An Affair of Honor a blast from the past from April 24 2012

*I DID catch a cold at TVIW, though to be fair I blame the bizarre airplane stuff on the way back which meant no regular meals, no regular thyroid-pill taking, and “fun” temperature variations.  Anyway, I’m much better today and I have a ton to do, and hey, this post seems interesting (and I have no memory of writing it.) – SAH*

An Affair of Honor a blast from the past from April 24 2012

Lately I’ve been thinking about honor.  Maybe because I spent the last couple of months mulling over the musketeers.  Maybe because I’ve gone back to a regency-reading jag as I work on things as far from regency as possible.

Honor has got a bad rep lately.  It’s been dragged through the mud, and its garments are draggled.  Association of its names with such egregious ideas as “honor killings” has done it no good.

It’s particularly unjust since honor killings are more shame-killings.  I grew up in a culture that still shows a lot of Arab influence, (well, they were there almost as long as the Romans, you know?) and I almost understand honor killings – if I squint and look sideways.  I was, after all, raised in a village (so like Miss Marple I’ve seen all there is to see of human wickedness.)  Of course Portuguese – at least civilized ones – don’t honor-kill their daughters.  But we had a case in the village where a father shaved his daughter’s head because she was talking to a strange boy.  And even with my family’s rather odd behavior, since we were all readers and a fair number of us engaged in creative work, I came across that “how could you talk to him when you were alone in the house?  What will people think?  You have shamed us all.”  I came across it more than once, because I have trouble wrapping my mind across the nonsensical.  And to me – particularly when this started, when I was about eight – seeing a little friend who happened to be a boy was no different from seeing a little friend who happened to be a girl.

But the overwrought minds of village spinsters and old women looked at this the way “enlightened” militant “feminists” do.  Like the one who accused my nine year old of sexual harassment for touching a girl’s behind while trying to get her attention.  (He didn’t fondle her.  He reached through a crowd and poked her, to ask if she wanted to play a space exploration game.)  If you’re a male you have lust and evil on your mind, and any woman allowing you near has lost her virtue.  (They must live MUCH more interesting lives than I do.)

Anyway, honor viewed that way is more what the public thinks of you and what you allow the public to know.  You can lose your honor through all sorts of stupid things that have nothing to do with what is in your heart and mind.  You can be “disgraced” the way a regency maiden was disgraced because she tripped in public and fell across a gentleman, and didn’t immediately faint or whatever.  (Well, at least in regency romances.  I believe true society had more leniency.  I mean, even in the village, even with my eccentric behavior and the fact I wore shorts outside the house – oh, the humanity! – only half the people considered me a slut.)

We find this in Shakespeare too.  “I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.”

This type of honor is fun, of course.  Well, fun to write about.  It allows you to get your characters in all sorts of nonsensical situations.  It is a good stand by for making your character marry someone she hates, for instance.  Or for making your male character fight a stupid duel.  Since we sometimes require non-brain-damaged characters to act like idiots, this type of honor can be a good tool.


But the honor I want to talk about isn’t that.

It’s not the external, being paid homage, being rendered honor.  It’s the internal honor, in the secret of your heart, in the center of your being.

To explain it: we all live our lives by certain principles.  Yes, even those you think have no principles have stuff they live by, even if it’s just “look out for number one.”

This is very obvious in fiction, because, of course, the characters live only on the page, and their characteristics stand in obvious relief.  Characters live by some principles.  Athena’s in Darkship Thieves, for the longest time, is “survive” but she does have others, which come to the fore when tested.  Things like “I will not return kindness with evil.”  And of course “I will not abandon those who looked after me.”  (Kit.)  This is even more true of Kyrie in the shifter books, whose internal principle is “look after those who can’t look after themselves.  Not because they’re good, or deserve looking after, but because they can’t.”

(Writers live by some principles, too.  For instance, my refusing to write an autobiography, in which I’d have to tell a lot of lies to protect OTHER PEOPLE’s secrets might have cost me promo and a “dahling of literary establishment” career, but it was my internal principle NOT to step on family and friends on the way to success.  To do it would have broken me, and made it impossible for me to be me.  Break that barrier, and nothing stands between me and shooting people who annoy me.  Me as me stops existing.)

