No, I’m not going to talk about the department.  Yes, I remember how panties in bunch people got because they thought “Homeland”had Nazi connotations.

Of course we’re talking about people who think the seal of the speaker of the house is a Nazi symbol, at least when the speaker is a Republican, and who try to explain away that they didn’t jump all over little Nancy Of The Gavel Walk because “the way Paul Ryan draws it it’s flatter and it looks more Nazi.”  You heard it here first. Only art teachers know Nazis. Considering how many of those idiots were my esteemed colleagues, our field must be in way more trouble than I thought.  If that wasn’t the classic “roll over and die” maneuver, I don’t know what was.

Leaving aside all that nonsense, there really isn’t a better way to express the concept, or at least not one my only-one-cup-of tea brain can figure out.  (I’m trying to change to tea because coffee for me — no matter what my boss at insty thinks! — requires sweetener and I’m trying to cut down on sweetener because it still gets insulin response.)  At any rate for the Germans it was Fatherland, which is closer to the word Patria I grew up with.

When I was eight years old, I knew when I grew up I was going to be a writer and live in Denver.  So far so good, though it took twenty years to make it the 100 miles from the Springs.

I was having breakfast this morning, looking out the sunroom windows as the city lights in the distance flickered off, and the sun painted the sky a delicate pink, and an overwhelming sense of being home came over me.

In my young days I liked traveling.  I’m getting settled in my old age, and part of the reason the last two years were so difficult is that I like my comforts.  I like my breakfast routine: feed the cats, boil the eggs, and usually make the coffee.  We’ll see how tea works.  Even when I drank mostly tea I tended to drink coffee in the final push of a book, when I was working sixteen hour days.

Okay — I’m obviously more scattered with tea — back to the subject.

I loved the village when I was little.  Not just “I love living here” — in fact I often didn’t — but I loved the smell in the air, the quality of the light on certain days.  I loved the smell of the vineyards when they ripened.  I loved fireflies in summer evenings.  I loved the rhythm of the seasons.  And some how it was all tied up with grandma and my dad.  Of course I loved them and they loved the place passionately.  (Weirdly, my brother, who was less attached, never left because he can’t bear to.)

I’ve talked before about the time I spent after I moved to the US, missing Portugal: the village, my regular haunts in Porto, the markets, knowing where to find things.

When I go back all that is gone.  The village has become a dormitory community for Porto, thanks to the highway and widespread car ownership.  The funny thing is that they still call it rural.  Let’s put it this way, though there are still some fields under cultivation, the prevalent high rises and malls make it about as rural as downtown Colorado Springs and less rural than Aurora — I remember shopping for apartments with Robert before he started medschool, and we’d take a wrong turn and suddenly there were fields and cows — or in American terms, not rural at all.  They’ve paved over the pond where bamboo grew, and where dad used to walk me to watch fireflies and make flutes.  They’ve paved over where we fed the ants.  The woods are reduced to tiny squares. And masses of “Strangers” came in, so it’s rare to see a face I recognize.  Most of the people who moved in don’t even realize I exist.  They think my mom, like her sister in law, had only one son.

I’m not complaining.  It’s not my right to complain.  I lived there a shorter time than I’ve now lived in Colorado, and that’s a fraction of the time I’ve been in the US.  No.  I daresay even the stack a prol apartments are better places to live than the low, conjoined little houses most people lived in.  Apartments have toilets.  And running hot and cold water.

And I’m not complaining that Porto has become a touristic Mecca, which, considering it has the general climate and look of London I’m sure is for the history and the monuments, or perhaps because now people are painting the houses in primary colors (never when I was little) and Northern Europeans think it’s a poor-man’s Caribbean. Though I’d hazard it’s mostly the wine.

My kids loved Porto, and they’d have hated it as it was when I loved it: grimy, gritty, workaday, with nothing for tourists, the sort of place that — but for a lack of diners — would have made a great setting for a noir movie. (It still rains more of less all the time, except at the height of summer, a dispiriting, weepy drizzle.)

And if you read the paragraph above you’ll find I loved it.  I loved it  because, coming from the village, it meant freedom.  No one watched your every movement in Porto.  Oh, sure, crazy men might follow you on the street calling you names, but at least you didn’t have the village gossips concoct fantastic tales about your secret love affair just because you felt like wearing a more daring shade of lipstick. It also meant books.  It meant at least four bookstores, within easy distance of the train station, and later a lot more, as I discovered the alfarrabios, the used book stores.  Used bookstores doesn’t describe it, or not precisely.  There is a difference between used bookstores in the US — stores in the US in general — and alfarrabios, which were often the two bottom floors of a family home, so there was no urgency in making every inch pay.  So books came in, got put somewhere, generations changed.  They never even bothered changing the prices.  Some of my early in-English reading happened because I found a nook at the back of an alfarrabio (from the fact that rag is farrapo, I wonder if the word is arab for rag cellar, and the book thing just accrued to the profession as books came in) where they had early twentieth century, leather bound English language books.  I read all of H. G. Wells that way. (And most of  Twain.  And Dickens, though I don’t remember Dickens because I never liked him.  And other writers I don’t remember.  I wonder what English-speaking lost soul sold them to the store in the first place) And now I wonder what the heck happened to those books, as I suspect they were first editions.  I suspect I lent them out and lost them.

And speaking of feelings of home and nostalgia, I still get mushy at the memory of that nook, which even at early twentieth century prices took me years to explore and buy out.  I’d go in and sit on the floor, and look through the books to decide what to buy.  The ceiling was too low for me to stand up, but at the end of the little nook there was a grime-encrusted dormer window, which filtered the light in all yellow and hazy.

Oh, and Portugal had Chinese restaurants, and museums, and movie theaters, things I still like in a cityy.  No, not sure why, it’s just who I am.

Most of the alfarrabios have closed, possibly because real estate is at a premium in the far more prosperous cities, and these bookstores were like the ones Pratchett describes, where the owner wears carpet sleepers and reacts to your trying to buy his book like you’re kidnapping his child.

I still have some of those feelings of “home” for specific places in Portugal — it just so happens those places don’t exist anymore, nor the people who made those places special — absent the charming idea that heaven stores all the dearest places of the heart, I’ll never see them again.

How did this extend to “homeland” To patriotism?

I tried.  I tried really hard.  I even managed to convince my sister in law, who of course, hadn’t known me from childhood.

Look, if you had stacked places “Portugal or Spain?” even now I’d say Portugal, only because Spain is that horrible mix of the familiar and the “what the heck?” and even if Portugal has become more so, the past 30 years, it’s not that bad.

But there was never a song in my heart when I referred to myself as “Portuguese”: the best way I can explain it is to say it was like my birth name.  I hated being called by my birth name, and my closest friends had a dozen nicknames for me.  It wasn’t so much that I hated the name.  It’s an okay name and fine for everyone else, but it didn’t “fit”.  I felt like I was impersonating someone of that name, and there was an automatic cringe-and-duck which I don’t feel the slightest need to do when anyone calls me now.

The same way, referring to myself as Portuguese was wrong.  I found out in my teens, when I started visiting friends for long periods of time, that my family REALLY wasn’t that Portuguese.  Not noticeably.  Or at least not normal Portuguese.  Dad loves the country, but it’s an intellectual love.  He loves the history of the country.  He can and does describe medieval battles vividly and poetically when we visit the sites (including to my sons, as I’m struggling to translate that fast.)  He does know the kings and queens of the past, as though he’d been their elementary school friend.  And dad loves the village.  Because he was there for the transformation, he doesn’t realize, I think, how little of the village I knew is left.  Or if he does, by the time I was born it had so changed from his village, that it doesn’t matter.  He talks of the place where he and his friends played a prank, and in his eyes — like a man long-married seeing his wife as she was when he met her — it’s the same place.

But my family doesn’t behave like other Portuguese families, and I can’t even tell you why.  The day to day is different.  At Liberty con, I complained of my shoes pinching and an author of Portuguese ancestry said her grandmother would have told her it was a punishment for the sin of vanity.

My family lacked that all pervasive Catholicism, that view of “you deserve punishment for looking good” and the most my family would have said would be “didn’t they have the shoes in your size?” (Which was a common problem, when I was young.)  My family didn’t eat the same foods, or have the same manners, or… It was almost like I’d been raised in a foreign enclave in the middle of Portuguese society.  Those early forays into visiting friends made me feel even more alien than I normally did.  All the more so because I couldn’t betray ignorance of customs or behavior, and had to pick up and play along as best I could.  After all, I was a native.  (Since I’m as good at picking up on hints as most of you, you picture the disaster.)

Much as I loved the history dad told, I always felt like a  little alien.  Then I took to English history.  At some point, on this blog, someone berated me for not writing more books based on Portuguese history.  There’s tons of reasons for that, including that the audience would not have any resonance with Portuguese history, so it would take a lot more work to make it meaningful.  I intend to borrow some things — most of them royal life episodes — for a space opera series, eventually, but that’s because I can give them their own background and meaning then. What he was missing was that beyond all that, I do love English History and started learning it at an early age, and reading it for fun.

There will always be a vaguely anglophile part of me.

In my teens I fell in love with America.  It was an intellectual love.  I loved the principles and the ideas of the founding.  I loved that America comes as close to a classless society as humans ever have.

Note this was long before my mind decided I was going to live in Denver and be a writer, and I knew about as much about Denver as I did about being a writer: really, nothing but I’d seen on TV and you know how accurate that is.  And no, to this day still I can’t answer you “why Denver?”

Most Portuguese — I was explaining this yesterday to a friend, trying to get across why Deportugal is an unlikely thing, and why Portugal will cling to the shards of the US as long as they can — love Portugal on the “home” level.  They love the landscapes, the customs,  the language, those traditions I never fully shared.  They are however at best ambivalent on the “homeland” the more abstract level.  They will get crazy in love with Portugal when supporting it in a soccer match, for instance, and that’s about the only time you’ll see anyone flying the flag.  My mom was shocked when she visited (in July) that almost every home flew the American flag.  In Portugal there are various jokes made about the flag, and the national hymn.  Part of this is that they were changed so often in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  Part of it is that patriotism is not only not pushed in the schools, but is considered vaguely shameful  (yes, they’re trying to do the same here.)  The twentieth century international socialists diagnosed “nationalism” as the cause of Nazi atrocities because they couldn’t face that SOCIALISM was the actual problem  (it can kill you fast, it can kill you slow, it can kill you hard or it can kill you softly, but in the end socialism, like its communist cousin, will kill you. It’s just it’s slow in most places, and people don’t notice.)  So patriotism was treated as a bad thing.  Even though most Portuguese loved living in Portugal day to day, they had no intellectual affection for the notion of the country.  It’s a bad way to live.  The EU relieved this psychic tension by giving most of them the chance to immigrate without immigrating.  They were now allowed to consider themselves “citizens of Europe” while still loving their little corner of it fiercely.

