Losing Our Roots


When Robert was one and a half, we asked his pediatrician if his intelligence seemed normal.
Look, I know IQ is mostly inherited, but mom’s family has some startling up and downs (okay, given the times, that might be nutrition) but also everyone and their brothers had warned us that as severe as pre-eclampsia was during that pregnancy he’d probably be mentally retarded.  And Robert was, like every high IQ (and/or Odd) kid ever given to saltational development. What that means for those who haven’t heard it, is that he lags WAY behind in a skill, then acquires it seemingly overnight. Both parts of which scare the crap out of parents.  He wasn’t as weird as his brother (Marshall, his brother is a great title for a novel) who refused to crawl like a normal human being, for instance, and crawled around the house on knees and shoulders, looking like a lizard.  Then one day he stood up and realized he could reach the chocolate on the table.  Within the week he was running.

I don’t remember what, in particular, was worrying us about Robert, but I think we’d got it in our pointy heads (look, we were young) that his vocabulary was too small.  (Mostly due to our never having met any other kids his age, at that point.)  The pediatrician looked at us like we were crazy and said “Any kid raised in your house, even an adopted kid will have a great vocabulary, and a great knowledge of the roots of western civilization.”

I still don’t know how he intuited that from just seeing us in the office, but anyway, that was what he said, at the time.  I’m still not sure it would have been true without trying.  I remember years of slog, teaching the kids the RIGHT word for the right moment.  And I remember realizing they were getting basically jack about the common roots of Western civilization in school.

I mean, I know my generation was shorted.  i was the first in my family not to have to pass at least two years of Latin in middle school.  (Which is bad, because Latin is the root of Portuguese, but also because so much of medieval culture is written in Latin.  All the way through the renaissance.) I also remember all the times I expounded on something literary and classical and my brother and dad cracked up, because as all auto-didacts I had massive holes in my knowledge.  Still do.  That I HAD to be an auto-didact is an indication of the fact that school was no longer teaching much.

But by the kids’ time, school was teaching basically nothing, except for the occasional “commandment” like “Save water because Paul Ehrlich says we ran out 20 years ago” or “glass is a natural resource we’re using up” or “you should go up to people who are smoking and confront them and tell them they’re doing a bad thing.”

Of the traditional education we expect in schools there was very little.  part of this is that immersion method of teaching languages (stupid enough in languages, if you don’t first have a time period with the rudiments and if your learning is limited to classroom time at best an hour a day) had by then propagated to other disciplines.

I don’t know if it’s actually ever been proven that anyone not otherwise dying for the knowledge learned a single thing from just being in the presence of it.  I know that it works really badly for captive children in schools.  it is, however, way easier for teachers.  Just have the kid in the general vicinity of spelling, or math, and they’re supposed to pick it up automagically.  So you don’t have to make them do anything they consider boring, and you certainly don’t have to think on how to reach them.

It took me a while to figure out that was how they were teaching spelling to #1 son.  He was just supposed to “pick it up”, with the result that he’s a very educated and smart young man, who periodically commits boner spelling in the highest degree.  Say Conquor instead of Conquer.  I did however give him enough spelling lists and copying duties it’s only very occasional.  I’ve met people his generation who are articulate, smart, and you need an oracle to interpret what they write.

By the time he hit French, I knew I’d have to teach him or he’d never learn.

As for Western culture, the doctor might have been right.  We just tend to get in these conversations over dinner that assume a knowledge of Greece and Rome and the history of science, and of course explained the references to the kids when they asked.  Robert was mad in love with Rome from age 2 anyway, and Marshall studied ancient Greek on his own and developed a love for the ancient epics (and the mechanisms used in Greek theater, because yeah, embryonic engineer.)

But I know how they’d have been educated except for that, and I remember their classmates, so it doesn’t shock me that, as their generation moves into the work force we’re starting to see complete ignorance in places like NPR and the NYT.  (This partly because the people they choose to hire have impeccable lefty credentials, and the left not only despises and resents all of the civilization that spawned them (with some reason, I mean, have you looked at these people?) but also are the greatest believers in “Learning just comes without effort.”  But only partly.  That generation just wasn’t taught.)

So we get things like confusing the resurrection with the ascension and NO ONE not an editor notices. Or the NYT thinks that the Trojan Horse was built by the Trojans to confuse the Greeks, and then gets in an argument that it should be called The Greek Horse.

It’s not the kids’ fault.  They just weren’t TAUGHT.  Their generation was so busy reading the assigned (not even joking) book about a Latin Lesbian who is tormented by religious people, or stories about the Vietnam war by someone who admitted making it all up, or the vomitous communist sympathizer Gabriel Garcia Marques who has written only one bad thing: everything he wrote, that they never learned, read or are even aware of the works that formed civilization.

When younger kid, in a fit of “I have to take another humanities course” tried to find a classical history course, it didn’t exist.  There MIGHT have been Chinese history, but all the other history courses were part of the victimology studies: women’s history, queer history, African history.

I’m not saying those shouldn’t be studied, mind you.  Heck, as most people who know me know, I study and read EVERYTHING, including, yeah, ridiculously biased leftist things (okay, sometimes I skim them) because if you don’t, how do you know what they’re up to?

And some of those can be interesting.  I have on myself a history of prostitution, for instance.  Sometimes you just need additional color on a period of history, and that fills it in.  But the point is that those are fragments.  It really means nothing unless you know what else was going on a the time.  For instance, yeah, sure, Tudor England hanged gays (at least gays of not sufficient status to get a pass) but they also killed Catholics and everyone who diverged from what the regime was trying to create, as a cohesive society.  it wasn’t anti-gay discrimination, it was, for the time and as much as they could make it, a totalitarian regime with no freedom of belief or thought.  If you just study gay history you come away with the impression that they have been victimized/tortured through time, with some very rare exceptions.  If you study history as a whole, OTOH you realize everyone different was marginalized/ destroyed, and some of the persecuted groups are people you wouldn’t now guess, and worse, that this happens every time a government has too much power.  Every single time.  Which is a completely different thing from “the government must protect these victims.”  (Government doesn’t work like that.)

The problem is, worse than that, that these children (a stretching of the point, since some of them I suspect are early thirties) have some reason to THINK they’re educated.  I mean, they spent their time in school.  They reaped passing grades and praise.  They know things their parents don’t know, and if south American Victim literature is so unimportant, why did the teachers assign it?  No, it must be that it’s important and the parents are bigots.  Hence they not only don’t know much, but are unaware of the they don’t know   And also — self-esteem education — they know they’re the smartest generation ever.  So these things we tell them they don’t know must be unimportant.  They’re the walking definition of Dunning Kuger and sound like it too.

Here’s the thing: still not their fault.  Here’s the other thing: the self-esteem bullshit prevents them from educating themselves after they leave school, as I and a bunch of others my generation did.

A third thing: our civilization can’t survive this.  To explain things like “why the constitution is still important” they need to have some link to the past the founding fathers came from.  They need to know that every regime that kills you for what you think and believe is a horror and ends up killing pretty much everyone in random heaps.

When you explain that Marxism is a Christian heresy, and why it doesn’t work, these children need a modicum understanding of religion (and don’t get me started on how religious education in the main churches is possibly even worse than secular education.  A diet of veggie tales and the giving tree does not spiritual guidance provide.)

Instead, they are ignorance covered over with overweening pride.  They glory in the false and superficial knowledge they’ve been given and use their present day mores and manners as a stick to beat the great people of the previous generations.  And they don’t know enough to realize some of the things they do might well be looked upon as as evil as slavery is now.  Because they don’t understand history and the “manners and mode of the time” and how they can blind even the best of us.

In other words, they’re savages, wearing the clothing of civilized people and convinced there is nothing civilization can teach them.  They are men come from the wilderness into civilization, who have no idea what created the riches of the civilization

What they lack is not technical knowledge. You can always study that as needed.  What they lack is the software in the head of a man who lives in a free society.  This is part of the reason they prefer absolute regimes, because that’s what savages do.  It’s also why they gleefully try to pull civilization apart: because they don’t know what it is or how it was built.  And why they believe cultures where women are stoned for being raped are better than their own: they know nothing of their own culture, except a few insults at the past their teachers taught them to recite “Racist, sexist, homophobic” and they certainly know nothing about other cultures, except that they can’t be as bad as ours, because they were taught ours was the worst.

Civilization might — MIGHT — be able to survive a generation like this, but it won’t survive many more.

Educate them where you meet them.  Puncture their overweening self-conceit, so they can at least try to learn.  And teach the younger ones.  If you must send them to school, make sure you know what they’re studying and supplement it at home.  You might have to learn some stuff yourself, to be able to teach it.  School has become part of the apparatus for destroying Western Civ.

As a species we cannot afford the long dark ages until civilization is reinvented (if ever.)
I’m sounding the tocsin.  There is a fire burning in the night, and it’s taking with it all that has raised MOST of humanity out of the ancient and intractable poverty of millennia.

