The Rag Time Kid

I wasn’t yet married to my husband when I found out his favorite kind of music to play was ragtime.

Eventually I could afford to buy Dan a piano (he used to play whenever we were near a piano.  In hotel lobbies, in piano stores, at friends’ homes.  He missed it desperately. ) He had a synthesizer, but it’s not the same. I bought him a piano with the first paycheck from my translating job.  It was … Those of you who have read the third Furniture Refinishing Mysteries know EXACTLY what it looked like.  It was old, it needed new felts, and there was a mouse nest in it.  BUT it had a solid soundboard.  I French-polished the outside, he took apart and rebuilt the inside.  I think it cost us $150, and it held us till we bought the current player piano for $500 26 years ago.  We don’t buy more expensive because it’s a nice little piano and we’re broke.  Eventually I want to get him his baby grand.  Not this year.

Anyway, he got some of his old music books back from his parents’ house, and he bought some new ones and – forgive me, I almost grew up in another planet – I realized Scott Joplin was black.

I didn’t think anything of it, of course, I just thought “oh, I didn’t know that.”

Anyway, if you come by our house, of a Sunday afternoon, you’re likely to hear Dan rocking the house with Ragtime.  (If it’s a lazy Sunday afternoon you’ll find me on the sofa nearby, crocheting.)

So I was vaguely amused when I read a mystery called The Rag Time Kid.  It’s a great mystery, don’t get me wrong.  It captures rather awful times without beating you over the head with them, being maudlin or preaching.  The racial tension inherent in the end of the civil war is portrayed clearly and without all this “preaching to our ancestors” which I despise. And it really is very good.  One of the things about it is the … I don’t know how to put it… different rhythms in the speech of the black characters.  You can see a distinctive culture, originating with people who were born slaves, and their kids who were free.  Scott Joplin is one of those characters, partly built from eye witnesses who knew him.

He was, of course, European trained, and his “new style” fused the best of both cultures.  (Not that slave culture didn’t have European influences.  Someone discovered in the blues certain musical traces of Portuguese music.  At least that’s what I read.  I think they’re wrong.  I think it was Irish music.  There are startling similarities. But Scott Joplin was CLASSICALLY trained.)

Much was made of the fact Mr. Joplin was “very dark” something that mattered a lot in those times.  The Ragtime Kid’s main character is a young white man who loves Ragtime.  He’s routinely upbraided by white racists for “Playing that N*gger Music.”

I branched out from the book, as of course, I do, by reading up on the time, and apparently racists really objected to white people taking any part of black culture.  Their fear, you see, is that it would corrupt white youth.  That savage (mostly rooted in European traditions) music played by people with a permanent tan.

It was nonsense of course, as from the beginning some of the best performers were white kids who became struck with the music.  And weren’t racists and didn’t care what someone so wholly unconnected to their art had to say about their way of expressing their passion.

Mr. Joplin, to his credit was as delightfully unconcerned with the color of the people who wanted to play his music as he was with the color of the skin of the man who taught him music (German.) I confess I felt a great sympathy with that character because he was so REAL and so much like my music-struck husband.  (Writing Real is, I think, my next series for Mad Genius Club.)

Geniuses are like that.  Their passion and what is in their heads is far more important than the prejudices of the world.  Which is why geniuses can accomplish things above and beyond the normal run of humans.  (Not do, not always, but they CAN.)

The bright old things at New Republic, those ossified remains of the great progressive revolution that never came,  aren’t geniuses.  In fact, they might be the ANTITHESIS of geniuses.  They are the blinkered racists asking why we need that n*gger music, only because they suffer from the prejudices and narrow mindedness of their upbringing, they are anti-white racists.  They don’t understand why we need any of those honkies writing.

What the color of the author’s skin has to do with what they write is beyond me.  No, we don’t need another stereotypical “the angst of white suburban life” novel.  But then we don’t need another stereotypical “The rage down at the hood” black novel.  And we don’t need another “I can tan so everyone hates me and thinks I’m a wet back Latino novel.”  (To quote younger kid “At least the myths about black people are that they’re well endowed and gifted in sports and music.  The myths people bring up when seeing me are that I’m lazy and an excellent swimmer.  And I can’t even swim.”)

We don’t need any stereotypical novels, in fact.  I confess I never saw the point of mainstream, though I’m not promising to NEVER write some.  However I presume there is genius in those (and the rest make good beach filler reading.  I read an awful lot of them, abandoned behind by American tourists in Portuguese hotel lobbies.  To save on weight back, of course.  The kind ones didn’t put them in trash but on top of it.)  And that a genius will transcend the setting and the stereotypes.

So even as I say “We don’t need.” I have to admit “maybe we need.”  “Maybe it would rock my world.” Maybe.  I’m open minded enough and imaginative enough not to dictate to other people what they can and can’t create.

The other reason I don’t dictate is because – Hey, New Republic, don’t look now – we have indie. Which means your opinions are not only racist and idiotic, and proof that you are a sclerotic elite who has never had a new idea, but also irrelevant.  White people, black people and for all I care blue polka dotted people will write whatever they want, and find their audience or not according to talent and luck.  You, dear New Republic, are a very old fossil.  Someday people will look at issues in a museum and wonder why we even.  BUT other people – creative people, some of them geniuses – will still be writing whatever the heck they want.

According to the State department I’m Latina.  I feel in love with Shakespeare (at first in Portuguese) at around eleven.  I’ve written more novels in Tudor England than in the modern world. I make my living in the English language which I learned at fourteen.

And my (at least on sight) very white husband loves ragtime, writes characters of all colors, and reads Roman History.

You go on, you “daring minds” you, making all kinds of proscriptions about what people can and can’t write, and what people should write or play or draw, based on the strict color lines of the old racists.

We, real creatives, will go on ignoring you.  And laughing while we do so.

The Hoyt household has been proudly appropriating culture and creating new stuff from the bits and pieces since 1985.  It’s a tradition I hope the kids will continue.

 

262 responses to “The Rag Time Kid

  1. The other reason I don’t dictate is because – Hey, New Republic, don’t look now – we have indie. Which means your opinions are not only racist and idiotic, and proof that you are a sclerotic elite who has never had a new idea, but also irrelevant. White people, black people and for all I care blue polka dotted people will write whatever they want, and find their audience or not according to talent and luck.

    The very existence of “indie” publishing is what causes the hacks at TNR to go mad like this. It’s like they inherited the job of town guard, keeping the riff raff out from the gates and letting the approved merchants in, and now they discover that those honking great houses by the walls have gone and dug huge tunnels under them and then gone out into the wilds and put signs up saying “this way to get into town to sell things”.And, what’s worse the townspeople like what the riff raff are selling and it turns out that even their mothers get stuff from the riff raff and …..

  2. blue polka dotted people

    Blue people with polka dots, or people with blue polka dots, or some mix of both?

    • Eh, which ever one turns up can write whatever they want, too.

      • Did Frank Gorshin teach you NOTHING in that Star Trek episode?

        • That he was better as the Riddler?

