Distance and Death

I don’t remember how or when my brother taught me the saying “distance and death dress everyone in his best smile.”  I know that I’ve known it, seemingly all my life.

As you guys know I’ve been reading about Islam.  I’ve also been meditating on the glamour that Europe has always exerted over a certain number of Americans, a glamour all out of proportion to what it actually is and how people actually live there.  And of course on many people’s (particularly leftists’) view of cultures that are completely different from ours, like China, or even Islam, as being inherently superior, BECAUSE they’re different.

The funny thing about that sort of effect is that it rarely holds up on close acquaintance.

Send an Europhile to Europe for two or three weeks, and they’ll come back raving about the wonders and beauties of the old country.  Send them for three months, and they’ll come back complaining about such things as restricted access to electricity, inability to turn on a hotel’s air-conditioning if you don’t have the key in the right slot (that’s right, so that you can’t cool the room while you’re absent) and all sorts of “the elites know best” measures that in general make life in Europe less comfortable, less easy, and more fraught. Mind you, this might, or might not, make him recant his previous expressions of love for Europe and disdain for the US.  Most people hate saying they were wrong, so instead they’ll come back talking about the good (or at least unverifiable) points of Europe, while admitting they have “some issues.”  But they will never again say they want to live there, and they might find good reasons not to have another extended visit.

And then there’s the view from the other side.  We never get dressed in our best smile.  Partly because the US is never fully absent.  Our specific cultural gravity makes a hole in the consciousness of everyone in the world.

But because of the gushing and crazy of our europhiles, genuine Europeans believe, quite logically, that they have it way better.  This is fostered by their kleptocratic elites who don’t want them throwing off socialist-fostered death panels and therefore convince them of nonsense such that poor people die in the streets here.  But wait, there’s more: because they know us only through our movies, which tend to ignore the stable and boring parts of the country, and through our europhile media, they genuinely believe that everyone here gets raped and mugged once a week.  And then there’s funnier stuff: they actually do believe we have only one type of cheese, that there’s no access to say specialized books, that all Americans are semi-literate (yes, I know, but by that standard so are Europeans) and that oh… we live under a military dictatorship with curfew (I kid you not) or — my favorite — that pokeyman Go was banned in the first week, because it was causing deaths (wait, what?)

Other things they believe include that our media is controlled and that if you say anything bad about the US (other than the patently truthful, like people dying in the street, natch) the government will put you in some sort of Bastille.

I’d find all this funny if it weren’t in fact tragic.

The assumption of superiority from Europe only reinforces the star-struck on our side, leading them to wish to live in that paradise they hear described as so wonderful.

Mind you, there are (several) worse places to live than Europe.  And it is probably my tendency not to LISTEN well that causes me to want to say “you and whose army” when I see them controlling energy consumption, fat intake, salt, etc.  (Yeah, I know, NYC — rolls eyes) because the elites CLEARLY know better than the people.

They have a patrimony we just lack, a lot of beautiful old things, from architecture to various art artifacts.  Mind you, those are things from their ancestors, and when they were produced new were derided by the truly cognoscenti, just like our stuff is.  The entire Romantic movement was designed to sneer at modernity of their time, which to us right now seems quite romantic itself.

Also Art in Europe seems to amount to a large tizzy-fit throwing, something along the lines of “we’re surrounded by such beautiful stuff we can’t match it, so let us, instead, make simplistic crude things that tweak the tradition.”  Like our own intellectuals they seem unable to understand that those who would get upset at crassness or rudeness died about a century ago, and that the current intellectual establishment in Europe is exactly people like them, striking a pose and doing their best to speak power to truth, while acting daring.

That’s fine.  They’re not the first or the last wave of cultural decadence to sweep the continent and there’s a good chance that they’ll recover.  Eventually.

But there is a difference between countries run for the comfort and convenience of the elites and countries run for the comfort and convenience of the buying public.  It means that the buying public has more choice and more ability to decide what they want to spend their geld on in the second, which leads to a life that’s more comfortable, more innovative, and overall just NICER in the day to day sense than what obtains in countries run by “those who know best” for “your own good.”

Yeah, I know, I am an ugly American, willing to trade massive Cathedrals (Hey, that’s why Himself in His infinite wisdom gave us Google Earth and 3-d tours on the computer) beautiful palaces and rare objects d’art (not to mention exquisite little bistros) for a store that’s open 24/7, so I can shop whenever, and which has a greater selection of left hand screwdrivers than I could buy in a month of Sundays.

But in the end, when you want that left hand screw driver, or breakfast at three in the morning, it is more comfortable to know you can get it.  Sure, you could go look at a Botticelli in the day, but how will that fix your unscrewed toilet seat?

And I have enough Roman ancestry never to have understood why we can’t have both: art, and comfort, style and commerce.  Doesn’t one feed the other?

The dichotomy between the two is something that can only be maintained at a distance, by people who have never experienced Europe (if they’re Americans) or America (if they’re Europeans.)

Yeah, distance doesn’t dress us in our best smile, but I don’t care.  I’ll take the joys and little conveniences of life here, and be grateful everyday.  L’amour de l’art can wait.

 

299 responses to “Distance and Death

  1. (chuckle) We used to say, back in South Africa, Q: “what’s the difference between a do-gooder anti-racist idealist from Europe and a racist? A: About three months. Seriously some of worst racism I ever heard came from European Doctors who had come out as idealists to help the persecuted natives. The people who had lived there all there lives – even the most discriminatory of them, were generally more tolerant

    • Well yes. That’s because
      A. The European doctors were probably already racist
      B. Had probably never dealt with an actual black person
      C. Believed in collective justice.

      • My grandmother was a sweet old lady. But she could go on and on about the White Man’s Burden. It was our place in the divine scheme of things to uplift the world.

    • Talk to an African-American GI who’s been deployed to Africa. Messes with their heads like you wouldn’t believe.

      • Knew several. None of them were really too enthused about hearing any of the black nationalist or “back to Africa” BS, and I got to listen in to a lecture one of those guys delivered up unto his juniors. Really… Interesting. Especially hearing someone say that his ancestors being made slaves was probably the best thing that ever happened to them…

        I think the thing that really changed his perspective was watching the locals use the kids to get handouts from the GIs, and then watching the adults mug the kids for the food, leaving them trampled in the dust. One of the guys I’m thinking of recalled witnessing a group of young adult males kill a kid for the MRE he’d been handed a minute earlier. I think there was an ROE violation that came afterwards, oddly enough. One that didn’t make any official reports.

        Reality as experienced overseas is truly a trip through the looking-glass, and what you take out of the experience may or may not be what everyone expects.

        • Those native adults doubtless thought the Americans fools for giving the handouts to kids.

          “Hah-ha, dumbass Americans don’t know kids are for taking stuff from!”

        • one of the few smart things Whoopie Goldberg has said was “I been to Africa. I ain’t from there.”

        • My abovementioned friend said that prior to his being sent, he was very firmly and strictly told to avoid giving stuff to the ‘poor starving urchins.’ Contributing to their death or continued exploitation wasn’t something they wanted to have their medical technicians’ conscience. Someone in the briefing asked how giving a starving kid food would do that, and they were told, bluntly, that if the food wouldn’t kill them (the kids’ / local populations’ digestive systems couldn’t handle such rich food) then someone would murder the kid for it.

          This friend of mine is very glad that if nothing else, he’s glad that his naiveté about Africa and Islam was taken out into the back and shot (by me); but hearing about how bad it is ain’t nothing compared to seeing firsthand.

          Especially hearing someone say that his ancestors being made slaves was probably the best thing that ever happened to them…

          Yeah, I’m in agreement with that. Because their descendants experienced what it’s like for them to live in civilization.

          I’m still of the rather wicked opinion that all the ‘Black Lives Matter’ people need to be shipped to Africa, and see how much their fellow ‘black brothers’ value theirs. (Not very much, and they wouldn’t last long.)

          • I don’t know about the rank and file, but I think that for the leaders, BLM is just a tool to get stuff–money political power etc. I think that attaining power is uppermost in their minds.

            • I have, personally, no problems sending the rank and file along with the ‘leaders’ over there. Largely because the fools don’t realise how good it is where you are and don’t appreciate it.

              *nasty grin* How else are they going to learn the difference, after all?

            • I can’t vouch for “Western Journalism” where I found this, but the internal links run to fairly reliable sources:

              Exposed: Who’s REALLY Behind Black Lives Matter And What They Are Trying To Do Next
              Questions remain about how the radical organizations that make up the Black Lives Matter movement are supported.
              F. Peter Brown November 13, 2015
              Black Lives Matter has made a name for itself by, some might say, fanning the flames of racial tension in the United States.

              Questions remain about how the radical organizations that make up the Black Lives Matter movement are supported.

              Now, though, key sources of support for the movement have been revealed.

              The Washington Times exposed last January that leftist billionaire George Soros gave more than $30 million in seed money to Black Lives Matter affiliated groups.

              According to Essence magazine, Google is also helping to fund the Black Lives Matter movement, giving $2.35 million in grants to activist organizations addressing the “racial injustices that have swept the nation.”

              Now, Politico reports that “some of the biggest donors on the left plan to meet behind closed doors next week in Washington with leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and their allies to discuss funding for the burgeoning protest movement.”

              The major liberal donor group Democracy Alliance (DA) will be holding its annual meeting from Tuesday evening through Saturday morning in Washington, and meetings will be held to discuss funding the movement.

              Wealthy donors including Tom Steyer and Paul Egerman are expected to attend the DA annual meeting.

              The Los Angeles Times has reported that Steyer, a hedge fund billionaire, gave the most to political campaigns of any single person in the 2014 midterm elections, contributing a whopping $74 million–almost three times as much as the second biggest donor, Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg gave $27.7 million.

              The DA was started in 2005 by major liberal donors, including George Soros and Taco Bell heir Rob McKay, who hoped to build a permanent infrastructure to support leftist causes.

