard the good ship USA. The major parties are crazy, the minor parties are insane, the in-systems info feeds are larded with vapidities and the ship’s officers are disinclined to listen to the crew — in short, pretty much like all the other cruises out there and probably the best of the lot as we don’t have to pretend the emperor’s well-dressed (although the large coterie of those who insist she is can get a trifle dismaying.)

    1. Thank you! This does sound awfully familiar – I’ve long thought that anyone who wanted to run for political office should be immediately disqualified.

      1. Sigh. You shoulda been here back when the all you can eat buffet truly was all you can eat: no income taxes to sit up to the table, no ID required, come-as-you-are or dress up, and no nonsense about how much salt you put on your food.

        I never got to try it, but my grandpa said it was rip-roarin’ good!

        1. *mischievous, amused grin*

          So the guys who want to TALK about how everything should be, and lay out theories about how to make it so and such, have an issue with the people who actually try to do anything. Which rises to the level of “because you actually do anything, you are automatically unfit.”



          1. Heh. Smart-alec.

            *nose in the air* You’re conflating a heuristic for identifying a power-hungry SOB (actively seeking positions with power) with identifying people who are trying to do something useful, when the people doing things are generally miles away from the power positions, and actually, well… doing things.

            So THPTHPT

  4. Didn’t know she’s going through that – am very pleased that so talented, intelligent, & charming a person chooses my country. Welcome, Kate!

    1. As long as we can continue to attract people of this caliber I have hope. Welcome, Kate! We are better for your presence.

    2. Thanks! If nothing else, I may yet have the dubious privilege of voting against two of the worst candidates ever fielded. Even if I write in my cat’s name – I can guarantee the cat won’t pass any really cruddy laws.

      1. I have come to describing the major party candidates this time around as offering a choice between a road apple and a meadow muffin. Can’t really blame anyone for voting Fluffy, etc.

  5. Welcome! *shakes clenched paw* and thanks for planting an idea-worm about ‘predestination: theological vs. biological’ in my brain. (Don’t worry, Sarah, I’ll expound at my palace, since it involves the T word.)

    I’d also like to attend the ceremony (or wrap party) if possible.

    1. I’m going to look forward to that post – let me know when you’ve made it. The whole issue of choice and whether you have it or not ties in to freedom, and it pisses me off when people who damn well ought to know better start claiming that your biology is all you are.

      1. Sigh – there are times when I would rather be large, muscular and intimidating in order to rebut such arguments along the lines of Samuel Johnson

        After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”
        Boswell: Life

        so that I could with secure confidence strike such advocates of predestination forcefully on the jaw and respond to their plaint “I refute it thus.”

        We really need to push more forcefully the argument that as representatives of “Gun Culture” any attempt to deprive us of our arms is an act of cultural suppression as vile as King George II forbidding tha playin’ o the pipes.

        1. A build like Sarah’s elder spawn could certainly be useful in some arguments. Especially when he smiles. It’s kind of like Lurch with *heft*.

    2. Have fun watching the Social Darwinists chasing the Hard Determination religionists (and vice versa)… And how they cross lines and steal ideas from each other. *shakes head*

      Also interested in that post. When last I read up on it, the whole conclusion was a Nope!/Nope! of staggering proportions.

  6. If the commission of atrocities is truly in the nature of some groups, and there is nothing to be done to keep them from following that nature, then any rational person must come to the only sane resolution to this condition.
    Or as a favorite song of mine states: “How many of them can we make die?”

    1. Sadly, Society seems to have an insufficiency of rational persons. Witness the advocacy for allowing, encouraging, repopulation of our countryside with predatory animals. Witness the furor over the killing of that gorilla in Cincinnati (#ApeLivesMatter.) Witness the witless attending and running our universities, imagining you can sow the wind without reaping the whirlwind.

      As Adlai Stevenson supposedly responded to a woman’s call, “Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!” — That’s not enough, madam, we need a majority!

      I am not sure that, rather than enhance the good that can be done by rational persons, we oughtn’t focus on limiting the harm that can be done by the nonrational.

