The Children of Now

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a science fiction novel of the mid seventies.  Humanity has conquered death — okay, not quite, but we have certainly extended life for most people (there were always exceptional individuals) at least another 20 years or so) — and has no real material want, so people never grow up, and live in an eternal now with all the pettishness and foolishness of adolescence.  This was, with variations, a perfectly common plot in the seventies, usually with a man or woman from now going to the future and slowly growing disenchanted with paradise.

Don’t ask me for titles because a) it was the seventies and I was reading in Portuguese, and the title translations are often funny.  b) I didn’t LIKE any of them very much.  I just chain read them because I was bored, and then forgot them just as quickly.

If I were writing this sort of thing, I’d call it “The children of the Eternal Now” and have a cover with dancing little nymphs strewing flowers, and a spaceship in the background.  Or a time machine.  Or something.

But there’s no point writing it, because to a great extent we’re living it.  Sure, we haven’t conquered death, and okay, not everyone has every material good they could possibly want.  But in the developed countries no one starves to death, and in the undeveloped ones, the reason they do has more to do with their kleptocratic governments than with an insufficiency of food.

Weirdly, and unlike the writers of those warnings against utopia, I don’t think the problem with people is that they have too much and are too comfortable.  Oh, some, sure.  After all, if you come from a privileged background and mommy and daddy did all the work for you, including making sure you had good grades, and you never had to fight for anything, there’s a chance — not inevitable, but a chance — that you’ll never fully grown up.  Humans were created for adversity and strife, and without it there are psychological structures and mechanisms that never emerge.

But most people still have stuff they want.  And most people still know adversity, from Mrs. Baker in third grade who hated your guts, to lay offs and being “poor” for a while. (We’ve been very poor at times.  Feast or famine is pretty much how our life has gone.  We have the bizarre knack of being unemployed at the same time, which considering how different our fields are, is amazing. But we’ve never been third world poor, much less 19th century poor.  Hence the quotes.)

But it is those privileged, born with a sterilized spoon in their mouths, never had to do anything but exist and were told how special they were from birth, who are setting the culture.  And they ARE the children of the eternal now.

If it weren’t so sad it could kill me laughing that these people who think they are multiculturalists, and sophisticated and claim the right to judge all the past in the light of their vaunted “wisdom” don’t understand how insular they are, how stupid, and how completely ignorant of anything older than fifty years.

As some of you know, because I was so happy about it a few days ago, there have been several books by Patricia Wentworth released recently.  I don’t know if her copyright ran out (I know it did in England, but then they couldn’t sell them in the US.  Perhaps it’s different when you’re a British author.  Or perhaps the copyrights finally reverted to her family.  What I know is that every week there’s a batch of books coming out.  I’d heard she had hundreds of books, but I could only find the same thirty here, and I read them till they were pulp, then got them in electronic when they were available.

Is she a wonderful writer?

Sort of depends on what you consider wonderful.  Her word craft was sometimes lagging (I think she was writing these at six a year or so.  She was a widow and supporting her kids) and she sometimes recycled plots, but she had the grace of giving them new twists.  What she did really well was bring people to life.  I suspect she started out as a discount Agatha Christie.  But her voice is different and her touch is different.  Just like Agatha Christie is an excellent writer of mysteries, but her thrillers just don’t have “it” (partly because world politics in them are a bit daft) Patricia Wentworth did mysteries, but her heart wasn’t in it.

Miss Silver was the logical equivalent of Miss Marple, but after a while you can tell Patricia got bored with writing cozies, and the answer to any crime Miss Silver solved was “Maud Millicent Simpson is behind it.”  And Maud Millicent was a super villain to end all super villains.  She could disguise herself to look like anyone.  Her criminal connections extended to everything, etc. etc.

As you can probably tell, I rolled my eyes really hard at those books, but I never threw them against the wall, and even re-read them, because the interactions between people were great.

Her formula was hopeless romance+a little crime +a bit of danger+a good bit of late Victorian comfort = fun escapism.

So, I fell on the new releases like an hyena on three days dead, runny zebra.  All the more so since since February a week hasn’t gone by without a disaster.  There’s been big ones, small ones, and ones we can’t do anything about.  (Which is why I am again on Prednisone.  I’m going to be so fat and bald, but I couldn’t endure itch all over my body, or open sores ditto, anymore.)

And then I came across (on a few of her books) a bunch of preening, self-satisfied reviews by the children of the eternal now.

Take this one, for instance, on a book called Will o’ the wisp:

I have read almost everything Patricia Wentworth has written. Her books are eminently readable and entertaining, with happy endings. Yes, they are dated; as such they may have a rare politically incorrect reference. Yet even when making such allowances, this book is simply offensive. In many series from this era men call women of whom they are fond “my dear child.” Men marry their cousins. Couples marry young. However, in this book the love interest of the protagonist is an immature, damaged, twisted teen who is acting out and simply a brat. Her looks are described in detail intimating that she appears but a child in makeup. The idea that a man would marry a 16 yr. old (even to save her), and then fall in love with another “child,” especially one that is being exploited, is offensive to me. Skip this one!

First of all, I’m not 100 percent sure what book this spoiled brat read.  The love interest of the protagonist is the woman — his age — with whom he’d broken up 7 years before.  There is a very young girl who yes, is acting out and is a brat, involved.  BUT for the love of BOB, the protagonist does NOT fall in love with her.  As for being exploited, the girl is a flapper and hanging out with bad boys.

My mom and dad started dating at 14 and 17.  They married at 18 and 21.  The thing is, there’s a picture of them the day they met, and you’d never take them for 14 and 17.  At fourteen mom had been working for 3 years, and dad was also working while going to school.  Their ages of dating and marriage were still normal in my day.  And as for older people marrying younger, no ONE batted an eye at a thirty something year old man wanting to marry a seventeen year old.  If you go further back into the regency those were the NORMAL romances.  At various times in history, men didn’t marry till they were established, and women were considered mature enough to marry at sixteen.

All of which is beside the point, btw, because the protagonist in this book is 25 and seven years ago he married A DIFFERENT 16 year old to get her out of trouble.  So, he was eighteen, and he married a kid who was in trouble (it’s never claimed he was in love with her.)  Even in the states, in our day, that’s only considered statutory rape if you are exceptionally insane.

In this book he’s love with the fiance he was broken up from (by the family) seven years ago.  She’s also 25. And she’s a widow.

Yeah, he does notice how young the 16 year old in the book looks, even as she’s trying to vamp him.  It’s called a man realizing a kid is a kid.

The fact this idiot gave a review without finishing the book, and having misunderstood the little she read is astounding, too.  I know why they do it to me and other authors they disapprove of.  But Wentworth is beyond their wrath.  So doing it CAN ONLY be because they can’t wait to preen on how much more enlightened they are and dance on the graves of their far better predecessors.

And then the vacuous child leaving the review has the nerve to put in something about PW sometimes being politically incorrect.  Bubble brain apparently thinks that political correctness (something Mao dreamed up to OBSCURE truth and make you believe what he said and not your lying eyes) is a good thing.  Because she wouldn’t want any truths to jog her out of her perpetual now and the conviction that the prejudices of her time, and the patterns of her tribe are a law of nature.

Patricia Wentworth died in the sixties, about the time I was born.  She wrote, of course, about the times of her youth.

The people leaving comments (there are other books with this sort of review) about how her female characters aren’t very smart or good, do not understand how a woman operating within a traditional society is smart and good.  It has little to do with the pseudo-male posturing of today’s feminists, little to do with kicking men’s asses (as if that happens often, in the physical sense) and more to do with influencing things, and doing things quietly behind the scenes and sometimes showing extraordinary courage despite incredible fear, like, going down a passage in the dark to rescue a man who might be dead, even though you’ve never done anything so unsafe before.

Not good enough for the children of the perpetual now.  This woman who was, objectively, my grandmother’s generation might as well have lived in another planet, and her books might as well feature a completely different species.

It would be okay if these idiots realized their lack.  The upper classes have always been insular and full of their own self importance, proselytizing the “one true way” of doing things.

However, these lackwit ninnies think they are cosmopolite and multi-culti.  They will lecture the rest of us, who have at least some inkling of history and reality, on “accepting the other.”  All the while they dance on the eternal meadow strewing flowers and looking down their pampered little noses on their far more competent grandmothers.

Hola, you pampered jades of Asia.  Some of us live in the real world and know what struggle is.  Some of us are getting tired of your cr*p.  Every time you tamp down on our speech, you’re just tightening the bung on the powder barrel.

Ca ira.

 

UPDATE: Okay, I was wrong.  He does marry the “kid” at the end.  She’s 18, not 16.  He’s 25. I’ve seen bigger differences.  I do feel it was a misstep.  As in, I don’t think that’s where she was going to begin with, even if the character is an incorrigible white knight.  BUT there is also nothing seditious or evil about it.  As I said, I’ve seen bigger differences.

 

 

255 responses to “The Children of Now

  1. Mike Houst

    Who are going to be the Morlocks, and who are going to be the Eloi?

    Or perhaps the question would be more like who are going to be the Dark Elves (pragmatists, not necessary matriarchal) , and who are going to be the High Elves (ivory tower idealists?)