              At David Horowitz’s “Discover the Networks” I found this:
              [SNIP]
              Ties to the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

              BLM is closely allied with numerous groups that are fronts for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), a Marxist-Leninist entity that calls for the overthrow of capitalism. Economist and investigative journalist James Simpson has identified some of these FRSO fronts that are tied to BLM:

              [SNIP]
              Support for BLM from President Obama and the Democratic Party

              In August 2015, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) officially endorsed BLM by approving a resolution that condemned “the unacceptable epidemic of extrajudicial killings of unarmed black men, women, and children at the hands of police”; stated that the American Dream “is a nightmare for too many young people stripped of their dignity under the vestiges of slavery, Jim Crow and White Supremacy”; demanded the “demilitarization of police, ending racial profiling, criminal justice reform, and investments in young people, families, and communities”; and asserted that “without systemic reform this state of [black] unrest jeopardizes the well-being of our democracy and our nation.”

              On September 16, 2015, BLM activists Brittney Packnett, DeRay McKesson, Johnetta Elzie, Phillip Agnew, and Jamye Wooten met at the White House with President Obama as well as senior advisor Valerie Jarrett and other administration officials. For Packnett, it was her seventh visit to the Obama White House. Afterward, Packnett told reporters that the president personally supported the BLM movement. “He offered us a lot of encouragement with his background as a community organizer, and told us that even incremental changes were progress,” she stated. “He didn’t want us to get discouraged. He said, ‘Keep speaking truth to power.’”

              In October 2015, Obama publicly articulated his support for BLM’s agenda by saying: “I think the reason that the organizers [of BLM] used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ was not because they were suggesting nobody else’s lives matter. Rather, what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that’s happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities. And that is a legitimate issue that we’ve got to address.”

              In a December 2015 interview on National Public Radio, Obama described Black Lives Matter as a positive force on policing in America, notwithstanding the violence and incendiary rhetoric exhibited by many of its members. Noting that “sometimes progress is a little uncomfortable,” the president claimed that BLM was doing the vital work of shining “sunlight” on the fact that “there’s no black family that hasn’t had a conversation around the kitchen table about driving while black and being profiled or being stopped” by police. “You know,” he elaborated, “during that process there’s going to be some noise and some discomfort, but I m absolutely confident that over the long term, it leads to a fair, more just, healthier America.”

              At a Black History Month event at the White House in February 2016, Obama welcomed BLM leaders DeRay McKesson and Brittany Packnett (the latter of whom was one of the key “Hands up, don’t shoot” propagandists who in 2014 promoted the lie that a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri had shot black teenager Michael Brown in cold blood as he tried to surrender). Obama also welcomed such notables as activist Al Sharpton, Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson, and NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherrilyn Ifill. In the course of his remarks, Obama said: “But we’ve also got some young people here who are making history as we speak. People like Brittany [Packnett], who served on our Police Task Force in the wake of Ferguson, and has led many of the protests that took place there and shined a light on the injustice that was happening. People like DeRay Mckesson, who has done some outstanding work mobilizing in Baltimore around these issues. And to see generations continuing to work on behalf of justice and equality and economic opportunity is greatly encouraging to me…. They are much better organizers than I was at their age. I am confident they are going to take America to new heights.”

              In July 2016, Obama likened BLM to the abolition and suffrage movements of yesteryear, saying: “The abolition movement was contentious. The effort for women to get the right to vote was contentious and messy. There were times when activists might have engaged in rhetoric that was overheated and occasionally counterproductive. But the point was to raise issues so that we, as a society, could grapple with it. The same was true with the Civil Rights Movement, the union movement, the environmental movement, the antiwar movement during Vietnam. And I think what you’re seeing now is part of that longstanding tradition.” (Obama also said: “[W]henever those of us who are concerned about fairness in the criminal justice system attack police officers, you are doing a disservice to the cause. First of all, any violence directed at police officers is a reprehensible crime and needs to be prosecuted. But even rhetorically, if we paint police in broad brush, without recognizing that the vast majority of police officers are doing a really good job and are trying to protect people and do so fairly and without racial bias, if our rhetoric does not recognize that, then we’re going to lose allies in the reform cause.” This assertion, however, was entirely inconsistent with the many statements the president had previously made about the allegedly systemic bias and racism of the entire criminal-justice system.)

              On July 13, 2016 — six days after a BLM supporter in Dallas had shot and killed five police officer and wounded seven others — President Obama hosted BLM leaders DeRay Mckesson, Brittany Packnett, and Mica Grimmat at a four-and-a-half-hour meeting at the White House. Also invited were Al Sharpton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D), St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), and some police chiefs.
              discoverthenetworks[DOT]org/groupProfile.asp?grpid=7876

              • The black President encouraging the leaders of BLM, while in a meeting with them in the White House to, “continue speaking truth to power”, is just a little bit ridiculous.

            • Oh I’m pretty confident the rank and file are just using it as a tool also.

            • Just found this about BLM:

              Black Lives Matter’s real agenda
              The movement is at war with black husbands and fathers

              By Roland C. Warren
              Unless you have been “off the grid” for a while, you have heard a lot in the news about Black Lives Matter. This “movement” has gotten a lot of press and some notable praise from celebrities and politicians, including positive mentions from President Obama. But I suspect that most people, including many who have tweeted #blacklivesmatter, have not visited its website.

              I have, and I was a shocked, especially as a black man. You see, Black Lives Matter boasts that it was launched as a response to the deaths of black males, most notably Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. You would expect that when you review its website, it would be chock-full of references to helping black men and boys. But you would be wrong. Dead wrong.

              Let me explain.

              Prominent on Black Lives Matter’s website is a list of its 12 “Guiding Principles.” These principles serve as a vision statement for what the group hopes to accomplish. So, if Black Lives Matter had the ability to wave a proverbial “magic wand” to create its reality in the black community, these principles would be it. However, if you objectively read these principles, you will quickly notice that most of them have nothing to do with the issues facing the black community and, certainly, not the black men and boys that the group has used as “martyrs” to gain a national voice. Moreover, as you read the principles, you will not find a single reference to black men and boys, except for “trans brothers,” which are men who want to be considered women.

              Also, it is clear that the Black Lives Matter ideology sees no role for black men, especially not as husbands and fathers. For example, consider the guiding principle titled, “Black Villages”:

              “We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially ‘our’ children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.”

              This principle starts with the goal of “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” The irony is that this has already happened to a great degree in the black community. Today, only 34 percent of black children — down from 67 percent in 1960 — are raised in homes with married fathers and mothers. Moreover, nearly 50 percent of black children live in single mother homes. In 1960, only 20 percent of black children did. From Black Lives Matter’s perspective, we are making great progress. Using this logic, we should actively work to increase the number of black kids living in single mother homes, absent their fathers, right?

              But how is that working out for the black community? Not so great. Father absence is linked to nearly all the most intractable social ills affecting children, such as low academic performance, behavior problems and risks for incarceration. Moreover, the negative outcomes correlated to father absence disproportionately affect the black boys and men who Black Lives Matter says it wants to protect.

              [SNIP]

              The bottom line is that the Black Lives Matter movement sees no role for black men other than media-hyped props to promote an agenda that excludes and undermines them. As a black man, I find being used this way destructive, offensive and familiar.

              You see, for centuries the blood of black men has been used to advance the agenda and fortunes of others. And sadly, the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement are the latest to adopt this pernicious strategy. They seek to deny black men the right and honor that so many have died for — to be good husbands to their wives and good fathers to their children.

              For a movement that is known for aggressively shouting down anyone who dares utter, “All Lives Matter,” it is guilty of the very thing that it protests when in comes to including black men in its vision of families and communities. Anyone who really cares about all black lives ought to think twice before they get on this movement’s bus. It’s heading in the wrong direction. And that matters a lot.

              • Roland C. Warren is president and CEO of Care Net.

          • Anybody else recall this:

            Out Of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa
            Hardcover – February 5, 1997
            by Keith Richburg (Author)
            Keith B. Richburg was an experienced and respected reporter who had paid his dues covering urban neighborhoods in Washington D.C., and won praise for his coverage of Southeast Asia. But nothing prepared him for the personal odyssey that he would embark upon when he was assigned to cover Africa.In this powerful book, Richburg takes the reader on an extraordinary journey that sweeps from Somalia to Rwanda to Zaire and finally to South Africa. He shows how he came to terms with the divide within himself: between his African racial heritage and his American cultural identity.Are these really my people? Am I truly an African-American? The answer, Richburg finds, after much soul-searching, is that no, he is not an African, but an American first and foremost. To those who romanticize Mother Africa as a black Valhalla, where blacks can walk with dignity and pride, he regrets that this is not the reality. He has been there and witnessed the killings, the repression, the false promises, and the horror. “Thank God my nameless ancestor, brought across the ocean in chains and leg irons, made it out alive,” he concludes. “Thank God I am an American.”

            Editorial Reviews

            Amazon.com Review
            From 1991 to 1994, Keith Richburg was based in Nairobi as the Africa bureau chief for the Washington Post. He traveled throughout Africa, from Rwanda to Zaire, witnessing and reporting on wars, famines, mass murders, and the complexity and corruption of African politics. Unlike many black Americans who romanticize Africa, Richburg looks back on his time there and concludes that he is simply an American, not an African American. This is a powerful, hard-hitting book, filled with anguished soul-searching as Richburg makes his way toward that uncomfortable conclusion.

            Review
            To his credit, Mr. Richburg lays out his own confusion and guilt about saying some of the things he does . . . he is candid about his gratitude that his ancestors made it to America. Mr. Richburg lambastes whites in the West who, for fear of appearing racist, hesitate to place responsibility for Africa’s woes on African shoulders, and then he extends this criticism to white Americans who are allegedly afraid to hold black Americans responsible for their own woes. — The New York Times Book Review, William Finnegan

            80% 4 and 5 star, 12% 1 star, and those 1-star reviews make for some of the rawest reading of Proglodytic Ids.

            Since 2009 Richburg has been a freelance journalist. His works can be found at his website, keithrichburg[DOT}com/

      • A friend of mine was recently – within the last six months- deployed to Africa, on the medical assistance side of things. Lets just say that he was glad that he knew he could be politically incorrect with me.

