It Goes By Itself

One of the things that this trip has highlighted — I’ve now been in the US for 30 years, and functionally, although with some “window” into Portuguese culture, I’m now American.  But there is that window.

This means I spent a lot of time in this visit telling my kids/husband stuff like “no, you can’t do that/ask that” and when they say “why not?” I say “because it would be a social solecism, and I can’t explain why to you.”

I run into this in a lot of Jane Austen and her contemporaries.  In modern regency romances, when you say “she did something unforgivable” it usually is something that you can understand, like sleeping with some guy she’s not married to or showing up naked, or something.  But if I understand Jane Austen and her contemporaries,  you could end up disgraced and essentially exhiled for doing much less.  A question that none of us now would dream of not asking.  A refusal to show up some expected place.  wearing the wrong color dress.  It wasn’t and isn’t clear to us because the books were written for people in the same culture the writer came from and to them it was invisible.

That is one of the characteristics of culture: it is invisible to those who are in it.  It is just “logic” or “common sense.”

I remember, kind of, the bumps in a road in coming from a culture where things were assumed to be much different.  Of course, the ones I really remember are not the real ones.  Well, not the big ones.  I remember being shocked two aspirin at once don’t kill you, and neither does drinking water at meals (there is a list of things you can’t drink water with and its extensive, and because in Portugal most people drink wine with dinner, I guess no one ever tested if you die of drinking cold water over melon, for instance.  But I believed it implicitly, and it was a shock.)  Everyone knows, also, that cold “currents of air” can kill you (so did your ancestors) so even in a stifling hot summer day, you can’t have a fan pointed at you (this makes a huge difference in comfort, particularly at night.)

But there are nuances I never noticed, but my son did.  “If you open a door for a woman, she’ll almost hit you, and it’s not feminism, it’s that you’re shilly shallying and not going through.  The possibility you’re opening the door for her and don’t mean to go through first, as is your right, never occurs to her.”

This ties in with two things: first, Portuguese culture is a culture in a hurry.  “Ser despachado” more or less translated as “doing things fast” is highly valued, even if you objectively don’t know what you’re doing.  Or as my brother used to put it when I was young, “Shove in, and let the ships fall where they may.”

The other thing is sexism so bone-deep that even women who call themselves feminist don’t see it in every day life.  It’s  the assumptions that get you, like, of course, the woman will tend to the table/guests at any time, no matter what her real job is, or her husband’s.

I’m not running Portuguese and Portugal down, mind.  It is what it is.  And four centuries of moorish occupation left a mark in the culture.

I’m here to say when people squawk about “race” half the time (or more) what they’re actually talking about is culture.

But is it bred in the bone?  I doubt it.  All countries that came from Rome have certain dysfunctions (particularly where it pertains to government,)  EVEN (particularly) France.  And yet, they have no shortage of blue eyed blonds.

In fact were it race (which in Europe often amounts to nationality) the demarcation lines wouldn’t be clean.  As I joke with Jason Cordova, whose ancestors come from a little village across the border from the one where some of my ancestors lived “We’re probably tenth cousins several times over.” But you can look at borders and see the culture, sharply, not gradually (like the US and Mexico border.)

Because it’s culture.

All countries occupied by the moors have the same dysfunctions.  And yet you can see, by the look of people, etc, that it’s not a matter of how much they interbred but of how the culture was affected. For instance in the North there were only really Berber overseers and very few colonists, and yet until very recently Portuguese women covered their heads with a scarf after marriage, even though there was no religious reason for it, just a vague idea uncovered heads in married women were “indecent.”

The problem with culture is that it’s really hard to change en masse.  Individuals can change their culture if they really want to, and really, really try.  It’s not the same to change an entire culture, though.  There is (sort of) a proven way of doing this: kill everyone over three years of age, and teach the kids to despise their own culture for that of the invaders.  It sort of work, except it only takes one story, one “epic hero” to raise a rebellion 20 years later.

Cultures might as well be organic, bred in the bone, unless people are convinced to change.  They’ve been trying to convince us to change for four generations — our very own invaders — and yet we still resist.

Immigrants, absorbed by a larger and confident culture can and do change.  At least mostly.  For others absorption is chancy and might take generations.

When the Western World takes it upon itself to import wholesale members of a dysfunctional culture whom local prejudices forbid being scolded, much less punished or made to integrate, the result is … what we’ve been witnessing across Europe.

That saying this is frowned upon as “racism” just shows how far the invading anti-western ideology has gotten.

And yet it’s true, and it must be said.



236 thoughts on “It Goes By Itself

  1. Back in the Good Old Days you could always blame one of the Usual Suspects. “The Jews”, “The Catholics”, “The Freemasons”, “The Communists”, George Bush, or just “them.”

    The problem here is, this diversity/immigration craziness doesn’t seem to be benefiting anyone in particular.

    Traditionally, if enough people complained their country sucked, we’d simply give them guns and money and encourage them to fix it.

    1. Did it ever benefit the “usual suspects” before?

      I’ve got a vague notion I’m going to try to get into words…there’s at LEAST two sides. There’s folks who want to be in a situation that sucks less, and the folks who might be able to do something that results in that.

      There’s the folks who know someone else is in trouble, and the folks that want what they’ll offer to those in trouble.

      It doesn’t help any one person, because the people who want something are going to be trying to persuade folks– and it’s pretty dang rare for things to only be done for ONE reason, even something simple like “I had a sandwich for lunch.” Example of reasons : it was hot so I didn’t want to cook, I like sandwiches, I needed to use up that ham and cheese, it’s light and quick.

      1. Probably not.

        I once observed that if there really was a Secret Cabal ruling the world, they were doing a poor job of it. My interlocutor said, “You’re assuming they value peace and prosperity.”


        1. I don’t think that there is a secret cabal that rules the world. I don’t think that it’s possible. Otoh, there are, I’m sure, lots of conspiracies.

          1. The world is much too complex to be managed by a few people. In addition to this are unforeseen actions/people/events.

    2. There could be countless reasons…

      Could be the communists, maybe the RCMP…
      There, the earworm has been exocised.

  2. “But if I understand Jane Austen and her contemporaries, you could end up disgraced and essentially exhiled for doing much less. A question that none of us now would dream of not asking.:

    I reviewed a so-called historical a couple of years ago, which had flaming modernisms dropping all over the place; including two rebellious teenaged girls running off by train to the big city, where they checked into a hotel and went out drinking with some male acquaintances. This, supposedly, in 1875ish; not the grossest error as regards Victorian mores and practice… just the one which pops readily into my mind. And I got a furious comment attached to the review, from a friend of the authors (I presume) who haughtily informed me that I really ought to study 19th century social customs.

    Yes, the past is a foreign country. And so are foreign countries, but some people just do not see it.

    1. The major distinction is that in 1875 two teenage girls out drinking with the guys would end up pregnant.
      Sometimes a minor discovery will induce a large cultural change. Only stupid (or inattentive) writers would fail to recognize this.

        1. And there’s a subset of readers who eat that up. They don’t want historically accurate. They want the Disneyland past, the cool costumes and other surface features mapped over what is essentially the present, and they greatly resent criticism of the historical inaccuracies because they hear it as a criticism of them.

            1. Nit, IMO they want Their Kind of Feminism not the kind of feminism that likely existed in that time frame. 😉

              1. To be fair, there were some bars in New York where Victorian women did drink with guys. Usually brothel bars. But some German beer gardens were family places, and women could go there in packs and meet guys and drink with them.