Here’s the thing – it’s not that you can’t have a character break one of their inner principles.  You can, but then all hell should break lose internally as well as externally.  And that type of principle, inner principle, can only be broken if it’s either only partially broken, or if it’s something the character can convince him/herself is an exception.  Say, Kyrie COULD leave someone to starve in the dark.  BUT that person had better be a danger to the other people she feels she must protect.  (And even then, frankly, she’d be more likely to kill them cleanly.)

The reason I’m bringing this up is victimhood.  In this case the treatment of victimhood in books.  What do I mean by that?

When you lose sense of an internal honor, a moral code, a guiding principle, you tend to misunderstand things like Kyrie’s animating period of “look after those who can’t,” which is one of the animating principles of western civilization.  Instead of its being “look after those who can’t, because you owe it to yourself as a human being” you see it as “look after those who can’t because… victims are special.”

I’m getting very tired of seeing this in books written in the last thirty years or so.  People who are downtrodden are some sort of saints – magical, not really human.  They don’t need anything else to make them magnificent – just that someone be mean to them.  The meaner someone is, the more “saintly” the character is treated as – even if the reader can tell he or she is in fact the twit of the universe.

Let me make it clear for those of you short on understanding: the reason Cinderella deserved the prince was NOT because her step sisters were mean to her, but because she was beautiful and sweet.  The sisters are on their own course and earn their own doom.  HER job was to keep her internal honor, and it is that which earns her the prince.  (And please let’s not argue about older versions, okay – I’m talking about it as it’s known.)

Harry Potter is not the main character because he was mistreated, but because he was the boy who lived.  The mistreatment which reaches almost comic proportions is an (effective) attention getting device, but it is not how Harry Potter earns his position in the world.

If your character is repulsive or totally amorphous, that will show through the victimhood, and make the reader – this reader at least – gag.  More than that, while you might make us root for the underdog – it’s almost a reflex – if the underdog doesn’t prove himself, and is always and perpetually the victim, the story becomes an exercise in sado masochism, and will give off a “sick” feeling.  You will also be contributing to moral confusion that is already too prevalent.

Now, I’m not saying you can’t torture your character (look, if you read the beginning of A Few Good Men) you’ll understand why that’s funny coming from me.

I’m saying you should still develop your character after that and make him/her grow.  Or of course, make him a terrible person, if he/she is the villain.  I mean, why can’t a victim be the villain?  Sometimes the poor bastard in the dungeons DID do enough to deserve it.  (Er… not in AFGM, by and large.  Oh, there’s stuff never talked about but visible between the lines that probably would have earned him a spanking, but not dungeons.  THAT was real politik at work, I think.)  Or perhaps he’s still a twit who needs to grow out of what took him there.  Even if punishment was excessive.

I’m tired of the idea that victim = virtue.  We’re starting to see it seep into politics with the idea that groups who have been excluded have some sort of extra special specialness.  You know that isn’t true.  They’re human.  We’re all human.  I do not approve of people being excluded or looked down on for color of skin or other irrelevant traits, (or even relevant.  There’s more to character than intelligence, for instance) but I also don’t approve of their being sanctified because they were excluded and/or victimized.

“But I was put down” is not a claim to heroism.  “But I was put down and achieved something nonetheless” IS.

So, in the end, it’s the internal honor that counts – at least for me, and by and large in life – and what the old biddies in the village think… not so much.  And if the biddies are the readers in the global village, enough of them will get disgusted with the idea that victim means virtuous.  Also, you’ll be contributing to insanity in society at large.

Make your characters (and as much as you can, yourself) persons (worthy of) honor.  We’ll all win by it.

156 thoughts on “An Affair of Honor a blast from the past from April 24 2012

  1. The mistreatment which reaches almost comic proportions.

    I was never able to finish the first Potter book because of that mistreatment and it may be a factor in why I could never get into the Potter series.

    While YMMV always applies, I would have found it realistic if Harry had joined forces with Voldemort (assuming Voldemort had been smart). 😉

      1. “Need a Wizard? Call on Harry Dresden, not that Potter kid.”

        Yep, I’ve read them. 😉

          1. actually i had a press conference this morning, and we’ve been here a week tomorrow. took a bit to get Fios connected

          1. boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes and boxes of books??

        1. The rest is gravy. Never quite Deb to understand that til she found the crafting channel on DirectTV…

        2. Eh … I always thought I was ahead of the game on moving-in day if we had beds set up to sleep in that night, and enough of the kitchen unpacked to fix dinner. YMMV

            1. *adjusts early 20th-century huge hat, tweaks long skirt to show small provocative glimpse of high-button-booted ankle*
              Why, thank you very much!