I understand it, because my love for the US started with only the intellectual level.  Oh, it was strong.  I think I kissed the gentleman who first looked at my green card and said “welcome home.”  I’m sure I hugged him.  I remember his shocked face.  And I always kiss the ground when returning from abroad, a ceremony I taught my kids, because ritual is important.

But for years, the slant of the light was wrong.  The feel of the air was wrong.  The morning sounds were wrong.

I don’t know when that changed.  After I left the Carolinas for sure.  And yeah, part of it is that the rocky terrain and the sparse pines look more like the area around the village when I was little, though the village was (you might have got that feeling) way more moist than the high desert.  And way less mountainous..

But casual poking around at my ancestry revealed people from so many different places (the North of Portugal was  a sort of dumping ground for English ne’er do wells and troublemakers — before England had colonies for that purpose — and the napoleonic wars left enough French and English blood strewn about to considerably confuse things. That’s without counting imports from the PORTUGUESE colonies.) that I really don’t see a link between land and blood, or between “my ancestors lived in this kind of climate, it’s the right climate for me.”  In fact, all of Portugal was characterized by the Germans as “mud people” since Portuguese genetics were a mess (Why, thank you.  Hybrid vigor, sonny! Also, all people are a mix from  Ur of the Chaldeans onward, mostly due to “humans will sleep with anything.”  Apparently even hominids, given recent findings. If you think otherwise, your knowledge of history is funny.  Also deficient.  [And no, the DNA tests aren’t very exact.  They’re, as older son, the one who knows human biology puts it “mostly bogus.” He could probably explain why to you.  He’s explained it to me, but my eyes glazed over.)

No, I’ve found that loving where you live is more a matter of habituation and perhaps of individual taste.  I loved Denver the first time I saw it.  It survived even the winters (and I hate cold.)  Why?  I don’t know.  Why do you love certain kinds of features and not others?  Unless you were raised in a very insular place it’s not “Because they’re like the faces I know.” There is more to it.  I loved redheads before I knew they existed.  that is, the first one I met rendered me speechless and I followed the poor guy around like a lost puppy, which considering I was twelve and he mid-twenties must have been a great annoyance.  My kids’ tastes in girls are almost opposite. Why do they like what they do? Who knows?

In the same way I liked Denver on sight.  I liked the light and the air, the noises of the city.  I like Colfax before it was safe.  I liked the way the city sprawls, more horizontal than vertical, and the open feel of it.  Who knows why?

I can tell you why I love America: the principles of the founding, the constitution, our struggle to bring into being something that has never existed before — a society where all are equal before the law.  (I’m not mad crazy about the push-pull when one side insists on equality of outcome, but humans aren’t perfect and I suspect it’s inevitable.)

I can’t tell you why I love my corner of it.  I just know I do.  Having breakfast in the sun room early morning, with the park and the trees to my right, and the lights of Denver slowly fading in front of me, eclipsed by the rising sun, is a feeling of … being home.

I’ve always loved the “land” part, the principles, and even the boisterous can-do of the nation, the way we don’t take no (or sometimes even yes) for an answer.  I loved it before I came here.

I’ve loved Colorado since I first saw it, which is the reason we haven’t moved even as Californians moved in and messed up our polity.

In this house, I feel like I have the best of Colorado, and the two unite into a feeling of “just right.”

It’s good to be home.  This home, in particular, but the state and the country too.  It’s good to love my homeland, and to feel absolutely no compunction to cotton to people who think that patriotism is a bad word.

I raise my cup of tea to my homeland, and hope the disease of international socialism that invaded the weakened mechanisms of Western Civilization post WWI can be flushed from the system, before it destroys us all.

Let’s work to make it so.

233 thoughts on “Homeland

  1. Hey, I flinched when Bush’s administration chose the name “Department of Homeland Security,” precisely because it sounded so quintessentially German—not even “Nazi” so much as Prussian and bureaucratic. Heimatsicherheitamt, it just rolls off the tongue. And it isn’t as if Bush had much understanding of liberty or individual rights; he was exactly the kind of Republican that made me think Republicans were no better than Democrats and perhaps slightly worse. Of course Obama quickly changed my mind, but “Not as vile as Obama” isn’t what you call high praise. So I don’t see anything problematic in saying that Bush had a tin ear at best, and very likely had a streak of authoritarianism and repression.

    I don’t care for “homeland” because it suggests attachment to one’s country on the basis of primal sentiments, what an older era called “blood and soil.” I don’t have much of such sentiments; I’m intensely impressed by the intellectual and ethical principles of the Constitution and by the quality of its authors, but that’s a different kind of loyalty. Not necessarily better—I could certainly make a case for the horrors that faith in abstract principle can inspire—but different. And, well, when I hear people attaching Gemütlich expressions like “homeland” to bureaucratic offices I immediately suspect them of bad intent.

    1. Sigh. Trust me, it’s not the same as “Fatherland.”
      There is both an instinctive attachment (nothing to do with blood) to the place, and a whole different level of intellectual love of land. Both don’t need to coexist, but it’s more comfortable if they do.
      The DHS was a problem for all sorts of other reasons, and bush was at best “European right” i.e. Christian socialist.

      1. A homeland is somewhere that is your home. You belong there. It is yours.

        A fatherland, a patria, or a motherland, like Mat’ Rossiya, is a place where your ancestors belonged. It is a very Indo-European concept, but it implies a sort of parental control and hierarchy. You are its.

          1. I was having this conversation with a Colombian expat coworker a few years ago. I don’t know how many centuries her family had lived in the Americas, but “patria” apparently still meant Spain.

        1. “Vengeance for Nikolai,” by Walter M. Miller Jr., a bizarre pro-Soviet story from 1957, is Philip K. Dick’s favorite SF story, I think it’s the worst SF story ever. “A Canticle for Leibowitz” and “Memento Homo” are the only things by Miller I really like. But the one thing about that story worth reading is the Soviet general’s analysis of Fatherland vs Motherland. The American villain, obviously based on George S. Patton, is a Motherland man, the Soviet general says, and that’s why his invasion of Eastern Europe is so deadly and (if I remember correctly) he turns so many of the POWs, he understands.

      2. The problem with three letter acronyms is that they’re not very precise. One group I’m part of, I have continual troubles with references to the FSM, which in context means “Field Service Manual”, not “Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

        Likewise, when someone references “DHS”, I always first wonder what the Department of Human Services (the local term for the unemployment office) has to do with the subject at hand.

        And then there’s the always-popular “ESL”, which always comes through as “English Sign Language.” [which is a thing, and different from American Sign Language]

        1. I grew up in California, and heard a lot of general news from Nevada when I was growing up. I can never see the acronym BLM without wondering what the Bureau of Land Management has to do with protests…

          1. I’m with you there. BLM always means the Bureau to me first, and then a moment later, “Oh wait, you mean the protest group…”

            1. Me four. But then to me, when someone just says “the Bureau has/will/is/ whatever,” I think Bureau of Reclamation. Which can lead to some Mad-libs worthy half-heard statements.

            1. Given the BLM’s shenanigans of late with the Red River on the border of Texas & Oklahoma, and their attitude toward landowners and ranchers, you’ll find plenty of people who think of them still when you start saying “hate group”.

              2:”Gotcha, Bureau of Land Management. Toadlickers.”
              1:”Hate group!”
              2:”Right, bureau of land management.”
              1:”No, the one that’s funded by Soros!”
              2:”…Right, the Bureau of Land Management. Gets lots of funding, including from the interestingly-funded presidential candidate who won the last two terms.”
              1:”They hate white people!”
              2:”Uh, yeah. And any other skin color that happens to actually use the land instead of leave it to bureaucrats and mother Gaia.”
              1:”The protest group!”
              2:”Yeah, they’re filin’ lots of protests, sudden rule changes, court cases….”
              1:”The armed one!”
              2:”Oh, so you noticed the militarization of federal agencies in the last 8 years, honey? Terrible, ain’t it?”
              1:”The one that’s trying to shut down commerce!”
              2:”Yup, the damned bureau’s been trying to do that for years.”

          2. I would expect from that background that you would automatically associate BLM with protests, even if the protest is Bundy vs Shaun King.

        2. One group I’m part of, I have continual troubles with references to the FSM, which in context means “Field Service Manual”, not “Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

          Whereas everybody knows FSM really stands for “finite state machine.” 😛

              1. At $WE_BUILD_SCALES I encountered both, in similar products. I can’t say that I have a preference or consider one better than the other for anything. They just each need their own mode of thinking.

              1. If you have only one FSM, Moore or Mealy is a binary solution set. It can be one, or the other, but not both. If you’ve got more, OTOH, that’s a different story.

          1. A certain government department I co-oped for got around a freeze on purchasing computers by ordering a finite state machine…

        3. It’s not just three letter acronyms. I sometimes joke about Apple becoming too invasive when I see someone abbreviate “I Am Not A Lawyer.”

        4. Heh. DHS will always be Danville High School for me. I graduated three yeare before 9/11, so the association was already set in my brain and will not be changed or denied.

          1. Class of 72. Still thinking of ways to destroy that building (after it’s empty). 👿

            1. That was about eight years before I was born. I think my mother may have been class of 72. Or 71. Somewhere in there.

        5. English Sign Language can be very demanding. You can cripple a finger signing a dropped ‘h’ or trying to sign your ‘r’s’ as ‘w’s’…

      3. I didn’t think of it as German, but did – and do – think of it’s usage by a government as a way to excuse encroachments on liberty. “It’s for your homeland. Don’t you love your homeland?”

