Blame and Acceptance

So recently, for no reason at all (coff) I’ve been thinking that if there were a way to create the worst possible fictional villain it would be to create someone who always exonerates himself of all blame: if he lost a tennis match, the sun was in his eyes, even if it was at night.

This has never been one of my problems.  Even when the game is rigged, I tend to assume I should just have played better.  Yeah, I say that politics played into my career puttering in place for years, but only because compared to some of the extreme-left “luminaries” my production quality and amount are astounding, not because I was/am entirely blameless.

No matter what is arrayed against you, you can always work harder.  And I did not work nearly as hard as I might have in an ideal world, because my priorities were different.  Sure, I want to work, and I want my writing to do well, but I could never convince myself that my career or progress in it was more important than the raising of my kids or the happiness of my marriage.

I don’t regret those choices, but from the point of view of career they are unfortunate.  (And if truth be told probably the reason that, to the extent this happens — and it’s not as much as the usual suspects maintain — women tend not to reach the very top in many fields.  Because the very top demands a single-minded devotion that frankly isn’t good for you or your relationships, and which men– for whom the social script is to do well in career — are more likely to abuse themselves with.)  If I had a dime for every time a male colleague told me “You should just lock the door, stock the freezer with pizza, write like the wind and let the guys take care of themselves.”  And from the point of view of career they were right. From the point of view of me, they weren’t.  So, now that I have a little more space, and the guys can at least cook for themselves, I’ll do what I can.  And if I don’t reach as far as I could have, my fans will have to forgive me.

Forgiving myself is a little harder, because the broken part at the back of my brain doesn’t understand I’m human, I have limits and there’s only so many hours in the day.  Though I’ve achieved a healthy (not) splitting and mostly I’m mad at my body for breaking down all the time.

This is possibly not the sanest thing in the world, but at least it doesn’t make me hate everyone else, and lock myself in a castle of paranoia.

When you do that; when everything that happened to you was the fault of someone else, you lose your ability to self correct and to figure out how to procede.

So, say, if you descend to the point of blaming four men you left to die for sabotaging your political career, you should seek help, and by that I don’t mean “financing for a future political run.”

Look, the feedback in this world isn’t perfect.  As we’ve been told, sometimes the wicked flourish like the green bay tree.  But I suspect that flourishing is illusory.  I suspect if you truly give in to your inner egotism and assume you’re perfect and anything you fail at must be someone else’s fault, it slowly eats you inside.

There’s only one way to raise someone to be unable to admit ANY fault in their own downfall, except for humble brags.  You have to raise them in the absolute certainty of their own perfection and invincibility.  I know a lot of people like that.  Personally and closely I know one other such person, who fortunately didn’t turn her ambitions to politics, but who, instead, has a string of broken marriages and infidelities between those marriages whose only admission of fault is that she thinks she might be “too giving.”  Having seen the way she screws exes to the wall, and not in a good way, the only thing I can ask is “giving of what, heartburn?”

In that case, I happen to know the person was raised to believe herself utterly perfect.  If something went wrong, someone was found to blame for her failure.  If she didn’t perform as expected it was always something else.

What she became is only logical. When you think you’re perfect, then everything that goes wrong must be someone else’s fault, and everyone MUST be to blame for your failures.

Kind of like communism, on a society level.  When you’re almost a religion and believe your form of government is absolutely perfect, then when it fails it must be that people failed the government.  This is what fills graves.

On a personal level it rarely gets that far, unless one of these critters manages to get  a post of responsibility and power, like, say, Secretary of State.

Most of them don’t rise that far.  At worst they are incompetent, self-righteous bureaucrats, many of whom make our bureaucracy a living nightmare, because there’s at least one of them per department of anything you need, I swear.

The thing is, knowing how you create these people, and knowing how prevalent “self esteem” education has been in our system the last thirty years, we’re going to see a lot more of this.

Only the left could decided that instead of teaching people to be good at things, we should just teach them to have supreme confidence in themselves, as though actually learning skills were an incidental, painless thing, requiring no work.

As usual, they were precisely wrong.  And though the creature that inspired this post was ahead of her time, there’s a lot of her kin on the way.  Some of whom will get power, sooner or later.

The only way we survive this is for a lot of us who know we aren’t perfect to study and work, and find ways around, over and under the institutions they’ll cause to collapse.

Oh, and teach your children well.  If you can, teach them to see the factors that go into their failures, and to forgive themselves when they fail.

But if you can’t do that, at least teach them they aren’t perfect.

As someone who tends to shoulder all the blame and try to lift all the worlds on my shoulders, it’s not a healthy way to be.  BUT with all that, it’s infinitely more healthy than blaming everyone else, and being eaten inside with hatred and paranoia.

Teach your children well.  Don’t trust the schools to do it for you.  And remember self-esteem is the result of pride in what you’ve done or achieved.  If it’s not that, it’s just insanity.

251 thoughts on “Blame and Acceptance

  1. So recently, for no reason at all (coff) I’ve been thinking that if there were a way to create the worst possible fictional villain it would be to create someone who always exonerates himself of all blame: if he lost a tennis match, the sun was in his eyes, even if it was at night.

    Ah. I have heard that such a villain has been created and she is presently on book tour…

        1. oh it probably will, i bet there are enough left–to-far-left who need her to explain it to them instead of figuring it out themselves

    1. Instapundit is reporting that Amazon is quietly deleting any and all one star reviews of her book. And is hearing rumors that Amazon might be deleting two star reviews as well.

      1. Unlikely anyone will be deterred from buying her book by negative reviews, nor that anyone who isn’t already buying it (I am curious to know how many bulk purchases are occurring) will be encouraged to do so by four and five star reviews.

        It might be fun to give it a five-star review praising its inventive misrepresentation of events and declaring it be moved from non-Fiction to Fantasy.

      2. Such removals might be hazardous to Amazon, although it seems unlikely any are from “Certified Buyers” and thus Amazon has a semi legitimate basis for the deletions — but they best delete all non-certified buyer reviews.

      3. Where was this reported? I can’t find it on a quick glance through Instapundit’s front page. (I searched for “Clinton”, “happened”, “book”, “review” and “Amazon” — you’d think at least one of those search terms would have found the tidbit you mention, but no luck so far.)

      4. Which just might lead one to wonder if they’re removing 5 star reviews from authors writing wrongfic. And also how that affects commissions.

  2. Insanity of “self esteem” mills (otherwise known as public education schools). Well, I guess the “Crazy Years” or going to get even more crazier as we go on.

      1. Pride, but without the underlying skills or accomplishments to take pride in.
        It’s nasty stuff. Imagine a third grader believing she already knows everything worth knowing, and you’ve got our educational system.

      1. my immediate response to this video was to ask the guy in the video “so, you don’t thing you’re good at anything? Then you’re probably not good enough for me to watch this. *clicks the lil X to close the tab*

  3. “If it’s not that, it’s just insanity.”

    Actually, I would argue that this is lending the problem a degree of grander it doesn’t deserve. Self-esteem that has no basis in achievement is SMUGNESS. A trait of assholes. Insanity can be interesting. Smugness is merely tiresome.

    1. It’s pure ego. Self-esteem is earned by meeting challenges and either overcoming them or learning how to do so in the future. Ego is just the flat ‘I’m awesome!!’ with nothing solid to back it up beyond being in some weird delusional state where you’ve put on blinders that prevent you from actually participating in the same reality as pretty much every other person on the planet.

    2. I’m not sure I agree that it’s smugness. While it’s possible to develop the quality of smugness from unearned self-esteem, there’s an implied air not merely of “I’m great” , but also “you’re worthless” in smugness, which is not always present.

      1. Self-esteem comes from outside. Self-confidence comes from inside. Self-esteem is often toxic if not generated by self-confidence, which comes from doing and learning and accomplishing things.

        At least that’s what I was taught.

        1. And yet, the person who created the “self-esteem movement” (his book The Psychology of Self-Esteem came out before there was such a movement for it to be part of), Nathaniel Branden, had been an adherent of Ayn Rand’s ideas, and thought of self-esteem as something that one achieved through a focus on reality and a commitment to work. It would probably be fascinating to trace how the idea changed into the perversion it has now become; if we had actual historians of ideas someone could get a dissertation out of it.

  4. Wow. Just wow.

    Perfect timing for me, too. I’ve been wrestling with this very idea. I have a WIP (barely started), in which I’m struggling to find the true “villain” (though in a romance, the villain tag is a bit more fluid than in, say, sci-fi). And the one thing I keep hitting on when I ask myself questions about what would make a truly believable antagonistic scenario… is the subject of your post.

    The worst people I’ve met, the ones who create chaos that you can see coming from miles down the road, the ones who continually cause pain and sink others into impossible odds… these are the ones who gaslight their victims, wrapping webs of self-deceit around themselves and others, and never, ever, admit they could be wrong.

    And then I sense that those villains would be impossible for me to render believably in fiction, because any reader who doesn’t have someone like that in his or her life would throw the book against the wall, disgusted with a heroine who doesn’t just cut those people out of her life. It’s a situation too true to write about in fiction, for me. Or I just don’t have the talent to make it work.

    Guess I’ll find out. I still want to try, but I don’t want to create a character that reads like a collection of stereotypes. I hate reading works where we spend time in the villain’s head, and the villain is thinking such silly villainous things that he doesn’t even seem real. To me, the key to making it subtle would be to find a way to make it sound normal and rational within the villain’s head (or in his dialogue), leading to a sense of horror in the reader. Because these people truly believe they are good.

    1. Inject a sense of doubt into your protagonist, that she’s not really sure those things actually happened. Cut her off from outside voices of sanity and make sure she only sees the best side of the guy… at first. If he displays violence, don’t have it be towards her at first—have him punch the wall, or slam doors, or so forth.

      Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the playbook for how people end up in situations of abuse.

      1. In this case, it’s her mother, and the sabotaging of the relationship comes from that direction. He’s actually a pretty good guy, but it’s tough to make things mothers actually say into things that are believable. LOL I mean, the easy thing to do would be to make her sound like a character in a novel.

        And to be fair, this one is barely a glimmer at this point. It’s only got a few thousand words in it, yet. I may just have to go with whatever lame things she says until I get the feeling of it right, then go back and fix the character to see what’s really going on with the mother.

        1. (But I can see why the assumption that it’d be the guy, given that I said “his head” in the previous comment. I was commenting on things I often read at the same time as I was noting the thing I’m trying to write.)

          1. It took me awhile, but I realized this is not only very relevant to something I’m working on, but the characters are even pre-existing (as in historical). Ada Byron King [Lovelace] and her mother the then-Lady Byron (or their slightly-alter egos), to be exact.
            The letters I’ve seen quoted make this clearest; but there’s also a specific incident just before Ada died, where her mother induced her to say something(s) to her husband William that basically had him not talking to her for the (short) rest of her life. Wow.

            In my re-working of events (where most notably she *doesn’t* die of cancer), Ada says this: “I know my mother was all after me on it a couple of months ago, to make all my confessions to you, and almost I did. But what a foolish errand that would’ve been; I’d no more expect you to want or be able to stand that than I’d ever want you confessing every last thing in your dark back rooms to me.” (Poison, meet antidote.)
            I wouldn’t exactly call her mother a villainness, but, still, wow. This is *most* illuminating. Thanks for the perspective, y’all…

              1. Lady and Lord Byron’s (yes, that one) breakup and divorce was likely about as close to a “power couple” split as the early 1800s could manage, complete with “he said, she said” accusations and the equivalent of tabloid headlines — and it happened very soon after Ada was born. The whole drama rolled on for most of her life, complete with late-breaking accusations of incest when Ada was an adult.
                All in all, it’s amazingly to her credit she was able to do as well as she did, raising a family and managing a household and studying math and science along the way — and of course writing the closest thing to an actual computer program you can do without a definite instruction set or final machine design, in *1843*.

                I’d understood dysfunctional, manipulative, invasive before; I just didn’t realize it was all functionally equivalent to demi-villainy. And if this helps in any way, quite happy to help!

        2. “it’s tough to make things mothers actually say into things that are believable.”

          Suggestion: make the things the mother actually says more ambiguous, and show the EFFECT of what she says more strongly. This also allows the victim’s self-doubt to come into play: “She didn’t mean it that way,” “She was joking,” etc.

          It takes a pattern of these subtly discouraging cuts to convince the victim there’s something wrong with her… and if you do it right, long before that point you’ll have your readers screaming, “Don’t listen to the poisonous witch!”

          1. I have dealt with somebody like that. Yes, make her say things as a joke, expect the joke is always a little bit mean, and there are many jokes. Make her twist things just a little, so that it always COULD be you remember it wrong, except after a while you might notice it’s always supposed to be your fault when there was an argument or you you did something wrong, in her opinion, even when she had told you the way she wanted it done you seem to have gotten the wrong impression (according to her). Stupid you. And she always misunderstands your jokes as being mean, or you in general, when you try to say something nice she hears something bad and so on. It’s only after you realize that the pattern is ALWAYS making you the villain, when you try your best to not be one is when you might start to suspect there is something wrong here, and it’s not you. Except you still doubt, because it might be that she just have, for some reason, gotten you wrong and really thinks you are bad and so you still try to make her understand that even if she perceives you as being mean you are not doing that on purpose or because you are mean, it’s all just misunderstandings and different ways of communicating.

            But she never seems to get what you try to tell her. And with time it escalates. Lots of wounded gazelle gambits, her acting like the victim when there are others present. And you still doubt yourself – are you dealing with somebody wicked who is playing you, and everybody else, or somebody who has maybe been traumatized by something and due to that reason, maybe you remind her of somebody, now really does get you wrong.

            I think that for a fictional villain that might work pretty well – give the impression that maybe she has been hurt, severely, at some point, and that might be the reason why she is acting the way she is. Maybe make her tell something, or somebody who knew her once tells of it. Then maybe her victim at some point learns that the evil person who supposedly tormented and damaged the villain was actually also the villain’s victim.

            1. Exactly! “Jokes,” “misunderstandings,” and the wounded gazelle gambit. All very familiar to me. Interesting how different people use exactly the same playbook, isn’t it? You’d think they’d been formally trained.

              1. And she means well. You really ought to watch what you eat. You’d be better off if you lost a couple pounds. That hairstyle isn’t flattering. Your legs aren’t great so you should wear long skirts, they’ll look better. You didn’t sleep well so you probably do look pale.

                Or, at least, it’s believable that she means well. Up until you do lose five pounds and she asks if you’re anorexic.

                I don’t think you’ll have much trouble with readers not buying her. There are a lot of her around.

                1. The downside is that this takes a while to build and you probably want something more interesting going on to hold attention.

            2. I know somebody who told me she was getting a divorce. When I asked why, she simply said, “I realized it couldn’t always be my fault.” (Thankfully, it never went worse than that, but that level of manipulation is bad enough.)

              1. *musing* You know, this points me at where this can happen and *not* be malicious– my mom’s family has a short fuse. They also have more light than heat or kinetic energy, and cool off quickly.

                This can result in screaming matches where each side is pointing out what the other side did wrong– because THEY know what they did wrong, but they didn’t figure on the specific thing they’re yelling about from the other side.

                Inside of similarly tempered folks, this is fine, because once they’re done yelling and fuming they’ll launch into long explanations of exactly all the ways that they, personally screwed up– the anger is at the surprise complication, not that the other person actually caused the entire problem. (Kind of like that horrible space story where a single stow-away is gonna kill everyone on the crew, because they only budgeted for EXACTLY the crew and cargo.)

                Now with people who KNOW this and are emotionally OK with it, that’s fine– silly example, my husband at one point bought the soda, and remembered to get caffeine free for me, but not diet. I figured this out when I was in the middle of something else, and all of a sudden my stomach started trying to claw through my skin and bones in every direction. I…didn’t react well, and he was hurt for a bit, until I figured out what had happened and started self-abuse because he’d DONE SOMETHING NICE (the shopping) and I hadn’t even double-checked that it was the way I’d expect. (A form of taking things for granted. Um, in my defense, I was very pregnant at the time, which makes me highly emotional even for an Irish gal.)

                With folks who ARE NOT aware of the issue, or who simply don’t have the temperament to deal with it, it’s a horror house.

                I’ve got one aunt who is a really nice, sweet gal– but I can’t talk to her or do things with her, because if I tell a joke, she’s down my throat halfway in*; if I do something, either she’s jumping on top of it in the middle to “help”** and can’t figure out why I didn’t want what she did, or is horribly upset when I stop somewhere other than where she thought.

                *Example, we were talking about weight at one point and I started a self-effacing joke about how my weight will vary by ten to twenty pounds in a day– with the punchline being about comparing just woke up and used the lady’s room vs fully dressed, wearing boots, after a good dinner– and she launched into a ten minute lecture about how if there was that much variation there was a serious health issue.
                ** Help: do it the way that you SHOULD want it done, even if I don’t have a clue what you’re doing.
                Which is how I ended up having 20 cups of rice, not FIVE, to make into rice-balls– and the rice was wrong, because it had been made like long grain rice, not medium grain…..

                1. Fox, this is not blowing up. It’s part of the reason Dan and I live away from both our mothers. It’s the quiet, forgiving assumption that they’re just sorry because it IS ALWAYS YOUR FAULT.

                  1. The aunt who does that, her eldest son– “her” son– is basically a failure, and I think part of it is from being “her” son.

                    It doesn’t change the damage, it just changes the malice involved.
                    Sort of like having a pet cow– they can and will kill you. Possibly by trying to show affection. Doesn’t make you less dead. Just means they weren’t TRYING to kill you.

                    1. I’m glad I wasn’t drinking when I read that, because I imagined that voice coming from your avatar.

                      (Yes, yes, I know, don’t eat or drink when reading, yadda, yadda… as if no one else around here makes that mistake)

        3. Realistically, most people who don’t know anyone like that in real life, know someone who does, and has heard the stories ad nauseam. I think you would have to work hard to make someone so unbelievable that the majority of readers will think, “There’s no way someone would put up with that,” unless they followed up with, “On the other hand, my coworker’s mother…”

          And since it’s the mother in your story, you can add in the whole angst of “But she’s my mother, aren’t I supposed to listen to her?” angle.

          1. That’s the hellish aspect when dealing with such people: what if it is somebody you really truly can’t afford to ignore or walk away from? It’s easy to say you should just leave. Which you probably can do if it is your boyfriend, or even husband, if you already have children that can complicate things in a major way but just leaving is still probably a possibility.

            But if it’s a coworker in a job you really can’t afford to leave? Worse, the boss? And you can’t because, well, there might lots of reasons. Your significant other has a dream job which could launch his career in a major way, but can’t currently support the family on his salary so you need to have a job, and right now that’s it in the area. Or the one you have is that dream job, and if you can only prevail for a few years you can get away from that boss or coworker and then… and so on.

            Or if it is a parent, or stepparent, and the other half of that equation is somebody you are not willing to leave. Or your sibling, and you have inherited something together and have to keep dealing with each other for a while before anything like leaving without losing your part of the inheritance becomes possible.

            What if it is your child? Possibly to walk away from almost any other relative, but your child? Sometimes people do seem to be born wrong, in a way no kind of upbringing can completely fix.

            How the hell can you deal with somebody like that? They tend to be like the Terminator, cannot be talked or negotiated with. Learn to become better in the games they play than they are?