              1. Even more because I can so totally see that… although it's in shades of rather lovely lilac, for some reason. Including the fluffy feather…..

  2. I mean, even in the village, even with my eccentric behavior and the fact I wore shorts outside the house…

    Poor Momma had a great deal of trouble with the changes in women’s dress that came with the 1960s. She wasn’t so sure ladies should wear pants or trousers when in town outside the harshest of winter weather. She knew that dungarees were not to be worn as street wear by either sex unless employed in certain kinds of work. When a generation of students started wearing jeans to the University of Penn, and everywhere else for that matter, she was … disturbed.

    1. My Dad was the same way about shoes. Polished black leather, period.

      I went to pick him up for lunch one day when he was in his late seventies, and he was wearing multicolored hip-hop sneakers. He explained he was retired now and could wear anything he wanted. And they were sure comfortable.

      Hey, I wasn’t going to argue…

        1. I’m one of the few males who actually likes ties.

          Of course, I tend to go for the most outrageous prints that won’t actually get me fired…

  3. “I do not approve of people being excluded or looked down on for color of skin or other irrelevant traits,”
    Walter Williams, Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, a few others that don’t come to mind at the moment. Thank God for your existence and notoriety. Without you by this time I would be one of the more extreme racists.

  4. I have a sneaking fondness for stories where the villain is the victim, or turns out to be the victim. Occasionally has happened in some murder mysteries (certain famous Agatha Christie novel comes to mind) but I would like to read something in fantasy or science fiction genre where the whole problem arises because some good people try to help a victim and find out what you said. That victimhood does not mean the victim is innocent, or good, or to be trusted. (Suggestions? There has to be stories. I think I may even have read some years back, although presumably if I did they were more or less average because all I have is a vague impression that I maybe did.)

    Heh. Also in mysteries – maybe the suspicious street person actually did commit the crime, this time. That would definitely be a surprise. There are plenty of stories where he’s the first suspect but the actual murderer turns out to be some rich white dude, and the dirty smelly alcoholic is perhaps the key witness, once you get something coherent out of him. But what if the rich white dude was the complete innocent and the smelly guy a canny manipulator? 😀

    1. BTW, that might be worth some discussion at some point too: would it make any sense to write a really bad novel, if it’s entertainingly bad? Because what at least I remember of what I have read – or seen in movies – are stories I really liked for one reason or another. Or the really horribly bad ones. I have seen a lot of entertaining enough well done movies, but one of movies I remember really well is something called Dracula 3000 which is really really bad ( Watching it sober can be a bit painful, but it definitely is memorable. 😀

      1. I don’t know. I think that “So Bad Its Good” is sort of like the “Ensemble Darkhorse” in that you can’t make such a thing intentionally. If you try, you usually end up with something that’s just painful. Or at best, a sort of ironic parody, where the audience can see that you’re winking at the bad stuff, but the bad stuff is still bad.

        1. Atlanta Nights and Naked Came the Stranger? Well, both were written by a group of people, not some single writer which may change the equation some.

            1. Sounds like you succeeded. 😀

              But Naked Came the Stranger was written as a hoax, deliberately aiming for bad, and it still was something of a bestseller even before the hoax was exposed by the writers. And after that it became a real bestseller. I’ve been tempted to try to find a copy after I first read about it, except it is said to be half sex scenes and as I have said before, I mostly just find them boring. Except who knows, maybe really badly written ones would be amusing enough, at least for a little while.

              1. Oh, I remember that! (giggle*snort) I remember sitting in a train carriage in France, in the summer of 1970 and seeing a very elegant Frenchwoman reading it in translation…

      2. The inverted genus of bad filmmaker Ed Wood wasn’t that his movies were bad, but that they are entertainingly bad- his earnest seriousness makes them funny and endearing in an odd sort of way.
        Contrast the dreary, drab, and depressing works of Coleman Francis- or don’t, unless you get the Mystery Science Theater 3000 versions.

      3. Or an old fantasy film called Hawk the Slayer. Every review says pretty much the same thing, and it’s true: the best awful movie you will ever see.

    2. I don’t recall which radio show (I think it was radio, there is an outside it was an old TV program) it was, let alone the episode name, but I recall one where, at the end, the investigator is feeling odd or depressed about it. He solved things, sure, but his complaint? “The butler was guilty party!”