Work now.  Make them learn.  Do not let civilization die in the dark.




284 thoughts on “Losing Our Roots

  1. The older I get the more I am convinced that intelligence, unmoored from good sense, is more harmful than it is beneficial, both personally and societally. Making a virtue of intelligence without taking into account its connection to wisdom is disastrous, is the sort of thing that gives us Judge Posners in abundance.

      1. Ideas are obsolete. What counts is impressions.

        Repeated exposure to paired stimuli causes neuronal learning. Neither logic nor reason are relevant. Molecules move. Synaptic weights change.

        You may know perfectly well that $supermodel won’t really do you if you buy $auto, but your steps will slow as you pass the showroom, based on your carefully implanted $supermodel::$auto associations.

        Depressing, really.

  2. crawled around the house on knees and shoulders, looking like a lizard
    I did it backwards – the crawling, that is. Then yeah, one day up and off.

    Puncture their overweening self-conceit, so they can at least try to learn.
    That second clause is important. Otherwise some might be tempted to puncture said self-conceit with a sub-half-inch blunt, high-velocity object.

    Do not let civilization die in the dark.
    Definitely. If it’s going out, we should make sure it blazes brightly along the way.
    The savages should keep in mind they have much less ability to survive that fire.

    1. For the past two years, I’ve had at least one student who challenged me on facts. Each time, I reply with source, second source, footnotes, and offer additional references. If I don’t know, I have the answer and sources the next day. That pretty much gets the point across that “Miss Red knows her stuff” and we can get on with trying to understand a little bit about the past. The students are not being aggressively hostile, they just don’t know that they don’t know, and are trying to impress the adults.

      1. I believe ‘validate sources’ is step 3 in the critical thinking process when evaluating material. (It’s step 3 in at least on of the documented processes anyway, one of these days I really need to see if I still have that book at my Dad’s place, it was the most valuable portion of any course I took in 4 years of college!)

      2. Students who actually want to learn are a treat. Ones who have a somewhat open mind but think they know things can be taught.
        It’s just the lazy (don’t care to learn) and the willfully ignorant (they already know, except what they know ain’t right) that make teaching sometimes exasperating.

  3. > Instead, they are ignorance covered over with overweening pride.

    see also: Hitler Youth, Komsomol, Obama Youth Brigade

        1. A Hitler comparison is giving the little prop too much credit.
          Hitler actually had organizational talent; Hogg is just a prop to be used up and thrown away like Shehan or Manning.
          If he doesn’t just flat out self destruct before his 15 minutes are over.
          I suspect either an arrest for public intoxication with filmed “do you know who I am” rant, or he gets caught pulling a Weinstein.

          1. Given the way Camera Hogg, Shaved Guevara and the other kids’ handlers keep egging them on to ever more hateful and extreme behavior/rhetoric, I’d say self-destruction is the most likely possibility.

            Assuming their antics don’t end up getting a bunch more people killed. Which is what I’m afraid is going to happen.

        2. I initially started comparing him to Lelouch from Code Geass (fortunately without the Geass) but then realized Joffrey was a better fit.

          1. I noticed a strange physical similarity in facial structure between Hogg, and the Youtube shooter. It made me very, very unsure if the YT shooter was female – and since I come from a place where traps are far, far more convincing, it was a very strange moment for me. The body language and movements, voice… it was strange because it looked wrong and off.

      1. from what I’ve seen of Hogg, either his 15 minutes of fame are going to wear off, or he’s going to cross a clearly defined line very soon.

        1. My suspicions are that the epic whining about transparent backpacks might just possibly signified that we’re at 14:59.

          I’m waiting to be told how “toxic masculinity” was responsible for the Youtube shooting. (Of course, it’s going to be the NRA’s fault first, but I’m waiting with bated breath.)

            1. Female active shooter on the YouTube campus. Caught a few moments of some guy who skateboards in the area being interviewed– iheartradio popped up something about “youtube livestream active shooter”– and he said she was in the parking garage or something.

              I gathered: dead shooter, unknown number injured, they were still getting folks to the hospital, some twits already blaming the NRA.
              In California.

            2. Authorities have preliminarily identified the female YouTube shooter as Nasim Aghdam. Given that gender and probable cultural bent I strongly suspect media coverage of this shooting will fade dramatically.

              1. yeah, i expect media coverage to be minimalist as it won’t fit their narrative.

                Also, i pity the poor employee who cowered in their locked offices and hoped they weren’t next.

                1. Clearly somebody running a false flag operation to besmirch Islamists, or perhaps one who was driven by the unbearable pressure of America’s Islamophobic culture.

                  The news question is not “why did she do it?” but “how can we frame this narrative so as to blame America, especially the deplorable portion who voted for Trump?”

                2. Current reports says she was Baha’i. (Iranian activist, for whatever values of activist are valid.) And a PETA activist. Supposedly the YouTube videos were demonetized (because of “racy” workout videos, maybe). You could see for yourself. or could earlier, because YT deleted all the videos.

                  Oh yes, and her father a) reported her missing to San Diego LEO, warning she was angry at YouTube. b) When she was found in a parking lot in Mountain View, law enforcement contacted the father again. He told them of her anger at YouTube. Police didn’t act on this.

                  So, it must be the NRA, right?

                  1. naah, that’s just typical CA policing. And if she barricaded herself in a house, they would just throw their magic incendiary tear gas grenades in until the place burned down.

                  2. See what veganism can drive some people to? If she’d been having a good beef brisket or barbecue chicken, such a tragedy would like not have happened. We need better vegan control laws.

                    1. *snicker”
                      There is a crude joke that I could make about hot beef, and injections … but then I pride myself on being a perfect lady, so I’ll pass.

              2. I’d hate to be the editor on the Left or the Right trying to figure out whether to push it or bury it.

                From her reported rants (on YouTube!), she could simultaneously qualify for membership in PETA – and the Westboro Baptists. Along with several other fringy groups all over the spectrum.

                1. In other words: “crazy as a bedbug”.
                  That part seems to be pretty consistent across events.

                  1. I’m seeing “upset over Youtube demonetizing her videos” — so clearly a need for government intervention in order to defend the First Amendment.

          1. “My suspicions are that the epic whining about transparent backpacks might just possibly signified that we’re at 14:59.”
            He’s a lot like Hillary, in that you have a pretty abrasive and unlikable person that the press is trying to push onto the general public as some sort of leader.
            I kind of wonder if anyone really likes him, or do they just tolerate him for the sake of the Cause?

            1. I don’t like him, but i’m really not seeing what is so unusual about him.

              He seems pretty much exactly like the popular “student leadership” guys when I was in school– heck, my cousin (he of many “College Libertarian”/”libertarian totalitarian” stories) was rather like that, although he at least got mentally challenged at home rather than encouraged.

              I couldn’t stand them when I was in high school, and still find them obnoxious, but he’s really not a stand-out example. Standard issue loudmouth who will talk big but usually is useless for practical efforts, you can even find them in old westerns.

            2. Some political activists are primarily effective for how they drive their opposition to doing dumb things and how they fire up their base.

            3. Someone published his Reddit postings. I doubt most sane people liked him before he became the pitchman for communist power.

  4. I’ve been particularly frustrated lately with people who have no notion ( and desire to have no notion ) what our freedoms are for. Not just the topical 2nd Amendment, but freedom of speech or assembly or thought as well. No notion. No notion what the electoral college is for. No notion what life was like in the past beyond that women were oppressed and men were gods.

    And I’ll admit that I wasn’t taught most of this either. Not in high school. (My singular memory of high school Economics was a claim that wealth was created by moving money around, which made no sense at all to me and put me off any study of economics at all.) And college has everything divided up these days into “theory” of these or those and no one seems overly concerned that the entire concept is to purposefully view all events through this myopic lens. No one *wants* the bigger picture or context or an understanding that is … holistic!

    Lord knows, if one looked at all parts of our society and tried to claim that women were oppressed they’d get laughed out the door.

    1. Was it that story about the inn keeper who is given a twenty while the guy checks out the room, runs off and pays his bill at the grocer, the grocer pays this guy, who pays that guy, goes the whole round of town and then back to the inn keeper just in time for the guy to come back down and say he isn’t going to rent the room after all?

      That one always made my teeth itch. It was so painfully obvious the guy who came up with it thought other folks were just idiots who wouldn’t get the idea of trading debt around.

      1. Ouch! That makes my teeth itch, too. But no. As I recall (and this is a really long time ago now) it was just some thing about borrowing money and paying interest and how this *created* money (not by funding anything that created anything) simply by passing it all around and all I could think, really, is that every time it was passed, everyone lost a little more of that money to pay interest for passing it around. Had the lesson been that someone built a tractor and grew three times as much food I probably would have accepted it.

        1. Or maybe invested money in a tractor so he could plant crops that he could later sell to pay off the tractor? Then, after the debt was paid, enjoy the increased margin on the profit he was making selling crops?