                The crucial factors were: German guys, chaperoned by the respectable people running the place, outside in the fresh air in daylight, and all those highly unsolitary benches and tables. And nobody was supposed to get drunk.

                Victorian beer gardens were kinda edgy for non-Germans, or Germans from the wrong parts of Germany. I do not know enough about them to really comment, other than that Prohibition types hated them.

                1. And prohibition types hating them does not necessarily mean much. What we call prohibition might be better called the anti-saloon movement, which tended to see all retail alcohol consumption through the saloon lens. Just as they tended to see all drinkers through the lens of the alcoholics which motivated their do-gooderism. There had been a native retail alcohol paradigm which wasn’t too pathological, before the saloons took over.

                  1. It seems to be largely forgotten, but the Temperance movement also wanted to ban dancing, ice cream, and some other stuff I forget.

                    “Someone else is having fun, and it Must Be Stopped!”

                    1. Why did they want to ban ice cream? If they want to be ascetic, fine! But the kicker comes when they want everyone to live their way.

                    2. I believe it’s along the lines of why “Coffee houses” were a naughty place– basically, same way you can’t say you’re going to visit someone to watch netflix and chill.

                    3. Did you ever read Owen Johnson’s Lawrenceville stories? I recall there was a disreputable shop that I gather sold either ice cream or soda.

                      1: Patent medicine era, so sodas may have contained things with obviously harmful effects. This would be a semi-rational reason to ban the sale of ice cream, if both kinds of soft drink were served at the same venue.
                      2: There were substantial feuds over the saloons doing business in communities. This included such questions as how the family money was spent, whether the saloons drew riff-raff, and the involvement of the railroads in the matter. (Pure rail road controversy was big in this country from mid nineteenth century to some time during the twentieth.)

                      a) Ice cream makes sense if you understand where they were coming from b) dance laws make sense if you think can-can not square dancing

                      That said, I’m teetotal, do not dance, and haven’t had dairy in many years.

                    4. Undoubtedly they anticipated the horror and revulsion that would be experienced by Sayyid Qutb during his 1949 studies at Colorado State Teachers College in Greeley.

                      Attending a church dance, he observed

                      “They danced to the tunes of the gramophone, and the dance floor was replete with tapping feet, enticing legs, arms wrapped around waists, lips pressed to lips, and chests pressed to chests. The atmosphere was full of desire…”

                      and that was before the birth of Rock & Roll!

                      They knew where our hedonistic path would lead us and sought to prevent the Islamist attacks we now fear. If we had only heeded their warnings!

                    5. Not according to the literature. The Temperance Movement focused on drunkenness as a social ill that brought suffering to families.

                      Here’s a sermon by Billy Sunday that will give you an, er, taste of the Temperance Movement sentiment:


                      Think of the Temperance Movement as an exercise in progressivism, and you won’t be far from the mark.

                      As to ice cream, check to see if it was when it was sold. Since my concern was more in Temperance literature (high school project), what I remember addressed booze.

                      Calls against dancing was more from the belief it led to, ah, immoral acts. Not being much of a dancer, I can’t answer that one.

                    6. I haven’t danced since I quit drinking, and can’t recall ever dancing without being well lubricated; so there might be a connection there.

                2. I touched on that, a bit – in the Adelsverein Trilogy, mostly – that the German beer-gardens were wholesome family-oriented places, run by respectable, working and professional class places – they weren’t male and working-girl hangouts. It did startle the average non-German Americans too, especially when the German settlers insisted on having their beer gardens open on Sundays.

                  There is one theory that I read – that a lot of the push for Prohibition was actually leftover anti-German prejudice from WWI, since just about all the American beer brewers were – surprise! German-Americans.

                  1. Alcohol production for retail (IN AMERICA!/ yu gi oh abridged) was originally English beer technology, then it became whiskey, but the shift back to beer was German technology.

                    That theory sounds plausible.

                    1. Of course it was, have you ever tried English beer? If that would have been the only thing outlawed, I doubt there would have ever been a push to overturn Prohibition.

                    2. Err, for whatever reason I read that as French beer, not English. I don’t know that I’ve ever had English beer, but if it is closely related to Irish there probably isn’t anything wrong with it.

                  2. Richard Condon wrote a novel where the Mafia was behind prohibition, the do-gooders were just very useful idiots. It makes sense if one looks at the results of drug prohibition, especially on the border.

                    1. It is flat out absurd. The foundations of prohibition were decades earlier outside of the big towns where the immigrant mafia had much presence. You could make a more credible claim that native organized crime was behind it, but that argument would still have weaknesses.

                      Among those, that temperance activists were feuding with native organized crime.

                      Your parallel seems to assume that legalization would necessarily hurt the business of the traffickers. I am not persuaded of this. The illegal traffickers now are those who have out-competed others in face of legal force. Legal force is not necessarily going to be enough to let an entirely fresh set of businessmen take away all that market share.

                1. My unrespectable Victorian great great great aunt first was a maid, then bought and ran a tavern, diversified to offering female employees as companions (ahem), and then ran an entire chain of legal brothels which doubled as marriage services (she encouraged employees to marry and get out of the business by financing their houses and wedding trousseaus), as well as a lot of real estate developments and small businesses. (All of them in Dayton.) She also employed her own sister, which would have led to tension if her parents had still been speaking to her. And she knocked out a boxing champion who did not observe proper decorum (with a poker to the back of the head, not with Buffy-esque martial arts).

                  But yeah, I don’t think your misguided historical romance novelist wants to go there. Nor was being unrespectable all that fun for her, although obviously she somewhat made her own fun.

                  1. Now, a historical novel based on that career would be totally awesome, and no, the average romance writer wanting modern story/attitudes dressed up in period garb would so not want to go there.

                    1. I have thought about it. I just don’t know how to approach an attractively picaresque capitalist without giving people the idea that brothels were awesome. She was very good at her business, and she tried to do some good for her employees; but she was in it for the money, not for any ideology. And she died pretty broke. (She got out before Prohibition, but her real estate holdings and investments were lost in the Depression, IIRC.) So the ending is sad.

                      OTOH, she is a character.

                  2. It sounds like it would be a really good *background* for someone– maybe one of the “girls” who got married.

                    Talk about a legitimately scandalous background.

          1. It’s also hard to wrap your mind around that things aren’t always the way they are now. And research for some of us into the particulars can be hard. OTOH, if the story centers on the particulars, that research must be done.

    2. I recall, years ago, a “dropped” aside in an SF novel about forgeries of significant artworks being detected fifty, a hundred years after their purchase because of (what should have been) obvious anachronisms — but were so much elements of their time that contemporaries were blind to them. No specific examples were offered, no Mona Lisa listening to an IPod, so I am not sure what was specifically being referenced, and I’ve long since lost track of what novel it would have been, so revisiting isn’t an option. It might only have been use of certain colors of paints, or brush techniques, tha sort of thing that would go unnoticed by the casual observer but ought be big glaring neon signs to professional.

      But I have often found the principle applies to many circumstances, describing the tendency of people to see what they expect to see and not see what they don’t expect. Sort of along the lines of noticing the mote in your neighbors eye.

      1. I had read that also – mostly in reference to dolls; people trying to fake an antique doll would subconsciously include almost imperceptible contemporary references in the features and costume of the doll. It would be obvious, fifty years later, that a fake 18th century doll had been put together in the 1920s.

