Water, Fish, Culture and Genes

*I swear for the first time this week I was supposed to be on time with the blog.  But then this horrible monster Leaking Dishwasher attacked and ate yesterday evening and this morning.  We have it patched up and (crosses fingers) not leaking, which means we get time to shop around for a replacement.  We’ve been meaning to replace it because it sucks, badly but… And I’ll try to get you Grant by midnight tonight, but it MIGHT be tomorrow.*

It is a truism to say that fish don’t see the water they swim in.  I’m not absolutely sure about that, you know?  I’ve visited the Denver Botanic gardens and looked in the koi ponds enough that I suspect the fish see the water when it’s a lovely shade of green, just like we see the air, when it has a bunch of sand and stuff in suspension, and we certainly feel air-currents on our skin, smell the scents in the air, etc.

The truth is that it is more accurate to say that fish don’t know the water they’re in is different from any other water.  Having had my adventure with fish-keeping (RIP Agile Antelop Betta Version, aka my beloved Derpfish) I can tell you though that changing the water for another kind of water can make a huge difference on your fish’s health and well being.  Even if the water you’re changing it for is technically better, it will make your fish out of sorts and can kill him.  (This is why we were stuck with a particular and increasingly rare brand of bottled spring water, because it’s what we had in the house when I set up Derpy’s first aquarium, on account of being the water Robert used for his leeches tank.  [You’re NOT going to ask, right?])

So, what is this all about.


It’s not just that the left believes culture is genetic — witness the isle in Walmart marked with “multicultural hair care”, which I don’t think has dyes used by people from Papua New Guinea and the songs of hair washing of the natives of the Solomon Islands — it’s that the right is starting to believe it too.  And that’s a very bad thing.

Only today on this very blog, one of you was saying that there might be a genetic component because look at how the Indians weren’t that far off the Europeans who invaded, but it never occurred to them to create muskets or…

Guys, this is SUCH a fundamental misunderstanding of culture — yes, culture, having bloody nothing to do with genes — it made me want to dent my desk.

So, let’s go back to culture being like the water in an aquarium.  Most people aren’t blind to their culture.  They know what it’s like and where it stacks in comparison with other cultures, more or less, relatively.

For instance, Portuguese are well aware of being very unorganized — and weirdly proud of it.  No, really — and know they stack above Brazilians in organization but below powerhouses of organization like France and Ireland.  What they don’t know is how their disorganization/disregard for times/disdain for details affects their prosperity, their security and every level of life in the country.

They don’t know this because they’ve never lived anywhere else.  Going shopping will take an entire afternoon because the buses run more on suggestion than schedule (and if you drive, the traffic rules are also suggestions, which means sometimes bizarre traffic jams because someone didn’t find a parking space and thought he might as well park on a lane on the road.)  Also, the stores might or might not have the same products they had last week, and besides, if the shopkeeper came in late, and then had a really difficult customer, you might have to wait an hour.  And on and on.  I often say I spent most of my teenage years standing on street corners, fortunately reading science fiction and not going “oh, hai sailor” because I got so neurotic about being late for an outing with friends that I got there ten minutes early.  And then waited an hour for the first of them to show up and two for the stragglers.  This type of thing, over time, eats people’s time and their mental and emotional resources.  Frankly, it’s amazing the country works as well as it does.

And yep, they know they’re unorganized — they view it was free and not rigid — but they fail to take into account everything it touches, because “it’s always been like that.”

I suspect in the US people would bodily move a car that parked blocking a lane of a two lane road “while I go over there to the post office.  It’s just a minute.  What are you so uptight about that you object?”  In Portugal it’s the way it works.  (Though I understand if you park on the tram lines and are driving a smart, you will get moved.  The occurrence is so common trams have really long poles to assist this move.  You should have seen my kids’ faces watching this.)

Not ragging on Portuguese, really.  They’re at worst a second world country.  I’m only describing them because it’s a culture I have a lot of insight into.  The culture as in all Latin countries, has all the stigmata of Rome, from bribery as a way of life, to nepotism as the oil that lubricates society. Which is not entirely compatible with modernity, and therefore means that Portugal isn’t one of your leading lights of technological creation and innovation.

In fact, excepting Israel of course, no other nation does much in the way of innovation.  Modernity, except for small touches, came straight from America, and they live in it by using American inventions.

Now you can argue that it’s genetic, but I’m going to look at you really funny, because a lot of the people who created those innovations were less than three generations removed from elsewhere.

In fact, it is a truism in Portugal that when Portuguese go abroad, they usually do very well.  Depending on the level of society they’re prepared to enter, of course, they are financially successful, innovative and above all insanely hard workers.

So, how come Portugal is not an economic powerhouse, you ask.  You see, it’s that the water is gelatin.  Between Roman and Arab culture remnants, anyone who wants to accomplish anything in Portugal is a tiny fish struggling against a tsunami wave.  When freed from that, we find it almost ridiculously easy to succeed.

Portuguese who never leave Portugal or even who never leave Portugal and live outside a Portuguese community abroad, aren’t aware of this.  They have a vague idea they’re being held back and that it’s unfair, but they don’t know how.  And that’s where we get on fish, and the water they’re accustomed to.

Yes, moving to another culture is a huge shock.  Yes, most people prefer to do it with a few thousand of their closest friends, which is why you find Italian or Irish or even Portuguese enclaves in the US (and in the case of Portuguese in French and Germany too.)

I was very lucky, at the time, because there was no Portuguese enclave in Charlotte, North Carolina when I first immigrated.  Or if there was, I never found it.  Which means I was on my own, in this strange water.  I’ve talked about how difficult it was, even when I WANTED to change.  If there had been a community to “ease” my way, I’d probably have embraced it, which means I’d never fully acculturate and never fully become American.  Fortunately by the time a Portuguese community found me (in Colorado Springs.  I got a phone call) I had realized that I HAD acculturated and, frankly, if I wanted my kids brought up in Portuguese culture, I’d have stayed in Portugal with all the advantages of family and connections.

So yeah, I lied and told them they had the wrong number.

But many if not most of the Portuguese who immigrate go live in Portuguese communities.  So do other immigrants.  Which means that even if western culture weren’t actively fighting against the CONCEPT of assimilation, these people wouldn’t assimilate.  Sure, schools, shows, etc, but it takes a good three generations and maybe more.

Which is why, once you add in the additional filter of the culture encouraging immigrants to hold on buckle and tongue to their own native culture (a nonsenssical idea.  What is the point of, for an example, importing Muslims who are escaping a toxic culture if we want them to bring their toxic culture with them?  Is it so we can observe dysfunctionality in our very midst?  This concept of humans as zoo is disgusting.), most people assume culture is genetic.

It’s not.  It’s almost impossible to change overnight as a whole, in a group, though, whether the group is an enclave in the middle of another country, or the whole country.

Not IMPOSSIBLE mind.  I’ve watched Portugal change a lot since entering the EU, though IMO in many ways not in the greatest directions.  The things that they really shouldn’t be going crazy about, like minor regulations, are of course the things they obsess about.  The country where, when I grew up, if you could toddle up to the counter you could order wine, is now horrified if you let your seventeen year old taste your Port Wine.  And don’t get me started on how Festas or at least the sale of homemade toys and food at them, have more or less been abolished.  The country has gotten pasteurized.

However, as little as I like the change, it has changed, and in fact they have rewritten history retroactively and my parents will swear on a stack of bibles they never gave me wine before I was eighteen.  (I remember causing a minor furore when, having heard about wine killing brain cells in school, I went abstemious at 8.  Mind you they gave me half wine and half water before that, but they thought it was a bad bad thing to go on water only.  Only to hear them it never happened.)

So, culture can change, under pressure.  The pressure in this case is, I think, not being uncouth for the tourists. (Shrug.)  But not everything is going to change and not overnight.  That’s not how groups operate.  See how Portugal still has remnants of Roman and Arab culture.

Which doesn’t mean it’s genetic.  Sure, some things are genetic.  I suspect over time cultures select for traits that work best in them.  For instance a mouthy teenage girl has a lifespan of minutes in an Arab culture.  But the thing is that selection and evolution work slowly and most cultures aren’t stable long enough (like 4 or 5 thousand years) for that to make a difference.

Sure, some regions have (on average) higher IQs than other places in the world.  Is it genetic?  Unless they’re highly inbred, probably not.  We have no way of measuring IQ in the raw and humans are AWFULLY adaptable.  Plastic even.  Which means if the payoff is to be stupid and lazy, people are going to learn from infancy to be stupid and lazy, and the intelligence they might have had is as completely lost as if it had never been.  Also, note that “average.”  The “average” human doesn’t exist and every culture produces morons and geniuses.  It’s all on how they use it.  Or not.

The fact is that the more we know about genes, the more we realize the human race is — broadly speaking — incredibly homogeneous.  What I hear is that there is more difference between two lions of the same litter, than between two humans of long-separated populations.  Or, to put it another way, under the microscope, you can’t tell an Englishman from a Zulu, from a Chinese, from an Aboriginal.

And humans are REALLY plastic.  Humans raised in a different culture than the one that gave birth to them will conform not to their birth culture, but to the culture that raised them.  Heck, humans will even conform to animals who raise them, to the point of walking on all fours and never developing anything resembling speech.

Most of the obvious, marked differences you see are culture, not genes.  Which doesn’t make the problem any more tractable, but it makes it POSSIBLE to solve without genocide.

So long as we keep in mind that there is no such thing as a genetic culture, and that “multicultural haircare” means singing traditional songs while combing.

If the left were right about cultures being genetic, then we’d have to assume that it was cruel to even require someone to change languages.  (And anyone watching anyone else in the throes of acculturation might very well decide it’s “cruel” to require people to change.  Or even impossible.)  If the left were right, it would be logical to call people racist when they want immigrants to assimilate.

The left is profoundly wrong, on this as pretty much on everything else (even the things they claim to want that I agree with they want for the wrong reasons.)  Humans are not born with language and culture permanently attached and under the microscope, race doesn’t exist.

Which means to have people immigrate and not require they assimilate is an exercise in futility.  It just means they’ll bring everything they think they’re escaping with them, and continue to be miserable on our purse and as a drain on our nation.  (Let alone the myriad ancestral hatreds that will turn our streets into killing fields.)

People who stay in their country provided they don’t bug anyone else, are entitled to have as dysfunctional a culture as they wish.

But once your water has changed, you have to adapt and learn to swim in it.  Or go back.

Fit in or f*** off.  You want the better life?  Acculturate and create it.  Otherwise, what are you doing here?





345 thoughts on “Water, Fish, Culture and Genes

      1. How *are* medicinal leeches raised anyway? They should be in rather sterile environment, right?

        Just curious. I’ve seen claims that osteoarthritis is one condition for which leech therapy might be beneficial. Now the idea of getting something attached to me from a lake or pond is disgusting, but something raised and living in a clean aquariums does not sound too bad. 🙂

          1. Blood-letting helps with TB. First it decreases the blood volume the heart has to pump around; then, the liquidy part recovers first, so it’s less viscous. Both relieve strain on the heart.

            1. Hemochromatosis, too. On the subject of critters – I wonder whether the “nibbler fish” used in many Asian beauty parlors might be good for the outward symptoms of eczema and/or psoriasis.

        1. Years ago medical-grade leeches were a Soviet export. Almost nobody else raised them.

          The Commie leeches had pedigrees like Pharaohs, though.

    1. My sister worked in a neurobiology lab at a big university when she was young. The kid who couldn’t bait her own hook became an expert in the care and feeding of leeches that were being studied to try to figure out the trick of re-growing nerves. This caused her to make a 60 mile round trip to a slaughterhouse every couple of weeks, returning with a 5-gallon bucket of cow’s blood (with anticoagulant added) in the back floorboard of her car. At the time much of the route involved winding 2 lane roads, I asked her once what she would do if she got in a wreck. I was thinking of the poor highway patrol officer or sheriff’s deputy looking at an accident scene with five gallons of blood and fainting. She, however, was thinking about the interior of the car and replied: “I guess I’d have to burn it.”

  1. Having seen a lot of the ‘ghettos’ in my current city of domicile, I tend to agree with our hostess. Most immigrants take about 3 generations for the family to fully acculturate to a North American culture. Well that is unless the ruling elite try to “force” them from fitting into the culture in the first place. Other cultures are more resistant to fitting in though.

  2. it’s that the right is starting to believe it too. And that’s a very bad thing.

    I’m going to take issue with this slightly.

    I am not sure how much it is starting to believe it too versus having been forced to live by it being true *when that allows it to be used as a weapon against the right* much of the right has decided to embrace it to get the instances when it can be used as a weapon against the left. Such things as complaints by non-whites (who seem to be more on the left, at least vocally) about cultural appropriation are met with “why are you saying that in English” and “fine, we’d like you to stop using vaccines and the Internet”.

    That doesn’t make it any healthier but there is big difference between embracing a believe and embracing the making of gander sauce.

    1. There’s definitely some gander sauce going on, and that’s fine–calling people out for inconsistent thinking is something we need more of.
      Unfortunately, belief seems to be cropping up as well, and it usually boils down to “culture=genes.” More pretentious types will use phrases like “human biodiversity.”