        2. The one that grated with me was a supposed economics major posted recently that fiat money is just IOUs. He completely missed the point that you can’t issue your own IOUs – that the government has a monopoly on what a dollar is and who can issue them. It can only be created as YOU owe THEM. They enforce this my making it a ppoint of law every transaction must be reduced to dollar values and that is the only way to pay official debt. You are trapped.

        3. That’s pretty much how the Federal Reserve and very large banks operate. They move money around and clip a little bit every time it moves, thus “creating wealth.”

          I didn’t buy it either…

        4. someone built a tractor and grew three times as much food

          Or a carpenter used a commission for a dining room set to take out a loan and buy two new lathes (or a lathe and a bench saw) that allowed him to take on two apprentices and produce the commission in a much shorter time than would have been otherwise required and produced two (semi-)trained apprentices to help produce more in less time (and of better quality.)

          Could use a potter, perhaps, who uses the apprentices to blend the clay, keep wood in the kiln and otherwise free him to do the work requiring a defter touch.

          Or a miller who stops growing his own grain and uses that freed time to increase productivity of his mill, benefiting the entire community.

          1. As a grown up I’m a little leery of borrowing with interest no matter what (still took out student loans and the mortgage, etc.) but the idea of investment in productive tools or business expansion at least makes sense. You’re betting that you’ll create more wealth than is taken up by paying interest on the loan, which means your product or service is providing real value for your customers.

            But all I remember about this “lesson” is that the borrowing and lending ITSELF is what created wealth by circulating money through the economy.

            In retrospect it seems a lot like the idea that paying people unemployment creates wealth, a la Pelosi.

            1. It has been quite a few years since I took my Finance course, but as I vaguely recall the components of Interest can be broken down into several components.

              One component is the Time Value Of Money: the money I give you a year from now to repay the loan is of lesser value than the money you give me today, and that Interest element is to compensate for the lost value. This is blatantly obvious in areas which are experiencing high inflation.

              Another component is that of Opportunity Cost. The money you lend me is unavailable for other uses you might put it to, such as low-risk bonds, certificates of deposit or a lavish meal with lots of drinks. To induce your forgoing of such alternates uses requires I provide a reasonable inducement.

              A third component is Risk. If you lend me money there is always a chance I will invade Irkutsk and destroy my armies, leaving you unable to collect repayment.

              There are others elements that gp into establishing a reasonable rental of your money but none come immediately to mind and these ought suffice to demonstrate it is not simply greed or Milo Minderbinder money shuffling.

      2. Poul Anderson did a story “Fairy Gold” where the gold dissolved the next morning — after having gone all around the town letting someone buy and sell.

        Works better in a setting where they still insist on gold.

    2. I think the founders messed up with the Bill Of Rights, and needed to add a “Anyone who thinks these rights are negotiable or out of date and attempts to change, remove, or limit them in any way, will immediately lose all their access to aforesaid rights and anyone can subject them to anything for any or no reason” clause to it (sorta like Honduras’ constitution does for presidential terms)

          1. I can’t tell you the number of times while reading The Federalist Papers, that I have wanted to reach through time and smack the authors. Every time they’d say something regarding a potential interpretation of the Constitution that “it would be ridiculous that someone would…” history has shown that someone has. Every. Single. Time.

            Smart men and yet so very blind.

            1. Worth noting is that the Federalist Papers were propaganda pieces, which meant they spent a lot of time reassuring people that such-and-such a clause would not lead to an intolerable loss of freedom.

              They probably knew some idiot would come up with such an interpretation, they just didn’t count on said idiots getting enough of a following to enact what they wanted.

              1. An honest man won’t try and cheat you on a slightly imperfect contract. A crook will cheat you no matter what language you have put in. Some of the founding fathers recognized that there were operating conditions in which no design could work without failure.

                1. A lock only stops an honest thief.

                  And sometimes the locks can get YOU in trouble– one of the freaky things around here are these cages outside of the doorways. Not everywhere, mostly obviously at least 30 years old, but you have a quick open lock to get on to your little caged in porch, you lock it behind yourself, and then you fiddle with the GOOD locks on the doorway.

                  Elf refused to even consider those areas, because they need bars on the windows– and he is more violently opposed to that big of a fire hazard than I am!

                  1. Don’t blame him in the least. I have however read of people mounting those bars with explosive bolts specifically to allow escape in a fire. Probably illegal, but sensible.

                  2. I’ve seen those a few places, though usually in isolation (rest of the neighborhood not so caged.) I figure that the owners are either paranoid or have a reason for such a setup, like giving an airing to dogs who are too big to not batter down regular screen doors.

                  3. There are bars on my windows and security doors. As I replace the 100 year old windows, I’m not putting the bars back up. In the 1970s, it was a bad neighborhood. It’s not, now.
                    The bedroom ones have a button (more of a lever, I suppose) that you push that unlocks them to swing out.
                    I can’t decide if I want to keep the ones on the front of the house or not. On the one hand, they are not necessary and aesthetically dubious. On the other hand, no one would suspect that I sometimes forget to lock my door. On the gripping hand, my house is no-knock-raid safe. They will, of course, come off, but that’s going to be one hell of a knock as a big truck rips the steel frames out of the window frames. (Structural brick house – you’re not getting in except the doors or windows without explosives.)
                    I wonder if my lifetime warranty on the triple pane windows breaking includes the police breaking them. I’ll have to ask.

                    1. 😆

                      I love that string of considerations!

                      Sadly, here, a lot of this stuff is obviously new– and most of it is very consistent.

                      Oddly, the stuff that is out in what was OBVIOUSLY a really bad area about five-ten years ago is now really nice, though not expensive.
                      Elf says that’s about when they started getting serious about enforcing basic laws out here…but El Paso proper is, well, Democrat forever. Even if it is Texas democrat.

            2. Well, technically speaking, it IS ridiculous that they interpret the Constitution the way the progs do. They weren’t wrong about it.

              What they were wrong about (to some degree) is the people zealously protecting their own rights.

          2. No – it was deliberately designed to require maintenance. “A republic, if you can keep it.

            Or, to quote John Adams, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

            They did not create a perpetual liberty machine for such a device would cripple its possessors.

  5. I still don’t know how he intuited that from just seeing us in the office, but anyway, that was what he said, at the time.

    *snickers* It leaks. Was helping my husband unpack a flat-screen TV and he couldn’t get the corners loose, but I recognized the packing style* and showed him we just had to get the part stuck to the sides down and “it’s got enough inherent elasticity to pop right off”– was tired enough that I realized I’d used phrasing that most people wouldn’t. You probably threw in some allusions that you didn’t even realize aren’t frequently used, I’d bet Shakespeare.

    * It really is ingenious! It’s put on hot, but not TOO hot, and it shrinks down and is mildly sticky– so you don’t get that horrible tape residue, but you also don’t end up with a scratched screen, or have to use enough wrap to surround the entire thing.

    1. What’s fun is when your kids start using terms like “inherent elasticity”.

      1. They already do!

        I’ve been laughing for years about the kids using words that are way too big for them, like ‘nutritional qualities’ or such…I just usually don’t hear ME saying things like that.

        1. Where do you suppose they get it from?

          I bet you even use terms like I’ve been known to such as… Hello, progeny! and… Hail, evidence of my genetic success!

          Stuff like that. 🙂

          (Pet peeve… calling kids “Kiddoes”… hate it!)

          1. I’ll call ’em duckies before I do that. (They started walking right behind me. I started quacking, or singing Finningan’s Drake. “Quack quack quack, went the ducks upon his track….”)

            It’s fun to use the correct words, I just don’t “hear” myself saying it unless I’m being funny, or I’m exhausted.

            1. My Kid is just “Child” at the moment. Put her together with my friend’s two daughters and they are collectively Wolverines. We travel together a lot and have used this to rally them in public places.

                1. I have a friend who has played Warcraft as a Tauren (big bovine person) for upwards of ten years. HERS are The Herd.

                    1. I refer to my youngest brother as “2.0” – he and our dad have the same first name.

                      The first time I did, Dad looked at me, because he didn’t immediately get it. Youngest bro, who was maybe 7 or 8 at the time quipped “Upgraded, improved and updated.”

                      Mom started laughing.

          2. Facetious backfired a little, though. Sounded like a cross between “fecal” and “fascist,” which while not an inaccurate mix is not what one associates with “being silly.”

            1. My kids probably think that facetious is spelled s-m-a-r-t-a-s-s because they heard it as joke often enough… (one of my husband’s favorites.)

            1. It is racist against Irish, Himalayans, and those of the apelike squidbird persuasion who choose to live on the western half of New Zealand’s southern island. (It isn’t racist against apelike squidbirds living elsewhere. “apelike squidbird” is always racist when applied to the fourth apelike squidbird gender. However, apelike squidbird is the only name for them that can be written in Unicode. More generic descriptions also could describe from five to seven other distinctly different types of entity.)

