I Must Say This

I must be allowed to get it off my chest.  I know it’s not … precisely true, but it captures the essence of how I feel whenever I’m abroad.

We’re the king sized, bad assed kings and queens of creation, and I realized last night that I was pulling all my movements, speaking lower than normal because I was afraid of breaking… well… everything.  In fact, I’m afraid of denting the country if I stomp my feet, I’m afraid of causing a riot if I work up to a really good yelling fit, I’m afraid of crushing everything I touch without meaning to.

I realized this morning most of that is a psychic impression, so to put it.  I just came from a con, where I can be the most myself, because I’m among my people who get the eccentricities and quirks of an Odd, and I plunged straight into a society in which no one is allowed to be Odd, and in which I must — in vain, largely — try to pass.

So I woke up with PJ O’Rourke’s rant running through my head, and I’m having a hard time not translating and shouting, so I’m posting here to allay the need.

“I was having dinner…in London…when eventually he got, as the Europeans always do, to the part about “Your country’s never been invaded.” And so I said, “Let me tell you who those bad guys are. They’re us. WE BE BAD. We’re the baddest-assed sons of bitches that ever jogged in Reeboks. We’re three-quarters grizzly bear and two-thirds car wreck and descended from a stock market crash on our mother’s side. You take your Germany, France, and Spain, roll them all together and it wouldn’t give us room to park our cars. We’re the big boys, Jack, the original, giant, economy-sized, new and improved butt kickers of all time. When we snort coke in Houston, people lose their hats in Cap d’Antibes. And we’ve got an American Express card credit limit higher than your piss-ant metric numbers go. You say our country’s never been invaded? You’re right, little buddy. Because I’d like to see the needle-dicked foreigners who’d have the guts to try. We drink napalm to get our hearts started in the morning. A rape and a mugging is our way of saying ‘Cheerio.’ Hell can’t hold our sock-hops.
We walk taller, talk louder, spit further, fuck longer and buy more things than you know the names of. I’d rather be a junkie in a New York City jail than king, queen, and jack of all Europeans. We eat little countries like this for breakfast and shit them out before lunch.”

P J O’Rourke

And that’s about it.

397 responses to “I Must Say This

  1. For the Love of Life Orchestra, do I ever LOVE the cut of your jib, Mrs. Hoyt!

  2. sounds like someone is, oddly enough, homesick for here

    • Nothing odd about it. Our hostess was one of those Americans who had the misfortune of being born in another country.

  3. A woman once told me, “the rest of the world watches America, and America watches TV”, which was supposed to be insulting to Americans.
    I told her, “that’s because we don’t have to watch the rest of the world.”

    • You know, I had a similar encounter once on a Greek island. In a taverna, some young men were going on and on to me about how evil America was. I responded to them, “You know, in America no one cares what you think about us. We don’t even notice you.” They were speechless and (I think) a little heartbroken that their opinions of us meant nothing to us.

      • Casablanca:
        Lorre: “You despise me, don’t you?”
        Bogart: “I suppose I might if I gave you any thought.”

      • A KGB memoir mentioned Khruschev had asked how one of his Party Congress speeches was received in America. The astonished general said, “reserved, but thoughtful.”

        Possibly, for the dozen people who were even aware of the speech. Who were all on the same floor at Langley…

        Khruschev had actually been around a bit before becoming leader of the USSR, but he’d already fallen into the “the whole world follows my actions” mindset.

      • I once read a leftist discussing an encounter with a Frenchwoman, where the Frenchwoman talked about how France viewed America, and the leftist had to explain how America viewed France — and its view of us.

        Being a leftist, she naturally wrote it that it was our fault how France viewed us, and likewise our fault how we viewed France.

        • At the point in time in the 1990s when it became common to hear the words, ‘France is laughing at us,’ I kept thinking, ‘Oh, yes? and they think that Jerry Lewis is a comic genius.’

    • It is sometimes comical to listen to somebody from Russia talk about how America is behind every single evil plot against them.
      They are so used to being the Second Superpower and the focus of our evil designs, that it is thoroughly offensive for them to acknowledge that Americans don’t really think about Russia. Usually, they can’t acknowledge that. It simply does not compute for them.

      In short, they’d rather be abused than neglected.

      • And, that, right there, is the explanation for nine-tenths of why Putin and company are behaving the way they have been.

      • > In short, they’d rather be abused than
        > neglected.

        I’ve seen some personal relationships that ran at that level.

      • Alex Shishkin

        Yep. About the worst reaction I’ve got on some Russian blogs I visit has been to me stating that nobody in the US – including media – pays much attention to Russia.

        At this point I usually get called a liar and a traitor to the Motherland (no, seriously) and asked why somebody like me who ‘deserted his Motherland’ is even ON a Russian website.

        The irony of the situation – that I actually have a more legitimate reason to be interested in the goings-on in a country where I’ve been born and lived for 30 years, than they do to be obsessed with a country they’ve never been to and know little to nothing about – is usually completely lost on them, too.

        • why somebody like me who ‘deserted his Motherland’ is even ON a Russian website.

          Somebody has to tell you the truth. It is certain your government won’t, so shouldn’t a brother do so?

          • Alex Shishkin

            The conspiracy-obsessed ignoramuses who account for about 70+% of the comments on most Russian news websites, are no ‘brothers’ of mine.

            • Amen on the equivalent here.

              • Time to enjoy Comrade DON CAMILLO again?

                (Ah, yes. My enduring gratefulness to our esteemed hostess for exposing me to Don Camillo and to Robert for his enthusiasm for that particular volume. Such a delight, such insight…)

      • Treating paranoia often generates clinical depression as the erstwhile paranoiac discovers that no one cares that much about him.

      • “See? Now you respect me, because I’m a threat. That’s the way it works. Turns out there are lots of people, whole countries, that want respect, and will pay through the nose to get it. How do you think I got rich? I invented weapons, and now I have a weapon that only I can defeat, and when I unleash it…”

        — Syndrome

  4. Also the never been invaded part is technically wrong due to the war of 1812. Arguably Pancho Villa at least crossed the border, but I rather doubt he actually counts.

    • Anonymous Coward

      Don’t forget the invasion from the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Spillover from the recent Mexican civil war, but that may still be only Pancho Villa grade.

    • Depending on how you count, it’s anywhere from 1 to 4 times. There is the British invasion in the War of 1812 and Pancho Villa, as you say. There was also the Japanese invasion of the Aleutions during the Second World War, and the CSA invaded the USA at least once during the War of Northern Aggression.

      We’re so badass we have to invade ourselves. Doing the work the rest of the world just won’t do.

      • And after twice sending the Brits packing, the most “invaded” we’ve gotten was some desolate islands where, while working kicking ass elsewhere, we still knocked the invaders off the rocks.

      • Humpf “War of Northern Aggression” and who fired the fist shot?

        • Piffle! “Who started it!” is a dumb game when played by six-year-olds and the important question is: Who drank the last shot?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Discussions of the ACW are discouraged by our Hostess.

        • The Union. In Florida. But I suppose they only teach the sanitized The War was fought to free the Slaves history now.

      • Bibliotheca Servare

        “We’re so badass we have to invade ourselves!” I’m stealing that. Yep, definitely stealing it. 😛

        • It should be noted that I’m using an inclusive we. I’m personally not even sufficiently badass to invade a cub scout weenie roast.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Until you’ve tried to invade a cub scout weenie roast, don’t think of it as safe. [Very Very Big Evil Grin]

            IE “People who talk about something being as easy as taking candy from a baby haven’t tried to take candy from a baby”. 😉

    • The Other Sean

      Some of the Aleutian Islands were invaded and held by the Japanese during WW2, though that was while Alaska was still a territory. I think some of the other islands during that war, as well. But with the exception of Pancho Villa, the lower 48 have remained remarkably uninvaded for the past 200 years.

      OTOH, if the British want to stage a live-fire reenactment of the burning of Washington, DC I doubt there’ll be much objection. 🙂

      • “OTOH, if the British want to stage a live-fire reenactment of the burning of Washington, DC I doubt there’ll be much objection. ”

        Except from the people disappointed that they weren’t asked to help.

        • Yup. The folks here in east Tennessee would be heartbroken that they didn’t get a chance to help. “What do you mean, the British have burned Washington? That was OUR capital to burn!”

          • Oh come on. People from all over the country would rally to DC with food and booze to cater the affair. City mayors would rush to give the invaders the keys to their cities in gratitude for the vast service that had been done for all true Americans. The USO would stage spectaculars for the UK troops. The American military would pledge to deploy to help their brothers should there be any problems with BrExit. The special relationship between Britain and America would be revitalized for another hundred years.

            • That’s just it. We’d be heartbroken not to have been in the vanguard. Support and logistics? That’s fine for those who can’t fight, but hey, we can shoot as straight as the next guy!

              • and on the other hand, in typical American fashion, once the city was burnt to ashes, we’d all be there to support the survivors with shelter, food, and clothing while they searched for honest work.