        1. This. *headdesk* It is getting harder and harder to parody the Left. For parody to be effective, the subject must have limits beyond which it is ridiculous to go. *shakes head*

          I really, really don’t want a Gods of the Copybook Headings end, wherein we *all* get smacked with the consequences but hard. Better we set and live a good example. The view’s better on the high ground, too.

        2. I joke, but I try not to fool myself about whether I was joking or not, and to own up when the right time occurs.

          I’m also generally obnoxious, and can come up with some fairly unpleasant ideas.

  3. I’ll ask. Robert either used leeches for fishing bait, grad school learning project, or alternative medicine?

    Your childhood friend’s attitude toward punctuality seems strangely similar to that of the managers in my workplace. 15 minutes late for a 30 minute meeting, nearly all the time. I don’t think they’re Portuguese though.

    I suspect the lack of human genetic diversity can be traced back to the several hypothetical bottlenecks; plus a fairly consistent, and simplistic, mate selection criteria not culturally driven.

    1. One group I knew once upon a time had a habitually late (cultural issue) member. When someone in the group got married, this person was told to be there promptly at 1:00 PM. It worked. They arrived exactly on time as had been planned… everything started at 4:00 PM.

        1. I’ve also heard of FST (Furry…) and there was… Stremp Time.

          Friend of the family was a fellow by the name of Al Stremp who was… well, he wasn’t living with life at the default settings. And he had a variable concept of time compared to others.

          If he said “Be there in a second” it wouldn’t be a second, but it would mean the same as if anyone else said it. “In a minute” was similar or close. He might be a bit longer but not all that much than most. And if he said “See you next Spring.” you’d see him sometime the next Spring.

          But if he said “See you in an hour” you’d be lucky to see him again that day. “In a few hours” was more like “in a couple days” and “In a week” might as well have been “next month.”

          1. My wife used to be like that.

            Until I went off on vacation without her.

            She was over her mad when I got back, and it hasn’t been a problem since.

            1. My wife would have been over me by the time I got back, and it wouldn’t have a problem after that. For different reasons…

            2. Our father did the same thing with one of my sisters. The lesson never had to be repeated.

            1. And sometimes, nearby interested parties (drunken, naturally), will get paper plates and leave scores.

              And one friend, when reminded of this (though he may actually have been giving a massage in this instance), curses the “Russian judge” loudly, for giving him a bad score.

              1. I have heard that after hours at one renfaire, in the ‘camp’ that was there, a couple was.. rather noisy.. rather late. To the point that someone scrounged a ball and some strap and rigged a gag… and just threw the thing into the noisy tent.

                I wish to state that this is unverified and I was NOT party to any of it in any capacity.

              2. I think we have the same friends as mine make sure my karaoke with a friend of Paradise by the Dashboard Lights had an East German judge.

                As for SCA I can neither confirm nor deny drunkenly shouting encouragement/hints from outside a pavilion and never ever yelled “Humpty, humpty, sex noises” at one.

                1. It’s actually possible that we have at least a few of the same friends. My one friend Sven has been in the SCA all over the country, and a couple of others started all the way out on the west coast.

      1. A one-time neighbor had siblings like that. When arranging for their attendance at her son’s graduation, she told each sibling to arrive at a different time, according to each sibling’s track record – and hence they all arrived at about the right time.

        1. Once when I was taking a train trip with some friends, the guy organizing the trip told me to be there by 10:30. He told another one of our friends make sure to be there at 10. Both of us showed up at 10:15, right on time.

          1. I vary. Usually I’m late, although rarely badly late, maybe at most that 15 minutes. Then sometimes when I try to do better I will be there half an hour early. :/

        2. My dad would never have allowed that. He’d been military, which meant you showed up early—and then waited until the exact moment to knock. (I always knew it was him at the end of Scout meetings…)

          He showed that people are trainable even as adults, too. When he was a Scoutmaster, and they were going camping (once a month, if possible), he’d give out directions to the camp location, and tell everyone that the troop was leaving the parking lot at precisely (whenever.) And at that time, the troop would leave… and anyone who was late would have to be driven all the way to the campsite by their suddenly harassed parents. This rarely happened twice with the same people.

          1. Scout Time – for 5 PM Saturday Load & Leave
            “On Time” = Early – 4:30 PM
            “Late” = On Time – 5 PM (w/ consequences at site for youth and any parents attending)
            “Left Behind” – Late – double consequences at site plus inconvenience for parents AND depending on what the event was, youth did not get to participate because being “Late” was not an option (no way to catch up or not safe).
            And, yes, latter two, guaranteed youth were quoting above to parents to insure never occurred more than once.

          2. That was my cure for habitually late parents….If they were late to pick up their kiddo after a campout, I let the boy sample a few of the Mt. Dews left over from soda pop sales at the local summer festival (we sold pop as a fundraiser).

            1. Along those lines, I once saw the following sign in the gift shop at a National Park visitor center:

              “Unattended children will be given a triple-espresso and a free puppy!”

              [great bit evil grin…]

            2. Actual sign in a deli in Portland OR: “Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.”

            3. Heh. They usually had scout pickup at our house, for the reason that they were basically left out on the lawn while my dad and then my brother had a SHOWER. We were nice enough to offer drinks, but our house wasn’t exactly running over with entertainment for the teen boy set. (My parents got cable in the mid-2000s, for example. About the same time they got air conditioning—in SACRAMENTO.)

        3. Unfortunately, my uncle wasn’t consistent enough for that to work, so we just didn’t worry too much about him.

          He once showed up for Christmas a few days after Valentine’s Day.

      2. Half of the women in my mom’s family, you tell them to “be there at (half hour early).”

        And they’ll be maybe two minutes late, if the traffic is bad.

        The other half are on military time– five minutes early is ten minutes late.

      3. At one Air Force base, the training flight for my squadron did that to me. I sat for 45 minutes, waiting for one of the onboarding meetings (I think it was having to do with properly filling out paperwork for getting my moving funds) to start. Fortunately I carry books everywhere to occupy my time, or I would have left (and been counted absent).

        When I found out the base put out the proper time for the meeting, and it was my training flight that told me the wrong time and why, I was livid. I went back to them and informed the sergeant in charge in no uncertain terms that if his folks ever did that to me again I would go straight to the squadron commander. He was apologetic – it was because they had a bunch of young airman showing up late. I told him that he should expect officers to be on time, and get the squadron command to punish them if they were late, etc….

        They changed their policy.

    2. That management attitude was part of why I once said I wouldn’t quit if I won the lottery. We were all waiting in a meeting for a consistently late manager to the standing meeting and discussing a then record Powerball (this is circa 2002) and everyone was amazed when I said I wouldn’t quit if I won.

      They got it when I explained that if I won the next week when Frank finally got there I’d be free to say, “Nice to see you f**king bothered to show up and set an example” and when Roger made his, apparently required, stupid remark I could say, “Roger that is the dumbest thing to every come out of your mouth which is saying something”.

      1. When I went back to grad-school for a mid-career Ph.D., I had endless fun with the faculty. One of my favorites was a time when I was presenting my research at our regular 1PM Wednesday seminar. A habitually-late professor arrived 15 minutes into my presentation—which was the second of two that day, so you can guess how late he was—watched for a couple of slides, and then asked a question that I’d carefully covered about 5 minutes before he walked in the door. I paused, looked at him, smiled, and said “If you’d had the courtesy to arrive on time, you would have seen the answer to that question on slide 9. Are there any other questions?”

        After a brief silence, I continued on with my presentation…

    3. leeches were used on our cat. Robert found out they’d be flushed afterwards. He was horrified. So he set up a leech tank. Eventually they died, because it’s remarkably hard to get information on keeping leeches online.
      BUT he was very upset when they died.

    4. Aaaand on re-read, long pedantic rant incoming. TLDR, bottleneck. Possibly several. Most likely a couple at most, big ones anyway.

      The former, moreso than the latter most likely*. Bottlenecking has a *huge* effect. Seriously. European royal families, except for *everybody.* Genetic disease rates go from fractions of a percent across the board, to significant numbers- and can go near population wide (somewhat like sickle cell anemia). There are really good scientific reasons to favor the bottleneck hypothesis.

      The Toba event ~75kya preceeded a highly probable glacial event. To compare, the Toba was around two orders of magnitude greater than the Tambora, which caused the 1816 “Year tihout Summer.” You’ll find some sources that say that humans didn’t get out of Africa much until ~50kya, but that’s not as credible (take this with as much or little salt as ye like, but that’s my gut based on following the research a bit for the last fifteen years or so). Around that time, human populations crater.

      What caused the massive decrease in the number of folks we’d recognize as modern humans? A little ice age could do it, that early on. Or disease (problems there). Warfare. Yes, humans have made war on each other *forever.* Pretty much since there have been modern humans. It was liklely already older than dirt before the Bronze Age humans started stabbing each other with big freakin’ knives (digression, the Bronze Age collapse was probably the first large scale societal collapse in human history. We had trade from the Western Med all the way into modern day Pakistan, and then mostly bupkis until the Iron Age kicked over).

      Founder effect/bottlenecking (same effect, two different causes) seriously screws with species diversity. And, largely, it’s a factor of not enough *women.* Specifically, mothers having babies. It’s why you can have a population dip after a major war, then come roaring back (numbers wise) a generation later. Way un-PC, but real science is a wolfmother that way.

      *: Consistent, fairly specific mate selection would need to go a long, long, loooooong time to equal even a little ‘neck in variability. Bonus points if it targets one specific family, i.e. the ones with six fingers or some such. And it would have to be crazy specific, as in if you put it in a book your editor would have some Strong Words for you once he found it. Otherwise it gets swamped by the massive amount of *other* people having babies.

      1. Anyone who tries DNA Genealogy learns this firsthand.

        Some population groups are readily identifiable not because, overall, the individual SNPs in their DNA are different from other related populations, but because there are relatively long strands of linked SNPs on each chromosome that are identical in most members of that population (and the related population doesn’t show those long identical runs).

        There are a lot of groups this applies to – Ashkenazi, Colonial era US families, French Canadians, Canary Islanders, many more. But any group that has an elevated level of intermarriage can show this – the longer the period of isolation and smaller the founding population, the stronger the effect.

        I’ve been able to link with much more distant cousins (8th & 8th 1R, last identified common ancestors born ~1730) on one family line because there were several cases of cousin marriage on that line that effectively boosted the shared DNA to the point they were matched as “possible 4th cousins”. All the other family line matches taper off a lot sooner.

        But that’s my mother’s family – mostly US colonial, and (except for that one line) not notably prone to in-group marriages. My dad was Ashkenazi – and thanks to that, over 90% of my DNA matches are on his side of the family, and so far out that there’s no realistic hope of ever disentangling any but the closest. I’ve read that, effectively, all Ashkenazi share enough DNA to be “4th-6th cousins”, but in reality it’s more like 10th-12th cousins many times over. Once you get out past the 2nd-3rd cousin level it gets increasingly hard to filter out the actual close family links from the group similarities.

        1. BUT the DNA tests are a bit of a scam. Not really, but kind of because they don’t explain that they show only the genes you EXPRESS. Yeah, sure, you got some congruent long strands, but seriously, no.
          Just because you don’t have blah blah and blah blah it doesn’t mean they weren’t your ancestors too. EVERY conception 50% of DNA gets “wrapped up and thrown away.” It still shows in your reproductive cells, because those are different, and weird. This means you and your kid might have very little genetics in common.
          HOWEVER that’s slicing very thin indeed. If you take a slice of my arm and a slice of your arm and examine them, no one will know skin color eye color or relative IQ.

          1. Actually, the tests do pretty much what they’re designed to do. They characterize a defined set of SNPs on each chromosome (most of the major players use variants on the same chip for testing, and their results are mostly compatible).

            They actually do a very good job of identifying which variants of each SNP you inherited (and yes, you only inherit half of what each parent had), and identifying possible relatives (even for highly endogamous groups this part is very accurate out to about the 3rd/4th cousin level). For non-endogamous groups, it does a decent job of identifying relatives a few generations further out, though they warn that beyond 4th cousin level fewer than half of your real, verifiable by family tree, relatives will show enough DNA matches to be identified. For endogamous groups (sounds better than “darn near as inbred as a Hapsburg!”), that same 4th-cousin level is when almost every member of the group starts showing up as a “distant cousin”.

            “Ethnicity” is when, yup, the smoke and mirrors starts appearing. But the problem is as much as in the customer’s expectations as in the companies over-the-top advertising. Much as it may come as a shock to the “my great, great, great, great, great grandmother was an Indian princess! What do you mean I don’t have any native american DNA!” crowd (hint: even if your family story is correct and every generation between you got a statistically-average 50% of her inherited DNA from the previous generation, that would be less than 1% of YOUR DNA), the whole “ethnicity” thing is statistical, empirical, and works best when a relatively large percentage of your DNA is from a single population.

            All through history and prehistory people moved around, shared genes both formally and informally, and paid no attention to where modern national boundaries would be. And there’s a lot of overlap between adjacent populations – that’s why the more reputable test companies normally characterize at several levels – “European -> NW European -> British Isles”. (With an ever-increasing variance as they grow more specific).