      1. Ever quick to jump into a discussion with insufficient facts, some blithering idiot was preaching the meme of black gorilla killed to save white child. Then of course someone put up a snapshot clearly showing that the child was indeed about as black as the gorilla was.
        Not that it matters in the least. Should our authorities at some point start assuming that animal lives count for more than humans it will be more than time to start slitting a few throats.
        Very sorry for the death of that gorilla, but even sorrier that the decision to save the child is now being called into question.

        1. I thought comparing those of elevated melanin content to our near neighbors on the branches of the great tree of life was super badthink. It honestly is, but that’s seriously diving head first into the mousetrap to grab the rhetorical cheese. Sometimes operating from the progressive mindset must be like being Sideshow Bob in a yard full of rakes.

        2. My only question, after the Gorilla this week and the Lions a week or so ago… Don’t these zoos have tranquilizer guns? Perhaps they would not be effective quick enough, but they seem to be a better choice, especially if you missed the animal and hit the human.

          1. Tranquilizers are another thing that don’t work in real life like they do in movies and books. Especially for something as big as a Silverback Gorilla it would take 10-20 minutes to drop it. Also, after getting shot it would be instantly pissed off and only slowly tired.

            1. If a gorilla tranks out anything like a black bear, it would only take about a minute. Buuuttt, a minute is an awfully long time if you are getting mauled for the duration.

              A bullet through the brain is the only reasonable choice is such a situation. On the other hand, one could ask why the zoo’s are having large predators getting loose on a regular basis.

              1. Argh! WordPress could really use an edit function, what I meant was not predators “getting loose” per se, but rather getting in physical contact with humans, whether that means escaping their enclosure, or humans (not employees) entering said enclosures.

                That being said, any adult who crawls into an enclosure with a wild animal should be left to reap their just rewards.

                1. This. Anyone over the age of 12 (and of normal mental development) who manages to get into the enclosure of a wild animal deserves whatever happens. The critter should not get punished for doing what comes naturally. Predators gonna predate.

          2. Yes, the zoo has a tranquilizer team. They opted not to use them in the case of the Gorilla, because tranquilizers do not act instantly. They considered that the impact of and pain caused by the dart would likely further enrage the Gorilla.

            It appears that the crowd contributed to the death of the Gorilla. It had initially been acting protectively towards the child. The noise of the crowd and the screams disturbed it, and it began to behave aggressively.

          3. The experts have been saying that a tranquilizer would take too long.

          4. A couple of different animal specialists have weighed in and said that it wouldn’t work.

            Basically, they don’t knock the animal out fast enough– and if they get the dose too low, or mess up the impact, the animal WILL freak out.

            They have the same sort of discussion every time they have to shoot a bear or mountain lion in a California school zone. 😦

        3. Facts aplenty, although many will deny them, just as Peter denied, three times:

          Alas, Harambe the Gorilla Had to Die
          By Wesley J. Smith — May 31, 2016

          I hoped to avoid comment on the killing of Harambe the gorilla.

          But I keep getting asked, so here goes.

          Rich is correct, it is not a close call, but I think a bit more needs to be written:

          0 The sturm und drang over the killed gorilla is a disturbing sign of our emotionally-driven times, in which “feeling” counts so much more than “thinking,” and many seem to value animal life as high–or higher–than that of human beings.

          0 The life of the child was infinitely more valuable than that of the gorilla.

          0 The question of whether the gorilla was “protecting” the child is irrelevant. The boy was in mortal danger, whether or not the gorilla intended harm.

          0 Saving human life is paramount, so in the heat of the mortal danger, I don’t see what other choice could have been made to ensure the child was not injured or killed.

          0 Drudge used the word, “murder” to describe the killing. He’s hyping clicks (I hope). Only human beings can be ”murdered,” which is a particularly heinous act because it involves the death of a human being.

          0 It is, indeed, very sad that the gorilla had to die because somebody screwed up so terribly, resulting in the child placed in mortal danger.

          0 Only humans would care so much about a killed gorilla, our empathy being one of the aspects of our natures that make us exceptional.

          0 There should be an investigation, and if warranted, legal accountability for the outrageous endangering of the child, whether of the parents or the zoo, or both.