              • hey, we can shoot as straight as the next guy!

                Sorry, that’s not good enough. This is America — we expect you to shoot better than the next guy.

            • Au contraire — big city mayors would decry the loss of transfer payments that make their heck-holes habitable.

              No DC, no welfare benefits, no Medicaid, no federal grants for all sorts of economically unfeasible projects, no funding for wasteful “educational” programs like Communist Common Core, no regulatory demands forcing them to do what they’re eager to do but cannot develop political support to enact …

              • Where did you get the “big” in cities. There are a lot more small cities that would love to get rid of DC than there are big cities.

            • Just give us a few days notice to loot, er, remove for preservation the good stuff from the Smithsonian museums and the zoo. And maybe the Library of Congress and National Archives.

              Me? List? Not really, why?

              • Birthday girl

                Wouldn’t some of the folks with constitutional appreciation spontaneously form a guard for certain Usaian shrines? *cough* Tea Party *cough*

              • The Other Sean

                Given the well-known British propensity for sportsmanlike conduct, I’m sure they’d leave museums and libraries alone, per the Hague Convention for the Protection Cultural Property. 🙂

                • William O. B'Livion

                  I don’t think they make those kind of Brits anymore. Not in large enough numbers to be useful.

                  Then again, given the state of the British Military Leadership they’d probably burn Charleston.

          • “I say we take off and nuke it from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

            When we saw “Independence Day” in the theater, people stood and cheered when the aliens zapped DC.

          • In early to mid April of 1968 there were attempts by some of our own to burn Washington, D.C. down. At the same period similar actions occurred in in Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Trenton, and about one hundred other areas of the country.

            • The Other Sean

              See, that’s the problem right there: divided effort. Besides, the vast majority of the nation doesn’t need to be burned down. If D.C. (or portions of it), Harvard and Yale (excepting the museums), and Goldman Sachs were all burned down it would probably be enough.

        • A number of years ago, I worked in an office with a number of British expats. One day I got in a (relatively) heated argument with one. At some point he stammered, “Why in 1812 we burned your capitol of Washington DC!”
          I smiled at him and replied, “How much would you charge to do it again?”

        • Hey – can we all just send a couple of sticks of firewood to some random address in DC, so there will be plenty for the hot dogs and marshmallows?

          • I believe the average tax return comprises at least a couple sticks, random or otherwise, and certainly flammable.

      • Five people were killed, just a few miles from here, by a Japanese bomb (unexploded, on the ground, went off and killed a pastor’s wife and some children on a picnic). Not really an invasion, but they did do some damage on the mainland as well as in the Aleutians.

        • The Philippines was a US territory, and the Japanese both invaded and occupied it.

          Hawaii wasn’t a state either, and the comparative handful who died at Pearl Harbor get memorials all over the place.

      • Except for the several “accidental” incursions by the Mexican Army. Couple of them just in the last year…

      • Can we start a go fund me for that? Not sure the Brits are up for it with all the Brexit drama but you never know.

      • “The Japanese have the Aleutians? Near Alaska? What’s there?”
        “A weather station. Eskimos.”
        Tokyo thought FDR was tearing his hair out because the US had lost some territory that had just sort of come with the Alaska deal. When US intelligence realized this, they feinted toward the Aleutians whenever they wanted to distract the Japanese Navy. Especially at Midway, the J Navy bought a feint and thought the whole US carrier force was headed to retake a few cold islands. And of course a Japanese pilot crash landed a Zero in the Aleutians that got left behind for the US to examine and test fly.

  5. For me it’s just the opposite. The science fiction conventions I’ve attended are where I’ve felt the most pressure to conform and not be Odd–it’s a different set of rules than in the outside world. but they are enforced so much more rigidly. In my daily life people have to put up with my Oddness because they need my skills, in Fandom they have no need of me and aren’t shy about letting me know.

    • You haven’t been to Liberty con.

      • thewerewife

        My experience has been rather like Misha’s. (Lots of proud Odds seem to think religious scruples are not only too odd [small o], but almost offensive.) The werehusband has been making sounds about us going to our first con together next year; I believe we shall choose Liberty.

        • yeah. Liberty you’ll have no issues, but if you’re coming, I hear memberships are already almost sold out?

          • Sigh. LibertyCon next year after NEXT year!

            • memberships are still available.

            • I wish they had Liberty Con West in Salt Lake or something.

              • Mention that on Larry’s monsterhunternation.com. If anyone out there is interested, I’m sure folks here can get them in touch with the LC organizers for tips.

              • How about in TX? Lots of good places for it. But I’d skip Austin!

                • The Other Sean

                  Are you suggesting they can keep the weird in Austin and the Odds can gather elsewhere?

                • I have been discussing putting a convention on in Galveston in January. I haven’t looked at the details, but I’m thinking it’s off-season so it might be possible to get lower rates then and there are some good hotels down there.

                  And I have chaired a convention committee before, so I know what it entails.

                • Salt Lake is a lot more central for Westerners to travel to, Texas would cause everybody out west to have to travel Southeast, just not quite as far as Carolina.

          • Last I heard, on Monday morning, they’d passed 650 and the registrations were still coming in. Something about John Ringo as GoH and it being the big 3 0.

            • Hmm. I just checked the LC Facebook page, and it looks like they’re at 300 registrations as of 8 hours ago. So you may not have to register quite instantly to be assured of a space next year (and I don’t think the online reg for LC30 is up yet).

            • Thirty is just another number until you go Roman.
              Next Libertycon will be the one and only XXX!
              Ringo as GoH seems appropriate.

          • “Almost” is not “fully” as $HOUSEMATE just registered.

        • I’ll get that at some cons I hit. Be odd in a different way from them and you are shunned. Heck, I’ve had threats against me because not Homofascist and left.

        • Well, this is a convention where John Ringo left a panel to attend a Christening, so I don’t think religious issues would be a problem.

      • I should actually try and hit it at some point.

    • Misha, you aren’t our kind of Odd at all. Which makes you precisely our kind of Odd.

      Um, yes, I’m kind of koanish when I first get up…

    • I have been to one SFcon that was about as unwelcoming as it could get for me/us (felt like Rudolph & Hermie on the Island – a misfit even amongst misfits), and another that I had felt at home at has drifted (drifted? No, forced far off-course by the wind(bag)s of SJW) from having that “I’m home” feeling. I didn’t notice right off, but in the last two years it has become blatant. It gets one more chance, and I’m rather leery it deserves that, but it just might pull up from that dive. If not, it can crash without me/us.

      LibertyCon still has that “I’m home” feeling, more than I realized some years ago. And it seems very unlikely that that will change. I suspect most (all?) LC-ers would simply not allow it.

      • Southern culture, close association with Baen, they put a hard cutoff of 750 attendees, and the founder passed the chair to his daughter, but still shows up and speaks his mind.
        Had a passing thought given what’s been happening here of late. Large gathering of people in a small area, con policy is all visible weapons must be peace bonded so an outside observer might assume that meant gun free zone. Would have been a most bodacious surprise for any potential attackers. Didn’t happen of course or you’d have heard of it.
        Worst thing I heard was a couple of newbies (had to be no one else would be so crass and stupid) complained about the quality of the food in the con suite. Seems simple southern cooking did not meet their dietary requirements. Response was pretty much same as if they’d pulled that whiney crap in their mama’s house. “Be grateful we’re feeding you. If you don’t like it take your sorry butt elsewhere!” “Bless your heart.”

        • I had to do with… er.. substitutes.. when the main option was “stuff with gravy.” I suspect I would have a problem in the South: I do not gravy. I did, however, carefully say nothing then and there.

        • I need to recommend the Blue Orleans restaurant, just down the street from the Chooch. If you’ve never experienced Nawlins food, you need to go there!

          • New Orleans. Where they don’t make fried chicken with buttermilk; they make it with condensed milk. Where seafood is its own food group. Where even the zombies insist on brains that are properly cooked.

        • Worst thing I heard was a couple of newbies (had to be no one else would be so crass and stupid) complained about the quality of the food in the con suite. Seems simple southern cooking did not meet their dietary requirements.

          I have particular dietary requirements that often make it hard for me to make do at cons. Having to eat out drives up the cost (or pack along food which drives up the inconvenience) which is unfortunate but that’s my problem, not the con’s. I end up eating a lot of salad, veggies, and cheese. 😉

          I have, in the past, made requests (not at the con, but between cons) of the nature of “would it be possible to…” and had the cost factors pointed out to me. And that’s cool. I have never complained to the con staff about the work they do providing for con attendees. As I said, my problem, not the con’s. LibertyCon does an awesome job.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Yeah. My problem, and no one else’s.

          • They/we were pretty aggressive about gluten free options, vegetarian options, 0 peanuts, and carefully marked and segregated from the “normal” chow. Von asked if I had any dietary restrictions when I volunteered, and they went out of their way to have stuff for one of the guests (no bell peppers; gluten free;) and others.