        Another place that this becomes even more screamingly obvious – movie costumes and hairstyles, especially for women. Look at stills from Gone With the Wind, or any other movie made in the 20s-50s and supposed to be set in the 19th or 19th century. GWTW just screams the period that it was filmed and released.

        1. According to a costumer acquaintance of mine, the costumes with the period-inaccurate, contemporary styling tended to be the ones worn by the main characters, but the background costumes tend to be period accurate.

          1. Most any actress with any power is gong to get a costume that makes her look good in lieu of one that is authentic.

            This is less an issue in British productions, especially BBC, where accuracy is accorded high importance.

              1. I understand British TV productions also have somewhat less “star” behavior going on, with generally more balance of power on the director/producer/behind the camera side, and can thus more readily impose “I don’t care how uncomfortable it is, that is what you are wearing” on the people in front of the cameras.

        2. It is funny how a brief passage will linger in memory long after the novel has been forgotten. Hollywood costumery is amazing for the abuses perpetrated, although there are many factors affecting that.

          Especially amusing are costumes which are “period” but wrong period — Regency costumes for a Georgian setting, for example. One of the best example of such strange errors I can cite is not a costume at all: in a mid-70s episode of MASH Radar O’Reilly is reading a comic book — and the props people went out and obtained a vintage comic for this 50s character to be reading … except the one they got was from the late 60s. Thus we see a character in a 1970-era TV show set in the 1950s reading a comic book published in the 1960s.

          Hairstyles are one of the greatest giveaways, and most egregious. Make-up is equally bad, but generally more forgivable as it is required for technical reasons (to prevent actors from looking like walking dead) and adapted to the “look” of the era.

          1. You know that if the heroine is wearing a period-authentic hairstyle that looks pretty dorky to modern eyes, that THERE is a production that is taking authenticity seriously.

            1. I tried recreating a true Victorian hairstyle once. Turns out you need at least waist-length hair for that particular style. The attempt was not a success.

              1. I know … I just do a plain bun and hope for the best. For the big fluffy Edwardian style, you seem to need not just long hair, but pads of additional hair, and a ton of hairpins, too.

                  1. “Rats.” Seriously, that’s what authentic 1940s hair pads were called.

                    Nowadays, a lot of theatrical productions use shaped synthetic sponges, some further covered in polyester hair. Really handy when you can basically pin your hair for the ball onto your short ‘do.

        3. I’ve also heard it said that filmmakers use “weathered” items in period pieces since something weathered looks “old” to us watching and it reinforces to us that what we’re watching took place a long time ago. Nevermind that the person just built that chair yesterday and so it should look brand new…….

          1. The practice of artificially aging items is a well-regarded tradition in Hollywood and the Theatre.

            One problem with period pieces is that we no longer have the fabrics to recreate certain drapes of garment. I have heard that thrift shops in NY are regularly haunted by costumiers seeking appropriate weights of wool and other fabrics in order to achieve the right drape for proper fitting.

            The Australian Broadcasting Corp. series, Miss Fisher’s Mysteries has done a particularly good job of getting the fabrics and cuts right for its 1920s setting. The difficulty of finding proper weight felt (and other materials) fir hats of both men and women is particularly well met.

            1. My wife is a huge fan of that series.

              When I was reading up on it, one of the articles mentioned it had a huge Australian fan base, and that the producers used them to fact-check scripts, verify authenticity of costumes and settings, and sometimes for the loan of props.

              It sounded more like a community/fan project than the monolithic slabs that get handed down out of Hollywood or Pinewood.

        4. Yes, on the films. There is a delightful 1959 adaptation of G.B. Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier. The styling of the men’s hair ranges from a mite iffy to not too bad at all for a colonial period piece of made at the time. The real screaming anachronism is seen in the women’s tresses.

        1. One of the things I remember being deeply ironic about that whole fiasco, is that whenever I had to use Word at my college, I turned off all the default “th” and other “autocorrect” options whenever I could. I didn’t *quite* go so far as to make “Courier New” my default font, but I *hated* all those formatting conventions. I like my text to be plain, and I have certain deliberate typographic idiosyncrasies that autocorrect trampled on.

          So firing up Word in its default glory, and duplicating a note supposedly typed in 1973 on a military typewriter of the age, struck me as particularly funny.

      2. Why would wearing a natural looking wig (not your hair) be the thing to do, and not a hat , kerchief or some other covering? Although some would wear a wig and a kerchief. How you cover your hair shows what community you’re from. My mom just wore a hat over her own hair. Wearing a doily thing meant you didn’t go to synagogue often enough to invest in a hat. Men of course wore kippot (yarmulkes).

        1. If you’re interested in communities that continue practices that don’t have a reason, look at customs in Jewish Orthodox communities. Women never wore pants.There are customs still observed that don’t have a direct connection to Jewish law and just evolved over time or infiltrated from secular society of the time.

      3. Spelling errors, too.

        (for those who do NOT salon, here’s the paragraph; for those who do, here’s a teaser)
        Shaun Greenhalgh had a 17-year career as the most diverse forger in history, passing off everything from ancient Egyptian sculpture to 19th century watercolors. He was entirely self-taught, buying books from which he copied works and styles, and simply ordering materials off the Internet, while he turned his garden shed into his forgery studio. He was caught when, on what was supposed to be a 7th century BC Assyrian relief sculpture, he accidentally misspelled a word in cuneiform.

    3. It wasn’t that uncommon for a couple of teenage girls to go out drinking with guys in 1875. It is just that they were always a certain type of girl; and not the type that guys were looking for a happily ever after, with.

      1. And a ‘rebellious teen’ girl doing so would do so knowing that she could never go home again, and there was now really only one type of profession/means of support available to her.

  3. So true, Sarah. I was amazed at how men are expected their women (wife) here. A couple comes in the cinema, the man takes the aisle seat, the the wife gets by or over to her seat. I’m thinking ‘What the . . .’ Even now after 700 years.

    Here in the Algarve, many still alter Portuguese to fit Moss’arabe grammar, for ex. changing portanto to portante, because words just don’t end in o.

    An are they in a hurry! Usually to the café, where they stand holding up the counter for a couple of hours and catching up on or sharing the latest gossip.

    It’s different, but ‘vive la différance!’

    1. Reminds me of IIRC Sowell’s “black rednecks”. Neither side is interested in the foundational, dirty careers. Remember a story from a friend. He knew someone involved in California schools, especially tech schools. Sacramento fought them hand and foot because every Californian should get a four year degree.

    2. About a quarter of the way into reading the article, the website went down. 😦

  4. Strictly speaking, the headscarf thing has a Christian precedent. Paul called for women to cover their heads in church, you’ll recall. A fair number of Catholic women did so right up into the Sixties, and the Evangelical types have had loud, long arguments about what it meant and whether it’s relevant in present contexts.

    But that’s just a nitpick…

        1. Not in my family. EVER. But we were pretty scandalous, given that I didn’t have my ears pierced till I did it at 18, due to dad’s horror of body piercing, (and metal allergy) and I wore my brother’s cut-down slacks every day.