  2. c4c

  3. I had the romantic Lawrence of Arabia view of moslems until I worked in various moslem countries. I could not believe that bacon, BACON!!! was a contraband item in Qatar. And then to listen to them condescendingly tell me that the whole world was destined to live under sharia. Familiarity bred contempt with me anyway.

    I’ve spoken with Brits who didn’t want to vacation in America because they were afraid of being shot on the street. They also think our individualism fetish is just crazy.

    • They also think our individualism fetish is just crazy. And here you hit what I think is the main reason the US is the best place, even now. In all the “old” cultures – Europe, Asia, the Middle East – as well as most of the colony cultures, if it comes down to a choice between benefit to the individual with no impact to the society and benefit to the society but harm to the individual, the USA will usually choose the former.

      Most other places the society wins. In the other colony cultures (Canada, Oz, New Zealand are the ones I know about) it’s not a certain thing but it’s less likely. In the old cultures, the individual gets crushed.

    • It probably IS a little crazy. I mean, by historical norm it is abnormal. That’s fine. I don’t wanna be cured.

    • I’ve spoken with Brits who didn’t want to vacation in America because they were afraid of being shot on the street. They also think our individualism fetish is just crazy.

      As an Englishman I don’t understand these people. The British have been individualistic for ever, even though we’ve always had our share of bansturbators. [ We tried sending some of them off in leaky boats to the frozen wastes of the new world but they survived and then revolted so that didn’t work out quite as planned. ] I mean the words English and Eccentric go together like bread and butter.

      Sadly I fear that Gramsci’s march through our education system has meant we no longer teach children properly. And by properly I mean to take risks and do things on their own.

      With luck the Michael Gove education reforms will mean that in a decade or so we have more adventurous young adults again

      • One of the world’s biggest English socialist jerks wrote the Swallows and Amazons books, which are all about liberty and responsibility.

        • Everyone’s conservative about things they care about.

        • True. See also JK Rowling. If Harry Potter isn’t about the incompetence of the state then I don’t know what book/series is.

          • Unfortunately, Rowling seems to be of the impression that it’s about what happens when the “wrong people” are in charge.
            Oh, and how awful middle class people are.

            • Free Range Oyster

              Despite all the Deconstructionist nonsense I had to listen to in college, I’ve always believed that an author knows best what his writing is about. Rowling deals a serious body blow to that philosophy.

              • It’s like what Bill Whittle says about Hollywood movies. SJW screenwriters often unconsciously write conservative scripts because they want to be realistic. And guess what, reality is conservative.

              • You might be misunderstanding Rowling’s argument. She tells truths in the Potter books, which is why she must pay homage to popular myths in the real world.

                Nyahhhhh … not even I can believe that, even with one eye closed.

            • And the upper class is pure evil …

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Well, MewTwo does say that overseas leftists belong in a slit trench. So it is entirely a rational fear.

    • I worked with a man who’d worked in Saudi Arabia for a year or two. He said they’d never do any better or get any better than they were because work was beneath them. (Or words to that effect.)

      • It really depends on the ratio of oil/gas money to population. Qataris, big money & small population are often quite arrogant. Kuwaitis and Omanis, bigger population for the money, are often proud workers. At least those low enough down that they need the job.

  4. OMG – I lived on the economy – meaning that I rented a local apartment/house off-base for all the years that I lived in Greece and Spain, and had to deal with all the local … peculiarities. Which I loved – especially in Greece – in spite of certain awkwardnesses. Like a pretty awful and damaging anti-Americanism, and also outright bloody terrorism problem, which has left me mildly paranoid to this day about advertising any military/American connection in public or on our family vehicles. And there were considerable of them, when all was stacked up and added together.

    I loved living in Europe — but it was not my home, when all was said and done. And when I did come home – it was to discover how really, really nice and friendly, and efficient Americans were. Especially when it came to a malfunctioning central heater. The heater in our house in Spain went out in winter, and it took about two months to sort it. In Utah – a single day.

    • We knew missionaries who lived in Germany and wanted to move to a bigger place, but couldn’t because that required a reference from their current landlord … who loved her American tenants and didn’t want to lose them.

    • Larry Patterson

      Greece has the strange idea that shower curtains are not needed.

      • If you haven’t spent a fair amount of time on one or another of the Greek islands, you have no idea of just how strange Greece can be. Some years ago I made month-long visits to Karpathos, between Crete and Rhodes. We had running water two days a week, electricity when possible (fairly frequently, actually), and water for the solar showers we had packed (we knew a bit about what we were getting into) when I could walk the better part of a kilometer to the nearest public water faucet.

        And that’s not even talking about the cultural differences, like not putting toilet paper into the toilet after use. Actually, that made sense in that the sewage was just pumped out to sea raw, and sometimes would come back to the beaches. Wouldn’t want the tourists to notice toilet paper floating up; they might get the right idea.

      • > shower curtains

        I’ve encountered curtainless showers in the US. It’s a trendy thing, if the bathroom is large enough. There’s just a ridge in the floor the perfect height to trip over and an open shower.

        Unfortunately, it only seems to work with modern no-pressure greenie water-saver dribble/mist showers. They put out so little water they basically just dampen your skin to make it easier to give yourself a sponge bath. At that, I still managed to wet down most of the non-shower areas of the bathroom, though some of it was probably from dancing about waving my arms in rage.

      • I had three 1-week trips to a small city in Bavaria (Wasserburg am Inn) to do work for a company as the dot-com boom was busting. The December trip showed that while the hotel provided towels, washcloths were a strange and wonderful thing. (I ended up with a kitchen scrubby and packed one for the later trips.)

        The Spring trip was nice, no major surprises. However, the June trip showed that folks thought no mosquitoes lived in the area. Wrong. No A/C and no bug screens. (90F that week. Sigh.) Mosquitoes find me irresistible, so buying antihistamine ointment using high-school German was an adventure. OTOH, beer-o-clock at 10AM on Friday was a treat.

        • Stuff I always take: washcloth. “Supplies”. Ibuprofen (because some places add a little something else to it.). Little packets of Woolite (TM). Other stuff I can get on the economy and don’t mind (much), but some US stuff just does not translate, and I’ve gotten spoiled by US brands. I know some people who take chili powder and chipotle chili powder, but I’m not certain if they consider them condiments or self-defense tools.

          • I know some people who take chili powder and chipotle chili powder, but I’m not certain if they consider them condiments or self-defense tools.

            Why not both? Also, to set other folks’ stomachs on fire because I’ve often heard that Americans like things spicy. (And my introduction to jalapeno came at the American Church in Paris, so, I can’t really say y’all don’t…)

            • I’m almost allergic to spicy. It makes living in TX interesting.

              • *grin* And that’s what I’m talking about. The usual foreigner shorthand for “American” = Cowboys, bristling with guns, especially Texas, and all that it implies, kind of like how lots of folk think that Sydney and Melbourne are a short jaunt* away from Ayer’s Rock/Uluru. (The others seem to be Los Angeles = violent gangland somehow with Hollywood and Beverly Hills, and New York skyscrapers everywhere.)

                (*Rhys’ relatives came to visit from England at his parents’ home a couple of years ago, and one of them mentioned offhand that they wanted to drive to Sydney for a day tour of the city’s sights, ‘then come back in time for dinner.’ Rhys’ parents live outside of Melbourne – an hour or so out – and his father had to work hard to illustrate that not only would such ambitions require at least a weekend long visit, they’d have to pencil in eight hours of driving at least. I think it was plotting the trip via GPS and ‘estimated time of arrival’ that convinced them. They took the weekend.)

            • That’s another thing where there’s amazing levels of difference across the country. I’ve heard of some places that consider a few sprinkles of pepper and a teaspoon of diced onions to be “spicing up their food”. Then there are the people who like to use Ghost Peppers liberally.

              • (Very Australian) Housemate used to eat ghost peppers raw and when we got him some of those Carolina Reapers (? I think that’s what they were called) he was delighted and ate them raw. Spicy for me is spicy KFC, or the occasional medium-hot lamb rogan josh.

                (So yeah, I’m aware of the individual differences, but I was talking about the ‘European’ impression that Americans like spicy food.)

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                There’s also “personal tastes”.

                Mom put pepper in some of the dishes she made that I thought was “too much”.

                Not enough that I wouldn’t eat it but I noticed the pepper more than she apparently did. 😀

                • Heh. Yeah, and apparently there’s a lot of how you’re fed when you’re young. My brother’s neighbor used to sit with a jar of pickled jalepenos and eat them like popcorn, but when he came back from a trip home to Korea, he told my brother that he had forgotten how hot the home cooking was.

                  • I love pickled jalapenos, but unlike my grandfather, I don’t drink the juice when I am done with the jar. On the other hand, it wasn’t how I was fed growing up. My dad has decided he likes a little flavor in his food now, but when I was growing up chili at home was basically meat and beans with a few tomatoes.
                    I remember after my grandfather died (the other one, who didn’t like hot stuff) my grandmother made chili with flavor twice, the first time my dad thought it was a mistake and didn’t say anything, the second time he told her not to invite him for dinner any more if she was going to make it like that. 🙂 I was adding tabasco to mine.

              • Or as a friend used to say,

                “Habaneros! Not just for breakfast any more.”

        • Portugal also has no bug screens. The way to counter this is to either close the house tight or turn no lights on after dark.

          • Oh. That explains it. Anybody reading the coverage of European events has seen that the Elites prefer keeping the Proles in the dark.

            I am confident that highly-ranked bureaucrats get special dispensation and power connections because they need to be able to stay up late “drafting regulations” — if you know what I mean and I am sure that you do.

          • If the house is large enough, sometimes it’s possible to have other windows open, away from the lit area. (Knowledge not derived from Portugal but from being in the Adirondacks in no-see-’em season.

          • One popular thing in France recently is the blue/uv light with high voltage netting surrounding it. Works great for dusky evenings because all the bugs head straight for it and get zapped. But screens work better 🙂

            • ….Bet both wouldn’t be a bad move….

              • Oddly enough that’s what we do. The zapper is for the mosquitoes that find the holes in the screens etc.