        This isn’t the same as referring to a country as your homeland, whether you’re native born or, in the words of John Denver, “Coming home to a place he’d never been before.” It’s the context of its usage.

          1. But the only epithet people know is fascist or Nazi. The fact that they also shrouded themselves in the “people’s” terminology is neglected (like the Socialist Democrat moniker).

            So to them just more proof Bush was Nazi.

            As opposed to the fact that it just added bureaucracy. It has had successes in the preparedness fields but it’s been using a sledge to drive a upholstery tack.

                1. Only fascist when controlled by Republicans. When controlled by Democrats every action taken is necessary and justified and only provoked by the hard-headed resistance to the Arc of History* by right wing extremists**.

                  *not to be confused with the Lost Ark of the Covenant

                  **that is, conservatives

                  1. Just in terms of how anything of German origin is tainted with Nazi in people’s minds.

                    As for the oh wait, it seems that we are often controlling private industry thru govt edicts.

                  2. Really short version: Because (ignorant/lazy/using-shorthand) people in the 1940s-60s associated Prussia with the German Empire which must be Bad. And because no one wanted to try and sort out the differences between Fascism and the NSDAP/Nazism.

                    1. Yes, that’s been making an impression on me lately. People look at the megadeaths under Hitler and go “ooh, fascism ultimate evil!” But in fact those megadeaths were quite atypical of fascism; you don’t see them in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil . . . and not quite in Japan (not of Japanese people), though Japan had its own weird ideology that really has even less in common with either fascism or national socialism. On the other hand, megadeaths were entirely typical of communism, occurring in the USSR, China, and Cambodia/Kampuchea – so national socialism was at most a weird fascist outlier that more resembled communism than fascism in important ways.

                      That’s not to say that fascism is good or harmless! But it’s a classic authoritarian system that brutally suppresses dissent but doesn’t run up huge internal body counts. The use of “fascism” as an all-purpose word for political evil causes just as much muddy thinking as the use of “democracy” as an all-purpose word for political good (which I was cured of by reading Kipling’s “As Easy as A.B.C.” in the 1960s, making it hard for me to talk politics with a lot of people).

              1. It would have been justifiable had the structure served to streamline bureaucracy and eliminate turf warfare.

                Naturally, what we got did the opposite. Who could have anticipated that?

            1. Sitting here watching Ted Cruz review the Obama DOJ for the benefit of Attorney General nominee Sessions, I am struck by the degree to which the departing administration has tended to violate all principles of Rule of Law, and it illustrates the tendency of the Left to proceed by first reaching a verdict and then find the law (and, frequently, tortured interpretations thereof) afterward.

              1. Yep. That is the reason I disliked obergefell. The full faith and credit should have been valid if they wanted to stretch the clauses but we again invented a right because justices wanted it. Same as Thomas’s recent dissent where he noted the willy-nilly use of precedent, standing and scrutiny.

                1. Except the full faith and credit clause explicitly states Congress can define how the states have to extend such full faith and credit which would have let The Defense of Marriage Act be the binding law. They wanted to overrule the later.

                  Another issue was several Second Amendment Supporters had made it clear that if full faith and credit required state recognize gay marriage licenses they would immediately use that to sue for recognition of concealed carry permits. The libs couldn’t risk real rights being supported being the price for gay marriage.

                2. A real problem with the “Judicial Mainstream” is that is contra-Constitutional. Since FDR’s “court-packing” the justices have imagined their function as “enlightened imposition of justice” and forgotten that true justice derives from rule of law and self rule.

                  Additionally, the growth of the regulatory state and withdrawal of Congressional responsibility has resulted in imposition of regulatory fiats for which no elected official need take responsibility. Congress’ proclivity for passing broad and ill defined laws allows too much leeway for aggressive interpretation by bodies not answerable to the public (e.g., EPA would now consider my backyard, with its puddles of melting snow, a protected wetland and subject to their oversight.)

              2. *HEADDESK*

                I do not believe I just witnessed Sen. Leahy quiz Sessions over whether he would prosecute the president in the event Trump grabbed a woman by her crotch.

                I did not notice Leahy express similar concern over the grabbing of men by the crotch, leading to the inescapable conclusion that Sen. Leahy (and all those who voted for him) are just fine with physical abuse of men. Sexists! (I am not adequately deranged qualified to speculate on Leahy’s stance on grabbing transmen, transwomen, women who identify as men, men who identify as women, men and/or women who identify as animals, either domestic, feral or mythological, etc. by the genitals although I am willing to go on the record as of the belief that all grabbing of crotches ought be consensual.)

                I compliment nominee Sessions on his restraint in not promising to adhere to the same principles regarding AG/Presidential relations as those followed by his immediate predecessors.

                1. Sessions probably should have pointed out that before he could prosecute a president in such an hypothetical situation, Leahy and his fellow senators would first need to successfully impeach the president.

        1. There are times when I wonder if the faint whiff of fascism in “Homeland Security” might be delierate. George Bush is almost universally denounced as a dolt, and maybe he is, but I can’t help but notice how measured his responses to 9/11 were. The Democrats hate admitting this, but at the time everybody but a tiny minority of deranged Socialist idiots (I’m looking at YOU, Ward Churchill) was running around loudly demanding that SOMETHING be done, yesterday, if not a trifle sooner.

          Bush invaded two countries; Afghanistan (where the bulk of Al Q’eda was at the time) and Iraq, with whom we were already at war. He established the TSA in response to pretty much universal demand that Something Be Done about airport security, but I get the impression that nobody in his administration paid it much attention, and I think that’s because they know it was useless.

          (From now until Terrorism is well forgotten, any terrorists who try to take over a plane full of Americans will get stuffed into the overhead luggage compartments in somewhat used condition.)

          Bush asked for the Patriot Act, but despite all the handwringing I’ve read since it seems to mostly apply to terrorism the same degree of unconstitutional scrutiny already applied to the illegal drug busness. Until we can pry that kind of authority out of the hands of the State entirely, that only makes sense.

          He didn’t involve himself in various examples of Palestinian opportunism. He didn’t invade Iran. He didn’t invade Syria. He didn’t (thank Christ) invade the Saudis.

          And with the Public loudly calling for the founding of a super agency to replace the ones that failed, he named it something vaguely creepy.

          1. On the matter of being already at war with Iraq, it should be noted that the stationing of our troops in Saudi Arabia and Iraq was a major “provocation” of the al Qaeda movement — and a far more effective recruiting tool than any imagined “torture” of prisoners*.

            To extract our forces from the region it was obviously necessary to depose Saddam (unless somebody wants to argue that a withdrawal that would have left him in command of Iraq would have weakened his regime.)

            *Does anyone imagine that the people living under the repressive regimes in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. were truly “horrified” by our reported torture of prisoners? If they were, it was most likely to laugh at the feebleness of such torture.

            1. I frankly suspect that the biggest “provocation” of Islamic terrorism in modern times was our failing to kill Yasser Arafathead when he first made a nuisance of himself. “Here’s a guy who spent the Second World War with his tongue up Hitler’s backside. Perhaps we should shoot him.”

              The Palestinian movement is bullshit. It has always been bullshit. The ‘Palestinians’ are the descendents of the muslims who sided with the Arab armismwho tried to strangle Israel in the crib. The Muslims who sided with their Jewish neighbors still live in Israel. You lose a war, bad things happen to you.

              1. I frankly suspect that the biggest “provocation” of Islamic terrorism in modern times was our failing to kill Yasser Arafathead when he first made a nuisance of himself.

                Of the options that aren’t morally reprehensible, yes.

                That we express mercy is another provocation to them; I don’t favor adopting their morality just to play nice, though.

                1. You’re evincing the fundamental failure of the West, and the Westernized Jew, in that you think that “mercy” is something that should be rewarded.

                  Maybe by God; certainly, not by anyone else. You show mercy in the Arab culture, and what you’re actually doing is demonstrating weakness. They think that if you refrain from killing them for what they’ve done that you are actually too weak to do what is necessary–And, they are right. You are weak in the mind. They would and never will show mercy, because that is a failing of the weak in heart and mind.

                  The fact that the Israelis expect that their Arab interlocutors should respond positively to Israeli “reason” and Israeli “mercy” is precisely what has dragged this on so long. The Arabs think, in their heart of hearts, that because the Israelis have shown them mercy in their wars, then they actually won, not the Israelis. And, in a sense, they have–Because they have not admitted defeat.

                  Defeat is a phenomenon that exists only in the head of your enemy. If you cannot influence them to create that phenomenon through military action, then you are faced with the fact that you have two options: Escalate the military action until they do, even if that means killing all of them, or admit defeat yourself.

                  The Arab-Israeli conundrum is an artifact of poor cross-cultural communication writ large: The Israelis, and the West in general, think that they are demonstrating admirable magnaminity in their dealings with the Arab/Islamic world. The reality is, all we are doing with our actions are confusing the shit out of them, and allowing them to think that they have won when the reality is, we just stopped killing them when we got sick of doing so. I can about guarantee you that had Schwartzkopf and Bush I not held back at the end of the first Gulf War, and gone on to utterly crush the Iraqis, broadcasting the “Highway of Death” as a mere precursor to things to come, and then executed the same destruction on the forces in Southern Iraq, the entire question of dealing with that region would be entirely different today. The fact that we held back, and took our foot from the neck of Saddam was not interpreted as a sign of strength, with mercy abounding. It was interpreted as craven cowardice, and weakness. Which was why we got more of the same behavior from them that we had been getting.

                  1. You’re evincing the fundamental failure of the West, and the Westernized Jew, in that you think that “mercy” is something that should be rewarded.

                    Kirk, go read it again, you’re responding to something I did not say.

                    I pointed out the fact that the culture(s) attacking us cannot understand having the ability to do violence to one who has wronged them, and choosing not to, for no reward.

                    Thus they conclude that we either most not have the ability, or are getting rewarded somehow.

                    That has jack-all to do with mercy being rewarded, Western or Jewish anything.
                    The West, from the Jews, got the idea that Mercy is a good thing– first with eye for an eye rather than a life for an eye, then with turning the other cheek rather than avenging your insulted honor with violence. “Reward” has nothing to do with it.

                    1. “That we express mercy is another provocation to them; I don’t favor adopting their morality just to play nice, though.”