          1. Wait, *not* piercing your ears was scandalous?

            (Often I am reminded of my father’s wisdom—which my sister and blew off as hyperbole, and that may be how it was meant—“Start piercing their ears, and their noses will be next.” [I mean, come on, Daddy, you gotta be kidding me.] Well…time has proved him right; which reminds me of my youngest uncle talking about how much smarter his father (my maternal grandfather) got between the time my uncle was sixteen and twenty-one. La plus meme change, la plus meme same.)

            1. Heh. I recall the first time seeing someone I knew with a nose ring and having to suppress the urge to ask “What made you choose that as a necessary fashion statement?

              I can see how earrings serve to frame the face, how a necklace can shape the neckline or draw attention to the decolletage, but I’ve never seen anybody whose nose cried out to have more attention drawn its direction.

              1. to piss off their parents or to fit in with a group? What about belly button, tongue or eyebrow piercing?

                1. Belly button piercings can draw attention to a nicely defined abdomen, and tongue piercings supposedly have certain benefits for the piercee’s partner, and both have the advantage of being easily concealed for formal occasions, or other times when excess body piercings would be inappropriate.

                  Eyebrow piercings though… as RES points out, I have never seen anyone whose eyebrows cried out to have more attention.

                  1. I’ve seen eyebrow piercings I found attractive (though I concur that’s a “no” on the nose ring). I think this is going to be a “to each his own” kind of thing.

                    1. I think I’d give people the nose thing, as long as they went all the way and added a chain across the cheek to the earlobe.

                      If you’re going to do it, may as well do it big…I guess.

                2. Here’s a thought for anyone writing science fiction set in deep space, and I’ll offer it up for free. Consider the effect on our conventions of beauty and adornment, were your face to be the only visible part of your body…

                  Assume a couple of things: One, that deep space inhabitants can live there, and would spend much of their time suited up, especially working “outside”. That being the case, a couple of things come to mind: One, nobody is going to be too enthused about suits that prevent seeing human faces, for various psychological reasons, and two, the importance of facial expression and decoration is going to become a Very Big Thing ™. Conversely, it may become a forbidden thing, so that you cannot conceal your expression beneath makeup/modifications. YMMV.

                  Just a thought that occurred to me, reading this. Suit decoration may become a big thing, but you really can’t signal a lot with a fixed decoration scheme–I’d bet money that a changeable system akin to the ability an octopus has will be a major innovation, and that we would see tie-ins with the suit’s internal sensors to show body state/mood, whatever. In emergencies, no doubt a “Safety Orange” effect would go into place automatically, unless you overrode it. Bit of a plot point, there–Likely, suits built for civilian work would have these defaults set up, assuming that they were in a benign environment, but the suits intended for military work would have that “optioned out”, and under the control of the user, in all likelihood.

                  1. Perhaps suits will not reveal faces — with the miniaturization of cameras there’s no real need for the point of vulnerability of a faceplate. HUD on the inside of the helmet and computer scanning of eye movement allow quick communication via emoji, allowing whole conversations to be written in emoji (that would be serious Hugo-bait. 😉 )

              2. I can remember my mom attempting to die of embarrassment, when walking through a parking lot we met a couple and the young lady (whom they had known as a child and teen) had a loop ring in her nose, similar to what is commonly seen in bulls.

                My dad, straight-faced, asked her if her mother had that much problem weaning* her.

                *rings are also put in calves noses to aid in weaning, when they are not being removed from the same location as the cow.

              3. Tiny stud to the side of the bulb of a very narrow nose works on some faces, especially if it’s sparkly– like a beauty mark.

            2. I’m not so sure about that. Most of my female relatives have pierced their ears. None have pierced noses, or tongues, or mouths, or the giant holes in the ears. ISTR one male cousin has a wife with a nose piercing.

            3. And then one comes to the NRSV and the Today’s English Translation of Genesis 24:22 where Abraham’s servant presented Rebekah a nose ring weighing half a shekel, which I think would be 1/20 of an ounce or about 1-1/2 grams if you prefer cgs, which kinda makes you go “Say what?”

            4. Still is, in at least some Mexican families. Haven’t you seen the adorable little infants in their baptism outfits with tiny diamond(ish) studs?

              Maybe that’s more a woman noticing thing… I noticed as a teen because I have a bad reaction to most earrings, and my sister’s makes mine look like nothing. (She lost an earring. Mom found it inside of the ear when she cleaned up the “irritation”…..)

              1. Likely a hold-over from Spanish custom. There, it was the custom to pierce girl-babies’ ears almost before they left the hospital after being born. It was kind of reassuring in a way – to not have to guess at the sex of the baby on first glance, no matter how frilly, fluffy, pink or blue Baby was dressed. Little teensy stud earrings? Girl. No earrings in evidence? Boy.

                Took out a lot of uncertainty in social situations, when asked to admire the newest sprout on a family tree.

                1. I saw it as a link off Insty. Aboycantoo it encourages young (5 or 6) boys to act as a caricature of girls. Teachings little boys to act like Scarlett from GWTW in the name of ‘gender equality’! I think that they’re trying to turn boys into girls and girls into boys. Not sure if this counts as child abuse. It definitely counts as messing with the kids’ wetware. I also think that it is creating a catastrophe in the future.

              2. Ah. Well, you see, mom defied dad — “piercings are for savages” — and had my ears pierced at 2 weeks. Think about this a moment — I was born SEVERELY premature, head the size of a medium orange, and they pierced my ears. That’s how strong the tradition is. When she put in the gold earrings my aunt gave me, I had massive allergy, so not only were ears allowed to close, I was not allowed to re-pierce. (So I had it done at the mall at 18.)
                Yeah, I was unusual. Every girl my generation went to elementary with little gold, pearl or diamond studs.
                The allergy MIGHT have been a result of extreme premature. I still have issues if I sleep in my earrings for a week or so, but other than that, provided they’re gold I’m fine.

      1. I remember when it was expected for a woman to wear a hat in church. Some predominately black congregations maintain this practice. Know of a woman who had to buy a hat to attend a funeral in a church she didn’t normally attend.

        Scarfs were known but seemed to be getting rare in the 60s’. I remember more bonnets than hats and scarves in every day use, and quite a few large brim “gardening hats.”

        1. I vaguely recall a Black stand-up comic, perhaps Chris Rock, doing a riff on Church hats in the African-American community, but this is not my day for finding such things.

    1. I don’t wear a headscarf in church now simply because I don’t want to resemble Muslims. A lot of older/more pious/more observant women still do.

      1. When I was wandering around Europe in the sixties, most “important” churches (i.e., the ones the tourists visited) had someone stationed at the door to hand out little squares of lace to bare-headed women. As for girls in tank tops, they were SOL.

        Haven’t noticed either of these things in this decade. I wonder if the change is partly because most of the churches are desperate for somebody – anybody! – to walk in.

        1. More of the (living) churches I’ve been to in Germany and eastern Austria now have the “no bare shoulders, no short-shorts, men remove your hats” signs. I suspect in the areas I’m in, it is because of tourists who don’t take the idea of “this place is holy so act respectful and with dignity” seriously, or who never learned it. OTOH out in the back of beyond, waaaayyyy up the Drau and Mur river valleys? They get so few visitors of any kind that people were far more excited about our being interested in their church than about our covering heads or not. (I always take off my hat when I go into a building, even though I’m a girl. I wear men’s hats and follow men’s manners accordingly.)

          1. Ironically the only time I don’t take off my hat is when I’m wearing it as part of department uniform (ball caps, etc. Helmet is there for a reason). Part laziness, part habit.