    3. I cannot place my finger upon any specific example, but there is a recurring motif of persons presenting as victims to worm their way into a mark’s confidence.

      Not exactly what I’m trying to describe, but a fine example all the same.

      Remembering the Old Songs:
      by Lyle Lofgren
      (Originally published: Inside Bluegrass, August 1996)
      The last volume of Francis James Child’s The English and Scottish Popular Ballads was published in 1898. The collection of 305 ballads became, for the next generation of scholars, the touchstone of authenticity. If Child had ignored the ballad, so did the scholars. Specifically excluded were “stall ballads” — printed texts that street performers sold, much as modern street singers sell their cassettes. Child considered these ballads, which were often political satires or news of the latest shipwreck, to be much less interesting than those that were identified by earlier scholars as passed by word of mouth among the common people. By excluding ballads without pedigrees, he missed a number of songs that have just as valid claim to oral tradition as the ones he published. In fact, some of the ballads that received his blessing, particularly the ones about Robin Hood, probably never had significant circulation among the folk. More recent scholarship makes the authenticity arguments of the past look even sillier. It now appears that the folk tradition consists of an ongoing conversation between three sources: the “folk” on their back porches learning music orally; professional performers (pop, music-hall, minstrel show, medicine show, radio); and the professional’s songbooks, sheet songs, or recordings.* In the Appalachians, “ballit” refers to a printed song sheet, not to the song that a music scholar would call a “ballad.”

      Johnson-Jinkson is an example of one of the unjustly ignored songs. According to John Harrington Cox’s Folksongs Of The South (Dover 1967 reissue of 1925 Harvard publication), the original seventeenth century printed version, attributed to a Paul Burges, was 102 lines long, had three good guys named Johnson, Jackson, and Dickey as heroes; a dozen robbers as bad guys; and a naked trussed lady by the roadside to distract our heroes’ attention. Even in England, the folk process (aided by an unknown number of “professional” musicians) pared the story down to two heroes and six or seven robbers, who appear in stall ballads of the nineteenth century. The song has been collected several places in southeastern America, sometimes with the title “The Three Butchers,” but never with all three heroes named.

    4. There was a story arc in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle where the taciturn, rude and suspicious seeming nobleman was actually not the villain of the story arc (there were children going missing) and the real villain of that arc was the kindly doctor the heroes were relying on for help in that world/dimension. The nobleman didn’t have time for them because he was focused on finding the children every waking moment he had.

  5. Make your characters (and as much as you can, yourself) persons (worthy of) honor. We’ll all win by it.

    You want not only Human Wave stories written, but Human Wave lives lived? You don’t ask very much of us do you? 😉

    1. The goal is not to achieve the impossible, but to get as close as you personally can. For example, I try to keep at least two lightyears between myself and virtue. Makes life much easier.

      Besides, I’m a cat. I’m already as perfect as a mortal can get.

        1. Dude, you need to work harder on your trolling. Seriously, a lazy genericism like that? Pffft. That won’t even get you a D for effort. You have to go creative! Quote some Kipling, like,

          “Perfect? Oh, sure, that’s why the cat who walks by himself crawled up to the fire!”

          or at least reference some of the worse habits of cats, like “Uh-huh, and what about that hairball you left in my shoe?”

          or declaim the perfection of the ratel, and the inferiority of the cat!

          But “Oh, please, you aren’t even in the top ten carnivorans.” isn’t even good trolling! It’s as generic as spam going all “This article is very helpful, I’ve just found what I needed.” followed by a link to generic drug site.

          though I will give you a few points for the word carnivorans. Next up, feliforms or caniforms?

    2. We have plenty of “Don’t be this” and sure could use more “Aim for this.”
      When most of the examples are bad examples, it’s not very encouraging.

      1. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

      2. Love the lord your God with all your heart, and all your mind, and all your soul, and all your strength. And, while you’re at it, love your neighbour as yourself. Bonus: when you fall down and fail, as you do, the good Lord will pick you up and dust you off, and you don’t have to be weighed down by an unbearable burden of guilt as long as you keep on keeping on.

    3. It’s not hard.

      I don’t lie.
      I don’t steal.
      I don’t mess with people.
      I don’t let people mess with me.