            • At the con with which I am connected we have been having to make changes. While we only feed the con’s guests and the staff, food costs have become a major issue. The major allergens are now avoided altogether. Gluten free options are available. The people staffing the green room (for con guests) and the staff suite hold food service safety certifications in the state we operate, to comply with local laws. They are able to answer any questions you may have about the preparation. This past year the head of hospitality had to put limits on the hours that the staff suite was open and make the vegetarian options on-request-only to make sure that it did not run out and was actually available for the vegetarians. Next year we are going to issue food tickets to the staff.

        • Worst thing I heard was a couple of newbies (had to be no one else would be so crass and stupid) complained about the quality of the food in the con suite. Seems simple southern cooking did not meet their dietary requirements.

          People need to not be dissing other folk’s culture.

          Especially as offering, say, novelle cuisine would be cultural appropriation.

        • “No, you don’t use a knife and fork to eat fried chicken. As long as juice or gravy doesn’t run down toward your elbows, it’s perfectly acceptable to eat with your fingers.”

          I went to lunch with some Yankees once, in DC. They were horrified that I picked up a taco with my fingers. After I ascertained they weren’t pulling my leg, I wondered how they dealt with hamburgers…

          • Those must have been city folk. Even in the northeast (PA at least) people outside of the big cities aren’t this silly.

            • One was from somewhere in New York, probably too close to the cancer of New York City.

              • Some people in the East have been raised with strong taboos against eating anything as finger food, unless it is hors d’oeuvres. And even then, they want a toothpick. They also do not use rolls, bread, etc. to clean up sauce on the plate.

                Shrug. Customs are customs. It is kinda charming, in an old-fashioned way. And I can eat pizza with a fork, if necessary.

                • :Shrug: Sucks to be them.

                • Chicago deep dish requires a knife and fork. New York thin traditional on the other hand…

                • Unless the crust is very crisp and flakey, I often prefer to eat pizza with a fork, at least if it’s hot. I’ll eat cold pizza with my fingers, because it’s less likely to droop down to where it requires a “baby bird” approach to getting it in my mouth.

            • The Other Sean

              And even most of the folk in the big cities aren’t like that. How many folks in Philly DON’T eat a Philly steak with their hands?

              • In all my time in Philadelphia I have never once seen or heard of anyone eating a Philly steak — or any other version of the hoagie for that matter — utilizing silverware.

          • They were horrified that I picked up a taco with my fingers.

            In the concluding book of the Shadow Falls series by C.C. Hunter, the folk the main character is staying with, in an effort to help her feel less out of place, ask her about her favorite foods and get pizza–served on fine China, eaten with a knife and fork.

            Some things are just wrong. 😉

            • I’ve actually seen that where I live, but I put it down to “Not from around here.”

              When my wife was recovering from heart surgery I cut her pizza into strips with the kitchen scissors, though. She thought that was very funny.

            • Yup. Even NYC denizens know how to eat pizza (the correct way, at least in NYC, is to use your thumb and first two fingers to hold the crust and fold the slice into a sort of U shape).

          • My Grandma Gertie was a southern grande dame. I can hear her now — Fried chicken may be picked up with your fingers. Served cold at a picnic of course, that is obvious, but you may do so even at the dining table. What in the world do you those lovely dainty finger bowls are about? What do you mean nobody uses them anymore?

            • The tiny soup bowls at Chinese restaurants make dandy finger bowls. I also use them for dipping stuff in soy sauce.

          • Birthday girl

            Please do not tarnish all people of the northern areas with the scum of the urbanites. There are very decent people in the north, outside of those hives of villainy.

          • Went to a British “American” BBQ joint in the 80’s (closed a couple of years ago). They had fingerbowls. The waitress was aghast when I explained that was what denim was FOR.

  6. 😀 Sounds like the place to be.

    I grew up to be very mild mannered and accommodating and quiet both because I am scared of my temper – and the fact that I was taught to be ashamed of it – and because people never seemed to get me. I can get that feeling of trying to be careful all the time.

  7. ,,,and you people that are so jealous of our automobiles? Our junk cars litter the Moon, along with our candy wrappers and drink cups. And our robots have left tire tracks all over Mars.

    Churchill was upset that the American supplies landed on D-Day wasted so much space on trucks. But we offloaded all the trucks and jeeps and then our army moved further in an hour than many European armies could move in a whole day.

    Because we’re Americans, and Americans *drive*.

    • Red Ball Express, anyone? Without all the trucks, we’d still be fighting WW2.

    • Drive:

      an inner urge that stimulates activity or inhibition; a basic or instinctive need:

      a united effort to accomplish some specific purpose, especially to raise money, as for a charity.

      vigorous pressure or effort, as in business.

      Opposite of drift.

    • Scene from one of the classic WWII movies. Germans captured a US mail truck and delivered interesting items to the German commander. He opens a large square box and finds a cake. He says to his batman, “we scramble for fuel and ammunition while the Americans send their soldiers birthday cakes. The war is lost.”
      Or words to that effect.

      • I’m listening to Albert Speer’s “Inside the Third Reich” at the moment. That could have come right out of Speer…

        What I missed when I read the book was that the internal politics of the NSDAP was so convoluted he depended on Allied radio news to keep track of what the other Party ministries were up to…

    • Americans do logistics. We move stuff, lots of stuff. As for trucks, well a mule moves x stuff and has to eat and all too frequently dies. Using grunt to move stuff means said grunt isn’t shooting the enemy. A truck moves x times 100 and doesn’t creates supply pile ups.

      • I have heard it said that Patton and Rommel were the only two military men who were fighting a mechanized war in WWII– everyone else was still thinking in terms of foot soldiers. While I think that’s an oversimplification, there may be some truth there.

        • Rommel was delusional when it came to logistics, just as Patton was. The difference was, when Rommel went on his little armed incursions, the logistics folks falling in on him couldn’t make it work. Patton’s guys just sighed, and got stuff done.

          If Rommel had been an American general, odds are pretty good we’d have been in Berlin before the Russians breached the Oder river line.

          Neither one of them really paid attention to logistics, in terms of ensuring that they were there to work with. Patton was just able to get what he needed out of the American system–He did little to aid or ensure that things worked. His attitude was that it was someone else’s job to do, and screw the difficulties. If he’d been even halfway “logistics minded”, little things like the discarding of 5-gallon fuel cans wouldn’t have been happening on his watch. As is, a whole bunch of things he did added up to his advances being choked off by logistical constraints he helped create.

          • Patton, like Montgomery, had been promoted far beyond his competency, and then SHAEF cranked the PR machine up to cover for them.

            • Patton saved the Lipizzan horses, so I forgive him a lot of stuff.

              And to be fair, playing the general of a ghost invasion force for months and months before D-Day had to be trying to someone of Patton’s temper.

            • I’m not sure I’d say that Patton or Rommel were promoted past their level of competency. Rather, I’d say that neither one of them was properly prepared to be where they were placed–Rommel should have, and likely would have, absent WWI, gone to the General Staff schools, which would likely have “fixed” his issues. Patton, likewise, wasn’t prepared the way other officers were, for his position. Say what you will about the modern system, but no senior officer gets to be senior without going through the training pipeline at Leavenworth, which is overall a very good place to learn the trade of warfare. If you actually pay attention there, and don’t get sidelined by the politics, the information is there to be gathered, and you’ll note that while our officer corps may be crap when it comes to things like actually winning wars (more a political concern, in the first place, so blame the politicians first), they very rarely screw things up when it comes to the nuts and bolts making war.

              Had the Army been listened to by the nozzleheads like Rumsfeld, the logistical crap that went wrong in the early days of the Iraq war wouldn’t have happened. Of course, a good deal of that was due to the Turks unexpectedly going back on their words, and leaving us to supply just about all the war through Kuwait, instead of a NATO ally, but that still doesn’t excuse the idiocies like cutting the logistics weenie troop numbers down to beyond the bone, the way they did. It took KBR over a year to straighten that mess out, and the container yards at Doha in Kuwait were the graves of several high-ranking logistics officer’s careers… All due to having cut the “right people” out of the deployment lists.

          • freddie_mac

            If Rommel had been an American general, odds are pretty good we’d have been in Berlin before the Russians breached the Oder river line.

            *frowns* Don’t post things like that without release dates to back them up!

          • Ehh. Blaming Patton for the supply difficulties caused the destruction of the American Mulberry port, the German decision to either bunker up in or demolish every French port, and the sheer idiocy that was trying Market-Garden instead of clearing the Scheldt is a little excessive.
            No, I really don’t like Monty.

          • Patton’s logisticians turned an entire Army 90 degrees on line of march in 24 hours to march on Bastogne. NO modern army has ever done that since.

        • While I will growl a whole lot about our Army treating their people like borrowed equipment, that’s compared to other US branches.

          The Army seems to have improved the least since WWII, but compared to other cultures it’s like… they see soldiers are a raw resource to be used by officers, we see them as the first level of resource users.