            For some highly endogamous populations they can be very accurate – although on a broader level Ashkenazi look at lot like, say, northern Italians or Sephardic Jews, the founding population was so small (estimated at less than 500, nearly 1000 years back) there are many, many shared and specific DNA markers that are hard to mistake for anything else. It’s the other side of the coin – very hard to identify “real” distant relatives, but the whole population are, effectively, distant relatives – it makes group identification relatively simple.

            Outside such groups, it isn’t so easy. Northern Italians aren’t that different from people in southern France or Switzerland. Southern French people aren’t that different from central French people, who aren’t that different from north-eastern French people, who – surprise! – aren’t that different from SW German people . . .

            And does anyone remember that part of the fall of the western Roman empire involved lots of Germanic tribes migrating into France, northern Italy, the Iberian peninsula, and even north Africa? How about all the genetic mixing the Romans managed when they *had* the empire? How about all the back-and-forth wars and peacetime trade that occurred throughout history?

            If the DNA testers have a large pool of samples from people who all attest that all 4 of their grandparents belonged to a specific ethic group they can make a statistical model that works fairly well. But even in their original sample pool there was generally quite a lot of variance – and that’s assuming that Fred or Giovanni *really* knows who his father, grandfather, or both were!

            DNA can be a useful tool. But anyone expecting it to accurately tell you that you’re, say, 3/8th Italian and 5/8th French because 3 of your great grandparents were from Italy and 5 from France (and all within a 50 mile radius circle) is, perhaps, a trifle optimistic.

            1. I have to go back 6 generations to find any traceable cousin marriage in my direct line of descent. One line I can’t tell; my maternal great-grandparents were from Ireland, and that’s as far as I can trace that line. They immigrated to Boston. And there’s a crapload of Morgans all with the same first name who immigrated to Boston from Ireland… But my direct line ancestors since arriving in North America seem to move around, a lot. I was told my one distant family member of a related family the reason the family scattered is because no generation of that family has ever gotten along with each other. From that family I have distant relatives I can trace in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Ireland, England, and the United States. All from after the family’s forced emigration from Scotland to Prince Edward Island.

              But the one family surname I’ve traced a few hundred of has had several dozen 1st cousin marriages since 1800. And, two family surnames keep marrying each other.

      2. ~75kya, around the time of Atlantis when the Atlantean try to drill to the center of the Earth with the solar crystals power lasers, hitting a large pocket of methane ice, causing a large explosion which led to the sinking of the continent and the Earth to tilt on it axis, killing the reminding woolly mammoths and dinosaurs.

        1. “Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars … Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet.” — The Nemedian Chronicles

      3. Okay, now I want a science fiction story that brings forward a couple of groups of humans from before the bottleneck and brings them into the modern population. Oh what fun we would have in genetics.

        And no, I can’t write it myself, because I’d need a lot more information and I have small kids, I can’t devote years of study to it…

        1. You don’t have to do any research for that if you just make them representatives of a matriarchal communist culture in which everybody lives together in peace, contentment and harmony. Have them make snarky (or shocked) comments about how indifferent we are to the requirements of nature and how discourteous we are toward Mother Earth — and in some snickering about worshiping that pathetic volcano god who is so jealous of all the other deities and you would probably get (at minimum) a Hugo nomination.

          Remember: for today’s Hugo Voter, getting the narrative right means you can fudge the facts. (I think “fudge” is the verb they use; it’s got the first two letter right, at any rate.)

    5. The managers’ issue may be more one of poor time management than being culturally late. I certainly knew enough managers at previous jobs who could never seem to end meetings on time, resulting in their being late to the next meeting, which ended later than scheduled, etc etc etc

    1. What would one use for mold release?

      Are humans thermosetting or thermoplastic? I would think thermoset.

  4. My husband occasionally has moments of regret that we didn’t settle in an enclave. It’s tough changing cultures as an adult. But neither he nor his siblings chose an enclave to live in (they would have had to choose different spouses, first) and people assume they were born somewhere else in the USA as a result, that is, after living here for fifteen to twenty years, they all give off enough ‘not from here’ to register as not from Idaho, New York, and Washington, but not enough ‘not from here’ to register as foreign. And those are only moments, occuring on days when Americans, including yours truly, have been particularly opaque.

    Multi-cultural hair care, in my experience, is specialized tools for curly hair. Nothing cultural about it at all, just a marketing gimmick. Now, five of our six kids have curls, ranging from clipped at quarter inch to butt length. If you’re interested, the best product we’ve found for detangling is Hawaiian Silky, at Sally Beauty Supply.

    1. I and older son got the extreme dryness that seems to come with African hair. Younger son got the affro. Fortunately he looks very mediterranean and keeps it short. 😀 Because, just saying, he’d make the LEAST likely black man ever. Culturally he’s yoless from Johnny Maxwell.

      1. Your younger son’s physical resemblance to my second son has about convinced me that my husband’s ‘white’ ancestor was Portuguese. Or, you know, same bunch of Vikings kept going south, or what have you. But if your son took my kids somewhere everyone would assume he’s their brother.

        My kids’ curls are highly influenced by my silky fine Finn hair. I have a friend with a family of curly red-heads who uses the same detangler.

        1. Dad’s family were traders. And Africa was always a destination. So, who knows. Mostly poor Marshall is “hearthrob of the b’nai b’rith” as EVERYONE identifies him as Jewish on sight. Seriously, the little girls of the local group give out calendars, and they will run across the store to put one in his hands (and bat eye lashes, these little girls being I judge around 20)

          1. Friend of mine that I fence with in Vermont dyes her hair blue. She’s our age. (somewhere between kids out of the house and our taking a dirt nap.)

              1. My mom still hasn’t dyed her hair lime green. (Though she threatened to for one of my sisters’ wedding, but she just wore butterfly clips instead.) I have so many friends who have dyed their hair lovely colors, but I’m shooting for a principle role in this year’s operetta, I can’t be dying my hair yet.

            1. Back when I was fencing the blue-haired old ladies were the deadliest foes you’d face on strip. Absolutely unflappable, precise and efficient in their moves, never deflecting an attack more than a quarter inch beyond the necessary minimum..

            1. For a male, of course, that is simply “dignitas.”

              The daughters went to the Phoenix Comicon last weekend, and were apparently much impressed by Dick van Dyke.

    2. It’s “multi-cultural” because those providing products for that sort of hair
      1) are overwhelmingly AA
      2) often assume the only people with that sort of hair are AA

      I’ve seen a documentary where some of the folks involved in the industry were very … insular about other-looking people moving into their business territory.

  5. I’ve talked about how difficult it was, even when I WANTED to change. If there had been a community to “ease” my way, I’d probably have embraced it, which means I’d never fully acculturate and never fully become American.

    You talk about this a lot and it has affected my opinion on immigration.

    It has made me want less legal immigration and especially elimination of non-immediate (spouse and children) family reunification. If it is that difficult (which is not what I was taught in school) then we need to keep the foreign born population even lower than “normal” (we are currently pushing record highs seen in the 20s when immigration was last shutdown).

    In fact your discussion of what your success required has made me more restrictionist than those arguing genetics and such (I’m sure you can think of some names).

    1. Note I’m not arguing for no frontiers. Weirdly I think “Spouse of American” (not of the same ethnicity) is more likely to get integrated than other legal immigrants.

      1. Oh, I didn’t think you were. My point was more that hearing the experience of an immigrant who did the work to change cultures has recalibrated my “melting pot 70s” taught views.

        I think “Spouse of American” is more likely to get integrated too…they really have no choice unless their spouse is an utter doormat.

        I know you don’t think no frontiers is a good idea (and seem to remember you saying it creates worries in your mind about the boys).

      2. Oh, in case I expressed it badly I am okay with familiy reunification of spouses and children, but not family beyond that.

        1. And I agree. The problem is importing a tribe. I can see in cases of distress. This doesn’t apply because my brother looks after my mom, but suppose I was the only child and dad died. Given how spectacularly infertile the family has been since my generation, our only recourse would be to apply for her to join us. In fact when I was getting my Visa to marry Dan, I was sitting in the waiting room next to a lady who was eighty something and coming to her son in America. Stuff like that is called “compassion.” Same as very young children with no other caretakers. But beyond that? HELL NO.

          1. Yeah, that. If we could bring my inlaws, we would (they don’t want). Well, all their kids are here. All their grandkids are here. And their kids are supporting them anyway, no matter where they are, so it’d be more convenient to have them where we can make sure Papa’s getting real coumadin and not fake.

      3. As in any either-or question, I think the correct answer to the nature-or-nurture, culture-or-genetics question is “yes”.

        Our Beloved and Terrible Space Princess hostess has reported on stuff that has manifested in her sons that echo stuff from her parents, and I’ve seen the same thing in my family. And no matter how assimilated the cultural carrier is, there’s going to be cultural aspects that carry forward.

        Looking forward, I think the Americanized cultural carryovers of acculturated spouse-of-Americans who originated in the former USSR (think mail_order_brides.ru) will be quite interesting in a generation (or two, given how things combine with the genetic stuff that pops back up after skipping a generation). And a gen or so after that, when the enclaves (like the Russian here near Stanford) start to loosen up and kidsstart looking outside the group, that culture+genetics time-delay thing will kick in again.

        1. I agree. “I think the correct answer to the nature-or-nurture, culture-or-genetics question is “yes”.” But I would add nature-nurture-nutrition. At least one of the -stans credits a single generation IQ jump to iodized salt.

          1. I should add, having seen a visible to the naked eye average height increase in South Koreans with a 10 year gap between my two visits, I’m really of the thought that nutrition is a huge part of the equation.

            1. Diet & Nutrition?

              Possibly …

              ‘Do you know this here voice, Oliver?’ said Mr. Bumble.

              ‘Yes,’ replied Oliver.

              ‘Ain’t you afraid of it, sir? Ain’t you a-trembling while I speak, sir?’ said Mr. Bumble.

              ‘No!’ replied Oliver, boldly.

              An answer so different from the one he had expected to elicit, and was in the habit of receiving, staggered Mr. Bumble not a little. He stepped back from the keyhole; drew himself up to his full height; and looked from one to another of the three bystanders, in mute astonishment.

              ‘Oh, you know, Mr. Bumble, he must be mad,’ said Mrs. Sowerberry.

              ‘No boy in half his senses could venture to speak so to you.’

              ‘It’s not Madness, ma’am,’ replied Mr. Bumble, after a few moments of deep meditation. ‘It’s Meat.’

              ‘What?’ exclaimed Mrs. Sowerberry.

              ‘Meat, ma’am, meat,’ replied Bumble, with stern emphasis. ‘You’ve over-fed him, ma’am. You’ve raised a artificial soul and spirit in him, ma’am unbecoming a person of his condition: as the board, Mrs. Sowerberry, who are practical philosophers, will tell you. What have paupers to do with soul or spirit? It’s quite enough that we let ’em have live bodies. If you had kept the boy on gruel, ma’am, this would never have happened.’

              ‘Dear, dear!’ ejaculated Mrs. Sowerberry, piously raising her eyes to the kitchen ceiling: ‘this comes of being liberal!’
              [Chapter 7]

      4. These days the Internet can be a barrier to integration into the new society. My cousin’s wife (from Thailand) has mostly assimilated (my cousin loves Thai food so she’s learned relatively few American dishes) but for most purposes, she didn’t really NEED to.

        She worked for a time at one of those companies that provide home and business Internet filters filtering Thai websites, and about half of her Facebook posts are in Thai, connecting with old friends in Thailand and commenting on current events there, and unless things have changed not only Thai but a large number of Chinese restaurants in San Diego are run or staffed by Thais. It would have been easy for her to stay in her comfort zone.

    2. To steal from Kratman, I do sincerely believe that there are people who were not born in the U.S. whom we absolutely should steal for our own good. See: Miss Sarah here, Peter Grant, Lawdog…

      1. But how could you test, when it’s not somebody who is vocal online or you know personally, or somebody whose judgement you trust knows? There have to be more than a few wannabe immigrants who would make excellent Americans who never get a chance because somebody who does have the money, career or something else which puts them on the preferred list gets ahead of them even if they do not have the ideals or attitudes, and maybe even hate what USA is and would prefer to turn it into more like modern Europe or bring Sharia law there or something.

  6. This is blunt, but the whole culture = genetic thing is merely thinly disguised racism. It’s the exact same thing as when a bigot says “You can take the [racial slur] out of the [stereotypical environment], but you can’t take the [stereotypical environment] out of the [racial slur].”

    1. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the left moved from opposing the melting pot to claiming the melting pot does not really exist, but I’d like to know when it happened. The whole “What is your culture?” assignment the kids ran into seemed positively nonsensical, and they tried to loosely tie it to where we came from. Except we’d been in the Americas before there even was a US, and our cultural is regional.It really didn’t – and doesn’t – make any sense.

      1. I remember in grad school, there was a pot luck where everyone was supposed to “bring a dish from your native culture.” We brought enchiladas on the grounds that our native culture was Colorado, and Tex-Mex is a dish from here.