                      When I say “you”, here, I’m more-or-less addressing the general “you”, rather than you personally, Fox. You’ve missed the point I’m making, which is that when you’re dealing with a culture as alien to the traditions you were brought up under, and the assumptions you had conditioned into you during childhood, any projection or assumption that they think like you do is fundamentally mistaken. The self-satisfied smugness with which we’ve patted our backs every time we have defeated the Arab/Islamic world is not seen or interpreted by them in at all the way we think it will be; the fundamental assumption that these people think the way we do is erroneous, and everything that flows from that assumption is wrong, as well.

                      You got the first half of the problem nicely; what you don’t have is the appropriate response or solution. By “communicating” to these creatures in terms they are capable of comprehending, you are not “adopting their morality”, you are, instead, being what we would better term “culturally appropriate”. They literally do not have the same cultural buttons you are trying to address by “being merciful”. Projecting your reaction onto them as being what you expect them to do, mapping your likely behavior and intent onto what is actually an entirely alien culture…? Insane.

                      That’s what I’m getting at; you’re not “stooping to their level”. They don’t even have a level, in those terms. Such a level isn’t in the culture–What you’re dealing with is something that simply “is”. It’s how they think in an intrinsic way–You think that you’re on a higher moral plane, treating them as though they think like you do, and they just think you’re stupid.

                      Looking at the spectrum of failure that is Arab-Israeli interaction over the last seventy years, I think they just might have a point.

                      In the traditional Arab/Islamic mindset, you’re either on top, or you’re on the bottom; anything else is incomprehensible. They do not “get” the idea of compromise, in terms of living together with others. Disagree? Ask the many and varied other sects that have been forced into it, over the years. Most of them are either extinct, or no longer living in proximity to Muslims, so it may be kinda hard to interview them, however.

                    2. You’ve missed the point I’m making, which is that when you’re dealing with a culture as alien to the traditions you were brought up under, and the assumptions you had conditioned into you during childhood, any projection or assumption that they think like you do is fundamentally mistaken.

                      Except that you addressed it to a statement that did not evidence the problem you wanted to address.

                      One which happens to be a rather major moral failing, as well as being pretty foolish; mercy done to profit you is already rewarded.
                      (Short term or individually, anyways; as a cultural norm it has great rewards but still a pretty big risk.)

            2. According to my friends who worked with one of the large collections of detainees. Their Iraqi counterparts told them in no uncertain terms, as casual chit-chat, what they would do any such who remained in custody after we departed. It started with “line them up and shoot them” and went down hill from there. So not surprised. Or perhaps surprised, but surprise that most of us were surprised and angry about it.

              1. The sad thing is, when it came to the detainees in Camp Bucca, that’s exactly what they did, at the behest of the Obama administration. Camp Bucca is where most of the ISIL initial cadre came from, and they were trucked from Baghdad up to the Syrian border precisely as demanded by the Obama clowns when we departed Iraq in 2011.

                We should have just told the Iraqis to do what they wanted to, but that might well have been the spark that set off another sectarian conflict, being as most of Camp Bucca’s inmates were Sunni. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t…

          2. As a Lincoln apologist with an expansive view of the Executive power, I might argue that the terrorism stuff may qualify under what it permitted to put down insurrection.

      4. For me, it’s not the “Homeland” that sounds vaguely Nazi-ish. It’s the fact that it begins with “Department of” and ends with “Security” that bothers me.

        But then, I’m one of those wacky libertarian-types that thinks anything associated with government is a little Nazi-ish…

        1. eh. I’m so used to European departments and “under secretary without a portfolio” that American government is a like a puppy to wolves,even in these debased times. Not that I trust it overmuch. Puppies can be wolf cubs, but I thought that particular freakout was amusing.

  2. You had no off-to-see-the-Wizard level windstorm in Denver. Good. In the Springs, it hit one hundred miles an hour in some neighborhoods, we lost our big heavy U-Haul sign. It seemed that the actual storm was about 50 feet up, so fifty miles an hour wind at ground level, but we heard the roaring over our heads, and the full one hundred mile an hour storm smashed the slightly higher ground close to Cheyenne Mountain.

    1. Actually mostly in Denver it hit where we aren’t — i.e. towards Boulder.
      After your comment, I was reading on the Springs disaster, including our old neighborhood being out of power.
      I also saw the warnings for Denver and thought maybe it was in Robert’s path home (Okay, geography is not my forte, okay?) So I called him in a panic, and he thought I was nuts…

  3. It is funny how “Patriotism” involves challenging and denouncing Republican administrations but requires falling in line during Democrat ones. A person more cynical than I might suspect the loyalty, the allegiance, is to Party rather than Country.

    The “Nazi imagery” kerfuffle is just the panty wadders having another of their hissies and merits no rejoinder. I do not dress up as a Nazi for my fetish play, so I wouldn’t notice such imagery.

    1. Get hacked for millions of people performing work that by definition can have significant to grave danger to national security? Oh well.

      Fascist party gets phished and hacked after multiple warnings and using methods of a 5th grader? War!

      Ya. This has served to break my trust in government lower than ever before.

      1. Government of some sort is necessary for most of us. I’m past 50, have bad teeth and poor wind. I don’t have the stamina for anarchy. That doesn’t mean you should EVER trust it.

  4. Being a military brat we moved far too often to get too imprinted on any particular place as “home.”

    For a long time the closest thing to “home” was a small town north of Sacramento. I had occasional thoughts of seeing what it looked like now, until I looked at the map and saw it had been absorbed by the urban cancer long before, and the People’s Republic didn’t care for my cars, my guns, or my politics anyway.

  5. Shortly after my parents moved to Houston the value of our house dropped by ~40%, because of the nearby construction of what I’ll charitably term ‘low-income housing’. I’ve ended up being a minority white among ghetto blacks (arguably the most racist culture in America of any significant size) just about all my life.

    It must be nice to love where you live. Maybe one day . . .

    1. I’ve ended up being a minority white among ghetto blacks (arguably the most racist culture in America of any significant size) just about all my life.

      I was going to argue with this, but poking at it a bit more– yeah, most racist; the “families of illegals*” that take over entire towns out here are feral. 😦

      * some are birth citizens, some are even grandchildren of legal citizens that have gone feral, but G*d help you if you aren’t one of them or they suspect you might “betray” them, ie, result in any kind of consequence.

    2. That’s the position I find myself in exiled in Aurora, a fun little “suburb” of Denver. There are better places, though, and we’re getting there soon.

  6. I loved Denver when I lived there, but it was never that sense of belonging that I got in the Pacific Northwest. Really, my soul wants me to live in Washington, though right now I’m back near my hometown. The benefits to the latter are that I know how to garden (which would be nice if I could get my garden set back up) and that I know ALL the things to do with kids, most of them free.

    I’m probably going to end up in Oregon eventually, mainly because I married a Viking and he starts shutting down in May when the temperatures climb.

    I’m one of those people who respond more to the natural elements than the other parts, which is why I could never live in the South or on the East Coast. In the case of the former, the humidity would make me miserable (and might actually kill my husband), and in the case of the latter, it’s too darned urban. I prefer mountains to coastline anyway.

    And yes, I live in Greater Suburbia. As our esteemed hostess mentions, though, I can drive for less than ten minutes (including stoplights) and be in the midst of fields. Or giant puddles, at the moment.

  7. Well, not that I’m advocating it, but you ought to consider Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. North-central PA has rolling mountains, good hunting, is plenty rural and an altogether nice place to live. As James Carville once said, Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh and Philadelphia separated by Alabama. He thought it was an insult, but most Pennsylvanians said, “Yeah!”

    1. I need to be near a big city, in case that escaped. Preferably near enough to get to museum in under half an hour.
      I know it’s an odd taste for a conservative, but hey, I’m a Libertarian.

      1. … but hey, I’m a Libertarian.

        Wash your filthy mouth out with hot caffeine!

        “… but hey, I’m a Llibertarian.”


      2. Why is that an odd taste for a conservative? That statement sounds a lot like the shock reporters had when, during the 1992 campaign, Pat Buchanan said Impromtu was his favorite movie of the year. Conservatives can love culture (the one thing that will get me back to NYC is it has one of the few exhibits of genuine blackwork in the US).

        1. I’d say in part it is differing opinions of culture. For example one side sees country as just songs about beer, trucks and girls while other sees rap as nothing but drugs, violence and gangs. But the opposite side sees something in that art. But the cultural zeitgeist is run by only one of those sides so it falls farther and farther into the difference versus being able to speak to both.

          For example the current brouhaha about that BLM art in capital.

            1. I’m not. Done my share of the former. The latter I enjoy the classics but modern not as much. Just get annoyed when culture gets defined as solely urban chic vs separate factors that are in cities for convenience/history. Like saying Hamilton is culture, Heinlein is just an author.

              1. You’d enjoy doing the modern art with the Hoyts. Could be called “the Hoyts desecrate Modern Art” 😀
                Yeah, I prefer the classic/renaissance stuff, too. I love Van Gogh but that’s as far as I’ll go.

                1. Saw a cubist woodcut of a gothic cathedral in a small village at an exhibit recently. At least, that’s what the little audio guide claimed it was. Frankly, the little audio guide could have claimed that it was a cubist woodcut of the Black Forest or the Empire State building, and it would have been equally convincing.

                2. This is an off-the-cuff pun that fell out of my mouth once when I was in a modern art gallery with my parents. If I could do that sort of thing on purpose, it would be awesome.

                1. Ya. Just as longest running movie is Rocky Horror. But that is such a peasant movie and unworthy of the betters who have appointed themselves arbiters of coture

                  1. Speak for yourself…the only bad thing about that movie is playing Rocky got me my first wife (although it got me…female attention a lot before then although I’ve been told my methods lacked consent).

                    I miss my Rocky days and my Columbia days. Any more I’d be relegated to Dr. Scott.

                    1. There’s an Australian musical game show called Spicks and Specks. One episode mostly concerned the Picture Show.

                      Worth the few minutes if you’re a fan… the copies are in several places on the intarwebz.

                  1. When I was about ten or so, I memorized that entire sequence because my Mom kept playing the album. I think I could probably still rattle it off if I tried.

            2. Art museums should do more exhibits on such topics of interest to the broad American public as football and MMA. I can imagine a representation of football uniforms over the ages, or a series of pictures breaking down and revealing the beauty of a series of martial arts katas.