      (the last two slightly bowdlerized for polite company)

      People lecture me about my deficiencies in morals and ethics. I tell them to write theirs down and we’ll go over them one by one. Haven’t found one yet who could do that.

      1. Y’know, I once heard it succinctly put: “Don’t be a . All else follows from this.” It’s useful enough in about 90% (totally made up stat) of situations in everyday life.

        I always thought acting with honor to be pretty simple. Keep your word. Temper the needs of justice with mercy. Do as little harm to others as you can, within the bounds of honor. That sort of thing.

        Simple doesn’t mean easy, though. Deadlifting an engine block is simple. Easy? Not so much. Not for most of us. It helps to have had a good example. And to make others who act with honor your friends, and to not associate yourself with those who consistently act dishonorably (there is honor in redemption, yes. But some folks don’t really *want* to live life on the harder path).

        1. Sorry, that should read “don’t be a butthead/idjit/*hole/etc.” Darn angle brackets, I forget these things sometimes. *chuckle*

          1. This great teacher told his disciples, who passed it on through a long chain to me, to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

            Can’t say I’m all that great at following it, but better to try and fall short than to not try at all, eh?

      2. You’ve never met a successfully catechised Lutheran church Missouri Synod moralist.

        It’s not that we can’t (Lordy. Can we ever) it’s that we don’t find that doing so makes a person receptive to receiving the great exchange that God has given to mankind. I mean as far as I know the angels don’t rejoice in heaven because someone got the fine points of the 10 commandments right.

      3. I recently had occasion to visit Jamestown. The gift shop there had lots of books about the srttlement, plus your usual run of the mill toys and games and such. Also an assort mentioned of the shorts, mugs, caps, and magnets with quotes from John Smith. In addition to the more well known “He that does not work does not eat” there was also “My fort, my rules” and “Mess ye not with me.” Which I totally bought as a baseball cap for my grandfather. He’s 85 and has had issues with skin cancer on his head, so he always wears a hat now.

        1. My grandfather being the man I respect the most in this world, and the example I look up to. Also the man I called right after I got off the phone with the police to report my stolen car, because I had no clue what to do next, other than maybe call my insurance company.

  6. If you’re a male you have lust and evil on your mind, and any woman allowing you near has lost her virtue

    cough*Harvey Weinstein*cough*Bill Clinton*cough

      1. if you keep insulting the Visitors, we’ll be lucky if they even give us a cookbook

        1. I am starting to see the appeal of fringe paranoid craziness. I mean, look at the people in charge: do they seem human to you?

            1. One should not confuse human and humane.
              Despite various things, I rather like humans.
              Still, there are times I prefer the company of equines and/or canines.

  7. Break that barrier, and nothing stands between me and shooting people who annoy me.
    Which might thrill some of us. But, as you said, would stop you being you.

    The mistreatment which reaches almost comic proportions is an (effective) attention getting device, but it is not how Harry Potter earns his position in the world.
    Funny, because that was where I sensed the book was going, and was partly why I stopped reading not too may pages in.

    victim = virtue
    Yes, this is tiresome, to say the least.

    And, of course, “living by your principles” is only honorable if your principles are honorable. Because culture1=/=culture2.

    1. Mrs Rowling is a better writer than most people give her credit for. In fact she is a better writer than her own social media commentary would give her credit for. Just consider all the great novelists who thought Communism was a good idea.

      The Harry Potter novel has three young men who are terribly abused victims. Each one had the opportunity to choose love and trust and personal responsibility. The degree to which they chose this course vs resentment, pride and hatred determined their final outcome in the novel.

      1. We should also credit her with her depictions of dishonest media and government incompetence. No lover of her books can ever swallow a news report or government claim without thinking of Rita Skeeter or Cornelius Fudge.

  8. We’re starting to see it seep into politics with the idea that groups who have been excluded have some sort of extra special specialness.

    Affirmative Action, the idea that because previous members of a class of people have previously been mistreated or excluded the present members of that class should be given unearned benefits.

    As any effort to demur from such policies can be superficially denounced as raaaaacist (sexist, somethingophobic, you know the drill) it facilitates the robbing of Peter for payments to Paul.

      1. I’ll stand with Chief Justice Roberts: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

        Unless the racists are being especially annoying, in which case I’ll either tweak them by pointing out I’m married to an African, or worse, by pointing out I’m passing as white, but they sure ain’t passing as anything but white, so they can cut out the self-loathing now. 🙂 (They really hate that one!)