            2. There’s nothing really wrong with kiddoes. I don’t like it much because it’s diminutive and was used in place of words like “students” by teachers in my youngest kid’s horrible, abusive, middle school.

      2. I had a five-year-old Kid with me at this little tchotchke-type store, where she was oohing over the stuffed animals while the owner and I were chatting. At some point the owner complemented me on Kid’s vocabulary, and from her plushy-filled corner we heard “I also know ‘obstreperous’ and ‘equilibrium’!”

        She did, too.

    2. Hrmm.. I suppose “inherent elasticity” is unusual, but I had to read this a few times to realize such.

      “Glass has a frustratingly low modulus of elasticity.”
      “Glass jars tend not to bounce.”

  6. To be fair, most of the young people I have met know they are badly educated in history. Kindly note that history books outsell all other non-fiction by a wide margin.

    The problem is that the youngsters have no idea of how to remedy their ignorance.

    So…Mike’s Recommended History Reading:

    1. Any World History schoolbook written BEFORE about 1970 should be reasonably good for a top-level overview.

    2. If you’ve got the time, Will & Ariel Durant’s “History of Western Civilization” is THE master-work. Fourteen volumes (ick), and the first three are not as smooth as the later books (also ick). That pair really didn’t hit their stride until after the fall of the Roman Empire. But they are comprehensive. Not just events, but economics, literature, art…the whole of Western Civilization. And they are scrupulously even-handed. If you like Heinlein’s philosophy, you’ll love the Durants – this is the Mother Lode of Heinlennic Philosophy.

    3. “Battle Cry of Freedom,” by James McPherson. Probably the best single-volume history of the American Civil War extant. The portion on the events and developments leading up to the war are particularly good. Be warned that McPherson has a Federal bias once the shooting starts.

    4. “The Plantagenets,” by Dan Jones. Great overview of English history from around 1150 to 1400. His sequel, “The Wars of the Roses,” is also highly recommended. This lays the foundation for later Tudor, Stuart, and ultimately American history.

    5. “The World Crisis,” by Winston Churchill. This was the work that won him the Nobel Prize in Literature. Good overview of the First World War, fantastic insights into the naval campaign. Understand, though, that Churchill is a bit self-serving…he was First Lord of the Admiralty from 1912 to 1916.

    6. “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” by William Shirer. Shirer was a reporter in Berlin from about 1930 to 1941, had a ringside seat for Hitler’s meteoric climb to power. Which makes up about two-thirds of the book.

    7. “The Campaigns of Napoleon,” by David Chandler. THE one-volume history of the campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte. Fantastic, if it’s your cup of tea. A personal favorite.

    8. “Some Principles of Maritime Strategy,” by Sir Julian Corbett. This isn’t technically a history book, but a work on naval strategy…rooted deeply in history.

    OK…That’s what I can think of. There’s a gap in the American Revolution that needs to be filled. And a good overview of Greek history and Roman history would not come amiss. Recommendations?

    Other than that I should stop hogging bandwidth and get my own blog?

    1. I’ll add another observation: The study of history is much like panning for gold. Scoop up a panful of mud, swirl it around, pick out the flecks of gold. History is the mud…wisdom and insight are the gold.

      Example: Study English history and you understand why, after the crown had been tossed around in series of coups and counter-coups, the English people utterly rejected the notion of, “the Divine Right of Kings,” that the Stuarts tried to sell. And if the English Crown is ultimately disposed of by the English people, the American Crown is ultimately disposed of by the AMERICAN people….

      1. Instead they seem to have bought off on the ‘divine right of our intellectual superiors to rule us’. Despite the rather dubious claims of intellectual superiority of the technocrats in question.

    2. Well, I definitely appreciate the list of recommended reading. My history education is…sadly lacking (for example, I had basically *no* education on the Civil War. Went up to that point in 8th grade US History, started after it in 11th grade US History). I am slowly remedying this, but finding good reading material can be challenging. So book lists like this are very welcome.

    3. Other than that I should stop hogging bandwidth and get my own blog?

      Write a blog post and send it to Sarah! You KNOW it would get a big ol’ list of suggestions.

      1. Kindle is Your Friend. But I’ll confess to well over 500 linear feet of bookshelves.

          1. When I’m studying something, I want a paper edition that I can highlight and write marginal notes in.

            1. I thought that you could do that on the Kindle? Just back it up in case Amazon does not like you having the book.

              1. It’s somewhat trickier and less convinient than *draw line* *scribble note* On the other hand it is often(though not always) more legible.

    4. Two British historians, Mary Beard and Tom Holland, have both published terrific books about Rome in past decade.

      Also, the tv show Drunk History is good way to introduce people to history. Squiffy hosts of each episode explain historical events in plain language, not highfalutin, and the episode about relationship between Elizabeth 1st and Mary, Queen of Scots is particular favourite.

    5. I would recommend having a copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica 11th edition (or up to 13th. 13th is cheaper if you want hard copy). Good, solid work on most subject. Some Science has been superseded, but the history is pretty solid. Well written, too. Last time I looked there were various digital versions available.


      THE GREAT BRIDGE and THE PATH BETWEEN THE SEAS by David McCullough. The building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the building of the Panama Canal. Best Hugo Gernsback style “How we built the space station and conquered Mars” stories I’ve ever read…and they both happened.

      GRANT by Jean Edward Smith.

      1. Good put on the Encyclopedia Britannica. I’ll add that while you have to be wary, Wikipedia isn’t too unreliable for pre-1900 history.

    6. There’s a trap set for most students. A majority get the bland and boring stuff, which turns them off. The interested minority get assigned Zinn’s propaganda, which turns them into SJW’s.

    7. Since you bring up book lists, and I know this group has some brains in the evolution arena, what is anyone’s opinion of Ian Tattersall? I’ve picked up a couple of his books just because he seems a bit contrarian, and … semi-ADD internet researching. 🙂

      1. For some reason my Parents (both history teachers) derided the Durants. Both were 18th Century Liberals, not the current type. I don’t remember the reasoning, and can no longer ask.

        List thought; for perspective, find a good english translation of Juvenal. The problems he’s bitching about in Rome are very much the problems we face today, and in the meanwhile we have developed antibiotics, modern dentistry, and the primary dietary problem of the American poor is that their too fat.

        1. I have a vague recollection that the Durants were found to have a slightly Leftward bias in their History; pinkish if not outright red.

          I recall attempting to read Hendrik Willem van Loon’s The Story of Mankind and bogging down in the Middle Ages. Given the trash I was reading at that period it may simply reflect my own low taste.

          Wiki says:
          The Story of Mankind was written and illustrated by Dutch-American journalist, professor, and author Hendrik Willem van Loon and published in 1921. In 1922, it was the first book to be awarded the Newbery Medal for an outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

          Written for Van Loon’s children (Hansje and Willem), The Story of Mankind tells in brief chapters the history of western civilization beginning with primitive man, covering the development of writing, art, and architecture, the rise of major religions, and the formation of the modern nation-state. Van Loon explains in the book how he selected what and what not to include by subjecting all materials to the question: Did the person or event in question perform an act without which the entire history of civilization would have been different?

          After the book’s first edition in 1921, Van Loon published an updated edition in 1926 which included an extra essay entitled “After Seven Years”, about the effects of World War I and another update in 1938 with a new “Epilogue.” Since Van Loon’s death in 1944, The Story of Mankind has been added to extensively by his son, Gerrit van Loon. The most recent version by Robert Sullivan (2014) covers events up to the early 2010s (ISBN 978-0-87140-865-5).

          In 1957 a film was made based on the book, titled The Story of Mankind, starring Ronald Colman and an all-star cast, featuring, among others, the Marx Brothers.

          It seems to be available in Public Domain.

          1. N.B. – Wall Street Journal:

            Book Review:
            ‘The Story of Mankind,’ by Hendrik Willem van Loon
            In “The Story of Mankind” we encounter ruffians and poets, castles and hieroglyphs,Metternich and Voltaire—the great sweep of history.
            By Meghan Cox Gurdon
            Dec. 6, 2013
            ‘The most invigorating and, I venture to predict, the most influential children’s book for many years to come,” prophesied an early reviewer of the plump 1921 volume that would go on, the following year, to win the very first John Newbery Medal.

            At the prodding of his publisher, Dutch-born historian Hendrik Willem van Loon had completed “The Story of Mankind” in just two months. The result was—and remains—a marvel: a sparkling, erudite, idiosyncratic tour through the human experience from the mists of prehistory to the smoking aftermath of World War I. In van Loon’s charming, virtuosic pages we meet scoundrels and ruffians and poets; we engage with Pericles, Mohammed and Metternich, Confucius and Savonarola and Voltaire; we stand amazed anew before Egyptian hieroglyphs, Gothic arches, Florentine frescoes and the steam engine.