        1. Being a Scot from waaaaaaaaay back, it would be haggis, not that I’d know how to make haggis.

            1. My wife is Latvian. Arrived as a toddler. Her hobby is establishing a Latvian community in our area. I loved my MIL’s pirogi, so I learned how to make it. Now the non-Latvian hubby always brings the ethnic food to the Latvian gatherings.

              Of course I could never sell them. That would be cultural appropriation.

              1. Heh. Finns love their pizzas. Definitely cultural appropriation, and what’s more, something that has come here through a couple of side trips because what we eat here is more like the American than the Italian version, never mind that Italy is a bit closer. And it’s a pretty recent addition to our cuisine – if you want to call it that – too, first pizzerias here opened in the 70’s. I was about 15 before I even heard the word, in one home economics class our teacher decided we’d make them (the end results were mostly like bread with some toppings, which, as far as I know, actually is rather like the original Italian version).

                But to the kids now it might as well been on the Finnish menu since the poems of Kalevala were collected for the first time, or longer. 😀

                1. First pizza I ate was made by my brazilian aunt when she visited. It lacked tomato sauce. So did the early pizzas in Portugal in the eighties. BUT NOW there’s a pizzeria every block selling bog standard american-like pizza.

                  1. …and now it’s the Americans who don’t use tomato sauce.

                    Most places around my area, even when I order “extra” tomato sauce it must be wafted on like the gold on a spaceman’s visor…

                    1. Vacuum-deposited tomato sauce?!

                      Checkout clerk: Everything OK?
                      Orvan: No. I have a problem with the tomato paste.
                      Checkout clerk: Oh, what?
                      Orvan: It doesn’t paste the tomatoes together worth a dang!
                      Checkout Clerk: …

                  2. One of my few dislikes about having moved to greater Cincinnati [mumble mumble] years ago, beyond the distance from relatives back east, was the state of pizza. I grew up in that great bubble of great pizza that permeates through CT, NY, NJ, and eastern PA, and in Cincinnati I found that pizza tasted very different. Often not in a good way. And each pizza place often had a different style from others in the area. The main local chain even uses provolone instead of mozzarella. But at least tomato sauce was usually in the mix.

                    Within the past 5-10 years, that has changed. A number of pizzerias offering NY-style pizza opened. A nice thin crisp crust that is still flexible. The right cheese. The right sauce to cheese ratio. A little slice of heaven.

                    1. The wife and I went to anew gourmet pizza place with many rave reviews. We were disappointed. No tomato sauce. Just meager toppings artfully arranged upon a ginormous fresh cracker. I cannot in good conscience call it a pizza crust. Not thin crust, micro-thin crust as crispy as a cracker. It is against the laws of nature to remain hungry after eating an entire 16″ so-called pizza.

                    1. Well, I noticed I got lots of heartburn if I had it with sauce. Without sauce I don’t tend to get heartburn.

                    2. I knew a guy (otherwise sane) who would eat the toppings but not the crust of a pizza. 😉

              2. I usually ended up bring curries to Chinese New Year dinners with the extended family.

        2. I made some Louisiana Creole dish – Black beans and rice, I think — anyway, it was from one of my recipe books – and brought it to a church potluck on a military base. The husband of the base social actions officer (black/creole from New Orleans) practically swooned over it. It was just like his mama used to make, he swore up and down. He even snaffled up the leftovers, to take home, he claimed that it was that good. Ah, yes – intercultural food exchanges – all to the good.
          And this happened decades before any speshul snowflakes decided to make a fuss over cultural appropriation.

          1. Any speshul snowflakes anxious to avoid cultural appropriation who are not Southern blacks better eschew Fried Chicken, and avoid the biscuits for good measure. No spare ribs, either.

            They likely ought not eat the vegetables, either, to avoid cannibalism.

            1. Chickens originated somewhere near Pakistan, and were spread throughout the Old World by Greek invaders, at least according to one of the accounts I read.

              “Chicken biryani” is a popular Pakistani food. Which seems to be 100% interchangeable with “chicken ranchero” at the local Mexican place. Where I can eat culturally-appropriated food while listening to Korean pop music, because that’s how they roll…

              1. I recall an odd little tune “My Stereo Comes From Japan” (it was the 1980’s…) and near the end it goes on to ask what does the “Japanese man” do at night when he goes/is at home? And the answer is that he’s having a Coke at McDonald’s and listening to the Beach Boys…

              2. Actually, I think chickens originated a little further away in SE Asia – Burma/Thailand/Laos/Vietnam area.

        3. Heh. For my culture I’d have to bring ‘possum, squirrel, rabbit, and other down home fixings. Some did raccoon but we didn’t because they look like a dog when skinned (OTOH, rabbit can look like cat). My, that would be fun. Like a real live Beverly Hillbillies..

            1. Would have to pass on armadillo. Hear it tastes like pork (hence the term “Hoover Hog”), but they can carry leprosy.

              They say rattlesnake is pretty good, along with gator tail. Laws put a crimp on the latter, but has seen farmed gator tail in the store from time to time. Turtle was once popular. Gopher tortoise was, too, but since they’re a protected species now, that’s illegal. Have been told it tastes like beef.

              1. My description of rattlesnake is that it tastes like chicken-trout. My scoutmaster did not approve of rattlers threatening his troop. Giving an exhibition on preparing fresh snake for dinner was a happy bonus.

                The head, by the way, was cut off and buried for safety’s sake.

                1. “The head, by the way, was cut off and buried for safety’s sake.”

                  Good. A rattler’s mate can smell them for miles, and it does no good to dispose of one if you’re just drawing another. (I did not kill the rattler that surprised me on a walk down the hill one day; I did not have the tools. I just secured the area and sent someone down to bring someone WITH the tools—and I have the rattle somewhere still.)

                  1. Also bury it so it won’t snap someone. Some people claim it’s an old wives’ tale, but the heads *will* bite you if triggered. It’s a standard just-enough-nerve-energy-left dead critter reaction.

                    We had some Scouts kill a copperhead one year at camp (back when I was a Scout). They decided they would remove the head and put it up in a rock formation so it couldn’t be bothered. Naturally, some other Scout came along and wanted to *climb* that rock formation.
                    The snake head clamped down on his hand and pumped a full load of venom into him. Fortunately they got him to a hospital pretty quickly.

                    Bury that head!
                    (And eat the meat and make a belt out of the skin!)

            1. I’ve heard that in some places where you were selling skinned rabbits for eating, you’d leave the paws alone so the buyers would know that it was a rabbit not a cat. 😉

              1. Affirmative – I saw this in the public markets in Spain. They always left the furred paws on, so that purchasers knew that it was really rabbit.

      2. My first controversial post was about that assignment. Robert did it as “American geek” and got the paper sent back with “no, where are your ancestors from” at which point, because he’s mine, he wrote about the sea… 😛

        1. “My ancestors are German Jews, people who came to this country to avoid government inquisitions about where their ancestors. We settled in America because it is a primary article of the American Creed that ancestry does not matter, that what matters is your personal character, your personal ethics and work habits.

          “History makes clear that questions about a person’s ancestry is the first step toward enslavement or worse. This is especially true when those questions arise from any person wielding governmental authority, holding the power to punish and reward those who give the “correct” responses when asked about their ancestors. Far from idle curiosity such demands for intrusive personal revelation are the first thin edge of the wedge for discrimination, racism and cultural hegemony.”

          I can go on for as many words as necessary.

        2. We didn’t have that bad experience. At that time we couldn’t get past 1860 in the surname, but had hints. They honestly pointed out that we’d been over here so long we weren’t sure. They wrote up that since we’d been in a certain region of North America for about three hundred years, that was our culture.

          1. Half my ancestors came over around 1850, and the other half came over pre-Revolution. And when you split by country of origin, the break-down is about 1/4 Germanic and 3/4 British Isles. Some of my German ancestors came over pre-Revolution but remained (mostly) in enclaves with some acculturation around the edges until they finally, completely acculturated during WWI. So, I suppose I could do something “cultural” since some of that is “only” 5-6 generations back.

            1. German-French-English-Scots-Welsh-Irish-Pennsylvania Dutch-French Canadian-Cherokee
              (Yeah, I know who the Pennsylvania Dutch are, and that French Canadian, too. But that’s how my mom always said it, with the recent addition of the Cherokee part.)

              My son adds Carribean (the Jamaicans thought his mother was a local when we were on our honeymoon) and a small tribe of Native Americans. And possibly Spanish or Portuguese.

              I can bring anything I damn well please to a potluck! 😀
              (OK, I’ll admit I’ve culturally appropriated a bunch of Greek, Jewish, Thai and Korean food, too.)

      3. What culture do my kids belong to, other than “American”?

        Considering they’re a pretty thorough mix of Chinese (their mom), and Ashkenazi/English/German/Swiss with small dashes of French and Irish way back (me). And while their mom came directly from Hong Kong, my family has (depending on the line) been here for anywhere from 3 to 12 generations. And what cultural traits are they allowed to share with their first cousins, some of whom mix in variations on “hispanic”, “native american” while others are 100% one group or another?

        I’m going to suggest the next time someone asks about “their culture” they tell them something like “in our family, we always serve egg rolls with our chicken matzo ball soup, but sauerkraut goes with tacos.”

    2. I seem to remember someone going on and on about the soft bigotry of low expectations.

      The left called him a Nazi.

      1. *yawn* Of course they did. Its been over 70 years since the actual National Socialists were running around, you’d think they’d have branched out.

        Wake me when they find another insult.

          1. You’d have to. Otherwise your great great (…) grandkids would be looking at the Ancient Sacred Text, Hidden For Generations Until This Time, and saying, “Wake Zsuzsa? What the heck?”

        1. There was a Nationalist Socialist guy running in the last Presidential election… B-something… Bennie, maybe?

    3. Isn’t racism another term for fear of the stranger, and the resultant bias and discrimination against them because of that fear? Xenophobia at its strongest? Of course that fear of the stranger is a survival trait. Those who historically were a bit too open and accepting of folks into their communities or homes often ended up being prey. The Sabines were apparently friendly enough to the Romans to enable Romulus and his merry gang to abduct their daughters wholesale.

      It’s been said that men look for traits of their mothers in their spousal selections. So there’s a tendency to intermarry within the group that looks mostly the same. But there’s also a tendency for men to want something, someone, exotic. To bring a real stranger back into the group. Which makes pretty good sense genetically; but also makes good sense culturally, because it brings in new ideas, but not an overwhelming amount of them all at once. The question is, what is the most healthy dynamic for a society for immigration rates?

      Herbn makes a good point. Perhaps the rate of immigration into the U.S. (and into other European nations for that matter) is too high for our (and their) own good. Perhaps a lower rate would also lower those racist feelings as we reached levels that could be easily assimilated and dispersed within our society.

      1. If I recall correctly the immigration even in the heyday was not the open 3in fire hose but a spigot that went on and off. It is the critical mass and (in part today) ability to communicate and interact with the old country decreases the need for sink or swim assimilation.

        If travel and communication were at the stage of the turn of the 19th century, would the US be as much a temp job hub?

      2. Despite being equally fannish, Steve and I come from quite dissimilar backgrounds. He’s a hi tech redneck from Alabama and I’m a Rabbi’s daughter from New York City.

        1. That shows what the important part of your compatibility is…

          “Trek trivia for $100, Alex!”

          1. I used to ask in Yeshiva how laws would have to be adjusted for space. Teacher being irritable due to teaching high schools said that it wouldn’t happen and stop asking silly questions. Years later I learned that you use modified boat law.

            1. Related peeve:
              the go-to example of a “shut up you’re bad for asking” questions for Catholics is “how much of the Mass can you miss before it no longer fulfills your religious obligation for the week?” (wanting to know is obviously evidence that you’re entering the mass in the wrong spirit)

              I still don’t know, because NOBODY WILL JUST ANSWER THE QUESTION, even if it’s just “that hasn’t been established.”

              1. I would think that would be His decision.

                The question is, do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?

                    1. *nod*

                      In fancy speak, that’s exactly how confession is explained– it’s so you know you’ve been forgiven.

                      That…security… it’s a great comfort to children of all ages. 😀

                    2. Huh. I never thought of that question from that end. (*mentally eyes the folk who bug out after Communion*) My kids… oh, my kids. They want to get out quickly, and I always make them stay until the end of the closing hymn. (Former and future choir member…)

              2. Because NOBODY could possibly wonder if there is a point at which, after your children have managed to delay you by any number of events, there is simply no point in continuing to get ready.

                Or, after said delays, there is some need to make up the missing time (Sorry, I don’t know if this is possible, but it sounds like a reasonable question to me).

                1. I guess I’ve always lived in a city, because there’s always been a later Mass. Which means I don’t have to go to that one, because the kids know I won’t let them delay long enough to get out of it entirely. 🙂

                2. Sometimes it is, but in our area that is a Spanish mass at 12:30; just imagine what five kids are like when they don’t speak the language, don’t know what’s going on from memory, and it’s after lunch….

      3. It has been noted in some places that the welcoming of strange sailors to remote Polynesian islands wasn’t so much because of no sexual hang-ups, as some anthropologists insist, but because even the most technologically primitive cultures recognize the dangers of inbreeding. An occasional injection of new genes from sailors from far away was a good thing.