    I know which groups I prefer to hang out with, and it’s not the ones who are for dinner tonight.

  2. Professor Badness

    I live a life very isolated from the internet.
    Oh, I have email, and read blogs and spend a lot of time on youtube; but I have successfully avoided most of the progressive trolls. For this, I am grateful.
    I am also grateful to you, our dear Hostess, for letting me know what I am missing. It gives me a realistic view without having to mire myself in the stupid.
    Thank you.

  3. FlyingMike

    One wonders why these “readers” are reading stories set in an era the normal standards and practices they either cannot understand or with which they are fundamentally opposed. Women, forced to marry for social position! Men, unconstrained by modern feminist correctness mandates! Horses, pooping in the streets!

    Of course the answer is, they really wanted a Disney-esque steampunk-ish fantasy, basically modern people playing dress up with steam engines and parasols.

    • And quite openly-expressed opinions regarding other races and religions. And vicious social snobbery … but come to think on it, we have that still.

      • Yep, the targets have changed but not the behaviors all their protests to the contrary.

        In fact, open racism and sexism were less acceptable on the Right in the US until the past two years than they have been on the Left most of my adult life.

  4. Robert Heinlein warned us against such childish parochialism at the beginning of Glory Road, with his quote of Shaw:
    CAESAR (recovering his self-possession): Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.

    Of course, such children do not read Heinlein and only read Shaw for his socialist thoughts. They are educated to be ignorant.

    • Nonsense; they certainly DON’T read Shaw. They are told that Shaw was a Socialist, and may see MY FAIR LADY. No Progressive Academic would risk exposing the little darlings to MAJOR BARBARA, or CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA.

      • I concede the point — Shaw writes with clarity, wit and verve, establishing credible characterizations for his work. His works are nothing like the turgid prose with which they habitually exact penance upon themselves.

  5. I am so tired of people claiming, sometimes even sincerely, that political correctness is about being considerate and polite.

    • By doing so all they have done is encouraged people they disagree with to be very, very rude (also known as “This is how you get Trump”).

  6. When I started reading Kaoru Mori’s “A Bride’s Story” (a series of manga available in English as beautiful hardcovers—though really the title would be more accurate as “Brides’ Stories”), I glanced at reviews of it, and found several of them saying that the writing was enjoyable but there was no conflict. No conflict? The opening volumes were about a young woman of twenty-one in an arranged marriage to a boy of twelve, who finds her husband delightful and is desperately eager to consummate the marriage (but he’s twelve and doesn’t quite get what she wants), while her older male kin are thinking of taking her back and marrying her to someone less desirable but politically useful—that looks like conflict to me. But as it was explained to me by a friend who’s more in the manga/anime fan subculture, many readers equate “arranged marriage” to “coerced marriage” and assume that any woman in such an arrangement would despise her husband, resent being married, and reject the entire institution of marriage, and if they don’t see that specific (wo)man vs. society conflict they don’t think there’s ANY conflict. To my mind that shows a lack of mental flexibility. . . .

    • Feather Blade

      If those are available for sale, I’ll have to buy them. It’s a beautiful set of stories.

      The most inane comment I’ve seen about the manga is that “it glorifies the subjugation of women.”

      The objection is too stupid to be answered, and objector too stupid to be corrected. Not even the “If it bothers you so much, then don’t read it (moron).” answer-of-last-resort penetrated the commenter’s thick skull.

      • I believe amazon has the whole series.

      • Not even the “If it bothers you so much, then don’t read it (moron).’ answer-of-last-resort penetrated the commenter’s thick skull.

        You missed their point — it bothers them that other people might read it and absorb badthink.

        An effective rebuttal of this type of twit can be done by drawing them out in their objection, such as asking why they object to subjugation of women (I don’t care for it myself, as it seems to imposes a great deal of tiresome effort upon men, but if it works to promote a stable society then criticizing it seems ethnocentric, hostile to cultural diversity and faintly Islamophobic.)”

        Pin them between the Scylla and Charybdis of their unexamined biases.

        • The story is a sympathetic portrayal of the people and customs of a Muslim culture in Central Asia. Why does this person hate Muslims?

        • The hilarity of this is also emphasized when it’s more than one cultural group being portrayed. There’s talk by some of the girls (the twins, Pariya) of opening businesses of their own if they don’t get husbands; the young man who becomes Pariya’s love interest seems happy with the idea of running a business with her. Most of the headscarves and elaborate head covering seem to serve a functional purpose as well as a decorative one, less a religious one (bar the niqab worn by unaccompanied women in one story arc) and for the most part, you can see the faces of the women – even minor characters. There’s a difference in how the head covering is worn, which I surmise indicates a difference on whether or not a woman has given birth (in the case of Amir, since her hair is visible, while her sister in law and elder female relatives don’t) and at least one male character remarks about a woman having very long hair.

      • If you do buy them, I strongly urge that you get the print format. Worth it, every single page.

        I was amused in some of the author commentary strips that apparently people have trouble believing that Mori Kaoru-sensei is a woman. This in part because her self-depreciating portrayal of herself in the strips is of a wild haired androgynous cartoon given to outbursts of LOUD EMOTION. Her self portraits though… (she’s the one in the pencil sketches of a woman in a sweater.)

    • Terry Sanders

      An. A Japanese equivalent to “The Trees They Do Grow High”?

    • EVERY single marriage in that series is an arranged marriage – there is one poor, beautiful woman who has been widowed no less than five times; her mother-in-law admits that not all the marriages to her sons (who passed away one after the other) were happy; though the woman in question was very happy with her first husband and I think one or two of his brothers (it was considered a brother’s duty to marry a deceased brother’s spouse and take care of her as part of her being family).

      It’s hilarious that anyone would think there is no conflict – well, I suppose for people who don’t really grasp cultural and interpersonal subtleties, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Pariya’s problem is that she’s too blunt and outspoken and this causes lots of misunderstandings (and unlike most teenage dramas, they actually sort this one out by actually talking it out! Amazing, I know.) The young man who is introduced to her is actually so taken by Pariya’s unconventional attitude (“she doesn’t blubber like other girls”) that as they are riding back home he asks his father how soon they can have her become part of his family. The stories with Pariya are also a wonderful example of how popular opinion of someone doesn’t necessarily reflect what they’re really like. (Pariya wants to be more like Camorra, while Camorra wishes she could be a bit more outspoken like Pariya. It is also interesting that it’s mentioned in passing that Camorra’s parents have been turning down marriage offers; I gather it’s both to hold out for the best possible match for such a desirable girl, and so she can grow a bit older.)

      Amir was originally sent – SENT!- to be married to Karluk because she’s considered too old and they couldn’t find a ‘good match.’ The marriage her father wants to give her to later on is to seal an alliance with a clan whose men are so brutal that the sisters/or cousins that were sent there were beaten to death. Amir does something out of love for her husband that would’ve been considered an unforgivable sin in their culture (she not only defies her elder male relatives, she fights her father in combat.) Her husband Karluk is well aware of his shortcomings (He’s still young and perhaps 12-13, but considered an adult in his culture – he fights as one in one of the later volumes but is hopelessly outmatched by a physically larger and more skilled opponent) and wants to become the kind of man that can protect his wife (who comes from the nomadic culture where women still ride and hunt, hence her skills in the martial arts). He wants to not just be considered socially adult, but wants his wife to see him as a man she can rely on. (There is never any question that they absolutely adore each other; and that they grew into that love, not because ‘author decrees it’ or ‘they haven’t got any choice.’)

      And there’s Azel, Amir’s older brother. He and his two cousins are protective of her – Azel let her escape even though he’s supposed to obey his father’s orders and bring her back. He stops his brother in law being murdered to ‘make sure Amir has nothing to tie her back’ and is the only one who is able to see past the clan elders’ foolish greed and desperation to see when they’re being used. He also never talks down on Karluk even though, by his cultural standards Karluk is a weak, soft city boy, nor does he mock Karluk’s desire to become a stronger man.

      Then there’s that Persian merchant who so adores his wife he’s never taken another… and she persuades him to. Not because of insecurities, but because her dearest friend in the world has become widowed. I had to give some serious kudos to Mori-sensei for that part of the story because the merchant’s reasons for never taking another wife included his never feeling the need to (e.g. he’s never felt desire for any other woman) and because he felt his wife would be unhappy if he did (which was considered highly unusual given the era and culture – he was considered exceptional because he could afford multiple wives but didn’t want any more.) He gives into his wife’s pleadings, but not without protesting first – because taking another wife for such a responsible man means he will sleep with her (the way it’s portrayed, subtly, is that this isn’t just him sharing physical contact, but opening his heart to another woman and having to try love her as much as the first wife.)

      Even after the second wife is in the household (and he adopts her son as a younger son) he worries and frets about whether or not his first wife is in any way distressed by his acquiescing to her plea. The sheer devotion that man has to his wife’s happiness is breathtaking in its strength. The merchant is never given a name; possibly because he is merely ancillary to the story arc’s Bride, Anis. Maybe he’ll eventually be given a name when Mori revisits the trio. (You’d think feminists would love the story, given it’s essentially about a woman getting her own way and her husband giving her everything she wants when you strip all the subtleties away, but I don’t think they’d be able to get past the women wearing niqab and the multiple wives thing. Or the fact that for all that Anis gets whatever she wants, she never thinks of trying to break out of ‘womenly roles’ and never acts like a raging bitch. Or the fact that there’s LOTS OF FEMALE NUDITY in that story arc… The loving detail of different body shapes and celebration of the beauty of the female form would probably have them think that the author/artist is a sex deprived male.)