            “Let me state the basis on which active membership to this book of history was considered,” van Loon explains in a late chapter that was prompted, it seems, by the stinging responses he received after sending his manuscript for comment to a few friends. (“They all wanted to know why, where and how I dared to omit their pet nation, their pet statesmen or even their most beloved criminal.”) There was one rule only: “Did the country or the person in question produce a new idea or perform an original act without which the history of the entire human race would have been different?”

            Van Loon was not pretending to be comprehensive but comprehensible, to give an account of human dynamism and progress so that young readers—he dedicated the book to his grandchildren—might share his enthusiasm for the intellectual wealth and ferment from which they spring. Adding gaiety to his already lively prose, again at the urging of his publisher, the author sprinkled black-and-white sketches throughout “The Story of Mankind” to give us glimpses of, among other things, Hannibal crossing the Alps, Luther translating the Bible and the Napoleonic army’s retreat from Moscow.

            When Hendrik van Loon died in 1944, the story he had begun to tell was taken up by his son, Willem, who covered events through the Korean War. Further chapters for later editions came from a series of historians (Edward C. Prehn, Paul Sears and Edwin C. Broome in 1972, and John Merriman in 1984 and 1999), whose writing, in comparison with van Loon’s, feels dispiritingly dull and congested.

            Having rejoiced for 529 pages in the founding author’s robust and optimistic worldview—even when writing about carnage, van Loon retains a hopeful spirit—we find ourselves plunged into the eco-despair and other obsessions of the 1970s amid pages so full of detail that the effect is one of stultifying blandness. (“In 1972, the Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution to end discrimination based upon sex.”) What had been a colorful romp through history becomes a trudge through lifeless, unmediated statements.

            “The book now comes across as something like a note passed on for generations,” Robert Sullivan remarks in his introduction to the newest edition of the book, “with some cobwebs and some bindings weak from wear, but also with adornments being added as it passes through hands.”

            It has been vouchsafed to Mr. Sullivan to carry “The Story of Mankind” (Liveright, 765 pages, $35) into the Age of Obama, a feat he pulls off with more van Loon-like élan than some of his predecessors but still with the modish tendency toward eco-gloom and drearily granular detail. You could read the first two-thirds of the book aloud to your children, a chapter a night, with gusto. It’s difficult to imagine any child sitting still (or staying awake) for the final third, which lacks van Loon’s flashing insights.

            Ninety-two years on, modern accretions and all, what a pageant this charming narrator continues to offer us! “Why should we ever read fairy stories,” van Loon said, “when the truth of history is so much more interesting and entertaining?”

    8. For the American War of Independence, I recommend John Ferling’s Almost a Miracle. It’s a bit long, but what do you expect from a one-volume history of an eight-year war?

    9. > Kindly note that history books outsell all other non-fiction by a wide margin.

      Sure, but the distribution is uneven. I have a hundred or so left after the last culling. I don’t know anyone in meatspace with a history book, and I’d lay a fair wager there’s not one for several blocks in any direction that doesn’t belong to me.

    10. Well, I read Dupuy and Dupuy’s Encyclopedia of Military History, but that is a bit of a niche taste, and if you don’t have a better foundation than I did, a lot of it won’t stick.

      There’s a historian that was a specialist in both of the areas you mention. J. Rufus Fears.

    11. Shirer’s book taught me bits of Martin Luther’s involvement in German events that were glossed over in Sunday school… OTOH, European history wasn’t required, and I skipped it in high school. I’ve read a bit of Tuchman, but my historical interests are more mid 20th century.

      For a deep dive into the Manhattan Project and the H bomb development, I found the two books by Richard Rhodes to be the best I’ve found. (The Making of the Atomic Bomb and Dark Sun) The latter has a great rundown on the Soviet espionage efforts and Oppenheimer’s fall from grace.

      Still on WW-II. Dan Van der Vat did The [Atlantic|Pacific] Campaign books covering the naval warfare. I found those two to be good overviews.

      Other deep dives: At Dawn We Slept and Miracle at Midway by Gordon Prange (et al) are good on strategy and tactics.

      Hmm, I don’t know if anybody has done a good one or two volume history of WW-II. I’m not sure it’s possible.

      1. > one or two volume

        There is! “Total War” by Wint and Calvocoressi. Covers all theaters, much of the political and logistical background, and various individuals as well as the usual “war” stuff. Obviously there are limits to detail in a single volume (even if the paperback is three inches thick!) but they put all the pieces in good order. It’s also quite readable despite the density.

        Despite normally being packaged as six volumes, Churchill’s history of WWII is also good, though far too much of the first volume is taken up with obscure British politics. And the set is valuable for the same reason “real” historians discount it – Churchill wasn’t just there, he made many of the major decisions about the direction of the war.

      2. Depends on if you count the Time-Life card set. I had that as a kid, and it was a great stepping off point for WW2 history.

        (You know, the about 6″x6″ cards with a plastic bin you could organize them in. They came every month or so with a bunch of cards in different topical areas about the war.)

        I wonder if those cards still exist at Dad’s house……………

      3. sounds like another Amazon buy coming up. 🙂 I’ll have to check my history stack (currently out in the shop); I think I have Dunnigan and Bay’s book on WW-II, but it’s been years since I read it.

    12. I’ve read a lot more biographies than historical overviews, but a great one of the California Gold Rush is The Age of Gold, by H.W. Brands. It goes into some of the larger implications of that era, the effects on the national character, and it has some hints of how the find delayed and deepened the Civil War. Plus it has a lot about John and Jessie Frémont, who are quite the characters.

      Thus far I’ve read the Chernow biographies of Hamilton and Washington; we got a Jefferson biography but I ran aground on the vagueness of that particular historian. I haven’t gotten to the Adams bio or the recent Grant bio.

    13. I forget who turned me on to it – I think Mr. Heinlein in Expanded Universe – but H. G. Well’s “The Outline of History” was described as the first attempt to write a systems analysis of history. I must admit that I’ve never read it straight through, but I’ve read several chapters and it’s a quite good two volume world history.
      For the record, I took my high school world history as a more-or-less college-level correspondence course in about 1972-1973 from the local university. Not as a protest against anything, just because it was the most expedient way to fit another course in. As I recall, when I took American history in a traditional classroom, we didn’t quite make it to World War I, though that was partially because my teacher abruptly retired in mid year and they brought in a replacement. Of course, I had other sources for the intervening years.
      When my son took honors history in high school about ten years ago, I was amazed that all of the answers were multiple choice – and weren’t “right or wrong” but “which is the best explanation,” which made it all subjective and usually based on the liberal interpretation of the subject of question and events. (And I could, and have, rant for hours about his “government and economics” class, which was mostly spent on the teacher’s self-aggrandizement…)

    14. Lord only knows what reading level it is deemed, but I greatly enjoyed the Penguin translation of Livy’s History of the Roman Republic. Among other things it proved instructive about how many of our contemporary problems have existed throughout recorded history — with a concomitant lesson in how intractable such problems are and the unlikelihood of them being solved any time soon.

      If you can find Harold Lamb’s biographies they are highly readable although some will likely want to season his admiration of Hannibal (for example) with a selection of omitted facts about various nuances of Carthaginian culture.

    15. The local library has four sales per year, and I’ve been picking up history books from the mid-60s or earlier. I did, in fact, scoop up the Durant set ($2 each), as well as History of the United States by EB Andrews (6vols, 1927).

      I’m also acquiring theology books at a prodigious rate (!!!) — the only problem is that I don’t have enough time to read all of the treasures that I’ve been finding.

      1. It strikes me that I have heard mostly Good Things about Churchill’s History of the English Speaking Peoples. That seems a fairly comprehensive subject.

        From Wiki:
        The later volumes were completed when Churchill was over eighty. A full one-third of the last volume was devoted to the military minutiae of the American Civil War. Social history, the agricultural revolution, and the industrial revolution hardly get a mention. Political opponent Clement Attlee suggested the work should have been titled “Things in history that interested me.”

        Despite these criticisms, the books were bestsellers and reviewed favourably on both sides of the Atlantic. In the Daily Telegraph, J.H. Plumb wrote: “This history will endure; not only because Sir Winston has written it, but also because of its own inherent virtues — its narrative power, its fine judgment of war and politics, of soldiers and statesmen, and even more because it reflects a tradition of what Englishmen in the hey-day of their empire thought and felt about their country’s past.”

        The four volumes are:

        The Birth of Britain
        The New World
        The Age of Revolution
        The Great Democracies

      1. There’s a fascinating essay by Tim Cahill about Mt. St. Helens that describes the devastation, right down to the body found wearing a t-shirt emblazoned “I Survived Mt. St. Helens”—in advance of the event. He has a follow-up essay basically explaining his precognition with, basically, that he asked geologists what the worst-case scenario would be for an eruption and wrote that.

        I’ll add for geology John McPhee. He did a great cross-section of the U.S. along I-80 and a fascinating essay on the Atchafalaya (the future route of the Mississippi).