  7. Okay, last top level, I promise.

    Which doesn’t make the problem any more tractable, but it makes it POSSIBLE to solve without genocide.

    Genocide yes, but culturalcide I’m not so sure.

    There seem to be lots of cultures with a significant minority intent on killing members of a different culture. The majority claims they shouldn’t suffer for the actions of the minority but refuses to try to reign the minority in. When the attacked culture tries to rein the minority in the majority complains about how this will radicalize them and cause them to want to kill those people attacking them. They will even stand by as members of the culture trying to stop violence are killed by the minority.

    The reality is majority of the culture supports the killing but are too cowardly to do it most of the time.

    I’m not sure you can deal with such cultures except by elimination.

    1. See Plains Indian Tribes. “Yes, my kids are at war with you, but they are politically independent, so it doesn’t impact whether I am acting in good faith for my side of the peace treaty.”

    2. There seem to be lots of cultures with a significant minority intent on killing members of a different culture. The majority claims they shouldn’t suffer for the actions of the minority but refuses to try to reign the minority in.

      Hey, look, it’s why cowboys and indians came to be!

      1. Between you, Bob, and GWB I suspect I’m carrying too much “70s the white man broke every treaty” defaults than are warranted.

        1. Oddly enough, that’s what a lot of the old westerns push, too– they just also have a few Bad Guy Indians.

          I think it’s based on the really big, systematic abuses involving the Indian Affairs guys, which you could slot right into the “horrible land-lord” stories.

          It went on a smaller scale, too– small towns would have “deals” with the local Indian tribes, which held riiiight up until they had something that the young bucks wanted.

        2. Oh, it was very true that white men broke treaties. Very true.

          But phrasing it that way makes it sound like they were the only ones, or that treaties between ‘Americans and Indians’ were always signed by parties with the ability to truly bind those two immense groups.

          On the American side, you had the hippies in DC (with apologies to DC), the Army, and scofflaws, ne’erdowells, and unemployed soldiers from every corner of Europe. The command, control, and communication simply did not exist.

          The tribes were hardly politically uniform and able to enforce a consistent policy either.

          My position is the the alternative to reservations and reservation schools was extermination. The combination and the destructive influence of the BIA has eliminated the tribes as independent military powers capable of posing a threat.

          1. Pretty much, yeah. If the elders signing the treaty could control their obstreperous young warriors (on both sides) then there would be peace for a time. But when the young warriors got restless, or resentful, or even wanted guts and glory … well, there went the peace treaty.
            There was a much-famed peace treaty signed in Fredericksburg, Texas in the late 1840s between the German settlers there, and the tribal representatives of the Penateka Comanche. It’s famed as one that was never broken – there is even a monument to it on Market Square. I was told by a descendant of one of the old families that his family, and the descendants of the Penateka could claim hospitality from each other for the asking by terms of the treaty; hosting them in their own homes, in Fredericksburg and in the Reservation in Oklahoma.
            And yes, that treaty was never broken. But it was with the Penateka, just one of about fourteen tribal divisions among the Comanche. The other thirteen weren’t bound by it at all. So it was war to the knife with the other tribal divisions, after about fifteen years, when the Penateka had been diminished by epidemics, and eventual retreat to the Reservation in Oklahoma.

          2. It is generally forgotten that Reservations were the invention of President Grant, an effort to end the corruption and abuses which had afflicted the interface between United States and Amerindian cultures. As with his effort to protect the rights of freedmen in the South, its failure had less to do with the idea than it did with political opposition and individual corruption.

            The Res schools erred in their attempts to eradicate the indigenous cultures, but their error was in thinking a new (presumed better) culture could be imposed o’ertop of an older. It doesn’t work that way.

            1. In the case of the Plains Indians, the reservations were successful in destroying the warrior band as an institution.

              From boyhood, the men of the tribe were organized in groups, initially by cohort and by affinity when older, and trained for hunting and warfare. These groups were politically independent, and loyal to their own. The period spent at government schools could not be used for training, was irreplaceable, and thereby prevented the creation of true warrior bands.

              They didn’t need to erase the culture entirely, they just needed to destroy the institutional culture that made resistance possible.

      2. That was Rumsfeld’s updated Rules of Engagement. “If you won’t keep Taliban from using your schools, mosques, and hospitals as bases of operation, we’ll assume you don’t care if we flatten them and all their occupants.”

        I still remember the shrieks of outrage…

        1. Geneva Conventions allow the destruction of schools, religious buildings, and hospitals when used as a base of operations by the military. Rumsfeld merely reverted to that standard for RoE; rather than a politically motivated more restricted RoE set.

        2. What he failed to do is respond to those shrieks by reminding them that hiding your fighters and equipment in your civilian population is an actual war crime called Perfidy, and that the Geneva Conventions say that the proper response is exactly the flattening he described.

          “Are you advocating violating the Geneva Conventions?”

          1. Awww, c’mon, Steve: You know it is only a violation of the Geneva Conventions when we do anything.

            Because of America’s overwhelming power we must always and forever fight with one hand (minimally) tied behind our back in order to make things fair. That’s the whole principle behind “warfair”, right?

        3. Somewhat related, did you ever hear about the shake-out of the “war crime” where we bombed what turned out to be a Doctors Without Borders clinic?

          There’s photographic proof they didn’t have the big “this is a hospital” thing up, and rumor is that’s because they Daesh-bags would’ve been using it as an outpost even faster…..

          1. There was also testimony and pictures of Daesh fighters walking in and out with weapons.

            1. IIRC, they offered that as the first round of “why did you bomb the clinic,” it was countered with “you didn’t use the right routes to clear the clinic, obviously your pilot is lying about there being no BIG HUGE SIGN on the roof,” and then they offered photographs from both daylight and during the fighting that no, there was no sign, and doctors without borders hadn’t even registered that they were in that spot– there was literally no way for the poor pilot to know.

  8. And what’s wrong with genocide? Are you being racist against my (somewhat adopted) mass killing positive culture? 🙂

  9. “Heck, humans will even conform to animals who raise them, to the point of walking on all fours and never developing anything resembling speech.”

    I was really shocked when I found out as a college freshman that – unlike smiling – both of these are entirely learned behaviors. In fact, babies who are blind from birth have to be shown how to stand and walk by their parents or guardians, since they can’t visually see how other humans around them perambulate on their legs.

  10. I am sooooooo tired of that “fish don’t see …” line. Of course they don’t … they’re effing fish! The difference between humans and fish is that we, clever monkeys that we are, have sufficient brain processing capacity to grasp the culture, wrestle with it and get some kind of grip, if only we’re willing to make the effort.

    Besides, fish sure as heck do see the water they’re swimming in — how else would the learn the currents, be able to tell thermal differences and otherwise navigate?

    1. Hmmmm. Your saying that fish are purpose built, software in ROM computers, whereas humans have are programmable and even have choice of operating systems. We can go to school and learn new programs. Changing operating systems without a reboot is difficult.

      Multi-cultis posit that all operating systems are equal.

      1. All operating systems are equal, but they do not yield equivalent results in all circumstances. A spoon and a fork are equal, but a fork is much better for steak, not so good for soup.

  11. “For instance a mouthy teenage girl has a lifespan of minutes in an Arab culture.”
    I am very fortunate I was born to nerdy American Mormons then.

    1. Don’t worry, feminists assure me you are just as oppressed as if you’d been born in rural Saudi Arabia (or is that nomadic?) so your victimhood is intact.

        1. I found a couple of places where they hang out. After hearing some of their more outrageous and toxic arguments, I decided not to hang out there anymore.

  12. Insider note- most Papua New Guinea people use cheap shampoo imported from Indonesia. Or just plain bar soap.

      1. Oohh! Kitchen soap is better, or even bath. Given what has to be scrubbed from most bars their soap tends to be very harsh.

        1. My father liked to wash his hair with pine soap, not some kind of nice smelling artisanal stuff but a special kind of soap made and used mostly just in Finland – and that’s not something really meant for washing yourself, it’s pretty harsh alkaline stuff made out of pine oil, something that you get as a side product when you make the pulp needed for paper making from wood, and sodium hydroxide so it is really soap, but it’s brown, smells funny, and is usually used to wash rugs and for making felt, and washing wooden floors and such.

  13. “What is the point of, for an example, importing Muslims Californians who are escaping a toxic culture if we want them to bring their toxic culture with them?”
    Another example.

    As to the “three generations”, you’re absolutely right – even without that active opposition to assimilation. But, it’s also how we get some of our best … Americana – things like Irish communities in Boston, a Greek festival in Norfolk, Cinco de Mayo celebrations in TX (before it became a ‘thing’ elsewhere), and so on. The foreigners assimilate (well, they used to, and a lot still do, I hope), but we also absorb some of them into our culture. I’m not sure that happens if they immediately dump all they are when they hit our shores. Just a point I ponder.

    “to the point of walking on all fours and never developing anything resembling speech”
    But they *will* learn to read, according to ER Burroughs. (Recently read some of the original Tarzan stories.)

    This issue of genes v culture is why so many conservatives can’t argue with the leftists when it comes to the problem of crime in places like Detroit and Chicago. Because it *is* a cultural issue. But that culture is restricted (not by an outside force, mind you) to a fairly small group of racial categories (as we currently identify them). So, when you want to talk about what’s going on with 600 murders in 4 months in Chicago, you must, by leftist definition, be talking about all blacks, everywhere, because the murders are happening within a community that is overwhelmingly black (PoC, AA, whatever).

    When they throw that back at you, you just have to shake your head and not even bother arguing, because they can’t hear you.

    1. Philip Jose Farmer had a book where a lunatic tried to create a “new Tarzan”.

      He would kidnap babies who had the genetic potential to survive the conditions that the fictional Tarzan lived in.

      Obviously he lost a few babies that way and his “one” success never learned to speak because nobody spoke to him.

      After that failure, the boy was raised by dwarf actors in ape costumes who would speak to him.

      However, while the boy found the cabin where he was supposed to learn to read & write, he only learned to read & write because one of the actors (against orders) taught him.

      Oh, I found the book. It was Lord Tyger.

      1. And that is why the usual theory among fans is that the Great Apes weren’t really apes at all, but actually a remnant population of very primitive early human ancestors. 🙂

    2. Which is why Thomas Lord Sowell wrote his essay about “authentic” African-American urban culture having been appropriated from Southern Rednecks.

    3. I had that argument a few days ago. It’s not hard to prove logically that the criminal justice system isn’t racist, that the higher incarceration rates for blacks reflect a higher crime rate in that population. At the end I had one Progtard saying that you can’t use murder rates as a proxy for crime rates – but self-reported drug use rates were apparently kosher – because black communities are under-served by the police and “need to take matters into their own hands” while another one was claiming that black communities were over-policed. Both eventually wound up blocking me, but it was fun while it lasted.

    4. This California kid escaped with his wife, because Sacramento is run by crazy people. And he has no interest whatsoever in bringing California culture anywhere else.

      So we ended up in rural north-central Minnesota, and it’s telling that it’s a huge improvement over southern/central California.

      Except for the Twin Cities area, but we don’t have to go down there except to get asian groceries a couple three times a year.

      1. How is the weather there? Is it as cold as everyone says? I guess all you need is good heating, some firewood, utilities, groceries and the net to feel comfy.

      2. Escapees like us are generally not what people are complaining about. It’s the people who flee California to escape taxes, then start demanding that the government in the new location provide all of the perks and feel good stuff because they STILL don’t understand the link between all of that stuff and high taxes.

  14. We keep coming around to this issue, for some reason–And, I still strongly disagree with Sarah about her basic premise, which is that genetics have little to do with culture.

    I think the root is that when Sarah frames the issue, she frames it in terms of her experiences and backgrounds, as do I–And, we’re coming at this question from very different angles and starting points.

    I don’t see the cultural/genetic question as being one of racism, at all–I don’t freight these things with value judgments, at all. It simply is what it is. You come from a genetic background where specific personality/behavioral traits were adaptive, you’re going to be a different person than someone who comes from a culture where those things were maladaptive. Or, you might be a sport whose traits don’t fit where the genetic lottery put you, and you’ve never quite fit in with your fellows whose traits do fit into that milieu.

    It isn’t a value thing, at all–If you’re an Ashkenazic Jew, you’re the expression of an awful lot of selection for traits that translate out into things that make for success in a modern industrial society. Those traits were probably maladaptive for life amongst the serfs and nobles of Eastern Europe, and we have what we have. As well, the traits that made for success as a serf or a noble in Eastern Europe may not necessarily be things that translate out well into what we mark as success in the modern industrialized world.

    And, none of this is something to look at and say “You are a lesser human being…”. What it means is that you should take into account the expression of these genes, and then take proactive action to ensure that they either get compensated for, or that you seek out something that works with them. Example? If you’re from a family with a predilection for alcoholism, the thing to do is not throw up your bloody hands and say “Fine! Mom was an alky; Dad was an alky; all my family are alkies, as well… So, I will be, too…”. What you do is say to yourself “Hey, there’s a tendency to abuse alcohol in the family–Maybe I shouldn’t drink?”.