      All the women in the story are strong, well developed characters, but because pretty much only three of them are more or less armed (Amir, Pariya and the badass Great Grandmother) and none of those three try to act like men (which seems to be feminist shorthand for ‘equality’ or ‘strong female character’) it doesn’t surprise me that there are readers who bounce off HARD off the concept of ‘feminine strengths’, as well as cultural and social expectations that clash hard with modern Western norms.

  7. paladin3001

    Review you quoted sounds like the standard “read until offended” type of millennial. And yes, I think there are a lot of “Children of Now” out there, some in my generation as well. God help us all.

    • There are a number of books I’ve read until I reached a point where I couldn’t stand any more. I got to that point early on in “Jane Eyre,” and at times I wish I’d done so in “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.” But I wouldn’t review a book if I hadn’t finished it.

      • Jane Eyre is annoying, but J. K. Rowling successfully stole the beginning for Harry Potter, so…

        • I was able to read all the way through the first HP novel, but it left me with no impulse to read anything else by Rowling; I didn’t pick her up again until Order of the Phoenix was a Prometheus Award nominee. I still prefer Methods of Rationality to anything by Rowling, even though I find its ending deeply unsatisfying.

          • “I still prefer Methods of Rationality to anything by Rowling, even though I find its ending deeply unsatisfying.”

            I know, right?

            I didn’t get around to reading very much HP; however, having daughters I did end up watching the movies (which I actually liked. But then my super-power is the ability to turn my brain off and just enjoy stuff, which is handy to get past all sorts of story issues)

            My big problem after reading Methods (that of course my kids didn’t read) was that I now get mixed up as to which thing happened in what story! So HP will come up in discussion with my girls and I’ll say something and notice their confused looks… oops…

            One other thing, my 12 yo did NOT want to see Fantastic Beasts. So we went without her. But NOW, months later, she wants Newt Scamander’s wand for her birthday… go figure…

          • I read the first HP book and thought, This is basically a Road Dahl novel opening. Nothing extraordinary.

            But then I finished the first book and immediately picked up the second—at 10PM—and decided I must have liked it anyway. I do enjoy children’s literature even now, so this is nothing too odd…

            • I have read every one, although many things did annoy me about them. However, this was mostly thanks to them being “the thing” when the middle daughter was growing up and starting on reading – so the first three I read a chapter out loud to her every night.

              Okay, there is not much substance to them. There was not all that much substance to the Oz books that I started with. It is an odd thing that when you are developing a reader, if you start with the candy, then they get to the meat and potatoes on their own later. But it seems to work.

            • That’s what I thought, too. I kindof liked the books, but they are rather flawed in many ways, and I don’t think they deserved the popularity they received, and that there’s a lot of work that deserves more popularity.

              I *do* think it’s good that they introduced a lot of people to reading (even my two oldest daughters, just a year or so ago who have read all the books two or three times in that time — at one point I was worried they wouldn’t read anything else!), which is particularly good when one considers that our public school curriculum seems to be designed to destroy any interest in reading.

              The thing that drives me nuts, though, is the arrogance fans (or at least the promoters of the books) have towards everything. They like to emphasize “superiority” over Muggle traditions, and I still burn when I think of a quote at the end of a clip of an interview of the actress that played Hermione, which essentially said that no other fantasy work has the depth of character or the variety of women that the Harry Potter books have. Sheesh!

      • Too many reviewers seem incapable of distinguishing between “Not to my liking” and “Not any good.” I long ago learned that my tastes are peculiar and not to be confused with general standards of quality.

        • They also confuse “to my liking” and “great work of literature.” Those are also not the same thing.

          I liked most of the ideas in Atlas Shrugged – but the writing made me want to find a brick wall for the head.

          On the other hand, I detest everything espoused in The Jungle, but envy Sinclair’s writing ability.

          Fortunately, there have been / are enough good writers that wrote / write things I can be at least comfortable with to keep me sane.

      • I often find myself thinking “OK, it’s well written, but I don’t want to spend one second more with these revoting people!”

    • Sometimes it isn’t even “read until offended” it is “skim for key words to see if I should be offended” (and thereby missing the context and the story).

    • Looked like pretty ordinary virtue-signaling to me…

  8. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Ah, not smart. I wonder how they would assess the intelligence of my mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers, etc…

    There are hundreds of millions of women in the world. There are a few women whose regard and opinions need really matter to me.

    I shall be keeping my opinion of my foremothers. I owe much.

    If this means I cannot be a feminist, and must be a misogynist. So be it.

    • Well, all misogynist means is “a person who disagrees with a liberal woman”.

    • I’ve never quite understood how people can look at things like the comparative mortality rates for men and women, “back in the day”, and somehow conclude that a.) Women had the dirtier end of the stick, and that b.) Men were getting off easy. Or, that women “lacked power” in the world… You simply cannot evaluate things in terms of the perceived (from our end…) “privileges”, and ignore the concomitant duties and responsibilities that went with those. Both sets of roles were equally binding, and inherently unfair to the bound, but that’s just the way it had to be, in order for things to work.

      Most of what our contemporaries look back on and say “Oh, they were oppressed…” are things that simply came out of the conditions of the time, and derived strictly from societal adaptations to the realities they lived with.

      You run into similar issues when the same geniuses bemoan the current issues of air pollution from mechanized urban transportation, and are completely oblivious to the problems that stemmed from having everything run by “natural and organic” horses. In terms of public health, we’re probably a lot better off with soot-belching diesels than crap-spewing horses that were well on their way to burying most of our major cities in horse manure.

      Interesting aside–Used to be that one of the major issues in New York and other major US cities was problem they had with people dumping horse waste (manure and the dead bodies of horses) in vacant lots. You literally had to pay someone to watch your vacant property 24/7 to prevent it from becoming inundated in horse waste by people taking advantage of your open space, and there were locations in the New York area that were not fully cleared of horse-related debris and detritus until the 1940s. Friend of mine used to do construction in New York City, and he had stories of the things they found doing excavation on some of those sites that would turn your hair white. There was one job he was on where they’d gone in to do work, and wound up excavating something like three stories worth of old foundations, basements, and so forth–All of which had been filled up with horse manure and other things back in the 1880s-1890s, and then built over. Foundation of the brownstone finally collapsed, and… House of horrors discovered beneath.

      The old days weren’t what we presume they were, in a lot of fundamental ways. You look at the old marriage customs, and sexual roles, and think about them from today’s perspectives, and you’re almost certainly going to get it all completely wrong. “The past is a another country; they do things differently, there…”.

      • Shucks, Kirk — It’s easy. First, ignore any data or information that does not conform to the narrative, dismissing it as irrelevant, false or taken “out of context.”

        Then attack anybody challenging your preconceptions as sexist, racist or some kind of phobic. Accuse them of supporting such oppression if necessary.

      • “Come back with your shield, or on it,” was not something told to women.

        • Indeed, it was told by them…

          • Which is a reason I laugh my ass off at these delusional types that claim a world run by women would be peaches and cream, peace and comity among all…

            I hate to say it, but I’d wager that the vast majority of conflicts in history had roots deeper into the distaff side of the equation than anyone is really willing to acknowledge. Hell, you doubt me? Go take a look at who’s actually behind most of the barfights and squabbles in normal daily life. I swear to God, about two-thirds of the issues I had to deal with when it came to disciplinary problems around fighting stemmed from the little childish chickies starting stuff, and getting off on the boys fighting over them…

            Peaceful, my ass. Just because you’re not swinging a fist, a sword, or shooting someone doesn’t mean you didn’t have a hand in things. And, the most dangerous thing in the world, so far as encouraging violence…? A mother, looking to protect her kids. Push her far enough, and she’ll be the one lighting the torches and passing out the pitchforks, while her husband is urging sanity on everyone else in the mob… Interesting dynamic, that one.

            • The typical college campus is what, about 60% female? Plus the administrators are probably >90 puss feminine, and look at the climate at places like Mizzou and Evergreen State.

              For obvious reasons having to do with suppressing knowledge I doubt we can find statistics on the matter but I wager that the greater the proportion of feminists and minorities on campus, the more violence is used to suppress conservative and or male views.

  9. There are so many people who cannot see beyond their noses, and way too many who cannot see that far.

  10. Mike Houst

    Rule Number 1 for the Houst Family: Don’t mess with Grandma.
    Rule Number 2: See Rule Number 1

    • paladin3001

      My mom has a saying, “If mother is unhappy, everyone is unhappy. If grandma is unhappy, run!”. 🙂

      • Very sound.

        Am reminded of a fellow I met who claimed to be living in a place sans running water and trying to get sympathy about it (you could see the mental hiccough when I told him about times with a gas-fired toilet… he had to spin up a way to “top” that). His brother relates that his grandmother has running water and lives across the street or next door, so a shower, etc. would be trivial. Meanwhile I think of my grandmother who grew up where “running water” was a thing city folks had.