    16. > 5. “The World Crisis,” by Winston Churchill.

      > There’s a gap in the American Revolution that needs to be filled.

      Try A History of the English-Speaking Peoples by the same author. It’s eminently readable, and gives a valuable perspective from the British side (and a fair one — Churchill was half American, and did not forget it). It’s also quite good on the U.S. Civil War.

      Caveat: the four-volume unabridged edition is probably the way to go. I’ve heard that the more recent one-volume abridgment has been edited for political correctness.

  7. The problem is, worse than that, that these children (a stretching of the point, since some of them I suspect are early thirties) have some reason to THINK they’re educated.

    *mournful* Think early 40s. I think that was more focused on the really intelligent, though.

  8. “…don’t get me started on how religious education in the main churches is possibly even worse than secular education.”

    I have to agree with you on that. Oldest son paid more attention to what members of the congregation (including Mom and Dad) did and said in and out of Church, and how well they adhered to the Commandments, and made his decision to undergo Confirmation on that basis. Youngest son wasn’t able to do that, and the crap they spouted in the RE classes didn’t make sense to him, and his questions drove the instructors into screaming fits (literally). Even the pastor couldn’t satisfactorily answer his questions; so he decided not to go through Confirmation, and subsequently ran down the LGBTQ road in college. He desperately wanted to belong to something, and they sucked him in hook, line and sinker.

    1. Youngest son wasn’t able to do that, and the crap they spouted in the RE classes didn’t make sense to him, and his questions drove the instructors into screaming fits (literally).

      Ooooh, that pisses me off soooooo much…. Why the heck do folks volunteer to be teachers if they can’t even get the idea of 1) refining the questions, 2) figuring out possible places to look, 3) NOT knowing all the answers, and knowing how to point out that perfect knowledge simply isn’t humanly possible?

      Elf was great for RE, because he had FUN with people asking questions he didn’t know. Got a couple where he hadn’t even though of the line that lead to the question, which was a delight.
      Heck, there are multiple radio shows that consist almost entirely of “try to stump the host” for EWTN. (Catholic Answers is the most fun one.) Sometimes you can identify that the problem is in the question– usually the person got incorrect information from a prior question, either because the answerer was wrong, or misunderstanding– and then there’s some things that simply aren’t defined.
      For example, there isn’t a binding teaching on “how late is too late to mass for it to fulfill your Sunday obligation?”

      Sorry, bit of a rant…. I just don’t get why someone would take on that kind of responsibility and then half-ass it.

      1. I have my own little one, I’m so glad she’s here, she’s awesome, but… I have to admit that that particular responsibility is one of the ones that scares me half to death.

        1. I got through it by telling myself that God loves stupid people, too, and blaming whatever idiot got mad about questions instead of blaming God.

          1. If you read the Psalms, you find you’re allowed to ask God what the heck does He think He’s doing.

            1. Sometimes his answer is, “It’s a deity thing, you wouldn’t understand.”

              He is annoyingly correct about such things, too. I have sufficient trouble thinking in three and a half dimensions to recognize that n-dimensions is beyond me.

              1. Right. Some times he answers “I’m the Deity who are you?” See Job Chapters 38 and 39 for details and some really awesome poetry.

                1. My answer to that question is usually “I’m the guy who’s having to deal with the screwed up world You created. As You said, I wasn’t there and I wasn’t involved. The Creation seems to run on the premise that responsibility and authority must be equal; if I’m judged on the former than I want the latter. Until You fix it, I’ll deal with it as best I can.”

                  That question usually gets trotted out by priest types who want me to shut up and go away.

            1. I like to throw that one out because sometimes people feel guilty about asking questions, like it’s sacrilegious or something.
              It’s also okay to tell them “we really don’t know the answer to that” or “let’s look into that together”.
              Because the finite always has trouble comprehending the infinite.

              1. Also show them James 1:5: “If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.”

                Basically: if you have no idea, ask God. He’ll answer (provided you’re willing to listen, of course). 😀

            1. Which reminds me of a coffee mug: “I wouldn’t have any trouble managing my anger if you could manage your stupidity.”

      2. I don’t think they’re malicious, just incompetent. Especially when an Odd lands a proper teacher type, who expects kids to sit quietly and receive their wisdom. My kids are the worst because theology is part of our home school curriculum.

        Normal adults don’t cope well with a kid who knows more about the topic the adult is teaching than the adult does.

        1. I run into a lot of the result of folks who can’t say “I do not know.” Or who have a theory and go all Galileo on teaching it as fact, but can’t defend it with any sort of evidence.

          Now, true, a lot of the folks who that screws up were looking for an excuse…but ugh.

          1. I run into a lot of the result of folks who can’t say `I do not know.`

            I cannot say “I do not know” — it always comes out “I do not know but I know where and how to look it up and see what answers are available.” The idea that we can develop knowledge seems the most important one t teach.

            Well, that and a righteous skepticism of all “knowledge” that is offered.

      3. Elf was great for RE, because he had FUN with people asking questions he didn’t know.
        I love people who ask me odd questions. Not entrapment questions, mind you, but ones I haven’t thought of. Because it means they’re actually running the material through their brain and poking at it.
        I had an older couple when I was teaching adult Bible studies that were sorta new to Bible studies, and they would ask sometimes painfully ignorant questions*, and sometimes brilliantly insightful ones, and occasionally totally off-the-wall ones. I love them dearly, because it was always out of a desire to learn and grow.

        (* And I mean “ignorant” in the non-judgmental, innocent sense. They had never been adequately taught some things, and I had to make sure I didn’t assume basic things when I taught. I loved having them in class.)

      4. Because the person ‘teaching’ thinks it’s all about them (they’re more into the position, not the teaching), they’re dogmatic, don’t know as much as they think they do, and never ask for help?

      5. “how late is too late to mass for it to fulfill your Sunday obligation?”

        My dad was military. “Late” was closer than five minutes before the opening hymn. I get nervous when I’m five minutes later than a vague time that I’ve told somebody I’m going somewhere.

        1. By habit and preference, I’m the same.

          Sadly, my tiny, home-made horde is fully capable of taking twenty minutes to put their shoes back on, or having a melt-down because– gasp!– we are going to Mass on Sunday morning, same as every week, and the only time they are all woken up at the same time!

          1. Shoes? Where were they? I need to know!

            I go to pick up the oldest two from event last night. Since my husband is working nights this week, this required taking the younger four. Who managed two socks and five shoes and boots between them. The nine year old had four of the aforementioned items, all his, even.

            1. Oh, I came up with a brilliant solution– we have a shelf in the livingroom (one of the walmart no-tool shelves for use with those cloth cubes) and we have a big wire basket for shoes, then two boxes for socks.

              So 90% of the time, their shoes are on the ground inside of 20 feet. But THREE TIMES in the last two months they’ve actually been in the shoe box! And only half the time do they go to the unfolded sock box instead of the box full of folded socks!

              1. We have a pile of shoes in the entryway. We *did* have a crate for a while, but our geriatric cats decided to pee all over it, while they won’t pee on the loose shoes.

          2. My horde is only three, and the older two are capable of being hustled quite nicely, while the littlest is carried as needed. There are definite advantages to being a strapping lass.

        2. Ugh. People thinking it’s just fine to show up 10 to 20 minutes late for meetings. That was probably the hardest thing to adjust to going back into the civilian world. Well, that, and expecting me to go over everything I’ve just spent the past 10 to 20 minutes talking about. Maybe I should start bringing 5 day old carp left out in the hot sun to throw at them as they come through the door?

    2. Heh. After Sunday’s service a few of us engaged the Pastor in a debate over a chorus in the service’s first praise song saying Jesus had “robbed the grave.” We concluded “rejected” the grave would have been more accurate, as the grave had no claim on Jesus and therefore could no have beent robbed.

      Yeah, we’re one of those churches.

      1. Well, there’s a really old tradition of talking about Death as a robber, thief, or bandit. So “robbing the grave” is basically “stealing stuff back from the thief.” Which is not thievery in the legal sense, but in the folkloric sense.

        And I forget what it’s called, but there is a rhetorical trope for this. Some kind of “Let’s pretend it’s true for me, when really I’m saying it’s you who did the bad thing.”

      2. Or if ‘grave’ is taken as a collective, the wording could have meant he was robbing all the graves?

        1. No. Our pastor knows what to expect when talking to Beloved Spouse and I and those inclined to hang around chatting with us after the service. I think he likes conversations which a) don’t involve how horrible relatives/authorities/life is treating somebody and b) demonstrate I was awake for some part of the service.

      1. Could you imagine if people actually paid attention to the subject? They might stop voting for Democrats!

          1. Isn’t all History fiction? You must be referring to the stuff which is honest about being made up and therefore more factual than the Official History.

  9. “To know that we know, what we know, and that we do not know, what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” Presented to me as an ancient Chinese proverb, but I do not actually know its origin. Nevertheless, there is more than a modicum of truth to it.