    There’s a lot of this same thing going on at what we could term the “cultural level”–Instead of acknowledging that we’re doing something seriously wrong with how we run education in the inner cities, and that it is demonstrably correlated with race and culture, we put our fingers in our ear, insist that everyone is the same, and ignore the problem completely, because if we acknowledge it, racism.

    My take is that the techniques we use to educate kids are not “one size fits all”, even within the same ethnic/genetic/cultural/gender groups. Pedagogical techniques that work well with Ashkenazic Jewry, who are damn near evolutionarily selected for long periods of introspective study of the written word, thanks to the Jewish tradition of the Torah, are not likely to work well with kids from a totally different cultural and genetic background. Likewise, what works with boys in general doesn’t necessarily work well with girls in general, either–And, we’ve totally miscast our educational system to be optimized for one group of students, who aren’t even the majority.

    I think it’s as much a mistake to discount these things as it is to use them to cast groups into the metaphorical fire because of them. There’s nothing inherently “wrong” with being a black kid in the inner city who doesn’t respond to the educational techniques that are perfectly designed for someone from another background. What is wrong is to discount these differences, and keep trying to pound a square peg into a round hole. It isn’t a freakin’ value thing, at all. It’s a question of pragmatism, what works and what doesn’t.

    Instead of looking at the dysfunction of a lot of what the pundits like to term “Black America” and saying that those issues are the result of those people being wrong and/or primitive, what ought to be done is to ask the question of whether or not trying to force-fit them into a system unsuited to their needs and abilities is really that damn smart in the first place.

    There’s a meeting-point where these lines of “it’s all culture” and “it’s all genetics” actually cross. We don’t know where that is, but it is there–Humans are indeed enormously plastic, but we’re also the product of genetic influences we really haven’t got a good grip on, in terms of anything past pragmatic observation. I think that the racists are going overboard in one direction, and there are folks like Sarah who are going too far in the other.

    It’s like having a family history of heart disease–If you know that every one of your immediate male ancestors has died before the age of fifty from things like coronary artery disease and high blood pressure, you don’t just throw up your hands and go “Oh, well… I’ll be dead before I hit fifty-five, screw it…”, you take active measures like keeping your weight down and taking blood pressure medicine. The genetic traits that go into personality and behavior, which flow from there into culture, need to be viewed the same damn way. Genetics are not some modern-day version of original sin or predestination; they are merely things you need to keep in mind as you live your life in the most self-affirming way you can.

    There’s that neurologist who discovered that he had all the organic markers for sociopathy, as an example. Whatever went into creating his physical brain and thus his mental outlook/capacity, he took that set of circumstances and flourished as a productive member of society, not least because his mother sensed in him the markers for sociopathy and did her best to provide compensatory behavioral training and conditioning–Which, obviously, worked.

    If she’d simply said to herself “Well, it’s all nurture, and I’m a loving mother, so he’s gonna turn out OK…”, there’s no telling where he might have wound up. That path would have been what a lot of the people who argue for total human plasticity would have us take, on the macro level. I say that that is the wrong approach, and that we need to take these things into account as we work to develop and include others in our culture. Too much in one direction, and we get the wonders of the Nazis and the KKK; too much in the other, and we get the purblind idiocy of today’s modern academy, which denies all possibility that these issues have a genetic, inborn component.

    There’s a middle path, one that takes into account both the inborn and inbred characteristics, and which also acknowledges the enormous plasticity of the human being. I say we ought to be taking that path, rather than blindly steering for the shores of extremism.

    1. Very well stated. This is my viewpoint as well.
      In regards to culture, I believe that it is a case of ‘the dosage makes the poison’, any culture is toxic if introduced to another in inassimilable amounts. This makes it absolutely necessary for us to begin restricting immigration across the board for a significant period of time.

    2. I think this works well for some things/groups. The Ashkenazic Jews (I hope you spelled it correctly; I have no idea). Sickle cell. Alcoholism was an excellent example.

      For others, I think not so much. Blacks don’t have problems with the American school system (at least no more than anyone else); inner city/ghetto kids – regardless of race/whatever – do. That’s culture – and economics. [giant digression deleted]

      Beyond some very broad outlines, which are quickly changing from my youth but “changing” not going away, there isn’t an “American” culture. We’re too big. Culture is more localized/smaller – even in today’s connected world.

      As you say, there is a meeting point, but I lean more toward Sarah’s perspective than you do – but I don’t deny there is something more.

      1. I don’t know the truth, and due to it being so far outside of my expertise, I don’t have a responsibility to know, predict, or have an opinion on the truth.

        From history I get a strong impression that culture is very important. Maybe enough to swamp genetic influence.

        From my own family, I have a strong sense that genetics can be powerful, but that neither genetics nor upbringing are destiny.

        As far as government policy goes, I think it best that government be indifferent to the matter. Being skeptical of eugenics, I’m also skeptical that governments could do any good with eugenics. I’m not sure that there is any means of intervention based on genetics that would be any less stupidly clumsy than government eugenics. I also think that degree of government intervention tends to be closely tied to forms of government that cause greater starvation and slaughter.

      2. “For others, I think not so much. Blacks don’t have problems with the American school system (at least no more than anyone else); inner city/ghetto kids – regardless of race/whatever – do. That’s culture – and economics. [giant digression deleted]”

        In my experience, it goes way past culture and economics. There’s something else to the question of why so much of “Black America” has trouble making their way through the minefields of modern times, and in my opinion, it’s not “nurture”, culture, or environment. You can frame it like that, and we have, but the indicators are that it’s not working out very well in terms of actual results for that to be true.

        Now, here’s the thing: YOU ABSOLUTELY CANNOT MAKE THIS A “VALUE” ISSUE. Because, it isn’t. What it is is that, like our sociopathic neurologist, you have to adapt your conditions to your target group.

        I ran into this with conducting training in the Army. In some ways, you can absolutely discern a difference in responses to the training, and how different groups (not always broken down by races, either) had different rates of uptake with regards to how you did your training. It’s not always along racial lines, at all–Some of the “non-black” guys, to coin a term, responded much better to the techniques of training that worked better for the black guys I had than they did the “white guy” training techniques.

        I’d even hesitate to break this down along racial lines, were it not for the fact that, observationally, there was a lot of congruence between racial background and the techniques that produced better success rates. It’s not necessarily something to look at and go “Oh, yeah, you’re superior–You can read a book and put what you read to use immediately…” either, because some of the guys who required situational learning techniques performed a hell of a lot better than their peers who could do their uptake mostly in the classroom, especially when it came to applying what they’d learned out in the real world.

        I repeat, it’s not a value judgment; it’s simply that different groups that just happen to coincide with a lot of so-called “stereotypical racial characteristics” happen to have different ways of understanding the world around them, and learning from their environment.

        Observationally, an awful lot of my black troops had trouble with learning stuff that was overly abstract, out of the books. Put them into a situation where they had their hands on the tools, or were functioning in the scenarios we were training on, and they were hell on wheels–Often performing better than their peers who were better taught in the classroom for a lot of stuff.

        From this experience, I extrapolate that the way we run our urban schools may not be well suited to a majority of the kids now attending them, and we probably need to back up and rethink the basic pedagogical techniques used. Maybe teaching math in a classroom mostly as an abstraction is a mistake, with these students, and we need to take them out into the real world, with concrete problems to have them work out on the ground. Maybe English shouldn’t be taught as a subject out of books, but through things like having the kids do oral presentations and memorization of things like epic poetry.

        I think a lot of the problem is that we’ve taken (on the national level…) the position that these kids and adults aren’t “smart, like us…”, and denigrated them for that. Meanwhile, the real fact is that they’re just as intelligent, just in different ways.

        That guy who can’t read very well? Maybe he’s got a damn near eidetic memory, a visual one, and he’s never had to read very much, having compensated for his dyslexia by developing his powers of memory to the point where he can recall conversations verbatim months and years after having them. Does that make him less intelligent than you, or you more stupid than him? No, it manifestly does not; it merely makes you different from each other.

        Acknowledging that difference is not evil, but I’d suggest that ignoring it can lead to evil results.

        1. Kirk, let me disabuse you right here and right now. Do you know what the rest of the world calls American blacks? Caucasian.
          SERIOUSLY. All the markers are “caucasian.”

          1. In my area, there are two historically black colleges: Wilberforce and Central State University, sited a few miles apart. One is private, the other public. One has a lot of rich successful alumni, and the other doesn’t. One is known for academics, and the other isn’t. One has a really nice college town with fancy houses and very low crime rates, and the other is embarrassingly heavy on gun crime and drugs, for as small and rural as it is. (Although CSU students or their ne’er-do-well friends with cars do bring crime to Wilberforce, and SJWs are ruining its academic rep.)

            That is a big difference of culture and socioeconomic levels among people with pretty much identical genetics.

            1. That settles precisely nothing, because it leaves out the same question for why the identical set of conditions may be observed in many white communities.

              The traits I’m talking about do not necessarily follow the markers of skin color or whatever else you might want to pick; yes, there is some correlation, enough so that the general population makes empirical observations and then creates its stereotypes,

              Do you consider the proposition that perhaps the reason the one college you use as a positive example is experiencing “success” is because it is selected and attended by a set of people with a different set of behavioral genes than the other one? Or, that it selects for those traits, either deliberately or somehow inadvertently?

              The real question is, why is the second institution failing? What is the mechanism, and how do we go about fixing it, really and truly fixing the problems, which likely start long before the students ever got to the college level?

              The answer here is not necessarily linked to skin color or any other marker that isn’t behavioral in nature. Some areas and lineages in Africa have been running sophisticated civilizations for longer than the average Northern European lineage, and those lineages often exhibit very similar traits and behavioral patterns to things we consider “European”. Sit down and discuss black American cultural dysfunction with a member of one of the longer-established Nigerian tribes that’s immigrated to the U S, and you’ll likely end with a severe case of cognitive dissonance when it is over. I know I sure as hell did. The couple of first-generation Nigerians I talked this stuff over with left me with the distinct and horrified recognition that they were probably a lot more “racist” in their attitudes towards American blacks than I was, and it was a little confounding to hear them refer to them as both “less civilized” and “more primitive”.

              Humans are plastic, but there is an underlying substrate that that plasticity overlies. You can mod behavior through cultural inputs and upbringing, but like our sociopathic neurologist, some things are still going to shine through, welling up from the genome.

              Spend time around dogs, and you start to recognize just how much animal behavior has to be at least partially genetic. We acquired a young Great Pyrenees cross last fall, and she’s starting to mature, coming into her own. I swear to God, if that dog isn’t a stereotypical Pyr, there’s no such thing. We had one when I was a kid, and the same damn behaviors are showing up–The little things, like the devilish sense of humor, the sly way she’ll play “show and tell” with her chewies and bones, body language, and the rest of that unique package that makes a Great Pyrenees what they are. There isn’t an adult Pyr around for her to be copying, either, so much of this is coming strictly from her genetic programming. She does not copy any of the other dogs in the household, behavior-wise.

              It isn’t a far stretch to think that humans are any different in this regard. We may be more sophisticated, and there may be more “give” to the programming, but I’m convinced that there is some strong genetic component to a good deal of human behavior, like it or not. Hell, look at the kids in your family, and note the resemblances in how they act and behave. I swear to God, my youngest nephew is the reincarnation of my stepdad, who was nearly fifteen years in the grave before the kid was born–And, I keep catching little tics and body language that’s spookily reminiscent of the man I was raised by. If there isn’t a strong substrate in the genes that governs this stuff, explain that one to me, because I can’t come up with anything else.

              1. Kirk, you know there is one other environmental condition that exactly matches for both Pyrenees that isn’t canine in origin that is probably influencing its behavioral development. It’s you. We’ve bred dogs for 10,000 years to take their cues from humans. On the other hand, that your dog has a sense of humor speaks well of your own.

                1. How did we breed dogs to take cues from humans if there isn’t a genetic marker for taking cues from humans?

                  As soon as you say “we’ve breed” instead of “we’ve taught” you’ve moved into genetics. So at best you’ve moved the question one step back by redefining the behavior and that is assuming she is learning this from cues.

                  Similarly we do have human markers for behavior in genes. They aren’t absolute which could be the interaction of those markers with other markers, their interaction with the environment, or the human ability to override markers. That doesn’t mean the markers don’t exist. You can make a reasonable argument that just as those with certain disease markers might be advised to make certain choices parents of children with certain behavior markers should have additional intervention to counter their expression.

                  However, if any discussion of genetic effects on behavior just dismissed or worst considered racist, we give up on the chance to help people who might be genetically predisposed to something avoid it.

          2. Have you ever heard of the play “God’s Country”? It’s about the activities of a white supremacist group that, among other things, orchestrated the murder of radio talk host Alan Berg. It’s a “documentary play”, where all of the principle character dialogue is taken from things like court transcripts, interspersed with monologues about racism and things like that.

            A friend of mine got the role of one of the leaders of that white supremacist group when his high school performed it. Later on, he informed me that he’d won an AA scholarship to a traditionally black university. Kind of floored me.