            1. :But if it’s a coworker in a job you really can’t afford to leave? Worse, the boss?

              Which is why Dilbert is so popular a strip.

            2. What if it is your child? Possibly to walk away from almost any other relative, but your child?

              If anyone figures out an answer to this, tell me.

              Nobody involved seemed to be wrong…not really…but they always turned out wrong….

              And obvious stuff like “hey, stop that” didn’t work.

              No longer possible to change anything, so answers are all academic.

      2. Speaking from self experience as a violent-prone guy, the question is not if the person is violent, but how he or she controls or expresses it. I’m happier if a person prone to violence takes it out on a wall (which they can repair once they’ve cooled down) than on a spouse or child. Slamming the door on the way out to take a walk to cool down and think about it is even better. Cheer the person who has enough presence of mind to say, “I’m pissed as hell with you at the moment, and I’m going to take a long walk, go fishing, or talk to George, to think about it and get back in control before I do something stupid.”

        1. I’m in a similar position but I prefer to the gym and go lift lots of heavy things until I’m to tired to be violent.
          Then I go treat my inner cave beast to a steak.

      1. When I was a teenager (many moons ago) I used to read Patricia Wentworth, whenever I could find one of hers in the library. I loved those books! And had completely forgotten about them since. Thanks for the reminder. Added them to my reading list.

    2. A thread I have seen in villains and other eccentrics is a mindset that sees their actions as normal or justified. One extreme is Hannibal Lecter, a nonfiction one is Dr Mengele, while a humorous one is Gomez Addams, and the rest of that family.
      A small error or triggering event, combined with such a personality, with the flaws and evils of the villain revealed in the course of the story could build tension and reveal horror without juat telling the reader what to feel about the scene. JPDev

  5. If I had a dime for every time a male colleague told me “You should just lock the door, stock the freezer with pizza, write like the wind and let the guys take care of themselves.” And from the point of view of career they were right. From the point of view of me, they weren’t.

    In the back of my head I hear Harry Chapin singing Cat’s In The Cradle. Your marriage partner may agree to such an arrangement for a time towards a purpose. Childhood cannot be put on hold. Children need parents who are parents now.

    1. Of course, in Sarah’s case, I could see that song taking some interesting turns:

      They learned to make explosives while I was away
      And they were building trebuchets before I knew it, and as they grew,
      They said, “We’re gonna be like you, Ma, you know we’re gonna be like you!”

      1. “And the cat’s in the cradle with a silver tongue,
        Two little boys with the room to run…”

        If I don’t stop now I probably never will.

      2. Well, Lawdog points out in his Africa book that it was his mother who taught him and brother Chris different ways to make explosives and rocket fuels (yes, the two were often interchangeable.)

          1. Originally this was supposed to be a bit longer and much earlier…
            …but I still want to mention something called “rocket candy” that (unlike new stuff like CL-20 solid propellant / explosive and the scary fuels and oxidizers like CTF and boranes) can reasonably be made in the backyard. If you haven’t heard about this, it’s well documented on the Internet, and it might even make a good addition to the “family recipes”…

        1. … explosives and rocket fuels (yes, the two were often interchangeable.)

          Oh, you’ve done it now! I can’t let a comment like that go by without posting one of my favorite quotes from Ignition!: An informal history of liquid rocket propellants, by John Drury Clark, in which he mentions quite a number of experiments that blurred the line between explosives and rocket fuels. (There was an entire search for rocket fuels that would be “hypergolic” with other substances, i.e. that simply mixing the two substances would be enough to cause combustion without applying a spark from outside). This is what he has to say about ClF₃, one of the nastiest substances known to chemists (second only to difluoride dioxygen):

          Chlorine trifluoride, ClF₃, or “CTF” as the engineers insist on calling it, is a colorless gas, a greenish liquid, or a white solid. It boils at 12° (so that a trivial pressure will keep it liquid at room temperature) and freezes at a convenient -76°. It also has a nice fat density, about 1.81 at room temperature.

          It is also quite probably the most vigorous fluorinating agent in existence — much more vigorous than fluorine itself. Gaseous fluorine, of course, is much more dilute than the liquid ClF3, and liquid fluorine is so cold that its activity is very much reduced.

          All this sounds fairly academic and innocuous, but when it is translated into the problem of handling the stuff, the results are horrendous. It is, of course, extremely toxic, but that’s the least of the problem. It is hypergolic with every known fuel, and so rapidly hypergolic that no ignition delay has ever been measured. It is also hypergolic with such things as cloth, wood, and test engineers, not to mention asbestos, sand, and water — with which it reacts explosively. It can be kept in some of the ordinary structural metals — steel, copper, aluminum, etc. — because of the formation of a thin film of insoluble metal fluoride which protects the bulk of the metal, just as the invisible coat of oxide on aluminum keeps it from burning up in the atmosphere. If, however, this coat is melted or scrubbed off, and has no chance to reform, the operator is confronted with the problem of coping with a metal-fluorine fire. For dealing with this situation, I have always recommended a good pair of running shoes. And even if you don’t have a fire, the results can be devastating enough when chlorine trifluoride gets loose, as the General Chemical Co. discovered when they had a big spill. Their salesmen were awfully coy about discussing the matter, and it wasn’t until I threatened to buy my RFNA from Du Pont that one of them would come across with the details.

          It happened at their Shreveport, Louisiana, installation, while they were preparing to ship out, for the first time, a one-ton steel cylinder of CTF. The cylinder had been cooled with dry ice to make it easier to load the material into it, and the cold had apparently embrittled the steel. For as they were maneuvering the cylinder onto a dolly, it split and dumped one ton of chlorine trifluoride onto the floor. It chewed its way through twelve inches of concrete and dug a threefoot hole in the gravel underneath, filled the place with fumes which corroded everything in sight, and, in general, made one hell of a mess. Civil Defense turned out, and started to evacuate the neighborhood, and to put it mildly, there was quite a brouhaha before things quieted down. Miraculously, nobody was killed, but there was one casualty — the man who had been steadying the cylinder when it split. He was found some five hundred feet away, where he had reached Mach 2 and was still picking up speed when he was stopped by a heart attack.

          This episode was still in the future when the rocket people started working with CTF, but they nevertheless knew enough to be scared to death, and proceeded with a degree of caution appropriate to dental work on a king cobra. And they never had any reason to regret that caution. The stuff consistently lived up to its reputation.

          1. > Ignition!

            Uh-oh… I had to minimize that window to get back to work. But I’ll be up late tonight reading it.

            Reminds me of the stories of the days when Formula 1 cars ran on toluene and hydrazine, and pit crews wore protective gear in case of a spill. And then there were the *dangerous* fuels…

      3. Shite. Now I am hearing Randy Newman singing:

        No one likes us-I don’t know why
        We may not be perfect, but heaven knows we try
        But all around, even our old friends put us down
        Let’s drop the big one and see what happens

        We give them money-but are they grateful?
        No, they’re spiteful and they’re hateful
        They don’t respect us-so let’s surprise them
        We’ll drop the big one and pulverize them

        Asia’s crowded and Europe’s too old
        Africa is far too hot
        And Canada’s too cold
        And South America stole our name
        Let’s drop the big one
        There’ll be no one left to blame us

        We’ll save Australia
        Don’t wanna hurt no kangaroo
        We’ll build an All American amusement park there
        They got surfin’, too

        Boom goes London and boom Paree
        More room for you and more room for me
        And every city the whole world round
        Will just be another American town
        Oh, how peaceful it will be
        We’ll set everybody free
        You’ll wear a Japanese kimono
        And there’ll be Italian shoes for me

        They all hate us anyhow
        So let’s drop the big one now
        Let’s drop the big one now

        Only her eldest would want to save the elephant.

            1. It was totally worth all the flak I’ve taken for voting for him to hear these two sentences to the UNGA:

              “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented. From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.”

              1. 1) is that a Carson quote? As husband points out, Carson is on his staff, and it sounds familiar. (Possibly ‘cus it’s an obvious observation)
                2) That is awesome!

              2. For that quote alone I’m willing to give Trump some time.
                Think we can get him to say that after putting on green face paint and a black conical hat and then cackle madly after mutter something about ‘My pretties’?

              3. And the deeply wonderful thing is, this quote is *not* an isolated incident but typical of the speech (or the ~3/4 of it I saw).
                Second example: he condemns territorial expansionism “from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.” (Double bullseye!)
                He asserts his job is to put America first, then says it’s basically the job of the leader of every sovereign nation to do the same, in the service of its own people (but in better words).
                It just keeps coming, it just doesn’t stop ’til the end.

                Suddenly, we’re a world leader again, instead of a world follower.

                1. I hope the freeze frame here is the same in my window …

                  All by itself, that S-Eating grin must be exploding Liberal heads.

                2. Quote:

                  One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

                  That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation. We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend. From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

                  The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

                  Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

                  Emphasis added. Exceptional!

        1. For some reason that inspired the Voices to start singing Jackson Browne’s “Lawyers In Love.”

          “Last night I watched the news from Washington,
          (the capitol)
          The Russians escaped while we weren’t watching them
          (like Russians will)
          Now we’ve got all this room
          (we’ve even got the moon)
          And I hear the U.S.S.R. will be open soon
          As vacation land
          for lawyers in love”

    2. All of the current social messaging treats fathers as irrelevant, of course. If fathers are bumbling incompetents when it comes to child-rearing and contributing around the house, then absenting himself to work is the best way he can provide for them; it’s the best of both worlds: more money, lass daddy.

      There is very little doubt (these days, perhaps less the case in upper-class Victorian households) that children need their mommies, at least until school starts and the State can take over their indoctrination.