          Here’s the most disturbing part: I suspect many people are more emotional about the killing of the gorilla than they would have been had the child been killed.

          1. Amen to all of that. I suspect the parents may not have done anything horribly wrong: a child of that age can slip off and get into trouble remarkably quickly.

            A zoo enclosure that a 4 year old child can climb into is not a safe enclosure.

            And he’s right: had the child been killed it would have been a statistic. The gorilla is a tragedy because we don’t hear about gorillas being killed anywhere near as often as we hear about kids being killed.

            1. The problem IS with the zoo. I routinely see little ones try to pull this at the Denver Zoo, but there’s two or three levels of security and they rarely get past more than one before mom notices they’re gone.

              1. There’s also the cultural problem of people not quite understanding that wild animals aren’t like your pets or characters in a lot of children’s entertainment, and thus the simple minded of all ages will blunder into contact expecting a musical number when what they’re gonna get is a maulin’.

                1. This. Trip to the Okefenokee in the early 1970s. There’s a park/visitor center on the north side of the swamp.They warned visitors not to get close to the alligators. More than one got right in front of the things to take photos. No, there wasn’t an incident, but we were expecting one. Friend from that area say the tourists now do the same thing.

                  1. Lived in eastern Tennessee near the Smokey National Park. The problem there was tourists who wanted to get up close pictures with the bears.

                    1. I’ve heard of situations in Yellowstone where idiot parents wanted to put their children onto bison to take picture of the children on one.

                      While I haven’t heard of them succeeding, there have been reports of some of them saying that the bison are tame because the rangers wouldn’t let “wild ones” into the park. 😦 😦 😦 😦

                    2. Years and years ago comedian Robert Klein had a routine about the dangers caused by people thinking the Disney portrayal of animals was accurate.

                      Sigh. I’ve never found it on Youtube.

                2. You’ve seen a lot of the “But the gorilla wasn’t TRYING to hurt him!”

                  Look, some of the activists insist that the highest-functioning apes are mentally on a three to four year old human’s level.

                  Anybody know WHY you don’t let three to four year old kids hold the kitty any way they want? It’s not because kitty will scratch.

                  1. How many dogs have been put down because their instinct to bite down harder to still a struggling puppy during rough play collides with a toddler’s instinct to pull away with tragic results?

                    Anthropomorphism is wonderful in stories and entertainment, it can get you hurt or worse in real life.

                  2. seen a lot of that from ‘professional animal behavior specialists’

                    the same ones who also insist we anthropomorphize apes too often.

                1. Bad Joke

                  The zoo-keepers thought he belonged there? 👿

          2. Here’s the most disturbing part: I suspect many people are more emotional about the killing of the gorilla than they would have been had the child been killed.

            This. I will not comment more.

    2. It’s not so much that it’s their “nature” as it is the idea of subjective right and wrong. If there is no absolute right or wrong, it is an artifact of culture, and how can another culture criticize it? Of course, that doesn’t stop them from criticizing those of us who believe in absolutes, even if that’s part of our culture.

      1. For all the Liberals’ talk about “nothing is Absolute”, their behavior/words shows that they believe that Their Beliefs are Absolutes.

        1. Yah. If nothing is absolute, then the ‘fact’ that there are no absolutes cannot be absolute. Thus, there must be *some* absolutes.

            1. That that is, is. That that is not, is not.

              There be reasons Sophists are not included amongst the logicians.

              Cogito ergo sum does not apparently hold in reverse, as many who demonstrably do not think nevertheless seem to be.

          1. 1. According to Obi Wan Kenobi, only the Sith deal in absolutes. Of course, since that statement is an absolute, that means that he was a Sith.

            2. A perhaps more useful group of Absoluts:

            1. I believe in reaching for the Skyy:


              Plain, Citrus or Blood Orange.

              Not the Black Cherry. Tastes like Robitussin. Jarring.

              1. ” Tastes like Robitussin”

                That’s because it probably is. And is probably cheaper to buy by the fifth than by the cough syrup size.

