Gears and Patterns

We were taught in school, and in fact it is something you learn very easily if you read literature starting from say the chansons de geste, is that each generation views the world according to a pattern, and that pattern is often their “scientific” (one should rather say macro, since science has very little to do with it, even after the emergence of a science that could be called that) view of the world.

I.e. if you view the world in terms of the procession of the heavens influencing things on Earth, your work is going to show this, not just as allegories but, say, as and alignment of planets causing Earthquakes and Earthquakes literally causing the Black Death.  If you’re an Elizabethan too, and have access to some simple gear models of machines, you’ll see the entire world as a machine of some sort.  “The machinery of the heavens.”

The models linger long after the theories are disproved and supplanted.  I once had a knock down drag down argument with a family member over whether things cooled faster in the fridge.  She contended they did not, because the heat would hide in the center of the pudding to escape the cold.  She could not have named Aristotle or his theories of animistic physics, but by heaven, it had been taught to her that way, and she was sure it was true.

In the same way, many writers (particularly in mystery) seem to use the words sanguine and bilious without the slightest idea (unless they are of course historical writers) that it connects back to the theory of humors of the human body that led, often, to bleeding critically ill patients.

This is not a failing.  This is called “being human.”  Humanity is large and varied (keep that in mind) and many people would rather believe what they’re told than their lying eyes.  There is a comfort in tradition.

More importantly, these views of the world get into the nook and crannies of your mind, and you pass them on without realizing you’re passing them on.

This is because, of course, it is hardest to apply this to our own age.  It is a matter of the fish being submerged in water.

Our own age, still, has the “image” of the mass-producing society that brought unparalleled prosperity and riches to the world in the last century (along with some truly horrible mass killings.)

The mass killings, Marxism (which people inhale without knowing, even in American Universities), behaviorism, and a passion for numbered, standardized everything are part of the ethos of the industrial age.

It is perhaps too much to ask people working on standard machines, to produce standard sizes, using standardized movements to conform to the machine’s mechanical exactness not to think in terms of “standard sizes” and “Models.”

You see this more strongly in the works of early science fiction writers, who expected psychology to to be standardized, numbered and filed and then all problems of mankind would be solved.

This stopped around the forties or fifties, when there was starting to be a suspicion that humans were not in fact standard issues, and that they had a disturbing tendency to be … human on an individual scale.  I.e. “Nobody is normal” started penetrating the collective consciousness, but people STILL try to be normal.  A part of the craze for transgenderism (other than that the progressives decided this was the next hill to die on) is this idea that there are standard models of people.  Note I don’t say every transgender person is the result of that.  There are cases of such profound mismatch between mind and body that even flawed and ultimately mutilating surgery (which is all we can do right now) is preferable to going on with the mismatch. These cases are, needless to say, very rare.  But I swear at least half of the generation after my kids identifies as transgender, or gender queer, or gender fluid, or some other form of gender nonsense that has absolutely nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with the fact the poor dears have imbibed this flawed version of humanity as easily filable and definable.  If you think that a girl who prefers trains and toy cars, a boy who prefers dolls (one of my playmates would fight me for the right to be “the mother” when we played houses.  He turned out very hetero.  In fact possibly too much so) a boy who is better at verbal than math, a girl who is the reverse, all of these are TOLD they are abnormal, if not in words, in the reaction of other people, until they feel they must have a problem.

In fact, none of us are standard issue.  The very fact that, say, the medieval world, a communitarian world under stress (compared to us) of disease and famine, which needed to eliminate odds to operate, spent SO MUCH time decreeing what men and women COULD do meant that men and women kept blurring those lines, which for that time and place were FAR more clear than they are now. (I am an odd.In the world I grew up in, which retains a lot of medieval characteristics,  I not only was pulled away from groups of boy I was playing with and told that girls play with girls and boys with boys (sounds like a motto for a gay bar) but I was also severely suppressed when I was about 8 and developed a fascination with whistling.  I was told that women who whistle and men who spin (thread) are both going to hell.  This must be a medieval thing, as I have clue zero why whistling should be masculine.  In my family’s defense, this might have been an attempt at just getting the horrible noise to stop.  My ear for music was not bad before the pneumonia that took my mid-range hearing at 14, but I’m asthmatic, which means my breath control purely sucks.)

Humans are humans.  Individual humans will like all sorts of things, and barring things that require a certain type of physical structure, say siring a child or giving birth, humans manage to cross all sorts of barriers.  Sure, the fastest woman in the world is only as fast as your average male highschool track champion in the US, but how many men are track champions.  Statistically men are taller, stronger and faster than women, but when I was young and in better shape, I could very easily beat the heck out of a man my size or a little larger.  (Okay, part of this is that I didn’t play fair, but I was also somewhat stronger than the average female, and stronger than men who didn’t work out.  This is not a brag.  I’m neither now.  It’s just a commentary on statistics aren’t individuals.)

Because I grew up in a village, where clothes were mostly still made by hand to the measurements of the person who wore them, I can tell you that the very idea of “standard sizes” is bonkers.  There is no such thing.  Yes, it is an easy way to make garments that fit everyone in a rough size, but “fit” would make any village seamstress cry.  In fact my mother had the habit of buying me clothes, then bringing them home, taking them apart and adapting them to my actual shape.  And this was when I was young and skinny, i.e. the body form most designers thinks all of us should have.  (They scale up the size of garments, but don’t change the contours, which means if you’re a 16 or above, you look like you’re wearing a sack. Which in turn, I’m sure, fuels both our horror of fat, and our poor self image when we start putting on pounds, which in turn makes us slouch, which…)

I tend not to think in sizes as in “I’m size x.”  (After what hypothyroidism has done to my body, mostly I think in “yuck” but that’s something else.)

However the problem is that we’ve transplanted that sort of thinking of “one size will fit everyone in this range” to how people think.  This slots very well with a sort of dimestore Marxism and discount counter behaviorism which at this point is the reason for living of the left.

Behaviorism first — as believed and imbued by people, translated to history books, etc, the theory of stimulus-response became one of “Everyone in that situation would do this.”  Which is why we ended up with history books in which we do not study great figures or men who stood out, except to know they exist, but instead study “great movements of population.”  As though the blinkered crowd moved history.

Sure, some things predispose crowds to some reactions.  I’m fairly sure Napoleon wouldn’t have existed without the terror, because people wanted order and wanted it to JUST STOP ALREADY.  Also France was broke after the revolutionary follies, and broke countries often invade other countries.  But without the larger than life personality of Napoleon, the Empire might not have formed.  There would have been SOMETHING in reaction, but not necessarilly what there was.  And do note, that the war didn’t stop until Napoleon was rather finally put away.

So the answer to history is “yeah, the crowd will be looking for this or that, but you need someone who picks up an idea, gives it form and runs with this.”

This was completely absent in my schooling.  It was all by-the-numbers mass stimulus/reaction.

And sure there are behavioral explanations to why each individual will act somewhat and some very differently, but when you get done with all the convoluted explanations, occam’s razor is blunt and you remember Heinlein saying that every time a dog drools a Pavlovian has to ring a bell.

Unfortunately the idea of standard models and humans as vast classes of interchangeable widgets is so ingrained in society that no matter how much we put it down, it keeps coming back again like a jack in the box.

Yeah, sure, if you’re dealing with a woman rather than a man, it’s more likely she’ll have an interest in, or have death with child rearing.  But these, again, are broad categories, anchored in physical differences.  In the same way “Stereotypes exist because they’re often true” sort of works.  If talking to me, because I’m from Portugal you can sort of assume I will understand Spanish (if spoken very slowly or written, this is true) and because I have a degree in literature, you can assume I like to read.  Because my degree is also in languages you can assume I speak at least a couple other than English and Portuguese.  You can assume that because I’m a writer, I like words and am generally at least semi-competent with them.  And because I’m a woman of a certain age, you can assume my body is starting to try to take me out at unexpected times.  (Seriously, if it kills me, I’m taking it down with me.)

What you can’t assume, though, is that you know my food preferences (would you believe I hate hot food?) my political views, or even my favorite books or my preference in periods/places of history to study.

But Marxist theory presumes to believe they know all of those (no, not real Marxist theory, but Marxism as she is taught in our schools, by inference and implication) so I often give people near-heart-attacks when I tell them things that such as that I came here so a village wouldn’t raise my children.  Or that I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for individual humans.  Or….

In fact where Marxism which divided people in nothing but broad economic classes (even if he presumed to know a lot of things about the motives of those classes) met the idea of industrial standardization which had seeped into people’s minds for over 100 years, we got this bizarre idea that people are exactly like other people with the same broad characteristics, and therefore must fight for “common interests.”

This is where we got the rather bizarre idea that people like me are gender traitors, as though every woman in the world had common interests and common experiences, other than say, giving birth or menstruating, and as if we couldn’t find more in common with many men (like those engaged in the same profession.  I mean, feminism is the strange idea that I’ll find more to talk to about with my next door neighbor, who is a nurse and a very nice woman but not at all interested in the same things I care about, than with Dave Freer, who read the same books I did growing up, has the same rather bizarre sense of humor and has for decades been in the same business I work in.  IOW Feminism as she’s practiced is delusional.)

Now in political and social terms, the theory is often hilariously wrong, and we can point and make duck noises, and we’re starting to make people see what arrant nonsense it is, at the margins at least.

But the problem is in other, side-cranies of the world-image inside our heads.

There is in our age a tendency to want to standardize EVERYTHING, including human experience, reaction and behavior that CAN’T be standardized.  (See previous comment about half the kids thinking they’re transgender.)

