Balancing the Scales

Equality is a wonderful thing.  Everyone agrees.  Every little kid born in the US should be able to aspire to becoming president or the head of a company.  Every little kid born in Europe should be able to aspire to becoming a head of its country in the US.

I think this ties in with the monkey brain (but not, mind you, the Monkey brain.  I make no representations about the functioning of Dr. Monkey’s brains, which apparently involves sharks and gratuitous danger, sometimes underwater danger with sharks.) because when you had small bands of hominids or hominins or other things started with hom that were ancestral to us, equality was a good thing — at least once you got past the “big man/head of tribe.” — if Ogg was eating all the fat off the mammoth carcass, and leaving Mogg to chew the little bits of sinew off the bone, Mogg would either die or bean Ogg with a mammoth bone, thereby starting trouble in the band and weakening it.

Okay, that’ half-assed (more like quarter assed) speculation.  But the one thing that’s true is that there seems to be a category for “fair” in our brains.  Dr. Monkey who should know — because he’s a biologist and for the unitiated Dr. Monkey is my friend, Dave Freer — says that even chimps try to establish “fair.”

We all like to see fair play.  We all get incensed when the game is rigged in someone’s favor.  And Americans have a mile-wide love for the underdog.

But let’s talk sense, shall we?

Life isn’t fair.  I was going to say the only place life is fair is kindergarten, then I thought about kindergarten.  Yeah.  Try for instance, judging a dispute between a grubby, overlarge boy and a cute, perfectly coiffed and dressed little girl.  Who do you think the teacher will think was being the bully?

Right.  There ain’t no justice.  Pretty much never.

Take my kids: because Dan and I started off on our own, with minimal to no help from either family, and because both of us struck out into fields where we had no friends, no family, no acquaintances and frankly didn’t even know how the game was played (particularly in my case, since I changed countries, languages and cultures) our progress has been difficult and hand over hand, and sometimes by the edge of bleeding fingernails.

Our progress would have been infinitely faster, given the same ability and level of effort if Dan had taken good care to be born to a family with contacts in his field, or I’d had the good sense to be born to even a minor science fiction writer.  If I’d been born to Robert A. Heinlein, it would have been an instant move to the front of the class (or heck, even if the spheres had aligned and Robert and Ginny had decided they needed a Portuguese exchange student back in 80-81.)

So? Life isn’t fair.

But more importantly, it is impossible to make it so.

A lot of our government’s more insane interference into realms in which it frankly has no business is in the realm of trying to make things fair, trying to level the playing field, and in general blundering about like a bull in a China shop.

Right now you’re about to tell me that affirmative action has done a lot of good.  Has it?  Has it really?

Because from where I stand, what affirmative action has done is erase the idea of a meritocracy.  It has forced employers and universities to take an interest in things other than “can you do the job I want to hire you for, and can we come to a mutually agreeable agreement?”

Sure, you’ll tell me, but it was necessary to overcome institutional racism and–

And we should talk about what caused that institutional racism, which was a series of laws designed to keep the two races apart and the black race subordinate.  These didn’t arise spontaneously from the way people behaved, no.  It was laws created to make it happen.  There were people — black and white — who’d have acted quite differently, long before the civil rights struggle.  (Note to pussy-hatters, the civil rights struggle was about removing unjust laws, not about screaming you’re discriminated against because …cheese. Not about claiming a patriarchy where none exists.  Note to the clueless, for what a patriarchy really means, go study Saudi Arabia or Iran.  I know what your Marxist professor told you, but no, covering women in sofa slip covers is NOT a mark of respect, unless getting whipped by the morality police is also a mark of respect, and if you, unspanked child that you are, really need to be whipped, there are bespoke clubs, that don’t involve enslaving your whole country.  Get your head out of your rectal cavity and start thinking.)

Anyway, the government swung from one side to the other, and suddenly its purpose was to make the races (and sexes) equal. This is laudable, I suppose, at least by comparison to keeping 14% of the population subjugated.

Except that instituting — or even promoting — equality via the federal government is akin to performing brain surgery on the kitchen table with a wooden spoon.  The intent might be laudable, or even life-saving, but the patient is going to die.

The patient — our public life, our culture, our industry — is not dead — yet — but it’s limping badly.

This lurch for establishing equality by fiat, and from above, has created a culture that no longer believes in meritocracy.  You’re seeing the end result of it in science fiction “powers” being more interested in the color of the author’s skin and what’s between the author’s legs or where the author puts what’s between the author’s legs than in the written story.  Now imagine that where it’s more important, like… managing companies, and you’ll start seeing the shape of the problem.

A technical/scientific civilization cannot possibly survive on less than competent managers, no matter how tanned they are, or whether they’re female, or whether they like to sleep with octopi.

I’m not saying all of these are incompetent.  I’m saying we’re not picking them for competence.  We’re picking them for “interesting side characteristics” (which btw keep multiplying) which have nothing to do with competence.  Given equal competence between all populations, this method will still lead you to pick less competent person of favored characteristic x than more competent person of no particular characteristic, (don’t believe me? Model it.)  and when the pool of talent is as narrow as say “technical ability combined with managerial ability” is in the human race, you’re going to get some very incompetent people in.

But beyond that, it is poisonous to the “favored group x” itself.  I know.  I started down that path when I first came to the US.  I hung out with mostly minority people (see where apparently people identify me as Latin more than I identify myself) and it was very easy not only to make use of your “race” to get what you wanted (and this attracts a certain number of grifters, too, particularly in the US, see Dolezal or her counterpart in SF/F) but also to be really insecure about anything you got.  No more joy and pride in accomplishment, as you were never sure “is that because of my skin?”  And then you started seeing discrimination under every bed.  Look, you knew that your skin color/country of origin/whatever mattered enough to get you a position.  So even if it didn’t matter to you, it obviously mattered to other people.  From that to assuming every slight, every snub, every even vaguely unpleasant interaction was the result of discrimination was a step.  That road lies the “micro-aggressions” madness and the “The US is a white supremacist patriarchy” paranoia.  Because every time you’re thwarted and can’t get what you want, it MUST be discrimination.