            2. I have been sampling one of those absolutes this evening(that one on the left), causing me to wonder how “they” know it is indeed the absolute (zero) or otherwise. THen I went to that wiki thing and found it is just an extrapolation, not actual knowledge, which makes pefect sense, but causes me to wonder … oh never mind, some ice cream sounds reallly good now

        2. I still remember a discussion where someone held forth on its not being wrong to lie in certain circumstances.

          I said, “Is that true?”

      2. Cue denunciation of the evils of Cultural Relativism…

        *thinks about posting ‘nother screed on said denunce of C.R. and evils thereof… thinks again he better not*

        1. I read that as “cultural revolution,” which reminds me, that German historian of modern China has a new book about the Cultural Revolution, to follow up his one one Mao’s famine. Need to add both to my wish list.

    3. Ah, but that’s a horribly racist song that nobody should ever perform again. Or so it was argued in an online discussion in a filk group a few years ago. The line, “Make their yellow blood run cold” is a racist insult developed by white men in the west to use against the Chinese immigrants.

      Except that it wasn’t. It was first used in England, in the form “yellow-bellied,” to refer to people from the Lincolnshire fens. Its first recorded use in the US was apparently in reference to members of the Mexican army.

      It’s an interesting point, though. The kind of people who advance that racism argument belong to the same group that feel justified in preventing any conservative viewpoints from being presented. After all, if unacceptable viewpoints are inherent in conservatives (and white males, and other current outgroups), then any rational person must come to the conclusion that they must be prevented from airing those views.

      1. I’m so far behind, I assumed it referred to insect-like non-human invaders. Foolish me. (In all fairness, the first time I heard it all the way through, it was used for a Stargate video. Which was really well done, but pulled because of copyright.)

          1. Why did bioscience research switch from Posleen to lawyers? They were empathizing with the Posleen and there are some things even Posleen won’t do.

      2. The stoopid! It burns!

        Yellow’s been associated with Bad Things forever – probably courtesy jaundice (consider the usual metaphorical use of “jaundiced”).

        The people who claim Everything Is Racist (or sexist or something-ist) really try to shut down other views because other views make them uncomfortable. If their own beliefs were strong enough and/or factual, they’d be confident they’d win in an open forum.

      3. I guess I haven’t thought deeply enough about this. I always figured ‘yellow-bellied’ just meant that when confronted with conflict or distress, the timid would piss themselves, thus having yellow fluid on the front of their raiment.

        1. That’s a logical explanation. I wonder if it might come from watching dogs urinate submissively when they’re pinned by their alphas.

    4. Indeed so. Of course, given that the evidence is rather strongly against this being the case (or rather, the commission of atrocities is very much a part of human nature and civilization is what keeps us from doing this on a routine basis, particularly Western civilization, and very much especially the American variant of Western civ). One only has to look at West and East Germany.

  7. Part of the problem with the media is that they’re willfully blind– part of what makes America’s right-of-the-individual so impressive is human nature.
    If I must do a thing, I have no choice, I’ll do it one way. You might get good results if I’m very, very duty-conscious. 😀
    If what I do is a gift— if I get to choose– then I’ll make it a good gift. Look at the attendance and take at “voluntary donation” type fairs vs set-fee for entry ones. I know that the “Bring a food donation” days for the Puyallup fair have people bringing in food faaaar in excess of the usual gate price.

    But the media will remove the ability of groups to remove users– who are everywhere– and then praise those who are “smart” enough to exploit folks’ good nature, then they’ll have to force everyone to kick in because folks don’t like putting pearls before swine.

    There are a limited number of philosophical traditions that admire and praise self-giving as a good in itself; that probably makes things a little messier.

    1. The cynical side of me says we *do* live in a sane world. It just doesn’t have our best interests at heart.

      The larger, better side of me says “it’s none of mine if other folks aren’t sane, save as my responsibility as a man and a human being to protect others from the dangers thereof, as I am able.”

  8. One might be limited by his physical makeup (Nature/DNA). Certainly, not everyone will be able to qualify as an astronaut or a pro-ball player no matter how much hard work they invest. Still, what we make of what we have — that can be profoundly influenced by nurture.

    If all you are taught from the beginning that there is nothing you can do to change your life there are few who will fight to change.