Years ago, when Robert was a toddler and I was thinking of homeschooling him, I read a lot of books on how to teach, what worked, etc.  (I ended up not homeschooling him, partly because I had a near-fatal pneumonia that almost killed me, and when I fully recovered, three years later, he was in school.  Eh.)

One of the books I read was by Maria Montessori, because of course, she is known for “helping kids learn” rather than teaching.

And then the book went against the wall.  This champion of individual learning actually proclaimed that if you hadn’t learned a language by age 3 you’d never be able to use it creatively.  If she’d said that unless you had learned it — seems to by 18 actually, from people I know — and spoken it every day with natives by x age, you’d never get rid of the accent, I’d have shrugged and groaned. The meat suit, particularly its auditory and vocal functions are trained early.  BUT she said you’d never think in the language like a native or be able to use it creatively and artistically unless you learned it by 3 — or was it six? — in any case, this writer who learned English by fourteen and who was, by then, winning contexts against native-borns, and starting to sell some short stories, laughed until she cried.

But there is this temptation and tendency to put people in groups, and shove them there, broad categories of “how you behave.”  And once you put people in groups, the next step is to say “you can’t do this, because your group can’t.”

It’s very human and it’s worsened by “standardized production” thinking and Marxism. It’s also very wrong.

One of the commenters yesterday said something about people being more interested in history where their ancestors were involved. This person is a nice commenter generally and if I hadn’t been very out of temper due to doctor appointments yesterday I would not have snapped the commenter’s head off.  I’m also sure that person was also taught this in school.  It is also not true.  It’s part of that “widgets will have these characteristics” bit.

In the village school where many of us were distant cousins, I found that kids were interested in history that was interesting.  (Something our teacher sucked at, honestly, so I who by then read history by preference, would tell these exciting tales to the other kids at recess.  Village girls (and some boys who crossed over from the boys’ school) were very interested in the battles in South Africa between Boer and Zulu, fascinated by the French revolution, and very interested in the 100 year war.  You don’t need to match the widget to the history.  You need to teach it passionately and in terms of common humanity. The proof is that half of this blog is interested in history that has bloody nothing to do with their ancestors.

In the same way one of the commenters made fun of my supposed Russian accent.  The problem is that what he made fun of  is not something I do.  I do not say “Show me the way to the nuclear wessels”  V and u are distinct in my accent, as are v and f, unless I’m trying to imitate another accent (at which I’m piss poor.)  The similarities between Portuguese and Russian accents are in a certain flattening of intonation, not in consonant transposition.  (I actually make the vowel mistakes of hispanics, not the consonant mistakes of Russians.  Ie. I say leeve instead of leave, and don’t really HEAR the difference between live and leave.)  The problem is if something sounds “like Russian” people HEAR the other mistakes, even if they aren’t there.  In the same way that once, a gentleman became convinced that I had Ricky Ricardo’s accent (trust me, if you hear me, there is no resemblance, because Portuguese is so different from Spanish in pronunciation.) He’d heard I was Portuguese, and since this meant South American to him, and all of South America spoke Spanish (!) he heard me with a Spanish accent which was actually physically impossible.  And he was willing to swear this is what he heard.

In the same way a lot of people who catch oddities in my expression will think it traces back to Portuguese.  Ninety percent of the time (unless I’m very ill and have been reading in Portuguese for a week or so, which does sometimes happen) what they’re identifying as “Portuguese” is actually some archaic or regional form of English, born from the fact that I fall in love with dialects or historical expressions.  Or just the fact that at the moment I wrote I was ill and under-caffeinated.  (For instance hypothyroidism made me think in spirals.  I had to approach meaning from the outside in, in a circuitous manner, as though I were ambushing the words.)

This last part is important.  People who are used to thinking in categories, think they see characteristics of those categories which aren’t actually there.

Why this is important: right no most of our politics and policy is oriented to that idea of groups, and people keep seeing confirmation to their often completely crazy cakes beliefs in the behavior of groups, because they approach expecting, say, all women to be the same, all people who tan to be the same, all immigrants to be the same.

The funny thing is that we’re on the verge of  a breakthrough (well, the breakthrough has happened but not percolated down the societal layers, that changes mass manufacturing into individual manufacturing at all levels, from books (already here) to clothes.)  But our mind is still stuck in broad groups and categories of models that must all be the same.

Hence, you know, our visitor yesterday maintained that all immigrants take three generations to acculturate.  This is probably true, nowadays, when acculturation is a bad word and when we’re receiving large batches of immigrants from one particular culture.  But while it is broadly true, if applied to people who came here for economic reasons and have no interest in being Americans, it is not true for those of us who came here to be Americans, and who worked like hell at every aspect of it, from the politico-social, to watching old sitcoms and becoming familiar with popular culture and references.  (This is another of those things: I often run into people who make a cultural reference like “Pow, right to the moon” and then apologize because obviously I haven’t heard of it.  Actually I have, as the sitcom played in Portugal when I was a little girl, but even without that, how is it possible to live thirty years in a culture and not assimilate stuff like that by osmosis?  Unless you are actively fighting it.)

But he wants an inflexible rule for “all immigrants.”  And feminists want an inflexible rule for “All men” even though the percentage of men who rape women has always, historically, been vanishingly small (unless you count starting at women as rape, of course.)

The thing is, we don’t come out of assembly lines.  We’re not made to specification.  The freaky studies where identical twins lead similar lives are news because they’re freaky.  Probably every one of us knows at least one pair of identical twins, raised by the same mother and the same father who were opposites or at least very very different.

The variety of influences, both genetic and epigenetic, both environmental and physical that go into making an individual who he is, means none of us are standard sizes or standard shape, or standard thinking or standard issue.

To think otherwise is a relic of the mass-industrial age which is now passing.

We are entering a new age of the individual.  Stop thinking in standard models.  The result of thinking in mass-manufacturing terms is the filling of mass-graves.

And the twentieth century was more than enough for that.

 

 

259 responses to “Gears and Patterns

  1. When I hear somebody proclaim their “scientific” perspective on the world, this is the image that comes to mind:


    They keep using that word. I do not think it means what they think it means.

    • This turned up in the images responding to the search for the above cartoon.


      It seems very appropriate for this lot.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Snoopy is my spirit animal.

        • Mine would have to be Hobbes, considering I want to be just like Calvin when I grow up.

          Given the mentions of science and identical twins, I think the first use of the Duplicator bears mention.

          • Scientific progress most certainly does go, “Boink!”

            Although one of my mentors told me that the most exciting phrase in science is not, “Eureka,” but rather, “That’s funny…”

      • Yeah. There are times when I end up staring off into space because what I’m imagining in my head has completely caught my attention. Fortunately whatever I tend to be doing at the time is neither injurious to limb, nor risk to life.

        • I’ve heard Werner Von Braun was issued an official driver in Huntsville because he was blocking traffic one day. He stopped at a red light, and went off chasing something in his mind and didn’t move again until the police interrupted his train of thought, tapping on the glass.

          • Von Braun struck me as the quintessential ‘mad’ scientist. He had a goal (space travel) and petty things like slave labor, WWII and Nazism wasn’t going to get in his way. Being utterly amoral he got along just a well with US scientists/politicians as he did with Nazis. He was perfectly willing to be used as long as he could use his users to achieve his dream.

    • I don’t know. I saw lightbulbs in Home Depot the other day which are actually bluetooth enabled speakers.
      http://www.homedepot.com/s/bulb%2520with%2520speaker?NCNI-5

      So, yes, we’re getting to the point where they could jam hifi speakers into the handles of the jump rope.

  2. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    The more I look at the basic physics of the universe the more chaotic it gets. The problem with our models is that like a mechanical orrery they try to impose an order on a universe that has none. What seems like order, is if you look at it the right way, just attractors in the chaos. Yet people get locked up in the simplicity of order without appreciating that seeming simplicity is not really there.

  3. Ayn Rand was a big admirer of Montessori. I don’t think she ever ran across the passage that implied she couldn’t write creatively in English.

    • It was a shock, and really annoyed me. We considered it for the kids, but it’s not implemented as she dreamed it up and has gone all… well, classes and ranks and every widget in place, so i didn’t see the point of paying big bucks.

      • Has to be, for the State.

      • well that’s franchises for ya. The main point is that your paying for the “system” so every thing has to be done in accord with it…..also parents are paying for this thay need a nice systematic way to tell ’em it’s working and thay should keep paying :).

  4. “I often run into people who make a cultural reference like “Pow, right to the moon” and then apologize because obviously I haven’t heard of it. ”

    I’ll admit, I have no idea what that is a reference to.

    • _The Honeymooners_, a variation of one of Ralph Cramden’s tag lines. Picked up by, IIRC Loony Tunes. But I learned it from the cartoons and then backwards to the TV show. (I suspect the wymynists call for their smelling salts if they ever see an episode of that show, since they’re too blinded by ideology to catch that Alice (Mrs. Ralph) runs things in a very womanly way, and he never, ever lays a finger on her in anger.)

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Nod. IIRC when he says that, she just stands there almost daring him to do so. 😉

    • It was a (pardon the expression) punch line in one of the most influential early TV sitcoms, The Honeymooners. Jackie Gleason’s character, Ralph Kramden, would say that as an expression of frustration over his inability to persuade his wife he is right.

      Some idiots have taken this as an actual endorsement of spousal abuse, ignoring context completely.

      Ralph Kramden is a perpetually flustered but eternally optimistic New York City bus driver living with his wife, Alice, in a small Brooklyn apartment. Ralph’s best friend is sanitation worker Ed Norton, who lives in the same building with wife Trixie.