                There are holes because the screens are many decades old and things eventually wear loose

                • If you get midges, go to a screen shop and see if they have/can get the fine mesh screening. We have it for the windows we open in the evening and it really helps. We’re just south of a river and swarms will blow to our house in season. It’s amazing to watch a swarm form as you turn on a flashlight.

                  Bug zappers help, but mosquitoes really like me. DEET for the win.

                  • I wonder how much airflow that fine mesh stops? If you’ve never tried it, you would be amazed how much airflow regular window screens stop. Some evening take the screen out of a window and notice the difference in airflow. Still, generally in bug country the advantage of a bug free limited airflow outweighs a bug laden unlimited airflow.

            • I’m enough of an engineer that I want one of those laser mosquito fences I’ve read about.

              • Drone bats with mosquito-targeting* LED laser cannon?

                *Ok, mosquito-walmarting for those of alternate retail preference.

        • I had one trip to Germany that turned out to be one of the hottest weeks of the summer. The hotel was theoretically air conditioned, but the air conditioning system had been in an accident on the autobahn. (Really. I thought there was a serious misunderstanding on at least one side at first, but no, to the best of my understanding in fact it had been broken, they sent it out for maintenance or bought a replacement, and the delivery truck had an accident.) After a session of mosquito-chasing, my roommate and I actually did figure out that there was a way to open the windows and drape the curtains to keep them out. It sounds like that was a relatively good hotel for options.

          • The hotel in Wasserburg had good heat, but nothing for a rare(?) hot summer. It had some strong internal shutters, but bupkis for bugs. I’d actually like the shutters for our place; they’d stop a mountain lion. I’m guessing they were snakeproof–second story, two legged variety. (I know, it was really the 1st floor…)

  5. I can confirm similar observations from around the world while in service to US 1997-2005. Especially the attitude and beliefs of those in Islamic nations, though for some reason the physicians I worked with who had been US trained seemed much more tolerant and actually worried for the Westerners who found themselves in their home countries and hospitals. Funny thing, that.

    The anger back then in Germany was mainly thrust at Turkish truck drivers. and how they hogged the Autobahn. Funny how that has a new twist over the border in France right now.

  6. I don’t think anywhere is rationing electricity in Europe yet. The green idiocies may mean that it happens some winter real soon now, but now is not that time.

    • Um… My parents electricity provider removed their electrical board and put in one that handles half the flow, so they don’t use too much.

        • yeah. And my parents’ saying “well, it’s good, it means we’ll use less and help save energy” made me nauseous.

          • People over 65 don’t need so much electricity in winter. They don’t move much and blankets are great. It’s for the children.

            (I’m making me nauseous too)

          • Yeesh… Sounds like Portugal is well down the path that Joe Haldeman laid out in The Forever War. I wonder how long until they actually outwardly implement the cuts to medical services for the elderly he presciently included in the story line?

            • It’s probably in Hillary’s platform somewhere.

              • It is. They use actuarial analyses to project if you’ve enough productive years left to justify treatment. Not that it requires Hillary’s imprimatur; the AMA is already rewriting ethics standards to preclude “Medically ineffective” treatment: under futile care theory, the MD and/or a hospital ethics committee have the right to refuse wanted treatment–which works–based on their subjective personal value beliefs that it is “inappropriate.”
                http://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism/437925/ama-playing-hide-ball-futile-care-rule

                Wesley J. Smith, at National Review and at First Things, has been tracking the implementation of such utilitarian ethics for some time now.

                From an interview promoting his newly revised book, Culture of Death: The Age of “Do Harm” Medicine:

                ioEdge: You describe bioethics as a kind of religion. What is the creed of this new faith?

                Smith: It is more an orthodoxy, I think. Unless a “bioethicist” has a modifier in front of her name, such as “conservative” or “Catholic,” most are very liberal politically, activist culture warriors, and utilitarian in their approach, either explicitly or in outcomes. The movement seems increasingly disdainful of religious belief as well. I think the most remarkable aspect of all of this is that the values of mainstream bioethics do not comport with the views of most people. And yet we are supposed to follow their “expert” lead in establishing crucial public policies and medical ethics. I think not.

                BioEdge: Let’s peer into the future. What are the battles you are preparing for, the big issues?

                Smith: Assisted suicide and euthanasia are going to continue to be bioethical hot potatoes. Medical futility. Protecting medical conscience rights for health care professionals who wish to adhere to Hippocratic values is going to be huge internationally. I mean, if we are not careful, in 20 years one may not be able to find a doctor who would not be willing to kill you under some circumstances, which I find a very frightening prospect.

                I think health care rationing will also become an increasing hot button issue in the US, particularly if Hillary Clinton is elected and the Affordable Care Act’s centralized control over American medicine becomes more centralized. And dealing with the ethical implications of CRISPR is going to be a daunting prospect.

                bioedge[DOT]org/bioethics/interview-dissecting-the-age-of-do-harm-medicine/11931

                • But think of the children.

                • I’ve already decided something: When and if (yeah, I’m a little delusional…) a medical board decides for me that an assisted suicide is in my immediate future…?

                  I’m taking some or all of that board with me. No ifs, no ands, no buts: We’re all going at the same time, likely through an unfortunate industrial accident.

                  Of course, that’s presupposing I’m not senescent enough that I can’t work one out, and if I am, well… The “me” of now would likely send them a thank-you note. However, if I’m still of sound mind…? Yeah. That’s gonna be a decision someone rues.

      • Well, since my power comes in to two individual 200 Amp service panels, I will confess that when I’m running on generator power, only one is energized.

      • Um, the breaker/fuse box?

        • One is the breaker panel box, the other is the transfer panel that switches out line/generator power into the breaker panel box.
          That is what I assumed Sarah meant with electrical board; however, in thinking about it, the amp rating of the breaker panel box is basically surge current. My house could probably run on a 200 amp base, provided you didn’t mind all the UPS boxes beeping every time the A/C turned on (in the old days, it was seeing the TV picture shrink, but we don’t use CRTs any more).
          If that is all they are doing with the Portugal electric power, all they really accomplish is ‘training’ the homeowners by popping the main breaker and shutting off power until someone resets it.

          • 200 amp is the standard service around here (not that you can’t have more, if you want to buy a more expensive box and breakers, but most people put in a 200 amp service) I’ve never known anyone to have a problem running a house on it. The only people I have ever known to have problems are running a shop with multiple 220v appliances running at the same time. Which is something very rare for a home shop, since most people don’t use two welders, a table saw, and a milling machine at the same time.

            Of course my neighbor has three phase, and I’m not sure how many amp service (an astronomical amount, he was talking the other day of possibly only putting in a 300 rather than 400 amp service to the house he is building, but his shop is full of huge milling machines and other 3 phase equipment he kept when he retired) run to his place. If you are willing to pay for it, the electrical company is happy to sell it to you. 🙂

            • We have seen issues. When I started over thirty years ago, we didn’t have residential 320 amp continuous service, which require a different meter. Now we have a good many. And there was that subdivision we saw with homes served by three-phase. We slowed down on the way back in case we’d mistaken what we’d seen. Yep, they were on three-phase.

              FWIW, when my father built his home in the 1950s and the utility hung a 10 KVA transformer*, people were amazed. 5 KVA was the norm. When I started, 15 KVA was the norm. Then we started seeing more 25 KVAs for homes. Today we have a few on 37.5 KVA. These aren’t McMansions, either.

              • *Was going to comment that originally it served two homes, one where the fixtures were drop cord lights and outlets from the ceiling. The utility moved it beside my parent’s house to prevent voltage drop issues. The other house had no problems that I know of.

            • After the $15,000 quote for three phase service from the local power company, I just went with a huge rotary phase converter…

              Nowadays with VFDs it’s much less of an issue than before.

              • It cost my neighbor a shade over $50,000 to run it from the highway to his place. Since he lives behind me, it would now be pretty cheap for me to hook up… relatively. He claimed that he had enough equipment that he would need a couple of the phase converters, and between the cost of them and their very poor efficiency that if he used the equipment much at all it would quickly become cheaper to just have had the three phase run in the first place. I have no idea if this is true or not, he has a habit of going first class on things and claiming it is cheaper because of the savings in quality, whether it actually pencils out that way or not.

          • When you see things like this, it means there’s problems. A utility can paint it as environmental consciousness, but underneath it indicates either a lack of generation or insufficient infrastructure or both.

            We didn’t paint it green, but have been in a situation where we were close to rolling blackouts and asked people to help conserve. Originally it was to reduce our power costs, but – well, the story’s long. Suffice that things were close until there was more generation online.

            • Two years ago we had unannounced rolling blackouts. Learned through some overheard comments that the city and the utility knew about it, and were supposed to tell people (businesses, nursing homes, et cetera) who needed to be able to do gradual shut downs or kick in generators. One time they didn’t and the city got to buy five figures worth of electrical and mechanical equipment for a church. That was a delightful experience.

              • My early years were in Sacramento in the 1960s. We had “rolling brownouts” all through the summers.

                In the capitol of California…

                “It’s not civil engineering, it’s politics…”

                • California is run by crazy people. And has been for quite a long time.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    California is ruined by crazy people. And has been for quite a long time.

                    • I fled the crazy there years ago. Wonderful place to grow up in the 50s & 60s. Well, save for Watts. Gov Moonbeam’s daddy, Gov Pat was a reasonable Democrat. An extinct species of politician now.

              • We’re in an area serviced by the Klamath River hydropower dams; the ones scheduled to be removed. We not only get less reliable power, but we get to pay for the removal.

                I’m setting up an alternative power system to handle refrigeration and critical loads if a disaster happens. We had a 300W solar system in our tent trailer when California was doing rolling blackouts in 2001. It helped along with the propane mini-fridge. The new system is 1.6kW. A 30A 110V source should do the job, with care.

          • Based on Sarah’s descriptions of her life and conditions there, I would guess that they started with no more than a 50 amp service, and that THAT was cut in half.

              • The Other Sean

                Jeez. That’s less than the typical branch circuit (15 A) here in the US.