Or you can choose to assume there are racist/sexist assholes — like the time I worked for a store where I and the black girl were the only ones not given the combination to the safe, but the first questioned about missing money — but the majority of people aren’t racist/sexist assholes, and you’ll make your way the best you can with what you have, thank you very much.  Then when you fail, you study what went wrong and improve your strategy.  Did you fail because of discrimination?  Maybe.  But eventually you’ll get SO GOOD you won’t fail.  And at least you’ll know you did it yourself and not be looking for racists under every bed.

The problem with the government promoting equality is this: the government doesn’t know you.  The government can’t read minds.  The government can’t even balance the odds between individuals.

The best the government can do is make broad ‘protected’ classes, like people of a certain skin color/ancestry, people of a certain (okay, female) gender, and people of certain orientations.

But classes aren’t people.  I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that whatever the relative performance of Portuguese Immigrants and Black People in the US (I don’t know.  Haven’t looked it up) the Obama daughters have WAY more advantages getting where they want to go in life than my kids.  Even if on paper my kids belong to a more privileged “class.”

Or take my friend Kate, an immigrant from Australia, and me.  Our journey into publishededom (shut up, totally a word) has been about the same, if you take in account she started ten years after me and as the field was starting to collapse, and the rational manner of making your way up no longer existed (It’s Kate’s fault.  Ask her.  She does this to every field she enters.  That’s why she has like 4 degrees.)

She’s blond and blue eyed.  I am a certifiable mutt with an accent that doesn’t trigger “oh, how smart” among American born people.  (No, seriously, they confuse Australian and British.)

Does our skin color have anything to do with success?  No, see, they don’t paint-chip authors.  Or at least real publishing houses don’t.  We’ll leave the unreal publishing house alone.  Heaven knows that they do.

HOWEVER make one or the other of us the daughter of an sf/f writer, and it would be completely different, irrespective of our particular skin color, or frankly talent.

This is the thing.  What determines success for a human being might have some component of race/gender/orientation.  Certainly in truly racist (vast portions of the world outside the US) or truly sexist countries (see most of the middle East, and vast portions of the Mediterranean) one or the other of those can be a huge handicap.  Certainly being gay in Muslim countries can cause you to be crushed under a wall or hung from a crane, which, strangely, puts an end to your striving.

But absent extreme circumstances, is that the whole picture of a human being?

Oh, hell no.  Human beings are not widgets.  Let’s start with external circumstances, like affluence at birth or the relative knowledge of the field you’re entering, or even your parents’ achievements and your relationship with them: those can make huge differences between people who are externally alike.

Let’s continue with what’s inside the person, and which can be much harder to quantify/understand and into which the government FOR SURE has absolutely no insight: intelligence is probably the lowest in importance when it comes to success.  Drive, personality, capacity for work and what we’ll call, for lack of a better word, charisma and the ability to create connections, count for more than raw IQ.

Once you take external and internal circumstances into account, and absent the government’s thumb on the scales, what does skin color, sex or orientation have to do with success: bloody little.

Worse, the government’s arbitrary rules have caused the not-inconsequential lunacy of having girls treated with kid gloves in primary school, which means they’re badly prepared for science in high school, where they’re also treated with kid gloves, until they hit college, where they can’t be treated with kid gloves.  My younger son, in engineering, has seen all his female class mates drop out leaving what he calls “a sausage fest” which he — as a male who likes women — finds disturbing.  And most of it? Bad preparation because no teacher wants to be thought too harsh to girls.  Except good teaching involves being harsh and demanding.  Some of my best teachers chased me all over the map, testing for smaller and smaller flaws. I’m not as conversant with race, but I’m fairly sure that kind of “discrimination by making life too easy” is going there too, combined with hiring teachers for “diverse” schools by “diversity” not competence.

By itself, on its own, government -imposed equality is enough to destroy western civilization. It can be argued to be doing that.

I am not a racist (unlike our government’s bureaucrats) and at any rate in the US it would be laughable to be a racist, given how mixed the populations are.  (Quoth older son “I’m often taken for black in the US, which is only possible because US blacks are so pale.) I believe left to their own devices, the races would have equalized long ago, and done so without the resentment/self doubt/paranoia now plaguing race relations.

Oh, it would have been grossly unfair to the first generation after the racist laws were removed.  Sure.  There had been after all legal discrimination, and those people would have lacked the ability to reach their full potential.

But the thing is, who judges full potential? The government?  HOW DO THEY KNOW?  We come back to “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” WHO decides?  Every time governments try to figure that out it turns out your ability is sorting caterpillars by touch and your need is 50 size 30 shoes.  For the left foot.  Which is what made the USSR happy and prosperous (people of Brutopia.)

The government functionaries are humans too. (Probably.  Most of them.  The story my friend Rebecca Lickiss wrote where the IRS was staffed by vampires is fiction.  PROBABLY.) They don’t know the inside of anyone’s head.

We’re back to kindergarten.  Faced with a boy who weighed a good 90 lbs in kindergarten (I wish I were joking.  #1 son was always oversized) and a little blond girl who weighed 30, who would you think was bullying the other?  And yet the boy had been trained not to even think of bullying anyone.  And the girl was a conniving little Livia Drusilla-wannabe.

And that’s with kindergarten students, just starting on their life journey.

Or take my son’s first grade teacher who every year selected and made the life miserable of a child she judged to be “half breed.” (Took us forever to figure that out, because we don’t think of our marriage that way.)  She thought she was helping, she really did.  Given prejudices that she probably couldn’t see, she assumed all such children were less than normal, and she interpreted every sign (such as our son being bored out of his gourd, since he was reading YA books for teens) as a sign they were struggling with the material.  And she tried to get them into special classes, to equate odds.