      1. And where it doesn’t treat parents as irrelevant, it shouts the seductive lie that kids need “quality time.” So the parents feel pressured to make every moment a spectacle – and believe that they can be as absent as they want, if the time they spend is flashy enough.

        But more and more, it’s proving that kids don’t need “quality time”, they need a quantity of time, in all its varying qualities – and absent parents who depend on the television, the ipad, the daycare, and the schools to raise their kids aren’t doing near as well at raising kids as those who are actually there for their kids.

        1. More than anything, a child needs a parent who is “present” for them, who is available when the child has the need rather than when the parent has the time. Kids need parenting when they need parenting. not when it is convenient for the parent.

        2. True quality time doesn’t have to be flashy. It requires that there already is a relationship built, and that requires an investment of time and attention. Then some of the best moments come out of the blue, unplanned and unscheduled.

      1. Enthusiastic grandparents can be good, if you all generally get along well and if they aren’t too busy themselves. Aunts and uncles can also help.

        Mind you I have no personal experience, but so I have been told.

      2. Eh, there’s enthusiastic grandparents and then there’s enthusiastic grandparents. There comes a point when it’s less helping and more taking over.

  6. Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend. If not, you can kill him without hate — and quickly.
    From the notebook of Lazarus Long, RAH
    The thing is, a true narcissist filled with their own self importance and esteem has no friends, just acquaintances that serve no purpose other than to be taken advantage of. And to take the blame should their very evil deeds ever come to light.

  7. What you’ve described here is forced infantilization. There are basically two attitudes that make a person a mature adult: the ability to take personal responsibility for your actions, and the ability to understand that your personal desires at the moment do not always have priority over other actions required of you (delayed gratification). If you have developed those abilities, you’re an adult, regardless of age; if you haven’t, you’re not. People today not only aren’t being taught the desirability of these abilities, they’re being taught that these abilities are things to be actively discouraged. We’re surrounded by aged children who have never learned what it means to be a responsible adult.

    So your fictional worst-possible-villain would be that super-villain scourge, “The Big Baby.”

    1. I think people have taken the advances in neuroscience a little too literally. “The brain doesn’t fully mature until age 25,” is taken to mean, we have to make allowances and have to coddle these poor babies because their brains can’t handle adult decisions. Despite multiple decades of proof otherwise.

      1. Long before I was 25, I was part of a team of similarly-aged young men responsible for the care, maintenance, and if needed launching of nuclear missiles. Anyone who believes that childhood necessarily extends into the late 20s is nothing more than an idiot.

        1. I remember back when Johnny Manziel was getting himself into a whole bunch of trouble (okay, yeah, that doesn’t really narrow it down). My initial thought was, “Give the kid a break. He’s only twenty. When I was twenty, I…”

          And then my brain finished, “…was living alone in a foreign city where I didn’t speak the language but was none the less responsible for getting myself across town to school every morning, then doing the grocery shopping on the way home and cooking my own dinner before doing my homework and going to bed.”

          Yeah, people are generally as “adult” as they are expected to be, and extending the “but he’s only [age X]” well past twenty isn’t doing anyone any favors.

        2. It shouldn’t be understood as an excuse for extending childhood. I think all the parts necessary for being a responsible adult are in place well before age 25, or should be. The parts that have to wait for the brain to catch up are – in my experience – more abstract. There are mathematical concepts that are perfectly clear to me now, that I couldn’t use at eighteen.

        3. No argument there, yet it gets into an observation made by a sociology professor decades ago that our society tolerates extended adolescence. She in no way condoned it, only commented that there were different behaviors tolerated from college students vs someone of the same age who was already working. Thus, she reasoned, this extended adolescence is artificial, not biological. I had the impression she had a dim view of this.

          1. And when you look back at history, when marrying at ages like 16 or 17 was normal, you realize that those 16- and 17-year-olds were: a) being treated by society as adults, and b) therefore functioning as adults. They would often make youthful mistakes born from inexperience, and some latitude was allowed them for those mistakes — but character was already demanded of them, and most of them rose to meet that standard.

            We’re not doing teens, much less college students, any favors these days by treating them like overgrown children.

      2. … their brains can’t handle adult decisions.

        Raise the voting age, these people have no business voting.

        Sure, I remember the old 70’s argument about “If you’re old enough to fight for your country, you’re old enough to vote for your country” but that confuses the skill sets involved. Voting requires judgement, experience evaluating the character of others. Fighting for your country merely requires an ability to follow orders. Heck, in most states our soldiers under 21 aren’t even allowed to drink beer, so why burden them with voting? That’s just cruel, their brains haven’t developed yet.

    2. “The Big Baby” is basically a hothouse plant. Hothouse plants don’t do well in non-controlled environments, at least not until they toughen. “The Big Baby” may be revolting, but may not, in of himself, be villain material.

      Consider, though, the villain with a fragile ego who forms “perfect” shell to protect it. The shell must be maintained at all cost, lest it crack and expose his less than perfect self, that he knows exists, to the cold, cruel, world. Thus anything that would damage that shell is a high threat that must be dealt with accordingly.

      Frankly, though, for really disturbing villains I have to go with those with psychopathic tendencies because they have little feeling for their victims. A psychopath may form a persona in order to fake empathy, and protect that persona by blaming others, but how much is to protect themselves and how much is to maintain the “con” so he can continue to use others? A psychopath could listen to a hero attempt to persuade him to change from his evil ways, nod, concede that the hero has a point, and then give the order to kill him. That’s because he’s already pursuing his own way to his goal; knows precisely how it affects others, and simply doesn’t care.

      1. Theodore Dalrymple’s Life At The Bottom gets the chilly nothingness right. Criminals can be all morally indignant about injuries — to them.

    3. Very much agree! I have long maintained that the ability to delay, or even deny, gratification of one’s impulses is what separates adult human beings from children and animals.

  8. “So recently, for no reason at all (coff) I’ve been thinking that if there were a way to create the worst possible fictional villain it would be to create someone who always exonerates himself of all blame: if he lost a tennis match, the sun was in his eyes, even if it was at night.”

    I’m not sure you could create a credible villain like this. The reason is that villains need to be a threat, and for that they need to be competent. People who can’t correct their mistakes are not.

    They can tyrant over their family, but their reach seldom reaches further.

    1. Perhaps not a Big Direct Threat, but the description reminded me of the character in some older comedies that, if driving, would be blissfully unaware of the havoc they wreak… enjoying a, to them, nice peaceful Sunday drive – while behind them is a swathe of destruction of a severity which a normal person could not cause even had they fully intended to do so.

    2. Unless they go into government.
      Or law.
      Or nepotism kicks in.
      Or they get themselves into a position of authority in your church.
      Or they gain control of the HR department.

      People can be a threat without being competent. I can think of several Communist butchers off the top of my head that fit that description perfectly.

      1. Every one of those fields, except for nepotism, requires competence. Communist Butchers are not good at getting what they say they want. Don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re not good at getting what they actually want. It’s a pretty competitive field.

        1. Distinguish between (a) competence in getting into a position and (b) competence in carrying out duties of said position. I recall a recent president for whom the main claim to executive competence was running a successful campaign.

          1. In fairness, that is the minimum necessary competence for being president. No one who has lacked that competency has managed to become president.

            However, given the current hysteria over our most recently demonstrably competent candidate, we can reasonably suspect that the standard includes an affirmative action component for Democrats. Certainly no Republican who has demonstrated the competence to win the position has been deemed competent thereby to fill the position.

            Democrats, to use the criticism a liberal columnist once expressed about a Republican president, are born on Third Base, believing they got there by hitting triples.

            1. At least while alive. After they’re safely dead, Democrats may have a small number of nice things to say of them, but only when comparing them to a current Republican office holder.

          2. Well, yes. This sort floated up as warlords backed by bandits or mercenaries, but they cannot make a new government and Get Things Done. As to the outcomes, however…
            It’s either ongoing contest for places near the trough (until one loses – assassinated, kicked out with disgrace or more likely proclaimed impure and butchered by the rest) or decadent semi-retirement as parrots (either well-entrenched, Goering style or “big names” for rubber stamping propaganda if cautious or easy to upkeep).
            Unless someone practical like Uncle Joe takes the chair #1 – then once serious competition is dealt with, the excessively bloodthirsty and entitled crowd is deemed to be useless for Getting Things Done, unsafe to leave alone, and liability due to being widely hated.
            And then there just aren’t many meaningful options.

        2. Mao. He really wasn’t competent. Most of the horrible things he did were because he wasn’t competent — backyard steel smelters, for ex — but he was driven to hide it by terrorizing people.

            1. This was adduced as a reason so many African countries became steaming hellholes after gaining independence. “Their leaders know how to run a revolution, they don’t know how to run a country.”

              After fifty-plus years, though, some other explanation seems necessary.

                1. Certainly true of Kenyatta, Nyerere and even Obote. (I’m not sure Idi Amin had any ideology besides insane brutality.)

                  It’s interesting that the first post-independence leader of Botswana, one of the relatively successful African countries, was not inclined towards Socialism or Marxism.

                  One just might be tempted to infer a pattern here.

    3. Kim Jung Un comes to mind. Other hereditary tyrannical rulers also come to mind. A person born into power with a few competent people around them can commit evil until the cows come home without having to correct their mistakes; and least until the chickens come to roost.

    4. A narcissist need be competent at one thing only, gas lighting. They can do massive damage to anyone they interact with on a long term basis with that even if they never get into a position of power. I have seen lives destroyed this way.

      1. Hillary is definitely a real-life, honest-to-God evil villainess in the fullest extent seen in real life and in fiction. Frankly, although the term “Nazi” has been severely overused, there’s very little difference between her and the most of the German High Command and government executives from WWII. Of course that’s my personal opinion having watched the careers of the Clintons for a couple of decades, plus personally working with Billy Dale’s wife for a year and a half. Getting the scoop straight from the horse’s mouth colors you very differently than getting it from the other end of the horse like HRC.