        • Mike Houst

          My great to the 12th or 13th (or both) grandparents on my mother’s side of the family had running water. Stream ran through their farm. No running water in the outhouse. Don’t know exactly what they used in lieu of toilet paper though. Leaves, rags, shells, wooden spoons? This was way before Sears and their catalogs.

          • I’ve been told that dried moss used.

          • FlyingMike

            The rural house my Mom grew up in still had an outhouse until the 1940s, and she’s relayed that they used pages torn from mail order catalogs.

            • My grandparents had an outhouse up to about 1950, and then converted a closet with a bench and a bucket. The kitchen sink had a hand pump. My granddad then built a new house with running water and indoor plumbing.

            • Newspapers will do fine. Very versatile things, lots of reasons once upon a time to have a subscription, could use them as bird cage liners, wrap a fish in them, use them in the toilet, clean windows with them, start a fire and so on.

          • The joke when I was a kid was that people used corn cobs. Tried it once (yes, I was a weird kid). Nope! THAT was NOT what we would call comfortable!

            • Without getting too far into unseemly territory, I suspect a great deal is affected by diet, especially the amount of fiber and stool firmness.

            • Michael Houst

              Moistened corn husks I could understand. Cobs? Uh uh.

              • Actually, a dried, corn-cob is surprisingly soft if you don’t apply a lot of pressure. Apply pressure, and it’s like a rasp.

                To demonstrate, take a freshly shelled dried corn cob and just rub it lightly against your hand. Then bear down. There is considerable difference.

            • You gots to shell the corn first Stuart.
              Fresh ain’t so bad, but dried…
              Sandpaper!

            • Ummm…. you need to make sure you’re using it in the correct orientation. One way is wiping a mess, the other is a fetish. *shudder*

          • None of my grandparents had running water or a flush toilet when they were growing up – these were city things.

            My parents grew up taking both (and electrical utilities, and radio) for granted. Though some of their cousins living in rural areas didn’t have electricity or running water until their teens.

            Color TV was still a luxury when I was born, but we had a black & white set as far back as I could remember. OTOH, though both parents worked at middle-class jobs, it wasn’t until I was 8 or so that we ever had more than one car – before that, they’d take turns dropping the other off at work.

            My kid’s earliest memories would be of us having color TV (and a VCR), both parents having their own cars, and a computer with dial-up access. Cell phones were available, but not yet common until they were nearly through elementary school. And most kids weren’t carrying a cell phone when our youngest entered High School (in a fairly affluent Silicon Valley suburban school).

            These are four generations of working-class & middle class life in the US. I’ll point out that even rural life in the US circa 1900 was appreciably better than most of the world at the time, and in some ways better than significant parts of the world today.

          • Joe Wooten

            Corncobs…….. 🙂

          • My grandparents were the first to get a phone for an area that had about 3-4 very small communities in it, about 20 miles from a slightly larger community that had phone service (and some years prior to that, where they lived his grandmother operated the only telegraph station for about 50 miles or so). The house was left unlocked so anybody who needed to make a call could do so.

            • My grandparents farm in Arkansas was on the last functioning party line in the US (uncle worked for the phone company).

          • Rich Rostrom

            Corncobs. Really. I learned this after after seeing this metaphor in a 1960s caper novel:”[French police] can also get rougher than cobs” (with a shudder).

          • Corncobs, hay (not straw).

        • The house where my father grew up didn’t have electricity or running water until after he graduated from college. Oddly enough, the farm had both — but only in the milkhouse, where they had to be able to run a bulk tank in order to be able to sell Grade A milk. Until the 1960’s it just wasn’t important enough to get services in the house — and even then, it was probably done only because his uncle, who made his living as a handyman, could do it for the cost of materials.

          When I was growing up in the 70’s, we had neighbors who didn’t have electricity or running water at their place. They were two elderly brothers who farmed together, who never married, and didn’t see the need for such luxuries. When they both passed on, the farm went to someone who already had a nice modern farmhouse, and the old farmstead was pulled down and plowed under — the ground was literally more valuable pushing up corn and beans than the buildings would be if brought to modern standards.

          • Sounds like the place my grandmother’s younger brothers had (almost the stereotypical Norwegian Bachelor Farmers, except in southern Washington state). They’d never married, and felt comfortable with things as they’d always been. They had gravity-fed running water in the kitchen courtesy of a spring uphill from the farmhouse, but no inside toilet, and baths were in a washtub with water heated on the stove.

            They hosted a family reunion on the farm in ’82. My wife was appalled that they were still using an outhouse – it reminded her of visiting her mother’s family in rural China as a small girl. Having to cope with this in the US offended her sense of how things should be – she kept repeating “But this is the United States!”

            • Victor Belenko dropped his MiG-25 into Japan in 1976 and defected to the US. His CIA handlers were taking him somewhere in DC through a residential neighborhood. Belenko was certain the whole thing was a Potemkin village, set up to bamboozle credulous foreigners. Obviously all the fancy homes were fakes; any fool could see there were no outhouses!

              Belenko had come from a moderately privileged background… but that was by Siberian standards.

          • On our system we had two elderly people who didn’t see the need for electricity. They only got it when it was either that or move to a nursing home. The most cost-effective solution in both cases was to opt for a mobile home.

            • When I was young, we had neighbors who cooked on a wood-burning stove. On the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, their grand and great-grand kids got together and bought them a nice propane stove for the kitchen plus the first full tank of fuel. It was well-appreciated, but once the initial propane load ran out the stove became a handy pot and pan rack. Propane costs money, you see, and fuel for the wood burner is just out back of the yard . . .

          • When my Lady and I were courting, she came to the (extended) family summer house. On hearing that she had some experience with electrical work, my Uncle Winthrop asked her to look at the wiring in the basement and advise him as to whether it need work. We went down and found that the wires had been cloth insulated, single (thick) strand, carried on ceramic posts with positive and negative on opposite sides of the beams. Naturally the insulation had rotted off decades ago. My wife came up from the basement looking like 180 lbs of condemned veal – GREY in the face – and said “Call the electrician. NOW!”

            He did. I suspect the only reason the house hadn’t burned to the ground is that being at the seaside, everything was damp.

      • “Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”

        • And mommas were the ones who maintained the culture. Back in the time of arranged marriages it was at least as likely, if not more likely, that the mother would have been the ones to make sure the daughter behaved herself and married the one her mother had arranged for her – even if the fathers had done the actual negotiations – than for the father to force it.

  11. Christopher M. Chupik

    If this was 1970s SF, we’d be on the verge of extinction from overpopulation, the Cold War would still be going on and everything would be recorded on tape.

    I’d say we’re not doing badly.

    • Or dead, all of us, because the cold war had gone hot and we would have had WWIII, with nukes, a decade or two ago.

      Of course that would also have destroyed all other life on the planet too because radiation does destroy everything permanently. See Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Chernobyl…

      • I remember devouring Alas Babylon, A Canticle for Liebowitz, The Chrysalids and the early Shannara books because they were hopeful post-apocalyptic fiction. The alternative was the we’re all gonna DIIIIIIIIIE stuff (both fiction and non-fiction), so I really ate up anything that showed people surviving and rebuilding.

        • Then there were the deterministic futures of Smith’s Lensmen and Asimov’s Foundation.

          “If everything is predetermined and nothing you do means anything, why even make an effort?” Just get a “Born to Lose” tattoo and devote your life to drugs and alcohol; you might as well enjoy yourself.

      • Feather Blade

        You Kronos way would make a great numbers sticker?

        “Nuclear Winters prevent Global Warming”

  12. Along the same lines:

    K.C. Constantine wrote what I think are the best police procedurals ever, the Rocksburg, PA series. Constantine was the nom de plume of an ex-cop, and he had a dead ear for dialog. His characters were the most believable I’ve ever seen. But I’ve seen reviews (on Amazon, mostly) of his works that complain about the gutter language and how that made the books unreadable, completely missing the point of the reason for the language to be there in the first place. At any rate, I recommend Constantine to everyone!

    See you at LibertyCon, Sarah. (I’ll be on a panel about cybersecurity and cyberwarfare at 2 PM on Friday; be there!)

    • Whoops. I thought I remembered that Constantine was an ex-cop, but he’s famously reclusive and evidently wasn’t a cop after all.

  13. “After all, if you come from a privileged background and mommy and daddy did all the work for you, including making sure you had good grades, and you never had to fight for anything, there’s a chance — not inevitable, but a chance — that you’ll never fully grown up.”
    The problem is that “privileged” is now such a broad swath of society. As you mention, “poor” in America (and Western Civ, in general) is pretty darn well off, historically/globally. Those “privileged” backgrounds, where mummy and daddy “do all the work” is way down into the middle class now, and includes an awful lot of people in college nowadays (and everyone just must go to college now, don’t you know, to be among the “good people”).
    And, yes, they never grow up. And, they seem to have enough political/economic power that you can’t make them grow up, either.

    “Every time you tamp down on our speech, you’re just tightening the bung on the powder barrel.”
    Whether you like Trump or not, the populist revolt that brought him to the Presidency is largely based on this. The phrase often tossed about is “You want more Trump? Because this is how you get more Trump.”