      The Honeymooners was the basis for many many sitcoms over the subsequent decades:

      In 1960, the Hanna-Barbera-produced animated sitcom The Flintstones debuted on ABC. Many critics and viewers noted the close resemblance of that show’s premise and characters to that of The Honeymooners. In various interviews over the years, co-creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera have each stated that The Honeymooners was used as a basis for the concept of The Flintstones. Mel Blanc, the voice of Barney Rubble, was asked to model Barney’s voice after Ed Norton, but reportedly refused. Gleason later said that he considered suing but decided that becoming known as “the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air” wasn’t worth the negative publicity.
      Wikipedia

      It is an interesting example of how comedic characters become cultural touchstones.

      • My parents just didn’t like the show, or there was something else on they would rather see. I think the great attraction is that it’s a classic show that only lasted one season of 39 episodes and some sketches in several “variety” shows. Its fans have every last episode memorized.

        • Actually, the last episode showed when I was barely one year old, so they might have been fans, for all I know.

          • The last episode aired five years before I was conceived – and I still recognize the phrase, although my parents weren’t particularly “fans,” either. Endless reruns…

            Thinking on it, I believe the first phrase I picked up “fresh from TV Land” was probably “Nanu, nanu…”

      • Amusingly, given the way that American reruns work both domestically and internationally, coupled with the age of the show, the fact that someone is a foreigner probably makes it *more* likely that they’re familiar with the phrase.

    • I get “Pow, right to the moon.” My kids probably wouldn’t be able to even guess at “Hi-Fi”.

  5. One of the commenters yesterday said something about people being more interested in history where their ancestors were involved.

    If you expand the definition of “ancestors” to include “past lives” we can explain any interest in history that does not obviously involve ancestors is proof of having lived prior lives.

    Arguments about the math, given that “approximately half of all humans who’ve ever lived are alive now, so from where did those extra souls come?” split into two camps: the Divisionists, who claim that souls get divided to fill the available bodies (thus explaining the relative amounts of soul discerned in different folks) and the Other Lot, who argue that many people now walking the Earth do not actually have souls and may be dispensed with in any rational consideration of policy.

    I hold to the opinion that from inane premises inane conclusions come and that, absent compelling evidence, fact or reason my interests are best served by not forming opinions on matters which do not require any opinion of mine.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      The magus in Nasuverse use the divisionist theory as their explanation for why more ancient badasses than modern. Like many of their other theories, I suspect it may be bullshit in universe.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Several years ago, I read a short story where there were children born who were “different”.

      These children were active beings yet lacked any sort of intelligence but were “harmless”.

      This was happening all over the world (one of these over-populated futures).

      One Asian who was studying these children explained that “all the possible souls” had been used up and thus these children lacked souls.

    • I don’t believe in reincarnation (I’m a traditional Christian) but the answer to “where did the additional souls come from” is obvious: they came by being promoted from animal souls. The animals are making up the difference by promoting insect souls. The insects are making up the difference by promoting bacterial souls. When bacteria reproduce asexually the soul is shared if there isn’t one readily available.

      • Or I could argue for the “rest time” between incarnations getting shorter and shorter. Hey, perhaps the current decline of world wide population and all the infertility is because we’re running out of souls! (Runs!) No I don’t believe it, but there are stories that could be told int hat.

        • I have a book by a rabbi who argues very seriously that the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust have caused great confusion in the system of the reincarnation of Jews – we’re talking of those mostly-conservative branches of Judaism who believe in reincarnation, often in complex systems in which a great man may be reincarnated into several important people at once, or that a great Jewish leader may contain the souls of several prominent Jews of the past.

          • *wry grin* Every time I hear someone lamenting how complicated “traditional Christianity” is [WHICH traditional Christianity?], I can tell they’re not familiar with some of the varieties of Judaism.

            Aaaaand now I have this mental image of Martin Luther intoning “It is most certainly true,” and three or four rabbis raising arguments and objections. I need more caffeine.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Of course, some people have also claimed that Christianity is “too simple”.

              Sadly these are also the same people in different situations that will claim Christianity is “too complex”.

              • They’d probably be horrified by Chesterton pointing out it’s both…. I can’t remember anything but a long paragraph basically saying that simple things are really hard to actually do.

                • Of course it’s both.

                  “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

                  “In war, everything is simple, but even the simplest things are difficult.”

        • as I don’t have one, maybe someone else got it?

    • No reason that reincarnation needs to be temporally bounded. My soul could be living my cat’s lifetime and my lifetime in “objective” parallel, but subjectively I was the cat first (or perhaps wanted a break and became the cat second).

      It’s much like the “G*d is fooling us by putting pre-aged dinosaur bones in the earth” theory. If that’s true, the world could have been created 5 minutes ago – how would we know?

      There _could_ just be one soul and it’s running “objectively” in massive parallel even though “subjectively” everything is serialized.

    • I don’t believe in reincarnation, and I didn’t in my previous lives, either.

    • I had a comparative religion class in college that focused on Far Eastern religions. When the topic of reincarnation came up, the teacher volunteered the information that Buddhists (iirc) believe in other worlds, and that those worlds also contribute souls to the great “pool” that reincarnation draws from. So if more people are being born on Earth, then that’s because fewer people are being born on some of those other worlds.

      • So you’re saying that White Western Culture greed is not only hogging Earth’s natural resources but hogging the souls from other worlds, too?

        • Given that two of the most populous countries in the world are India and China, and neither are exactly part of “The West”, I’m going to have to disagree with this one.

          😛

          • Nyah – it is a well known fact that, were it not for the West’s intrusions the populace in both those countries would be much less than it now is.

        • “My Lord?” The priest joined his friend at the ruined terrace, where the elder man stared up at the cracks in the sky as though he could close them by sheer force of will. “The plague, it has passed through our quarantine, to devastate the very soldiers guarding our borders.”

          “I know.” The king turned bloodshot eyes back to the kingdom spread out below. “They fall, they fall in great numbers. At least a hundred, since the messenger set out.”

          “Sire?”

          “Look; the cracks there, they have spread.” The robe fell back on a withered arm, as he pointed at the sky again, and the priest winced as he looked up.

          “It does appear… darker.”

          “As each soul leaves our world, my friend, they are stolen away by the births you foresaw further down the chain of dimensions.” A sigh, and the king turned his back on the view.

          “We have weathered such losses before, sir. The magicians are working on it, on some great fault moving, volcanos and bad winters, plague and tremors to return them back to us.” The preist wrung his hands as they made their way back to the king’s quarters. “So the war between worlds has always gone. Don’t lose hope yet, Sire.”

          “Not this time.” The king stopped, and lowered his voice to a raw whisper. “They’ve gone too far, and drawn too hard. Don’t you see, my old friend? The eyes in the cracks, staring at us? The tentacles and claws, poking and prying and scrabbling at the edges? Sure as a dozen claimants will rush to fill the throne when I am gone, my friend, so there are forces gathering from elsewhere to claim this emptying land.”

          • It’s y’all’s fault. especially the part where my brain started noodling “nature abhors a vacuum. So if souls move out, something else moves in…. was Lovecraft their attempt to send a warning to us? Or an ambassador?

    • Obviously souls advance through various stages from the lower animals up to horses, dogs, cats, humans . . . although one theory has those last two reversed.

    • H. Beam Piper’s PARATIME stories assumed that parallel worlds and reincarnation were aspects of the same thing.

      You live your life, die, and then you either–

      –decide to start over (reincarnation) OR

      –go back to some decision you made and go for a do-over (creating a parallel world).

      Paratime science came from a nutcase scientist teaming up with a reincarnation believer to look for proof of the idea.

  6. “Many writers (particularly in mystery) seem to use the words sanguine and bilious without the slightest idea (unless they are of course historical writers) that it connects back to the theory of humors of the human body that led, often, to bleeding critically ill patients.”

    Does that matter, though, except as a historical curiosity? Yes, the words may have originated from the humors theory, but at this point, they mean something different. Complaining that someone isn’t really “sanguine” because they don’t have blood as their primary humor is a bit like complaining that a village heavily damaged by a hurricane wasn’t really “decimated” because they didn’t lose exactly 1/10 of their population. The origins of those words may be interesting, but I don’t think those origins should box us in as meanings evolve.

    • Yes, of course, but I was talking about how ideas get fossilized, so to speak, in the culture.

    • Since Indian and Muslim doctors still use the humor theory to an extent, it probably is good to know. And if you are reading Chaucer, you gotta know.

    • “Decimated” is a pet peeve of mine, as it was very much worse in it’s original meaning than as used now – not “Oh, look, we lost some non-insignificant fraction of {blank}”, but rather “A Roman Legionary cohort did something so bad (mutiny, desertion en masse) that they were forced to draw lots at a 1 in 10 ratio, and then the nine long-straw ‘winners’ were required to beat their tenth short-straw drawing buddy to death with sticks.”

      • I’d only heard the one in ten part and maybe that it was a punishment of your enemy, never that it was a formal punishment for your own troops.

        • I’ve never heard of it as anything but a severe punishment for one’s own troops.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Yeah. If it was captured enemies, the Romans would kill them or sell them into slavery. Your own soldiers are valuable, and it is expensive to just kill them all, in several senses. But what if you need to really punish them? Kill only a portion, and you will retain much of the original value of the surviving portion.