But she was a racist, you’ll say.  Sure.  though not really, as what she seemed to get exercised about was MIXED races.  But insofar as she was making decisions based on race, yes, she was a racist.  And yet I’m 99% sure what she was trying to do was out of good intentions.  And nonetheless, she made my kid’s life a living hell (and the life of his elementary school girlfriend a living hell.)

Because the people judging what’s needed to equalize the field are humans, and humans by definition come with a whole set of assumptions and prejudices of which they’re not conscious.

It doesn’t make it any better to codify that into law, where, say Obama’s daughters are considered a down-trodden group but, say, Amanda Green’s kid who is red haired and who grew up with a single mom in middle-middle class isn’t.  Or even better, Rebecca Lickiss’s sons, who grew up with the financial drain of their father fighting cancer, and now have to make their way without him, are on paper much better off than Malia and Sasha or even my kids.

Humans aren’t widgets.  Widgets can be equal.  In humans, even identical twins have differences.

The equality guaranteed under the constitution is not the equality of the Jacobins, which can only be enforced with the guillotine, and which, by creating paranoia and insanity ALWAYS leads to the guillotine or its equivalent.  The equality in the constitution is equality under the law.

We can’t make humans equal.  No one can.  For those interested in leveling the play field a little, such things as scholarships for the DESERVING children of the poor or first person to go to college in a family or such SEEMS like a worthy endeavor, and if I ever win the lottery I’ll do those.  Will it make everyone equal?  Oh, hell no.  Doubtless, circumstances being sometimes deceiving, it will help some people who don’t need it and pass over some who do.  BUT that’s… well… neither here nor there, in the end.  It’s at least a finer comb than “race/sex/place of origin/sexual orientation.”

But the government should get out of the business of discrimination for or against any given group.  Sure, this will lead to some injustices.  It will also, in the end, lead to a far more functional world, one where people can actually look past external characteristics.

The world I’d like my descendants to live in.

 

*If any of you is a member of Audible, A Few Good Men Audio Book is on sale for 4.99If any of you is a member of Audible, A Few Good Men Audio Book is on sale for 4.99

Also, while on that, Kim du Toit is back to blogging and in fine form.*

 

 

 

168 responses to “Balancing the Scales

  1. … a bull in a China shop.

    We all know what you mean, but this experiment has been run a few times now (not just by alleged MythBusters, either) and pretty much nothing happens. Granted, if it was TWO bulls it might be different. Or a bull and a… potential significant other, shall we say, then things might be more.. rowdy. but ‘China’ is not a thing to fight, not a thing to eat, and not a potential mate, thus ‘China’ equates approximately to ‘rock’ which is not of much interest so long as nobody is throwing such at one.

    • Lol, beat me to it.

    • Whenever I hear that phrase, though, I imagine a bull that someone has deliberately made very angry; thus much more inclined to cause damage.

      Alternatively, I could imagine a bull in a china shop where the shelves are unsecured, and the isles are too small for it to walk through…combined with motivation to walk through the shop (food comes to mind)…and I still have a hard time imagining the china getting out unscathed in such a scenario….

  2. “Balancing the scales”? Scales must mean dragons, so starting up on the Dragon Wars books? Yayyyyyyyyyy.

    Waitaminin … this isn’t what I expected! Not fair, not fair, not fair, not fair!!!!!

  3. That road lies the “micro-aggressions” madness and the “The US is a white supremacist patriarchy” paranoia. Because every time you’re thwarted and can’t get what you want, it MUST be discrimination.

    Yes, but it is now more likely because, counting as only a couple of the special desirable categories, you are being tossed aside for those who can claim a whole boat load of them.

    I hope that we get to the point that society has recognized so many micro categories so individualized that, hold your breath, we recognize that each is the one and only person who is that self.

    • Someone else (perhaps you?) once commented on a brilliant response to ‘micro-aggression’ claim: ignoring such. And if (when) called on that, the reply, “You said it was micro so it obviously wasn’t very important.”

    • Ah ha! I have discovered the reason why the government keeps on inventing more and ever more categories for protection. At some point we will have a category of protection for every man, woman, child, and cis-other in the country; at which point statistical modeling will become impossible as every population will have a membership of only one.

      The wonderful thing about Tiggers is…
      I’M THE ONLY ONE!

      Oh, I’m the only One!

      Grrrrrrrrrrrr

      • When one too many college career advisors asked Sib “What do you see yourself being after you get your degree?” Sib took to answering “a hegemon of one.” That pretty much ended the conversation.

      • Tiggers are wonderful fellows.
        Tiggers are awfully sweet.
        Everyone el-us is jealous,
        That’s why I repeat and repeat . . .

    • Aha! Individualism via extreme and incessant classification into ever-smaller identity groups! Works for me.

    • This reminds me of the Ayn Rand quote about the smallest minority being the individual; if you aren’t for individual rights you aren’t, by definition, for minority rights.

  4. > equal

    Even two widgets have microscopic differences. It’s when you don’t care that they become equal.

    Same thing for people. As an example “equal before the law” applies whether you’re Mother Theresa or Charlie Manson. Lady Justice is portrayed with a blindfold because there are differences justice isn’t supposed to take into account.

  5. On family reputation, it can work both ways. Grandpa made his own wooden arrows once upon a time… and was able to sell them – provided he was at least 20 or better more than 40 miles from home. As Pa once explained it, “Far away you’re this person who knows stuff and can do stuff. In your home town you’re just so&so’s kid.” This is similar to how a ‘consultant’ is a person with a briefcase from 2+ hours away… who will get paid handsomely to tell upper management the very same thing the on-the-floor workers have been telling them for ages.

    • “No prophet is accepted in his hometown.”

      • No kidding – as a writer, I can get speaking gigs and my books for book club selections all over the hill country – but I can’t get anything at all in my ostensible home town of San Antonio.

    • Prophets at Home

      “Hal O’ the Draft”–Puck of Pook’s Hill

      Prophets have honour all over the Earth,
      Except in the village where they were born,
      Where such as knew them boys from birth
      Nature-ally hold ’em in scorn.
      When Prophets are naughty and young and vain,
      They make a won’erful grievance of it;
      (You can see by their writings how they complain),
      But 0, ’tis won’erful good for the Prophet!