    • Compared to many, we spent the mid-late 1970’s “poor.” The house was a rapidly converted pole building, the plumbing was illegal, the car(s) was(were) very, very used. The TV was recovered from the curb of the repair shop.

      BUT…

      We had a “house.”
      We did have running water. Even hot.
      We did have heat in the Winter.
      We even had cooling in the Summer.
      We did have vehicles – that usually ran.
      Pa repaired that TV and it worked for years.
      There were times, I found out later, that what I think of as “comfort foods” were made as “That’s all we had.” but still, we had that much.
      I never felt like we were struggling. Maybe innocent of much, but we weren’t starving, didn’t have to deal with debilitating disease or permanent injury, and divorce was an almost foreign concept.
      For “poor” we were rich.

      • I hear that. Looking back I can see that we were fairly poor when I was a child, but I never knew it. A lunch of buttered toast and cocoa was a treat, not evidence of the cupboards being bare, and a breakfast of slices of white bread torn up, with milk and sugar, was just another sort of cereal.

        • Mike Houst

          Poor is going to bed hungry at night all the time, and not as a punishment for screwing up.
          Poor is not having a home, or even a room, to worry about not having heat in the winter; or if you do, not having enough blankets to keep warm in a cold building.
          Poor is not having clothing to keep you warm, or the bugs off you, or from being fried in the sun.
          (You might be poor if you use newspaper in place of socks, clothing, bandages, or blankets.)
          Poor is not having drinkable water, or even undrinkable water for that matter.
          Poor is having a broken bone, and nobody to set it for you.
          Poor is not having aspirin or Tylenol for that 104 degree fever.
          Poor is not having parents or guardians who care about your well being.

          • Someone on the book of faces posted a graphic of “extreme poverty” that didn’t have anything from North America (or most of Europe.) A comment wondered about that; I mentioned that in Haiti, for example, they have a word for a “biscuit” made out of clay, that they give to kids when they have no food in the hopes that the nutrition-free lump of kaolin will keep them from feeling quite so hungry. The commenter (who is older than me by a goodly margin) replied that the U.S. numbers of poverty still had 20% or so of folks living there, and I just thought You’re not listening…

            • Many on the Left betray a peculiar division of mind on the matter of the meanings of words. On the one hand, they treat definitions as infinitely malleable, contorting them in ways that would cause Dr. Johnston apoplexy. On the other hand, they cling to the assigned definitions as if they were holy writ — I recall back in the Reagan era when many would respond to charges of Liberalism by resorting to the dictionary definition of liberal as being generous, giving freely.

              It is impossible to bandy words with the kinds of idiot incapable of grasping that the US will always have 20% of our population living “in poverty” because that is the American definition of poverty: the bottom 20% income group. It would not matter how congenial the lives of that portion of the population, it would not matter how ample their material surroundings, they would still be “poor” by definition.

              There is a poverty of the mind, as Dr. Carson notes, which afflicts far too many people.

              • It should be noted that the definition of poverty fails to include effective income, the consequences of WIC, Medicaid, Section 8 vouchers and the wide range of other benefits which have been shown equivalent to an income of approximately $70K annually, making many “poor” folk significantly better off than much of the Middle Class.

                • most places that will rent to section 8 get significantly more rent from holders of said certificates than they would get from the standard market

                  • Also, the care from medicaid is only in theoiry, its actually like having the s***iest health insurance you can buy. Obamacare compliance *Improved* medicaid!

                    • I have a friend who’s trying to get treated for the sequelae of a closed-head injury in a car wreck several years ago, which left her unable to work. She’s getting a continual bureaucratic runaround, and it makes me wish I were a person with the sort of connections such that I could pick up a phone, talk to the right people, and have things start happening that would actually help.

                    • My legs are messed up from being in the service.

                      The VA insists there is nothing wrong with them even when they prescribed me to walk with a cane a week before i turned 21. So, they wont do anything

                      MediCaid insists that its the VA’s responsibility to cover my legs and they don’t have to do anything.

                      Yeah, government run health care is great.

                • Aye, so much this. Seeing someone who has a job with more hours and more $/hr use an EBT card is jarring. And then working at a convenience store one encounters those that claim in the Big City 2 hours away, the chain takes EBT, so why doesn’t the one in $HOOTERVILLE? But after finally realizing that they really can’t use EBT there… they somehow have the cash for alcohol, tobacco, and lotto. Hrmm.. I think I see government overspending here.

                  • Oh, yes. Had to kick out a friend we were trying to help, but turned out to be only enabling his drinking habit. As long as we put a roof over his head and ensured he had food, he could concentrate on getting booze. Unfortunately, he’s gotten a lot worse in the three years since then, and has gone through several experiences that should’ve had anyone else hitting bottom and turning around. But his booze habit seems to be a case of self-medicating several neurological issues that aren’t getting proper medical attention because he can’t manage to present as someone who deserves help, as opposed to someone who needs punishment. I still hurt for him, but know that I simply don’t have the wherewithal to actually help instead of just enabling.

                • My mother worked with homeless children when I was a kid, helping to get them schooling (hard with no permanent address; there are some areas that have passed laws so that children without one can attend school.) Poverty is a real thing. However, when you’re talking the difference between “food insecurity” (which is going to bed hungry many times, often only having one meal a day) and “eat this clay”, it’s apparent that there’s a world of difference between poverty and “extreme poverty.” While the latter exists in the U.S., it’s not on the large scale of other places. (Venezuela seems to be heading that direction…)

      • Mike Houst

        /laugh
        I remember our first color TV. It was a junk yard recycled cabinet type that my father resurrected (he worked for GE as a radar electronics designer.) Watching the first Star Trek episodes on it was … interesting … as only two of the colors worked. Never knew the Orion slave girl was green because just about everything was green.

        • Pa related that when he was taking courses at a tech school, an old timer brought in an older TV set for repair. Small round picture tube. They got it working alright, but some joker swapped the original CRT with a CRT for an oscilloscope. Old timer had a Black & Green set over the Christmas break, so I was told.

        • Oh, and I recall once upon a time I had a friend who had a couple old TV’s that had not seen full repair. One could get a decent picture, the other decent sound. Running the sound to a nice stereo system was easy. Tapping off the video detector and getting that to the nice color monitor took a bit more. Didn’t run that way all the time. Just for Star Trek and/or Dr. Who.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          I heard a story that when they filmed that scene with the Orion slave girl, some people viewing the dailies thought there was something wrong with the color of the film. 😀

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            One story I heard was that some screenings showed the “green woman” with normal skin-color because because the people who developed the film thought something was wrong so “changed the woman’s skin-color”. 😉

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Might be the same story.

            • Terry Sanders

              Yeah. The Trimbles told that one in their book. It was when they were doing the test shots for the first pilot. The makeup people would use more body paint, and the photo lab would “correct” more drastically, and around it went. Somebody finally thought to ask the developers what was happening.

            • Government Drone

              An early experiment in color TV went horribly awry when some jokester painted the bananas blue.

          • I remember a story from 35mm camera days of a woman who was very upset when she got the pictures of her poodle from the developers. They spent hours color correcting to get the poodle to some poodle shade of brown, wondering why the dog came out purple. She was very upset because she had dyed the dog purple for some odd reason I don’t recall.

      • And, sadly, the worldview is so very different for so many today. “You don’t have a 60″ 4k HD tv? What are you, a Luddite?” (Or a smartphone – I get so much crap for not having a smartphone….)

        At least my son understands just how good he has it in this generation. And he appreciates it. He understands about history, and it disturbs him that his peers don’t seem to grasp it at all. For them, it’s all the tyranny of the present.

        BTW, Sarah, I really like that phrase, “The Children of Now”.

        • One doesn’t “butt dial” a flip phone.

          And oh, explaining that “knock three times / twice on the pipe” was normal because not everyone had a phone at all.

          And then I recall sitting on grandpa’s neighbor’s steps with them and how neighbor related some of his earlier years, running bootleg. “We colored it with Paris Green in case we were stopped. It was poison against poison.”

          • Mike Houst

            Never heard on Start Trek, TOS.

            Uhura: “This is the U.S.S. Enterprise. Who is calling?”

            Kirk: Sorry Lieutenant, I must have butt-dialed you.

          • Feather Blade

            I can use my flip phone as a decent substitute for a half-brick, in a pinch!

            Which, to a certain extent annoys me greatly (when I think of it). Flip phones used to be a lot smaller and a lot sleeker than anything available today.

            See the technological regression in Real Time!

            • I wore out one flip phone, but the newer LG (trakfone) is still going strong. Used mostly for emergencies and the rare road trip. Cell service at home is abysmal.

              It wasn’t until I went to college that I saw Star Trek TOS in color. IIRC, mom got my brother’s color TV in 1972 ($BROTHER2 tended to overspend. Still does.) Come to think of it, my first color TV came from a co-worker to pay for his “poker lessons”. I heard he liked to bluff. His buddies liked to call his bluffs…

              In a way, B&W was better for TOS. In color, the odd colored backgrounds planetside were pretty distracting. My recollection of “The Empath” is still in black and white. No comment on “Spock’s Brain”. (grey goo, anyone?) 🙂

              • Hey, they put Spock’s brain back, didn’t day? Fixed a culture while they were at it.