      • “Decimated” is a pet peeve of mine, as it was very much worse in it’s original meaning than as used now
        ——————-

        I see the opposite. The original meaning is only 1 in 10. Nowadays when I see it used, it’s invariably meant to mean that the group being decimated has been almost completely wiped out.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Disagree slightly.

          The original meaning involved 9/10 of a group being ordered to kill 1/10 of a group as a punishment.

          Somehow I see being ordered to kill one of your “platoon” in order to escape death yourself is somewhat worse than “most of your army was killed in battle”.

          • Yes, this.

            And considering that the standard term of enlistment in the legions was 20 years (plus 5 more in the reserves), the fellow you would have to beat to death might be a fellow you’ve known and fought beside ever since you were both new recruits* together twenty years ago or more, so you can see how Decimation would serve as a significant incentive to work hard to prevent any of the Very Bad Things that would earn such a unit-wide punishment.

            * Considering standard issue footwear in the legions, was legionary boot camp called “sandal camp”?

          • I meant more along the lines of referencing your rather casual “Oh, we lost X…” That’s far too casual a tone for the typical usage of the term that I see these days. These days if people use the term, they typically mean that – at most – there are a few scattered remnants fleeing in terror.

  7. The future development of psychology seemed simpler when the brain was still pretty much a “black box.” Niven’s Known Space future in which you get into your autodoc and it makes sure you’re nice and psychologically normal actually seemed believable when it was written. The more we discover about neurology, the more we realize we don’t know. And even if we came to a full understanding of the operations of the central nervous system in the general, we’d still have the “everybody is a Monday car” issue.

    • In fairness, Niven’s Known Space society was both socialist and totalitarian, particularly with regard to defining “normal”, due to population density and the need for material for the organ banks.

      If you didn’t fit the established parameters of “normal” you’d be “helped” until you did. And if you were incorrigible, the organ banks were always short of *something*.

      • And the organ banks were another idea more believable when it was written than when organ transplantation actually was developed. Niven pretty much underestimated the rejection problem by an order of magnitude, or overestimated the power of anti-rejection drugs by an equal amount (his world seems to have a once-and-done anti-rejection treatment that doesn’t suppress the rest of the immune system, so that recipients aren’t dependent upon daily doses of immunosuppressants and don’t have to worry about being exposed to even a trivial infection killing them).

        OTOH, it does appear that the People’s Republic of China is using prisoners as a source of organ transplants, and it’s not just an urban legend or propaganda. No miracle anti-rejection treatments, so recipients still have to deal with the same restrictions on their life, but *shudder*.

        • It’s interesting to note the more modern thinking turning up in the new Deus Ex games. Bionic body parts are a big part of the setting. And so is implant rejection, as the body rejects the foreign non-biological objects that have been hooked into it. IIRC, scarring of glial tissue is a particularly big problem in the setting. One of the major background companies (recognizable to anyone who played the original game many decades ago…) makes a drug that specifically exists to help stop implant rejection.

        • Either that, or he anticipated replacement organs grown from the patient’s own stem cells.

  8. Whistling girls and crowing hens,
    Both will come to some bad end.

    I think Laura Ingalls Wilder got told that, and it didn’t stop her. But it might be associated with the idea of witches whistling up storms, too.

    • I got a version of that in the fifties.

      • I think my grandmother may have quoted it once, but she figured out very quickly that just saying “cut that out, it’s annoying” worked a lot better. (Especially on my brother!)

        I poked around a little, and as best I can find it seems to be tied to whistling being the activity of not particularly good little boys– which makes sense for why you’d want to squash it so solidly in girls.
        (Well, to me; my theory of people is that guys going bad and gals going bad is bad, but really nasty is a guy acting like a gal who’s gone bad, and the other way around. Think of the emotionally abusive guys you’ve been around, and the physically abusive women– or the “use them and throw them away” women, and the “sex is a tool to get what I want” men. *shudder*)

  9. To be fair, a fridge can cool the outside of something so fast that you don’t realize the middle is still hot.

    Possibly your neighbor just wanted even cooling for some structural reason? Or maybe she made a primitive thermos pudding….

    • Or the pudding was haunted. Ectoplasmic intervention can alter physical properties, donchaknow.

    • Several of my cookbooks say to let things cool to room temperature before putting them in the refrigerator. The ones which say *why* you (supposedly) shouldn’t put hot foods in the fridge cite not uneven cooling in the hot food you’ve put in the fridge, but that the hot food warms up the inside of your fridge and can make the contents spoil faster.

      Perhaps the neighbor simply read a prohibition against putting hot foods in the refrigerator and invented an incorrect reason?

      • No, trust me, this person, a close relative is wholly governed by aristotelean physics. it’s charming and insane, as she’s not at all stupid.

        • One of elder daughter’s boyfriends could not be convinced that you could not make boiling water in an open saucepan hotter by turning up the heat under the pot.

  10. “Earthquakes literally causing the Black Death.”

    Quick tangent: there is now speculation that a series of earthquakes in Germany may be a partial cause of the Black Death’s toll. Obviously, it doesn’t create the disease, but an earthquake does cause a mass dispersal of the area’s rodents. This movement of the rats and their fleas may have helped the disease spread more rapidly.

    Likewise, the medieval complaint that Jews weren’t as affected as their Christian neighbors may not be anti-Semitic propaganda, but rather the result of ghettos acting as quarantines and the pre-Passover ritual of thoroughly cleaning the house to remove all the bread crumbs. This would encourage the plague rats to stay in the Christian areas instead of the Jewish.

    • Yes, I read both of those. Unsure how much I believe either, but that’s why I qualified it with “Literally.”

    • Professor Badness

      I can’t remember what history class it was, but the Professor said a lot of it had to do with the Jews being more apt to keep cats about, thus cutting down on the amount of rats.
      Or maybe that was just an assumption on his part.

      • I’m pretty sure that people who didn’t want cats had no problems keeping ferrets or ermine as pets.

        Don’t mustelids go after mice and rats too?

  11. Also France was broke after the revolutionary follies, and broke countries often invade other countries.

    As an even cursory review of history proves this point, I wonder what those folks trying to break the USA are really after.

    Basically, when I think of the US, I think of the words of noted historical philosopher Bruce Banner: “Please don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.”

    • Heh. Reminds me of my query: Why are extremists of a religion that requires pilgrimage to a specific city trying so hard to piss off the only country in the world which has actually nuked cities? Especially as formerly moderate Islamic countries (Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, etc.) get less so (though Egypt’s had a partial recovery.)

      It’s not that I want to nuke Mecca during the hajj. I don’t(*.) It’s that if they really thought we were the Great Satan shouldn’t they fear exactly that?

      (*) Opinion may be subject to change upon evidence that any Islamic group is trying to nuke one of our cities, especially if it’s a non-governmental organization not funded by the Iranians. The Saudis have plowed money into the Wahhabists for quite a while. If and when that occurs, I’ll have to reevaluate my opinion. Not saying I’d automatically be in favor of nuking Mecca if Daesh / ISIS tries or succeeds in nuking NYC or DC, but I’d have to think about it after the fact / discovery and see how I felt. (Since I live in NYC and work in midtown Manhattan, if NYC successfully gets nuked it may be moot.)

      • Because they know that we’re a bunch of softies. Bin Ladin pretty much said that when explaining how he reacted to the sight of the bodies of US servicemen being dragged through the streets of Somalia. Yes, we have the power to turn the entirety of the Middle East into a sea of glass. But we’re not ruthless enough to do it without being given much more cause than we’ve been given to date.

        The problem for the jihadis (and others who’ve made the mistake of pissing us off in the past) is that they mistake a lack of ruthlessness for a lack of will. They don’t seem to realize that there are points that you can push us past that will engender a nuclear response.

        • Actually, as I understand it there’s doctrine that says the hand of Allah will intervene to cause any such attempt on Mecca to fail, so if one of the faithful were to consider such a retaliatory development they would be displaying an unacceptable degree of un-faithfulness.

        • They also don’t seem to realize it’s a matter of proportions of population. I am still in favor of nuking Mecca, and have been since 9/11. I am also currently in favor of dropping leaflets in advance warning civilians to get out. If they don’t, it’s on their heads. This latter preference could very easily change.

          Why yes, I am female.

      • In part because they don’t believe what nukes can do, the damage and the aftermath. At least, the Pakistanis didn’t back when we caught A. Q. Kahn selling/giving nuclear tech to various Not Nice People. Several articles I read talked about how the Pakistani officers believed that the whole “horrors of nuking Japan” stuff was all made up and just an excuse created by the west for not letting other people have wonder weapons.

        The Iranians . . . are a different story, given that Shi’ite Islam has an end times component that Sunni Islam lacks. And just how ISIS picked up that end-times idea is something I’d love to know, but have no desire to go and find out myself.

        • Yup, there is a Muslim school of thought that Mecca is going to be destroyed as a sign of the end times, and then they have their big Armageddon battle in downtown Raqqa.

  12. “”I often give people near-heart-attacks when I tell them things that such as that I came here so a village wouldn’t raise my children. Or that I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for individual humans. Or….”
    This reminded of a conversation I had so many moons ago in a public school with teachers after George W. Bush won the second time. One of the teachers said about her friend: ” I can’t understand. She is a woman, she is a teacher, and she is Gay, and she voted for Bush! My response was: “I am a woman and a teacher, and I voted for Bush.” Both of the women present were shocked.
    Just for the record – I didn’t grow up here. I came 17 years ago from an independent Ukraine by then. Still, I usually say that my country of origin is the Soviet Union, because despite of me growing up by its end and mostly during Perestroika, I saw enough of it, and I still remember writing essays on “typical Soviet characters” (speaking of standardized… everything), and saw firsthand what socialism does to people and to their countries.