          • Oh dear. You really should check out his performance in The Bells Are Ringing

            • Maybe, but let’s face it, Let That Be Your Last Battlefield is a pretty stiff competitor for worse Star Trek episode ever. It is clearly worse than Spectre of the Gun and The Way to Eden. I find The Cloud Miners as insipid but less annoying. Off hand only The Savage Curtain really competes.

              • Spock’s Brain.

                • Saved by some attractive women in, for the time, brief costumes.

                  My two worst were strictly sausage fests.

                • Spock’s Brain is better because it gives us a great line for so many occasions: “Brian, brain, what is brain?” Try it next time you spend 20 minutes looking for your keys before a kid tells you thae they are in your hand.

              • Let That Be Your Last Battlefield, The Cloud Minders, and The Omega Glory were among the heaviest in the message department. The Omega Glory managed to turn out OK, and The Cloud Minders aspired to mediocrity, but Let That Be Your Last Battlefield was like being hit with the message bat. And yet some Progressive Trekkies I’ve encountered seem to love it.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  IMO Let That Be Your Last Battlefield is a classic example of the flaws in Message Fiction.

                  At the time it was originally broadcasted, there may have been a point for the message but as racism became less common in the US, the message becomes annoying.

                  Especially since the Left started using “That’s Racist” as a club.

                  IMO Message Fiction works when there is a real problem to be addressed but it ages quickly when the problem becomes less of a problem.

                  Note, IMO too much of modern “Message Fiction” imagines that there’s a problem to be addressed. 😦

              • I’m sorry, but I can recall N-O-T-H-I-N-G redeeming in The Way To Eden, even for those who like scantily clad femmes the song-stylings of the Space Hippies overwhelms all dams, barriers, floodwalls and dykes in a tidal wave of awfulness.


                Maybe if you turn off the sound and MST3K the episode, but that might redeem Let That Be Your Last Battlefield as well.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  The Way To Eden should have been nuked from orbit. 😦

                  • You’re insufficiently cautious; I think a kinetic strike of at least 70% Luna mass at three-quarter C is a minimum.

                • I think my mind somehow blocked out any recollection of the space hippies…. until now.

                  Is it just my faulty recollection, or do most of these episodes we’re grousing about come from season 3?

                  • The Fred Frieberger season, the one that killed the show. But the fame from being the producer got him the producer job for season 2 of Space 1999, which he also killed.

                  • Your mind simply enacted a routine safety interlock to prevent permanent damage from exposure to such awfulness. The Space Hippies were even more insufferable than their Earthly prototype. The only thing the Space Hippies had over their Earthly counterpart is you couldn’t smell them (although I may be wrong about that; now I think on it there seems a faint recollection of Patchouli & Sandalwood wafting from the TV.)

                • Get out of my way.

              • Cough! Cough! Excuse me. I don’t waste brain cells on such considerations.

                There was no third season of Star Trek: TOS.

                There were no first trilogy of Star Wars.

                Hans shot first.

                Posner is still a moron.

                AN remains a twit.

    • Well…we do allow cows in…so guessing yes

    • No, you see, dear Orvan, *He* has blue polka dots… *I* am blue, with polka dots.

    • When I was but a wee little child I worried over whether that poor monster found enough one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people to prevent starvation.

  3. Larry Patterson

    So if a Latina (or a German like Goethe) falls in love with Shakespeare, is that cultural appropriation? Or does one have to go into 6 figure college debt to understand why not?
    Asking for a friend . . .

    • I think it’s only cultural appropriation if the other group doesn’t want to share, or if other members of your group don’t want the other group to share. Apparently us whities love sharing our stuff so it can never be cultural appropriation, and other white folk think we’re so awful that no one should ever share their stuff with us, even if they want to.

      I admit to not understanding how we’re supposed to revel in diversity if we can’t eat the food, wear the clothes, speak the language, read the books, or enjoy the music of the diverse we’re supposed to celebrate.

      • Nice try, but just because white people might want Shakespeare to be shared by all that doesn’t mean the Klingons do as well.

        • Is it OK if we only share the English language versions?

        • Doesn’t matter whether they “want to share.” If they put it out there and we nasty appropriative Americans notice it and decide we like it, we’ll glom it and there won’t be one damned thing they can do about it.

          Heh, heh, heh!

          • You notice how the whites are to blame whether we glom onto others, or they glom onto ours. Cultural imperialism either way.

            • No matter what we do we’re wrong. so let them FOAD.

              • Nah. The trick is to culturally appropriate like a house on fire. Only insecure penny-ante dim-bulbs turn their noses up a Cool Stuff other folks do, and insist that their lack of initiative is morally superior.

                No, encourage everyone to culturally appropriate what you do well, and swipe the best they have to offer.

                Everyone wins except for the po-faced Mrs. Grundies.

                • Alternatively, one can hang them with their own rope. If this discussion is IRL and the person is a) not African-American and b) wearing shoes, you could attack them for engaging in cultural appropriation for not wearing hand-made shoes or going barefooted, on the grounds that the essential components for mass-manufacture of shoes were invented by an African-American and that, by their reasoning, only an African-American or a Cultural Appropriator can wear mass-produced shoes.

                  A very little research ought turn up other such situations. The machine, computer-driven loom was a French invention, I believe, and therefore only those of French descent can wear woven or knitted fabric culturally appropriately. The personal table fork was a product of the Byzantines (possibly adapted from the Greeks) so clearly no other culture can be appropriately permitted its use. Clearly one ought only imbibe the traditional beverages of their culture; no vodka unless you’re Russian, no whiskey if you aren’t Gaelic, etc. This would mean the Brits would have to give up Tea, or resort to only herbal, but that is not my affair.

                  Happily, one need not be punctiliously accurate when dealing with such chuckleheads. One could attack them for appropriating elements not of their culture, such as the internet, without concern for rationality because rationality is an artifact of a culture they’ve eschewed. The purpose is to make them defend their own actions rather than allow their idiocy to put you on the defensive. As Bonaparte exhorted: “Audacity, audacity, always audacity.”

      • You are supposed to go around in sackcloth and ashes, paying for your betters to indulge in diversity while you deal with all of its cons

        • Or it’s like the beginning of Dickens The Chimes where some well-off characters make negative comments of a poor man’s tripe dinner and how he shouldn’t be eating it – and then one eats it himself.

          • Tweedledee smiled gently, and began again:

            The sun was shining on the sea,
            Shining with all his might:
            He did his very best to make
            The billows smooth and bright —
            And this was odd, because it was
            The middle of the night.

            The moon was shining sulkily,
            Because she thought the sun
            Had got no business to be there
            After the day was done —
            ‘It’s very rude of him.’ she said,
            ‘To come and spoil the fun!’

            The sea was wet as wet could be,
            The sands were dry as dry.
            You could not see a cloud, because
            No cloud was in the sky:
            No birds were flying overhead —
            There were no birds to fly.

            The Walrus and the Carpenter
            Were walking close at hand:
            They wept like anything to see
            Such quantities of sand:
            ‘If this were only cleared away,’
            They said, ‘it would be grand.’