                “Captain, this is a violation of the Prime Directive.”
                “Spock: they shoved your brain into a glorified thermostat.”
                “. . . [Expletive deleted] them.”

          • Beg to differ, on the butt-dialing of flip phones.

            I have seen it happen. Twice. Whilst in Big City working my way through college, when such things were the newest awesome… Lady of my acquaintance ad the habit of not “closing” her phone when she put it away. *chuckle* People are silly creatures.

            • Oy. I wore mine “upside down” on my belt so I could flip it open for bit for a moment without taking it off and could thus use it as a watch easily.

        • Looking through my direct ancestors, it seems that if the women survived all the childbirths, they lived longer then the men. A very large percentage of my ancestors had multiple spouses. The men getting remarried after the wife died in childbirth, the women after the husband died from some accident or another. Falling off a horse and getting run over by a cart is one I remember. Didn’t say if alcohol was involved…. If they both died very close to one another, regardless of age, it was disease, likely one we now vaccinate against. Losing a child was a normal part of life. While they exist as a statistic, I’ve never met a widow or widower in their 20s. But I have a lot of them in my ancestal line. The past is very different then today.

          • Landed in the wrong spot. Commenting on a phone browser isn’t as easy as on the computer. Neither of which millionaires had when I was a kid.

            • I recall a year or two ago a story about how the son of the President of the USA had basically stubbed/cut his toe, an infection started, and couldn’t controlled, about 100 years back. The boy died of the infection as nothing could be done, despite any wealth and power. And now… a pill 3x daily for a couple weeks, if that. The miracle is not just that the drugs work, but they work (so far) so well and reliably that we don’t fear, or even think much about, once-killers.

              • Michael Houst

                Cleaning wounds with soap and clean water goes a long way. Disinfecting with iodine or alcohol works too. Or I suppose a diluted solution of carbolic acid or even bleach will work.
                If that fails, then antibiotic ointments can be employed.

                • One of the more interesting pieces of medical history is how resistant the medical profession was to Semmelweiss’ hand-washing recommendation to prevent infections. Semmelweiss didn’t know why it worked, but he had a ton of experimental data showing reduced mortality rates. For which he was ridiculed and shouted down as a charlatan…

                  • He thought it was the odor of disease. That may have had something to do with it.

                    There is an account of a Confederate hospital that noticed a marked drop in infection when they used horse hair for suture. Medical supplies fell short, and they boiled horse hair to make it pliable enough to use. They didn’t know it, but they were killing off a lot of the things that caused infection in the first place. They were using semi-sterilized suture, and didn’t realize it.

                    • Would the idea that it was the odor really have been so laughable at the time? I thought that was a pretty widespread idea but could be mixing up eras or something.

                    • Feather Blade

                      The miasma theory of disease.

                      That one was accepted wisdom up through London’s cholera epidemics, but I couldn’t tell you how those tracked, date-wise, with the hand-washing guy.

                  • Don’t forget, he was Jewish. That also had something to do with it.

              • As often happens, [Searchengine] confirms my recollection:

                The Medical Context of Calvin Jr.’s Untimely Death
                July 7, 2014
                By Jared Rhoads
                This week marks the 90th anniversary of the sad and untimely death of Calvin Coolidge, Jr., President Calvin Coolidge’s younger son. The general story is well-known: while playing lawn tennis with his brother on the White House grounds, sixteen-year-old Calvin, Jr. developed a blister atop the third toe of his right foot. Before long, the boy began to feel ill and ran a fever. Signs of a blood infection appeared, but despite doctors’ best efforts, young Calvin, Jr. was dead within a week.

                The suddenness of this loss causes many to wonder about the medical-historical context of his death.

                The microorganism that took the President’s son was Staphylococcus aureus, a relatively common bacterium. On the skin, Staph can lead to minor irritations and infections. In the bloodstream, however, Staph can result in sepsis, a serious condition that can affect the major organs and be potentially fatal.

                Deaths from sepsis unfortunately were quite common in Coolidge’s time. Ordinary wounds, accidents, and childbirth were all ways in which bacteria could get into one’s normally sterile blood. Patients presenting with fever, low blood pressure, and an obvious site or cause of infection could be diagnosed with relative ease, but the treatment options available were minimal, and the mortality rates were high. Success with the application of antiseptic chemicals was mixed, with healthy tissue often being damaged in the attempt to control the infection.

                The Coolidge case was not the first time that blood infection struck a Presidential family. In 1890, Abraham Lincoln’s only grandson, Abraham “Jack” Lincoln II, also 16 years old, died from a similar blood poisoning after a French surgeon performed a procedure to remove an abscess under his arm. Nine years before that, President Garfield famously died not from the assassin’s bullet that was lodged in his body, but from the infection that ensued after repeated unsanitary attempts to remove it. Antibiotics could have easily treated the infection that killed Calvin, Jr. But in 1924 Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin was still four years away.
                [END EXCERPT]

              • Staph infection. There were people who died after a shaving nick got infected. There’s a reason most aftershave lotions contain alcohol.

                • Rich Rostrom

                  The first patient treated with penicillin was a man with an infected shaving nick. The researchers had produced just enough penicillin for one dose: it brought the fever way down for a few hours. Then it returned and he died.

                • I once followed a vintage ads group. And when you got the “Never to Dance Again” ads (picture, a group of young people dressed for a ball, a young woman watching them, wearing a ball gown but with crutches — an ad for Johnson&Johnson bandages in sterile packaging), or “A Fly Can Mean a Dead Baby” ads — we’d get people sneering at the fear mongering and more educated people pointing out those were statements of facts.

              • I saw a painting of a Burghermeister and his wife that included their children. Including the dead ones. 7 of the 11 died before their father died.

              • Calvin Coolidge’s son, I believe he got it playing tennis.

        • This is something I try to keep perspective on. Especially important because the temptation to call someone a luddite who will help bring about the extinction of humanity is always a strong one.

          And you know what? It isn’t that hard to get an idea of how crazy rich we all are here in the first world. Even if I can’t truly grasp real poverty, I can still glimpse it by proxy well enough to know how full of crap the perpetually oppressed are.

          But understanding that would require nearly half an ounce of self awareness. Which is at least a gallon too much for these fools.

      • When I was a kid, my father was a coal miner. Because of a few hot-heads and a Union, they were on strike often. However, we lived on a small farm, and my father REALLY knew what he was doing. We may have went without a Television for a few years, but we never went without food.

  14. Thank you– I need to read her books again. Woot! more? About the physical disasters, they seemed to keep coming and coming. I am now in a breather. I am celebrating. These disasters seemed to last so much longer than normal too. (It might have been the dysfunctioning thyroid too)

  15. At times, trying to explain to someone that “No, the way you see things isn’t the norm NOW, it sure as hell wasn’t ‘x’ generations ago”, or for that matter just how damned good they have it…

    “The world began when I was born, and nothing before that matters”, apparently.

    • “That’s before my time.”

      “So are the Beatles, Elvis, the atom bomb, Mozart…”

      Though, I suppose the way to get someone’s attention now is that “So is Star Trek, Star Wars, and Scooby-Doo.” I remember when you didn’t have to specify which one of any of those, as there was only the one.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        The following is my view of “Scooby-Doo”.

        “So you kids are here about our local monster.”

        “Yes, we are.”

        “Well, Farmer Brown and his shotgun solved the mystery. Some idiot was dressed as a monster to scare him off his land. Farmer Brown doesn’t scare.” 👿 👿 👿 👿

        • One of the funniest pictures I have seen on the net is a black, 4 door, Chevy Impala sitting next to a van painted up to look like the Mystery Machine.

          Since we all know that every monster the Mystery team chased was a fake, I have to wonder what Dean and Sam are investigating. Maybe we find out that Shaggy is a skin walker?

          • Oh, I love that one. The caption I usually see on it is “Uh oh, s**t’s getting real!”

            And, apparently, the show itself is now running with it whole hog. They’re doing an animated crossover with Scooby Doo. I haven’t watched Supernatural since about the end of season 5…but I might make an exception and watch that one episode, because it should be hilarious.

            • There was also a two season version of Scooby Doo recently where sometimes it was real.

              • Really? I might have to watch the heck out of that, if I can find it…

                • It was called Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated and ran on Cartoon Network from 2010 to 2013. I watched it on Netflix and it is actually a 52 episode overarching plot series. It also had actual romance including a clueless Fred being chased by Daphne (resulting in goth Daphne at one point) and a Shaggy/Scooby/Velma friend/girlfriend bit.

                  It was watchable by my nephews (3 and 5 when they started on Netflix) and just as enjoyable by the adults.

                  I highly recommend it.

                • Seconding the recommendation. It’s Lovecraft meets Hanna-Barbera.

                • That, and some of the animated movies, like “Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf”, or “Scooby Doo on Zombie Island”, or “Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders”, etc.

                  • Patrick Chester

                    Yeah, the zombie island one had a montage of unmaskings to a song with a refrain “It’s a fake!” or something like that. Which led to them being very surprised to find REAL zombies when they get to the main story.