        2. yep, they handed girls little shawls in our village church if your arms showed.
          No, Vatican II got rid of it as a REQUIREMENT. That happened in 62, but habit and, yep, tradition still made it mandatory till I was 10 or so. My grandmother only stopped covering her head in mass in the late 80s.

          1. “Aunt Jane” (I’d have to ask and them draw you family tree) always wore a hat in church until she died in circa 1990-2000, and, yes, there was a family band that was evangelical that I saw where in sister (grown woman) wore a hat in church; that was in the early 2000s.

                1. On the other hand, I’ll sum up the preacher I listen to in Alabama–just come to church, we’ll teach you the finer points after you get saved. (And if all you got is one pair of overalls, then wash ’em and take a bath and we’ll be by to pick up.)

                  1. I have seen men wear new overalls, a clean, white, shirt, and their best hat and brogans to church, because that was the best clothes they owned. If possible, men and boys tried to have one suit, for church, weddings, funerals, jury duty, and burial. Church wear has become more casual, but the idea is still to be modestly dressed.

        3. Every year or two they do a human interest/outrage at the silly religious people story about the folks who stand by churches and shrines in the Vatican, handing out loaner shawls for women with bare arms and chests.

          Apparently there’s a pretty regular problem of women trying to meet the Pope wearing tank-tops.

          1. You hardly ever see such news items about people being asked to respect the religious traditions at Mosques.

            1. Well, you know “respect for me but not for thee”, some animals are more equal than others”

      2. I used to wear a scarf sometimes during the summer to protect myself from the sun (I burn pretty easily), usually a long, wide and thin one wrapped around, and a thicker similar one during the winter, but have mostly quit because it looks a lot like what some of the Muslim women (those who go by the less strict clothing rules) wear.

        1. Broad-brimmed straw hat. Covers your shoulders, allows you to wear a hatpin (very sharp object), very Western. I wear them pretty much always, since, thanks to my Finn ancestors, I burn like someone from north of the Arctic Circle.
          Felted wool hats in the winter, most of which have narrower brims, but I picked up one this last spring at the end of season sale with a 4″ brim.

          1. This is what I wear in the winter,

            A somewhat narrower brim, but still wide enough to keep snow from going down the back of your neck, and it is amazing how much warmer that brim keeps your ears, without muffling your hearing, like a hat or earwarmer that actually covers them.

            I’ve had the same hat for 15-20 years now, and wear it all winter long. It is about due to be replaced, the sweatband (which wasn’t wool) has disintegrated, but the wool itself is still in fairly decent shape.

      3. In the Orthodox church (particularly the Russian Orthodox), in some parishes the women wear head scarves in church, while in others they don’t. It’s a matter of choice, and the common culture of that parish. But women aren’t excluded or in any way made to feel singled out if they don’t cover their heads when most do, or if they do when most don’t.

    2. When I was a child you’d still see very old women who’d wear a scarf every time they went outside. The same way the older men would wear a hat. So it seems to have been something somewhat common with Lutherans too. I never asked why, so I am not conversant with the reasons (so I suppose it’s possible it was only for convenience’s sake, it’s faster to put on a scarf than do you hair, or maybe those women were just embarrassed about their thin and grey hair), and the custom had mostly disappeared completely by the mid-70’s. In old Finnish movies the upper class women wear hats, country women wear scarves, and neither all the time, merely pretty often when they are outside.

      1. Out here some older women still wear light, loose kerchiefs with a sort of veil in order to protect their hair from the wind. They tend to have the kind of short styled hair that gets “done” once a week at the beauty parlor. But you can tell that it has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with protecting the wash-n-set.

        1. My mom finally gave up on wearing scarves over her hair in the early Nineties, when she stopped having the big perm. But I used to wear scarves whenever I went out in my brother’s convertible. (You have to, if your hair has any length to it.)

    3. I considered responding on that, decided not to… good thing, you already did. 😀

      So I get to drop a few of the cool nuggets!

      The “covering your hair” thing was a cultural expectation– like how when my mom was a little girl, nobody respectable wore jeans in public. You wore them if you were working, yes, and they’d be under your dress if it was a nasty winter, but wear them in public?

      In that time and place, having your hair uncovered was a way to say “I am looking for a husband.” This is part of why a lot of the old virgin saints had their hair covered– and ditto for nuns.

      I can’t remember the exact details, but there was also a fairly large population of…. well, girls that had been sold to be temple sex slaves as infants. (Not uncommon for exposed infants, which now makes me wonder if part of the ire against Christians was their save-the-babies stuff cutting into profits.)
      The concept of “no, that’s NOT why you’re here” was kinda hard to get across, humans being humans. As one theologian put it, they’d only been taught one way to interact with men, and that’s a quite traditional chink in a man’s armor.

      1. IIRC Roman/Greek culture of the time of Paul’s writings require respectable women to have their hair covered.

        I don’t remember Paul’s words as “requiring women to cover their heads in church”.

        My memory is that Paul was not limiting it to “in church”.

        IE his actual comment more involved “modest dress” than “respecting the church meeting place”.

        1. Modest dress *is* respecting the church meeting place.

          When you remember that most of these meetings were in someone’s dining room (slightly translated), it makes even more sense. Talk about causing scandal!

          1. Well, some of the passages concerning “women covering their hair” didn’t (IIRC) seem to be talking about Just Church Meetings.

            Mind you, I could be mistaken. 😉

            1. You’re probably right, I’m just pointing that the “respect” thing isn’t wrong. 😀

              The whole idea of Christians not being wild hedonists is kinda essential, yah?

    4. Of course, in Paul’s era, he was saying that they should not dress as loose women.

      1. I’ve heard, and would appreciate confirmation if anyone knows, that in Greek culture of the time, a woman appearing in public would always have her hair up; letting her hair down (literally) was a signal of sexual availability. Which meant that a respectable woman would only do so in private with her husband; only prostitutes or “loose” women would let their hair down in public.

        If so, then that makes perfect sense of 1 Corinthians 11 when Paul says “For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.” in verse 6 and “Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering.” in verses 14-15. He was saying that women who refused to “cover her head” with her hair in church (i.e., who let their hair down in church) were bringing shame on themselves just as much as if they cut their hair short or shaved it off altogether (something that was culturally quite shameful for women at the time). Or in other words, he was telling the Christians in the Corinth church (who apparently had some real issues with proper behavior in church — see the rest of chapter 11) that they should behave with the same decorum in church meetings that they showed elsewhere. Including, for the women, not signaling “I am a loose woman” with their fashion choices.

        1. I’m pretty sure that the “loose hair equals loose woman” convention (which is perhaps more accurately rendered “Disordered hair equals disordered woman”) has either never left (until the present day) or has popped up repeatedly throughout the ages.

          Due to my reading habits, I’ve internalized this idea somewhat, and feel much more controlled and capable when my hair is up and out of the way.

  5. You can’t eat this and drink that at the same time probably comes from times when both items were questionable and it was the combination that was blamed rather than the plain odds. In North Carolina, it is widely assumed that it is dangerous to drink milk and eat fish together, because before refrigeration drinking questionable milk and eating questionable fish drove your odds of a bellyache way up. So the combination of even fresh fish and fresh milk was blamed.

    1. St. Hildegarde of Bingen talked about the dangers of cold moist foods like milk and raw fish. Yup, her version of humor theory includes a lot of spoilage explication.