              I’m not so interested in natural history museums, having lived through much of their covered subject matter, but I do like me a political historical museum, such as can be found at Colonial Williamsburg.

              1. Somewhat along those lines, the Denver Art Museum currently has an exhibition of the Star Wars costumes from all 7 movies. It was at least doing a pretty good job of getting people in the door who wouldn’t ordinarily touch an art museum with a 10 ft. pole.

                1. The Taft Art Museum in Cincinnati had an exhibit of early photographs of the American West that prompted me to visit over the weekend. That’s the type of awesome exhibit that can draw me to art museum. A Yosemite art exhibit when I was visiting family back east similarly drew me to an art museum. It was all much preferable to modern “art.”

                2. There’s a National Cathedral in DC. The architecture includes gargoyles.

                  One of those gargoyles is a bust of Darth Vader.

                  1. For today’s bit of useless information, “gargoyle” is a term exclusively used for those carvings with a drainpipe through them. If they don’t have a drainpipe, they are called “grotesques.”

                    And Now You Know.

            3. You know, you can meld all those. The natural history of beer: brewing through the ages. And truck art! (Well, van art, anyway…)

              1. There used to be (may still be, I don’t know) a CMT (Country Music Television) program (Trick My Truck, IIRC) in which a crew would overhaul the cabs of long-haul truckers. Absolutely amazing creativity involved in effective use of space and decorative items to create habitable environment. If they put on an exhibit of such work at a museum near me, I’m going, you betcha!

                American Trucker was similarly fascinating. These programs range through multiple artistic disciplines, including sculpture, graphic design, furniture making and audio environment creation.

            4. Don’t look at me. I’m the one who gets chased out of European ancient history museums and sites at closing time. Apparently I am frequently mistaken for a crazy British professor. I can live with that.

            5. I make a point of visiting the Norton Simon Museum every so often. They have wonderful art exhibits on display, including a small Asian wing.

            6. When I was visiting friends in Kentucky, I made a point of attending the Corvette museum in Bowling Green. Truly Modern Art.

      3. Metroplex. Live near Dallas. or near Fort Worth. Dallas reminds me of NY when I was growing up even though it doesn’t have Broadway.

      4. We have a Natural History Museum family membership and I’m probably going halvsies on a couples membership to the Art Museum with a friend. Cause I need to. Because with 2 jobs, I need something that feeds my soul and rests my brain.

      1. My dad grew up in Pittsburgh, as it happens. Given the visits with various relatives, I have a sneaking suspicion that there would be considerable culture shock with moving to that area. (What is it, eleven American cultures? Something like that. I’m right on the border between two wildly varying ones, which probably explains a lot about me.)

  8. Some years after I moved away, on a trip back to my parents I realized what I thought of as “home” was more of a time, not a place, and that was gone forever. Other than this, I don’t have this feeling of “home” anywhere. There’s places where I’m more comfortable than others – where I live; where I grew up; various places in the US – but never a feeling of really belonging.

    Maybe it’s an inherited restlessness. Maybe not. It just is.

    1. “Home” is in the Past, and the Past is another country. Generally what we think of as “Home” never actually existed, it was merely an impression made on a small uncomprehending mind.

      1. Yeah, I remember Casper being a lot more awesome when I was a kid…

        The country between Rawlins (which is a hole) and Casper (not as much of a hole, and at least has semi-tolerable shopping) is gorgeous, however. I’ve never enjoyed being out in the field for my job as much as I did the summer a couple of years ago they had me out on the northern side of Ferris mountain, mapping the cheatgrass in the burn. 😀

    2. It took me a while (when younger) to realize that’s what “You can’t go home again” really meant. My grandmother moved out of one house and later visited the area and had no desire to go by and see the place. She said she was done with now and it was someone else’s now. She liked the place when she lived there, but that was then.

      And I so understand the feeling of always being something of an outsider. Sometimes it’s by choice, trying not to get mixed up in things. Which can have the curious result of being invited in, since unlike some, I’m not being pushy and trying to barge in.

    3. Ya. I’ve bounced around enough that home only means going to family home. Other than diving nothing I really miss from RI. Getting to consider myself more Midwest/southern than Yankee though.

  9. “Homeland” is a weird concept for me. I’ve live in the state of Michigan for thirty-nine out of forty years. You’d think that would make it my home but…

    When I was in Oklahoma, it was a home to me. I didn’t care for the weather (I’m sorry, but whoever decided that the temperature should be allowed to go up that high ought to be shot.) but the people were friendly. I found a church that I liked. I could actually read a Bible in the break room at work and no one threatened to call HR… It was great.. BUT…

    My kids are in Michigan, so I’m back in Michigan. I miss being there. I have since I got off the bus. I guess this is my Homeland since it’s their Homeland. I wouldn’t mind taking them to Tulsa for a vacation though. Hell, I might even enjoy it.

    1. Northeastern Oklahoma is the place that still says “home” to me. But that could be because I spent my childhood there, and it’s a ‘the past is a different country’ thing. I’d still like to go back there and see, though.

      I don’t mind the murderous weather so much, but yeah, after living in the mountain West so long the heat will probably kill me.

      I’ve always wanted to check out the UP in Michigan–it looks like a place that might say ‘home’ to me. (At least, the pretty, pretty photos do, lol.)

        1. Heh. I live in what is technically a ghost town in the middle of Nowhere, WY. The UP looks like a mecca of (tolerable) civilization to me! 😀

          And the winters would inevitably be nicer than they are here…

          1. I wouldn’t be too sure about the winters. The UP has pretty brutal winters, being basically southern Canada. Probably less wind than WY, though.

              1. depends a lot on where in the U/P. you are. Up past Houghton look for snow . lots and lots of snow (365 inches worth at times). Can be the same way in Munising.
                Down this way (I’m on the border with Wisconsin in Menominee) we get less snow, and winters can be mild, but they can be humid so the cold bites. The wind off the lakes can get nasty too, but yeah, not in the league of say North Dakota.

  10. I daresay even the stack a prol apartments are better places to live than the low, conjoined little houses most people lived in. Apartments have toilets. And running hot and cold water.

    I get a kick out of folks talking about “tiny apartments” that are one-bedroom…and bigger than the unexpanded ranch houses I grew up around, which would have at least four people living in them and would feed whoever was in the bunk house as well. (All but three of the non-Navy-issued rooms I’ve lived in were originally farm houses, but only in the sense that if you know what to look for you can figure out which was the kitchen and which was the bedroom. Because that’s all there was. The floorplan is basically a domino….)

    Now, for an apartment or house-in-town you DO need more inside space, both practically (it’s rude to treat the hallway as a porch, even if stuff doesn’t walk) and mentally, but it still makes me laugh.

  11. you didn’t have the village gossips concoct fantastic tales about your secret love affair just because you felt like wearing a more daring shade of lipstick

    I am almost afeared to ask what constitutes a more daring shade of lipstick given based on your stories of the village I’d be surprised if you had more than red and pink (did you even have nudes).

    Also, the city doesn’t expunge that it just means your annoyingly progressive coworkers (ones that sound like they come from central casting of progtards) will assume lipstick means you’re gay and tell you to just, “come out already”.

    However, I do get the love of a place. For a long time I called Wyoming home although I was born in Virginia and moved all over. It was only after a decade plus in Connecticut I came to consider it home. Given I hated the politics and a lot of the attitudes why it came to be home is something I don’t understand.

    Yet, I will stand up for Heroin Town which I still love both as it was when I was there and for the history that is all but forgotten. I miss wandering roads in “rural” Connecticut that were nothing like what rural meant growing up out west or even visiting my grandparents in Georgia.

    Now, years later I am in Georgia where my father and his whole family were from and where my mother’s father’s family started before leaving for Arkansas. Yet it isn’t home in the way Connecticut (which, oddly includes Providence, RI), now almost a decade in the rearview or even Wyoming which I know I could never go back to.

    Labor Day weekend I went to visit a friend who moved last August from Atlanta to Providence (well, Warwick but what’s the difference) and we went to Riverfire. We walked downtown Providence and I showed her where my office at BCBSRI was and the places I ate and the used bookstore I spent lunches browsing. I was more at home that night than I am most days here.

    Home is a strange thing I think is much like family. It has much less to do with choice that with something much deeper, generally so deep you can’t express it beyond that one word.

  12. When I first heard of the ‘Homeland’ title my thoughts were not of Germany but of Britain as I pondered not the Secretary of (the Department of) Homeland Security but… the Home(land) Secretary.

    The ‘Nazi’ imagery of the shield idea amuses me as the image said to be thus more reminded me of the logo of… The National Recovery Administration (“We do our part!”) of FDR.

    I’ve found that only rather poor (to me) coffee needs sweetener, but average coffee does need cream or such. Really good coffee (esp. French press or cold brew) I can take black without any trouble at all. After going only coffee or tea for caffeine, it seems $HOUSEMATE and I have turned into coffee snobs of sorts: home grinder, French press, or cold brew. Keurig is more for quick hot water or “Oh crap, need something fast and we’re out of…”

    Home? That’s hard to say. I’ve really only near or in a few small towns. I know NYC would trigger my “I need to be elsewhere” sense in under a month if not under a week. I suspect the same of most larger cities. I think I could deal with Sioux Falls, and I hear Goldport might be worth considering.

    1. And iirc on either side of the speakers platform is an old Roman symbol. A bundle of sticks around an ax…AKA a fasces

  13. What is home? I really relate to that concept. I was born in the Midwest and grew up in Saint Louis. I left it as a young man in the next 40 years lived in New York, Alabama, Iowa, Louisiana and California. But I always felt like a stranger, a visitor. I moved back to Saint Louis a few years ago. Everything had changed; there was very little I recognized. But I knew I’d come home. The light of early morning and dusk, the smell of trees, cardinals in my feeder, the accents of the people. Yep, I was home again.

  14. This is a beautiful description of the feeling. I think… I’ve rarely felt not-home enough to get the same effect, maybe that’s it. My heart lifted when I first laid eyes on Edinburgh, but I think a significant part of that was being relieved the airline trip was over. (The flights themselves were fine, but it had been a long day.)