    5. Here I disagree. Because people who blame others for everything become extremely competent at bald-face lying, blame-shifting, back-stabbing, blackmailing, gaslighting, thoroughly learning the system and how to use it against people / for getting their way, setting enemies at each other’s throats, allying temporarily with those who can help them, and exacting revenge on those whom they feel wronged them (and are not fortified against attack.) They practice these skills all the time, you see, and failure threatens their sense of self and ego, so it is not tolerated.

      And no, I’m not just talking about narcissist politicians, I’m also talking about the overwhelming majority of inmates in a maximum-security prison. Who do not, as a rule, accept their guilt or cleave to the truth once they are serving time. In fact, putting people like this in a high concentration, even with constant vigilance and permanent banning of any sort of weapon or fighting, still leads to a number of deaths every year.

        1. Alternately, it means that they were competent enough to leave an impressive damage trail behind them by the time the law caught up with them. Max Security gets terrorists, drug kingpins, people with more murders than they can remember offhand, mob hitmen… these are not Joe Heroin who’s mugging people for enough to make one last hit before going to rehab, or Henry Underpass who’s certain it’s all the people who send transmissions through his dental filling’s fault, or Steve Slacker who’s on his 25th minimum-wage job at the ripe old age of 22, because “the man” is “totally, like, unreasonable”, or your average 19-year-old gender studies major at Missou still cosseted by trust funds and student loans.

          1. Speaking of trust funds, that’s another kind of incompetent. One who is protected and enabled by a powerful or rich benefactor. See the guy who murdered (I don’t remember the case) one or more people, then was defended with the claim that he had been raised too privileged to know better (the Affluenza case). He may not have gotten off scot-free that time, but as I understand it, he had gotten away with a whole lot before that.

            1. IIRC, and there wasn’t more than one, he was on drugs and killed a bunch of people by accident. His mother tried to skip bail with him to keep him out of prison.

  9. If you’re perfect there is no need for self-improvement, is there? So all problems must be addressed environmentally, not through self-reflection. Self-reflection is for Losers.

  10. There are (or should be, imo) two sources for self-esteem.

    One is the self-esteem that comes from being a creation of the Almighty. You are worth something simply by virtue of being made. This is “inherent self-worth”. It is also the thing most often lacking in those who are depressed and contemplating suicide. So, it’s an important thing to ensure that people understand about themselves. You do have worth simply by being you.

    The second is the esteem that comes from your principles and accomplishments. Mind you, I write of self-esteem here. This is where you can “look yourself in the eye” or “face the man in the mirror” because you hold to your principles, you work well at the tasks you do, you don’t cheat, and so on.

    The basic problem for narcissism is that it assumes both of them without basis.

    The problem with our current culture is it has eliminated the basis for both of them. It swears there is no Creator, and it laughs at principles. So, your self-esteem just IS. And, nobody should ever take it away from you, darnit, because you’re special!
    (Cue the boy from The Incredibles – if everyone is special…. Now cue Young Turks – don’t ever let ’em change your point of view….)

    This pretty much makes everyone a narcissist. This is not a recipe for a successful society.

    1. Two other bits:

      The first source for self-esteem makes (or should make) everyone equal. If you think you’re better than others, you certainly can’t correctly base it on this.

      Also, the first source, for Christians, is a double-blessing, because He not only created us, but He came to redeem us, as well. After we had walked away. And, still, it doesn’t put one above another – because He came back for each and every one.

      1. Or as Aslan put it to the newly-crowned King Frank, in The Magician’s Nephew, when Frank confessed to wishing he’d come of better stock, “You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve. And that is both honour enough to lift the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the head of the proudest emperor.”

        1. I didn’t choose to be human. But since I’m stuck with it, I guess I’d better make the most of it.

        2. Nit: I believe that was in Prince Caspian in response to the title character when he discovered the Telmarines were descended from Pirates.

  11. I think there’s another way to make your villain who never accepts blame. In fact I know there is, because I’ve seen it in operation.

    Break your villain in early life. Break him so thoroughly that he has no self-esteem left at all. Teach him to fill up the void with the opinions of others.

    Since this will never satisfy the inner emptiness, the villain never gets “enough” and always has to have more of the ersatz satisfaction that comes from manipulating others. Make someone admire and love you, break his heart and bring him back under your spell. Dismiss someone as unworthy of consideration but encourage him to jump through flaming hoops in the hope of becoming worthy. Destroy a family, a culture, an economy – and make the survivors thank you for rescuing them from the desolation you caused.

    I suspect something like this is operating with many of the snowflakes we laugh at. They’re not all terminally stupid; some must have grasped that a trophy given to everybody is no prize. If all they’ve experienced is this ersatz praise, surely some have concluded that they deserve no real praise at all and have no way to win it.

    1. Has anyone written a story with two (competing) villains?
      Because having them be on the opposite ends that Margaret has identified might make for some interesting reading.

      1. I suspect that a more likely result would be that the hollow villain would only glom onto the narcissist and the two would become each other’s worst enablers. (This is actually a very dangerous real-life dynamic between serial killers who operate in pairs, cf. Leopold & Loeb.)

      2. If you look at any current comics you’ll see that those who previously were the superheroes have become fairly villainous (Captain America has been a Hydra agent all along, Superman renounces his US citizenship and becomes an SJW scold, Batman is even more noticeably the psychopath he always was, etc.) while the villains haven’t become any more likeable. Does that address the question?

        1. Does that address the question?
          In a very depressing way, yes it does.

          I was angry enough that the star agent in season one of SHIELD was a double-agent. I refuse to have anything to do with that universe after they made Cap a bad guy.

          1. I was angry enough that the star agent in season one of SHIELD was a double-agent

            I will admit that making the character a double agent out of personal loyalty to a rescuer, rather than out of belief in HYDRA’s cause was a refreshing angle to take. But it still didn’t really jibe with the earlier establishment of his character.

            1. IIRC Cap is only a villain because someone got ahold of the Cosmic Cube and re-wrote this version of Reality.

          2. Marvel has Cap back to being a Good Guy.

            The Real Cap beat the pants off of the Hydra Cap.

            Technically, one of the Cosmic beings of the Marvel World changed Cap but the Real Cap was “held in keeping” the Cosmic being.

            Still, it was a Stupid Idea for Marvel.

            1. Not necessarily stupid. But I would have dumped the whole Cap is Evil world under their “What If…” title. By doing it in the mainline titles, that’s what seriously pissed off a lot of fans.

              1. They REALLY need to make a whole bunch of “what if” titles. Some of the really fun Superman stuff was in those, and it’s a great way to get new talent– start cruising the fanfiction websites and snap up the really good AU guys.

          3. That is probably what the comic book writers wanted to happen.

            Can you imagine how depressing it must be to be writing “socially conscious” Captain America comics, and explain away the horrible numbers with various Acceptable reasons, and then movies that are basically the original, whoo-rah origin story are insane blockbuster popular? Without destroying everything to make them “easy to access” for non-geek audiences?

            1. Real people want heroes they can both identify with and look up to; while the Progressives are busy trying to turn all of our heroes into amorphous masses of clay, not just golden statues with feet of the stuff.

        2. Idea for a comic spoof: Batman is captured by the Joker, except this time it’s for intervention.

          Joker: “Okay, Bats, I’ll get to the point: I’m supposed to be the crazy one, got it?”

            1. Or the Joker switches sides to maintain the balance. Instead of a Batcave he has a Fun House and Commissioner Gordon summons him by projecting a smiley face into the clouds?

              1. Isn’t that how it works in some of the ‘What If?’ settings, where Batman is the bad guy? Joker is still his greatest foe, but as a hero instead?

                At least that’s what I’ve heard from friends who are more into DC then me. I can sort of feign a passing knowledge and recognize characters, but beyond that, yeah, not my area of expertise.

  12. One of the big problems of human beings is that given any situation where responses can range on a binary spectrum between two absolute poles, the vast majority of us tend to have — or acquire through experience — a very strong emotional predilection in one direction or the other, because we’re wired as a survival tactic to quickly learn and internalize as habit the best responses for the situations we find ourselves in. Cool-headed reason shows us that we must neither deflect nor assume all responsibility, but most people grow up with a learned first reaction in one direction or the other . . . and deflection of responsibility can be a valuable survival trait, both physically and psychologically.

    (The situations in which it’s the practically best alternative available tend to be highly dysfunctional and unhealthy ones, of course . . . but then again, we are discussing modern democratic politics.)

    1. It’s true that neither complete rejection nor complete assumption of responsibility for all occurrences is rational or psychologically healthy. But learning to evaluate occurrences to determine which ones you could have and should have tried to influence, and then accepting or rejecting responsibility based on that discrimination is another part of becoming adult.

      1. Of course, and well said. The tricky part is not so much learning a standard for assessing one’s due responsibility, as it is regularly rechecking that standard to determine whether its premises are still (or ever were) valid, or its context is still (or ever was) appropriate.

        Both narcissism and self-blame are psychic survival strategies, which means they need far more effort to unlearn than to learn, and often that effort has to come in the form of incentives from other people. If a person thus damaged winds up in an environment that enables rather than counters her damage, it’s very rare to see the person reorient themselves on her own.

  13. Then it all crashes down
    And you break your crown
    And you point your finger
    But there’s no one around

    Just want one thing
    Just to play the king
    But the castle’s crumbled
    And you’re left with just a name

    Where’s your crown, King Nothing?