          • It’s been like that since forever, and it’s baked into the culture. If you read Guardians of the Republic, which is a history of the US Army NCO corps, you get the distinct impression that the US military culture in the Army is severely at odds with itself–And, I’ll be damned if I can really see a good, singular reason for it. The West Point commissioned officer culture of the early 1800s seems to have somehow encouraged, without really setting out to do so, a very anti-egalitarian military culture. You simply do not have the easy transition between enlisted and officers that you have in, say, the German Army, where you’ve had Feldwebels transitioning between enlisted and commissioned ranks with great ease, and senior NCOs running platoon- and company-sized elements. In the German and British armies, for example? You’ll find that the development of doctrine and technique flows upwards as well as downwards–In the UK, it’s not that uncommon for a single senior NCO to be tasked with writing important doctrinal manuals, and have them go into issue without significant changes. In US practice? That ain’t happening, homey, and if it does, the usual product is disaster because some semi-literate moron that the the officers promoted and placed into a position to do so conformed to expectations. The initial version of FM5-250 was turned into incomprehensible crap because the Master Sergeant they put in charge couldn’t understand the new bridge demo system in it, and because of that, nobody else did, either. The idiot was virtually illiterate, as well as technically ignorant of his job. Product? Shambles. Around the same time, the UK was writing a new Route Clearance Operations manual, and I met the NCO who was writing it during an exercise, and got to look over the lucidly written product he’d managed to produce. On his desk, for light recreational reading? The collected works of one Wm. Shakespeare. The man could produce a quip from those words at the drop of a hat, and the allusions he’d make were ones that would make even the Oxford-educated officers he worked with shake their heads and try to remember where the hell they’d heard that–And, all produced in this nearly-unintelligible Geordie accent that was almost impenetrable even to other Englishmen.

            Yeah, the US Army has its issues–Not the least of which are the way the culture works internally between enlisted and officers. I’d almost be tempted to say burn the whole thing down, and start over, because something went seriously wrong with the initial settings on it.

            • A great part of the problems of the US Army stem from our early efforts to avoid a permanent military, relying instead on state militias. West Point was established for training engineers who happened to be soldiers … and who zealously defend their prerogatives. Histories of the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War spend a great deal of time on the relative attitudes of the militia and the professional troops, and it is highly probable such views persisted through at least the First World War (something I’ve recently read dwelt upon our mobilization and deployment for that war, but I’m danged if I can recall what it was; it could have been Long Enough For Love, but that seems likely only to be part of it.)

              • I think that’s a good part of the issue, but I’m still rather unsure of the exact path that took from the initial starting point to where we are now. You look at the ease with which a lot of those former West Pointers took to working in industry, and how well they worked with the dirty-handed types that built things like the canals and railways, and then back at the Army, and you’re left going “WTF?”.

                The US Army is a really aberrant thing, when you look at the micro-scale culture inside it. On the one hand, it’s the defensive organization for one of the most egalitarian nations in the history of the world, and yet, on the other…? It is insanely class-bound, and has been almost since its inception. Hell, the Brits and Germans are more egalitarian than we are, even at their rock-bottom worst. The usual American stereotype of the inflexible Prussian officer? After a bit of experience and research, that starts to look an awful lot like sheer projection, more than anything else.

                Case in point: Review the way the Germans came to develop the school of modern tactics that we all (mostly…) use today, which came out of WWI and the trenches. The Stosstruppen came out of ideas that were generated down on the bleeding edge of the battlefield, from company-grade officers and senior NCOs, and some of their techniques and tactics were copied from captured French pamphlets, ones that the French Captain who wrote them despaired of ever getting the hide-bound and inflexible French military to pay attention to. So… Inflexible Prussian automatons? Not so much…

          • I just finished Chesty Puller’s biography and can assure you that our Marine Corps only “recently” abandoned its treatment of enlisted men as resources. (A reason Puller is so loved by the troops.) I haven’t gotten the impression our Army is far advanced from there, although they are evolving (laying aside rant about current politically correct treatment and ROE.)

            One thing to keep in mind is that the senior officer and NCO groups all had their formative experience twenty or more years before, causing a lag time for implementation of new attitudes.)

            Not Completely Off Topic: for those with access to GET.TV (a cable channel relying on vintage television programs from 50’s – 70’s and movies from the 30’s – 70’s … see: http://www.get.tv/) they are running an interesting Gene Roddenberry just before Trek series, The Lieutenant

            Gary Lockwood and Robert Vaughn star as commanders at Camp Pendleton, who find trouble and corruption among fellow soldiers and superiors, alike. The series was the first created by Gene Roddenberry, two years before he changed the face of science fiction forever with STAR TREK. Guests include Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Ed Asner, Linda Evans, and future STAR TREK stars Walter Koenig, Nichelle Nichols & Leonard Nimoy.

            or, from IMDb’s posted description:

            A marine-corps drama set at Camp Pendleton (near San Diego, California) proving ground for men who pride themselves on being United States Marines. From the lowliest recruit to the highest-ranking General, the men of Pendleton symbolize the utmost in rigorous training and military perfection. Lt. William T. Rice (Gary Lockwood), late of Annapolis and now in charge of a riffle platoon is no exception… This short-lived series was written by Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek, and featured an amazing cast of future stars.

            It has proven a surprisingly good and sympathetic program about officer development.

            • Sigh. My HTMLpologies.

            • From an American POV, yes, they’re still “enlisted are resources”– contrast with what we’d consider total psychos, where the idea of deliberate cannon fodder, rather than some people being cannon fodder as an unavoidable side-effect.

              They’d be lynched….

  8. Oh yeah!!

  9. *sigh* One of P.J.’s finer, full-throated rants!

  10. 🙂 First thing I read this morning. It made me smile.

  11. I’m surprised Portugal wasn’t yawping over the rooftops with national pride over winning the soccer championship. Paris was celebrating like it was Liberation Day when their team beat Germany.

  12. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    America saying in a Bruce Banner Voice “Don’t get me mad. You won’t like me when I get mad.” 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿

  13. Damn fucking straight.

  14. Oh heck yeah.

  15. Randy Wilde

    The rant is nice and all, but I prefer the classics.

    Major Strasser: Are you one of those people who cannot imagine the Germans in their beloved Paris?

    Rick: It’s not particularly my beloved Paris.

    Heinz: Can you imagine us in London?

    Rick: When you get there, ask me!

    Captain Renault: Hmmh! Diplomatist!

    Major Strasser: How about New York?

    Rick: Well there are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn’t advise you to try to invade.

    • Anybody invade America? To put it most succinctly, I quote the great American philosopher: “I pity the fool.”

    • I vaguely remember a trailer for a slasher movie (the critter was Jason. Which one is that?) that had the momster invading Manhattan. This was in the ’80’s, and my basic teaction was “….and is never heard from again!”

      • That would be Friday the 13th.

        And yeah, I can see him running back to Camp Crystal Lake, tail between his legs, muttering, “Man, and I thought I was a homicidal maniac…”

        • Set him down in South-side Chicago, and watch him and his efforts vanish into the noise…

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I dream a dream of Jason upping his game so that he is not lost in the statistical noise. There are two million incarcerated, and going by the wilder claims, maybe eighty million stoners. That comes to around 24 to 950 Blokhin-years of killing. Chop chop.

          • Randy Wilde

            Guy in a hockey mask wandering around Chicago? How bad could it be?

            • Really bad. If they guy in the hockey mask is wandering around, rather than out on the ice, that must mean that the Blackhawks have been knocked out of the playoffs again.

    • America, where the gangbangers are better-armed than a lot of countries.

      • And the country folk laugh at how poorly armed they are and how bad the gangbangers’ aim is.

        • America, where one guy has military supremacy over Barbados and was in an arms race with Bemuda (probably passed them by now).

          • Which is probably one reason we tend not to get invaded. Once they got the government out of the way, any invaders would have to deal with the entire rest of the country. Makes land wars in Asia look rather picnic like.

          • Make that, “a *lot* of one guys…”

            I met a guy who owned half a dozen tanks, operational except for the guns. There are guys with fighters and bombers. Before they all rotted, a lot of private citizens owned PT boats. Lots of collectors specialize in Jeeps, deuce-and-a-halfs, and other vehicles; they’re are enough of those to have their own regional shows.

            There are at least two operational and flying B-29 Superfortresses, the type that dropped the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They’re intercontinental bombers with a 3000 mile range, and they’re in private hands.

            • Although FIFI is a B29 (owned and operated by the Commemorative Air Force) she is not quite the same as the ones that dropped the early atomic weapons. Those were B29s with some special modifications (Code name Silverplate) to carry the large and VERY heavy (12000 lb plus) early atomic weapons. I only know of 2 of those on display. The Enola Gay is at the Udvar-Hazy annex of the Smithsonian Air and Space and Bock’s Car is at the Museum of the US Air Force. Both are fully restored but museums go for authenticity not fly-ability. I think Fifi has
              modified engines as the B29 engines were prone to catch fire if pushed too hard.