  10. I was prepping for a homeschool co-op class on the Punic Wars. Our source material to be read at home beforehand was written by somebody who thought history was boring the way it was taught in school, all dates and places and battle names, so she wrote her own book with stories and legends interwoven with the history. In some spots not too bad. Punic Wars was one of her most awful renderings of history I’ve run across. Story of the elephants coming out of the snow, sleet and mists to scare the Roman troops – calls them wild beasts. Then, two sentences later declares them trained war elephants. Sure, they aren’t domesticated, but she implied wild, stampede rather than trained stomping.

    Then, she goes on to conflate all the Scipios, all three wars, Hannibal with Hamalcar and Hasrubal, and Hannibal’s death as a result of the annihilation of Carthage (that really occurred 40+ years after Hannibal died). She declared that most of the fighting was on water – only true of the first war and I guess Hannibal’s 15 year rampage up and down the Italian Peninsula didn’t count, nor the fighting in Spain, or the siege of Carthage. Hannibal’s only fame was fighting with elephants (which were mostly dead by the time they left the Alps). Hannibal lost “the battle” and ran away. When he heard Carthage burned, he drank poison.

    1. Proving you don’t need to be part of Hollywood to write Hollywood History.

  11. The Trojan War. That was fought because the Greeks wanted free access to birth control, right?

        1. Out of pocket with annual eye doctor appointment this afternoon, coupled with travel with Beloved Spouse to neighboring city to shop for some groceries not locally available (store brand stuff.)

          This afternoon we are doing a movie and a date, something I prize even more than making bad jokes and obvious points hereabouts.

          I will attempt to atone by staying up late and looking for puns unpunned and points unbelabored.

          1. I will confess that I have, for several days now, been puzzling over how that particular brand name came into being. Given the general purpose of that product it seems imprudent to select a name associated with intrusive entry of an invading and destructive army.

            “Please sir, Mr. Pharmacist, I would like a three-pack of that product whose name comes first to mind when you think of a city being raped*.”

            *rape: the wanton destruction or spoiling of a place or area

            1. It’s the idea that he can sneak it in without her minding!

              Or possibly, I haven’t looked it up, invented in one of the many Troys.

            2. The college I briefly attended identified itself as “Trojan.” There were Trojan helmets all over everything; letterhead, signs, etc. All praise the ball teams, for whom the rest of the facility must genuflect.

              As the police were escorting me off campus I commented that going to a school named for a brand of condom had probably been a bad decision anyway…

              1. I confess to not understanding the reasoning behind a college identifying its sports teams with a military who fought bravely and were betrayed by its civilian leadership.

                Then again, my local college has spent the last thirty or so years boosting their athletic teams — The Spartans — and constructing ever more luxurious facilities: gyms recreational facilities, student housing and such.

                It’s almost as if they have no understanding of the World before last week.

              2. Stolen from The Blue Kangaroo….

                “You’ll have to forgive $NAME. He doesn’t even have a birth certificate. His parents only have a letter of apology from the Trojan company.”

    1. There was a post/tweet yesterday(?) that said the Trojan Horse was filled with Trojans and given to the Greeks:

      “BEN RHODES SAID JOURNALISTS ARE 27-YEAR-OLDS WHO LITERALLY KNOW NOTHING. What Happens When You Fire All Your Copy Editors. “The Long View column on March 18 misstated the circumstances surrounding the Trojan horse in Greek legend. It was the Trojans who allowed the horse within the gates; it was not the Greeks, whose soldiers were inside the horse.”
      Posted at 12:12 pm by Glenn Reynolds “

      1. > when you fire your copy editors

        Worse luck, when *didn’t* fire your copy editors, and this year’s collection of low-paid postgrad interns filling those slots doesn’t see anything wrong with the story…

      2. They then went on to argue that, because of that info, it should be called the Greek Horse. *facepalm*

        1. I could see the logic behind calling it the Greek horse. But if the name had been good enough for thousands of years, why change it now?

  12. My concern on history is I’m finding things that happened during my lifetime are viewed as being as distant and unimportant as the Romans. The Cuban missile crisis, the pill, Watergate, Vietnam. Might as well have been a thousand years ago to most kids, but the echos both legal and economic are still hanging in the air from the changes they made.

    1. Progressive view of history. That stuff is meaningless, because we’ve progressed as a people, and those who came before are a bunch of racist, sexist primitives who’ve never used Facebook. Old beliefs and customs and laws are just a primitive relic holding back The Glorious Future, and should be discarded.

      1. Got space on the porch for my rocking chair? Talking to a very young friend one time discussing the cold war and the end. Morphed into a discussion about a local event. All that stuff that was just 20 years in the past was to him ancient history. Listening to me talk about it by being there was as if the ancients had risen from the deeps.

        1. bumped post before I finished my thought.
          What drove that home is the two co-workers who are young enough they don’t remember it happening very clearly for one (remembers it sorta, nothing firm stands out), or much at all (was too young for it to sink in even if he’d stared at the tv all day when it happened) for the younger one.

          1. You want to feel old? Eldest son, born a year after 9/11, will be voting for presidential electors next election.

            *Makes mentap note to learn electors names and tell everyone who asks who precisely she’s voting for.

            1. Was talking about a “Lady of Interest” a bit back,(I was kinda considering getting more involved with her, dithered, then moved to Texas) and realized the cute little 6 year old daughter she had me keep an eye on for a few minutes while she did a bit of work, is now over 20, and almost the age her Mom was when she had her.

        2. WWII, Koren War, didn’t they have problems with dinosaurs? Triceratops, etc.? ** running away ** FYI. Got room for my rocking chair on that porch?

        3. It is disheartening to consider that the time lapsed since the last moon landing* in 1972 (46 years) is over double the time between the end of WWII and the first moon landing (22 years.)

          *Of which we know

          1. I’ve sometimes wondered if the sudden demise of the Moon program was some kind of Cold War deal with the Soviets. And if so, what we might have gotten in exchange.

            Think about it. Screw the treaties and the “for all mankind” bit. There’s a tiny city on the Moon, flying the Stars and Stripes. And whenever anyone in Moscow, Peking, Pyongyang, or wherever looked up at the Moon, America would be up there, looking down on them, like lords in their castle.

            The propaganda value for the Moonbase would have been YUUUGE.

            1. I suspect that the next people who go to the moon will be really surprised to find out they weren’t the first.
              It’s also likely that those of us born during Apollo will die of old age before the next landing.

    2. “The Cuban missile crisis, the pill, Watergate, Vietnam.”

      I was too young for any of those things. What bothered me is that we were never taught about any of those things in school, yet we were assumed to know and understand them in spite of that. The teaching of world history ended sometime around WWI or WWII (if you were lucky enough to get that far), and that was that.

      When I had a history professor explain the Cuban Missile Crisis in college, I was so grateful. World History, roughly the middle of the 17th century to the modern era in one semester. This included the reading of four novels, one of which was Anna Karenina. And his finals questions were legendary—he ordered pizza for one class that stayed beyond the five-hour mark. Amazing teacher. Unfortunately, that was the only class I ever took from him, since he died of undiscovered cancer shortly after class got out. (… and I just realized I’m a couple of years away from the age he was when he died. He died really young for a full professor.)

      1. What bothered me is that we were never taught about any of those things in school, yet we were assumed to know and understand them in spite of that.


        Although the so-called “lessons” on the Vietnam war, I could’ve gone without. (Let’s just say teachers flipping out about politics predates cellphone videos.)

        1. It’s deliberate. You give the name and the idea that it’s a bad thing, but don’t go into details- your indoctrinatees wind up thinking it’s a bad event, but don’t know much more than it’s a bad thing.

          Later, you can make comparisons to that previous bad event to something that’s coming up, and get people to have a visceral bad feeling towards it.

          1. *feral grin* She made the mistake of asserting that all draftees were either crazy or hated the US.

            That is how I found out dad had been drafted, although he was sent to Germany rather than Vietnam.

      2. I wasn’t taught about the Cuban Missile Crisis either. But… it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I found a map and learned exactly where Cuba is. Because EVERY SINGLE ONE of the maps we had in school, from the big wall maps to the ones in our textbooks and encyclopedias, and many of the ones I’ve seen elsewhere, show Puerto Rico, Haiti, etc…. but there’s just blue water where Cuba is.

        I used to think only the Soviets altered their maps for political reasons…

          1. Ditto.

            And some of the maps our schools had were missing states!
            (School was remodeled when the baby boom hit, maps were put in place with, apparently, the expectation that the entire class would try to chin-up on them. So actual maps that were used were elsewhere, and that was only pulled down when a substitute mistook it for a projector screen.)

            1. Related fun story: when Reagan was running for office– not sure if it was Governor of California or for the presidency– he actually went to the county seat for my dad’s home county.