  14. And in a more melodic vein, from Genesis’s keyboardist:

    Here comes a man with a face so sincere
    Here comes another with power on his mind
    Both with a want for a word in my ear
    Both with a message of hope for my kind
    Heads of this nation
    Fight lies with misinformation and
    This gives, that takes
    One or the other for the difference it makes
    None at all
    We are the chosen ones
    You have asked us to serve you
    We deserve you
    It’s going the way that we said it would
    We say that you never had it so good
    No one’s a loser who plays our game
    The difference is clear, we just changed our name
    Nobody knows that it’s just the same…

    1. Here comes the new boss
      Same as the old boss

      And, sadly, we (in the greater collective sense of ‘we’, *not* referring so much to the denizens of this board) *will* be fooled again.

  15. To say “mea culpa” and mean it, and to try to learn from it, is the mark of an adult. Granted, we don’t always learn the right things, which can lead to making the same sort of mistake in a new way, but still.

    Right now Red 2.0 is discovering that school can be hard. This is not pleasing to Red 2.0, and has led to some tantrums, snits, and grumbles. But Red 2.0 is five and that’s what five year olds do. When 70 year olds do it, it is less understandable and far less tolerable. (Not that the teachers are allowing Red 2.0 to get away with too much. Neither are Sib and Sib-in-Law.)

    1. Better to discover that school can be hard at 5 than to discover it at 25 and have to rethink your entire approach to academics.

    1. The video taken in an office during the 7.1 quake looks very much like the inside of the Morgan Hill Nob Hill grocery during the ’89 Loma Prieta quake, except for going on quite a bit longer.

      Which makes sense; the ’89 quake was about 6.9, the more recent one is figured to be 7.1. Which is about twice the energy.

  16. Posnerus Moronicus update:

    Posner’s Latest Book Is ‘Bats**t Crazy’
    By Ed Whelan — September 19, 2017

    That’s not my assessment of Richard Posner’s self-published book on pro se appeals. (I haven’t read the thing and don’t expect to.) Rather, it’s the assessment made by an admirer of Posner, Matthew Stiegler of CA3blog, who (after “start[ing] with the positive”) includes these critiques (underlining added):

    At its heart, this book is a baffling, disjointed blow-by-blow of Posner’s many recent battles with Seventh Circuit Chief Judge Diane Wood, the quite-unintentional hero of the tale.
    This is not Posner-being-Posner, this is madness. . . .

    Posner’s enemies will be chortling, but, for his many admirers, it’s just sad.

    I’ll add just a couple of comments. First, I don’t grasp the supposed distinction between “Posner-being-Posner” and “madness”; I think that’s what’s often called a distinction without a difference. Second, as one of Posner’s critics, but not (in my view, at least) as one of his “enemies,” I don’t find much amusement in his buffoonery.

  17. Sarah said: “When you do that; when everything that happened to you was the fault of someone else, you lose your ability to self correct and to figure out how to procede.
    So, say, if you descend to the point of blaming four men you left to die for sabotaging your political career, you should seek help, and by that I don’t mean “financing for a future political run.””

    Oh holy crap, I saw some of that on The View before I shut it off in case I might throw things at my computer screen. This is a person for whom there is no bottom of the barrel. This one broke through the bottom decades ago and brought in heavy excavating equipment.

    You Americans are the luckiest sonsabeeotches in the -world-.

      1. Bismarck said that before America turned its back on God. So I’m not sure that’s still true for the nation as a whole. Alas.

        1. Okay, let’s be serious here: America as a whole was never that pious. And America as a whole hasn’t turned its back on G-d. It just used to be considered socially desirable to make pious noises and our leaders did, the same way they now make SJW noises.
          BUT the total number of truly pious people is probably approximately the same, and remember G-d sees hypocrites’ hearts.
          Also, seriously? America turned its back to G-d as compared to what??? Among the Christian nations (unless you consider the Muslim deity the same as ours, of course) we are the most pious.
          Take no council of your fears, and stop believing all is lost. Despair is a sin, and most of the time it’s stupid too.

          1. There’s not many empty churches boarded up when I drive around in the USA.

            There’s a bunch of them in rural Ontario. They make ’em into bars around here.

            Propaganda is lies. Go look when they say the sun rises in the East.

            1. There is a LOT of them in Europe. Even the ones in use are boarded up. We attended a church in a town bigger than the we attend in our Denver suburb. About 50? people, a lot of them obviously from Africa. One service.
              Our local church has five services on Sunday, in a MASSIVE church, and even the 7 am one is packed.

          2. I thought Mexico was fairly devout? Has the Liberation Theology been pushing people away?

            1. Mexico was openly killing people for being Catholic starting about a century back. The folks that are religious are very religious, but a lot of the catholics are pretty dang nominal. (Search “viva Cristo Rey”)

              I think the idea of “Mexicans are incredibly devout” had to do with who was running for their lives.

              1. Eep. Please tell me that those people weren’t connected to the people responsible for putting the eagle with snake on a cactus on the national flag.

                1. Answer:
                  flag is in see-saw between the two. And the snake thing is a direct Aztec thing.

                  The Mexican Coat of Arms is taken from an Aztec legend which recounts the way in which the Aztecs came to choose the site where they built their capital city of Tenochtitlan (where Mexico City stands today). The Aztecs, also known as the Mexica (“meh-shee-ka”), were a nomadic tribe traveling from the north of the country. Their leader Tenoch was informed in a dream by the god of war, Huitzilopochtli, that they were to settle in the place where they would find an eagle on a prickly pear cactus holding a serpent. The place where they saw this sight was quite inhospitable – a swampy area in the center of three lakes, but this is where they settled and built the great city of Tenochtitlan.

                  1. I knew about the Aztec thing. (That’s my whole justification for arguing that it is as legitimate to claim that the Mexican flag causes all crime associated with Mexican nationals in the US as it is to claim that the Confederate battle flag causes all crimes associated with white supremacists in the US.)

                    So Juarez and the secularists predate the killings of Catholics in Mexico?

                “Stations of the Cross Shrine is located in San Luis, Colorado, which is Colorado oldest town, and it is open year round…The Stations of the Cross are a series of bronze statues that depict the last hours of Christ’s life—his judgment, sufferings, and death.
                Each station shows a different scene and is accompanied by a plaque with several Bible Scriptures. ..
                There are 15 stations in all with the last station being Christ’s resurrection…At the top of the mesa, northwest of the Shrine is another memorial area.
                This is called the Memorial to the Spanish Martyrs and has information about all the Spanish Priests that became martyrs throughout history in this area.”

                I’ve hiked the Stations and the Martyrs trails.
                The bronze figures are outstanding. (pictures at the link).
                The martyrs are busts only, with their stories on plaques, and they are amazing (many were killed in Mexico, not Colorado, for defying the government’s secularization policies). We walked, spell-bound, the entire trail, something like an hour, just to keep reading.

            2. They’re sort of moving in weird directions. Yes, some are becoming evangelical, but there’s also as in Europe a resurgence of old pagan faiths.
              Waits for the dime to drop. Yeah, those pagan faiths.

              1. I am working on an article about, well, basically Spanish language voodoo. Lots of Catholic trappings, but very pagan bones– an inverse of the usual Catholic thing.

                Traceable funding driven by the cartels.

                1. This, yes. The cartels are pushing the “old religion” hard. This sort of thing fascinates me. The evil guys serve exactly those you’d expect, but our “sophistication” prevents us from saying it.

              2. I’ve heard all sorts of hearsay about that. But a part of me doesn’t want it to be true, and I’ve heard things on Breitbart Texas that I’ve since wondered if were simply fabricated propaganda.

                1. Can you give any details?

                  I’ve got stuff like reports of…well, what you’d expect from really, really nasty people reading historical accounts of what the Aztecs did in their sacrifices, and using it to scare people, plus even mainstream media accounts of people describing personal devotions that are straight up pagan (even more hard-core than the painful but silly thing of burying St. Joseph upside down so your house will sell– ie, blackmailing a saint like he’s in his statue) including actual bribes to a statue, as opposed to basically leaving statues by a picture of your dead family member in remembrance.

                  1. My lapsed-Catholic stepfather’s mother suggested that tactic to sell the house, and was unamused by her son’s indignant “MOTHER, that’s VOODOO.”

                    1. I like Saint Joe– the idea of deliberately insulting him rather annoys me, even if it’s just basically going “I wrote your name on a bathroom wall, do what I want and I’ll paint it over.”

                    2. (incidentally, I did buy a Saint Joseph packet to sell our house– he sat in the Kitchen window until we got an offer, and he’s been in my car since then; my husband was deployed 90% of the time involved, so I spent a lot of time asking him to nag Himself about taking care of Daddy.)

                  2. Breitbart Texas claimed that the cartel killings included some fairly mass murders in Mexico. I think it was entire small towns in some areas cremated.

                    Obama and the media being so untrustworthy on the border situation leaves a lot of room for rumor and plausible propaganda, especially if you haven’t the time to study enough to become expert or maintain expertise.

                    Texans have an interest in happenings in Mexico, as do folk in the other border states. So there is a grapevine, that somewhat extends into the states that border border states. Maybe further.

                    Things I’ve heard, that I trust more because it isn’t and predates Breitbart:
                    1. Cartel activity in the US. Usual sorts of organized crime stuff, with hints that some of the worst and most prolific stuff happens to the illegals.
                    2. Cartel corruption of the Mexican Army and associated border violations.
                    3. I’m not sure the current status of the Mexican civil war. One time in recent years it was really hot, and I’d heard there was a huge spillover in terms of kidnappings etc… in the US.
                    4. That the Conquistadors hadn’t done that complete a job of suppressing the Aztec religion, because of some of the things the cartels are doing.