        1. I’ve always liked that. Have you ever noticed the more “coversations” we have about race, the worse the “racial divide” (over whatever) gets? Almost like it’s designed to work that way.

        2. I am one of those moments. I was in a room full of white (mostly) straight middle-class people of the same economic class.

          And I had the realisation that I was more comfortable ( because I didn’t have to fight the impulse to bury my face in a book and avoid these people ) when I was in a church filled with mostly brown poor people who spoke a different language.

          Because the former group are a bunch of socialists and the latter group are a bunch of friends and family.

          1. A number of years back Beloved Spouse noted our neighborhood had an African-American family at the corner, and a Hispanic family (that’s what we called them then, as Latino hadn’t yet become the fashion) and expressed mild amusement at the block’s diversity.

            I responded, “Whatever, so long as they all vote conservative.”

            I do feel some pain at being the white trash house of the neighborhood.

        3. *Snicker* The kids had to fill out a federal “what ethnic are you” question for some standardized tests last yer, and several said “Wait, there are too many choices on here.” I pointed out that the different agencies have different definitions, then shrugged and said, “I wouldn’t be surprised to see one-eyed, one-horned, flying purple people-eater at some point.” They just stared. Two face-palmed.

          Achievement: Unlocked!

  9. We, or those of us who grew up in the US, anyway, tend to fall for ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’. We believe that if one side is bad, the other MUST be good.

    There’s damned little historical evidence for this. Conquistadores vs. South and Central American natives? Two bunches of swine who richly deserved each-other. The idea, widely spread by we-all-know-who, that opposing a certain Austrian Corporal made Stalin a saint? Ridiculous and nauseating. Nixon vs McGovern? We should have boiled them BOTH in oil and started over.

      1. One of John Ringo’s recurring themes is that “heroes” are not necessarily good people; more often they’re simply ornery cusses who say “lak hell.”

        1. Like I’ve said before, we don’t need any heroes.

          We just need enough decent people doing the right thing.

    1. Trump vs. Hillary.

      The problem is that sometimes you don’t have the option of saying, “Eh, screw em all.” Sometimes you do have to pick the least bad side and go all in on that one. But, as Foxfire says above, you should remember that that’s what you’re doing and not try to put your allies (or yourself) on a pedestal.

      1. Oh, hell, I voted for Trump because between Trump and Frump I figured the clown would at least be amusing.

        He’s been a pleasant surprise. I honestly expected him to be a farcical trainwreck. He’s not done badly at all.

        1. Aye. I did not vote for Trump so much as as effectively as I could against Hillary. Entertainment value? Some, but more that – as we see – that the Fifth Column, er, Fourth Estate (difference?) would NOT be rubber-stamping things and worshiping and covering for him.

        2. Ditto. Once I realized he really wasn’t a Clinton stooge ( neither was Mr. Sanders; honestly that woman has the political instincts of a block of cheese.) I knew I had to make his case.

          Lord love Oldach that was fun.

          1. I’m still not sure he didn’t enter the race as Hillary’s stalking horse; and then stabbed her in the metaphorical back once his campaign took off.

            (It would have been easy while she was continually shooting herself in the foot.)

            1. I’m still thinking his instincts run more Democratic, and the media, et al, keep pushing him to the right.

              If they let up on the “literally Hitler” and opposed him more reasonably, he might be governing entirely differently.

              1. I agree on his instincts– and that’s why he’s so successful.

                He’s spent a long time swimming with these fishes. He both “knows” what Republicans are “really” like– and is great at the kind of cold-sale ‘ah, this isn’t working, quick adjust’ while still using Democrat tactics.

                None of their stuff WORKS on him. Yeah, he is trying to give folks what they want, and piss off the other side– but after so many years of reflexive no, he’s shooting fish in a barrel for good stuff with that.

        3. Yes, it’s not been so much a “train wreck” as “train plowing through a bunch of idiots, Prius’, and Smart’s standing on the tracks”. There’s still a wreck involved, but the train just keeps on a-goin’!

        4. I send a complimentary e-mail about once a month to telling President Trump to keep up the good work and don’t let the turkey’s drag him down. Even if it only gets read by some staffer in a cubical in the basement.

        5. Same here. I thought his candidacy was a joke in poor taste … and eventually, I voted against Felonia von Pantsuit; one last despairing gesture of protest. Surprised as heck when he won, pleasantly surprised with his other actions since election.