    Up to this point our nation has embraced and celebrated the stories of those who did not accept limitations. Of people who ‘overcame all odds’ to accomplish something. Of people who picked up after a failure or a disaster and rebuilt better than before. Of people who had a dream. (Of course if your present dream is to become a successful by reviving slide rule manufacture…)

    White Queen thinking has become prevalent in society, yes, and we need to find a way combat it. I doubt that a head on challenge will work on people who have trained themselves to be so illogical. Something more subtle needs to be done to change the zietgiest. So — I know I have written this before — write Human Wave stories.

    1. There is a fellow at work who seems to believe that movement upward (hours, pay, position, any or all ways you wish to score it) is more a matter of “time served” than effort expended – and attitude. To his dismay, the old shift manager moved to another shift, but he didn’t get the shift manager spot. Someone who’s been seen to be working and is willing to learn at least some got that. The same can be said for the assistant position. And there is a backup to that, which he thought he’d waltz right into… but that is going to someone who has been seen to be working, and willing. And yet another, hired very recently, is likely to at least get more hours if not get hired full time outright.

      This is, of course, so terribly unfair to someone who’s been there a while and knows what to do (just ask him!) and is willing to tell others – but isn’t very willing to see the issue and take ownership and deal with it himself. And has been seen on multiple occasions standing with his hands in his pockets when he should be putting those hands to work. (Obvious comments omitted – you already thought them anyway.) And there is this peculiar attitude that it’s all… fate… and that it’s against him. If he thought he had control, he’d take control and change his fate. Instead he (I will say he is quite Caucasian as the term is ab/used – “white” skin, western European ancestry, etc.) walks with a look like the poor downtrodden and down on his black fellow(s) in old horribly racist cartoons. It’s the walk of defeat(ism). I can comprehend why a black fellow in the time of Jim Crow would move thus – things were stacked against him. This fellow? No idea. But I get the impression he sees a hard ceiling, and no elevator – but cannot see the ladder, for that would take effort to climb.

      1. knows what to do (just ask him!)


        Yes. So sure of himself; so blind to reality. There is a reason a job is called work.

      2. Promotion because of time served. I think the US Civil Service operates under that belief. The GS ‘step’ increases in salary absolutely operate that way.

        1. That is generally the only basis permitted under any union contract, especially at job sites where “excessive” individual productivity is discouraged. (No rate-busters permitted.)

          In fairness to them, it is pretty much the only objective measure available for such determinations. Can’t be letting prejudiced supervisors using anything as arbitrary (not to mention contrary to union work rules) as productivity for a guide, much less how closely getting an extra ounce of effort from a laborer approximates pulling of teeth.

          1. Back 15-20 years ago, the buzzword was ‘metrics’. So, all the project engineers were assigned these nebulous metrics for their performance. One was, for Outstanding rating in fiscal accountability: no more than one NIF (Navy Industrial Fund) cost correction per year. I was a program engineer not a project. The only difference was projects had one or two funding sources and programs had 20 or more. Needless to say, what work went to what funds was much harder to keep straight. My solution. I waited until near the end of the FY, and I wrote up a NIF correction that took 40-50 forms to straighten out. That was my ‘one a year’. Now, the financial lady would have had it much easier if I had submitted as it happened, but that would ruin the metric.

            1. A remembrance of metrics past. I had a manager who proudly announced his new metric for software – mean time to failure.
              I pointed out that it was difficult to write bug-free code, but rather easy to write slow-running code. Best way to look good on his metric was to intentionally make the software run veeery sloooow.

            2. There’s a bit of a Heisenburg principle with metrics. Once you use metrics – any metrics – to measure people they will adjust their behavior to optimize the metrics chosen, rendering the metric useless for its intended purpose.

              Government is particularly bad at this, what with declaring people who have given up on working to be no longer unemployed or increasing the amount of debt funneled to political cronies and crowing about GDP going up.

              1. THIS!!!
                I have never worked in government, but in the 25 years I’ve seen the “metrics” used in private industry, that is so true as to be an absolute. Interesting thing is that the use of performance metrics was totally driven by EEOC regulations.