              • Well, that’s certainly no more than 50. 🙂

                That wouldn’t even handle my MICROWAVE. The microwave blows the 15 amp breaker if we turn on the bathroom lights*.

                *Yes, I know it’s weird. The kitchen was built as an add-on, and was built over the cistern, about 50 years ago. Dad just ran from the wiring that went to one of the bedrooms and the bathroom into the kitchen. In his defense, most microwaves don’t use 1200 watts.

                • I sometimes marvel over the idea that when I moved into a college dorm room some forty-five years ago there were bans on hot plates for fear the wiring wouldn’t handle it. Now they’ve not only upgraded the wiring to handle power enough to run the average house amperage from when I attended, many dorms in which colleges invested a fortune in laying high-speed internet cable now run wireless.

              • It is 220v not 110 though

                • Yeah, you know I don’t think I have ever seen a 10 Amp 220 breaker? Even 10 Amp 110 breakers are rather rare, I certainly don’t have any in my house.

                  Sean, I would have said 20 Amp is the standard branch circuit, at least it is for new construction around here, although a lot of older places have 15 Amp circuits.

                  • I have a couple of 10 Amp 110 breakers in my house (service was installed in 2004).

                  • In Europe electricity is 220v (actually IIRC its 230 but whatever)

                    • Intellectually I knew that, I just didn’t know that they had 10 Amp services. I realize that 220 is more efficient than 110 (sort of) but in the US 220 is only used for energy intensive appliances. Thus the fact that I have never seen a 10 Amp 220 circuit breaker. I’m sure they must make them, but I don’t know that you could pick one up at your local hardware store, you would likely have to special order it.

        • Fuse box, breaker box, breaker panel, switchboard, distribution panel … the NEC now calls it a “panelboard.”

          “Let’s clarify something nobody had any doubt about…”

          Why? Because they’re bureaucrats…

        • Yes. Sorry, I’m underslept and spent two weeks speaking Portuguese, which means I end up saying a lot of “Thingy, I need the thingy that makes coffee. Give me that. No, the other thing.”

    • Because global warming.

      • That may be an excuse. I suspect the real reason is lack of money to buy foreign fuel to power the electricity and/or lack of reliable generators

        Presumably that is partly because they went and installed lots of solar power. I mean solar is great on the days when the sun shines but you can buy at least 10 times the generating capacity in gas-turbine generators as you can in solar cells and the gas turbines work 24/365

        • If they were buying power from Spain, the Spanish government bought into the whole green energy wind-n-solar mess and got stung.

          • Someone got suspicious once about a solar electric plant in Spain. It seems the bonus for solar was so high that it paid to bring in diesel generators and spotlights to keep the power plant running after sunset.

            Gotta love those unintended consequences.

      • I see a tendency by greenies to hate technologies that actually work in favor of virtue signaling. See dam removal versus wind power needing rare earth magnets. Who cares if the mining pollution is confined to China? /sarc

        • Right, you can’t get much more renewable than hydroelectric, and maintenance costs are a fraction of any other power source (except possibly nuclear). But yes, I have often commented that greenies hate dams because they work.

    • You can be right at that line without going to rolling blackouts. And it may depend on how hotels are billed for electricity.

    • Larry Patterson

      In our area of Portugal we get about 45% of our electricity from wind. The rationing comes via very expensive rates to pay for all that ‘free’ wind energy. Thus you see laundry hanging out to dry, and few, very expensive laundromats.

      • Hmm . . . Portugal is larger than I thought, but not so large that extensive hydroelectric energy storage in the mountains couldn’t store wind and solar. It already has one such facility. Odd thing is that the EU seems to be the major stumbling block, first with their carbon foolishness and second with their monetary foolishness. I would make a wisecrack about the Germans not wanting anyone else to have electricity, except they seem to not want electricity for themselves, either.

        Depending on energy costs, what’s the Portuguese take on homeowner generation? Storage is going to be a bear, but electrical use may be low enough to make it affordable.

        • Since (last I heard two months ago) Germany was back on brown-coal power (and cheezing off the Poles and Czechs in the process) and was quietly keeping two nuke plants running with plans to reactivate at least one more, I’d say that having people cutting down trees in the parks to use for heat in winter might have given someone a clue.

    • I gather the ‘rationing’ was snuck in and sold differently. Housemate heard from friends living over in England, who were happy that they’re out of the EU, and hoping to get rid of the ‘green initiative’ certified appliances that have their wattage use capped to something that ‘worked’ – in the sense that its motors ran, but wasn’t good enough to actually get the job done in an efficient, time-smart manner. Things like vacuum cleaners or hair dryers and such apparently needed to be run for a longer time because they didn’t have enough power to actually clean, or dry hair. Taking 20 minutes to blow dry your hair with a green certified hair dryer cost more in electricity bills than the 5 minutes it might’ve with one that isn’t. Who knew?

  7. Also I think the critical quote is “Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder”

    When you aren’t there you mentally forget the bad bits and the boring days and just recall the good and different bits. And since Europe is a mix of cultures and nations with varying degrees of civilization, culture and eccentricities the visitor who does a 3 week trip across Europe will end up with a mix of Swiss efficiency, Italian museums, French cheese and so on and forget about the Swiss expense, the Italian efficiency, the French politeness etc.

    • Its like Sir Pterry wrote. Picturesque means cold, damp and uncomfortable to live in.

      • Not always- there’s also blazing hot, humid, and uncomfortable- I.E, all those picturesque tropical villas with the white sand beaches, gin clear water, and lovely coconut palms.

        • And white sand where all your body parts rub together, and in your food and water.

          • Amazing how that fine white sand can get into your sheets when you’re trying to sleep after getting sunburned.

          • That there is one reason why sex on the beach is more attractive as concept than experience.

            • Sex on the beach is a cocktail, not a suggestion.

            • 😀 In old Finnish movies the characters tend to end up in hay barns. Rolling in hay until the fade off – well, in Finnish they first pan up to the sky to clouds rolling by, then the fade off.

              Now I guess those places really did see their share of sex back in the day since they usually were on the fields the hay had been collected from, so some distance at least from the houses and offering some privacy so when it was a pair who shouldn’t have been doing it because they were not yet married or even engaged, or worse, married to other people, and lust can win over discomfort, but… some of you probably know what dry loose hay is like, especially since it was back then also always strewn with salt to improve the odds it would keep until needed. 😀

              So, not something anybody in their right mind would do as long as they had any other options. Which more than a few city couples undoubtedly found out back when those movies were popular.

              (And no, I didn’t, when that type of storage was still common I was way too young. But as a child I used to play in the stuff and help to stamp it down when the barns were being filled. The rest of the day was used for scratching myself.)

              • Country people who actually have a “roll in the hay” lay a blanket down first.

                I’ve often wondered how much the actors and actresses who played such scenes got paid. And how long they had to wait for the results of applying hay to more sensitive areas of skin than the palms of your hand to fade before they could film other scenes with more than minimal skin exposure.

        • I think the key word is “uncomfortable”. Doesn’t matter whether it’s too hot, cold, damp, dry…

    • Also I think the critical quote is “Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder”

      Isn’t that “Absinthe makes the mind go yonder?”

      • No, no: It’s like the story of the man who kept passing gas, and having the noise sound like a car advertisement. After much searching, he was sent to a purported expert on his condition, a dentist in ‹insert distant country here›. The dentist pulled an infected tooth, explaining, “Abscess makes the fart go ’Honda’.”

    • _I_ think the quote comes from the story of the cervid drunk on a cordial who drowned in the swimming pool, “Absinthe makes the hart go founder.”

  8. Having been to Central America and the Philippines, I can attest that there are worse places to live/visit than Europe. In addition to the United States, I would find Canada, Australia and New Zealand (and I have visited all 3) to be somewhat superior to the ‘European Experience’. I also understand Chile is pretty nice, but I have never been there.

    • One coworker of back in 2008 was saying that if the Bamster was elected he was leaving the country. Damned if he didn’t move to New Zealand. Got tired of living on a picturesque island on the far side of the world so he moved to Germany in 2013. I wonder how that’s working out.

    • Have you read RAH ‘s “Tramp Royale”? IIRC, he and Ginny sailed around the world in the ’50s. IIRC, he said Oz was20-30 years behind us, and NZ about 50. (There were a number of customs in Oz that irritated them, and more in NZ.

      • The Other Sean

        30 years ago…. that would have been the Reagan era! I wouldn’t mind revisiting that. 🙂

  9. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Koffing and Celebi are telling me to travel back in time to kill Werner Herzog with a binary mustard shell under the cover of WWII.

    Can I source a mustard shell from the Mideast? Would one fit chronistic artillery tubes, or would I need to bring my own?

    • A NATO 155mm shell would work on WWII US artillery. I think the Soviet 152 round would be OK with with period Russian arty. Both are easily found in the Middle East. IIRC the Iraq stash was Soviet compatible 152mm.

  10. The opposite of that is how, when you look into a mirror, your own flaws are glaring. A degree of maturity is required to hold in mind that objects in the mirror may be larger than they seem, and objects at a distance are less perfect than they appear.

    • There was a Beach boys album cover I distinctly recall from the late-60s, early-70s that perfectly illustrated the effect of distance and lighting — a sun-glazed blond on a distant beach, looking like a mirage because distance and sun haze eliminate any flaws and cause the eye to fill in non-existent details.

      But not only couldn’t I find that, I got distracted by looking at images of album covers and forgot to check the box.

  11. Heh. Via Power Line, this line from Daniel Pipes:

    GR: In the Western countries many Islamophobic parties and politicians are on the rise. Do you think this will help the spread of Islamism or will these parties help the counter-jihad? Hillary Clinton said that Trump and his anti-Muslim speeches are the best recruiters for the Islamic State. True?

    DP: I do not recognize the term “Islamophobe” and do not know what it means except, in the immortal phrase of Andrew Cummins as a word “created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons.”