              • Yup. We did a full re-engining two years ago and got blessed off by the FAA. I think Doc (new B-29) also has the different engines. Something about blowing jugs at bad moments, among other little quirks.

              • Didn’t the CAF guys get the engines from a couple of B-50’s to put on them?

    • kenashimame

      Major Strasser: I found him to be just another blundering American.

      Captain Renault: Be careful, I was with the Americans when they blundered into Berlin in 1918.

      • ,,,and a pilot’s joke so ancient it might even be true:

        Speedbird 206: “Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway.”

        Ground: “Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven.”

        The BA 747 pulled onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.

        Ground: “Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?”

        Speedbird 206: “Stand by, Ground, I’m looking up our gate location now.”

        Ground (with quite arrogant impatience):

        “Speedbird 206, have you not been to Frankfurt before?”

        Speedbird 206 (coolly): “Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark and I didn’t land.”

        • As far as I know, the “Speedbird” callsign was used only by Concorde flights.

          • The “Speedbird” was a corporate logo designed for Imperial Airways in 1932. When the merger resulting in BOAC happened in 1939, BOAC kept the Speedbird icon, and adopted “Speedbird” as its call sign for ATC.

            BOAC and BEA merged in 1974 to form British Airways, and kept the call sign, and use it today for international flights. Concorde flights were all (modulo an occasional maintenance ferry flight) international, so they always identified as Speedbird xxx

            • It is apparent that the best way to get a quick education is to post something factually false on the Internet.

              I just wish I had the knack of doing it on purpose rather than by accident.

              • You need to make sure you are in the right venue, as well. Here is a good one, as well as a few other sites, but I wouldn’t try it on the Huffing Glue Post.

                • While both here and there* people are expected to learn from mistakes, the primary distinction is that here we expect people to learn the accurate information, while there people are expected to learn their place and keep their mouths shut if they can’t figure out the party line.

                  *Site which need not be named.

                • I am not predisposed to just believe anybody. I listen to everybody, I seem to be incapable of not considering what I’m told in fact, and if I can get some information corroborated, then I give it greater weight. In this case, I actually did some research after I made my original post and before I was corrected, so I consider it rather thoroughly corroborated.

        • Speedbird 206 spoke with a distinctly British accent.

          1. The RAF flew night bombing missions.
          2. “Speedbird” was long British Airways’ callsign.

        • Back in the mid-70s I worked in the aviation ground school department of IASCO, who conducted ab initio flight training for Japan Air Lines (who has since built a big facility in Okinawa and do their own training). Fascinating job.

          The American head of the ground school was an 8th AF B-17 pilot, who left the air force as a B-47 pilot, just before the B-52 arrived. (The Japanese head was an ex-IJN Zero pilot. They got along very well.)

          After leaving the AF, Dave ended up flying right seat for Lufthansa’s cargo operation. One long, dark, boring night, Dave and the British flight engineer got to talking about where they’d been and what they’d done, and when Dave brought up his 8th AF experience, the very German command pilot went very non-linear. As in, red faced, high-volume, incoherent screaming, eventually calming down to merely “I hate you guys!!!!”.

          His job during that past time had been a Luftwaffe fighter pilot, trying to stop the 8th AF from bombing Germany.

          Things were a bit tense for a little while.

          Everyone cooled off eventually, and Dave and the German worked and flew together for a couple more years, and got be pretty good friends, before he left to work at IASCO.

        • Another one from Frankfurt that should be true:

          A pilot makes a request over the radio. The tower comes back “Lufthansa xxx, repeat your request in English.”

          “I am a German pilot in a German plane at a German airport. Why must I speak English?”

          To which an unidentified British voice replies “because you lost the bloody war!”

  16. O’Rourke’s tirade expresses a lot of hidden truths…and yes, some not-so-hidden. But chiefest among them is this:

    If you carry yourself like a king — like someone who has the absolute and incontestable right to do whatever you damned well please — you’re very likely to be treated like a king.

    Of course, there are always assassins about, ready to commit lese majeste, and there is the need to exhibit noblesse oblige, but an adult American, raised to kingship from birth will know how to cope…won’t he?

    • That bit explains why our wannabe elites keep telling us we should look up to and emulate the Europeans.
      They forget we’re the ones who chose to leave, back when leaving meant severing ties to a degree nearly unimaginable today.

    • Tends to explain why the Russians hate us so much.
      We by nature are what they would dream to be with all their bluster and pomp and bragging.

      • In one of his earlier stories, “To Bring In The Steel,” Donald Kingsbury noted that among the most common reasons for lying is the wish that the lie could be true. I’d say that also applies to empty blustering and bragging…a rhetorical form the Russians adopted and made their own quite a while ago.

        • From Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series (first few volumes were pretty good. Started losing interest around “Temple of the Winds” and never got through “Soul of the Fire”) Wizard’s First Rule: People are stupid. They will believe a thing because they want it to be true or because they are afraid it might be true.

          Explains much about the world.

        • “That does not qualify as a try”. Awesome story, and it makes the list of SF stories I’d like to see made into movies.

    • I take the Aunt Eller approach “I don’t say I’m no better than anybody else but I’ll be danged if I ain’t just as good!”

  17. Gotta love you some P.J. Someone ought to invite him to LibertyCon!

  18. And I had to read the second paragraph twice before I figured out it didn’t say “We are king sized beds.” Wishful thinking, I guess. These 4 a.m. days are getting to me. 😉

    • LOL! I read it the same way. I figured it was just Sarah being Sarah, and went as far as mentally agreeing with her. I AM a King size bed KING of the Universe! After all, I am over 6 feet tall (and mumble mumble feet wide) so “normal” size beds don’t quite fit.

      However, when I read your comment I went back and took a second look… It all makes so much more sense to me the second time…

      • But are you a regular king-sized bed of the universe or a California-king-sized bed of the universe?

        • Sadly, I belong to the short end of my family tree. I have (somewhat middle-distant) cousins who are over 7 feet tall. I, however, am only 6 foot 3 inches tall so the regular king-size bed enough. As a consolation prize though, the regular king-size bed is 4 inches wider than the California king and I really do like to stretch out when I sleep.

    • The wife and I share a king size bed. It’s losing. There are some things, apparently, that memory foam does not want to remember.

  19. Seriously, this post should be labeled NSFW. I’m laughing too hard at something that I shouldn’t be reading, and ABSOLUTELY can’t share here!

    Perfect from start to finish. Love the feeling you so clearly opened with, and the PJ O’Rourke quote was a thing of beauty. Thank you.

  20. And, of course, there’s the carrot to go with that stick:

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/543967/posts

    “This Canadian thinks it is time to speak up for the Americans as the most generous and possibly the least appreciated people on all the earth.

    Germany, Japan and, to a lesser extent, Britain and Italy were lifted out of the debris of war by the Americans who poured in billions of dollars and forgave other billions in debts. None of these countries is today paying even the interest on its remaining debts to the United States.

    When France was in danger of collapsing in 1956, it was the Americans who propped it up, and their reward was to be insulted and swindled on the streets of Paris. I was there. I saw it.

    When earthquakes hit distant cities, it is the United States that hurries in to help. This spring, 59 American communities were flattened by tornadoes.

    Nobody helped.

    More at the link.

    • Way back when, varifrank had a rant where he lost his professionalism, just after the tsunami in Indonesia where two Euro fellows were making fun of the USA for sending an aircraft carrier to help. It fell off the internet, or I’d link. One guy was French. “Where’s your carrier? Oh yeah the only one you have is broke.” Other nations might send a few people. We send a city with its own power supply, hospitals and transportation..

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Good to see a fellow Canadian standing up for America. My countrymen’s knee-jerk anti-Americanism is a blight on Canada’s reputation as a tolerant nation.

      • Agreed – I’ve never quite figured it out myself.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          There’s a case that Canada is also a nation of ideas, and that the founding idea is not being America.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Well, I’ve heard it said that some Canadians were looking for something for Canada to boast about and all they found was “We’re Not The US”. 😉

            • That isn’t all Canadians have to brag about.


              They’ve also had great success sending forces loot the United States: Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, William Shatner, Bryan Adams, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Pamela Anderson (although I believe her boobs are American), Michael J. Fox, Nathan Fillion, Lorne Greene, Margot Kidder, the cast of Second City and many, many more.

            • Canadian things to be proud about:
              RCMP
              maple syrup
              Victoria

              • People who should know tell me word-class ski resorts.
                IIRC, had the good sense to give up Prohibition as soon as they saw it didn’t work.
                Keep their streets clean (well, of not-snow, anyway – and do a better job on the white stuff too, IMHO).

    • After the horrendous flooding here in West Virginia there was actually a British guy who heard about it on the news and flew out with supplies and volunteered his help cleaning out debris in one of the hardest hit towns.

      But the fact that that was such an unexpected occurance still tells you something.