  6. I’d been wondering if all the things you couldn’t drink water with was based in part on not being as used to clean water as we are.

    I do know that in Korea, they have “fan deaths”. If you leave a fan running in a closed room overnight, you’ll die.

    1. In Europe, ice is suspect. You get a little in sodapop, and in American-oriented eating places they put a few cubes in a water glass, but otherwise? Nope. Cold drinks are not good for you. Air conditioning and sleeping in cold rooms out of season is Not Good for You. I was also told that bathing too often, especially in hot water, was Not Good for You, but 1) the individual was/is French and 2) given the cost of utilities over there, Not Good for YOU may be the justification for trying to save money.

      1. I wonder if that is ancestral memory from when ice was cut from ponds and could contain all manner of, er, trace organic elements? That kind of ice might not be something you would eat or put in food, but just to keep other things cool.

        1. That and if you are hot and chug ice water or really cold soda (or a Slurpee), you don’t feel so good afterwards. If you read the harvest scene in “Little House in the Big Woods,” the men comment that they can drink cold ginger water because it warms them inside even though it is cold, but cold spring water would cause problems.

          1. True. It comes up as a problem at track events, as well as people drinking too much water too fast. Vinegar drinks as a refresher, or new-old-fashioned Gatorade, tend to avoid this.

            The Japanese theory is that drinking hot tea makes you feel cooler. I assume it is just by contrast, as hot tea makes me feel hotter.

              1. Drinking alcohol actually does make you feel warmer by causing the vessels and capillaries to expand and increase blood flow. Of course if you do this in intense cold you will die in short order of hypothermia.

            1. The “hot tea makes you cooler” thing was a British Empire idea too. I think the idea was it caused you to sweat and sweating cools you down.

          2. Ooops — I read those first six words and wondered why being sexy-looking would matter …

            1. Well, I suppose the water scene in Flashdance would have been quite a shock to the actress’s system if the water was too cold.

          3. That and cold water/drinks make you seem less thirsty, so you don’t drink as much. You will drink much more lukewarm water or Gatorade than you will cold, and it isn’t a shock to your system. Both of which are good things if you are dehydrated.

      2. I find it ironic that Germany is one of the most anti-ice-water countries in Europe and yet the largest per-capita consumer of ice cream.

      3. Perhaps it is that no one wants ice cubes in their wine?
        I remember in Liverpool asking for a Coke with ice in the glass… 3 small cubes. My cousin, on a trip to Italy and Croatia got all the ice she wanted. She was using it in an ice pack for a swollen ankle.

        1. Three ice cubes is more-or-less what I expect if I order a beverage with ice in England, The Netherlands, or Belgium. (I also expect to have to pay if I want a second soda – no free refills!)

          1. I like my pop cool, not cold, I keep it in the cupboard at my house, not in the fridge, so I wouldn’t have a problem with no ice. In fact if I am pouring my own at a fast food joint, I won’t add ice, and have been known to request it withheld at a restaurant; although I usually don’t bother.

          2. The Brits seem to be the worst about ice – when I was there in 1984, asking for ice water got you water with *one* ice cube. By 2000, you got two. I always figured they’d forgotten to end ice rationing after World War 2.

  7. It is rather amazing that so many of our “enlightened thinkers” have fallen prey to the idea that an English Lord, raised by Great Apes, will remain English at his core.

    1. My mom and her sister are a pretty good study of nature vs. nurture, as they were raised in different households. It’s interesting how much they have in common, but the differences are pretty stark, too. Love of books (given the least encouragement) seems to be bred in.

    2. And, interestingly, in the original that inspired Tarzan, you have a native child raised by animals who acts nothing like any of the native castes.

      This is especially clear in the only Mowgli story about him as an adult; IN THE RUKH.

    3. Well, Philip Jose Farmer would say that Tarzan longed to revert to his childhood among the Great Apes. This would account for his frequent bouts of amnesia.

      A less charitable interpretation would be that Burroughs got a tad lazy in some of those later novels.

  8. But you can look at borders and see the culture, sharply, not gradually (like the US and Mexico border.)

    Because it’s culture.

    It will be sharper at the border, usually; same way that Spock was more Vulcan than most of the pure-blood Vulcans, because he’d made his choice, he knew what the other side was, and he’d avoid things that were Human but not Vulcan. And even some of the things that were both, if they were more Human.

  9. My German-American great-aunts had some amazing dietary beliefs. One was that chocolate dried up your blood. (I am living proof this is NOT TRUE.) Also you should add cornmeal in with your breakfast oatmeal in the winter, and fruit juice with cereal (and no milk) would cause “crystals”. Crystals of what, and where, was never explained. Perhaps I was too young to know the Awful Truth. Apparently this was received wisdom at some impressionable age of their lives, and they stuck to it like glue. Someone with an interest in historical medical fads independently confirmed this set of beliefs really existed at one time, so it wasn’t just them…

    I wonder if one of the great successes of America is we don’t provide the environment for things like “you have to wear a headscarf but nobody knows why” to persist. For one thing, we don’t stay in villages where the consensus enforces that belief. For another, even if we do our villages are polyglot and the “real people do x” never match up completely. Then you have the fact that we breed for contrariness. Nothing makes me want to do a thing more than to be told not to. 😀

    1. Crystals: probably arthritis. My great grandma complained of “crystals” in her joints often. Went to the doc, later chiropractor, for it, often.

        1. Furthermore, Gout can be exacerbated by an excess of sugary (and fruit juice is sugary, no matter how “natural”) and acidic drinks.

          Of course, to be strictly safe, a gout sufferer would have to live on a diet so bland and unrewarding that bing staked out on an anthill might seem preferable….

          Speak as one with Gout.

        2. I’ve worked in the lab too long. I was thinking urinary crystals, and wondering if the fruit juice was lowering pH.

          1. My immediate thoughts were gout, same as cspschofield. From talking to people with gout, almost nothing is as bad for it as tomato juice, although apparently fruit juice and beer* are pretty much tied for second place.

            *So having a red beer is contraindicated for someone with gout.

    2. Is there a scientific study that chocolate doesn’t dry out your blood? Can we be certain you are not some sort of superhuman creature with dried chocolate blood? Maybe it depends on the chocolate. Is Hershey hiding the proof like all the big corporations?

      There should be a study. FOR SCIENCE!

      And for chocolate

      1. *blinding insight* My superpower is the ability to eat chocolate! Not sure how I could use that in combat, though. *ponders*

        1. If you must defeat the evil chocolate monster, or Count Chocula, it might be useful.

      2. Let us conduct an experiment.

        *holds up razor blade*

        “Hear Sabrina, come heeere!”

            1. It would be unhygienic, and unscientific to simply suck her blood. Although possibly tasty, if it really is dried chocolate.

              1. Hypodermic needle like most medical testing does. I’m probably killing the humor but I like clarity.

    3. Crystals of what, and where, was never explained.

      I know that one– in your, um, liquid waste disposal. Scientifically, crystalluria.
      I don’t think it’s actually caused by that, but who knows the cause and effect that originally spawned it. I would GUESS diabetes.

      Like how there’s all sorts of “no telling about pregnancy” and “a new mother can never be alone” traditions in areas with lots of pregnancy related depression.