    • I read a stat some years ago (’05 or ’06) now that over 75% of the population of Cambodia is too young to remember the Kmer Rouge running their country. Most Cambodians who are old enough, are no longer in Cambodia. I worked with a guy who’s family escaped early because when the crackdown started on farmers, their neighbors pointed the Rouge towards them because his dad was too successful for their liking, and they figured to feed a crocodile him in hopes it would not eat them. Those people are now dead. They escaped to California, then escaped again and moved to Texas.
      Anyhow, for some reason, leftoids seem shocked to learn he, and his family are not big fans of their socialist/communist/fascist ideas.

      • Similar generational divide between recent and boat-people immigrants form Vietnam – the ones who had to flee for their lives from the Hanoi Communists have a significantly different viewpoint than those whose parents worked for Hanoi Communists in the Nike factory to send them to college in the US.

        • The only good thing my old co-worker had to say about the Vietnamese Commies was they got rid of Pol Pot, and I added they did not kill nearly as many as the Khmer Rouge. In the late 80’s I knew a guy who’d been subjected to the reeducation provided by commies when they took over until he was somehow able to get here, then worked years paying to have his wife allowed to join him.
          In the early ’80s I knew an old man who did drywall mudding. He bought bicycles to send to his son who was one of PRVN’s best racers. After years of seeing this old guy in a beater Ford truck, he walked in one day, with some tall kid and a big smile. This bike was not going to be shipped. Took every spare penny he made for over 12 years, but he was finally able to bribe enough people to get them to let him have his son. Within weeks both had new Ford trucks, and the son had his own checking account, and hung the drywall his dad then floated. Most expensive set of wheels I built was for him, two wheels with tires cost him $800, in 1987 dollars.

          • He bought bicycles to send to his son who was one of PRVN’s best racers. After years of seeing this old guy in a beater Ford truck, he walked in one day, with some tall kid and a big smile. This bike was not going to be shipped.

            Thanks be to God. I love a good ending. ❤ ❤ ❤

            • The commies don’t like us, but they all sure love stacks of American cash. It was one of the coolest things for me to happen to be out in the showroom when that old F150 pulled up and he and his kid walked in. The man’s smile was a mile wide, and I was one of the few who knew the story. I turned them over to the owner, after explaining, and congratulating them.
              The next time the kid came in, a couple of weeks after, he spoke pretty good English and was already driving his own new truck.
              The racing team we sponsored learned a bit of Vietnamese and used it as code in the peloton. It was mostly curse words.

              I also met a former RVN General who, during the fall, had gotten all his family out on helicopters, but not together, just knew he was getting them to safety. He was unable to, and walked from Saigon to the American Consulate in Bangkok. He was pretty much a “Shoot on sight” wanted man, and sure was not safe in Cambodia at that time, so he hid during the day, and kept away from others the whole way to Thailand.
              Once he finally got here, he spent years hunting down the rest of his family. They had some restaurants in the N.O. area, and my Uncle was doing carpentry work for him when I heard his story.

  13. Neither Charlotte or I like hot(seasoned) food. Warm food is OK.

    • Back when I was in Panama and trying to pick up some Spanish, one of my first hurdles was Hot (spicy) piquante vs. Hot (Holy Toledo I just burned my tongue) caliente. As I got better, I was able to laugh at the Chief Pilot when he referred to Cuidad Panama (Caution! Panama) when he meant to say Ciudad Panama (Panama City), though as it turned out Cuidad Panama was appropriate.

  14. To the day he died, my father persisted in thinking of electrons as a sort of tiny ball bearing 😀 He kept asking me how big they were and what they looked like. But he was an engineer, and came of age in the 40’s, so there just weren’t “things” that you couldn’t measure somehow if you tried hard enough. Then there are people right now who think that child safety outlet plugs keep the electricity from spilling out, that buses are “green” because you don’t have to spend money on fuel, and that pushing the crosswalk button harder will make it work faster. (I’m guilty of that last one…) We live in a complex world and it is easy to get flummoxed by things you have no direct experience with.

    I am very much looking forward to customized medicine. Don’t think I didn’t notice, O Sarah, how you steered one son each into medicine and engineering. I am on to your tricks. (And well done!) As I told my own doctor, some day we will be able to stick our hands in a device which analyzes our genome, current physiological state, and mutually agreed risks and concocts personalized medication.

    Allocation of time and resources–Mr. Sowell has many cogent essays on same. We live in a world of standardized clothing sizes, which means even homeless people have multiple sets of clothing, unwanted clothing gets deposited in unsupervised bins all over the place for charity, and pretty much everyone can participate in trends and fashions. Unlike most of history even to Victorian times (I still chuckle at Lucrezia Borgia’s will, assigning who gets what dress). Sure, if you aren’t standard it’s less delightful. But *more* people get *more* clothes, so overall society benefits.

    • I cannot count the hours spent grumbling about Obamacare’s standardization of care practices going into effect just as the decoding of DNA was enabling true personalized medicine.

      Section 6301 of the PPACA establishes the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), an organization that will identify research priorities and conduct research comparing the efficacy of medical and surgical interventions. PCORI will disseminate this research to health care providers and patients. The legislation creates a Board of Governors to run PCORI and a trust fund to financially support it.

      Supporters of PCORI believe this research could educate patients and help them make better medical decisions. This organization indeed could foster patient education and benefit patients and doctors. In fact, researchers creating hypotheses, conducting research, challenging perceived norms, and publishing in peer-reviewed journals is modern medicine at its finest. The potential harm from PCORI depends how the research is used. It could easily quell medical innovation by centralizing care.

      The fear is that officials seeking to control costs would use this research to restrict access to more costly medical interventions as done by Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). As the government puts more people into the U.S. health care system and promised savings fail to materialize, there will be tremendous pressure on elected officials to slow spiraling costs.

      [SNIP]

      PCORI will recommend treatment regimens for the standard patient. These recommendations, coupled with reimbursement changes, could easily pave the way for government dictating to patients the medicines, tests, procedures, and medical interventions that they can and cannot have, irrespective of willingness to pay and individual preferences. This one-size-fits-all approach could replace the professional judgment of the physician actually examining and talking to the patient with rules set by regulators and bureaucrats in Washington. While this could indeed control rising costs, such an approach would not “bend the cost curve” as the president has promised, but arbitrarily flatten it by government fiat.

      A one-size-fits-all model for health care does not benefit patients. Patients are individuals, not programmed robots. Despite similarity in name, Tim, Timmy, Timothy, and Timberly are all very different. A hypothetical patient, Tim may respond quickly and positively to Bactrim, a cheap and common treatment for urinary tract infections (UTI).

      In fact, most people respond this way. However, not everybody responds this way. Tim’s hypothetical cousin Timberly might take the same dose of the same drug (Bactrim) for the same illness (UTI) and get Stevens Johnson Syndrome, a very serious and potentially fatal adverse drug reaction. The problem is that not everybody is the same. In medical school, future physicians are taught the saying “Patients do not always read the book.” It emphasizes that patients have different manifestations of the same illness and respond differently to the same therapies. It’s just not possible for a regimented health care algorithm to account for the innumerable vagaries and complexities of the human body. CER ignores these crucial differences.
      http://www.theihcc.com/en/communities/policy_legislation/the-new-health-law-bad-for-doctors-awful-for-patie_gn17y01k.html

      As the expression goes: that’s just the start of it.

      • EBM is a major plus in emergency medicine and functions as a start in most other medicine. It’s a great tool but we again are hammering a zipper

    • unwanted clothing gets deposited in unsupervised bins all over the place for charity

      And the vast majority of those clothing donations end up compressed onto pallets and shipped to the third world. The used clothing is so cheap and such high quality that it overwhelms and suppresses local production, but enables local entrepreneurs who buy by the pallet and sell from market stalls individually, while the aggregate value of this business is so large that it has sparked turf wars between the companies who own and collect from all those bins.

      Note this is the most likely model I’d expect in the event of alien contact from anyone with enough tech to get here – we’d get these amazing piles of stuff from the stars, made available to such a backwater as Earth since to their alien interstellar civilization it’s all basically junk, and as a result it would be a massive struggle to retain any Earthside production capacity in the face of the piles of wondrous castoffs.

      • That’s a plot point in the novel “Roadside Picnic”- something, nobody really knows what- and left a bunch of stuff behind. Some of it is beneficial, most extremely dangerous.
        Sadly, despite being a great movie, the film adaptation (Stalker) left this part out.

    • “and that pushing the crosswalk button harder will make it work faster. (I’m guilty of that last one…)”

      In some cases the crosswalk button does nothing at all. For example, traffic light synchronization was implemented in Manhattan. For that to be effective, the crosswalk buttons had to be ignored. But the buttons were neither removed nor marked as non-functioning. The same has happened in other cities. Locally, in my Ohio suburb, the buttons actually do work. Sometimes, though, I find that I didn’t push the button hard enough, or hold it a long-enough fraction of a second, to actuate.

      • I tend to think of crosswalk buttons as a sort of stress ball for your walk; when you’re sick of waiting for the $#@! light to change, you pound the button; it may or may not do anything, but it makes you feel better.

        In my area, they definitely do something; if you don’t press the button, even if the light turns green for the cars, the crosswalk light will remain on the red hand unless someone pressed the button.

        As for whether the multiple pushes make it turn faster, I’ll admit that I’ve always wondered if, when trying to cross the diagonal, I press the east-west button on the south side of the road, then press it again on the north side, if I’ve successfully tricked the light into thinking there are two people waiting and convinced it to turn faster.