  15. [And no, the DNA tests aren’t very exact. They’re, as older son, the one who knows human biology puts it “mostly bogus.” He could probably explain why to you. He’s explained it to me, but my eyes glazed over.

    You can go look up the Ancestry.com one.

    Anybody have a grandma– or great grandma– who can LOOK at folks and say “he looks German,” or “Oh, your family must be from Cork!”, and they’re almost always right?

    Imagine someone wrote a computer program that looked at facial features and build and hair type and could say “you look 75% German and 10% Irish and 5% tracked Indian tribes.”
    Now switch it to “areas of DNA that show up a lot here, but not a lot there.”
    That’s what they’re using….

    Now remember that it’s possible for sisters to have 100% of the same DNA, or no shared DNA…..


    1. I don’t recall who said it but it struck me as memorable, obviously, that while Garbage In – Garbage Out was bad enough, the real worry is Garbage In – Gospel Out.

    2. Human genetics is a hell of a lot more random than the public thinks. It is more of a crapshoot what gets inherited than we think, and that variation can be huge, especially in family lineages that take in a variety of backgrounds.

      I remember a guy I worked with in the service; he was of Vietnamese/African-American background, with a white grandfather on the African-American side. The Vietnamese side had both Chinese and French admixture. His wife was Mexican/Anglo, with a bunch of Southwest Amerindian admixture. Their four kids? Looked like a damn Benetton ad, brought to life. None of those kids looked like they were related, and you really had to squint hard to see their parents in their appearances. How bad was it? They got accused of kidnapping their own kid, once, at the mall. The boy was obviously black, but mom and dad were… Kinda brownish, not as dark. Soooo… Some do-gooder claimed the kid was kidnapped, because he’d been fussing, and mom had to run after him and grab him when he took off.

      Funniest crack I heard from him about the situation was that there was no damn way he’d ever be able to tell if his wife had ever stepped out on him, because she could have snuck in a ringer anywhere along the line, and he’d have no way to prove it. It was kinda interesting to take a look at family photos they had up at their place, and go “Oh, OK… Steve looks just like Grand-Uncle Minh… Suzy is obviously Great-grandma Rosaria… Timmy looks like those pictures of the Buffalo Soldier unidentified relative they’ve got hanging… WTF is the deal with Sonya…? Red hair? Green eyes? Pale, pasty white…?”.

      Personally? My middle brother has the personality features of my maternal grandfather; body type from his grandmother’s lineage. Also has the moody, depressive nature of my grandfather, and the same sense of humor. It is really bizarre to see that come through, when they never met.

      Youngest brother has the full-on “mongol spot” that was present on his spine at birth, something that hasn’t manifested in my step-dad’s family in generations. Personality type? Similar to my stepdad; body type? Nearly the same. His youngest son? Could be a clone of my stepdad, personality-wise, and physically, he’s like a throwback to some forebear of much larger frame than any that people remember on either side of the family. Kid’s gonna be big and hefty in size.

      Personally, I think there’s a hell of a lot less that we “understand” than we think we do about this. Mendelian genetics explains a lot of things at the macro level, but when you get to the point where you’re looking at someone’s body language, and seeing a person who’s been dead for nearly thirty years? Yeah. I’m not so sure we’ve really “got it”. There’s a lot more going on here than just the transmission of eye and hair color, and I suspect that there are actual epigenetic effects, as well as things that are carried between generations in the cell lines which are not DNA-based.

      I had an interesting conversation with a gentleman who’s working on a Ph.D in genetics, and he’s been looking at some of these so-called chimeras. What is interesting, per what he said, is that there appear to be at least a couple of cases where there are not only multiple cell lines in one individual, but actual cases where it’s not “one father, one mother, multiple fertilized eggs combining into one individual”, but “multiple fathers, one mother, multiple fertilized eggs”. The impact of that sort of thing being verifiable and understood will have huge effects on a lot of fields, not the least transplant technology.

      Forensics confidence may not survive the implications, either…

      1. Younger son not only is a dead ringer of my father, but growing up completely apart from him tends to do things the same way. They gain wait at the same time of life, lose it at the same time GET ILL WITH THE SAME THINGS AT THE SAME TIME.
        Seriously, I’m surprised younger son hasn’t sired a son yet, as dad had at his age. Then again, maybe he hasn’t told us.

        1. I’ve noticed that those most knowledgeable about genetics and DNA testing are the the ones least likely to make outrageous claims. And they understand that at DNA testing (and ethnicity assignment) is mostly about statistics – sample of large group of people with (as far as they know) pure ancestry from region X, then find out which particular genetic variations and sequences of DNA on particular chromosomes are most common in that group. Wash/lather/repeat for other groups. And learn that some genetic variations are most common in particular areas/groups, others are common over larger regions, and some are pretty well species-wide.

          Then there’s the awkward fact that the political boundaries of today are *not* those of a century ago, much less the 500 or so years that algorithms that look at DNA sequences rather than individual locations can usually identify. And that throughout human history people have moved around, and exchanged genes whenever they had the opportunity. And that although you inherit 50% of your DNA from each parent, *which* 50% can vary considerably between siblings. After a surprisingly short number of generations, this can have a considerable affect.

          I’ve tests on file on most of the major sites operating in the US (23&Me, FTDNA, Ancestry, GEDMatch, MyHeritage). And I’ve been able to confirm exact relationships using our family trees for some of the more distant DNA matches (including several 8th cousins and 1 8th 1R). But I’ve seen estimates that ~50% of 4th cousins don’t even show up as “possible cousins” because of the multi-generational statistics. My closest relative that’s tested is a 1/2 brother – I match him at ~27% (statistical average is 25%). Next closest are two 1st cousins 1R (brother and sister) – I share >10% more with one than the other (387 vs 340 cM as measured by Ancestry). Tested 2nd cousins range from a high of 274 cM to 144 cM.

          Basically, the tests are pretty good at confirming close relationships and many genetic health issues. They do a decent job on identifying some more distant relatives, but the more distant the relationship the more hit-and-miss. For people with large percentages of recent ancestry from certain highly-endogamous groups, they’re also fairly accurate. For less inbred groups, or smaller percentages of ancestry . . . educated guesswork, basically – “18% of your DNA most closely matches this group – but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you got it from – it might really be 10% of group X and 8% group Y blended together”

          1. “And that throughout human history people have moved around, and exchanged genes whenever they had the opportunity.”

            No kidding. My father is very into genealogy, and even though ALL of our direct line ancestors have always lived in the South, trace back through my mother’s father’s side of the family and two of his great-great-great uncles were among the 9 people who originally purchased Nantucket Island from the Crown….. 😎

      2. . Mendelian genetics explains a lot of things at the macro level, but when you get to the point where you’re looking at someone’s body language, and seeing a person who’s been dead for nearly thirty years?

        Try more like half a century.

        We’ve got the current toddler who is…well, toddling around.

        She has a habit of putting her hands behind her back, not clasped, just a finger or two touching, and sort of sauntering.

        Dad’s eyes nearly bugged out– his grandfather, the one who came over from Scotland, did exactly the same thing.

        She also has the stink-eye from my grandmother on the other side, heaven help her. (Or possibly me.)

      3. My son looks like my brother, who looks like my dad, who looks like my grandfather who looks like… And we have kindergarten pictures of 4 generations where the only way you can tell who is who is by the age of the photograph. They all wore the same damn freaking bow tie (navy with small white polka dots).

        I, on the other hand, look kinda like my mom if you squint but I am the spitting image of one of my great great grandmothers who was half-native. And I have the same proportions, though stretched out by about 7 inches, of my paternal grandmother. My daughter looks like me when I was her age but acts so much like my grandmother, it’s spooky. I try not to think of the fact that she’s named for her, as well, and what all that might mean…

        1. I’ve looked at some old photos of some teenagers/early 20s men and I was wondering what I was doing in the photo. Except it’s a photo of my dad and my uncles when they were young.

          I sometimes wonder if I’m a clone. O_o;;

        2. My oldest son is a dead ringer for my next brother who was killed in a car wreck in 1976. #2 son has my body build with my wife’s uncles face. #3 son is built like by Dad, tall and muscular with my wife’s mother’s looks, and #4 son is a charming guy who looks nothing like anyone else in either family…….

        3. And we have kindergarten pictures of 4 generations where the only way you can tell who is who is by the age of the photograph. They all wore the same damn freaking bow tie (navy with small white polka dots).

          Sounds like my family– for that matter, my husband had a Navy regulation mustache when he got out of boot camp. Went to visit the Navy archives.
          Saw his dad’s picture.
          Shaved it off as soon as he got back to his razor and hasn’t grown a Navy-reg mustache since then. It’s crazy when mini-me is a foot taller than the original.

  16. Perhaps your older son would write a post about DNA analysis. If there are problems with it being used to identify recent ancestry it would be good to know considering how it is trusted in the courtroom.
    On Coffee: If you haven’t I would suggest trying either cold brewed coffee and/or Sumatra. Both are very mellow and low acid so you might not need sweetener.

      1. If I understand correctly, the uncertainty is because its fundamentally a matter of probabilities rather than certainties. And the basis for those probability calculations are determined upon the distributions obtained from DNA sampling of a variety of populations. With an uptick in “inter-population gene transfer”, sampling bias, multiple origins of the same mutations, uncertain history of them, etc. those probabilities might have an inaccurate basis.

        1. One of the most common complaints on DNA testing forums forums is the newly-tested who are *outraged* that they have no measurable native American DNA even though they have a family legend of a “Cherokee Princess” somewhere in their family tree. (Why always Cherokee? And why a “Princess”?)

          Even in the cases where it’s essentially true (rather than family folklore) , they’re ignoring that by the early 1800s the Cherokee and many other eastern US groups had been intermarrying with new settlers for more than a century. And that statistically they’d have been unlikely to have inherited more than 1% of their DNA from any particular ancestor that far back.

          1. By current standards the Cherokee are very SJW friendly. They were victims of White Man’s Oppression, they were peaceful (not a lot of people claiming Apache nor Comanche heritage, for some odd reason) they had (by contemporary standards) attractive native costumes and there was considerable inter-marriage with Whites to grant a patina of credibility to the claim.

            As to why a princess — consider the exaled, privileged self-image so many of these folk claim; what would they be if not of Blood Royale?