          2. I’ve been in several Navy shops where my productivity was supposedly bad– because I followed the actual regulations, and the supposed rules about how we were supposed to do last in/first out.

            The guys with GREAT productivity grabbed all the fast, easy things off of the shelf, and pencil whipped them. And didn’t do the dang paperwork.

            That’s the kind of stuff that resulted in the “can’t use productivity for keeping folks on” rules.

            1. Well that and the “promote to get rid of dead wood” which often resulted from the difficulties of firing an Union employee. Which ended up with non-productive employees in decision-making spots.

              Piecework pay works very well in some situations, but in others you get “creamers” who skim all the cream work, like you described. Really there is no good ‘one size fits all’ promotion/pay solution any more than there is a good ‘one size fits all’ solution for anything else.

      3. Odd how commonly that viewpoint is held by people who manage to be only productive enough to avoid dismissal.

        1. You nailed that one. He’s worked out that as long as he shows up (most of the time) and doesn’t steal any physical items or be destructive, he’s fairly safe. However, due to his (lack of) work ethic, he is at risk of getting fewer and fewer hours, to his puzzlement.

          1. Let me guess, the work that he does do has to be double checked to make sure it was done correctly?
            Funny how that tends to disincentivise a boss from assigning him new work.

    2. (Of course if your present dream is to become a successful by reviving slide rule manufacture…)

      Rich? No. But some.. well, there are those steampunk folks and…

      1. Nah!! Still plenty of slide rules out there stashed away in the junk drawers by guys like me when calculators became cheap…..

        1. You keep such stashed? I have one out in the open, not too far from the computer. A reminder. Not sure if more to me or to the computer some days.

          1. Yeah. Been stashed in the drawer for 4 years now after I showed the youngest son how I used to have to do calcs in the “good ol’ days”. funny I don’t remember the log tables like I used to……

  9. Japan has a fairly homogenous population; I’ve seen it described – apart from the Ainu – as a single tribe. That’s one of the factors that has led to them having a largely unitary society. One of their folk sayings is, “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down.”

    Quite a difference from what I heard a lot growing up, which was, “If all of your friends jumped off a bridge, I suppose you’d jump too?”

      1. I *like* you. But I’d be really careful about standing too near the edge.

    1. One problem I have with the SJW and Progressive ideologues are that they are attempting to hammer down anyone who disagrees with them.

      Mind you, I would still disagree with them if they didn’t.

          1. I understand all too well. I don’t swear about it anymore, I just go with it and consider it part of the fun. 😉

    2. In a society where you can trust and rely on your neighbors (and that is absolutely Japan) a big part of the thing is “giving back to the community”. I’d say that the nail is far more likely to get hammered when it doesn’t make the attempt to bring others up with it. Also, and I can think of a bunch of reasons why this makes sense in Japanese society, you really really don’t want to do the “better to ask for forgiveness not permission” thing. In fact it’s completely the other way around, you want to discuss what you’re planning to do first, get permission, then do it. There are a bunch of disadvantages to this approach, but on the other hand it does lead to a society that automatically obeys the 7Ps rule (proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance)

      1. That’s all well and good right up until you run into a scenario outside of your plans, say a nuclear power station hit by a beyond design basis earthquake and tsunami.

        1. Yes, things tend to run much smoother on a day to day basis than a more laisse faire approach… until like you said, a totally unanticipated scenario slaps you upside the head. Those folks used to improvising and flying by the seat of their pants, tend to be better at doing so, after all while practice may not make perfect, it does tend to make, better.

        2. Or like in WW2, your carefully crafted war plan shits the bed and you can either improvise like Americans usually did, or stick to the original plan like the Japanese did until it becomes banzai time…..

  10. (Oh, Gods, he’s on his soapbox again!)

    At the end of WWII the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives were SURE that the New Day was at hand. The State had been given vast power and authority, the economy badly needed reorganizing, the workers would still remember the Depression …it was all ready for the LIRPs to step in and take control.

    Then The Workers left them at the altar.

    The Workers had never been Socialistic, at base. They were willing to go along when it was the best program on offer, but the idea that everything you were and did belonged to The State and that people smarter than you would allocate it without any input from you was a non-starter. The LIRPs would get better at selling their drivel, later.