        2. I know quite a few blacks who would disagree with you. See, we came from the politically incorrect era when our parents knew that not only our grades but how we acted would affect our ability to find descent jobs and to advance. Whites kids were told not to act like trash. Black kids were told not to act like the “n” word – and I knew a black teacher who made black students write “I must not act like a ******” when they acted up.

          Do not underestimate the role of culture in all this. I was there for the start of the push-back that scorned the very things our parents taught us. Then there’s the victimization craze, and I know one black student who got a belly full of it and said “Yes, it happened, but it didn’t happen to you.” And we’ve watched kids of all races consistently win academic awards, and all were taught the same.

          Culture can sometimes be a very toxic thing, from “Acting above your raising” to “Acting too white.” And what our parents knew was that pandering to such things only hurt children in the long run.

          1. And I know a couple who agree with me, and who think that raising a successful black kid requires a different approach than what they think raising a white kid does…

            There’s no doubt a lot of misperceptions on either side of the line, but that’s not germane to the issue, which is whether or not there’s a genetic component to behavior and/or cultural expression. Good, bad, or indifferent, I remain convinced that there is some component of what goes into the complex stew of what makes us and our societies what they are that flows right out of the genome. How much, and how that works remain questions to be answered, but we’re not doing anyone any favors by ignoring the implications.

            And, again–It’s not a question of value or worth. It simply is what it is–If you’ve got a genetic predilection for a maladaptive behavior, and you want to overcome it because your current environment makes that behavior maladaptive, then wouldn’t it be a good thing to a.) know that, and b.) knowing about it, then take preventative steps to ameliorate the issues?

            Some of the stuff growing out of the genome is fairly benign, behavior-wise. Other things coming up out of the morass, however, are not–If you’ve got a family history of depression and suicide, along with alcoholism, should you not take steps to avoid life choices that support developing those syndromes? Likewise, if there is a genetic predisposition in your background for addictive behaviors, wouldn’t it be wise to avoid the precursors to those things?

            I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that there is indeed a genetic component to behavior, and that it can express culturally. Further, I’m going to suggest that it’s probably going to be the last part of the genome we understand, due to the complexity and subtlety of it all, as well as what we’re seeing here in this thread–The strong sense of denial we all want to make that who we are and what choices we’ve made may not be entirely matters of our own free will.

            I’d never argue that genetic inputs are some kind of modern-day scientific predestination; what I mean to propose is that they are predispositions that can be overcome with appropriate countermeasures and hard work. Nobody’s fate is written into their genes (or, so I hope–There’s some spooky-ass stuff in the twin studies I’ve read up on), but there is a very strong likelihood that a lot of who we are and how we behave stems from the dance of the chromosomes in our cells.

            1. And I know a black woman raised in a white family at the request of her mother. I’ve know of a striking instance that strongly suggests nurture vs. nature. The first years have a huge impact.

              Knowing my family history, nurture won out over nature, and that’s the thing. Unless someone has a strong pre-existing condition, nurture tends to win out. Yet the steps taken are not that extraordinary. Really, the only times I’ve seen extraordinary measures required has been for pre-existing conditions, and to overcome a toxic early environment culture-wise. In most cases the latter seems to require the most initial work.

              There may also be the factor if certain things are not learned by certain ages, they are never learned or learned well. The jury was still out on come cases involving speech and social development, whether it was perhaps due to physical retardation, but it was definitely something that has been suggested.

        3. If you’re going to talk about a racial component to culture, you HAVE to look at people of different races who were raised from infancy in identical cultures, as much insulated from the influence of the culture(s) their ancestors came from as possible. You cannot look at people who were raised in different cultures and expect to make valid comparisons. While I have no specific data on the subject, I would hazard a guess that cultural impression begins to set in as early as age two, and it takes a rare person to really break from the mold.

          There may very well be genetic traits that influence how a culture will develop, but the culture itself is going to be the culmination of a long path combining those genetic influences, local climate, population density and distribution, industry distribution, age and sex distribution, local geography, the flux of the local economy, and a myriad of other factors, and the genetic influence is simply going to be a minor one of those factors.

        4. $HOUSEMATE relates EMT/Paramedic idea(l) of teaching is “See one. Do one. Teach one.” And I wonder now if it’s not just successive reinforcement, but also the using of multiple methods to be sure things ‘stick’.

          1. At the dojo I went to *mumblety* years ago. The sensi always said “Teach once, learn twice”. Always had higher belts showing lower belts kata’s and such. (so yes a yellow belt would be teaching a white belt with supervision)

            1. Along with repetition to get the muscle memories burned in.
              “Yes, you must do this 10,000 times to be expert.”
              “So in 10,000 reps I’ll be an expert?”
              “Not quite. You must do 10,000 same way, perfectly, before become expert. For you, maybe 25,000 tries, maybe 100,000 tries before you get there.”

      3. When I visit homes of people with children, I can tell with near certainty whether their children are at or near the top of the class by the presence or lack of visible books and bookshelves. There are other tells. Are there interior doors? Lack of doors is a huge clue your in a home of someone on the low end of the socio-economic scale, and their kids either aren’t or soon won’t be doing well in school. Is there a husband in the house or a bunch of baby daddies who show up randomly to see their kid? The latter is bad sign for future academic and economic success. Are there family pictures hanging on the wall? There are all kinds of clues.

        1. Hrm.. not much in the way of shelves of books, but certainly books. Doors… at times just folding things that didn’t do much more than give the illusion of privacy. BUT… Pa was there. And for a time Ma worked nights so someone was always around – maybe not always awake, but around. I suspect a LOT of “Yes you can go visit/play with $NEIGHBOR (NOT “next door” this was a half mile, minimum) was more about getting sleep than anything.

        2. *looks sideways*

          We installed a library nook in the living room. Like two feet away from where I’m setting. Basically on accident, because the cases we could afford are juuuuuust too big to go two-by-two, and then I got a heck of a deal on some plastic ones from Walmart that are big enough to have books on both sides (“No tools 8 cube storage”)— even the really big books, although I think doing double-textbooks would exceed the weight limits.

          And the Baron, who would be starting Kindergarten next year, is already randomly informing me of words. Eeek?

          1. “And the Baron, who would be starting Kindergarten next year, is already randomly informing me of words. Eeek?”

            No. REJOICE. Thus far I have one who could read going in to kindergarten, one who didn’t think she could read when she started but was doing dandy by the end, and the two-year-old who hasn’t shown overt signs yet. Early reading is awesome, because sooner or later you’ll hear that dreaded silence, but instead of chaos, you’ll find them nose-deep in a book.

            1. We honest to goodness have a problem with the girls staying up late to read, and I think I’ve lured the Empress into checking out “The Griffin and the Dinosaur,” but it’s a top shelf to protect it from the littles so she puts it back.

              (Recommended here, I think, when we got on to the “history of archeology and where it hits mythology” subject; also a much thicker book for me that’s something like Scorpions, poison arrows and Greek Fire: early WMDs,” which my husband is interested in.)

    3. Genes may be the hardware, but culture is the software determining how that hardware will be expressed. Genes may determine the level of aggression you express, but culture will determine how that aggression is expressed, whether directed outwardly (murder) or inwardly (suicide.) Back in the early Eighties when I was studying Anthropology and Sociology and Psychology the murder/suicide inverse ratio was axiomatic and well supported by evidence. Similarly, how drunk you get may be genetically determined but how you act when drunk is very definitely cultural.

        1. And is the traffic actually directed, or “directing traffic” a euphemism for “committing suicide by motorist”? If it’s not suicidal, I have this wonderful, horrible idea for a combination pub and hat shop… }:o)

            1. One of the things I know about my family. My grand-father was a volunteer policeman in NYC (Don’t know if they still have them) and on Sundays when we drove there we’d often arrive and see him directing traffic out of church services. And during prohibition, he was a rum-runner. And no one in the family saw anything odd in that….

            2. That is apparently also a thing in parts of South American and the Pacific Rim.

              What surprised me wasn’t so much that motorists would obey the direction of some random nutter, but apparently some of the nutters actually got tips…

            3. That would imply that Portuguese cops need to be drunk to dare venture out to direct traffic. Sounds like Portugal has a lot of drivers that are just as bad as those in Paris, Rome, Seoul, or Boston.

                1. I’m crazy. I usually drive to Boskone since it’s only 45-50 minutes, and I usually don’t hit the bar during the festivities.

                2. Puhleeeease. Driving in Boston is a snap compare to Hampton Roads, VA. And summer is starting. Oy vey.

              1. Oh, no. You’re insulting Paris, Rome, Seoul and Boston. PARTICULARLY Boston. Now I’m not used to it, my common position in a car driven by ANYONE in Portugal is eyes closed and praying.

              2. Try Turkey. Or Bosnia (OK, that wasn’t so much the drivers as the condition of the roads).

    4. Kind of like Mickey Mantle telling people in his later years that if he had known he’d live past 55, he would have taken better care of himself when he was younger. Before him and his brother, no Mantle man lived past 55, usually passing from heart problems.

    5. You come from a genetic background where specific personality/behavioral traits were adaptive, you’re going to be a different person than someone who comes from a culture where those things were maladaptive. Or, you might be a sport whose traits don’t fit where the genetic lottery put you, and you’ve never quite fit in with your fellows whose traits do fit into that milieu.

      And that’s where you go off the rails. Changes in the genotype take a lot longer than pretty much anyone’s culture has remained stable. Small, relatively inbred, populations like the Ashkenazim can see simple changes in genotypes, but not the complex kinds of changes that would be required for behavioral change. The success of the Ashkenazim is due to their cultural programming allowing them to survive as an isolated group in a larger, occasionally hostile, culture – become indispensable. If you’re the town’s lawyer, doctor, or money-lender you’re less likely to be run out of town (well, maybe not the money-lender, but you can always set up shop elsewhere).

  15. I’m another of the 15 minutes early crowd. However, I will admit that that fluctuates when I’m nervous about the place I’m going to, which will either make me ridiculously early, or sadly, WAY late.

    A while back a well meaning friend set me up on a blind date with a woman she knew that she described as “Just perfect for you”. Needless to say, I was nervous since my friend REALLY talked up this woman as being so awesome. SO, I ended up being an hour early (actually, an hour and some). Not a big deal I think because we were meeting at a restaurant, and I had a book to read. I’d just get a soda and hang out till she got there.

    The woman turned up just before I was about to leave… 15 minutes later than when we were SUPPOSED to meet (OK OK, I’ll admit it, I’m lame and probably would have waited 30 to 45 minutes). The thing is, she was mad that I arrived before her because she usually likes getting places first (her being nearly 15 minutes late, this confused me). She didn’t really go off until she asked how long I had been waiting… Hmm… maybe sometimes it’s OK to fib… right? Nope! When she heard I had been there over an hour, her look made it obvious that there wouldn’t be a second date.

    Oh well. I’m a pretty laid-back sorta guy, and I don’t generally get all upset about stuff (not even people being late, when I’m usually early) But when someone is late and is mad and takes it out on me… that REALLY makes me disgruntled.

    1. Same here. If I’m “early” it’s usually a half hour, not fifteen minutes (which is “on time”).

      Had a date similar once, back about eighteen years ago. Got to the coffee shop twenty minutes early, ended up holding the door for a seriously stacked brunette and got to talking while we ordered. Apparantly she was going on a first date with this guy her friend knew, and wanted to be early… *chuckle*

    2. No difference between dating and hunting; other than you don’t kill and clean your date for consumption later.
      You do want to get to the location early and get a feel for the environment while waiting for your target.
      And no, this isn’t sexist; it applies to both parties.

      1. “…you don’t kill and clean your date for consumption later.”

        Dating has been described as dog-eat-dog. I find it nice that that isn’t literal. I have dated some dogs though (and I’m sure some of them thought the same about me).

      2. Perhaps not kill and clean but — especially for a dinner date — it is generally acceptable for the date to be stuffed and mounted.

  16. I’m going to go to the introduction paragraph: my sympathies on the leaking dishwasher. I have the tee shirt, and we have new kitchen cabinets due to my installation screwup. I overtightened a fitting (forgot to read the directions), and about 20 months later, it cracked. The fine spray did a number on the wall, the floor, and the base cabinets. Naturally, we did a new kitchen floor 5 months beforehand, so my wife was not a happy camper. Sharing a house with an industrial dehumidifier and air handlers wasn’t any fun.

    Insurance covered it, and we took the opportunity to redo the base cabinets/countertops. The cabinet maker said a lot of his work was due to dishwasher problems.

    Recommendations: Belfor Corporation if the leak needs professional attention. It should be covered by insurance. Ours was, with a bit of fiddle-faddle (had to email the “after” pics to get the full payment). I don’t think a dead dishwasher is covered, but ours was fine, just needed to be reinstalled. (By a pro, this time; the new sink made the connections a bit tricky. I’m a good electrician, but plumbing isn’t my forte…)

    Frigidaire. The dishwasher is a gallery model, and we really like it. They aren’t kidding when they say to check the filter periodically. Our well water has interesting minerals in it, and powdered stuff is a no-no. It’s considerably quieter than the old, cheap GE it replaced.

    1. I’m still without a dishwasher. After a six month saga to get a dying one replaced resulted in the wrong one being installed and having that one break down in a month, I just haven’t gotten up the gumption to deal with it, yet. I’d rather wash by hand. No need to dry, it’s Colorado.