                    Given some of the career murderers the cartels employ, quite a lot of things are plausible. There are probably enough regular violent deaths to cover a certain amount of cannibalism or mutilation. I’m not sure that there are any for sure and certain experts on what the cartels are and are not doing who are well known and alive. That situation has been festering at least fifteen or twenty years. (A few years back I found a newspaper I’d saved from a very long time ago about elite professional cartel murderers.)

                    1. *blink*

                      The towns being wiped out by cartels is in doubt by anybody not desperate to ignore the bad? FFS, we’ve got the corpses!

                      Incidentally, it’s not so much that the Cartels target illegals, as that Illegals are a lot more likely to be working for them, and that innocent-of-that folks are more likely to be in places that people avoid official notice are also at. (See also, the homestead where everyone is slaughtered, or where “just” the guy out checking his water is killed and there are “no known suspects.”)

                    2. Thing is, I haven’t been paying close enough attention. I have no Spanish, and haven’t yet tracked down an English language source I trust. (More that I haven’t even been doing an internet search for such coverage.) For a while I thought Breitbart Texas might be it, but I’m not sure if the editorial stance on Trump might have bled over onto that coverage.

                      The truth is easily bad enough to serve the purpose of convincing people that it is a terrible situation that needs to be addressed somehow. The question is whether some of the people who want it addressed were stupid enough to fabricate specific evidence to serve some particular propaganda aim. That particular story evoked the Holocaust for me, and I’m wondering if that might have been the goal of writing it. (Gassing may have been mentioned, my memory on that isn’t reliable.)

                    3. At least five years ago, probably longer, National Geographic magazine had a long article about the rise of Señora Muerte, a very dark form of Doña Sebastiana (Lady Death in New Mexican folk lore). I suspect there’s a lot more of the Aztec and other goddesses of the underworld in her than Catholicism, but she has become a last-ditch invocation by the cartel’s victims and a patroness of the Cartels, at least in swaths of northern Mexico.

                    4. Now Santa Muerte.

                      If you hear about the “shrine” being condemned by the local bishop’s office, the spokesman being quoted is the former pastor of the place where the priest was “killed in a robbery.” Incidentally after he’d been a little too energetic mentioning that no matter how much you bribe a statue, a sin is still a sin.

                2. Look, folks here are nosier than most, and remember oddthings– so y’all are really good resources for research into funky stuff.

                  So I really do want to know. 😀

                  1. My last church, before we moved out into the country, does mission work in Mexico City. The missionary they support there was… I wouldn’t call him a lapsed catholic. He was raised in a church that called itself catholic and then was introduced to Jesus by protestant fellow students when he went to college. Apparently there’s a major thing in Mexico at the moment where Mary is considered to be above Christ, to the point of removing the crucifixes and replacing them with statues of the Virgin, specifically fashioned after “The Virgin of Guadelupe” vision. (It was one of my major concerns with a South American Pope. I may be protestant, but the man can do a lot of good or ill to the faith.) The missionary literally hadn’t heard of Christ as other than a footnote until he was an adult. There’s WIERD going on in Mexico.

                    1. I can’t even imagine how that would work for anybody going to Mass–I can only think of a few times when Mary is even mentioned, stuff like “Go and do as He tells you” for the first public miracle, and “Behold your mother” on the cross.

                    2. I honestly don’t know. The conversation wasn’t long enough to actually get as full details as I wanted, but according to him it is a rather prevalent belief.

                    3. Hm, pounding my brain… I can think of a couple of ways come to think of it– there’s the “show up as close to Communion as possible, leave as early as possible” route, and then there’s the “we go to church for special events” stuff.

                      Probably the former, which would rather select your social group.

                    4. The “cult of Mary” has pretty much been a part of Catholicism / Christianity from the beginning. I doubt that the feminist ideology incorporated in “Liberation Theology” has reduced the urge. I suspect it began as saints rose to prominence, because “even Christ will listen to His Mother.”

                      Rudyard Kipling
                      The Return of the Children
                      “They” — Traffics and Discoveries
                      Neither the harps nor the crowns amused, nor the cherubs’ dove-winged races–
                      Holding hands forlornly the Children wandered beneath the Dome,
                      Plucking the splendid robes of the passers-by, and with pitiful! faces
                      Begging what Princes and Powers refused:–“Ah, please will you let us go home?”

                      Over the jeweled floor, nigh weeping, ran to them Mary the Mother,
                      Kneeled and caressed and made promise with kisses, and drew them along to the gateway–
                      Yea, the all-iron unbribeable Door which Peter must guard and none other.
                      Straightway She took the Keys from his keeping, and opened and freed them straightway.

                      Then, to Her Son, Who had seen and smiled, She said: “On the night that I bore Thee,
                      What didst Thou care for a love beyond mine or a heaven that was not my arm?
                      Didst Thou push from the nipple, 0 Child, to hear the angels adore Thee
                      When we two lay in the breath of the kine?” And He said — “Thou hast done no harm.”

                      So through the Void the Children ran homeward merrily hand in hand,
                      Looking neither to left nor right where the breathless Heavens stood still.
                      And the Guards of the Void re-sheathed their swords, for they heard the Command:
                      “Shall I that have suffered the Children to come to Me hold them against their will? “

                    5. sniffle.
                      Also, on the liberation theology, in 2000 there was a huge push in Catholicism to make Mary “co-savior” for having agreed to bear Christ.
                      This is crazy cakes theologically, but it had a great push in the church, from the usual quarters.

                    6. For folks looking for more on this, the origin term is “Co-Redemptrix” which is- in orthodox circles- just a recognition that, gosh, Mary said yes.

                      Some of the stuff is garbage, some of it’s got merit, but the origin is hammering away on the whole accepting the job thing.

                    7. accepting the job is fine, but making her sacrifice equivalent to the son of G-d meekly enduring a horrible death is boshwa. Sorry, but tons of women say yes to babies in difficult or horrible circumstances — knowingly — even in our days.
                      Sure, laudable, but not the same, which is what all the feminists were trying to convince me it was.

                    8. Goodness, yes.

                      Or where folks try to take the title “Queen of heaven” and act like it’s an English style queenship where she’s basically God the Father’s wife and co-ruler, not an ancient “mother of the king, he’ll listen to her” meaning of queen.

                      And now I’m picturing the Virgin as the grandmother from Moana… *sigh*

                    9. (Notice how I was able to tell EXACTLY which thing was being used as a silly hammer? Right up there with “I am going to use female pronouns for God, even though HE SAID HE WANTS TO BE CALLED HE SO MY ARGUMENTS ARE NOT VALID.”)

                    10. The original, Catholic meaning of “cult” just means a devotion– sort of like a hobby horse.

                      It has, indeed, been around since about the time that Jesus told the “disciple He loved” to take her into his house as if she were his own mother.

                    11. Oh, absolutely, which is why I put the scare quotes around it. No Christian I’ve ever encountered would claim that devotion to Mary is a substitute for devotion to Christ. I usually encounter it as an anti-Catholic slur.

  18. The question of how well you accept blame, whether you are the villain or the protagonist in your individual story, often has a source other than sheer egotism.

    Take a kid. Average little git, no better and no worse than any other kid. Raise them in an environment where one or more of the parents are people with a “zero defects” mentality of child rearing, and… Well, you’re gonna wind up with an adult who really, really doesn’t ever like to admit that they’re wrong, or that they made a mistake. And, why? Because, being wrong or making a mistake waaaaaaaaaaaay back in early childhood meant a spanking, an ass-chewing, or a beating. At the least, it meant emotional and verbal abuse from a parental figure that that kid wanted to love and respect, only… There were issues with reconciling “this is someone I should love, respect, and honor…” with how that person behaved towards that child.

    And, the sad thing is, a lot of these bad actors as parents? They really don’t mean to be evil/bad/nasty people, that’s just how they react to things that the kids do as a part of normal growing-up. Likely goes back generations, ‘cos that’s how they were raised, and I’m not gonna denigrate wolves by likening that to their rearing-practices. Wolves do a better job than humans, in all too many cases…

    I understand the syndrome from the inside, because I’m a person who absolutely hates to be wrong, or admit to a mistake, even to myself. It’s a deep-rooted character flaw that I’ve struggled with for years, and in so doing, I’ve come to understand just how I got that way, and I know precisely where the hell it came from–Which doesn’t make it any easier to rip that aspect of “self” out by the roots, although it makes it all too easy to catch in the retrospective, once I have time to think after the heat of the moment.

    Being unable to take blame or accept responsibility isn’t necessarily a component of villainy–I know some really decent, nice people who can’t do it, either. Hell, one of the most saintly bastards I know, a man who is explicitly a “good guy”, is completely unable to acknowledge that his well-intentioned acts are responsible for some of the bad things that happen around him, and he’s unable to accept that he may have made a mistake. If you want to help him get past the issue of his mistake, well… I’ve learned that the only way to do that is to work the framing around such that the onus isn’t on him, personally, and then he’ll be able to deal with it.

    I’m pretty sure a parental figure or two like mine own probably lurks in his background.

    In my early career learning how to run troops in the Army, I caught myself repeating behavioral scripts I’d learnt from those parental figures, making the penalties for mistakes and petty misconducts so extreme that I was turning my guys and girls into blame-shifters and liars, as they sought to get out of the range of my anger management issues. Some reflection, and a bit of advice from mentors led me to tone things down, eventually, and I’m a bit better person because of it.

    I came to establish some rules with the guys and girls I had working for me, ones that I think are probably universal for leaders and parents. The cardinal rule was that once they’d recognized that they’d made a mistake, or done something wrong, I’d better be the first person they informed, period. Why? Because then I’m not getting blindsided by my bosses, who will understandably want to know what the hell is going on after they find out about it. My first rule was basically summed up as “Don’t let me be the last person to find out about this situation/screw-up…”, ‘cos once my boss found out about it from someone else, well… There wasn’t a lot I could do about things. Intercession on the behalf of malefactors works a lot better when it’s proactive, rather than reactive.