        1. What if you had the type of diabetes where the problem was that one Didn’t have sugar?

    4. I vaguely remember my Mom wearing headscarfs for church, but I really think the reason they kept on through the ’60’s was fashion related – the beehive hairdo took a lot of time and wasn’t wind resistant. I also remember Mom in hair curlers all day, using the scarf as protective coloration if she had to run to the store…

  10. But the woman of the house always takes care of guests. The ban a tigh is in charge! And woe beside the mere male who takes anything but a subsidiary role, because she is the queen bee.

    That’s why the story of the healing of St. Peter’s mother-in-law cracks me up. Of course she insists on making a meal as soon as she stops dying! She is a Jewish mother!

    It is a pretty standard Indo-European thing, but obviously the nuances differ in different cultures. I prefer the “woman in control” version, although some ladies in this model provide intimidating levels of overpowering nice hospitality. It is good to know ahead of time if you will have to take obligatory seconds and waddle out the door.

    1. I think the “woman is in charge” thing is at least partly making a virtue of a necessity…. my husband needed to use one of my measuring cups yesterday.

      It’s set right where there was a clean, flat surface when he was done with it. It’s clean, it’s just not where I’m going to be looking when I’ve got .3 minutes to make the difference between “barely edible” and “pretty dang good” for dinner. 😀

        1. Chuckle Chuckle

          I’m old enough to remember hearing stories about problems caused by “Men in the Kitchen”.

          I’ve wonder if those stories were started by women wanting the kitchen being Their place or by men not wanting to do kitchen work.

          Of course, one person on Baen’s Bar keeps saying “embrace the power of and” so it could have been both. 😀

          1. That and back when, a lot of cooking (especially canning and preserving food) was rather tricky and if you didn’t know what you were doing, you could ruin a batch (not great), cause something to explode (bad) or poison people (really bad). And some things really do have to be washed, dried, and handled “just so” or things don’t work the next time (like, say, cream separators, butter-making equipment, anything for making a meringue.)

            1. *grits teeth*
              Making a meringue. I can do everything just so, and still end up with a sugary egg soup.

              1. Over the years I’ve learnt the hard way to never try to make meringues on a humid day, to freeze the beater and bowl while bringing the egg whites to room temperature before starting, to add cream of tartar when the whites are foamy, then slowly add the sugar while beating until the eggs are stiff.

          2. My wife is a better cook than I: admitted. Both more experienced, and with a much better feel for how things will taste before making them. But for simpler things I can cook reasonably well, and I’m actually better than she is at making a new recipe *as written* (I don’t have the confidence to adjust proportions and ingredients on the fly)

            However, I never willingly cook when she’s in the house. Because although she doesn’t want me in the kitchen when she’s cooking (and I comply) she has trouble staying away when *I’m* doing it. It drives her crazy that I put things in different places than she would while I’m cooking. So she moves them to where she thinks they should be. Which means that when I reach for something I need *right now* (and put where I could easily reach it) it’s not there.

            I had a big Aha! moment when I read books by commercial chefs that mentioned how ferociously line cooks will defend their own individual setup, and woe unto those who dared violate it. It doesn’t matter that someone else’s system is more efficient, easier to clean up, etc – what matters is being able to find your tools and materials when needed without delay or distraction. When you’re working all-out, perfect-but-not-familiar is far worse than known-and-good-enough.

            When I was a kid I never understood why my grandparents had a clear division of labor in the kitchen: he made breakfasts, she made dinners. Looking back, keeping out of each others way may have been one of the biggest reasons they could remain happily married even though they were two of the strongest-willed people I’ve ever known.

        2. My poor mother made the kids oatmeal.

          She takes great joy in relating their extreme caution when they tasted it and found out it tasted pretty much the same as the stuff Mommy makes– even though it came out of a pot on the stove! Not from the (microwave) oven, like proper oatmeal. And she didn’t even have it soak over-night.

          (my attempts to get more calcium and calories into them– fridge oatmeal. You pour in milk and brown sugar, then let it sit in the fridge, and you only have to heat it to eating temp instead of “absorb the liquid” temp, which has the risk of scalding the milk)

          1. For some of us, scalding the milk is the point (break down more of the lactose). And a form of living dangerously, as everyone who has “gotten” to clean up a milk-plosion can attest.

        3. That was Dad’s reaction to having his second wife’s mother ask him to carve the turkey, and then tell him he was doing it wrong: handed her the knife, left the kitchen, and never carved the turkey again.

  11. The tough part comes when tptb vehemently deny that there can be any difference in group capacity between groups with varying phenotypes. The software on people is the driving force, but you are not even supposed to wonder if historic exposure to certain environments, genealogy, and innate characteristics may have an effect on the underlying hardware.

    While the “average” person does not exist, we have, for better or worse, placed some theories behind padlocks not because the evidence is there to disprove but becausewe do not wish to have hopes disproved.

    Yes, I know down this road lies eugenics. But part of me also asks if we can study the statistics of IQ in populations to actually see if we are being honest. Barring off study just feels dishonest to me.

    1. Down that road lies eugenics if you are a technocrat.

      One can oppose technocracy as fundamentally impractical. Suppose, say, the Irish have a greater number of genes for mental illness. (I did manage to find a guy who claimed that the potato famine caused the high institutionalization rate generations later through epigenetics. There are other explanations that don’t imply anything special about the Irish that way.) Would that mean that measuring for Irishness is a good way to decide who we institutionalize? I think it would not. I think proxies are often of very questionable utility when dealing with humans. In this case, I generally think cases of mental illness ought to be considered individually.

      (IQ can be pretty dubious, and ethnicity in America isn’t necessarily any sort of coherent genetic population.)

      The thing about assuming uniformity is that it lets one suppose that any differences in outcome are a racist conspiracy. Conceding that can be cooperating with an obvious political lie. Uncontested political falsehoods often become discredited. The most outspoken critics often then gain repute. Letting the eugenicists be louder than you are may be helping the eugenicists more than you think.

      My apologies for not better describing technocracy and its fallacies here.

      1. Ya. It’s tough because from a scientific aspect we should understand what makes humanity. And we should have a reason for our assumptions. But humans tend to prove they are dangerous with Pandora’s box.

        Imo it should be no different than realizing comorbidities and statistically likely injuries and illnesses (e.g. sickle cell in blacks, spontaneous pneumothorax in tall, thin, young guys, etc)

        1. I think that as people who know the limits of measurement we should be outspoken opponents of the idea that we can use policies based on measuring people to change society in the same fashion that an engineer uses mechanics to change the design of an airplane.

          I am not as effective at that as I would like to be.

          I think there is no harm in such studies so long as we can adequately defend the idea that they are no sound basis for policy. Such defense is the same as the conservative one for limited government, even if the standard formulations do not so serve.

          Furthermore, refusing to discuss whether or not there are measurable differences concedes the field to the crazy racist technocrats, who are already placed to profit from those who notice that uniformity seems to be a useful lie.

          1. social “engineering” has been shown to be false because people aren’t widgets. You can manufacture things but you can’t manufacture a society. It’s not just the execution that is flawed, but the theory as well. cf. the New Soviet Man.

            1. Yes, it is magical thinking. There is a reason measurement based decision making works in industry, and that reason is that products cannot change the results of the measurement to benefit themselves. To suppose that this is true for humans is to be very naive about humans.

            2. They sometimes use the language of animal husbandry, but all their logic is in manufacturing– and the theoretical sort of engineer doing manufacturing, at that.