    • Yes, but we’re on the verge of the same abundance CUSTOMIZED 😉
      As for my sons, those are the afflictions of my family. I was the linguistic sheep, and telling them it was like “engineering language” didn’t cut it. I am an odd among odds.

    • Y’know, I finally realized that some things simply do. not. matter. How your father (or I) visualize electrons is one of those things. It isn’t as if particle physicists are of one mind on the topic, and if you are choosing your accountant, car mechanic, or barber/hair stylist based upon their visualization of atomic particles you are employing seriously flawed criteria.

      It was sometime after the Nth Liberal bleat about Bush “not believing in evolution” that I finally had that realization. The president’s belief in Evolution, in Creationism, in Alien Stimulation of Life on Earth are all irrelevancies to the actual job of the president. Understanding Economics, dedication to Liberty, grasp of Political Science, comprehension of History — all of those matter far more than what the president imagines to be the origin of life.

      Frankly, I am not even sure that I care about the Surgeon General’s views on this matter, given the position is more of a policy-setting and administrative function. Heck, I cannot see myself checking the Evolution vs Creation bona fides of a surgeon about to operate on me for a burst appendix. It seems more important that she knows where the appendix is (or should be) than why it got there.


      As he said: It. Just. Doesn’t. Matter.

      • “Rational ignorance” is a very, well, rational point of view to have on these things. There are a number of facts out there, from the exact nature of subatomic particles, to the political party of the Prime Minister of India, that just do not matter in your life, and unless it interests you, there’s no real reason to know them.

        That said, on electrons, I did once get an explanation of how they worked that made sense of the energy levels and the shells and was able to explain why things bonded the way that they did without needing to anthropomorphize the electrons to make it all make sense (i.e. electrons are “happy” if there are eight of them). I don’t remember it now, and certainly couldn’t spit it back to you, but it is none the less somewhat comforting to me to know that it exists and that modern chemistry isn’t based ideas of cheering up subatomic particles.

        • Ah, Happy Electrons, dancing around, enjoying themselves… That thought reminded me of something I’ve often said about nuclear reactors and terminology. Normal operation sounds dangerous to people who don’t know any better. For the vast majority of people, critical conveys something bad. Critical need, critical care… you get the idea. What are the three states of a nuclear reactor? sub-critical, critical, and supercritical. When the reactor is running along making power at a steady state, it’s critical, everything is in balance. Supercritical is ramping up, and subcritical ramping down or stopped. If the terms were changed- the reactor is running normal- The reactor is happy, the reactor is ramping up- The reactor is excited, the reactor is ramping down or stopped- The reactor is resting. Wouldn’t sound nearly as scary.

          • You left out one … When a person demands cheap, reliable, renewable zero carbon footprinting electricity yet condemns nuclear power it is hypo-critical.


            When those electrons are doing their happy dance, do you think they’re doing a waltz, a polka, a tango, a square dance or Morris dancing?

            Just so long as they aren’t dancing the Pogo, right?

          • Patrick Chester

            Ah, Happy Electrons, dancing around, enjoying themselves…

            ….painted by Bob Ross.

        • Sherlock Holmes would agree:

          “I consider that a man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it. Now the skillful workman is very careful indeed as to what he takes into his brain-attic. He will have nothing but the tools which may help him in doing his work, but of these he has a large assortment, and all in the most perfect order. It is a mistake to think that this little room has elastic walls and can distend to any extent. Depend upon it, there comes a time when for any addition of knowledge, you forget something that you knew before. It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless facts elbowing out the useful ones.”

        • I remember being hand-held through the math in sophomore physics. Quantum numbers emerged from general principles. It was awesome. I never managed to understand that like I understand e.g. quadratics, so I spent a lifetime in software rather than physics. I fantasize that when I retire I’ll get to the bottom of a few physics topics.

      • His understanding mattered very much to *me*, because he kept pestering me to explain what I did for a living 😀 You really can’t explain synchrotron radiation with ball-bearing electrons.

        I’d say it is less important that someone in high authority know the details of the evolution of species (or any other technical matter) than they comprehend the scientific method or at any rate the type of evidence-based logic expected in the courtroom. “The magic elves did it” is not a good basis for rational government, even if you like elves and believe in them firmly and always leave out a saucer of milk for the Wee Folk. (Everyone knows they prefer booze!)

      • Frankly, I am not even sure that I care about the Surgeon General’s views on this matter, given the position is more of a policy-setting and administrative function.

        I care!

        I Do Not Want anybody in a doctor type position who is a strong believer in evolution. An idealist, or even thinks it produces above-average results.

        I want a doctor who thinks his job is to keep people alive and able to do stuff. I want a policy guy who thinks that his highest calling is to protect the ability of doctors to KEEP INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE ALIVE AND HEALTHY.

        A doctor who thinks, even for a little bit, “hey, the population’s health would be improved if folks with X trait didn’t reproduce, and that’s a good thing”– they are a threat, and unsuited to the job.

    • “We live in a world of standardized clothing sizes”

      And I HATE it. I am currently wearing a theoretically long-sleeved shirt that approximates a 3/4 sleeve pretty well. I only got my ACTUAL long-sleeved shirts (that go to my wrists and show no belly when I raise my arms) a couple of weeks ago. I am almost 40, and for most of my life my clothing budget has been thrift store or discount store. Which meant NO access to the very rare Tall sizes only available from the catalog or online.

      “One Size” can bite me.

      • I noticed that Recollections no longer charges nearly as much for swapping out sleeves on dresses and blouses. I wonder if they got so many requests that they went to a computerized pattern system once the original garment had been designed, and can now swap out pattern pieces much easily.

        • eShakti has a $10 charge for customization, which means ALL customization, so if you have custom measurements, you may as well swap out the neckline, sleeve, and hemline while you’re at it (if you so desire.)

          I haven’t ordered from them yet because I want to get my measurements done properly by my costumer friend first. That way I *know* they’re right.

    • Then there are people right now who think that child safety outlet plugs keep the electricity from spilling out,

      …that actually sounds almost sane, if you’re in the habit of thinking of the… argh…what’s the aura thing around a live wire?

      It’s not right, but it’s almost just mangled, instead of silly.

  15. ” She contended they did not, because the heat would hide in the center of the pudding to escape the cold.”

    Ah… that would explain my heat treating problem.

  16. Christopher M. Chupik

    “Humans are humans. ”

    Some days I’m not so sure.

    • She said humans, not humane. But yes, some days I look at the world, look at my world, look at Athena T. Cat, and wonder who I p1ssed off so badly as to have been born human.

      • And on those days, you’d rather just be pet, fed, and given someplace warm to curl up and nap?

        • There’s a shirt that says “I don’t want to adult today. I don’t even want to human. Today I want to cat.” with a line drawing of a cat curled up sleeping.

          In just a few cons we ran out of every size except 5XL. I want to reorder, but a couple of bad events have left us with way too much money tied up in merchandise, so it’s going to have to wait until we turn that situation around and have money to buy product again.

        • Curl up, nap, and be left alone with no deadlines, no stacks of ungraded papers, no e-mail or phone . . . a bit like Indiana Jones climbing out of his university office window. Which may be why our classroom windows are sealed shut, now that I think of it.

          • Heh. The last time I was moved to complain “Today I want to cat!” was the day I actually had on the to-do list rounding up Ashbutt and taking him to the vet for shots. Nope, didn’t want to be that cat that day.

            We all want the sunbeam and the indulgent hooman servants who provide treats and toys and scritchings – but none of us want to remember the kittens in sacks, or the starving mangy ferals, or all the other unhappy options in the life of cat.

            • Kidney failure and the consequent subcutaneous fluids twice a week and recurrent urinary tract infections. Yup.

    • Your problem is unwarranted optimism.

  17. When I lived in Denmark for a year in the late 80s, I was told that it was rude for girls to whistle. Totally baffling, but it was a thing.

  18. There are a lot of phrases that last long beyond their origins. “Hair of the dog” is one of my favorites. “Cat’s pajamas” has probably fallen out of use, but it survived the demise of “cat”.

    Two that I wish we could invent replacements for: Sunrise and sunset. The sun does neither. We need to replace those words.

    Don’t even get me started on “am” and “pm” during Daylight Saving Time.

  19. Ah, thanks for the extended post explaining. I think if I were to revise my position, I’d say it like:

    “Kids will put effort into learning something that they’re passionate about. A LOT OF THE KIDS THAT I HAVE TAUGHT are passionate about stories that describe where they come from.” But what connects that to kids who are interested in learning about other histories and stories that have nothing to do with America, let alone our little regional chunk of the Mod-Atlantic states, is that they’re still passionayete and interested in some story.

    Can’t blame the Marxists who want to fit everyone into little categories, I got into Genetics and Biology at a young age because I liked being able to put names and families and classifications to everything in the universe, and it seems that mindset carries over. But even when looking at Taxonomy, there’s always those weird little orphan categories that get their own order or phylum because you can’t force them to fit with anything else on the map.

    • btw, the way to teach the kids the weirder stuff is to tell them that “hey, they’re human. In the future, your descendants could create a society/act like this” This also helps bring them over to science fiction.
      And sorry I blew up at you, but the “visitor” plus some rather trying news had me on my last nerve.

      • I understand, it’s actually nice to get this longer post to help clarify what you meant in that sense. I mentioned I’m a teacher, but I’ve only been in the position for about three years, so it’s always interesting to get perspectives on educational philosophy from people who haven’t been entrenched in academia for decades. i.e. the idiots who administrated my Masters program.