    Second rule was equally simple: “Next time, a new and better (bigger…?) mistake… Because, if you repeat this one, that means you didn’t learn anything from it, and that’s just… Disappointing.”.

    The key thing isn’t taking the opportunity to vent your spleen, as a leader or parent: The key thing is to ensure that the miscreant learns from the experience, and puts that lesson into effect by not repeating the behavior. If they failed to learn, and you have to apply more corrective effort, well… Doing so dispassionately and without rancor is going to be a lot more effective than if you fly off the handle. It’s also going to discourage a lot of the desired effects you want, whether you’re talking small children or young adults.

    Also, if they keep repeating things, time after time? Well, then maybe it’s time to consider the possibility that they’re actually just trying to piss you off deliberately. I usually kept to a “three strikes” policy when evaluating that sort of thing, and then I’d let my inner demons out to play. Usually, that only happened about once per assignment, ‘cos word got round that Sergeant Reasonable had his limits, and then you met Sergeant Axe-crazy/Creative Behavioral Modification.

    At least, that’s what I’ve learned down the years.

    I dunno whether or not “acceptance of blame” is really a villain trait, honestly. I know a lot of decent people who are completely unable to accept or process their personal role in a lot of things, and some outright satanic bastards who will blithely acknowledge their responsibility for their loathsome activities to all and sundry. I’ll admit that it’s satisfying to think that the bad guys are just good guys who lack empathy and a sense of personal responsibility, but that’s not always how it works.

    Frankly, the psychopaths who freely acknowledge their evil and take full responsibility for it all…? They scare me more than the sort who are in denial; the ones in deep denial are at least capable of recognizing that they’re doing unacceptable things, and don’t want to admit that they’re doing them. That means that they’re at least a little restrained by conventional morality, in that they’re at least acknowledging it with a bit of a head-fake. The guy who simply doesn’t care, and who has no real sense of restraint…?

    That’s the guy I worry about.

    1. There’s a difference between making mistakes, and misbehavior. I generally let my kids make as many mistakes as they needed to, as long as they weren’t going to get severely injured, maimed, or killed making them (self-induced bruises, barked knuckles, and blood blisters were allowed as teaching methods.) Misbehavior entailed negative consequences, proportional to the severity of the misbehavior, including corporal punishment. (I adhere to RAH’s rolled up newspaper theory on raising puppies, as adapted to children.) In some circles, that makes me a violent evil villain, while in others, I’m considered an over-permissive wimp who spoiled his kids.

  19. Sarah, all is forgiven since you convinced Margaret to start writing again. For that alone I would come over and kiss you.

    On another note, I had training today (only 2nd time in 9+ years at this employer) that dealt with recognizing the signs of Post Traumatic Stress and asking for help (it’s geared for first responders, who have a tendency to be willing to give help, but not ask for it themselves) before things get out of hand (breaking the law, committing suicide…). On the little list of things he put up as signs of PTS I checked off half of them. I guess I should be looking for help about now.

    1. That might not mean you need help, but you really should get it checked out.

      Kinda like the “I’m tired all the time, and can’t seem to want to eat” type symptoms in someone in their 50s-60s– it might just be “eat more leafy greens, you’re mildly anemic,” or it might be the big C.

      1. The annoying thing that I recently found out is that the test for iron deficiency is not standard, and you can be iron deficient without having hemoglobin counts that technically fall into the “anemia” category. Even if they’re at the low end.

        So you can be iron deficient, show signs that can eventually threaten your health (fatigue, higher blood pressure, higher heart rate—basically your cardiac system working overtime to deal with a lack of oxygen carry capacity), and not have any idea what’s wrong because your whole blood counts come back as “normal” and your doctor doesn’t think to do other tests until you point out that there’s good reason (including family health history) to suspect anemia.

        And even then you can get told “but you’re not anemic, that fatigue must be depression, let me get you a Psych recommendation…” Hmph. Iron supplements have pretty much fixed the problem, TYVM, now I just have to make up the lost ground from the last six months or so. And get a new doctor.

        1. My thyroid tests came back normal. Because no one was testing for RT3. And yet my symptoms were blatant enough that they were testing me EVERY YEAR.
          Son tells me only people for whom RT3 is a significant problem are athletes taking supplements (illegally) and people with massive auto-immune problems.
          Now some of these doctors knew I had eczema, and one knew I had eczema, asthma and arthritis, but none of them seemed to equate this with “auto-immune” much less “epic auto-immune attacks” (partly because one of them insisted on treating these as “colds”.) So… So, they never checked RT3, and I was reaching levels that were causing brain damage.

          1. ‘eczema, asthma and arthritis, but none of them seemed to equate this with “auto-immune”’

            It’s not common among even the medical folk I know to automatically make that connection, because it’s only recently (as in the last couple of decades; new knowledge has a long filter) that they’ve even started to classify them that way. And it’s not always a cut-and-dried connection, though obviously, the more points of correlation you have, the more likely.

            1. A bit like the link between El Niño/La Niña and the Nile floods. It seems to be a teleconnection, which is fancy for “there’s a pattern, they seem to be connected to each other, but we don’t have the mechanism figured out yet.”

        2. Make sure you eat Vitamin C with your iron-rich food. It helps absorption. I tried that one and cured some mild fatigue.

          1. Yep. And stay away from milk when you take the supplement, and away from NSAIDs (because if you’re iron-deficient due to stomach irritation, that wouldn’t help.)

  20. I think of one of my grandfathers, and his family. Rancher/farmer in Southern Utah. His father accepted a mission call for the LDS Church when there were five kids at home. My grandfather became head of the house for three years starting at age 12. Sure the uncles and cousins helped with the big stuff like harvest time, but he was the one who had to get up to milk the cows, etc. He had to work with his mother on things. Around the time his dad got back, he helped herd sheep – 3000-4000 head – by himself for days and sometimes weeks at a time.

    My other grandfather was born into a ranching family as well but was orphaned by 16. He lived with siblings some but was basically making his own decisions and working his own jobs for hire to live from an early age.

    The first grandfather mentioned taught one of my cousins to drive. She managed to crash the truck with him in it (minor crash in a 60s or 70s style tank of a truck so minimal damage) and got very scared to ever drive again. He took her out into the middle of nowhere, got out and told her to scoot over. She told him she couldn’t drive. She didn’t want to hurt anybody. He told her something along the lines of “Well. We’re not moving unless you drive us out of here.” He made her face her fear in a place that wouldn’t hurt anybody so that she could get the confidence to continue.

    1. Cowboy Logic:
      There’s a great American hero, we all look up to
      When the times are hard and the chips are down
      He knows just what to do
      Now a cowboy’s got a set of rules that he lives by day to day
      If you ask for his advice, he’ll more than likely say

      If it’s a fence, mend it, if it’s a dollar bill, spend it
      Before if burns a hole down in them jeans
      It it’s a load, truck it, if it’s a punch, duck it
      If she’s a lady, treat her like a queen

      That’s cowboy logic, every cowboy’s got it
      It’s in the way he lives his life and the songs he sings
      That’s cowboy logic, every cowboy’s got it
      He’s got a simple solution to just about anything

      If it’s a job, do it, put your back in to it
      ‘Cause a little bit of dirt’s gonna wash off in the rain
      If it’s a horse, ride it, if it hurts, hide it
      Dust yourself off and get back on again

    1. She probably means Ben Gazzara. I have trouble hearing her clearly because whenever she speaks my ear detects background noise of two steel ball bearings rolling in her hand.

      1. Sure, it’s long, but it’s a rather lame rant.

        The point of the “Good guy (novel villain)” jokes are that it’s actually creative interpretations of what happened– not dismissing it. Like the “they both push little old ladies” joke, but backwards, and illustrating how a villain might justify himself.

  21. It did occur to me that at one time former presidents and family only retained Secret Service protection for ten years, but I found that was changed and now runs for life. Still, I suspect that Bill and the Mrs. no longer share bed and roof, wouldn’t be surprised if they parted ways at some point. So will HRC still require armed protection by brave souls that she reportedly treats like dirt?
    Wouldn’t want anything terrible to happen to her, she’s doing too much good in nailing the coffin lid to the Democrat’s casket, but still with a $20 trillion debt we need to find ways to pinch pennies.

    1. it was changed *to* that at the end of Clinton’s term, to ‘save money’ but Clinton still got it. It was changed *back* during the first two years of the Obama admin..

    2. Got rid of the lifetime thing in the late 90s, and then Obama put it back in place.

      I don’t know if the Clintons are grandfathered in to the lifetime or if they got the ten year deal.

      …amusingly, when I hit the Secret Service website, the background picture is them protecting the Pope. ^.^

  22. Variations of “blames others for everything, no matter how hopeless it is” appear on every single list of psychopath traits, don’t they?

    There’s only one way to raise someone to be unable to admit ANY fault in their own downfall, except for humble brags. You have to raise them in the absolute certainty of their own perfection and invincibility.

    I doubt this. After all, why a narcissist meeting an evidence of one’s own imperfection would not react on it by blaming others? There’s no need for this blaming to be “in your face”, so it’s always an option.
    And it’s hard to believe that up to 10% of population of very different places could be raised like this, with no great changes e.g. before and after Dr. Spock.
    Conversely, arguments of Hintjens in favour of psychopathy as co-evolved adaptation look solid. If he’s right, it’s down to “how much of a package is present” and “how much it was trained”.

  23. Some good leadership and ‘adulting’ tips here. My little contribution is I among other things I tell subordinates ” I treat you as an adult until you prove otherwise” as people tend to live up to or down to given expectations whether set high or low.

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