    Your question reverses the sequence of events. Islamist ideology breads Islamist violence, which starts the process and in turn inspires anti-Islamic sentiments. Anti-Islamic views might also inspire more Islamist violence, but that is incidental. The real dynamic here is Islamism creating anti-Islam parties.
    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/07/in-the-immortal-words-of-daniel-pipes.php

    Causality always seems to give Proglodytes problems. If they aren’t making post hoc ergos propter hoc errors, they’re committing cum hoc ergos propter hoc, jumping to conclusions, practicing magical thinking and forming cargo cults.

  12. Christopher M. Chupik

    “And then there’s funnier stuff: they actually do believe we have only one type of cheese, that there’s no access to say specialized books, that all Americans are semi-literate (yes, I know, but by that standard so are Europeans) and that oh… we live under a military dictatorship with curfew”

    Don’t these Europeans know any actual Americans? That kind of ignorance coming from the First World is astonishing. Not that some Americans don’t have some pretty nutty notions about their own country.

    • Like our bicoastal elite who lump everything in between into an undifferentiated “flyover country” a la the famous cartoon “View of the World from 9th Avenue.”

      • The Other Sean

        Don’t be so harsh. Some of them admit the existence of Chicago. 😛

        (I love that cartoon, BTW, because it does a decent job of depicting the attitude.)

        • Some of us born there try to deny the existence of Chicago…

          • Now now, nothing’s wrong with Chicago that two terms of an honest mayor wouldn’t cure.

            Or so goes the theory, as it’s never been tried.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Illinois would be better off without Chicago.

            Oh Sarah, if you’re planning to destroy a US city, Chicago deserves it. 😈

            • Give me a three hour warning first. Minooka is in the fallout pattern from Chicago. I Need time to get the dog/cat/wife and bugout bag in the van……

              • Why nukes? Just have Mike throw a rock at it.

                • I think Niven and Dr. Pournelle had an explaination scene in Lucifer’s Hammer along these lines, and there may also be one by Ringo in Live Free or Die, but I think the absolute best long science explication scene ever would explain why a 10 kiloton kinetic energy asteroid/comet strike and a 10 kiloton near-groundburst nuke would produce exactly the same effects, from flashburns to pressure waves to mushroom cloud, except for the absence of radioactive fallout.

                  Best explainee: A freaked out greenie.

                  So basically, if Sarah used SMOD-jr, Minooka could be quite safe.

            • It’s on the list! For the dragon trilogy.

    • The Other Sean

      I’m not sure the bulk of Europeans, at least the bulk of those who’ve never been to America, have ever really grasped America. I’m presently reading a fascinating non-fiction book, Kosciuszko, We Are Here! about a squadron of American pilots who flew for the Poles against the Bolsheviks in 1919-1921. There’s brief mention of a picture drawn for the squadron by a Polish artist in which New York City is depicted as a tiny town, like something out of the Wild West. The artist was not trying to be metaphorical but that was the conception of NYC.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      You’re just canuck-‘splainin’. I am in fact illiterate. The only book I have ever seen is the pictures that show me how to make the stick go bang bang. The only reason America does not have a totalitarian military dictatorship is the constant ongoing civil war that tends to kill sixty seven million yearly.

      Otherwise there would be a brawl. Priest MewTwo, head of the college of pontiffs, would lead us to ravage the world with snake and baseball bat. We would hash out our differences with the violent sots of Europe and Asia. Then we would bring the peace of the grave to all humanity.

      • A lot of people may know the map, but don’t really understand the scale.

        • For instance, most of my European and UK friends think that one hour is a really long drive. I’ve driven that just to go to work, or to have something to do on a Friday.

          • Yeah. My wife and I are planning to go visit friends and relatives up north in a couple of weeks. We figure it’s about an 11-hour drive. And that doesn’t even cover half the distance from the north to the south of the US.

            • There’s a group called the Iron Butt Association that certifies “exteme” motorcycle rides. I did the minimal one; a thousand miles in 24 hours. For a while there the 1100 mile jaunt from Little Rock to Colorado Springs was nearly a commute…

              The next “big” ride was the 36-hour Border to Border, Mexico to Canada, or vice versa. The shortest distances are in the congested coasts. Almost all riders took the central route, Laredo to Emerson, below Winnipeg. That’s 1,650 miles.

              But… even though we’d be starting from an adjacent state, there’s the 750-mile trip from Little Rock to the border crossing at Laredo, 1650 miles to the Canadian border crossing, then 1175 miles back to Little Rock via the shortest route. That’s 3575 miles, most of it staring at the horizon, Vanishing Point style.

              I figured I could make any *one* leg of the trip, but not two. And all three was right out. Not without enriching the hotel industry for a few days between legs. At the time it was still within the limits of *possible*, but there would be no possibility of “fun.”
              Now, I’d probably turn up my nose at the car and see what renting a motorhome would cost…

          • It was only a 3+ hour drive for this little weekend vacation.

          • I had a friend in Seattle once complain to me extensively about hour long commutes being too long.

            I was working at the time, and having to traverse Manila traffic *cough* gridlock on a daily basis, where I could go for at least two hours ‘regular traffic’ just to get to Makati, and look at potentially 3-5 hour crawls if it was really bad. I told him I’d love for my commutes to be that short. (On the other hand, if I was able to get a ride avoiding all of the morning rush hour, leaving the house before 4 am, it’d only take me 30-45 minutes to get to work.)

        • Oh yes. Many years ago (mid 1980s) my parents rescued some German college students who were stuck by the side of the road in southeastern Utah. Leaving aside problems with a crooked car rental place, they thought map scale for the US was the same for Germany and were going to drive to the Grand Canyon, Bryce, Yosemite, and a few other places in a long weekend. No water, no supplies, no idea of scale.

          • Texas is just about twice the size of Germany:

            Germany: 138,000 sq. mi.
            Texas: 269,000 sq. mi.

            and Utah: 85,000

            “You ain’t from around here, are you?”

            • As is Finland, also Sweden and Norway, but due to the shapes of these countries (narrow and long) I think many of us here do have a bit better idea of distances.

              And hey, I had no problems last summer driving from San Fransisco to Los Angeles and then from Los Angeles to Denver (via northern Arizona) and back (somewhat more northern route, including Las Vegas). And then from Cincinnati to Chattanooga to Chicago. *preens* Well, I had six weeks to do all that…

              • Did you take pictures for a travelogue?

                “Highways and gas stations of the United States; The Boring Trip.”

                Even across six weeks, that’s still a righteous road trip.

                • 😛 Hey, I even had time to go for walks. Grand Canyon rim, the Meteor Crater, a couple of days near Sunset Crater and so on. Then a day mostly driving between them. It’s not THAT long a trip if you have a few weeks.

                  Besides, I like driving.

                  • (And ridiculously cheap gas for somebody used to the European prices, even if I gathered locals didn’t think so).

                    • Sometime back I did the math and discovered the American and European gas prices were roughly the same. European gas taxes, however, were very much higher.

                    • Yes. There was a time when the tax was 75 % of the price, but it got slightly better after that. Maybe about 50 % now, I haven’t checked for a while.

                  • I also did fly from Los Angeles to Cincinnati. There were things I wanted to see, they are scattered all over, northern Arizona and near it has several so since I wanted to get as many as possible – not a good likelihood I will ever be able to do anything like that again unless some equivalent of winning the lottery happens – I figured that looked like the best way to go. I lost a couple of targets because I got a flu, probably caught it on the plane from London to Washington D.C., from another passenger who kept sneezing across the aisle from me, by the time I got to San Fransisco I was feeling rather under the weather and a couple of days mostly stayed in motel and hotel rooms, but otherwise, well, not any kind of deep look into anything but a rather enjoyable skimming of several places.

                    And I really do like driving. 🙂

          • Australia can do the same thing- it’s easy to forget just how bloody big the place is.

            • *cackle* See my story further upthread, about my husbands’ relatives coming to visit from England. ‘Drive to Sydney from Melbourne, see the touristy sights for a day, be back for dinner.’ Yeah, no.

              Lived in Sydney in 2010 for a little while, and the visit to huge zoo took a day …

              • Isn’t Australia a continent?

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  I’m not going to say that it isn’t one.

                  It might try to hurt me if I did so. 😉

                • Yes. And an island, and I think it’s often the ‘island’ part that throws people off mentally because most people think of ‘island’ as ‘not so big tropical thing seen on Survivor’ as opposed to the dictionary definition of ‘body of land isolated and surrounded on all sides by water, not connected to another body of land.’

                  For giggles I recently looked at rural property listings, just to see how much they cost. Some of them list hectares of land – anywhere from 50 to 4000 or more- and I have problems imagining hectares of land over 50.

                  • Heh. Look at a map of New Mexico. Find Tucumcari in the east central plains, on I-40. Follow the highway northwest past Conchas Lake to the hamlet of Trementina. That’s a 90 minute drive at 65 MPH. And until recently it was all one ranch. The Bell Ranch ran from roughly Tucumcari to Mosquero to Trementina and back down to the Canadian River to Tucumcari. That’s just deeded land, not what they actually used. If you look at San Miguel County’s outline, that “snoot” that sticks out to the east? That’s the Bell Ranch. It started as the Pablo Montoya and Baca #2 land grants.

        • “It can’t take that long to drive from New York to Miami. They’re only four inches apart on the map!”

        • Sort of like Agatha Christie insisting that “obviously” an ambassador stationed in Washington D.C. would have occasion to meet all of the prominent families of Chicago.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        “Cansplaining” has a better ring to it.

      • My wife immigrated from BC to Seattle as a young child. Her 2 years-older brother had her terrified, saying America was a military dictatorship. He said the USA stood for United States Army.

    • they actually do believe we have only one type of cheese, that there’s no access to say specialized books, that all Americans are semi-literate

      Y’know, given the existence of Amazon, I really don’t understand how that idea manages to hold imaginary water in the thought balloon.

      (As a non-sequiteurial aside, insert here bitter complaints from me, about Amazon and US-in-general shipping costs.)

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Bezos is Cuban. It’d be appropriation for an American to take credit.

        (Yes, yes, I know stepfather.)

      • you do realize how many thousands of miles you are from the US? What about Australian Amazon?