        • My degree was actually “with an option for teaching” (long story, two extra classes) and I did some teaching while still in school. Opinions, I gots them.

          • I graduated with a degree in Biology, then piddled around a year living with my parents and trying to figure out what to do with it. Got a job as a sub at my old high school and found out I was pretty good at teaching, so I worked for a bit to save up money, and then went back to school to get my certification and Masters while working as a TA.

            I like to joke I’ve been a teacher for ages already with how many jobs I’ve had that involve tutoring, subbing, or other instructional stuff. It’s worlds away from working in a formal classroom though. Three-quarters of your job here is bureaucratic ass-covering, not teaching. Which I guess is a rant for another blog post…

    • You know what really gets kids passionate about learning? PUTTING KNOWLEDGE INTO A SONG. Whether “I’m Just A Bill,” “Conjunction Junction,” “No More King!,” and the rest of the Schoolhouse Rock catalog, or Hamilton‘s rap or even an obscure 19th Century American presidency …


      “In 1844, the Democrats were split”

      … for some reason putting lessons to music seems to infuse enthusiasm into kids.

      • Apparently there’s a musical out there about the (first) Grover Cleveland/Benjamin Harrison election. I have no idea if it’s any good or not, or if it could get kids enthused about the minutia of late 19th century politics.

        • There was a Disney movie revolving around the topic …


          … although mostly on the question of statehood for Dakota.

          • Interestingly, John Davidson, who was the juvenile lead in that film is now an out-of-the-closet Libertarian:


            And very secular. Looking mighty good for a guy pushing 75.

      • The internet is a wonderful place, and there are a lot of wonderful educators who have figure out the same thing, and recorded great songs that I can make us of in class.

        Good teachers steal shamelessly from the best ones, a saying I stole from my supervisor while I was a student teacher.

        • When people ask why I don’t teach in the public schools (better salary, benefits, retirement), if I know they are not teachers, I remind them that I only have a doctorate in a field, not an ed degree. That tends to lead to some interesting looks. If they are teachers I just smile and change the topic.

        • Ooh, like “Cah-cah-cah-Catherine, Ca-Catherine the Great! (Of Ru-ru-shuh!)”

          • Or “Europe in the 700-reds was a total mess… but Charles Martel was a king who could play more than chess… he fought in battles and so won, a kingdom for his own grandson–”

            • Or Marty Robbins’ Ballad Of The Alamo, or that entire album by Johnny Horton…. (Both of which did more for my knowledge of history than our rather sad history classes.)

              • Oooh! And this one!

                Theology, theology
                It isn’t just tautology
                It edifies your being like
                A spiritual technology

                You attack it, you critique it
                But you secretly still seek it
                God and goodness are the ends
                To which your very nature tends

                It’s not just my opinion
                It’s a fact teleological
                From some of reason, some of faith
                And summa theologica

                (You want odd looks? Sing this while you’re taking a walk around the neighborhood at about 9pm. 😀 )

    • But even when looking at Taxonomy, there’s always those weird little orphan categories that get their own order or phylum because you can’t force them to fit with anything else on the map.

      Oooh, ooh, I’ve got a link for you! Somewhere! It’s got a name that’s looks like a made up word…. Obscur-ata, or irrationalia….

      *dives into the link to read pile*

      Ooops, it’s a PDF file…and the word is Problematica….
      Well, boo.

      Anyways, I thought they were incredibly cool, even though I think they’d be more of a headache if I was wedded to the “phylum is about how close of cousins they are” rather than “the whole tree of life is a way to describe how similar things are.”
      (Which makes the “let’s re-group based on a genetic analysis” thing a real annoyance, even before you get to the issue of what to do if you don’t have any DNA.)

  20. Probably every one of us knows at least one pair of identical twins, raised by the same mother and the same father who were opposites or at least very very different.

    Yep, another case where probably doesn’t mean all. I’ve been straining back to think, and I don’t think I’ve ever actually known a pair of identical twins. Quite a few fraternal twins I can recall, but none identical.

    • I’ve got a pair, and was taught in grad school by half of a pair. The professorial pair are still physically and vocally identical, and like to surprise students by teaching each other’s classes when one visits the other. Oh, yes, they specialized in the same field. My identical twins are in different classes, but are physically identical, as best I can tell. (I’ve never stood them together to check. That would be seriously creepy.)

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I remember reading of cases of identical twins raised by different families.

        While the families were more similar than not, it was surprising the extremely strong similarity in the twins.

        Very similar interests even though the expression of the interest of the interests may differ.

        And so on.

        • I wonder reading some of these studies if identical twins raised apart might actually be more similar than identical twins raised together. If they grow up together, they feel a need to differentiate themselves so will be more inclined to emphasize the parts of their personalities that are different. Whereas if they grow up without that pressure, genetics takes over and they find themselves more alike than not.

          Not based on any observation or evidence, just idle speculation.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            That’s possible.

            We hear of identical twins (raised together) where one is more dominate than the other.

            I’ve wondered if those twins had been raised separately, then both would be more identical in terms of “dominance”.

            IE Raised together, a minor difference in dominance would grow greater as the “less dominate” allowed the other to take charge.

            Raised separately and coming together as adults, neither would easily dominate the other.

      • The ones I’ve known were mirror images. How one pair parted their hair was a give-away, and where I first noticed it.

        One of our HS science teachers told of a pair who made sure to take the same classes but at different periods. For tests they’d only study for half their classes, and switch clothes. Don’t remember how they were caught.

    • My brother married an identical twin. She and her sister are a lot alike in appearance and medical issues, but completely different in personality and temperament

      • My identical twins were in college with me, one in my degree one in philosophy. My friend was straight and a flirt. his brother was not just gay, but the sort of gay men who hates women. Let’s say embarrassing situations ensued for both of them.

    • I went to high school with a pair of them. Fairly different personality-wise, one was super high-strung and a bit of a control freak, and the other was more laid-back.

      Physically, they looked identical at first sight, but the longer I knew them (they came to our school my sophomore year), the more you pick up on slight differences in their expressions. I ran into one of them a year or so back, nearly ten years after we had graduated from high school and I hadn’t seen either since, and I was embarrassed to find I couldn’t figure out which twin it was. Used to be, I could tell the difference so easily before. Guess we had all grown up since then.

      • the longer I knew them … the more you pick up on slight differences in their expressions.

        This is common of all groups — take a random class of Japanese kids (or Swedes or other mostly homogeneous group) and it is very hard to distinguish individuals at first, but over time familiarity does its trick and you wonder how you ever were confused.

        In a less unrelated than usual sidebar, I recently saw a headline proclaiming chimpanzees can recognize each other by their butts.

    • I haven’t known as many as I’ve seen. Grant you, I work in a photography studio, so when the same face pops up twice in succession, it’s nice to make a note on the file so people know that there’s twins involved. (For one thing, you want to do color-correction to match. I’ve also had triplets to match—they weren’t identical, and unfortunately, their lighting wasn’t either.)

    • That’s all right, I know your share. I, in fact, know or have known six sets. Yeah, I think there’s something in the water, because five of them are girls, and five were born in this town (the boys were, one of the girls weren’t), and five of them (the five born in town) are musicians, which is how I know them.

  21. From things I am reading, this whole ‘scientific’ belief may have actually helped Hillary lose the election, because they ran their entire campaign according to their ‘plan and the ‘computer model’….

    • that’s what they get for borrowing modeling programs from AlGore

      • exactly

        • I’ve read they feared Trump would win the popular vote, while, she of course, had the Electoral all sewn up. So the concentrated on N.O., NYC, and Chicago to ensure she won the popular as well, and ignored the ground telling them “Hey, we are losing WI and MI!” . . . “Shut Up, and get those people into Chicago to drum up more votes!”
          As an aside, in WI, Fiengold ran again for his lost seat, and Ron Johnson was written off by everyone, even the GOP who refused to spend money on him. He ran with that and got more votes than Trump did. His margin was much bigger than Trump’s.

    • Their little Marxist brains went to the default, which is the centralized, top down model.
      And being good little Marxist, they fooled themselves into thinking that Demographics! Historical Progress! and the Scientific Way of Doing Things meant they didn’t have to do old, fuddy-duddy politics stuff, like canvass neighborhoods, pass out signs, and all the rest.
      Happily, the Democratic party is not learning one single bloody thing from this debacle. If the idiots had sense, John Podesta would be tarred, feathered, and run out of town on a rail by a crowd of angry Democrats.
      But nope, they got their little excuses- Racist!! Russian hacking!!! Cheating!!! Whatever they have to do to avoid taking a look at their own problems. I do hope they keep it up.

  22. One of my experiences on trying to help my students with pronunciation is recounting my own adult experience learning Japanese, where I practiced the phonemes repeatedly, teaching myself to hear and say the correct ones (in particular, the phonemes transliterated as ra, ri, ru, re, ro are neither the American r or l. Different tongue position, for starters.).

    All too often, one of the students will explain to me that your phonemes are fixed at some young age (3 years and 18 months seem to be favored). So, obviously, I could not have learned Japanese as an adult. Even though I did, and even critics admit that my pronunciation is pretty good.

    Clearly, I could neither learn to hear or speak after I passed the magic age dictated by some theory. I usually just move right along, and suggest that they try practicing phonemes anyway. And most of them happily do, and their pronunciation improves. Even if we are all past the age that theory allows.

    Now, is the age limit wrong, or are we actually learning even at our advanced ages? Grumble. Guess which I favor?