      There’s nothing Nineveh Town can give
      (Nor being swallowed by whales between),
      Makes up for the place where a man’s folk live,
      Which don’t care nothing what he has been.
      He might ha’ been that, or he might ha’ been this,
      But they love and they hate him for what he is.

      http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/prophets_at_home.html

  6. From my perspective, it was Johnson and his War on Poverty/Great Society that are a (perhaps ‘the’) primary cause for the situation. Prior to that, blacks were moving out of poverty and into the middle class fairly well. Despite the race riots in the 1960s, race relations were actually improving into the 1970s. I know that I had more black friends then than I have now, even though some of them back then were considered radical, and that’s only partly due to where I now live.

    The welfare system that was implemented back then killed the black family structure, as noted by Moynihan, and the family structure of whites has also become less firm. With multiple generations of matriarchal, government-supported partial families behind them, any attempts at reform are going to be characterized not merely as cold-hearted and greedy, but also as racist attempts to do away with their “culture and way of life.”

    Our education system has only become worse since the ‘A Nation at Risk’ report in 1983 noted “the educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people” and “if an unfriendly power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”

    Attempting to force equality at the government level is an exercise in forcing square pegs into round holes. You make decisions as to who (in general) needs some sort of preference, then make an iron yoke of it for everyone – customization neither wanted nor allowed. Then, like other government programs, it self-perpetuates and expands, whether that is desirable or not.

    • exercise in forcing square pegs into round holes.

      This is not an objection, merely a tangent (because I’m feeling pedantic tonight), but forcing square pegs into round holes is the old fashioned woodworking method for getting round pegs.

      If you’ve ever watched “The Woodwright’s Shop” on PBS, that’s how Roy Underhill does it.

  7. I can think of at least three kinds of affirmative action.

    #1: Weight the scales for the class of people judged to have an unfair disadvantage.
    Problem: In the absence of internal motivation, opposition is required for growth. By reducing the challenge required to get acceptable scores, the ‘minorities’ don’t develop the skills they actually need, and lag further and further behind. They end up as propaganda pieces for people who think that the variation between races is more pronounced than the variation within any given racial grouping.

    #2: Provide intensive coaching/mentoring/cheerleading for the disadvantaged.
    Problem: 1) Bloody expensive, because you need one-to-one interaction and non-relatives are going to want to be paid. 2) Good luck keeping the predators away. 3) What happens when the intensively-coached snowflake has to interact with a world where everyone, and therefore _no one_, is unique and special?

    #3: Teach them how to study for themselves (give a man a fish / teach them how to fish) and let them study what they want.
    Problem: As Milo has observed, the bell-curve majority of girls don’t _want_ a STEM career. So, while this is the only workable kind of affirmative action, it won’t ever provide the outcome that the left says it wants.

    • Amen on 2.2 — we’re dealing with a situation in our community in which someone who was “so great with kids” and trusted to do a lot of babysitting, tutoring, etc. was taking advantage of the opportunity and doing things for which the usual euphemism is “inappropriate.” I’m still shaken by the revelations, because I thought I knew this person.

      • “When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton replied “Because, that’s where the money is…”.

        This principle should always be kept in mind, when considering individuals who gravitate towards jobs and situations where there are lots and lots of kids. Sure, some of them may be completely innocent, but… When you’re creating what the lawyers call a “attractive nuisance” like a swimming pool, you are wise to erect a few fences, if only in your mindset.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Yeah.

          Other issue is that people with strong drives develop their lives around them. I love reading? That ends up reflecting in my skills.

          Someone with a strong drive to hurt children is likely to develop advanced deception techniques in support of that. They would use them for at least three purposes: 1) deflecting scrutiny from those who would take offense 2) making targets vulnerable 3) suborning surrounding adults, either with some false explanation that those adults can live with, or with a falsehood that they will pass on to the actual target.

          To defend, you need to anticipate that, take countermeasures, and never let trust or good feeling convince you to compromise security.

          Since my mid teens, I’ve wanted to figure out how to teach people to protect themselves, but the methods I used had such a high psychological cost that I’m not convinced they are worth it.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Not worth it for all children.

            If that one person really was ‘interfering with’ kids, and my counter predation strategies are what made them decide I was too risky a target, I probably would have been more messed up by molestation than I was by said psychological costs. (I started taking precautions before the age of ten, I had anxiety related to the precautions into my twenties, and they had a very lasting impact on my thinking.)

        • “This principle should always be kept in mind, when considering individuals who gravitate towards jobs and situations where there are lots and lots of kids.”

          Though you should also keep in mind that you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The proportion of predators in kid-intensive jobs is well below 10% (that number varying depending on how good the institution is at screening and capturing said predators.) One good rule of thumb is to observe the interactions, because it’s fairly obvious when someone is more interested in the *appearance* of the kid than their actions.

          I have a friend who works as a living history school counselor, and when you see him interacting with kids, it’s always “I know this cool thing, and I’m showing you this cool thing, and wow, you’re learning that cool thing, and ISN’T LEARNING AWESOME?” Of course, he’s also not stupid, and makes sure to always follow the rule of “never be alone with a kid, because appearances are important too.” (In the BSA, that’s known as the “two-deep leadership” rule. And if you need to talk with a kid “privately”, it’s out where people can clearly see you but not hear you…

  8. We’re picking them for “interesting side characteristics” (which btw keep multiplying) which have nothing to do with competence.

    It is actually worse than that.

    Situation 1: By emphasizing irrelevant characteristics we encourage people to stint development of the relevant characteristics. To reference an old joke, if we choose our personal assistants according to their bra size we are not focusing job aspirants to work on developing their personal assistance skills.

    Situation 2: We’re now devolving into sorting by what they “identify” as, which largely ensures we’re picking the lunatics (is that phrase lunaphobic? Should real moon inhabitants file complaints?)