              1. …I mean, not a lot. But IIRC it’s family record not legend, whereas despite location there’s zero known Cherokee.

              2. *High fives raised hand* Grandma always swore it was Cherokee but I got a chance to look at the records, and, well, odds are pretty good Grandma was fooling herself because she’d done some of the research Sarah had done.

            1. That was a rhetorical question, but you’ve nailed it.

              I actually knew one family that accurately could claim Comanche ancestry. Their daughters (friends of my daughters) were, as I recall, 1/16 Comanche (G3 granddaughters of Quanah Parker).

              When they moved to a new neighborhood, their neighborhood school (a magnet) was full, but still had a quota for “minority” kids. So, since they could document it, the two blue-eyed blond-haired upper-middle-class girls were able to enroll on the basis of their Native American ancestry.

              I didn’t blame their parents for gaming the system. But was a bit bitter that my own daughters – half Chinese, with one parent who immigrated as an adult – wouldn’t have been able to get in because both “Asians” and “Whites” were already statistically over represented and didn’t count as minorities.

            2. Huh. Peaceful Cherokee. Not so much during the Revolutionary War and before.

              There’s a persistent rumor that there’s Cherokee in our family. No, not the “Cherokee princess” story. It goes that a certain ancestor, who could speak Cherokee, married one. But that doesn’t really pan out in genealogy, unless one of his wives had a Cherokee ancestor. He was involved in scorched earth campaigns against the Cherokee in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. Make of that what you will. Still, I’ve been asked more than one by American Indians if I’m Cherokee, without them knowing a thing about my family so it’s one of those “hmm” things.

              My wife, OTOH, had a documented ancestor who was an American Indian, so the kids can claim they have a known Indian ancestor.

              1. He was involved in scorched earth campaigns against the Cherokee in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. Make of that what you will.

                That kind of makes me think he was more likely to have a Cherokee wife… We’ve got photograph that show my great-grandmother was some kind of Indian, at very least half, but she looked like a proper Pastor’s Wife. I suspect she chose her lifestyle on the same logic that the old Indian lady in my mom’s home town did– her mom escaped a “traditional” lifestyle when she was going to deliver said Indian lady. Imagine being someone with not very good English, moving into a logging town with at least two small children and a third on the way, with nothing but whatever skills you’d managed to get from a traditional lifestyle…and this is an improvement big enough for you to basically exile yourself from everyone you’ve grown up around.

                Taking a new name is a common choice in those cases I’ve heard of; would that account for the genealogy abnormalities?

                1. Seamstress comes to mind. Prior to the founding of the Georgia colony, Indian women were prized as seamstresses. That might have continued through the decades.

                  There were a number of Cherokee, particularly in North Carolina, who had light enough skin that they took White surnames and tried to pass. These weren’t removed to Oklahoma. Met one, who became a preacher. He had a lot of heart breaking tales of experiencing racism growing up.

                  This, BTW, also happened with the Creek. I met several who’s ancestors could only have passed with a wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more. The most common story is that they were already intermarried and where hid by locals after the removal. One gave us an ear of red flint corn he said they used to grow. Alas, we eventually lost the seed of that.

                  Really, I don’t know if the rumor is true where our family is concerned. Maybe, maybe not. If I find that’s true, yay. If not, oh well.

                  1. Remnant Shawnee were like that: they took English names, they were baptized, they lived in Euro-style log cabins and grew crops and had friends. So why leave? And who was going to make them?

                  2. I know a couple of registered Cherokee, about 1/3 blood (get enough intermarrying and you can approximate that fraction.) They have a clear genealogy going to a fairly famous patriarch whose house is now a state landmark. The male of the two sings opera professionally and has been cast as white, Arabic, and (Asian) Indian, all pretty convincingly. He is also quite obviously a direct descendant of aforementioned patriarch, even if he hadn’t inherited the last name.

                    Visual heritage is fun.

          2. Mi’kmaq for me. At least, presumably. Since there were women who just appeared out of nowhere as far as the records went on their wedding days up the Acadian branch.

            No one up the Quebec branch, which is where family legend put the local bride.

          3. I just barely took the test. 70% Western Europe, 14% Scandinavia, 9% Ireland, 7% Great Britain. I wasn’t expecting the Irish but maybe that explains the redhead pain gene.
            They also had an extremely high confidence that I share a parent-child relationship with my mother. 😀
            More useful was the information that I should be taking vitamin B-12.

            1. More interesting is the race for the 1000th descendent of my mother’s maternal grandparents. Apparently there’s a $50 gift certificate for the winner.

    1. Let’s back of the envelope.

      Assuming twenty year generations, a twenty year old now was born twenty years ago to two parents, born forty years ago to four grandparents and so on to two hundred years ago to 1024 (2^10) tenth generation ancestors.

      So about a thousand (2^n for n=10) units of genes being pared down to one via around a thousand (I think 2^n -1) events that discard half the material, possibly entirely at random. (I’m not sure whether the combination of sex selection genes and the fact that half must be functional males and half functional females prevents randomness. It is beyond the statistics I can muster off the top of my head.) Each event is like a long row of red blocks, and a long row of blue blocks in pairs, with one block selected from each pair at random.

      For 2^n ancestors whose genes all can be identified to a specific source, how likely is it that our subject has these genes evenly distributed? As in, 1/(2^n) genes from each? I would expect the math shows that very uneven distribution is much more likely than even.

      What about the purported ancestral signatures our subject is matched to? We totally match against the extensive genetic databases that everyone has kept for thousands of years. No, we take samples from modern populations, which are supposed to represent past populations. I might’ve just shown that ‘most of y population’s ancestors come from x population’ does not mean that x and y populations are genetically identical. Even if it did, that’s a lot of conceptions to track in regard to population movements. Green Bear tells us that population distribution models do not forecast well. This may mean there is valid no statistical technique to adjust our modern samples for wars, famines, plagues, factory closings and so forth to predict historical samples.

      Neglecting inbreeding, selection, lethal gene combinations, etc…

      1. I do a quick and dirty 1/2^(n-1) for the amount of shared genetics, where n is the number of generations. Assuming 25 years per generation, there’s been 6 between now and 1850. A person born now would have 1/32nd of the genetic code of any given ancestor born in 1850.

        I picked 1850 for a reason. I once saw a rare photo of a couple of family members of that generation. One had ears flat to the head and his brother’s ears was slightly splayed away from the scalp. That’s a trait that shows up even in roughly half the family today, which brings us to the question: Since there is documented mixing – moving a far distance and marrying outside of the local community – how can this be a family trait? Shouldn’t it be diluted so that 1 in 32 would show that trait instead of roughly 1/2?

        Yes, I know it’s likely recessive, but that would seem to imply that the trait exists in 1/2 the population over a region of the US. But it doesn’t look like the splayed ears are in half the population were we married. But if it’s a hard family trait, why not show up in more than half the family?

        1. … things are odd. As I said, my son might as well be my dad, physically and to an extent mentally.
          And my younger nephew IS our great grandfather, functionally (Poor thing. And also, we’re watching him very carefully.)

          1. One of ours is more like my father than I am. OTOH, I look so much like my father than people who know him immediately know who I am. Then again, occasionally I’ll say something that those who knew my mother’s father swears sounds like a comment he’d make.

            Something odd is my handwriting looks like my mother’s mother. The handwriting of one of ours looks like my mother’s. I can see a lot of different ancestors in ours’. Fortunately, ours’ takes after my wife when it comes to social skills.

        2. It isn’t necessarily evenly distributed if it is heritable via DNA.

          For gametes, IIRC, the chromosomes in the parent cell line up, unspool, and swap segments. Then they wind back up into chromosomes, the chromosome pairs separate, and the cell splits into two gamete cells, each with opposite halves of the set of chromosomes.

          Let’s consider a set of conceptions between mother A and father B. Let’s pretend that A was conceived by a sperm whose chromosome half set we call red, and an egg whose half set we call green. Likewise B came from a sperm half set yellow and an egg half set blue. A’s Eggs will have a half chromosome set that could be red or green, but will be more probably in practice a mixture. Likewise B’s sperm. Excluding the sex chromosomes, your ancestry on one side might be entirely one grandparent or entirely the other, but most likely a mix. Even distribution would be .25, .25, .25, .25. Instead it can be from 0 to .5.

          For your other point, it is not common for a human couple to bring a statistically significant sample (20, 30, 40) of offspring to adulthood. Hence for a small number of offspring, it isn’t improbable that the offspring’s gametes not represent the full range of variation of the parent’s gametes.

          You traits with a one in two chance from each of your parents, not from a one in whatever from your ancestors. The dice have no memory. You can trace a trait to very distant ancestors, but they have no influence over recent frequency (which is more recent conceptions) and humans mostly do not have enough children to expect frequency to match probability.

          1. The dice have no memory, but each family and each generation are different sets of dice. I never even noticed the ears trait until a cousin mentioned it.

            Assuming four survivors per generation, that’s 256 pairs of dice for four generations; dropping the average to three per generation and it’s 768 by generation five, and dropping it to two, 1,536 by generation six.

            That said, I have not had contact with 1,536 family members; that sample is much smaller.

            If it didn’t also show up in woman as well, I’d think it had something to do with the Y chromosome.

            1. Yeah, much smaller.

              You don’t see all the family descended from six generations back from you. Direct ancestors and descendents you probably see much further than to the sides. How much do you know about that cousin’s grandkids? If you and the cousin are from the same branch, descended two or three generations from someone who happened to inherit the genes for the ears, you might expect to observe the ears more than other branches.

              Perhaps there are other branches who would, given the same picture, point to the brows or the chin.

      2. (I’m not sure whether the combination of sex selection genes and the fact that half must be functional males and half functional females prevents randomness. It is beyond the statistics I can muster off the top of my head.)

        The basic-explanation-with-CGI-visual that I keep getting is that the DNA unzips, swaps chunks back and forth to make a new string, and then that new chain is what heads off to become half of the new kid.

        1. Pretty much – except that it usually swaps segments of DNA on each Chromosome rather rather than single fragments.

          And longer segments are more likely to be broken up again in the next generation. But not guaranteed.