        • Kindle ebooks only from Australian Amazon. Granted, I’m a little spoilt by free global shipping from Book Depository; but it’s not easy when you’re looking for secondhand books like old school textbooks.

          I’m rather dismayed to discover that Common Core, US style, has been brought in -discovered when we saw our son’s incomprehensible math homework where he was being made to do column addition starting from the leftmost side of the column, instead of the child being told to add from the ‘ones’ column, for ‘numerical identification familiarization teaching.’ Suitably enraged, I took my son and proceeded to give him numbers separated by thousands places, and once he got that down, decimal parts, and then gave him 10 column numbers to add up starting from the right.

          That said, I don’t remember elementary mathematics very well, or what elementary English lessons are supposed to be like -I was still in Germany in grade 4, so I want to find old textbooks – think 1980s, early 1990s. They’re trying to cram in ‘basic statistics’ and a frankly confusing method of multiplication and division – I couldn’t describe it to you, because I don’t understand how they’re teaching this.)

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I understand that the theory behind common core is as follows: 1) Teach students first the methods of advanced practitioners. 2) Provide students several methodologies to figure out.

            In practice, it is a bunch of rentseeking that wastes time where it doesn’t actively cripple. They chase fun and engaging, and reach confusion.

            Comprehensible tedium instead would get the basics down fast, making the advanced stuff easier.

            Consider math textbooks from the 1950s, 1930s, or even earlier.

            Consider also instructing them to ignore the math instruction entirely in favor a curriculum you substitute.

          • Look up homeschooling associations in the US and see what books they use. I’m not certain what the media in Australia says, but there are a lot of folks who now homeschool because the public schools are so far below par, not for religious reasons. They have and generally recommend textbooks that are old-school math and English basics.

  13. In all honesty, how well do we grasp what life is like in other countries? How much of what we think we know is influenced by film and television? And how well to we understand that different people don’t think the same way we do?

    • Being Odds, I suspect that most of the folks who comment here are well aware that different people think differently. I know that I am well aware that the people around me don’t think the same way I do.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I don’t really understand residents of major cities in my own state. Other countries? We shall see how poor my geopolitical forecasting is, but I’m not really all that interested in the rest.

  14. I have habits I’ve picked up from relatives who were/are missionaries in Argentina. They wear their watches on the right wrist, even though right handed, because if you wear it on the left wrist somebody will steal it while you’re sitting in traffic. Of course, if you do that and you’re wearing a flashy/expensive one, someone will stab your left arm and steal it when you use your right arm to grab at the left one to stop the bleeding.

    Yeah, there are worse places to live than the US.

    • Yeah, there are worse places to live than the US.

      This is a problem the Proglodytes are industriously working to correct.

    • A young ski racer I know was down in Barriloche Argentina one August for race training. He was told to be discreet when walking in town. Being the typical brash American teenage jock, He was mugged by ‘Mexicans’ who stole his iPod, watch and wallet. When I said there weren’t many Mexicans in Argentina, he said that all the Mexicans in Argentina came from Paraguay. He said only the Mexicans do any work. Except for the mugging Argentina’s Mexicans were better than ours. They were cheaper so you could hire more.

      Talk about an ugly clueless American.

      • I “got” to play diplomat because of a few of those on a train to Cologne. Not so much rude as truly clueless and then unwilling to move once they got clued in “because we’re almost there and there are other seats.” I gave mine to the elderly lady, apologized in full-on-formal German to her and the conductor, and I must confess, said in essence, “They’re clueless Americans and they’re getting off in Cologne,” and apologized again. *sigh* Still not as bad as the piercing voice exclaiming, ” I don’t understand why they built the castle [Cologne Cathedral] so close to the train station!”

        • Oh, dear – almost as clueless as the American lady tourist in the bathroom of the one restaurant in the Plaka in Athens … (OK, I favored it because they had air conditioning, the ladies’ WC was immaculate – food was OK, service kinda slow, but it was perfectly situated close to the central bus stop at the bottom of the Zappion Garden, where all the suburban busses came.)

          My then-four-year-old daughter went to the single sink, and announced brightly, “Mommy says I have to wash my hands now!”
          The woman looked looked straight at me, saying very slowly and clearly, enunciating every word: “Your daughter speaks English very well.”

          I replied, “Well, I should hope so — it’s her native language, after all.”

          Yeah, I may have been a bit rude – but the Daughter-Unit was blond, fair-skinned and blue-eyed. Native Greeks usually took us for German, Swedish, or English. I was always rather amused in traveling across Continental Europe — that if you spoke English, and weren’t Screamingly Obviously American – most everyone assumed – English.

          After a couple of years in Greece, and a fair amount of hostility towards Americans making a certain degree of ninja-skill a vital necessity – I was still amazed at how little effort it took to blend in.

  15. My godfather had relatives from Finland visit one year during the Norsk Hostfest one year. The first morning they came out of the shower very earnestly apologizing for breaking the bathroom plumbing. Apparently the drains they were used to were quite a bit slower than what we consider normal.

  16. Larry Patterson

    Studying German literature and then moving from the wide open spaces of Texas to New York disabused me of any notion that Europe was better somehow. After a year here, maybe sooner, Joni Mitchell’s line was brought home, Europe is too old and cold and settled in its ways. And like Manhattan in the 70’s, it’s cramped and smelly.

  17. I love visiting and showing other people the German-speaking parts of Europe, and some other bits. I’ve lived over there long enough to be cured of wanting to move, and that was before the Eurocrats opened the floodgates.

    About 5-6 years ago I got into an interesting argument on Marko K’s blog (before he shifted focus and moved it) with someone about freedom to travel. I commented on the problem of France having such expensive fees for having a driver’s license, let alone a car, and how at the same time the government was cutting back public transportation in rural and semi-rural areas, putting people in a bit of a bind. The other party informed me that freedom of movement is a privilege, not a right, and so what if you can only get one bus once a week to get to a slightly larger town for shopping or medical care? Hello, Eurocrat.

    • So, I take it he thinks feudalism was a jim-dandy idea.
      Of course, I wonder if he realizes that he’d probably be one of the serfs.

    • Years ago I wanted to go visit Germany, to see how much it’s changed since the Wall fell – and to see if I could still find where we used to live near Checkpoint Charlie. (I also rather miss the food.) Rhys thought that perhaps we’ll go there for a late honeymoon/family trip.

      Doesn’t sound safe there to visit any more and I reckon it’ll be a few decades, if Kratman’s Caliphate scenario doesn’t happen, before it’ll be remotely recognizable, I realized with great sorrow. We’re looking at Japan instead.

  18. In the book, “the ugly American” was the good guy, who got his hands dirty trying to help, as opposed the the slicksters just passing through for photo ops.

  19. We lived in Ireland from ’76 to, in my case, ’84 and my parents, ’86. We missed many things such as phones and affordable petrol. (On the other hand being able to spend an afternoon visiting 6 ruined castles was rather fun.) It was very frustrating listening to other American expats complaining that they couldn’t buy proper hotdogs or Lucky Charms. What did they expect? The Irish might speak English, but it was a foreign country. Dental care was by-and-large about 30 years behind American standards. Medical care too (in ’78: “Oh, 10 to 20 percent of all acute apendectomies get post op abscesses.” For comparison Korean War MASH units posted a less than 1% post op wound infection rate. As of 2001, the Irish medical community still viewed a 30% post op wound infection rate for unplanned C-sections as acceptable.) I loved Ireland, but as I get older and have more medical issues, there is no way I would ever move over there, at least not without a multi-million dollar trust fund which would allow for Harley Street, or better yet a private jet back to the States as needed.

    My mother still remembers one of our Irish neighbor’s complete shock when RTE started showing Hill Street Blues. Up to then all they’d been able to see was stuff like Dallas and Dynasty which certainly gave an … odd … view of the average American. My mother had to let her know that not all of every city was like that, but that parts of most large cities were. I think the Irish found it shocking that parts of places like New York might be like the less savory parts of Dublin.

    Of course I also noticed over the years that many of the Irish hated Americans but they all wanted to move to America. They never took it well when I pointed out that America was full of those nasty Americans.

    • Like the Palestinian PJ O’Rourke met who frothed about ‘pig devil America’ and then told him he was going to school in New Jersey for his dental diploma/

    • BTW Ireland now vs Ireland 30 years ago is astoundingly different. Roads, medical care, shops have all successfully made it into at least the 1990s if not the 21st century now.

      • Hopefully their operative infection rate has fallen to meet what the US considered acceptable in the 60s. I can guarantee that an American OB unit posting a 30% C-section infection rate in 2001 would have been closed.

        I admit to being a little biased since I was one of the 10-20%. A month in hospital right before I went up to university pretty much sunk my first year; I caught everything that was going around, including mono, and missed over half my lectures and seminars.

        And I had my appendix out at the local nursing home which had much better rates than the Regional. The Regional at the time ventilated their OR by opening the windows. Which did not have screens. And which overlooked cow pastures.

        • That’s nasty.

          I’ve no idea of the exact rates (I suspect google can probably find them), but I know Irish people who left in the early 1980s (for the US amongst other places) and have come back and state that things are so massively better it’s like a new country.

          That said the petty crime in certain areas is still terrible so it’s not all sweetness and light

          • Indeed things are improving there; they just have such a long way to go. 🙂 I left in ’84, and visited for a week in ’92 and things had changed, moved forward, a lot more than I had thought they would.
            I think one of the problems with the medical system is that it is largely a nationalized system; they have very similar problems over in Britain. (I was a medical librarian until recently and got to read BMJ and Lancet on a regular basis. Less than 10 years ago if you had angina, you could expect a six month wait between having the angiogram showing the blockages and the stenting procedure.) I can remember back in ’83 going to the Dermatology clinic in Dublin because of a growth on my wrist having been called in after a several week wait, waiting over two hours, and then discovering that what I had been waiting for was not to see the doctor, but to fill out the paperwork so that I could be put on the waiting list to see the doctor. They thought that would be sometime in the next six to twelve months. I don’t know if it’s much better today for those “on the card”. I had been able to use Calvary instead of the Regional for my appendectomy because my parents had private insurance.