  9. I wonder if they still teach the story of the Procrustes and his bed to school age children?

    • No. And with how some pre-made “sandwiches” are, it’s clear they’ve fallen in league with the anticrust.

      • Arrrrrrgh.
        But yeah, the anticrust is clearly not the Bread of Life….

        • Ooooooh, that’s a good one.

        • One does not live by bread alone, but by bacon and coffee as well.

          • If you’ve got bread and bacon, you can add some nice sliced turkey and make yourself a club sandwich, and now you’ve really got something.

            • Or bacon… lovely bacon! Add some fresh spinach and some sliced tomatoes – my version of a BLT.

              Sigh. My daughter cannot abide the smell of cooking bacon, so I cannot have it when she is in the house. She is in CA for the next six months, helping my sister with our mother, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down.

              The upside of not having my daughter around — is being able to eat those things which she doesn’t like. Bacon. Gorgonzola cheese. Onions on my patty-melt. Chicken Florentine. Pork chops with apples and onions …

              • The problem with BLTs is store-bought tomatoes are not tomatoes.

                Gorgonzola reminds me back when we used to have a source for lovely green tortellini with Gorgonzola filling. Never cared for the Ricotta-filled ones, but the Gorgonzola were wonderful.

              • Momma, when feeling indulgent, made BWTs, using watercress instead of lettuce.

  10. Because my mind plays perverse tricks, and now this performance is ear worming in my head. I shall not suffer alone:

    I don’t need less than a deserving man, I need more.

  11. Martin L. Shoemaker

    Widgets can’t be equal. One of my temp jobs in college was QA on an assembly line. They quickly moved me to another job. When I looked at two widgets, I could pick out the most minute differences and say, “They don’t match.” Or I could overlook the differences and say, “They match.” Neither was right. Somehow there were differences that counted, and differences, that didn’t, and no one could explain to me which was which. “Can’t you see it?” No, I couldn’t.

  12. “We can’t make humans equal. No one can.”

    Sam Colt came close.

    • The thing is, eventually the Progressive/Socialist/Fascist swine manage to in fact make everyone equal in at least one measure; equally miserable.

    • Which is precisely why the libs hate guns so fervently.
      Or rather why they hate guns in the hands of the public so much, force under their exclusive control they’re quite comfortable with.

      • Libs don’t hate guns. Every movie since forever has been like Larry Correia’s bedroom closet. Filled with gunplay.

        Look at Star Trek. Every episode the brave “We Come In Peace” space explorers find a reason to vaporize somebody with a phaser. Usually some untutored Local Dude who hasn’t been trained in the UFP awesomeness. I’m convinced its all down to the uniforms.

        Science fiction books by the Usual Suspects are filled with guns too. Every Bad Guy has a gun, every Good Guy has a gun. The aliens usually don’t, because they are Noble Creatures of social goodness, come to show the Stupid Monkeys how to do it. [Seriously. Any Hugo nominee prior to Sad Puppies. Like clockwork, this is the theme. That, or Frankenstein.]

        What they hate is -us-, the Great Unwashed. We are the Stupid Monkeys. WE can’t be trusted. Cops, by virtue of putting on a blue uniform, become a different species in the Leftish mind. But let them take the uniform off, and they revert to Untrustworthy. This is why you see so many morons objecting to off-duty carry for police. You can only trust them when they have the blue hat on.

        Blue hats are magic. They confer the manna of Officialdom upon a Stupid Monkey, constraining them to only behave in a Good And Righteous way.

        Which inevitably turns out with millions of people dead. Because there is no such thing as magic. But don’t worry, This Time Will Be Different!

        • “The great unwashed” is yet another expression for which we should thank Edward Bulwer-Lytton.

        • Blue hats are magic.

          Except they also believe that cops are corrupt, racist, sexist and all kinds of phobic. The enumeration of the contradictory memes offers so many examples as to embarrass the selection.

          Expecting consistent, coherent thought from the Left* is akin to looking for emeralds in a gumball machine: it isn’t impossible to find, but that is not the purpose of the device.

          *Possibly from the Right as well, although there you won’t find the same level of active suppression

          • I thought it was only white cops that were corrupt, racist, sexist and all kinds of phobic. I can’t keep up anymore, they have the goal posts mounted on a Ferrari these days.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Once a black man (or woman) puts on the uniform, he/she is counted as “white”. 😦

            • Black cops are working for The Man, and thus are White by virtue of their job. This came up when the cigarette seller in New York died after being put in a choke hold by cops. A black cop was the one in charge when it happened.

            • On a Ferrari? I thought they were on gyroscopically unstable clones of the Lost In Space robot, all of them warning “Danger Will Robinson.”

        • > morons

          If they’re not on duty, then they shouldn’t have any rights or benefits their employers – the citizenry – doesn’t.

          If they’re “on duty” 168 hours per week, they ought to at least be paid for it…

          • Which is why my bosses have me on salary……

            In all seriousness, cops are considered always on duty for carrying purposes because crooks don’t actually turn down an opportunity to cap you just because you’re in mufti.

      • I realized a little bit ago that the real reason the Statist Progressives hate guns is that, all their arguments about “what good are guns going to do against tanks” they know that while a Socialist/Fascist State may HAVE tanks, it is run by little statist drones (like themselves) sitting behind desks. Guns work just FINE on those.

        • Patrick Chester

          Exactly. Leveling a city via heavy weapons might crush a rebellion but it destroys that city as a source of revenue/factories/etc. Much easier to disarm the populace and make life safer for the State’s drones and enforcers.

          • Lord Dunmore, the last Colonial Governor of Virginia, tried a different tact. On the night of April 20, 1775 he had all the gunpowder stored in the Williamsburg Magazine removed to a Royal Navy ship in the James River. The colonists did not respond at all well. By June Lord Dunmore and his family fled the city and took residence on another ship.