    WWII got the LIRPs all excited. Lots of State programs, lots of loose authority, vast factories rolling out gadgets by the boatload. They missed a few things, though. Nobody liked rationing. And since (in the U.S. anyway) most rationing was propagandistic bullshit, a lot of people didn’t buy the reasoning. The Workers (bless their black hearts) had had either five years of good wages in “essential War Industry” or five years of being lined up, counted off, and yelled at. The workers had had enough of being ordered around. They told the LIRPs “No, thanks” and in some cases “F*ck off” and headed for Levittown. They didn’t want to live in Bauhaus Worker Housing, ride public transportation to work, and listen to Mahler or morris dance in their off hours. They wanted a ranch house in suburbia, a car with tail fins, and a TV set. And they weren’t any too polite to any over-educated twit who told them they shouldn’t.

    Since then the LIRPs have gone to great lengths to keep their pets from being upwardly mobile. They are deathly afraid (with good reason) that if the Blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities they batten on become wealthy , the whole Progressive Program will get kicked to the curb.


    Which is why the LIRPs are so attached to various kinds of predestination. Because they know, on some level, that nobody who had any choice will put up with their condescension, arrogance, and buttinskiism.

    1. The Workers may not be as smart as the LIRPs, but they can readily distinguish between “more intelligent” and “more full of it.”

    1. You try it. Between the federal judge and Kate, the aftermath should be most entertaining (for certain gory values of entertainment).

      1. And of course, a large number Kate’s friends there would be more than willing to assist Kate. 👿 👿 👿 👿

  11. Um. The ceremony is just a formality (although a darn good reason for Kate’s friends to throw a party). Kate is one of those people who has always been an American, so far as I can tell.

    1. IMO not just a formality since after it, she can legally vote. 😉

        1. Hmmm… that got me thinking…

          No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States,

          Paulk for Congress 2024?


            1. *Imagines Kate and Ted Cruz vs. Wassername-Schultz et al* What do you mean I have to turn down my grin? Hazard to low-flying aircraft?

              1. The late great Will Rogers (1879-1935) was known to ask why it was that one could not fly over the Capitol…was it because of all that hot air? Seems the old saw is true, more things change the more they stay the same.

                I don’t see Kate tolerating the nonsense well. Imaging encounters with Elizabeth Warren … oh my.

                1. How many votes in Congress would it take to get her a Letter of Marque and Reprisal?

                  1. Once I get that, I’ll start the GoFundMe for the ship and arms (I figure I’ll get plenty of volunteers to crew). Then we raise the black flag…

            2. And what makes you think she’s insane enough to *want* the job?

              “Daddy, what’s the difference between a politician and a statesman?”
              “A politician’s usually running for office. A statesman is usually trying to run *away* from office, but keeps being dragged back.”

              1. “What’s the difference between a politician, and honest politician, and a statesman?”

                Any politician can be bought. An honest politician is one who _stays_ bought. A statesman is…

                …wait for it…

                …a dead honest politician.

                  1. What’s a thousand politicians buried up to their necks in sand?

                    Not enough sand.

                    1. You have to extract their heads from their lower intestinal tract first, and that’s a nasty job.

            3. She was born.

              Bill Kristol has found us an independent third party candidate. A fusion ticket with SMOD2016 and Cthulhu 2016. Chris French.

              French/Kratman 2016: A Combination Too Horrible For Words

          1. Don’t you DARE. I’d terrorize any district to the point they’d elect Anyone But Kate.

            1. Sigh. Fine.

              Senate in 2026 it is.

              (hey, I’m in California… I’d rather have your method of terrorizing than Boxer’s or Feinstein’s)

              1. Let’s think about who and how we could run someone in (checks) 2018 and 2022 first. I figure that a Trump victory causing Boxer to lose this year is far more unlikely than her suddenly dying of old age.

                If Trump does very well in California, I suppose campaigning on the theory that every crime committed by someone who knows more than ten words of Spanish is Mexican terrorism might be viable.