            ‘If seven maids with seven mops
            Swept it for half a year,
            Do you suppose,’ the Walrus said,
            ‘That they could get it clear?’
            ‘l doubt it,’ said the Carpenter,
            And shed a bitter tear.

            ‘O Oysters, come and walk with us!
            The Walrus did beseech.
            ‘A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
            Along the briny beach:
            We cannot do with more than four,
            To give a hand to each.’

            The eldest Oyster looked at him,
            But never a word he said:
            The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
            And shook his heavy head —
            Meaning to say he did not choose
            To leave the oyster-bed.

            Out four young Oysters hurried up.
            All eager for the treat:
            Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
            Their shoes were clean and neat —
            And this was odd, because, you know,
            They hadn’t any feet.

            Four other Oysters followed them,
            And yet another four;
            And thick and fast they came at last,
            And more, and more, and more —
            All hopping through the frothy waves,
            And scrambling to the shore.

            The Walrus and the Carpenter
            Walked on a mile or so,
            And then they rested on a rock
            Conveniently low:
            And all the little Oysters stood
            And waited in a row.

            ‘The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
            ‘To talk of many things:
            Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
            Of cabbages — and kings —
            And why the sea is boiling hot —
            And whether pigs have wings.’

            ‘But wait a bit,’ the Oysters cried,
            ‘Before we have our chat;
            For some of us are out of breath,
            And all of us are fat!’
            ‘No hurry!’ said the Carpenter.
            They thanked him much for that.

            ‘A loaf of bread,’ the Walrus said,
            ‘Is what we chiefly need:
            Pepper and vinegar besides
            Are very good indeed —
            Now, if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
            We can begin to feed.’

            ‘But not on us!’ the Oysters cried,
            Turning a little blue.
            ‘After such kindness, that would be
            A dismal thing to do!’
            ‘The night is fine,’ the Walrus said,
            ‘Do you admire the view?’

            ‘It was so kind of you to come!
            And you are very nice!’
            The Carpenter said nothing but
            ‘Cut us another slice-
            I wish you were not quite so deaf-
            I’ve had to ask you twice!’

            ‘It seems a shame,’ the Walrus said,
            ‘To play them such a trick.
            After we’ve brought them out so far,
            And made them trot so quick!’
            The Carpenter said nothing but
            ‘The butter’s spread too thick!’

            ‘I weep for you,’the Walrus said:
            ‘I deeply sympathize.’
            With sobs and tears he sorted out
            Those of the largest size,
            Holding his pocket-handkerchief
            Before his streaming eyes.

            ‘O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
            ‘You’ve had a pleasant run!
            Shall we be trotting home again?’
            But answer came there none —
            And this was scarcely odd, because
            They’d eaten every one.

            I like the Walrus best,” said Alice, “because you see he was a little sorry for the poor oysters.”

            “He ate more than the Carpenter, though,” said Tweedledee. “You see he held his handkerchief in front, so that the Carpenter couldn’t count how many he took: contrariwise.”

            “That was mean!” Alice said indignantly. “Then I like the Carpenter best—if he didn’t eat so many as the Walrus.”

            “But he ate as many as he could get,” said Tweedledum.

            This was a puzzler. After a pause, Alice began, “Well! They were both very unpleasant characters—”

            Lewis Carroll — Through the Looking-Glass

        • There are diversity cons? Cool! I want to go.

          Since Lucas has openly confessed basing Star Wars on Akira Kurosawa’s Kakushi-toride no san-akunin (The Hidden Fortress does that make the series culturally inappropriate?


          Does it matter if Akira Kurosawa worshipped legendary American director John Ford, his primary influence as a filmmaker, and stole several of his stories from Willie the Shake?

          Ars longa, vita brevis; Posner is still a you-know-what.

      • The answer is “whatever is handy for the racists.”

        • Which includes calling everyone else racist, presumably to hide their own racism?

          My insane sister once told me that “The only reason Republicans don’t want to pay more taxes is that they don’t want their money spent on poor brown people.” I told her that was an incredibly racist thing for her to say, and since I’d never heard a Republican say it, I asked how did she come up with the idea. She answered that of course they had never said it out loud, they just thought it.

          I never did get out of her how she knew what they thought if they didn’t say anything. I can only assume she got the special VRWC decoder ring that was meant for me.

          • It’s called “projection.” They think that themselves, and since they are quite sure they’re the best possible people it just must be the case that everyone else either thinks the same thing or thinks even worse things.

            • When the “No one should die because they can’t afford health care” meme was going around, and someone voiced the nasty suspicion that those who disagreed with it hated poor folks and wanted to kill them off, I suggested that there were such things such as “infinite wants, finite resources”, fraud, and freeloaders that also ought to be considered along with noble sentiment in making public policy. The suspicious person apparently didn’t want such things said in her space.

              • They hear what they want to hear, and if you say anything which disagrees with them in the slightest, they don’t hear the stuff you say which does agree with them. I found out that holding the not uncommon position of not supporting abortion except for the life of the mother means that I want women with ectopic pregnancies to die. Crazy sister’s “nice” friends tuned out as soon as I wrote that I didn’t support abortion and purportedly began calling her in hysterics about the evil crazy woman who was making these horrific comments and wanted all women to die.

                As someone over at the Rottie Empire asked, what emotional age are these people, ten?

                They’ve always lived in this weird bubble; they’ve never been taught how to deal with the ‘other’ (or they’ve tried, found their beliefs wanting, and can’t face the thought of changing them) so when confronted with something ‘different’, they freak out about it, and accuse it of being ‘evil’, ‘misogynistic’, ‘homophobic’ or whatever so they can continue to feel virtuous.

                tl;dr what everyone else has already said. 🙂

                • FeatherBlade

                  One of my friends has wondered, if we didn’t have abortion, whether we would have figured out by now how to transfer and reimplant ectopic pregnancies to a more suitable location.

                • Patrick Chester

                  As someone over at the Rottie Empire asked, what emotional age are these people, ten?

                  That might be unfair to ten year olds all over the world. They eventually grow up.

            • Witness that some of them will actually argue for gun control because they can’t be trusted with guns.

          • Patrick Chester

            It’s the first thing that came to her mind so obviously the people she hates must “really” think that. Standard psychological projection.

          • FeatherBlade

            Maybe she’s psychic?

            See if you can convince her she’s Jean Grey.

            • A friend said that listening to a bunch of progressives talk he felt like Dian Fossey taking notes for Morons in the Mist. There was a species barrier there, he said, and they’ll never get our language.

              • That fits with the emotional level of a ten-year old argument. No matter what we say to them,


                all they hear is the voice of the teacher in a Peanuts cartoon.

          • “I never did get out of her how she knew what they thought if they didn’t say anything. I can only assume she got the special VRWC decoder ring that was meant for me. ”

            Dog whistles.

            I’ve found that pointing out that hearing secret coded messages in other people’s words — especially ones that reveal their secret evil — is normally diagnosed as clinical paranoia.