    • Brother In Law is Japanese, and only spent his teen years on here in the US, in SC and Atlanta, and his mother berates him over his atrocious accent when talking Japanese, but his accent speaking english is not immediately identifiable as southern, or Japanese.

    • A good bit of study in phonetics, with a good amount of drilling the various phonetic sounds can help enormously.

      • I sometimes wonder if these students are listening to themselves. Here we are, studying pronunciation together, and they announce that people’s ability to hear or pronounce phonemes is fixed at some young age. So what are we doing? The odd thing is that the ones who spout this stuff often are perfectly willing to buckle down and try to improve, which shows they don’t believe it, or at least don’t apply it to themselves.

        Anyway, yes, a bit of work can help. It may not turn you into a native speaker, but it certainly can help. And Japanese phonemes are well-known and simple, compared to English!

        • The fun thing about full time foreign missions is that you get to see normal(ish*) people turned into pretty fair linguist after a couple of years of intensive training.
          A fair bit of structure and discipline, with a lot of tools does help.

    • I think it’s more that it’s a hell of a lot *easier* to learn this stuff as a very young child because that’s when the brain is at its maximum plasticity: adjusting itself to the patterns all around it to be able to handle the world when the body gets a bit bigger.

      It’s not remotely like Japanese/English, but since coming to the USA, I’ve learned there are some words where I hear a distinct difference but the locals don’t. And vice versa.

      I’m also gradually tuning in to the local accents, but since accent was mostly irrelevant to me growing up (Australian accents are relatively uniform compared to say, US or UK accents), I never really developed an ear for them.

    • One of the things that has been proven to help adults learn phonemes is exaggerated baby talk, ABC level nursery rhymes and songs, etc., just like talking about pictures and playing basic kiddie games helps adults get a more unconscious mastery of some basic conversational formulas.

      But you have to willing to do “embarrassing” things.

      OTOH, the superpolyglot people just learn strategies to help them learn the basics fast, and they go from there.

      • Yep. When I was learning, I watched the kiddie shows, sang along with them, loved commercials, because they repeated so often, and even made up plenty of nonsense songs and such. I can remember my wife listening to me at one point, and asking me if I knew what I was saying. When I said no, she informed me that I was selling soap! But she said I had the phrase down pretty well, so I was happy.

    • Since it’s the best in to tell a fun story I have…

      Few weeks back I had to call customer support. Which I hate.

      When I got off the phone, I spent a good five minutes laughing too hard to answer my mom for why. The really awesome support fellow I was talking to had the most awesome accent I’d ever heard– he sounded like Doc McCoy pouring on the southern accent while simultaneously doing an 80s valley girl accent. And his voice was very nicely deep.

      Words can’t quite explain it. 😀

      • A few years ago, here in Japan, one of our tv talent ladies had an ad for an English learning chain. All she did was say, “I learned my English at xxx (the name of the chain)” Whenever it played, I would burst out laughing. My friends asked me why, and I explained that “Ah lahrned mah ainglish ayt…” I am reasonably certain her English mentor was from Texas or thereabouts. The accent was great!

  23. “And feminists want an inflexible rule for “All men” even though the percentage of men who rape women has always, historically, been vanishingly small (unless you count starting at women as rape, of course.)”

    Mild dispute with our Gracious Hostess: This seems to be only true if you’re using Whoopi Goldberg’s (I think it was) description of “rape rape” or the ‘stranger jumps out of the bushes with a weapon’ type. The date rape practitioner, especially the alcohol or drug facilitated, is apparently a lot more common, maybe up to 5% in the US. https://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/

    • If we’re going to include inhibition-lowering measures in with forcible rape (and knock-out drops are definitely in the forcible rape category), then the rate of female predators targeting men is going to skyrocket as well. It’s going to have some very squishy edges, since I have known women females who were quite open about looking for drunk guys to target for sex, but they didn’t trick or even have to encourage the guys to put themselves in that situation, and some advocates want to consider females incapable of giving consent if any alcohol has been consumed at all.

      Only females, though.

      Which is a really ugly discussion to get into.

      *************************

      Notably, Whoopi Goldberg is the one who talked about “rape-rape,” in a case where a 13 year old girl was gotten drunk (and possibly drugged) and then forcibly raped. She wasn’t able to give consent before she was intoxicated, and she didn’t give it afterwards, as best anyone can tell.

      Quite different from the “got drunk and did something stupid so it’s rape even if he was even more drunk and I was enthusiastic” category.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Wine as part of the stereotypical ‘romantic meal’ is part of America’s pervasive rape culture. We might even be able to blame wine drinking on the influence of Catholic immigrants to some extent.

        A person should only eat food and water they have personally prepared before engaging in sexual acts. Letting the other party prepare it, or have unsupervised access to it undermines certainty of consent.

        • Oooh, good crack-reasoning— it would also make the “all sex is rape” thing historically accurate, since everybody who didn’t want to die would’ve been drinking alcoholic beverages, thus making the women incapable of consent ever. Even if it was, Roman-style, cut with water for decent people.
          (Interestingly enough, women and children often drank “small beer” in beer countries — which in the only case I know where someone made it by the recipe and checked, was basically slightly stronger than near-beer. I seem to remember it’s basically a second run of beer after you’ve used the mash once.)

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I regret my wording, because of the Norton grape, and that English and Germans drink wine.

            Beyond that, I’m no fan of drunken hook up culture, and I’m the resident Prohibition apologist, but alcohol’s effects are fairly well understood, and there seem to be clear cases of people choosing to drink with the intention of sexual activity.

            I went to sleep thinking that a dystopia that went much further by far than ‘notarized consent forms before every sex act’ would be a hilarious setting for a romance novel.

            • There’s a cottage industry in trying to help women who go to college, are told they’re freaks if they don’t want to have sex with strangers, and get drunk out of their minds to be normal. Destroying many lives. :/
              Yeah, “seem to be some clear cases” is definitely defensible.

  24. Because I’m exhausted a lot recently, my brain hasn’t been speaking to my mouth which means I start speaking in tongues. Thanks for stopping by today becomes Stops for thanking todie and things I say all day start to become gibberish. A thumbs up and a “you mean what I know” generally gets a laugh and everybody assumes I’m just having a tongue tied day. The only thing that slows me down long enough to enunciate correctly is when I’m trying to decipher a thick accent or think in another language so I can communicate with a customer.

    I use odd turns of phrase even when I’m not fighting with my brain and I occasionally wonder when I’m going to learn to speak my first language properly, seeing as I’ve been practicing for 30+ years at this point.

    I can look like a stereotypical girl but if you actually listen to me? Yeah, no.

    And the thing about fit is… well, you have to try things on to find it and sometimes nothing will be perfect. That’s true for everybody and I spend all day explaining that to women. If you’re buying clothes off the rack, you’re looking for your best fit, damn the numbers. Because something that fits you well will make you look slimmer and taller than something that fits you poorly. A good bra can take off 10 pounds visually because it lifts the bags of fat up and exposes a waist.

    Which brings us to feminism and the “i shouldn’t have to dress up for you to take me seriously” bs. Because that’s what it is. People take you seriously when you do your best to create your best presentation. When you mutilate your hair, make a point of looking like a slob and scream hysterically at people, they’re going to ignore you or mock you. They’re certainly not going to listen to what you’re saying. When you take pains to look your best, even if your best isn’t the current modern ideal, and speak in a tone that’s not difficult to listen to, people will actually take what you say seriously.

    And that’s rambly and random because it’s nearly 2am. But hopefully somebody understands my point.

    • I was taught that you dress presentably in order to show respect, be it for the other people, for a deity, or for yourself. OK, there are days when you go out in work grubbies because washing airplane bellies, or draining, repairing, and refilling aircraft hydraulic systems has a higher-than-average potential for messiness. And there are times when personal energy levels, for whatever reason, make “clean and dressed” a major accomplishment. But going out of your way to look like a walking rag-bag with a mouse-nest on your head tells me that you don’t respect me, my ideas, or anyone else. So why should I bother giving you enough respect to listen to you?

      • *nod*
        If nothing else, “I am wearing the Approved Monkey Suit to show that I’m at least nominally paying attention to the situation in general, and probably not insane.”

    • I laughed hysterically at your opening, because recently I’ve been unable to talk until I drink coffee, so what comes out is gibberish.
      So, “I’m glad to see you’re up” becomes “yam had eee uh.” and my entire family finds that extremely funny while I’m trying to glare at my own mouth for not functioning.

    • “And the thing about fit is… well, you have to try things on to find it and sometimes nothing will be perfect.”

      My sister (who should know better) dismissed me complaining about not being able to find clothing because “every woman is a custom fit.” While I agree with that sentiment, hearing this from someone several inches shorter than me who has never had issues with things like sleeve length or, well, PANTS was a bit annoying. For example, I have over ten years of on-site photography experience (including fairly physical work) in SKIRTS because it is literally impossible to find pants that look professional. Full stop, end of story. I am allowed to wear pants, that would make my job much easier, and yet the only ones available all make me look like Frankenstein’s monster, with inches of ankle.

      I’m not sure online ordering is going to help with this problem, since one thing I *have* determined in years of searching is that fit is such a crazy thing that I’d have to try it on to see if it looks right, and once you do a custom order, that’s it.

      Sorry about the derailing. Badly-fitted clothing is a decades-long annoyance that reached the overflow point when I realized how it was affecting people’s perception of how competent I am—when it’s something I have no control over.

      • And then you get the girls on the other side who are so short, nothing fits them right, either. They can either get everything hemmed or shop in the junior department. But heaven help them if they have anything like hips because nope.