    • scott2harrison

      I heard the original broadcast. This is not quite it as there was a reference to the American Red Cross being out of money in the original. Also, the recording of the broadcast was made into a 45 rpm record and sold (and sold well) with all the royalties going to the American Red Cross.

  21. Megalomania much?

  22. America’s never bin invaded???!!

    Bucko, we Americans are the invaders! Before us there was just a hideous & desolate wilderness, full of wild beasts & wild men, and we arrived and built a haven for the Odd.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      It is better for the rest of the world that migration dropped most of the past conflict oral history from our collective memory, and that we haven’t lost against an existential threat in hundreds of years.

    • 1812, or there abouts … see: War of …

    • kenashimame

      Major Ashley-Pitt: In our experience, Americans are uncouth misfits who should be run out of their own barbaric country.
      Matthew Quigley: Well, Lieutenant…
      Major Ashley-Pitt: Major.
      Matthew Quigley: Major. We already run the misfits outta our country. We sent ’em back to England.

  23. “Our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world.” Mostly for being a public nuisance and failing to properly bow down to authority. God bless their wretched, contrary, ambitious hearts. Somebody must have told them they couldn’t tame a continent and build a civilization of their own.

  24. Somebody beat me to the War of 1812 v, ‘never been invaded’. 😦

    BTW, Happy Bastille Day!

    Also BTW, Judge Posner is still a moron.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      It’s really only us Canadians who really care about 1812.

      • Well, the honors were pretty even for your part of the Empire.

        Now, these days, we could take you guys down any day of the week – but it’d be very iffy if we played “fair.”

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I noticed in Tom Kratman’s Caliphate, the “history” part describes the invasion of Canada as being successful more because of the US numbers than anything else. There was a comment about the high quality of the Canadian forces. (As in they were very good just out-numbered.)

          • In one of Deitz’ books an interstallar expedition needed a helicopter. So they dug a 500-year-old helicopter out of a museum. It had “Canadian Air Force” painted on the side.

            This is ROFL funny if you’re familiar with the work of a Canadian comedy group called ‘The Frantics.” It relates to a skit called “Army Careers”, which is a spinoff of an earlier skit called “Boot to the Head.”

            Last I looked, both clips were on YouTube.

        • Pish-tosh — plenty of us here in the South recall it was New Englanders who were providing aid & comfort to English invaders and threatening to secede.

          Nor have we forgotten the demonstration our militia gave those troops of Wellington’s when they showed up in Naw’leans to try to show us up. Only reason y’all got to DC was those punk Yankees failed to hold the Brits in Maryland.

          • The Brits didn’t have all their own way in DC, VA, and MD, either. Having General Cockburn shot by a sniper rifle was something of a shock for them, as was the riverine warfare by itsy-bitsy commando forces in itsy-bitsy boats.

            Plus the tornado right on the redcoats, right after the burning of DC.

            None of this stuff was surprising to the Canadians, of course, so they had a lot more fun than the Brits did.

      • Like, oh, Barbados…

        Our war was against Britain, not Canada. “Canada” didn’t exist as a nation in 1812.

      • Well, the US tried fairly spectacularly unsuccessfully to invade y’all, and the Brits burned D.C., but all in all it was a wash so yeah, not much attention paid to it.

        • For those who like their History straight (sorta) I recommend 1812: The Navy’s War by George C. Daughan — I recently “read” it on audiobook and found it quite lucid, even if it did tend to hop about a bit, trying to keep up with all the different theatres of that war. In spite of the title, it covers a great deal of the land war as well, probably because most of the land battles were a result of troops landing and advancing … then hastily withdrawing.

          • Back before he started writing science fiction, Walter Job Williams wrote a number of historical novels based on the war of 1812. I haven’t read any of them, but he’s talked about the historical background on his blog. His take was that the British intended to make the Mississippi a line of demarcation from Canada to New Orleans, which the British had just acquired from France. Britain would corral America to the east side of the river using gunboats and shore installations to separate it from its just-acquired Louisiana Purchase territories while negotiating with Spain for the western territories.

            I’ve casually followed up on a some of this, and so far it looks like, while different from the story I had in school, Williams’ version, with its political three ring circus between Britain, France, and Spain, fits the facts well. (it may be the accepted background now; almost everything the history books I had in school turned out to be false on closer inspection)

            • That is consistent with Daughan’s analysis — the Brits denied the legitimacy of the Louisiana Purchase, as it was not Boney’s to sell (disputed titles to land are an ancient tradition.) Control of the Mississippi from the Great Lakes to the Gulf would have established Canada as the major continental power, while the Amerindian tribes were to be given West of the Mississippi and (IIRC) North of the Ohio — land which the Brits largely viewed as worthless (to them) anyway.

              • Oh, on the subject of outdated textbooks, Daughan argues that while the treaty had been agreed to prior to the Battle of New Orleans, it had not been ratified by Congress nor signed, and thus a British victory in that battle would have established new facts on the ground effectively re-negotiating that treaty (likely with a British warning to pray they didn’t alter it further.)

      • And lovers of esoteric pop songs:

        Why the use of the photos from some fifty years later?

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          Grew up listening to Johnny Horton. I imagine he’d be quite triggering by today’s standards, singing about war like that.

          • A great number of things from my youth would now be considered triggering. I recall the elimination of ethnic jokes — starting with a certain European country behind the iron curtain which later produced the first non-Italian Pope in ever-so-long.

  25. We have been invaded and PJ O Rourke’s would have been improved by mentioning it….
    The only country with the balls to attack us in the last 100 years were the Japanese and we took back all the land they grabbed from us and drove them back to their home. For most people Nuking is what you do to your food. We NUKED the Japanese cities!

    • And then used our country’s resources and engineering expertise to rebuild those Japanese cities and their industrial infrastructure.
      There is a very good reason why “Made in Japan” went from a joke to a mark of quality over the course of the generation after WWII. We upgrade our industrial might piecemeal at best. They got to start from scratch and build things up with state of the art technology.

      • Sometimes you see some anti-Americanism in anime. But the amusing thing is when an anime has an anti-American plotline early on (like they are playing an American team that cheats and trash talks), but follows up with a plotline where the characters go to America. (Usually because the mangaka or anime writer got to go on an overseas vacation.)

        Because all of a sudden, the anti-Americanism tends to become pro-Americanism. Everybody is so friendly and helpful! Everybody likes Japan! Everybody wants them to have a good time and do well! (So apparently the love attack works….)

        Of course, the most interesting shows are the ones that start out being positive about the US. They usually end up making some interesting observations about the differences between the US and Japan. Space Brothers, the near-future-NASA anime/manga, does an extremely good job of this with its view of both Houston and Florida NASA culture. (And its photo-realistic reproductions of real places in Cocoa Beach and Houston.)

        • I went to lunch in a steakhouse in Little Rock back in the mid-1990s. A group of Japanese businessmen were a couple of tables over, with stacks of empty shot glasses by the remains of their meals. There was also a huge pile of peanuts demonstrating the engineering concept “angle of repose.” They’d shell the roasted peanuts, stack the nuts on the pile, throw the hulls on the floor, and roar with drunken laughter. Apparently they’d been at it for a while.

          Around here, that’s what you do with the hulls, unless they bring you a second, empty bucket for them. I like roasted peanuts myself, but those guys were getting more uproarious joy out of them than I’d ever considered over a mere goober…

          They were still there when I left, half-paralyzed. As a frequent customer, I’d bet the waitress gave them to-go bags of peanuts when they left…

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Akira Miyashita does it at least twice. In two of his Otokojuku manga, one of the early antagonist groups is associated with the US military. Otokojuku being Otokojuku, representatives end up joining the good guys as transfer students, and in the first, the representative ends up showing well as one of the main fighters for the entire series.

      • Part of that problem of industrial disparity is attributable to the culture that dominated American industry in that post-war era. Rather than take the recommendations of Ed Demming American managers and unions focused on cosmetic changes (bigger tail-fins! more chrome!) and processing any workplace changes through unlimited councils and meetings guaranteed to ensure minimal disruption of the assembly lines.

        Japan, lacking that “advantage,” had to actually win market share, and directed all available intelligence toward that purpose.

        • The post WWII US had a unique industrial advantage- lots of factories, lots of skilled workforce, and almost no competition world wide- all the other countries were either smoking piles of rubble or undeveloped swamps.
          Foolishly, the unions, the government, and big business thought this state of affairs would be a permanent feature, and built accordingly.

          • The industrial advantage led to an over-focus on the quarterly bottom line (i.e. local competition, which is faster moving), to the disadvantage of long-term planning.
            Also, the pace of technological disruption was picking up (e.g. transistors invented in Dec. 1947), which made some managers less confident in the reliability of making long-term plans.
            Unions’ priorities were similar: short-term gains and consolidation of same, not the forecasting of long-term changes they might need to adapt to.

    • I’m sure you know the difference, but it pains me to see an equivalence made between the two uses of the term, “nuke”. Far too many people (even though the total number is not large, it’s still far too many) actually believe that microwaves can cause their food to be radioactive.