            • It worked out somewhat better for him than for the Brits who tried to confiscate artillery and powder stored at Concord a couple nights earlier.

              “On the eighteenth of April in seventy-five…”

          • Machiavelli thought that was foolish. A conquered people needed their weapons to defend themselves, and could get them if they really want to rebel; the slight delay inherent in having to get them was more than offset by countering benefit that they will appreciate your not disarming them.

            The Left! More oppressive to its own citizens than Machiavelli advocates for foreigners conquered by force of arms!

  13. I just want to say that “if you, unspanked child that you are, really need to be whipped, there are bespoke clubs, that don’t involve enslaving your whole country.” is the best thing I’ve read all day. Lovely turn of phrase, very evocative.

    • (Nods)
      If you have weird fantasies about being tyrannized by someone and made to do their bidding, that is your business.
      But leave me and mine out of it.

    • Someone at Ace’s site posted a link in the comments of the late night thread to a blog in which the blog poster, who claimed to be a DJ, said that he recognizes a lot of the people at the clubs he plays. And the women at those clubs who end up on crosses being whipped by men wearing Nazi-style uniforms are usually the same ones who loudly complain about Nazis and Patriarchy during the day.

      • I linked that at insty. The writer is a friend of mine, and yes, a DJ.

        • One should never make the grave error of assuming one’s foes are rational.

          Similarly, one should never make the grave error of assuming oneself to be rational.

          Always assume the Wallaby is rational — it’s your only safe bet.

          • Rather than imaginary? Or real? (Well, if rational by definition also real…)

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Always assume the Wallaby is rational

            Somebody can be “rational” but the basis of his/her rational thinking can be badly flawed.

            I’m nervous about the “basis” of the Wallaby’s rational thinking. 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿 👿

  14. I have often told the story of the nerdy working class UK guy from Salford who came to our university as a science exchange student. He abruptly found out that Americans think British accents are sexy. And not just BBC accents, either.

    We had to reassure him that this was real and normal, and that nobody was playing a trick on him.

    His social life was pretty fun from then on.

    • Because someone has to say it …


      I’m just on the wrong continent, that’s all.

    • Heh. I keep hearing they think American accents are sexy in the UK, and I am skeptical. Never thought about it going the other direction!! (Because I’m American, I suppose, and *everyone* knows we think British accents are sexy. Also Scottish, Irish, Australian, and any number of others…)

      • My understanding is that British men think American women’s accents are sexy because they think American women more likely to say “yes.”

      • When I arrived in Los Angeles in 1977 with a strong Kiwi accent, I had a few years where by posing as a foreigner I got a pass for being a Martian. It was weird.

      • I’ve had Canadian women tell me my Texan accent is so cool and they love listening to me. I don’t tell them I’m an overweight 60 yr old fart………Let them keep their illusions they create from a phone conversation……

        • I LOVE Texan accents in male voices. They’re just the … most melty thing ever.

        • I have … because of English grandparents, an affinity for English lit, and parents who preferred very strongly that we all speak correct, grammatical and precise English … a somewhat English-trans-Atlantic accent, at least as far as the ordinary American pronunciation runs. I have gotten jobs because of this interesting trait. It’s memorable over the telephone, apparently. And in tech school, the voice teacher (a gentleman who possessed mastery of a perfectly brutal turn of verbal sarcasm, so much that he could reduce students to tears with a few well-chosen and velvet sarcasms) once asked me to read out something to the class and when I had finished, said, “She has perfect diction. Attend, because likely you will not often hear it.”
          Apparently, this is all racism straight up now.

          • Apparently, this is all racism straight up now.

            Nyah — just a classic instance of English Parent Privilege.

    • When a Brit sub parked the next pier over from us in San Diego, there was a constant stream of young ladies escorted by Brit sailors taking tours of the sub. Young ladies who wouldn’t exchange two words with an American sailor.

      But then, we had a port call in Auckland, New Zealand. Pretty much had to beat the women off with a stick if you wanted to be left alone. I was a newlywed- and apparently announcing my status didn’t make me any less desirable. Had conversation with a Kiwi sailor. Said the women falling all over us wouldn’t speak two words to them…

  15. As far as affirmative action goes, the evidence seems to suggest it makes everyone worse off–not just the (mostly Asian) people who don’t get into their first-choice school so that we can make room for a latinx wheelchair-bound pre-op transsexual but even the supposed beneficiaries. When you’re in a calculus class that’s designed for the top 1% of math students, it can be hard to keep up, even if you’re in the top 5-10%. Most AA recipients would do better attending a college where their grades and test scores match those of their fellow students.

    In somewhat related news, I ran across this article today:

    http://dailycaller.com/2017/02/20/college-writing-center-declares-american-grammar-a-racist-unjust-language-structure/

    Maybe it’s just me, but while they’re spouting on about privilege and hierarchies and social justice, what I’m actually hearing is, “Many of our minority students are showing up with no skills in grammar, and actually doing something about this would be hard work, so we’re just going to say that their grammar is fine how it is and anyone trying to fix it is racist. This won’t actually do them any good when their resumes end up in the garbage because half the words on them are misspelled, but that’s not our problem.”

    • Slate once attacked Tyra Banks because she pointed out (on “America’s Top Model”, I think) to some of the black aspiring models that losing their accents would help them get ahead in the modeling world.

      • Right. Because what would Tyra Banks know about getting ahead in modeling.

        Slate gets clicks from stuff like that. Its about all they have left.

        • The approach wasn’t “Tyra Banks is an idiot” so much as it was “It’s racist to suggest that they should change the way they talk.” Which no doubt is all fine and upstanding and idealistic (and ignores the fact that Tyra Banks is black). But it also ignores the fact that the modeling world is the way that it is, and is also quite cutthroat. Anything you can legally do to get ahead should be explored.

          • Exactly. And this applies to everywhere else. And, frankly, the advice would also apply, to, say, a person (of ANY color) who had a strong regional accent of any kind. Strong Arkansas accent? Lose it if you want to get ahead in most any profession. Strong Texas accent? Unless you’re staying in Texas, you’d better learn how to lose most of it. Strong Brooklyn accent? Yep, lose it.