        • I greatly regret not being able to provide the jpg for this, but you will just have to click through: http://comicskingdom.com/mallard-fillmore/2016-10-03

    • Well, I got my college for free, for being in the top half of one percent of graduates.

    • It is only cultural appropriate if you are taking stuff from people who tan.

      For example, universities, vaccines, and the English language can be used by people who tan without tainting their culture.

      • Oh, but that, along with a good many other things is “cultural imperialism” which would be better called “cultural imposition” then.

        If you adopt ideas from them, it’s appropriation; if they adopt ideas from you, it’s imperialism. But find yourself a kindergartner who can see the situations and they will likely be called “sharing.”

        • We should take back the education and longer lifespans we’ve imposed on non-Western people then, both outside of Western nations and those inside them.

  4. Hear, hear! Barking dogs can be a nuisance, but not a hindrance. They won’t slow the vehicle at all.
    (although I do admit to slowing for pups who can’t seem to get out of the middle of the road.)

    • I was going to say, tell that to the farm dogs in far eastern Iowa who refused to let me drive past heir house on the county dirt road. Dang near ran the blasted beasts over.

  5. Christopher M. Chupik

    “another stereotypical “the angst of white suburban life” novel”

    I work at a library and oh dear Lord, we get a lot of those published every year. You’d think suburbia was worse than the gulag, to hear them tell it.

    • You being Canadian: none of these novels can hold a candle to Rush’s “Subdivisions”, BTW. (1st Rush tune I ever heard.) Neil Peart can say in 12-16 lines what some wannabe “auteur” goes on and on for 400 pages about.

    • I’ve long been of the suspicion that many counterculture stories or attempts at one come from parent issues. So because mommy and daddy didn’t let your weekly steady sleep over and dope up at the house they want to burn it all.

      • Pretty much although I shouldn’t be too superior given my reason to care less and less if it burns isn’t much better.

        • Difference between breaking out the weenie roast and calling the 18 wheeler of sodium and phosphorus

      • Contrariwise, I suspect that it is the household where mommy wanted to be hip and allowed dope and sleepovers that spawn such tripe.

    • You’d think suburbia was worse than the gulag, to hear them tell it.

      How many of them leave it though? Oh, yeah, some go to the big city but then move to Greenwich in CT.

    • Patrick Chester

      You’d think suburbia was worse than the gulag, to hear them tell it.

      From the horror stories I’ve come across regarding Home Owner’s Associations, I find myself wondering about that. 😉

  6. Great piece. Besides, these ahistorical dolts seem to think “cultural appropriation” is something new in the cultural history of the West. For example, J. S. Bach, who never set foot outside Germany and barely traveled outside Thuringia, gleefully appropriated themes and musical forms from the Netherlands (e.g, fugue theme of BWV542), France (French suites, French Overture, theme of the Passacaglia BWV582), and Italy.

    And don’t get me started (it being Rosh Hashanah) about how many European folk songs and even Protestant hymn melodies have been “appropriated” for synagogue music…

    • Oh boy. That reminds me of the “Thine be the glory” hymn, which is sung to the tune of something from Handel’s Judas Maccabeus – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lXzmjNE-yLA

      That same bit of Handel is used all over Japan as the instrumental when the medals are awarded in minor sports events. It sort of, kind of, if squinted at under a full moon, makes sense for the first two lines of the hymn

      Thine is the glory, risen, conquering Son;
      endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won!

      but anyone who has been in a church at Easter and sung the hymn knows that those are the only two lines that could sanely be applied to a sporting victory

      • Beethoven also wrote a nice set of variations for cello and piano on that theme 🙂

      • Well the original lyrics, in English, start with “Hail the conq’ring hero comes” so it fits both ways.

        I once counted tunes, and found in my collection alone 12 that use the text of “Come Thou Fount.” The Southern Harmony hymnal (aka Sacred Harp) has 6+ for “Bound for the Promised Land.” And one of the Boston Camerata collections starts off with a Hebrew song that became Gregorian Chant that became a folk tune that became a Sacred Harp hymn. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, is said to have exclaimed, “Why should the Devil have all the good tunes?” and stole, er, appropriated drinking songs and other fun stuff.

        • It is informative to contemplate the objections to the efforts of Mr. Thomas A Dorsey …


          A man derided in his time for such blending of sacred and profane.

        • FeatherBlade

          Well the original lyrics, in English, start with “Hail the conq’ring hero comes” so it fits both ways.

          And I’m afraid that the only refrain that comes to mind to follow those words is “Hooray for Brown Junior High, it’s the best junior high in Tole~do.”

      • Nothing beats the Yodobashi Camera theme song(s), which plays on an endless loop in their stores. It’s sung to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4QSu1ZHunw

        • But thanks to Japan’s strict gun laws, the instances of Yodobashi Camera employees going postal is nil. They just quietly suicide at home.

          If you go to a Waffle House, all the way at the end of the jukebox are a few Waffle House company songs, sung by the founder’s wife. If you play them, the employees will hate you. A friend of mine who collects odd and bad music managed to persuade the corporate headquarters to send him the 45’s, and they are as awful as you can imagine.

          • Back when Coldstone Creamery first opened their ice cream parlors in our area the staff had a number of songs* they’d perform whenever a customer hit the tip jar. It reached a point when my family first made them promise to not sing before we’d leave a tip.

            There was just something that seemed demeaning after the second or third time they’d done their Pavlovian performing monkey ritual.

            *popular ditties with lyrics adapted to the occasion.

    • It’s an old tradition. There’s quite a few hymns whose tunes were appropriated from old bar songs. (the Salvation Army fought this for a long time.) I wish I could remember the hymn that changed the guy in charge’s mind, but he walked in on one of their recovering alcoholics singing one of the most beautiful renditions of a specific hymn. He asked the guy about the tune. Embarrassed, the former drunk admitted which drinking song he’d nabbed it from. And the Salvation Army guy flung up his hands and went “Enough, Why should the Devil get all the best melodies?”

      Appropriate away. 🙂

    • South Korea. Auld Lang Syne.

      • Holy. Carp. On. A. Cracker.

        • It’s amazing the things you learn from mindless old action movies. (The Steel Helmet, in this case)

          • BTW, this year we had a Korean group visiting the church as part of a VBS exchance program (there were plenty of older parents and grandparents). At the end of the welcoming event I went up to the lady who played the organ and asked if she knew Auld Lang Syne. Of course, she said. Play it, I asked. Trust me, just play it…

      • Red Army Choir. Sweet Home Alabama.

        • It’s worth watching the whole concert video. It’s still the largest concert ever held in Finland. And the Red Army did “Battle Hymn of the Republic” on their own during the concert.

          And, of course, there’s “Leningrad Cowboys Go America”, the original movie that introduced the (then fictional) band.

        • O. M. G.

    • They’re taking religious music?

      Bah, slackers.

      PARTY ROCK!