  26. My seminal PJ O’Rourke book was “Parliament of Whores.” Which is apparently legally online href=”https://archive.org/stream/ParlimentOfWhores/Parliment%20of%20Whores%20-%20P.%20J.%20ORourke_djvu.txt”>here.

  27. I thought I’d read the whole PJ corpus, and clearly have not. Where was that originally published? Damn, that guy knows how to write!

    BTW, I just registered for LibertyCon ten minutes ago, and nothing indicated that they were full-up or close to it.

  28. Arlan Andrews

    As Greg Benford pointed out in a long-ago WorldCon speech, commenting on that “never been invaded” comment: “Half of us have.” (cf. Confederate States of America)

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      The essential difference between a Republic and a Democracy is whether the terms of a deal that one has agreed to can be ignored if doing so has enough popularity.

      The existing deal was the Constitution, whose terms included guaranteeing the states republican government and suppressing insurrection.

      The CSA was a democratic Democratic Party enterprise that would also have effectively changed the operating conditions for the north. The CSA would have needed to invade the north to make it stick. Even then, nobody could have ensured a lasting peace. Because lasting peaces are things of deals, and deals aren’t worth warm spit with democracies.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        *sigh* needed to successfully invade the north

        Either the unsuccessful southern invasion of the north should count for at least partial credit, or the Democratic withdrawal from the government of the Union makes it a matter of the legitimate government suppressing a criminal conspiracy.

        • Not a topic for discussion in this venue, please. Sort of like an Obama-funded solar power plant, it tends to generate too much heat, insufficient light and inflicts excessive collateral damage.

          House takes aim at Obama’s solar bird-killer

        • Anyhoo, the point is that a lot of Union places got invaded by the CSA, too. Some more thoroughly than others — but there were a lot of traumatic things that happened, like Morgan’s Raid. And a lot of Union people found themselves abruptly stuck inside CSA territory, like a lot of northern Alabama and east Tennessee and North Carolina people did.

          Lots of bad stuff has happened. It’s just that we tend not to brood on it, as long as we’ve got so much new stuff to do. Part of the South’s problem (besides losing, which is never pleasant) is that it was left so poor and broken-up by the Civil War that a lot of places didn’t have time off from survival, and thus couldn’t afford to do new stuff. That isn’t good for Americans.

          And yet, even after all that, a lot of innovations and inventions came out of the South, and we can still be grateful for them today.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            The South is wonderful today, and part of that is remembering the poor decisions made after the ‘War of Northern Aggression’, and being determined to improve on them.

      • That is a very good summary of Democracy vs Republic– totally avoiding the second half of it, RES is right— and kinda harkens to the “and when you’ve cut the laws all flat chasing the devil, and the devil turns around at you, where will you hide?” issue that a lot of revolutions have.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I finally realized how to put it into words after having to sit through a speech by a Democrat who does not hold with some of The Party’s old history, and wishes to disavow it.

    • We didn’t do anything to Dresden we didn’t do to Richmond…

  29. We’re the king sized, bad assed kings and queens of creation

    No, we’re not, and most of us know it, just as “we” (claim) to know His son.

    And many of us are highly critical about the way He manages His creation.

    But as Teddy Kennedy was forced to wrap his head around during Ashcroft’s AG confirmation hearings, “We have no King but Jesus.”

    And many don’t even accept Jesus’s authority.

    • scott2harrison

      To add a Hugo reference: “No Truce With Kings”.

      • Weelllll, to be fair, it was God Who designated man to “have dominion over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth,” and commanded him to “fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.”

        So we are the kings and queens of Creation (at least on Earth), but in the same way that God made David the king of Israel. We are petty kings under the High King, by His appointment.

        • Er, “we” meaning “we sons of Adam and daughters of Eve,” not necessarily “we Americans.” Albeit American culture seems to encourage the use a lot of our powers, whereas some other cultures discourage it. Some of it is the tradition of thinking about “When Adam delved and Eve span,/Who was then the gentleman?”

          (I think I hear a Queen song about immortal Highlanders playing in the background….)

    • I have it on good authority that we’re men — no more, no less. 😉

      JOHN: Mark me Franklin, if we give in on this issue, posterity will never forgive us.

      FRANKLIN: That’s probably true. But we won’t hear a thing, John — we’ll be long gone. And besides, what will posterity think we were — demigods? We’re men — no more, no less — trying to get a nation started against greater odd than a more generous God would have allowed. John, first things first! Independence! America! For if we don’t secure that, what difference will the rest make?

  30. c4c

  31. I posted this in the succeeding topic also, but I figured it could get more exposure:

    A random thought just flitted through my mind. Perhaps at next year’s LC, we could have some sort of scheduled get-together of Huns and Hoydens? It wouldn’t need to be so formal as a scheduled room party, but just a “psst, Sarah’s folks are meeting in X at Y! Pass it on!”

  32. As an aside, there’s an Ace of Spade’s HQ has captured an amusing twitter exchange with a shout out to our esteemed hostess: http://acecomments.mu.nu/?post=364706

  33. I am reminded of what a film critic said about _The Avengers_. I’m paraphrasing here, but he wrote something like, “The alien invasion could only have been staged in NYC. In almost any other part of the US, thousands of armed private citizens would have shown up to play intergalactic skeet shoot, with free flying cars as prizes.” Americans only APPEAR indolent and fractious. It’s our hobby when we have nothing better to pay attention to. Invade us, however, and we will put our hobbies aside and react. Heinlein modeled his Loonies on us. We will react to an invasion as white corpuscles to an infection, with free (albeit inferior) tanks, planes, and foreign military food rations as prizes.

    • We will react to an invasion as white corpuscles to an infection, with free (albeit inferior) tanks, planes, and foreign military food rations as prizes.

      A common quip I see in response to the idea that the UN might be coming “to take our guns”:

      They’re not coming to take our guns. They’re coming to bring us theirs.

      • Patrick Chester

        I’m reminded of Rorschach’s “you’re locked up in here with me” line.
        🙂

      • I am so stealing that…

      • They’re not coming to take our guns.

        Sigh. Our “Enlightened (would-be” Overlords, in the news:
        Federal Agencies Can’t Keep Track of Their Own Guns
        By Theodore Kupfer — July 14, 2016

        The federal government needs to crack down on guns.

        Its own stockpile, anyway. The Washington Examiner reports:

        The federal government has spent $1.5 billion on guns and ammo since 2006, and lost nearly 1,000 weapons along the way, including Uzis, assault rifles, and grenade launchers, according to the House Oversight Committee chairman.

        In a hearing to urge tightened controls of weapons, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said, ‘The loss of a single firearm is cause for concern – the loss of what amounts to roughly five a month is unacceptable.’

        These guns were acquired by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), for use by their agents. Inventory is managed by the General Services Administration (GSA), the agency tasked with managing the affairs of other federal agencies. It’s important for certain federal agents to be armed if their job requires it. But it’s also important for the federal government to keep track of its expensive supplies, especially when those supplies have destructive potential.

        And these aren’t your run-of-the-mill weapons. Uzis, grenade launchers, the ever-nebulous assault rifles: plenty of firepower for agents who have dangerous jobs. They simply vanished, and at an alarming clip: 1,000 guns lost over the last 10 years comes out to just under two per week.

        So sure, maybe it’s easier to get a Glock than a book. But only if you’re neighbors with the local branch of the DHS.

    • I haven’t read it for a long time, but this brings to mind “The Night of the Cooters” by Howard Waldrop, in which Wells’ Martians have the bad karma to land a couple of their cylinders in the butt end of Texas. It did not go well for the Martians.

      • Patrick Chester

        “‘Prepare to die, Earth scum! Prepare to die, Earth scum!’ I’m gonna make sure they carve that on your tombstone!” “SHUT UP!”

        Okay, that was Spaced Invaders.

        • Which was a MUCH better movie than it ever deserved to be, despite the terrible facial animation of the martians. Verndroid is my hero! 🙂

      • I’d love to see the Avengers invasion scene in the backwoods somewhere. They’d have so much fun in the Bayous! Or the forests of LA. Have it happen in Dallas and see some suit and tie folks open up!

        • Having recently watched video of the Avengers’ response to that invasion, I have to express doubt that Black Widow’s handguns were at all effective against the Chitauri, especially when you notice how little kick they had, judging by lack of hand movements to absorb the recoil.


          See: 2’30”

          Of course, it is not impossible that Black Widow has had some form of enhancement, along the lines of super-soldier serum, merely highly improbable. Considering the body armor the Chitauri wear, I think large rounds in order.

          Sorta like Matthew Quigley employed. A .56 Sharps is persuasive.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I thought she had to have some form of treatment from the Soviets to hang around so long looking young.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              In the comics, yes. In the movies, apparently not. She was recruited and trained at the tail end of the Soviet era.

              • The very tail end. According to Winter Soldier, she was born in 1984, which would make her about 7 or 8 when the Soviet Union dissolved. Which is a little young for the Red Room, even by Soviet standards.