            • Back when I first started as a military broadcaster, they did (and probably still) not want to accept anyone with a strong regional accent – of ANY flavor in the military broadcasting service. The thinking was that such an accent would utterly baffle a good portion of the listening audience overall, and anything that interfered with good communication was a no-no.
              So – for decades, the voices of AFRTS were sort of generically accentless mid-western. Because – communication.

              • Not quite the same, but when I worked at a convenience store (it’s not a gas station so much as a cigarette stand that sells other stuff on the side…) I’d get a call asking for the tank readings (so they could decide if they needed to send a fuel truck to top things off or not). I read the printout, using the ‘Telephone Operator’s Pronunciation’ – the one oft made fun of. One day the fellow who called got the boss and remarked on my strange ways… BUT.. I’d never had to repeat myself. That strange way of saying numbers did indeed make it clear which digit was what.

                • Similar vein, but not the same yet again…

                  Working as a steamfitter’s assistant, you’d hear the thickest Southern drawl from the old fellers who actually *knew* when that boiler was set and how it worked (and worked still yet, some sixty plus years on, after many an “upgrade” that wasn’t, and regular, routine maintenance that was…). A rather different sort of vernacular comes about when you are fractions of inches away from killing pressure, “and there was nothing left of the building or anyone in it” pressure. Clarity is king at that point, and yes, ‘Telephone Operator’s Pronunciation’ did occur.

                  Nobody got more than a busted knuckle on boss Haggerty’s watch. *chuckle* But we did rib him a bit about the accent, we youngsters (some of whom were in their fifties (ah heck, probably older, but to me at the time, fifty was *old* and the boss could’ve called Methuselah “that boy”), but nevermind that… *grin*

              • I recall a Reader’s Digest Humor In Uniform story. The Exec on a ship (WWII) had to translate the NH/VT/ME captain’s orders to the Southern crew, and vice versa.

          • Banks is not black. She suggests that blacks should lose their accents and is therefore definitionally white.

    • OT but I went to the link and I got an attempted malware-jack claiming “You have three viruses! Send us money to clean them out!” I had to do a hard shut-down to get away. YMMV.

      • Eeek. My apologies. All I can say in my defense is that it didn’t do that to my machine.

        • Probably a difference in the darn ads being served up.

        • It may have been something in the ad rotation, or your anti-virus / ad blocker / browser settings didn’t let it through.

          This is why sites that try to extort me into turning off my ad blocker get a pair of middle fingers and an offer to accept that if they promise a 100% compensation no questions asked policy in exchange. None of them has ever taken me up on that offer for some reason.

          • I also will not turn off my ad-blocker. No kidding – this is how one gets internet cooties, from allegedly-respectable sites. I will read from sites which limit access — so many per month – I can ration my reading of them, given sufficient warning.

            You got an ad-blocker? Observe my middle finger, lovingly raised.

    • Nailed it, you have.

    • They are perfectly capable of giving grief to their minority students who complain that their “help” was not even possibly intended to be helpful in learning to write.

  16. Quoth older son “I’m often taken for black in the US, which is only possible because US blacks are so pale.)
    —————————

    This is also why Rachel Dolezal was able to pass as black. The same applies to the BLM person who was found to be a white man claiming to be black (can’t remember his name off the top of my head).

    One thing worth noting is that the justifications for affirmative action will never go away. There will always be those who claim that it’s needed. In fact, the current claim of the race hustlers regarding “privilege” is essentially just that – that merely being born non-white is enough to ensure that you’re permanently disadvantaged, and thus in need of government assistance.

    • When I was newly married to my first wife, I was stationed at a base for a few months for training. My new wife didn’t bother getting a job since we wouldn’t be around for long enough to make it worth while for anyone to hire her. It was summer. She tanned A LOT.

      The base I was stationed at was in a stereo-typically racist part of the country. Sure enough, I we were out for a drive in the country one afternoon and stopped in for fuel and a soda and I was cornered by three… ahem… gentlemen, who were concerned with why I, a white man, was there with a “N” (they said the whole word, of course). They freaked out when I busted up laughing… My first wife was from Mexico, and it hit me as hilarious just how that fact just wasn’t going to help in that situation (I was a young, fresh out of boot camp Marine… therefore I wasn’t afraid because I was, of course, indestructible).

      They let me go… because just like most assholes they were cowards and didn’t know what to do with someone laughing at them.

    • Shawn …something.

      The Twitchy commentariat calls him Talcum X

    • SheSellsSeashells

      The same applies to the BLM person who was found to be a white man claiming to be black (can’t remember his name off the top of my head).

      Shaun King. Who sticks in my head only because I saw somebody on Twitter dub him “Talcum X”.

      • Also the man whose obnoxious tweeting during the Super Bowl halftime regarding Trump’s support for the Patriots and how the Falcons beating them was some kind of justice reconciled me to Bill Belicheck winning another Super Bowl.

        • For me, it wasn’t Shaun King, but a bunch of similar idiots whose posts I saw at halftime. I went from rooting for the Falcons, to rooting for the Patriots. Nice timing, I guess.

    • Amusingly enough, we’ve got a family friend that is very, very proud of her (Indian) heritage.

      You meet her dad, who is the “Half-(tribe)” guy, and it is really obvious he’s a Buffalo child. Don’t doubt in the least that his ancestors were genuine tribe members, and valued, but rather more recent…..

    • Patrick Chester

      The same applies to the BLM person who was found to be a white man claiming to be black

      Shaun King?

    • This is also why Rachel Dolezal was able to pass as black. The same applies to the BLM person who was found to be a white man claiming to be black

      Isn’t that cultural appropriation?

    • But if you’re a Holocaust survivor, you’re privileged.

  17. Christopher M. Chupik

    “The government can’t read minds.”

    I’m sure they’re working on that.