  7. The censorship this New Republic author seems to think doesn’t exist comes from mostly white do-gooders and busybodies who seem to think they have greater racial sensitivity than anyone else. It comes from editors who publish works that appeal to them for only God knows what real reasons. It comes from agents like the one who said “Don’t write that. You don’t want that kind of trouble.” It comes from the instructors of the poor MFA students who are chock-full of misguided and foolish advice on what and what not to write and how and how not to write it. It comes from people who stalk out of speeches in high dudgeon over imaginary insults to people they do not belong to and weren’t even mentioned. It comes from people, such as this author himself, who are outraged both at people who are bolder than himself at exploring other cultures, and those who are less bold.
    The author should mind his own business and his own writing. If he wishes to join the conversation among those who moralize and agonize and novelize about racial politics, he is certainly free to do so. Other authors who may be writing for different audiences with different concerns do not need to be hectored about insensitivity to the designated victims of the year.

  8. So even as I say “We don’t need.” I have to admit “maybe we need.” “Maybe it would rock my world.” Maybe. I’m open minded enough and imaginative enough not to dictate to other people what they can and can’t create.

    May we please have at least a year’s moratorium on all use of the word need? Please? I “need” it badly.

    • How about a “one free swat with a cluebat” for folks assuming their conclusion?

      The annoying guys are the ones talking about how we ‘don’t need’ this or we ‘do need’ that, without bothering to establish that this is a ‘only what is needed’ situation, or needed for what.

    • We really do need a moratorium.

  9. You know who else was concerned by “over-representation” of certain groups in certain fields? Nazis. Modern Progressives are no better than Nazis. We’d save our nation a lot of grief by just hanging them now, rather than allowing their ilk to take over and cause even more problems.

    • To give them their due, the Nazis were much snappier dressers than these Progressive scolds.

      • True. And I actually think hanging all the Progressives might be a bit too extreme – I probably should restrain from posting until I’ve been awake a bit longer and had some food.

        • The only reason hanging all progressives is too extreme is how unfair it is to innocent rope.

          More and more I think being a committed progressive raises of the level of “not good enough to hang”.

  10. Even when my brain is not working properly, i create– poetry.

  11. Scott Joplin was black? Huh, never knew, never cared. Great music, though. It’s outlived all his critics, and will do so for centuries yet 🙂

    • You’re so much like me. I had no idea, either. And it doesn’t matter. There was a picture of him on the cover of one of Dan’s music books, though.

    • Add a third.

      *********

      Hm, just realized something… a lot of the racist junk is rooted in really dumb categories. They made a category of ‘Black’ for the culture of basically southern decedents of slaves, but they can’t actually DESCRIBE it that way (huh, ‘African American’ is not a bad name for that group– but that’s in use for ‘folks who look like dark Africans’) that led to the false category of ‘white’ as some kind of unified group.

      This came from my reaction of “Huh, didn’t know that. Cool.” and trying to identify what an equivalent would be, and realized it was roughly the same reaction I’d have on finding out he’s Irish.

      But the groups are so messed up that folks are getting their identity from their *skin*, rather than the skin being one of the possible markers (*looks at her freckled arms and giggles at the bad pun*) associated with the culture..

      If you expect, say, my Scottish protestant all-American rancher dad to behave more like a Norwegian businessman than the Spanish Basque Catholic all-American ranchers he grew up with, because my dad is “white” and they are “Latino,” you’re nucking futs.

      • Similar to that, my wife’s boss is black, however since we are both Navy brats, we have a lot more in common than he has with those who didn’t move every 18 months growing up.

  12. One of my brothers loved playing ragtime and one year made it to the State Fair. He made third place. The thing was, he also did a skit with it. He stumbled on stage wearing rolled up pants, suspenders, and a straw hat. Fell onto the piano and began to play. From what I heard he was a real “hit.” 😀

  13. Those of you who have read the third Furniture Refinishing Mysteries know EXACTLY what it looked like.

    Oh my. Did it come with a rat’s nest?

    • Oh dang, I should have read on before I asked…

      • I have a clear image in my head of Ben sitting at a kitchen table tenderly feeding baby rats…with marked bellies.

      • I just stumbled over, and acquired, an old pedal organ (an American reed organ, sort of an accordeon or concertina on steroids). As far as we can tell, it was made around 1902 in Chicago. The exterior is in great shape, five or so of the eight stops work, half the swell works, all but two of the reeds sound (and I’m familiar with the non-sound noise from maintaining concertinas that I’m sure I can easily fix both). Haven’t yet opened it up to see the condition of the internal works, but that’s for this coming winter’s project. Maybe two.

        I’m sure there will be evidence of rodential residence within.

        After it’s all done, I guess I’ll have to learn to play the thing, too.

        • A few years ago there were *two* pipe organs on the local Freecycle list. Come and get ’em.

          I nearly did that before Common Sense(tm) intervened. The Voices were gibbering about making at least one miniature version of the “Large Hot Pipe Organ.” Which, if you’re not familiar with it, is powered by burning propane instead of compressed air, and shoots flame out its pipes…

          I can’t play the organ, but the Voices were insisting that I could eventually learn “War March of the Priests”, which is what Vincent Price played in “The Abominable Dr. Phibes.”

          I had most of the hardware on hand, the problem was I didn’t have any place to *put* a pipe organ…

          • Sib-in-Law has this same problem, except it has to do with staging the pipes before they go into the casework, which is arriving a week after the pipes, and also needs to go someplace, and . . . or “How to make a large building feel very small in two truck-loads.” I get the sense that if a certain staff member asks in an all-too-chipper tone “How’s it goin?” once more, his office is going to be full of wood, lead, and leather before he can turn around.

          • Like this one?

  14. No, we don’t need another stereotypical “the angst of white suburban life” novel. But then we don’t need another stereotypical “The rage down at the hood” black novel.

    We don’t need another stereotypical novel. I don’t mind reading another version of a familiar delightful dance done well, thus something such as Poirot does not run dry. But the minute a book starts to feel stereotypical? Wall –>!

  15. I read an awful lot of them, abandoned behind by American tourists in Portuguese hotel lobbies. To save on weight back, of course.

    A sudden horrible sad realization for those potential scavengers of books who have come after you. With the growing popularity of E-books you are not going to see books left behind ‘to save on weight’.

    • Blondengineer

      This is a very sad thing.

      Though the growing popularity of ‘neighborhood’ libraries that are little more than boxes of books with roofs to keep the weather off, does keep hope alive.

      • One of those has recently been installed in the group of parks where I often walk. I have glanced at it. The books that appear are eclectic, although there seems to be some contributors with rather specific tastes.

        • Two popped up a block from Redquarters. Very well built, with glass-fronted doors and one has a planter built into the top. I’m impressed.

          • And some places are passing laws against them.

              • Ummmm … Libraries are good union jobs? Unlicensed thought? Possible hygiene risk?

                Thought crimes?

                Perhaps transgressors and perverts could sneak in during the night and leave copies of Fanny Hill, Atlas Shrugged, or Animal Farm where kiddies might find them?

              • The real reason is because they “lower the tone of the neighborhood” generally speaking.