          • Quigley’s Sharps was chambered in .45-110. More punch than a .56 Spencer, at least.

        • “An alien hunting tour lands in a rural area, interdicts a 20-kilometer radius with a force field, and sends out hunting parties.

          Unfortunately, the interdicted zone includes the local VFW lodge, which was having a meeting when the zone went up…”

          • Ooh… Who’s Hunting Who? might be a nice title for that story.

            You know, I remember reading a story about a human group conducting military practice maneuvers on some planet, when they start getting picked off by some alien group. IIRC, they never did get one of the aliens, and it turned out the casualties were only stunned, or put in temporary stasis, or something, but it always struck me as unlikely that it would have been THAT one-sided.

            • There was a series by David Drake:
              Men Hunting Things
              Things Hunting Men
              Men and Things Hunting Together

    • I half-recall a quote from someone saying that Americans either treat war as a game or a business but the enemy is hosed either way…

      • Many German generals (after both wars) criticized American soldiers as slovenly and unprofessional.

        They were largely correct. They weren’t professionals. They weren’t even soldiers, as European nations tended to define them. They were drafted citizens, and their goal was to kill the enemy AND THEN YOU GO HOME.

        They weren’t there for the glory of combat, they were more like ranchers culling diseased livestock as quickly and efficiently as possible.

        That was what was behind Churchill’s heartburn with America’s army on wheels. Churchill saw armies as they had been when he did his time in the Hussars; officers on horses and men marching, in brightly colored uniforms, with buglers and pennants. SHAEF’s army was in olive drab riding noisy trucks, full of slouching men who didn’t fear their officers. There wasn’t any glory there, just men a long way from home, doing a nasty job.

        • Sheridan, an observer at the Franco-Prussian war, was a bit snippy about the superior appearance of German troops — who had marched on well built roads — and wondered how they would look after marching the same distance through a roadless swamp with six feet standing water.

        • They weren’t there for the glory of combat, they were more like ranchers culling diseased livestock as quickly and efficiently as possible.

          Or putting down the predators that were killing off their livestock.

    • I’m reminded of this little conversation and how I would change it.

      Loki: I have an army!!
      Stark,(rattles) drink, well maybe my friends can deal with them. That would be easier, for them. It’s better to be beaten by super being than what could happen. Look around, really look. What don’t you see. See any forts, other than some tired old relics, see any troops in the streets? There’s more wealth and power than can be imagined within a short distance from here, yet seemingly nothing to defend or protect it. Yes your army will show up. The Avengers will make things miserable. If they are smart they will make a show and leave, quickly. You see this is NYC and because of some stupid laws the city is sort of short on people who shoot. A couple of hours and that changes. I imagine that there will be a million people with who knows what that shoots all gunning for your folks. And when that fun’s over we will come gunning for the rest of you. Ask the Germans and the Japanese how that worked out. Frankly, what you will start worries me a lot more than you do. Because once it gets started, it’s relentless and utterly ruthless. And nothing will stop it until it wins. So please, tell your army to stay home, for their and their world’s sake.

      • scott2harrison

        Beautiful. I wish that a modern film could have this, but John Wayne is dead and he is the only one I could see saying it.

    • Or, for that matter, the utter imbecility of any zombie apocalypse fiction where the zombies are A. Slow and B. Overrun the United States. BTR is one of the few of those where I’ve looked at it and thought, plausible.
      Romero’s zombies? Lunch meat. They might overrun the cities. But the moment they stepped outside them? Crackity-crack-crack-crack, now let’s see who we need to rescue.

      • Patrick Chester

        IIRC, the remake of Night of the Living Dead had the country folk doing fine at the end of the movie. Okay, the guy in the pen wrestling with a zombie for fun was one of those “Hey y’all! Watch THIS!” moments that likely will end badly at some point. Though I suspect the rest can contain the damage.

      • The original “Night of the Living Dead” seemed to imply that the outbreak would be cleaned up pretty quickly.

    • Whenever I see someone say “The Avengers” I think of John Steed and whichever lovely was his assistant at the time…

      • You aren’t the only one …


        From the (comic book) Avengers first visit to the Rutland, VT Halloween parade (issue #83, 1970), written by Roy Thomas.

  34. Sarah, you truly are bigger than life. Thing is, unlike your mom I think that’s a good thing.
    America misses you, Europe does not appreciate you, hurry home.

  35. Just at a guess, did Sarah just unclog the moderation drain? My inbox got hit with a ton of comments to a w i d e variety of posts, about fifty of them, all right about 1500 EDT.

  36. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Nice terrorist attack.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      I suspect the motives shall forever remain a mystery . . .

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Time to deploy tactical hashtags and empty gestures.

      • A truck in Nice, France, drove into a crowd, killing (as of latest count) seventy (Powerline reports 77) and injuring an additional fifty.

        http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/07/terrorist-attack-in-nice.php
        TERRORIST ATTACK IN NICE
        At least 77 people were killed tonight in Nice, France, and many more injured when a large truck drove into a crowd of pedestrians along the Promenade des Anglais, reportedly sending bodies flying for more than a block. The driver jumped out of the truck and fired into the crowd. He was killed by police at the scene but has not been identified. There are reports of a passenger in the truck who escaped, but they are unconfirmed and may turn out to be false.

        ISIS reportedly has claimed responsibility for the attack, but again, that may or may not turn out to be true. The mass murder is being treated by the French government as an act of terrorism, and the assumption is that it was carried out by a Muslim or group of Muslims, but that too is unknown (publicly, at least) at this point.

        Driving vehicles into crowds is a favorite mode of attack by Palestinians in Israel, but they have never achieved anything like the death total in Nice. It is Bastille Day in France, and a large crowd had gathered to watch fireworks over the Mediterranean.

        Video and additional photos at link

  37. Professor Badness

    Family can be one of the most wonderful/infuriating things.
    On one hand, they love you no matter what, (usually).
    OTOH, they just don’t understand you, (for Odds anyway).
    And then there is the problem of how, so very often, they still see you as the odd little kid, and treat you accordingly.
    (Or maybe that’s just me?)

  38. Captain Comic

    Ginsberg: I feel bad for you.

    Draper: I don’t think about you at all.

    And the classic:

    Englishman: What makes your country so arrogant?

    American: Tell me, do you speak German?

    Englishman: No.

    American: You’re welcome.

  39. Reminds me of something I said to a girl from Switzerland when she said she wanted to visit America: make sure you get out of New York, and drive through the country. You’ll understand things a bit better then.

    • I used to audit the blog of a British writer who traveled to the USA at least once a year on book tours. He thought he knew all about America. But all he had seen was NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Los Angeles, and other megalopoli.

      The fact that the rest of the country was not only different from the cities, but generally loathed them, simply wasn’t something he would accept. Of course he lived in an urban anthill back home too, and likely never ventured out fo there either.

      • I can’t recall which blogger, hmm . . .It may have been The Mellow Jihadi, lives out in a semi-rural part of England and crossed paths with two young gents (metrosexuals) who had decided to walk one of the moor trails, with a bottle of water each and no heavy weather gear, no extra water, and street shoes. The blogger gave them water and a bit of a warning, then pointed them back to the bus station, IIRC. Apparently Dartmoor and a few other places still do in the unprepared and foolish every year.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          “Think of it as Evolution In Action”. 😉

        • Kinda like the city morons you hear about almost every year that camp in, or next to a draw and are surprised by a flash flood from a distant thunderstorm….

        • Yep – I remember seeing all the stern warnings plastered over the various Youth Hostels in Wales, the Scottish Highlands and the Lake District – warning casual hikers about … well, really, everything. And the said hills, highlands and moors were, in comparison to where we had grown up (doing nature-walks and hikes with Dad) were really quite tame and gentle. We thought it was rather sad, really – these kids that lived in urban hives, and thought that a bit of outdoors was just a bigger and slightly lumpier city park.
          We didn’t really understand it – until we traveled through some of those urban hives…

          • Alas, yes. A bit like the people who assume that all animals not behind giant fences and moats must be, if not tame, at least docile.

            • Oy. And I have met some wildlife closer than I cared for. Such as the black bear in the back yard some years ago. Fortunately, after a few quiet and very still moments, bear decided a direction away me was good. I was not about to argue.

  40. The B-47 was a sweet ride. Ironically it gave pilots fits because it was so aerodynamically clean it simply did not want to land.

    Back when I was a literary agent in the 80’s one of my clients had flowen as a navigator in B-47’s. Was on one flight where the squadron CO was in the left seat for some badly needed qual time.

    Touched once, bounced off.

    Touched again, bounced off.

    Third time, regular pilot , who was riding right seat, applied a fornicatory gerund and popped the drag chute.

    WHAM

    Down in the nav station, electronics boxes are literally blipping out of their frames and pelting my client. As the B-47 finally rolled to a stop he stuck his head up into the cockpit and asked, “How do you want me to log that? Two four you and one for the co-pilot?”