            • Yeah, well I suspect there’s still plenty of rationing and queuing, just as there is across the Irish sea in the NHS. And presumably all the other issues of “free” healthcare. But at least they are no worse than, say, Canada rather than being an embarrassment to a 3rd world $#!+hole

              • When we were there I never figured them for 3rd world, but definitely not 1st. Is there a 2nd?

                • The 2nd word was (is?) the Soviet Union and fellow communist nations

                • Traditionally the numbers referred to the following:

                  1st World: US, the West, and allied countries.

                  2nd World: USSR, its puppets, and allied countries.

                  3rd World: The “neutral parties”, i.e. the ones that really neither side saw much value in trying to take over.

                  • As I was taught:

                    First World: has developed natural resources

                    Second World: partially developed natural resources

                    Third World: no pot to piss in, or window to throw it out of

                    In common usage, “third world” seems to be synonymous with “poor.”

                  • Christopher M. Chupik

                    And the 4th World is where the New Gods come from.

  20. Three stories:
    1) My sister-in-law was born and raised in Berlin (West), and came to America with my brother after he finished his US Army hitch and moved to Utah to complete school. It was hard for her to figure out how America “works” for a few years. Now, however, she says that the couple times she has gone back to Germany she realizes that it’s nice to visit but she wouldn’t go back to live.
    2) My SIL’s brother Berndt is a German Engineer. When he came to the USA in the 90s to visit, he was amazed by a few things: (a) the USA (Western states) was so big that there were many places that nobody lived in; (b) you could drive for a long way in the USA in places and not actually “be” anywhere (think I-80 across Nevada); and (c) Americans had not cut all their trees down like he thought we had. The forests of northern California and southern Oregon (including the Redwood country) he found nearly incomprehensible is size. Berndt loved to look at things (like appliances) from a German engineers viewpoint. From his point of view, Germany did many things better. 😉
    3) I lived in Atlantic Canada for three years. Canada is a big country, so it’s hard to lump them all into one maple-leaf-covered sum, but the Newfoundlanders were provincial (not in a bad way)– they were Newfoundlanders first, Canadians second, and not Americans third. I met one fellow who was terrified of ever going to America because he knew that it was so violent there, from watching TV and movies. Canada is an interesting country– it’s kind of like they took some of the USA and mixed it with the Euro-social together. Progressive Americans moan and whine about much more we ‘Muricans should be like Canada, but they have never lived in a place where the Post Office can go on strike, and the hospital can be shut down because the nurses go on strike too. Oh, but sure, they got “free” health care, and they’re right proud of that…
    But that doesn’t explain why the Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador (kinda like a governor) flew to the USA for paid heart surgery instead of taking advantage of that free health care all of his constituents had to use.

    • I don’t know John Ringo as a person. If that article is a real description of how he’s been for the past several years, then more power to him.

      • From what little I’ve heard from a friend of him and Mrs. Ringo, it is. Apparently he writes in enormous surges when the muse grabs him, and then nothing. Then an enormous surge, then nothing.

        • I was referring to the depression and the associated lack of endurance.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Yeah. Hadn’t occurred to me, but it is obvious in hindsight from the pattern of his recent output.

          • I’m not really able to go into too much more detail without permission.

            • Oh, that’s understandable. I’ll expand my comment to say that if anyone is in the kind of place he described, I don’t care how silly whatever they find to alleviate it is.

          • This is how I am lately. If I disappear from the Internet for yonks on end, it’s because just managing enough energy to get through the day is all I can manage; and most days it’s smother the numb bleakness with a video game like Star Trek Online.

            These days, however, it’s a weird mix of ‘but I’m having fun’ and ‘I really should be more productive’ and ‘…go back to bed, the dreams are interesting.’ (Last night’s dream involved a serial killer, and I woke up just before figuring out how he was disposing of bodies. Drat!)

    • Hey, if our authors are having fun, I say this is awesome! I never bought into the myth of the tormented artiste, and fully believe that healthy and happy people produce great work for a long time. So, let’s hear it for happy authors!

      • I think the “tormented artiste” concept was a myth pushed by publishers to justify the way authors consistently got screwed over by the trade.

        • That and the Romantic poets who milked the “I’m a poor poet dying of TB, stay for a moment oh beautiful girl” schtick without being, you know, a decent poet.

  21. Yeah, I know, I am an ugly American, willing to trade massive Cathedrals (Hey, that’s why Himself in His infinite wisdom gave us Google Earth and 3-d tours on the computer) beautiful palaces and rare objects d’art (not to mention exquisite little bistros) for a store that’s open 24/7, so I can shop whenever, and which has a greater selection of left hand screwdrivers than I could buy in a month of Sundays.
    ————————-

    I was at the Reagan Library on Saturday with a friend of mine who’s a Japanese national. She enjoyed the trip, but I think the whole thing was kind of odd for her as the closest equivalent in Japan is apparently a museum devoted to the Japanese Imperial Family. The idea that you would have a museum devoted to just one person (and a whole string of these museums, since there have been a whole string of US presidents) was a bit strange for her, I think.

    On the other hand, the thought occurred to me that here in the US, we don’t really have an equivalent to historical sites in foreign countries. We’ve only been here for a few hundred years. And before that, it was the Native Americans, who didn’t really leave much behind (aside from a few unusual geographic locations that no one really understands these days). There’s no equivalent to, say, Nagoya Castle. Our only big historical sites are battlefields (and those are all back East, anyway).

    ————————–
    And I have enough Roman ancestry never to have understood why we can’t have both: art, and comfort, style and commerce. Doesn’t one feed the other?
    ————————–

    An oddity, and it might just be me, but the more I see Roman statuary, the more I become convinced that the entirety of Roman art is one long decline in quality.

    • One more item about my visit to the Reagan Library –

      While leaving, I passed a car that had a “Feel the Bern” sticker on the back. I think Reagan would have had a few choice words about that particular individual’s political leanings…

  22. I’m reminded of this:

    ================
    Andrei Simic, the Gaean philosopher, has theorized that primitive man, evolving across millions of years in chronic fear, pain, deprivation and emergency, must have adapted intimately to these excitations. In consequence, civilized men will of necessity require occasional frights and horrors, to stimulate their glands and maintain their health. Simic has jocularly proposed a corps of dedicated public servants, the Ferocifers, or Public Terrifiers, who severely frighten each citizen several times a week, as his health requires.

    Uncharitable critics of the Connatic have speculated that he practices a version of the Simic principle, never eradicating the starmenters once and for all, to ensure against the population becoming bland and stolid. “He runs the Cluster as if it were a game preserve,” declares one of these critics. “He stipulates so many beasts of prey to so many ruminants, and so many scavengers to devour the carrion. By this means he keeps all his animals in tone.”

    A correspondent of the Transvoyer once asked the Connatic point-blank if he subscribed to such a doctrine. The Connatic replied only that he was acquainted with the theory.
    ===============

    — Jack Vance, WYST

    (possibly the most scathing takedown of socialism ever written)

  23. The Other Sean

    I’m starting to wonder: Did Obama, Trump, or Hillary send stormtroopers to abscond with our hostess?

  24. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I need something light and heartwarming, like Iron Blooded Orphans, instead of continuing to dig into the election.

    I think I’ve figured out a reason why Putin would bother to release the stuff through wikileaks. Compromising all the candidates for head of government means that the compromisor is better placed to stage manage a coup, which can bypass normal ways of doing business. Failing that, my current read on the situation suggests that for the Russians there is no downside to anything they can do to undermine the legitimacy of our process.

    • I think he’s just returning the technology she “overcharged” him for:

      Report raises questions about ‘Clinton Cash’ from Russians during ‘reset’
      here’s more “Clinton Cash” trouble for Hillary.

      A report out Monday, “From Russia With Money — Hillary Clinton, the Russian Reset and Cronyism,” raises serious questions about the cash connections between the Clintons and participants in the State Department’s failed five-year effort to improve, or “reset,” US-Russia relations during Hillary’s reign as secretary of state.

      Key players in a main component of the reset — a Moscow-based, Silicon Valley-styled campus for developing biomed, space, nuclear and IT technologies called “Skolkovo” — poured tens of millions of dollars into the Clinton Foundation, the report by journalist Peter Schweizer alleges.

      As the Obama administration’s top diplomat, Hillary Clinton was at the center of US efforts on the reset in general and Skolkovo in particular, Schweizer argues.

      Yet, “Of the 28 US, European and Russian companies that participated in Skolkovo, 17 of them were Clinton Foundation donors” or sponsored speeches by former President Bill Clinton, Schweizer told The Post.

      “It raises the question — do you need to pay money to sit at the table?”

      [SNIP]

      Hillary Clinton personally launched the State Department’s efforts toward a Russian reset, presenting her Russian then-counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, with a prop reset button in Geneva in 2009.

      The reset petered out by the end of 2011, when Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Hillary of fomenting Russian protests over suspicions of fraud in that year’s parliamentary elections.

      But by then, the damage had already been done, Schweizer feels.

      “I think the idea that you’re going to help develop a Russian version of Silicon Valley, which, by the way, will be controlled by the Russian government, and then not to expect that the technology will be siphoned off for military uses, is incredibly naive,” Schweizer said.

      As early as 2010, cybersecurity experts also expressed deep concerns about Russia using Skolkovo to develop hacking capabilities.

      Russia’s FSB spy agency — the successor to the KGB — reportedly keeps two of its information warfare “security centers” at Skolkovo, the report says.

      “There certainly is an irony that as we are now concerned about Russian cyber-attacks on the US, that the reset played a role in enhancing their cyber-capabilities,” Schweizer said.

      [SNIP]

      The Clinton Foundation is sure to be a sore spot in Hillary’s campaign for the presidency, Schweizer predicted — tainted as it is, despite its laudable philanthropy.

      “At the entire Democratic convention, they did not mention the Clinton Foundation once,” he said. “And it’s been the Clintons’ life work for 16-plus years.”

      The Clinton campaign did not respond to requests from The Post for comment on the report.