                Though there are usually weaselly other reasons that the various jobsworths and bansturbators concoct to deny such snobbish motives when they are called on it.

                http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2015/02/little-free-library-crackdown/385531/

                • You must have much, much nicer neighbors than I do– I can imagine a massive amount of shenanigans pulled if they selectively stopped enforcement of the rules about not building on the sidewalk and right-of-way. That’s before issues like squatter’s rights come into play.

                  Don’t get me started on the ones that seem to be nailed to power poles, or that hang into the road. -.-

                  The one that got media attention first, with the nine year old boy, is apparently in a city where the whole point is insanely restrictive building codes. For over fifty years. The rule about no detached structures without specific approval is “only” 30 years old; it even had a process to get permission for the ‘structures,’ but the kid’s family didn’t bother. Since they’re going for removing the thing, rather than getting permission, I suspect it’s another instance of smoke being blown where it oughtn’t be by folks with an agenda.

                  I don’t LIKE that, but part of the whole free association thing means that people can choose to set up communities with dumb rules like this. It’s dumb, but not on the level of HOAs.

                  • Correction, the 9 year old’s family did respond like reasonable adults, and so did the council.

                    So they’re using a kid, when the problem was being handled at the local level– both in specific for his library, and in general to avoid potential downsides to the LFL setup.
                    City council hours.
                    http://www.leawood.org/pdf/cc/min/07-07-14.pdf

                  • Don’t get me started on the ones that seem to be nailed to power poles, or that hang into the road. -.-

                    Depending on the state, signs, basketball goals, etc. on power poles are illegal because they present a hazard to the public and to linemen. We can and have yanked down signs. Whether a sign gets yanked depends on three criteria:

                    1, Whether it presents an immediate hazard.
                    2. How bit a hurry we are when we go by.
                    3. How tired we are.

                    If we saw, say, a TV antenna on a power pole, that was coming down now because that could get someone killed. I remember one mounted 6 inches from 7,200v primary. Down it came, and then the customer wanted to know why.

                    • Putting up yard sale signs on power lines with a stapler or similar is illegal in Washington– and when you see some of the poles that are so thick with old staples that they’re silver on one level, you can tell why!

                      But some of those little libraries that “horrible nasty people got rid of for no reason” are very clearly built on power poles in the pictures.
                      And there aren’t a lot that have really good pictures of the location– lots of close-ups of the doors, some slight over-heads, etc.

            • *remembers she’s been meaning to look for information on that*

              *looks*

              Do you know of any cases where the problem was actually the little free library itself, rather than them being on city property?
              (In various flavors– same way that the various outrage of the week about “homeless man’s house stolen– by the cops!” is usually because they were blocking the public right of way and wouldn’t move it.)

            • The best ones I’ve seen were where they got permission to transform old phone booths that by now are basically sculptures (and much less ugly than most) into LittleFreeLibraries.

              A close second are the ones that folks build into the BACK of their own fence, so it’s very much on their own property. Usually opposite of the mailbox.

    • Birthday girl

      But the scavenging is always at hand via wireless reading device, and much more sanitary …

  16. I used to point out that if we were all to wake up tomorrow morning with the same color of skin people would immediately set about finding some other way of sorting themselves in groups on sight.

    One of the things it appears all humans do is to sort and group. It can be useful for survival, such as good to eat, bad to eat. It can be silly, such as what colors should a given person wear. It can be destructive, such as assigning status due to appearance.

  17. These cultural appropriation yahoos obviously have no idea how incredibly stupid they sound. Their entire premise denies human nature. From birth we are designed to appropriate everything we can get our hot little grasping hands on.
    So stupid that they cannot seem to see how inherently racist the whole concept is. To meet their requirements would mean every book have the origins of the writer, every piece of music the same, every film a credit page longer than the film itself designating the true natures of everyone involved for you can’t tell what may have been changed with makeup or CGI.
    On those occasions when I run into a proponent of this foolishness and don’t simply walk away in disgust, I tend to wax poetic about two of my favorite African Americans, one a talented writer, the other a most accomplished actress. Eventually I get around to their names, Peter Grant, and Charlise Theron, both born in South Africa. And both about as caucasian as you can get.

  18. I’ll admit to having pretty poor luck with the abandoned novels in hotel rooms that I’ve tried to read even as beach filler. One was mediocre but good enough that, while I only had access to two English books, I was willing to make it a third. One I managed to finish but made a note that I never wanted to read anything by that author ever again. The last one was one of those romances that tries to disguise itself as a mystery on the back cover and has an alleged hero who wouldn’t be out of place as the villain in a horror movie (seriously, after a man plants hidden cameras in a woman’s shower without her permission, it’s pretty much impossible for me to accept a romance between them). The only positive thing I can say about that book is that it taught me to be careful about believing that back cover blurbs are at all representative of the book in front of them.

    • Oh, most were pretty awful, but English language books were prohibitive and I WANTED more English.

    • I found the first couple of Dorothy Dunnett’s Francis Lymond books abandoned in an English youth hostel common room – so that does work out occasionally.

    • You’ve put me in mind of an incident from many years ago. My first encounter with Olaf Stapledon was a discarded pulp-paperback copy of Odd John, one of the seminal novels of SF. As it had been printed in the Thirties, the cover was lurid as hell, as was the promo blurb:

      All men were his pawns,
      All women his slaves:
      He had to die!

      Being somewhat easily discouraged by such things, I passed it by…only to read it much, much later and experience considerable chagrin over having allowed that cover and that blurb to put me off.

    • I’ve read a handful of modern “mysteries” that left me feeling unclean.

      I know not every protagonist is a role model, but some of them should have had a cell next to Charlie Manson. But the authors presented them as either neutral or admirable, not as psychotic scumbags.

  19. Someone discovered in the blues certain musical traces of Portuguese music. At least that’s what I read. I think they’re wrong. I think it was Irish music.

    I recall watching a documentary on the Irish in America in which that Old Commie, Pete Seeger, explained that a popular “Negro Folk Song” (which one I cannot recall) was actually nothing more than “The Irish Washerwoman” with its tempo somewhat changed.


    Well, when he played the two, you could hear they were the same song. I am sure that, could I but recall the folk song he referenced.

    My point is, musicians are intellectual sluts. They’ll pick up and run off with anytune, or even portion thereof. They are forever grafting a few notes and phrases from here and there, lifting whole melodies, adjusting for their preference of instrument, playig style and then laying a new lyric over the top.

    I have not known so many musicians to pretend to declare a universal trait amongst them, but I’ve never noticed much interest in the color, race, creed or sexual perversions of who was playing interesting tunes.

    From Peggy Seeger’s “abut my family” page:

    “My mother, Ruth Crawford, was short and round in stature, a fiery, creative woman. We called her Dio. She was an avant garde composer but her mind was open to music of any kind. Dio was a superb piano player and a full-time piano teacher…she was intrigued by the connection between mathematics and music and transmitted her excitement to me. I remember spending several challenging weeks learning to play one tune right through the circle of fifths. Then I would take the tune through every mode in every key – and unless you’ve played The Irish Washerwoman in C# in the Lydian mode at the age of 10, you haven’t lived…”

    The only discrimination I’ve ever noticed musicians practicing was over skill and inventiveness. Given that all they have to work with is an extremely limited scale, small range octaves and a few odd tempos I don’t think they can afford to be exclusionary.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

    • I recall watching a documentary on the Irish in America in which that Old Commie, Pete Seeger, explained that a popular “Negro Folk Song” (which one I cannot recall) was actually nothing more than “The Irish Washerwoman” with its tempo somewhat changed.