                    It would’ve been a surprise for the audience too, except Cartoon Network’s ads kept saying: “This time the monsters are REAL!”

                    (Though the *real* monsters turned out to not be the zombies. I don’t think the ads spoiled that part.)

            • I made it to season 8 or 9 before it jumped the shark one time too many. But I still love the older eps. Cross over w/Scooby Doo? Oh man, I have to see that. 😀

              • I kept starting season 6, hoping to get further, but haven’t managed it yet. I’m rewatching again now, and am in season 2. I still love the first season the best, though–hunting ghoulies and beasties on a road trip on the back roads of America (by way of Vancouver, *cough*).

                • Season 6 is meh. 7 is better, as is 8. I could have lived without 9 and 10, but 11 is pretty good.

        • Feather Blade

          I remember reading a (probably) WAG fan theory that explained why everywhere the Scooby-doo kids went was dark, dingy, and in disrepair.

          Something along the lines of massive economic collapse making maintenance and repairs impossible, and making villainy the only means of living for the various unemployed.

        • Dork Tower ran an excellent strip where one character goes on a long rant about how the Scooby gang still thinks it is a real monster every week only to have it be some idiot then goes into how despite proof of the supernatural every week even Moulder mere wants to belief and still isn’t convinced each week, much less Scully. He finishes by exclaiming X-Files is the anti-Scooby Doo.

          The response was, “why can’t you be obsessed with Baywatch like the rest of your demographic.”

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            That brings to mind the other problems with the Scooby Gang.

            They have this big dog that should be able to smell that the “monster” is human but always runs from the “monster”. Heck, most of the time if Scooby acted like “Scrappy” (the little pup), the story would be over.

            Then if somebody was “hunting monsters”, wouldn’t they also have “means of self-defense”?

            Of course, if I were the “bad guy”, “those meddling kids” wouldn’t find those clues because I wouldn’t leave them around for the kids to find.

            Heck, if I were the “bad guy”, I wouldn’t settle for “just scaring” people, I’d be killing people. 😉

            • Feather Blade

              Da-tata-Da-ta-DAH! Fanfic Power! (I regret nothing XD)

              https://www.fanfiction.net/s/2861969/1/Vietnam

              Answers the first question, if none of the others.

              • That was excellent!!! And explains a lot about Shaggy.

                I like!

                • Feather Blade

                  For some reason, I thought that fic was more polished, the first time I read it, than it turns out to be upon re-reading.

                  But it’s good enough to be memorable. ^_^

                  Looks like the author’s done a couple of one-shot sequels. Having just now read them, they’re pretty good too.

            • Great Danes are sighthounds, and they really like running. Some sighthounds will ignore their noses and believe their eyes, if wound up enough by any kind of excitement. (If it is not about food, that is.) I will admit that most sighthounds tend toward toothy defense rather than running away, even if the dog is cringing and scared; but Shaggy has obviously made a lifelong practice of beating feet and taught his dog to follow suit.

              All the Irish wolfhounds (also sighthounds) of my acquaintance really dislike full body costumes that cover the head. Motorcycle helmets freak them out.

              But the main thing is that, if you are not going to show a large dog growling, attacking, or flipping people onto their backs (scary for kids), herding things (not Great Dane stuff), or effortlessly dominating situations like Marmaduke (no conflict), you have to show a dog running, stealing food, or sleeping. That is the large sighthound dog for you. Even if he can talk.

              It is also possible that ignoring his nose is part of what makes Scooby show embarrassed chagrin in so many eps.

          • Patrick Chester

            Well, the supernatural usually turned out to be something else.

            Of course, Scooby Doo being able to talk was never really explained.

            • Terry Sanders

              Obviously, George Jetson stumbled over a time machine while walking his dog.

              The thing that got me was that he was (in the originals) the *only* talking dog you ever saw, and yet no one batted an eye. They even had him play body double for a *real* Great Dane once. And nobody thought anything about it.

            • Interestingly, I recently saw a video indicating that Great Danes can make a wide variety of sounds that kind of sound like words, so perhaps that’s where the creators got it,

              Also, I seem to remember the humans being a little surprised, perhaps early in the series, that Scooby sounded like he was talking.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          I will confess to an abiding fondness for the (Old World of Darkness) Werewolf mod some RPG nerd wrote up, which damn near seamlessly incorporated the entire Scooby bunch into a world of 90s angst* and made it work. 😀

          *admittedly, less angsty than the Vampire games. Vampires annoy me, and none more so than those.

          • Okay, most of the time the only OWD stuff I like is Changeling: the Dreaming…but making the Scooby gang work in that setting? SO MUCH AWESOME.

            I don’t suppose you know where one can find that mod?

            • SheSellsSeashells

              Unfortunately, it was the late 90s when I saw it and I think the website’s gone under. So I can’t help with stats or anything. The basic story was that Scooby and Shaggy were Bone Gnawer werewolf Kinfolk (which admittedly explains a heck of a lot), Daphne was some sort of unaware proto-mage who kept attracting odd coincidences, Velma was the brains of the operation and understandably bitter after getting mauled by a monster, hence heavily armed and stuffing the Mystery Machine with all kinds of interesting tech. Don’t remember anything about Fred. 🙂 But I giggled like mad when I realized how smoothly they’d stitched the two settings together.

              • Niiiice.

                Yeah, I run into the same problem when trying to track down Changeling stuff. I didn’t get into tabletop gaming until 2003 or so, so sadly a LOT of website stuff was already defunct by then.

                • well, Changeling wasnt very popular. Neither was Wraith.

                  • Never looked into Wraith, but I suppose Changeling wasn’t “edgy” and “angsty” enough, heh (although they did publish a LOT of supplemental material, so it wasn’t a flop, either). That’s precisely WHY I liked Changeling. The Vampire: the Masquerade stuff tended to me make me roll my eyes really, really hard 😀

                    • Well, I played all of them at one time or another, ran several of them, and worked for them as a freelancer on another product, so…

                    • Neat!!

                      Someday, I will get a group together to actually PLAY Changeling, with some of the others mixed in. 🙂

                    • I ran a group for a few years with an Immortal (fan-created Highlander rules) three mages and a werewolf.

                    • SheSellsSeashells

                      I have a yen to try the nWOD “Changeling: the Lost”, but it is unlikely ever to happen; I have enough trouble putting together 1) a Dungeons and Dragons group and 2) enough spare time to play a session. I loved the concept of Werewolf but couldn’t find anybody but emo twerps to play with.

                    • Yeah, I’ve encountered that problem. Not that my group wouldn’t be game to give WoD a try…but then I ran into the other issue of it being–to me, at least–unnecessarily overcomplicated game mechanics. (At least, that’s how it struck me at the time. Granted, I haven’t taken a look at the Changeling mechanics in quite some time, and I’m a more experienced tabletop gamer now, but still.)

                  • IMHO, there’s a reason for that. I’ve been in gaming since 1979 and so has most of my gaming group, and for us White Wolf followed the same path: came up with something good, like Vampire, let things progress until the “these guys are so powerful that they should be running the world” factor got too much to ignore, and then released the next installment as something to keep the predecessors in check…. without ever really addressing the fact that the critter in the next installment was closer and closer to starting out with that problem.

                    • From what I understand, people disliked them because Changeling isn’t very ‘gothic-punk’- in fact, its pretty hard to keep it in the dark tone of the rest of the world- and because Wraith spent most of its time outside the world and trying to get enough energy to get back in.

          • Pretty much the only vampire series I ever saw that didn’t was Saberhagen’s Dracula pastiches.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Barbara Hambly’s vampires “don’t do angst”. 😉

              Mind you, it’s strongly implied that if a vampire doesn’t want to continue to be a vampire, then he will “make mistakes” that get him killed.

              Of course, a good person very likely not “survive” the process to become a vampire. 😉

    • Back several years ago I heard our current governor, in a prepared speech, so it wasn’t an off the cuff gaffe, refer to the Erie Canal as one of New York’s great natural resources. Erie Canal? Natural resource?I told an acquaintance about this, and he said there was a simple explanation. To a liberal, anything that existed when they were born is natural and the way things should be and always have been. Any changes that man wants to make to that natural state are evil and must be opposed. That actually explains a lot if you look at their positions and put them in that context.

  16. c4c

  17. well, Sarah, most of them are insular upper class or upper middle class, and went to a college that also tried to insulate them from wrongthink, so…

  18. Anachronda

    I’m going to be … bald

    Problems solved.

    • As long as Dan thinks you’re pretty who cares what other people think.

      • Don’t think of it as losing hair, but clearing a canvas. Think of all the artistic things you can do with a bare noggin. *waves hands in a vaguely Richard Simmons fashion*
        (And, NO, that does NOT mean you can draw on my scalp with a magic marker! :p )

        • From a Spike Jones tune:

          “They tell me, Doodles, you’re hair is getting thin. I tell them, ‘Well, who wants fat hair?'”

        • I have a bass player fiend who decided our freshman year in college she wanted a tattoo of her bass. She shaved her head and got it on her scalp. It’s pretty much a secret, now, known only by those of us who saw her before her hair grew out enough to hide it.

          Has to be the cleverest way to hide a tattoo I ever heard of.

    • Mike Houst

      Bald is not bad.