                1. The Pennsylvania as a whole is not too bad. Now, that big old city in the east and its environs, not so much. Liberty was once the clarion call from within her. Sadly, many of those there now don’t seem to begin to realize how far they have deviated from it.

            2. The Daughter used to propose running a stuffed shirt … decided that a nice man’s dress shirt with a button down collar on hanger would serve nicely.

        2. I hear Trump is going to put Kathleen Kane on the ticket. /blatant, yet frighteningly plausible lies

    2. It’s not just a formality. Getting one’s citizenship in alignment with one’s nationality is important.

  12. My HS Grad class had a young woman that was Canadian. She was _very_ happy to turn *18,* so she could become a U.S. Citizen. As I did then, for her, I congratulate you.

  13. Sounds like Kate has been American all along. She’s just making it formal now…

  14. Congrats Kate! Welcome to the family. The good ship U.S. of A. might leak like a sieve, her rigging may be a mare’s nest, the rudder may be warped and the salt beef might be going bad… but welcome anyway! Glad to have another good hand at the sheets, in fair weather or foul.

  15. “the idea that an American – any American – is the equal of anybody else and this is why American Presidents traditionally do not bow to foreign royalty; ”

    This still holds. We must remember that the current occupant of the White House – and the party he leads – is less American than our author. In fact, if I ever am face to face with Barry I’m going to demand he kneel. He’s already demonstrated that he considers himself beneath the King of Saudi Arabia, and I know I’m at least equal to any king, so it’s only appropriate that Barry assume a position of supplication before me.

      1. Even with heavy duty rubber-gloves and a hazmat suit? (For you, not him)

    1. I’m not sure where to find fficial stats, but here is an explanation offerinf a direction for those with more time to explore:

      Abortion may have something to do with it. But, the primary reason is the way Cuba and most European countries “count” live births. In the U.S., extremely early and low birth weight preemies are counted as live births because our advanced technology and superior medicine facilities have the capability to keep many of these babies alive. However, their mortality rate is still very high.

      In Cuba and other countries, these preemies are simply not counted as “live births” – they are counted as fetal deaths. They either do not have the capability to keep them alive, or they choose not to spend their rationed health care dollars on them because the cost/benefit stats do not add up.

      The reference to abortion at the beginning of the quote addresses the fact that many babies who would be delivered unsuccessfully in Cuba neer make it out the door to be counted.

    2. I believe the usual means of correction is to do the “if you live to X, your life expectancy is Y” one.

      Ours is still a little messy because….well, basically, the US has a lot of young people. Compared to “1.2 birth rate is great” places.
      There’s also some automotive fatality, and some cities have criminal death rates that look more like south of the border.
      (Not allowed to observe if the criminals themselves do, as well, although I’ll point out that the Mexican drug lords have been making a bit of news by targeting middle-class black families in neighborhoods they want to take over, BECAUSE they are black.)

      1. Foxfier, back in the 90s, a number of black columnists such as William Raspberry, were saying that blacks should NOT be supporting Hispanic organizations like La Raza, because “if Hispanics begin to outnumber whites, we will be faced with a political block we cannot invoke guilt for 400 years of slavery to manipulate.”

        That was the point I really started using the term “professional racists” to describe the modern day “civil rights” crowd.

    1. Damn it, you’re confusing the Kickers when you say things like that!

  16. Back when we were raising Manx cats, my father had an expression: disposition is 50% heredity and 50% environment. I have seen little to suggest that it does not hold true for humans as well as cats. During those years we discovered that you can take a bad cat and make them “good” by treating them decently. Perversely, I have not seen the same in humans.

    Congratulations on your pending Citizenship, Kate. May Lady Liberty’s torch burn ever bright for you.

  17. All kidding aside, congratulations on becoming an American, Kate. America is more than the sum of its idiot leaders. And with citizens like you, maybe it will remain so.

  18. Welcome to the nuthouse! Welcome X 10E77! You are a WOC (Woman Of Courage) and the nation will be much the better for you joining the gang. Now, I may be crazy (my first few girlfriends certainly thought so) but I still believe that this is by far the finest time in all human history to be alive, and by far the finest place on the planet to think, to strive, to create, and to love.

    I do hope I have the honor of meeting you someday.

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