              These guys REALLY need to work on a free-range type ranch for a few years to fix their theories. You can’t even make SHEEP do some of the stuff they try to get humans to do– you can only encourage or discourage stuff, even with really active cullilng.
              (There aren’t enough morons in dairy to explain why their bulls are so insanely nasty, for example— and the breeds of beef cattle I’m familiar with were able to breed away from the active-attempts-at-harm-as-a-personality-trait, *and* diary has a much, much higher population of surplus males, and they’re almost always human-raised. So the classic “dairy bulls are nasty SOBs” thing has got to have some sort of a genetic basis, and it’s not gone yet.)

              1. When I figured it out, I did so from the manufacturing and history end.

      2. Assuming uniformity can lead to thinking that the vast majority of people (the vast unwashed) are nothing but widgets.

    2. We don’t practice eugenics because it is evil, not because it doesn’t work. Well what makes a superior/better human is subjective, so saying we could create super humans isn’t necessarily true. But we could without a doubt breed for certain characteristics successfully, the same as we do with domesticated animals, or plants. But even if we ignore the fact that this is turning the breeding humans into slaves, being treated as animals, who is to decide which characteristics are superior?

      1. Well, strictly speaking, if you want a consistent breeding program, it needs to be able to persist over generations. Human power generally does not work in such a way as to allow this.

        We can absolutely breed for or cull for all sorts of known heritable traits.

        I suspect in practice a eugenics system would often be suborned by the most influential families, who would make sure that less powerful families are the ones whose kids the measurements show to be inferior.

        1. This is covering a very old idea in new mathematical/scientific language. What do you think the idea of caste means? The explanations and reasons change but the actions are the same.

          1. Yup.

            The whole leftwing ‘perfection of mankind by education’ works out to be hunky dory way to justify aristocracy. Just define ‘better education’ as what the best families get for their offspring.

            1. > education

              Their definition of that word means “indoctrination”, not “learning useful stuff.”

              1. There’s that, there’s technocratic rentseeking, and then there is the difference between the Ivy League and my alma mater. (Not that my alma mater is really that responsible for non-technical aspects of my education, but Marie Harf is a fool or a liar. Posner is a moron. I haven’t checked their vita, but I’d guess they are out of the Ivy League.)

                1. Re: Harf
                  Embrace the power of “and”

                  Per Wiki:

                  Marie Harf
                  Born Marie Elizabeth Harf
                  June 15, 1981 (age 35)
                  Chicago, USA
                  Nationality: American
                  Alma mater: Indiana University Bloomington
                  University of Virginia

                  Richard Posner
                  Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
                  Assumed office
                  December 1, 1981
                  Appointed by: Ronald Reagan
                  Preceded by: Philip Tone
                  Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
                  In office
                  August 1, 1993 – August 1, 2000
                  Preceded by: William Bauer
                  Succeeded by: Joel Flaum
                  Personal details
                  Born Richard Allen Posner
                  January 11, 1939 (age 77)
                  New York City, New York, U.S.
                  Spouse(s): Charlene Posner
                  Alma mater: Yale University
                  Harvard University

        2. I have a theory on that, and the experiment has been going on for generations. Starts with fruit fly experiments. Experimenters were able to increase the lifespan of fruit flies drastically in just a few generations, not by breeding longer lived fruit flies, but by successively delaying the age at which they could get together and breed. In the U.S., blacks have measurably shorter lifespans then whites, and non-college educated whites have shorter lifespans then college educated whites. If you look at age of first childbirth, blacks are a few years before whites. And non-college educated whites 4 years or so before college educated whites. And assortive mating has been going on for a while now, and getting even more defined as time goes on. I have a lot of long lived relatives. In terms or first births- mother 24, GMs 23, 23 GGMs 17, 25, 39, 19 and for another 2 generations past that first births among females were all past 21. Traced a friends ancestry out. We’re 10th cousins once removed. 10 generations to get to me, 11 generations to get to her. From that common ancestor, her ancestors have reproduced faster then mine. And, her relatives are shorter lived, on average in the last two generations, then mine.

          Oh, my two daughter’s-in-law first births- 31, 32. My 3 other kids haven’t started reproducing yet. The youngest is 17. I know people my age who were done having grandchildren before my last child was born. 12 years after that I got my first grandchild.

          Could be longevity outcomes, on average, aren’t dependent on better availability of healthcare, but on average, are entirely dependent on when your ancestors started reproducing. There are other factors affecting individual lifespans, like lifestyle choices. Methinks both my parents died at the young age of 82 because they led unhealthy lifestyles.

            1. I’m gonna try. Told my kids we’re on the cusp of medical revolution. My generation will be the last to die before 100, or the first to live a long, long time. A healthy longevity should be routine for them. I intend on sticking around until we’re over the cusp.

              1. Some of us are still going to be sick. Some of us will have genetic inheritances of poor health that we’ll make worse by not taking care of ourselves and eating/doing all the wrong things. Someone is always on the left hand of the bell curve. However that may get better. We may die at 80 and considered to have died much too young.

      2. Of course eugenics is evil; it was en vogue with Progressives worldwide for decades.

        1. Just because an idea has been popular among Progressives does not automatically define it as bad. Why, amongst the ideas beloved by Progressives there must be hundreds dozens some one that is good not too utterly terrible.

          1. I suppose an occasional good idea may have originated from, or been adopted by, the Progressives. But darn few. Have you ever looked at the Progressive Party’s 1912 platform? It was like an unholy mixture taking a caricature of FDR-era policies and the MSM’s authoritarian portrayal of modern social conservatives.

        2. Nope. Absolutely nobody who the Left reveres was ever a eugenicist. Absolutely not a single one. Just ask them.

      3. Another couple of things. Some traits are multiply determined. You will never get perfect. If someone is an overwhelming genius in one area they will be below average in something else.

        1. We’re not characters in a RPG with a fixed number of points. Maybe he will be below average in something else. Maybe he’ll just be average. Maybe he’ll just be merely above average.

    3. Liberals freely acknowledge there are differences between groups. For example, only whites can be racist; the racism gene exists in no other group. Some ethnic groups are taller, some are better at sprints, others at distance running. There’s all kinds of measureable differences between groups except for IQ. IQ is an artificial construct that really doesn’t measure anything. Nor do things like SAT’s or ASVABs or GCT/ARI’s really mean anything. Any difference between groups that shows up in any kind of academic or written testing is solely due to racism, or the way the test is culturally biased, or some other unknowable reason, and has nothing to do with any kind of thinking or academic ability. Everyone knows that.

      1. Pretty much.

        In honesty I think the actual effect may be relatively minor but think it definitely is there. They have their holy grail of evolution but won’t allow that there may be traits that are selected differently in different areas. For instance intelligence may be more critical in areas where insulation is required and food is scarce vs where all you need is shade and food is plentiful. Or perhaps vice versa if long years of dietary restrictions from scarce food affected development.

        1. I strongly suspect minor effect vastly less significant than culture.

    4. They can’t even admit that “IQ” and “intelligence” isn’t a single trait– I’m booger all for word problems like “get the goat, the hay, the fox and the rabbit across the river without anything being eaten” type thing, but pretty good at mechanical puzzles or water flow and awesome with puns. (word play IS a kind of intelligence. Maybe an unwanted one….)

      I’m sure folks here can think of a dozen different types, including the Father Brown “put yourself in another person’s shoes so well that you KNOW what they’re going to do or did” type tactical genus.

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