      !!NEVER BUY A KENMORE PRODUCT!! (Not that that will even be an option for much longer.)

      1. Since this blog is full of authors: Does “that that” get edited out?

        I don’t recall reading it, but it pops up in my quickly written stuff quite often. “That will not even be an option for much longer” is the obvious fix.

      2. I thought that the Kenmore name was being sold. Did OK for a while with some appliances, and the problems we had with the front loading washing machine were partly due to our funky water*. OTOH, the local Sears affiliate has an interesting reputation, in the Chinese curse sense. I don’t think they ever expect repeat business.

        (Note * Well water with high mineral content makes for a nasty slime, and the rubber seals were a perfect place to grow, and to transfer onto supposedly clean clothing.)

        We’re happy with the LG top loader that replaced the Kenmore. Home Desperate Depot FTW! It’s cleanable, too.

        Whirlpool is also on my Do Not Buy list, after problems with a freezer. The door warped at temperature (had to turn off the laundry room register to keep from warping that corner), and the door vents were useless. I encountered several pounds of melting ice in the door when we moved the thing to do floors. Evicted the freezer to the barn, thence to the dump. We’re happy with a somewhat smaller Frigidaire freezer.

        1. My parents bought a Frigidaire fridge either right when, or soon after, they moved to my home town in ’54. When we cleaned out the house on my Mom’s death in 2000, the sister took off with it to be the beer fridge in the downstairs playroom. (I think that they had gone through three or four fridges of other brands themselves, just since the early ’70s when they established their own household.)

          Now, the temperature regulation was a bit off – it tended to get everything very frosty.

            1. If my memory is correct, the fridge my sister replaces was a Kelvinator (probably not Nash, though) that they inherited ca. 1980 when my grandparents passed. I think that one came from the house in Kansas originally.

              Okay, off into my mental “they don’t make things like they used to” rant. I wonder whether my kids will be doing the same in 20-30 years… (And about what?)

      3. Remember- Kenmore products aren’t Kenmore products. They’re someone else’s products with the Kenmore name stuck on it. Hence, quality can vary much more widely then in non-store brands.

        A teaspoon of real, not substitute trisodium phosphate along with a teaspoon of Sodium Tripolyphosphate added to your detergent and your dishwasher will clean a lot better

        1. One also gets the sense that the manufacturer may (not always) have the attitude: “It’s not our name on the product; if it’s not quite right, the customer won’t blame us.”

        2. You can also buy commercial dishwasher soap from the right vendors. Just come up with a company name (which I’m betting most of the authors here have incorporated anyway) and order. Commercial products are still allowed to have TSP in them.

          1. I don’t know about liquid commercial dishwashers, so I can’t say whether this is a concern, but I know that the old ones that had a gallon jug that you turned upside down in a “dispenser” contained basically pure lye, so you might want to make sure what’s in it.

      4. A few years ago I decided I had better things to do with my time than washing dishes, and bought some paper plates and bowls. My wife initially objected, but after a while she decided just washing a handful of cutlery every now and then wasn’t so bad at all.

  17. “But then this horrible monster Leaking Dishwasher attacked and ate yesterday evening and this morning. ..” that gave me a flashback to “Forbidden Planet”

    1. I’ll pass on Monsters from the Id, but if Robbie the Robot can do yard cleanup, I’m game. 🙂

  18. … to have people immigrate and not require they assimilate is an exercise in futility. It just means they’ll bring everything they think they’re escaping with them, and continue to be miserable

    Years ago, when I was still new to the marriage dance there were times I felt like any other spouse would be better suited to me, but on one occasion I realized that most of the problems I was having arose from me, from my expectations of what the relationship out to be and that any new relationship I might form would have the same fundamental issues.

    So I killed the spouse and constructed a carefully curated virtual partner.

    Or was it the cat? I kept getting those two confused …

  19. Fit in or f*** off.

    Unless your culture has something really awesome, like beer or a tasty way to cook cow (or pig or chicken or…). Then we’ll appropriate the crap out of it. You probably won’t really recognize it when we’re done (What do you mean I’m not supposed to put chunky sauces on thin pasta? Screw that!) so you’ll have to fit in to our cultural love-child.

  20. “Not ragging on Portuguese, really. They’re at worst a second world country”

    I think I know what our esteemed hostess meant, but I have to point out that despite her descriptions of how socialist and commie Portugal was… Portugal was still a founding member of NATO and therefor it actually was a First World country.

    please don’t take it as a nitpick and thanks again for the occasional free MHI fanfic too.

    1. I, for one, understand our hostess perfectly. Service in France is sometimes the same way — and the easiest way for an American over there is to relax and tell yourself not to expect the sort of service we have grown accustom to here in the US. My wife (who was born in France) actually gets more upset about the services/hours/etc. than I do when we’re in France. When we’re in the US, I’ll admit to having a bad temper when we receive bad service far more quickly than my wife. As a result, she has accused me of thinking of France as a non-first world country, so I lower my expectations … and to some extent, she’s right.

    2. Mmmm. “At worst” obviously includes “lower order First World” also.

      In any case, Portugal could have been the most hopeless example of a Third World hellhole – and still been invited to the first seating at the NATO table. Location, location, location… Take a look at some of the founding members of the parallel SEATO. Pakistan – definitely a Second World country, if not Third World at the time. Philippines – certainly not First World.

      1. I think we are using different definitions for this. You seem to be saying “second class nation” instead of “member of the Second World industrial socialist states”. Pakistan may be the former but definitely not the latter.

        1. Yeah, the definitions ya’ll learned have nothing to do with the ones I learned. BTW third world is “Their resources and bought or “exploited” by other countries.” Because socialist book.

        2. I’m also looking at the time factor, which I thought was part of the discussion – when SEATO was founded, Pakistan was definitely also a member of the latter group, too.

    3. Eh. Not a problem. TECHNICALLY it was a first world country, yes. it’s more so now, but you run suddenly into the sort of situation that P. J. O’Rourke characterized as “mommy in the kitchen, eating live snakes.”

    4. As we were taught in sociology class in the 1970s:

      First World: nations with natural resources and developed industry.

      Second World: nations with natural resources, not much industry.

      Third World: nations without natural resources or industry

      There was no classification for industrialized countries that depended on foreign resources, like Singapore or Japan…

      Generally, the media use “Third World” as a synonym for “poor.” Though by the original definition, places like Monaco or Luxembourg were “third world.”

      1. Hmmm…
        I learned
        First world: NATO, SEATO, and our other allied nations.
        Second World: Warsaw Pact, PRC, and their allies.
        Third World: Contested nations (usually undeveloped but not necessarily, e.g. Finland)

        1. See, my classification has nothing to do with political alignment.
          1st world: solidly in the 21st (back then 20th) century with very few people living as they did in the middle ages. Don’t need IMF loans.
          2nd world: about half and half, and boy, do they TAKE IMF loans.
          3rd world: EVERYONE is living in previous centuries and they couldn’t live without international aid.

  21. When I was growing up in South Africa, all the corner stores (we called them tearooms for some reason), were owned/run either by Portuguese or Greeks, and they seemed just as hard working as the Chinese/Vietnamese that run them here.

    After we came to Canada, my dad ended up working as a contractor, doing renovations and custom jobs, and I worked for him during summer vacations and after high-school before I went into the Air-force. I imagine it is different now, but back then (80’s and early 90’s), most of the concrete and asphalt work was pretty much monopolized by either the Portuguese or the Italians. (There is an old joke from the Toronto area that goes “How do you wake up an Italian/Portuguese man?, You whisper in his ear “Concrete’s here!”.)

    Before moving to South Africa to marry my mother, my dad had been an Engineer Officer on the ships of the Dutch Merchant Navy, and had been all over the world. He had noticed the stereotypical indolence of the Southern Europeans, but noted that in Canada, the Portuguese worked VERY hard. So one day, (while waiting for the concrete to arrive), we were sharing thermos coffee and chat with a Portuguese paving crew and my dad asked one of them “Why?”. How come in Portugal (and Southern Spain and Italy), everything seemed slow and backwards and lazy, yet put the same people in South Africa or Canada and they became industrious and hardworking…

    The older guy he asked chuckled and explained that there were several reasons. Firstly, only those with gumption and drive emigrated in the first place, and secondly, hard work was rewarded here. Back home, working hard and trying to better yourself was frowned upon, and in any case, if you worked harder, or started your own business, the government would just tax or regulate it away, and there was no benefit to doing it. Over here, you got to keep more of it, and you could actually get ahead…..

    Every time I here someone talking about “Lazy and indolent Latins”, or any other guff about ingrained cultural traits (i.e. the genes=culture bullshit), I remember that conversation.

    Yes, genes/IQ/culture matter, but environment and incentives matter as much or more.

  22. > one of you was saying that there might be a genetic component because look at how the Indians weren’t that far off the Europeans who invaded, but it never occurred to them to create muskets or…

    If you got that from my post, I’m even more incoherent than usual.

    The concept I was fumbling for is that what is so blithely written off as “culture” may be deeper than language, cooking, and odd forms of clothing. It has to do with the way people *think*, down at the level of “things they accept as givens” about the world and how it works.

    It’s provably *not* genetic; children reared in forward-looking, tool-building cultures tend to be like anyone else in that culture.

  23. The French are actually an interesting case when it comes to immigration. They don’t tend to set up enclaves deliberately. When two Americans abroad hear American English being spoken, they tend to gravitate towards each other and introduce themselves. You don’t get that behavior from the French (at least that I’ve seen). They are more likely to just listen in on the other French speaking group’s conversation and never betray that they understood what was being said.

    Indeed, historically at least, the French trappers tended to blend in with the local Indian tribes (or whomever was around) fairly quickly. They also tended to come over one family at a time, not as entire communities. So, if your family has been here a while, you are likely to have a couple of French ancestors somewhere in your family tree – whether you realized they were there or not.

  24. I’ve watched Portugal change a lot since entering the EU, though IMO in many ways not in the greatest directions.
    It seems the “PIIGS” . . . those being blamed most for the issues in the EU, did not do well in joining. Their joining seems to have removed most of the good and accentuating the bad already inherent, as well as adding a crapton of bad in and of.

    yes, I’m late to the party, but hey, vacation started.

    1. Yep, we decided to hold Portuguese to the standards of German culture while allowing them to be have like they always have (same for the others). Then we expected the results to be the same as for Germans. If you like German results (ie, holding to German standards) you have to act like Germans.

      A retired prof whose blog I used to read routinely said, “You can pick your actions or you can pick your outcomes but you can’t pick both.” Too many people haven’t grasped that idea yet.

  25. Utter tangent and self-promotion but this is the best place to tell my online friends, I finally posted my first short story (as an adult) on my website. Comments welcome but despite impressions I’m not a huge fan of cruelty 😉

        1. No cruelty here. The imagery is very well done. My only issue is that the language seems a bit stilted—and honestly, a good copy editor pass would take out 80-90% of that by fixing the punctuation. The only other thing is to beef up description a little bit so that you don’t have to keep referring to each character by his name. (For example, Jake, the lanky guy, moved his shifty eyes, etc. Figure out several prominent points and you can cycle through them so you don’t see Jake Jake Jake.)

          1. Thank you very much. I will admit stilted is one comment I didn’t expect. I do get the beef up the description thing.

            1. “Stilted” is basically my shorthand for “your writing is almost too grammatically correct.” It’s actually the surest way to tell a youngster on the internet who is passing for adult; adults are more comfortable writing in a conversational style, while the youngster is trying very hard not to be the one singled out because they’re using slang.

              The simplest fix is to read your dialogue out loud, and try to do it in the voice of the characters. Your verger, for instance, would be more formal, but the treasure hunter should be speaking like a commissioned salesman, because he’s trying to get a good deal in. That means he’s going to be trying to seem like the guy’s buddy, and thus less formal.

              (Oh, and “beef up description” is always my big problem. I spend a lot of time reading Hugo and Dumas and Dickens because my writing comes out more like Hemingway if I don’t.)

  26. The modern racists-that-don’t-know-they-are seem to be floating the idea that somehow your culture owns you. That you owe who you are to the ideas that some band of creeps tried to push on you when you were young and impressionable (hopefully your parents, who hopefully loved you were part of that influence, but that’s a best-case.)

    No, your culture doesn’t own you. Nor should you owe anything to a tribe that *you* haven’t chosen. (I suspect most of the group loyalty that people instinctively expect from those-who-look-like-them is a paleolithic mirage anyway.)

    You should own your culture. The contents of your mind are *yours*, and your business to arrange to your ends. That means you should explore a bit, and steal from the very best. Don’t be used by some selfish bit of culture, use culture to obtain your ends and help your friends and family.

    1. One of the earliest stories that I read that touched on “race = culture” was by Poul Anderson, published in the 1970s.

      Some of you may have read it.

      It’s titled “How to be Ethnic in One Easy Lesson”.

      A young man gets told to create a Chinese entry for an Ethnic Festival and the only thing Chinese about him is his last name (and appearance).

      Fortunately, he knows this Wodenite named Adzel. 😀

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