          DNA relationship calculations usually set a minimum segment size (typically 7 cM – in this context, “centiMorgan”, not “centimeter”) for matching comparisons. Generally, the longer the largest matching segment, the closer the relative – but sometimes fairly long segments can remain intact through multiple generations. So the algorithms usually look at the total length of all the segments larger than the threshold AND the largest segment size to make an estimate of the distance of your relationship.

          Just take their estimate of distance as an educated guess, rather than gospel. Generally, the closer the actual relationship, the more accurate the estimate. And if you belong to a group with a long history of intermarriage in a relatively small population, any estimate beyond 2nd cousin level tends to be more a marker for “yep, you belong to this population” than actual relationship distance.

          For Ashenazi, or Azoreans, French Canadians or any other group with a small founding population, any two people chosen at random will usually show up as effectively 6th cousins by total DNA, even if the actual family tree relationship is “10th cousin a dozen times over”. It’s only when someone matches closer than about “4th cousin” there’s a decent chance that they’re actually a relative at the indicated distance.

  17. “Some of my early in-English reading happened because I found a nook at the back of an alfarrabio (from the fact that rag is farrapo, I wonder if the word is arab for rag cellar, and the book thing just accrued to the profession as books came in) where they had early twentieth century, leather bound English language books.”

    If I had to hazard a guess, the “rag” thing comes from what they used to make paper out of, namely old cloth. The etymology for “newsrags” is fairly clear, in English. Maybe it’s the same in Portuguese? If it were, it would make sense to call a used bookstore a “rag cellar” in a sardonic way, as you might term a room storing actual old rags you were saving to sell to the paper-maker.

    I wonder what the paper trade looked like, in Portugal, back in the days when the cycle was cloth, clothing, rags, paper… I’d be willing to bet that there was an old guy wandering around, collecting rags and bones to sell on, and that the households kept such things stored somewhere, to sell him. And, then those rags would come back as paper products and books… Probably like here in the US, where the rag-and-bone men had regular routes.

    Could be you are already making that allusion here, but it’s not clear in that paragraph.

    1. Don’t rush her…we need those Future History Anthologies first…and if it comes to it I’ll pay premium prices (*counts banker bonus* 🙂 )

    2. It’s on the schedule, either this year or next. The series opens with Winter Prince, which everyone tells me is a lousy title, and I concur, but it’s what it wants to be called.

      1. Winter Prince is a fine (okay, that is “fine” as in “meh”) title, but you likely could improve its grabability with a catchy subtitle.

        I do not claim to be adept at the art of catching eyes with book titles, but if you append it along these lines — Winter Prince: one cold son of a bitch — you can see how adding a little spice can enhance the flavour.

      2. Let’s hope it changes its mind between now and then.

        The ones I really hate are when the title was the original inspiration and yet doesn’t fit the story in the end.

    1. They’re very fond of thrusting their fists into the air, the only difference being that they close their fingers when they do it.

    1. About ten years ago. Right now women walk along on Colfax AT NIGHT who aren’t selling anything. It gets very bad towards Aurora, but around Pete’s Kitchen small houses go for half a million dollars. I know. Even twenty years ago it was unbelievable. There’s a Sprouts and a petsmart RIGHT ON COLFAX. It started quietly ten years ago, but now the gentrification is almost completed. As it moves towards Aurora, it will push the seedy street life further into Aurora.

      1. Well, 12th and Iola *is* Aurora….. I remember walking down Colfax with my (hayseed from rural Missouri) roommate a little after dark and listening to the hooker picking up 2 johns, and after we’d gotten out of their earshot he leaned down to me and whispered “Was that a hooker?”

        She was actually the 4th one we’d passed in the 3 blocks we’d been walking…. This was 1992, though, so quite a while ago.

        1. Yeah, Colfax as it goes into Aurora is if anything worse, because people are getting pushed thataway. It’s where Robert and I saw an eighty year old (looked like) in her underthings, pulling a suitcase at four am…

          1. Denver’s own Ed Bryant is the poet of old Colfax, helped give it its reputation in the rest of he country, in stories like “Doing Colfax.”

  18. I’ve lived in many places ’round the country and the world. In most I’ve been content enough, if not *happy*. Only once, Saudi Arabia, did I get the ‘I’ve gotta get out of this place’ vibe, and that only towards the end of my residency because when I first arrived there was a bit of a ‘you’ve just pulled our chestnuts out the fire so we’ll tolerate your infidel tendencies’ thing going on. I did kiss the ground upon returning from there. Also only once did I get the immediate sense of belonging you describe. I was hired by a firm in Oregon. The night I arrived, in Portland it was cool and rainy, and I said to myself, “Okay, you’re in the Pacific Northwest, it’s likely to be cool and rainy.”. A company driver picked me up and took me to a motel. When he picked me up the next morning to take me to breakfast it was still cool and rainy, and I said to self, “Okay, this could get a little old.” Spent the morning in the hangar doing paperwork and getting familiarized with the operation. Got out at noon for lunch. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, Mt. Hood was beaming down the Willamette valley from the East, the Coast Range was glowing emerald to the West, and I told self, “I’M HOME!” Sadly, lack of jobs and an influx of Californicators eventually took the bloom off the rose.

    Having breakfast in the sun room early morning, with the park and the trees to my right, and the lights of Denver slowly facing in front of me, eclipsed by the rising son . . .

    So Robert, upon waking, completely blocks the view from your windows? 🙂

  19. The same way, referring to myself as Portuguese was wrong. I found out in my teens, when I started visiting friends for long periods of time, that my family REALLY wasn’t that Portuguese.
    Funny, that’s exactly the way I feel, but for a different reason.
    For the longest time (at least a decade and a half) every time somebody would call me a Russian, I would have to make an effort not to get angry.
    The whole notion was preposterous. All my life prior to emigrating, my fellow Soviet citizens made a point of teaching me that as a Jew, I was NOT a Russian. Then upon coming here I found myself called a Russian by anyody who could place my accent. It still jars me, but at least I don’t correct people anymore. I am proud to say that I outgrew that. 🙂

          1. Perhaps you should save a sound clip to forward to those who make such requests. Whether it’s the requested phrase or a high-volume steam whistle is entirely up to you.

    1. Interesting. There is a scene in “Downton Abbey”, where Lady Rose, who is helping White Russian emigrés, mentions her friend Atticus Aldrich and his family as an example of immigrants from Russia who have made a home in Britain (Atticus’ father Lord Sinderby is a wealthy banker). They came from Odessa in 1859 and 1871 – and one of the Whites shouts “They are not Russians!” Because, of course, they are Jews whose ancestors fled infamous pogroms.

      In Europe, ethnicity is entangled with nationality that is alien to Americans. The USSR tried to rise above ethnicity, but ultimately failed. And in any case the ethnicity/nationality clash remains. There are Tatars who were subjects of the Tsar for centuries, and live in Russia today – but would not call themselves “Russians”, ethnically.

      Neither, I think, would the Jews of the old “Pale of Settlement” (your ancestors).

      Willingness to separate ethnicity from nationality is a New World thing, though also fairly strong in France. Also in nations which are historically multi-ethnic, such as Britain, Switzerland, or India.

  20. Don’t look at me. It’s like I’m attached to the High Plains with a bungee cord or something. I keep leaving and getting pulled back, leave and get pulled back . . I like being where weather can’t sneak up on me.

  21. Sarah, I can relate to your love of Denver. I’ve spent most of my life in the northeast corner of Kansas, except for a 4-year stint in northern California. I live in northwest Missouri now but not that much different from northeast Kansas. When I was about 8 years old (1954?) my older brother and I went with my parents to Denver for most of two weeks. My dad was in the naval reserve and his “cruise” that year was some kind of classes in Denver. What I remember most is making almost daily trips from downtown, my 11 year old brother and myself riding the trolly by ourselves, to tour the zoo and the natural history museum and then on to the state capitol building to go up to the balcony to look at the front range. The last couple of days we were there we spent driving around in the mountains, including driving up Mt. Evans, and then spent our last night in Colorado at the home of one of my dad’s relatives in Colorado Springs. Denver and the mountains haunted my dreams for years after that until I finally got back out there with some friends in 1965. I’ve been back several times since but never for more than a day or two, always on the way to somewhere else, usually California. Didn’t mean to go on so long, just wanted to express my shared affection for Colorado.

  22. Why Denver? Because I’m here 😀 (mostly kidding)

    I love it here. As frustrating and difficult as it is, I love my city as much as I love my country. When we lived in Albuquerque, the mountains felt wrong and my husband thought I was crazy. Well, I was a little but it wasn’t about the mountains.

    Welcome home, Sarah, and thanks for being a neighbor.

    1. I wasn’t you, it was Quirky ‘Burque. I enjoy going there to do research, but that city has got some seriously odd vibes. It is making Taos and Santa Fe start to look almost sane, rational, and average. Almost.

  23. Let me loan you a word. It’s Japanese, but it’s simple. Furusato. Foo-roo-sah-toe.

    Furusato 故郷 古里 home town, birthplace, native place, one’s old home. The two sets of kanji — the first pair refers to you home town, home village, native place or district. The second pair is literally old village, or old parent’s home.

    It’s very common in Japan to be asked where your furusato is. I often ask people what they mean, where I was born, where I grew up, or where I have lived the longest? This often starts a complicated discussion, because I honestly don’t remember the town where I was born, I grew up in at least three different places (main ones that I remember), and I have now lived the longest in the Kansai area here in Japan. But there is this concept that the town where you were born, where your parents lived, where you are registered is in some way a key to knowing who you are. It’s where everyone expects you to go over holidays and during vacations, back to the furusato.

    I think of it as your home country, your home land, your home place. The place where you are comfortable.

    So tell people your furusato is Denver, Colorado. Let them argue with that!

      1. Good point! Actually, most Japanese are thinking about where their family registry is kept, so that’s exactly what Joseph and company were doing in Bethlehem.

  24. For all the things you can’t explain, you have explained them very well. Why do you fall in love–with a country, and a civilization, and a hometown? That’s what I read here–a love story–and it resonates very strongly, even though I was born here, and have never gone farther than Canada.

    It’s almost a pity you gave this away for free.

      1. Done. It’s a bit late, since the donate button does not appear on the mobile web page. It also acts a little strange, taking you to the PayPal page first, but that’s manageable.

Comments are closed.