    • See NSA surveillance for examples. If they can’t read your mind, they can certainly infer your opinion from tracking every single thing you do and say on-line, as well as tracking everywhere you go and everyone you talk to.

      I wish that was tinfoil hat, but a smartphone is a better “ankle bracelet” than a real ankle bracelet. Official tracking bracelets don’t have cameras and microphones in them.

      • When I decided to let my son have a phone again paid for by me, and running up overcharges when calls weren’t unlimited, he said I didn’t have to- his new girlfriend had gotten him one. I told him “No, she didn’t.”, he insisted she had. I told him it looked like a phone, acted like a phone, but it wasn’t a phone, it was an electronic leash. He laughed. Two weeks later he called me and told me I was right, it was a leash cleverly disguised as a phone.

    • Sure they can. Any difference between actual content and what they read is simply reflective of the use of dog whistles and code phrases to thwart their discovery.

    • They don’t need to *read* minds. They’ll *tell* you what to think…

    • Right after Hillary’s ‘irredeemables’ comment I immediately thought about how the government would go about determining who was or wasn’t an ‘irredeemable’.

      • The NSA is about catching terrorists, right? The parameters of what constitutes a “terrorist” is, shall we say, software defined.

        • The NSA is about reading stuff that other people don’t want them to read and viewing things other people don’t want them to see. Secondarily they apply that expertise in prevening other people from reading and viewing stuff the NSA wants unread/seen.

          Any higher level themes and mission statements are just overlays on their basic construct.

  18. Pingback: Hoyt on bureaucracy

  19. If I may take some liberty with one of Dr. Jerry Pournelle’s sayings:
    On the one hand, “Freedom is not free.”
    On the other hand, “Free people are not equal.”
    On the third hand, “Equal people are not free.”

  20. Every little kid born in the US should be able to aspire to becoming president

    And that’s just a risk they have to take.

  21. These are the people we’re dealing with: http://thedeclination.com/radfems-cenobites-and-the-lament-configuration/

    To be fair I can’t confirm the accuracy of the authors observations since I’ve never been in that kind of environment but it does ring true to me given many personal observations about the left over the decades.

    There is no sane way to deal with people as twisted as so many are on the left. Frankly, I’ve no idea what to do or how to defuse our current situation. It seems very likely to continue to spiral out of control because there is no way to reason with such people.

  22. Government enforced “equality” means requiring everybody buy cilantro whether or not it tastes like soap to them.

  23. equality was a good thing — at least once you got past the “big man/head of tribe.”

    Dang it, Sarah, stop handing me support for market theory of humanity….

    Folks didn’t object to the “head man” getting more because he provided in excess of the issue of removing him– be it “not worth the trouble” or “when we do what he says, we get better hunts.”

    A lot of it was probably “Bob and Joe over there are freaking JERKS, but he can get them to be rational in the hunt.”

    • ‘It ain’t worth the trouble to DEAL with them’ has been rather…mauled… by Communism’s grifting on it, but it is a real value for investment.

  24. Try for instance, judging a dispute between a grubby, overlarge boy and a cute, perfectly coiffed and dressed little girl. Who do you think the teacher will think was being the bully?

    I was first grade, and not perfectly coifed, but he was in 7th… and they still decided I needed to be punished as much…

    Probably because on average WITHOUT screwing around, the guy you instantly think is a problem IS the problem.

    The issue is that the next step needs to be “Evidence.”

    • Different times. Be glad you’re not putting the boys in school. You’re older than my kids. by Robert’s time, the girl was always right.

      • As if any contemporary administrator would dare commit disciplinary preference toward a boy versus a girl! Even with video evidence there would be presumed to have been some precipitating event not caught, or the girl was simply responding in righteous indignation to patriarchal culture.

        • With video evidence he’d done no such thing (in fact, he was talking to a teacher the whole time) they tried to suspend Marsh and bring in “sexual assault” procedures (in sixth grade) because a girl claimed Marsh had kissed her in the lunch line.
          Turns out she wanted to make her boyfriend jealous. BUT her mom was out for blood…

          • And this is the start of the road that leads to Milo getting crucified. We’ve managed to weaponize jealousy and adolescence.

      • A great deal has to do with the particular system, but the trend for the last quarter century has not been good. It takes a great deal of indoctrination to take some of the present positions.

        The Daughter had a third grade teacher who told me that children no longer tease by third grade. He seriously meant it. Did he have any memories of his years in school? I sure did of mine. You don’t have to be the subject of teasing to notice it going on around you. My memories were screaming blue blazes, ‘hell-no!’ when he told me that.

        Now the position is that girls by nature are peaceful biddable creatures. I do not know for certain, but suspect they would blame the patriarchy for any aberrations they could not ignore.

        Who are these people kidding? Mostly themselves.

      • The “never bothering to get more info”thing is the same, though.

  25. “Bad preparation because no teacher wants to be thought too harsh to girls.”

    Being too harsh might lead to dropping out and retention (i.e. having a set number of bodies so some bureaucrat can happily show that they are “doing something”) is a big thing. Which is just another example of how perfectly good intentions often lead to the opposite of the desired effect.

  26. All animals are created equal.

    Some animals are more equal than others.

    And Judge Posner is still a moron.

  27. The flip side of affirmative action is White Privilege. I grew up in a small town in rural Minnesota. There were no Blacks, no Hispanics, no Native Americans. Quite literally, the entire town was Northern Europeans and our biggest division was Catholic versus Lutheran. When everybody is White, being White confers no privilege.

    Ahh, but when I left town, THEN my whiteness would work in my favor, right? Well, I suppose it could have, in theory; except that the colleges didn’t have a quota for White kids at the time, so they didn’t need to reach down the academic/test score pile to pull out my application. Instead, they reached down for applicants with lower grades and worse test scores who filled their need. No particular privilege in being passed over – lots of kids were.

    But I’m hanging in there. Sooner or later, being White has got to get me out of a speeding ticket, or a discount on car washes, or a date with a movie star. Any day now.