      This needs to be make very well known to black student groups and various protesters for the sheer joy watching the modern left Unperson Pete Seeger would be.

    • Birthday girl

      Then there’s the guy who says that all popular music is really Pachelbel’s famous Canon in D …

      P.S. If you remember the song, please post it here … enquiring minds want to know …

      • Birthday girl

        Though personally, i enjoyed this version more …

      • It has been something like twenty years, so if it floats to the top of the Magic 8-Ball inside my skull I will be surprised, but will try to post the information.


        Searching online for it has turned up some very … odd things.

        • There’s also the sequence with Mickey Rooney …


          at about 2’30” (Ritz Brothers, Shirley Temple, Clark Gable appearances later.)

          • And here it is:


            From comment in Pete Seeger in His Own Words page 273, courtesy Google Books. There is a wealth of performances of this, including ones by Elvis, Satchmo, Peter Paul & Mary and innumerable choirs, but I think this displays the cultural appropriation well.

        • I think Asimov once wrote he was singing it under his breath and a lady thought he was singing it in Celtic.

    • And as a rule, musicians tend not to be super choosy about the race of the other musicians they play with, especially if they’re good.

  20. As for Scott Joplin …


    Try Louis Moreau Gottschalk, a predecessor. Who swiped phrases from Stephen Foster. Punch his name and “The Banjo” into Youtube and you will find performances by about every type of human what can play piano, from white as Brits, Greeks, Koreans, Chinese and all others.

  21. It ought be noted that the New Republic</I is the very embodiment of a failed magazine, having torn itself apart over the Iraq War, trying to straddle the chasm between loving America and hating George W Bush. It has collapsed financially and editorially and is desperately striving to find some shoal of relevance appealing to a Progressive movement that finds The Nation too conservative.

    Nothing they publish is serious or consequential.

    • Is an encysted commie publication. Sure, but Publisher’s Weekly featured this on their feed on FB. Which tells you how far the buddy buddy rot goes.

    • Arrrrrrrgggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh! CLOSE ITALIC after New Republic and re-initiate italic at the The Nation.

      Sorry – fingertips experiencing neuropathic pain and not striking keys well today. I will eventually become enured and return to my customary mode of mystiping.

  22. (Writing Real is, I think, my next series for Mad Genius Club.)

    Heh, some of the characters that I’ve heard folks complain about being being “unrealistic” are favorites because I know people just like that.

    Rather famously, folks complained about Audie Murphy’s autobiographical movie being unrealistic, especially with that stubby little guy as the lead.
    (for those not up on movie trivia: Audie Murphy was a WWII hero who did things like jump on top of burning tanks and taking out entire waves of attacking Germans. He did a movie about it, and insisted they tone it down so it didn’t look like bragging… and folks still complained that someone like THAT could have NEVER done it. 😀 )

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      David Weber once posted an article (on Tor.com) about a historical person that if he used in one of his books, nobody would think the person was realistic.

      Basically, the person was very smart but also did some very stupid things.

      IE The problem of smart fictional characters doing stupid things. 😉

      • Acting in a thoroughly human manner is viewed as unrealistic?

        Actually, this explains a great deal about the way the world is going.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          It was seen that the character was smart and the only reason that the character did that stupid thing was that the author made the character do it. 😀

          • Because we all know that smart people never make mistakes?

            If that is true I am forced to conclude that there is no such thing as smart people.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Not really arguing with you about “Real Life”.

              Just reporting on how some readers view smart fictional characters doing stupid things especially when the smart fictional characters are the “Bad Guys”.

              • It’s as if they never saw a Road Runner cartoon …


                or entirely missed the point, nor can they comprehend the “Fox Butterfield fallacy”.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Res, the writers are on the side of the Road Runner and that’s why the Coyote always loses. 😈

                  • Yet the rules, such as they were, for those cartoons were that Wile E.’s failures were self-inflicted or due to the dubious nature of ACME production (as portrayed), with gravity being the his primary enemy after himself. Granted, there were a few exceptions, but they were fairly rare.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      But the rules also included the fact that the Coyote would lose.

                      The Roadrunner didn’t have to be “smart” to avoid the Coyote’s attacks as circumstances always prevented Coyote from winning.

                  • Wiley does, eventually catch the Roadrunner.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Sure, but look what the writers did to him before they allowed him to catch the roadrunner. 👿

          • I think I just figured out part of it… basically, authors have their characters make dumb mistakes that don’t make any sense.

            When we don’t understand the dumb mistakes that real life people make, it’s because we’re just not looking at it right.

            There isn’t that warning about “objects in mirror may be larger than they appear” because of vast numbers of folks thinking simitrucks are the size of house-cats, it’s because people are frequently not thinking in terms of “the mirror has a compressed image of what is behind me so I can identify stuff,” it’s more like “look over there to see what is behind me.” So in real life, that mistake works, because behind your own eyes you can know what you were thinking when you did something. (even if “what were you thinking” was “dang, I’d like a hamburger.”)

            In real life, misjudging the rate of change of speed and direction of a simi is understandable; in a story, it’s only going to happen at a really important point, and if you haven’t set things up so that it makes sense, folks won’t just wave the “oh, SOMETHING that hasn’t been explained must explain this mistake” flag. They’ll be annoyed, because the author could have set it up otherwise, and didn’t.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              It’s “fun” when we don’t understand why we did that stupid thing. 👿

              But authors are in the situation where readers know (or believe) that he controls what his characters do and so when his “bad guy” just happens to do a dumb thing that let’s the “good guy” win, the author has to “explain” just why the “bad guy” did that dumb thing.

              • That’s where Lampshading comes in– if your bad guy must do something so very dumb (not locking the door from the kitchen to the garbage pile), and you’re not going to be able to show why, you’ve got to explain it by something like the characters going “wow, the door IS open, that’s handy! Maybe the guy that was supposed to check the doors is sick.”

                • There’s also the ability to establish a pattern of behavior a known or discoverable ‘blind spot’ for the villain. If you show the villain has a habit of missing little details (like forgetting the lock the door near the garbage pile while being in the habit of taking out his own trash), then such things leave the realm of coincidence and become part of the villian’s personality. The same can go for Hero blind spots that can get them INTO trouble and give a reason for the otherwise intelligent hero to do something that seems stupid. “He’s on the Jazz” moments of various sorts. (To steal an A-Team term.)

    • Writing Real is hard.


      It’s even harder when you’re stupid.

  23. The reason the Proglodytes are so bloody damned insistent on arguing over crap like Cultural Imperialism and Cultural Appropriation is that Art transcends such piddling barriers as race, culture, sex and gender.