    2. We should have boiled them BOTH in oil and started over.
      Yeah, but if we start *that*, then where do we draw the line? We’d never get a president at that rate. Or a congressman, or a governor, or…….

      1. And why is that a bad thing?

        **thinks of the Seattle mayor who recently resigned, my representative who wouldn’t commit to protecting the rights of US citizens … **

          1. And here I thought you were just impressed with my comment. 😦
            (Though I like the Harrington comment, as well.)

    3. The enemy of my enemy is merely my enemy’s enemy.
      Stalin had this clearly in mind regarding the West during WWII.

  10. A few times I’ve had to be…less than kind… explaining to some old biddies of various ages and sexes that detraction and calumny are both sins, even if you decide your gossip isn’t gossip.

    Can’t always do so, but I hope it made some sort of positive impact.

    1. detraction and calumny are both sins

      Some people fail to grasp that “bearing false witness” does not simply mean lying about what you have seen, but reaching surmises absent sufficient evidence.

      1. And that telling the truth, when you know it will cause harm and there isn’t a sufficiently grave reason, is still gossip and wrong.

  11. “Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards.” -Aral’s advice to Miles. From A Civil Campaign

  12. I’ve read the “honor based on what outsiders think” called primal honor. The specific references were to certain Islamic traditions and the Mafia, as well as Bartram Wyatt-Brown’s work on honor in the Old South [read the short version for the idea, the fat-tome version for stories]. Or as Dr. Sanity put it, shame culture (external honor) and guilt culture (internal honor).

    1. Thank you! I’ve been trying to remember that one for years now, and it has always escaped me. Read it once in college and, except for a few notes in the margin, couldn’t place where those notes came from until just now.

      *orders kindle copy, dives right in*

  13. The Trekkie, disappointed, said to the employee of the bookstore that didn’t stock Dave Weber, “You, Sir, have no Honor.”

  14. Some interesting work by Campbell and Manning (summarized by Jonathan Haidt) relevant to the concept of Honor.. In brief: prior to the 18th and 19th century, most Western societies were cultures of honor, in which people were expected to avenge insults on their own–and would lose social respect and position should they fail to do so. The West then transitioned to cultures of dignity, in which “people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transitions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.” The spirit of this type of culture could be summarized by the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

    Campbell and Manning assert that this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new culture of victimhood in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But the difference, Haidt explains is this:

    “But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized.” Campbell and Manning distinguish the three culture types as follows:

    “Public complaints that advertise or even exaggerate one’s own victimization and need for sympathy would be anathema to a person of honor – tantamount to showing that one had no honor at all. Members of a dignity culture, on the other hand, would see no shame in appealing to third parties, but they would not approve of such appeals for minor and merely verbal offenses. Instead they would likely counsel either confronting the offender directly to discuss the issue, or better yet, ignoring the remarks altogether.”

      1. I can see something like that. Up until a few centuries ago, one needed a lot of money and a lifetime of practice to effectively manage arms.
        Then gunpowder came along, and the almighty armored knight became just a large target

    1. they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies
      Or, to the mob.

      I’m happiest with a dignity culture. But the culture of victimhood is leading me rapidly to wanting to practice a culture of honor. *glove slap!*

  15. Totally off topic, and just because it occured to me out of the blue and I don’t get to Cons anymore:

    Button idea;

    Miskatonic University Library
    Special Collections

    “No reading aloud!”

  16. Breaking News!!!!!!

    Why We Must Go to the Stars
    By Sarah Hoyt
    Why would anyone want to go to other stars? Why would it be beneficial to humanity?

    Those of you who have wondered about my absence from my normal haunts online, including the “night DJ” job at Instapundit, wonder no more.

    I’ve been at TVIW, which I’ve attended for its last three sessions. TVIW is the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, a gathering of scientists, professionals and crazy people (like me) who dream in fiction, and who think it’s important – nay, imperative – for humans to leave the cradle of the Earth and colonize different worlds around different stars.

    For more on this year’s session, go here.


    N.B., embedded link in “go here” omitted for timely posting. Use provided link to go there in order to go here. Get it? Got it. Good.

    Cue The Animals & Eric Burden:
    We gotta get out of this place
    If its the last thing we ever do
    We gotta get out of this place
    ‘Cause girl, there’s a better life
    For me and you

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