      And talk about a sexy canvas!

      And then there are others …
      http://screenrant.com/actresses-went-bald-shaved-heads-for-movie-roles/

    • There are worse things than bald. 😉

      I’ve done it, and survived it. Mind you it can be a little disconcerting when you realized can actually count the number of eyelashes that remain.

      • I’ve done that, too, but they mostly grew back (left side is stille a little lopsided). Apparantly sawdust is very very flammable. Who knew? *chuckle* Ah, invincible youth.

        • Had a classmate in pilot training who earned the nickname “Flame Face” Martin after one evening in a bar. Lost every bit of hair from the nose up through part of the forehead. Yes, a flaming drink was involved.

          • At the airline, one of my fellow mechanics (named Rich Bachelor) was cleaning the final stage turbine blades on an engine with solvent when the sparkies decided it would be a good idea to function check the igniters. Rich earned the nickname ‘Flash’ that night.

        • Any kind of organic dust, actually, with the right encouragement. In WWII, the Allies dropped leaflets to the various partisan movements showing how to economize on explosives blowing up buildings by using a broom first.

          • Didn’t know that, but it makes sense. Same sort of principle as what led to corned powder.

            • Which is why places like coal mines and grain elevators invest a bunchaton of money in keeping dust down. The times when they fail never fail to make the news.

              • Heh. I was doing a Fixed Asset reconciliation at a furniture factory when I realized why they had so many sawdust collectors.

      • Michael Houst

        About 12 years ago I took 3 years to grow my hair out, and then had it cut and donated to the Pantene folks as a way to show support for a friend of ours’ teenage daughter who had cancer and the whole 9 yards of chemo. took it to the bare scalp and man, my head was cold as heck for about 3 months until my hair grew out enough.

      • Shaved my head when my wife started losing her hair while she was doing chemo. This being winter at the time, the feeling of snow hitting nearly-bare scalp (I didn’t keep it shaved) was unsettling.

  19. I think that the inevitable reaction will be quite bloody

    • I’m starting to think so, Emily.

      • Jonathan H

        The longer the country is divided, the messier the reunification will be. the Civil War was easier on the country than it could have been due to the geographic split involved – if it happened now, it would be much, much different.

  20. Don’t ask me for titles

    Larry Niven’s World Out of Time jumps out at me.

  21. Someone here recommended Patricia Wentworth and I am so glad they did. She is a new author to me, and​ I am having fun discovering her books. Part of her charm is that her characters are not modern. I like the plots consisting of romance and a little crime.
    Part of the fun following this blog is filling up my to be read list 😀 Thank you!

    • Terry Sanders

      If you can find them, try the Leonidas Witherall books, by Phoebe Atwood Taylor. Slapstick cozies in a wartime Boston suburb. And some *odd* insights into everyday life of the timem

  22. Rockport Conservative

    I think it must have been my 20 year old granddaughter whose review you saw. A child of privilege, who joined the tribe as soon as she went to college. I hope she wises up. Right now I really can’t stand her attitude.

  23. Jonathan H

    Unfortunately, in my experience these kind of views (kooky ideals unstained by reality), are not strictly the province of the young – look at what some elected officials, particularly those from California, say about society.
    I work with a well educated 50+ woman who thinks that current US society is the absolute worst ever for women, minorities, and the environment – when I bring up past pollution, civil rights, even her having the highly paid easy job she has, it all flies right over her head. She focuses one one tiny problem (sometimes just what she has read is a problem, which may or may not exist) and to her that is indicative of the entire world to her.
    I find myself glad that she has no kids …

    • Yeah, the problem isn’t thinking like that at 18 or 19 (hey, I knew everything at that age too) but at 30 or 40 or 50 or 60 or, yes, I’ve seen it, 70 where you should REMEMBER it wasn’t like that.

      • When I was 18, my dad was the stupidest man in the world.
        By the time I was 25, he had wised up some.
        When I hit 35, it was amazing what the old man had learned in 17 years.
        some wag, somewhere

    • Curable. Send her for a vacation in Saudi Arabia.

    • She’s not well-educated, she’s well-indoctrinated. And these zombies set corporate policy.

      • Joe Wooten

        No $hit!!!!
        They infest and dominate all HR departments, which in most big corporations are the tail that wags the dog.

        • They wag the dog because they (along with a couple of other bits) are the ones with the most legal ramifications – the company gets sued (often by the gov’t) if they don’t follow hundreds of thousands of regulations on not making people upset.

          There’s less fear of being caught in fraud or being sued by a customer for breach of contract than there is in offending the demons of the EEOC or similar.

          • Which is why I think there’s a damn good case to be made that even private persons and companies should be sued in these cases on First Amendment grounds: without that government enablement, they couldn’t censor people.

      • Exactly right.

    • Is it bad that the first place my mind went was, “Of course it’s bad for women, minorities, and the environment. Women are taught that they are just men with boobs (and taught to take on the very worst qualities of men and discarding the very best of the feminine), are scolded for loving their husbands and children, and are encouraged to be as neurotic and unpleasant as possible and they call that “empowering.”

      Minorities are given so much “help” that what natural ambition and drive they may own is squashed under the weight of public opinion. If they study and work hard, they are “acting white” *spits*, if they demand independence they are “oreos,” if they think for themselves they are race traitors, and if they actually manage to succeed despite all that, the envy of their fellows alienates them even further.

      The only help the “environment” gets from the scolds these days is the free carbon emissions boost from all the virtue signallers flying out in their private jets and scooting around in their big SUV’s to the latest climategasm.

      Now as you say, there is a *lot* going for women, minorities, and the environment these days, but there are some pretty significant stumbling blocks, too. Little though it would ever occur to such a person to look at it that way. *chuckle*

  24. “I’ve seen bigger differences.”

    My parents were almost that far apart (6 years instead of 7.) They remained married for life.

    A friend of mine espouses what he calls the “Ron and Nancy Reagan Rule.” They were 12 years apart, so he figures that’s a safe limit. (He’s talked about the Rule so often that if he is seen even having a conversation with a young lady at a conference someone is bound to twit him about her being outside of the Rule.)

    • My parents are two days shy of eleven years apart. They’re still married.

      A rule of thumb that I heard one individual suggest was that the upper limit on the age difference should be half the age of the younger member of the couple.

      • Well, that throws out my grandparents on my father’s side. He was 40 and she was 20 when they got married.

        • I was proposed to by a 40 year old Englishman when I was 19. The age is not why I refused him. It’s because he was so shy, he sent his 10 year old son to propose for him. yeshhh.

        • I’d heard it as “You shouldn’t get involved with anyone less than half your age plus seven, or it’s creepy.” How that was arrived at, I have no idea. I am figuring that while a greater range might well weird people out, the Universe is a big place and most anything can happen. A particular ‘anything’ might not be the way to bet, however.

          • Feather Blade

            That particular rule, mathematically speaking, keeps the youngest possible ages after 10 within a year of each other until one person hits 20. Which tends to work for most US jurisdictions.

            • It also keeps things to where the people involved have a reasonably equivalent level of life experience, as well. (Sort of. The lower end of the age range for the twenty to thirty year old crowd is a little immature, these days.)

              • Heh reminds me of a tale told about a woman friend of this couple* who was known among their social circle for a proclivity to date younger men. Finally showing up at a party with an escort of her own vintage she was quizzed as to the reason. Somewhat sheepishly she admitted she had grown weary of having to explain the origins of the Korean War.

                *Don & Maggie Thompson when they were editing the CBG.

    • My wife is fifteen years older than I am. But we’ve only been married for 35 years, so who knows if it’ll work out over the long haul…

    • Mike Houst

      Ron and Nancy Reagan Rule, eh?
      I seem to recall a similar rule from I think it was the Autobiography of Malcolm X take a wife’s ideal age should be half the man’s age, plus 7 or something like that.
      Rules like that are made to be broken.

  25. “Every time you tamp down on our speech, you’re just tightening the bung on the powder barrel.”

    No ma’am, that would be far safer than what they’re doing. What they’re actually doing is putting bricks on the boiler’s safety valve.

  26. “Don’t ask me for titles…”

    Blast it! Another avenue for my desire to become the Archduke of Utah County has been closed off!

    Sigh. My options are drying up fast.

  27. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 06.08.17 : The Other McCain

  28. Becawse:

    Sometimes You Need That Trek Uphill Both Ways
    By Sarah Hoyt June 9, 2017
    It is a joke in the U.S. to say that any stories of difficulties your parents tell you are stories about walking to school uphill both ways.

    I want to say that’s nothing. In Portugal, when I was little and we visited the shrine of Fatima, I was at first fascinated and later on repulsed, by seeing people doing the long path through the terrace on their knees, sometimes helped by two or three people, because they’d come hundreds of miles on their knees and were not capable of doing it on their own anymore.

    I don’t personally know anyone who’s done the hundred miles on their knees thing, but almost everyone I knew had done the “Walk to Fatima” thing. This was usually done in “payment” of great grace granted, but almost everyone I knew who had done it said they’d received more from the experience than the sacrifice they’d committed to.

    What does this have to do with anything, unless I want to discuss medieval religious practices?
    [READ THE WHOLE THING]