    A Japanese-American girl from Georgia, wearing (alternately) a European gown with Amerindian ear bobs and cowboy garb, singing the theme song of an Italian film set in the American West, in a series derived from a Japanese film. How you gonna sort people into categories if Art keeps breaking down barriers?

    • Thank you. Another one that will make the wife wonder whether I’m still her husband. She is still firmly convinced that I can’t enjoy anything written after 1740 or so…

  24. Patrick Chester

    I guess the NR would hate seeing this sort of cultural appropriation:

    Though the frog would never do it while anyone else was around…

  25. Too many people these days do not grasp the satirical thrust of this …


    I gather it has, with a few minor editorial changes (e.g., “Iranians” for “Germans”) become the motto of our State Department.

  26. sabrinachase

    It is even worse than they suppose. There is archaeological evidence that the reason the Neanderthals aren’t around and the Cro-Magnons are is… the Neanderthals sat in their valleys, didn’t travel much, and…had no cultural transmission at all. The Cro-Magnons, on the other hand, wandered all over, looked at the neighbor’s pots/flint arrowheads/dashing fur fashions and said “Oooh cool! I could do that!” and did.

    The neat thing about so-called “cultural appropriation” is the donor culture still has as much at the end of the process as they did at the beginning, while the appropriating culture has grown. But then, these shrieking types think all the world is zero-sum.

    • That’s the theme of Barry Cuniliffe’s latest tome that I’m reading. A few groups started wandering, usually westwards, and took ideas and stuff with them, then passed new stuff back to the east. Thus metallurgy, wheat, wheeled vehicles, sheep, cattle and a few other things reached Asia, and far western Europe, and beyond. There’s something in the descendants of a long ago people that keeps moving them west, passing stuff back and forth as they go. And once trade routes are established, they keep coming back into existence culture after culture after kingdom after empire . . .

  27. I’m lazy and an excellent swimmer.

    Excellent swimmer? Such people haven’t seen the Rio Grande.

    • There used to be a hysterically funny, and totally non-PC cartoon about a Mexican man and a Border Patrol agent from downstate, drawn by a Hispanic guy. In one episode, the Border Patrol hears screams of “shark, shark!” and sees people fleeing the Rio Grande. He wades out into knee-deep water, reaches down, and here’s the Mexican with a shark-fin strapped to him. Apparently the series ran in papers on both sides for the border for quite a while.

    • Rio Grande? One of my favorite movies,


      but I don’t think there’s much in it about swimming.

  28. “For a writer to deny that fiction is political is not only an act of bad faith, but an artistic failure.”

    Right off the bat this article ticked me off.

    These Pronouncements from on high really annoy the heck out of me.

    To correct the author on a fundamental level let me state the following.

    NO! All Fiction is NOT POLITICAL!

    Not everything is political! Stop trying to make every single thing in life a political act. The only reason people say it is a political act is to show how pious they in the latest social justice de jour and to use it as a club to browbeat people who have a life.

    I don’t care about care about the color of an author’s skin. Most of the time I don’t know what color skin an author has. Since the author that puked that article up does care, it means he is a RACIST.

    A scarlet R should be branded on his forehead so people don’t have to wait the 2 seconds it takes for him to open his mouth and show he is RACIST.

    Thus endith the rant.

    • The line has the additional issue that it’s bad writing.

      With something like that, while you can state it– you then have to show it. Stating it isn’t showing it. Following up by rephrasing it slightly isn’t showing it.

      Not only is it wrong, it’s lazy.

      Folks here know I’m prone to doing the “oh, I think I get it!” thing– but I then trying to drag folks along the path I took, so they can at least be standing at the same spot and looking, even if they don’t totally agree that rock formation looks like a cow.

      To attempt to humorously over-extend a metaphor. ^.^

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Wait, if all fiction is political, and if we quibble about purported non-fiction, then pretty much everything that serves a leftist end is conspiracy to commit mass murder. That’s a excellent trick. We can use it to justify putting all sorts of leftists in the ground. Are you sure you want to deny us such a useful tool?

      Asking for a friend. 🙂

      • Did you ever stop to reflect that the greatest number of Communists executed were executed by. . . wait for it. . . Communists? And the greatest number of Communists ever imprisoned as political prisoners were imprisoned by Communists? So clearly, what all sane people should most should fear, loathe, and oppose are Communists. And since Communism mostly arises upon the fall of leftist regimes and/or authoritarian regimes (there’s a good bit of overlap) there’s a good reason to oppose leftism and authoritarianism.

        • scott2harrison

          You have just proved that Communists are not all bad and in fact are in some ways superior to us Capitalists. Now I’m conflicted.

          • The trouble is the sheer number of other casualties the Communists inflict along the way.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Some of the best anti-communists were former communists.

            The fact of the matter is that those people who put their whole lives into maximizing productivity often do not understand who the communists are. Communists often understand the communists very well indeed.

          • The people imprisoned or executed by Communists are mostly guilty of being insufficiently Communist.

            There are certain parallels one can draw to Islamo-Fascists but it would be deplorable to do so.

            OTOH, our enlightened educated elites have assured us that the real threat is from excessive fear of such folk.

            • Mainly, yes. But many were imprisoned, executed, or assassinated for being the “wrong” kind of Communist. Or having associated with the
              “wrong” Communists at some point. Or having been a Communist revolutionary who the new Communist regime considers too skilled at the whole revolution business. Or for military officers especially, for being perceived as too competent.

              • Whether they are Communist, Socialist, Fascist or Canadian they are desperately working to making Mao point that political power comes from the barrel of a gun into the deciding argument in every aspect of political and social life. i hope they don’t like the result because then it doesn’t matter if they are good or bad. What matters is who’s the guy with the gun

                Be the guy with the gun.

      • You think there is “non-fiction”?

        Having for several decades been a regular reader of news and … tendentious non-fiction, I cannot agree.

  29. As far as I can tell, the labels of “cultural appropriation” or “cultural imperialism” are applied to any form of cultural diffusion the left disagrees with.

  30. richard lewis

    You must pay the mundane-geld.

    You didn’t produce your stuff, it must be shared. Our stuff is part of our identity, we cannot share it or we will lose our diversity.

    Culture appropriation is bad. We cannot allow ideas to have sex, or they will lose their diversity.

  31. To borrow your language:
    The American society has been proudly appropriating culture and creating new stuff from the bits and pieces since 1685. It’s a tradition I hope the kids will continue.

  32. Late comment, but I found out Scott Joplin was black by reading this post. I neither wondered nor asked. I knew him by his music, which is enjoyable to listen to.

    Isn’t that what artists want to be known for? Their art?

  33. I tried to read the New Republic article, I really did, but when the writer chose to characterize a certain presidential candidate as “an unrepentant and explicit white supremacist,” I realized that “truth” was too far down the writer’s priority list to matter.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      The two front runners are pro-‘choice’ Democrats, and nothing more should need to be said.

      ‘Family planning’ is a euphemism for genocide in the same way that ethnic cleansing is.