              That is when they discovered that the REALLY big American flag they had (never used except for major events, because it was so expensive) was a few stars short. 🙂

                1. No joke. He charmed my grandmother.

                  This is rather like “he made a face on Rushmore smile.”

                  Left through the kitchen after speaking. She wouldn’t have anybody say a cross word about him, decades later.

              1. An old Marine told me about being stationed in Germany in the 1950s. He got notice that there was “something wrong” with the flag by HQ, so he grabbed a couple of privates for a flag detail and went to check it out.

                The flag had recently been replaced, and the new one had something like 36 stars. It had been in Supply for a *long* time.

                Protocol said it had to come down, but I always thought it was a grand thing that it finally got a chance to fly…

  13. I’m reminded of nephew #2, who took a long time to start talking… and then wouldn’t shut up.

    1. Our son was like that; emulated Silent Cal for the longest time, then suddenly you couldn’t get him to stop, mostly asking questions.

    2. My own son, too. Come to think of it, the elder daughter, too.

      The middle child – I would swear that she came out of the womb talking, and never slowed down.

      1. Younger son, the beloved weirdo, talked to no one but me till age THREE. Dan was terrified and wanted to take him to an expert. And when I said he talked fine, he wanted to take ME to a psychiatrist.

      1. Pfui. Any idiot can tie shoes. Tying them so they can be untied is the real trick, else you could just do a workaround with a hot glue gun.

        1. [flashback to yesteryear, and the hip-hop style of three feet of trailing untied shoelaces…]

          I never stepped on one of those trailing laces. Really I didn’t.

  14. “I have on myself a history of prostitution, for instance.”


    *considers a non-awkward way of asking the question, decides there isn’t one…*

      1. Well, I read that as “On the Kindle that is in my pocket.” Or some such. Some people’s minds…

        Now, “I myself have a history of prostitution” would probably have caused a sprained eyelid or two, at least before the blood caffeine level hit fifty percent and “context” once again became a relevant factor.

        I do so love the English language…

    1. I knew writing was going to be a tough field to break into, but I didn’t know it was going to be THAT tough.

  15. We are both of a certain age, Sarah. Until today, though, I didn’t realize that the death of Latin was worldwide.

    Eighth grade (which, let me think – 1973 or 1974, it would have been), my small town high school not only dropped the Latin requirement, they ceased offering it. The (explicit, anyway) reason I ended up in a private school. Where I also did not learn Latin. Sigh…

    1. My mother’s sister-in-law, born 1909, told me that before her marriage she taught Latin to middle school students – with a two year Normal school degree.
      When I got to high school in 1971, was was odd man out for taking a year of French, the only language offering, and less than 5% of my class joined me in the subject.

      1. Well, Latin was definitely in my local high school in 1971 – the next older sib was President of the Latin Club that year.

        I remember it distinctly, because it sent me off on a clandestine research project. There was a bit of discussion about the costume design for the end of year party – and Mom made it quite clear that Romans were not Cretans – and in any case…

        (Yes, I was all of eleven years old. But having read Stranger at least twice by then…)

        Note: Latin may not have been required by the school then; it may have been an option for two years of foreign language. That I do not remember. I know it was dropped just before I would have entered high school, though. Probably because the teacher retired, and that was something they couldn’t just put the football coach to doing.

            1. I also took a year of Russian, from a Hungarian who fought in the revolution… in 1989. You can likely figure how interesting hat class was.

              Oh, and French was taught by a Vietnamese woman who fled on the boats as a teenager.

        1. Latin was offered in my son’s public high school ( graduated in 1995) and included history and massive doses of culture in the lessons. This class is responsible for part of his love of history. Helped with his English writing as we’ve attempted to force English grammar to fit into Latin rules (as in the sin of the split infinitive).

      1. Someday… I have bits and pieces, but just barely enough to eventually figure out such things as a taxonomic name, and to recognize when a root is Greek or Latin.

      1. I took Latin in high school. The teacher was, shall we say, exceedingly merciful to those who needed a language requirement. So it was pretty much a study hall.

        That said, I don’t think I presented much zeal myself. I had already taken some languages, and I thought I needed to take Latin because that’s what an educated person does. But I found it difficult and there weren’t any interesting readings, so I kinda faded out.

        But I did learn something; and when I went back and started reading Latin books, a lot of that something was still there. I just wish my Latin teacher hadn’t died before I started using his stuff.

      2. Yep, I took two years of it, under an excellent teacher. He was good enough that the entire class (25, with a waiting list for the courses we had) petitioned the board for another year of Latin or a year of Greek. They turned us down.

    2. Never had Latin even offered in any of my schools. Dover High School in NH offered Latin during the period my kids were going through school. Eldest took it, youngest did not. Significantly helped the older son, especially when he got to college.

      I wonder if there’s any particular language that autistic kids (anywhere on the spectrum) do better learning and using? Dang. Now I’m going to have to do an internet search for it.

      1. Ancient Greek. Marsh isn’t autistic, but he has some of the sensory, etc. He took to Greek like a duck to water. On our trip to NYC when he was sixteen, he was translating the Iliad on the plane. He kept getting the same question “Homework?” “OH, heck, no, FUN.” People gave him the oddest looks.

        1. “What are you reading?”
          “Modern Chemistry.”
          “It’s interesting.”
          …and they back slowly away. Or something.

    3. As an aside, there’s an ATM machine at the Vatican with menus in Latin…

      A local pharmacy has a point-of-sale terminal that’s bilingual. English and… that Spanish looks wrong… nope, it’s Esperanto. The only Esperanto I’ve ever seen “in the wild.”

      1. The POS terminal at one of our grocery chains here (nowhere near Canada) forces you to put the chip in three times before letting you swipe (when your card chip has gone bad). When it allows you to swipe, it switches to French. Except the “Yes”/”No” buttons.

        1. most chip readers do as default. most people working the register don’t know that

  16. The immersion method is probably better known by the title its originator, Professor Harold Hill, gave it: “The Think System.”

    Which is why modern educators call it “immersion.”

  17. “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” – Mark Twain

    For example, people who believe they’re educated when their heads have merely been filled with drivel.

    1. Ah so. Then Master RES, I have several degrees of certified Higher Drivel. However, I must clarify that with actually having spent many years gaining knowledge on my own, I could describe myself as being somewhat better educated than my peers. At the very least, it makes me a contender in Trivia Pursuit and Jeopardy games.

      1. It is possible that what you have in your head is not drivel, but certificates from institutes of Higher Learning are not demonstrative. Look at the vast nu,ber of people who appear in Public Life incapable of demonstrating evidence of actual thought.

  18. Alas, the comment I made yesterday is in moderation, probably because I included links to my sources. So, here is my unlinked-comment — google “nces literacy” and you should be able to find them.

    Sarah, I think you are being overly optimistic.

    I’ve been looking at the literacy statistics for the US, and they are frightening. Consider being able to “compute and compare the cost per ounce of food items”, or “compare viewpoints in two editorials”. According to a study sponsored by the National Center of Education Statistics, if you could do these tasks, your literacy level was “Proficient”.

    The results of the study? Of people who received Bachelor’s degrees (ie, graduated with a four-year degree in college), only 31% were “Proficient”! Ie, most college graduates aren’t able to do things like understand newspaper editorials, or figure out which box of food is a better deal.


    So how on earth are we to expect people to understand history, or the basics of our government when people graduate from university still being unable to read?!

    1. This is running into my “what were the parameters of the studies?” suspicions. Thus far every ‘people are idiots’ study I’ve seen has been rigged in favor of proving people are idiots rather than actually testing things in a useful manner.

        1. Am I reading the same lines as you are? I read that the average quantitative literacy score for the unemployed is 270, whereas part-time workers were 287 and full-time 296.

          But the general point is a good one: who is taking the test, and what incentives do they have is important.

          1. I took the parenthetical to be the in-this-ability score, set by the scale they showed on the primary page; the main number *should,* according to the note at the bottom, be an average of the scores. (Assuming they mean mean rather than median, very easy to screw up.)

      1. A more recent study by the same group, using an international standard, gets other results:


        Catch: it included doing tests in Spanish, which is kinda designed to get really bad results. I know too many folks who were pulled into Spanish only classes and came out basically incoherent for speaking in both languages. (For heaven’s sake, what variety of Spanish was used changed from teacher to teacher.)

        1. Oy, and some dialects of Spanish are REALLY incompatible with others. Especially with Mexican Spanish. (I have a friend who emigrated from Columbia and does a lot of translation. According to her (Note her origin) Mexican Spanish is almost not Spanish anymore. It has the least useful crossovers with other dialects she was versed in.

          1. I took a couple of years of Spanish in high school that used a teaching telenovela called Destinos (which I think is still available online). It traveled all over the various Spanish-speaking countries, and made certain to point out differences in styles and language. Naturally, in California, we mostly concentrated on the Mexican dialect.

    2. I don’t know about Sarah, but I don’t especially trust tests that supposedly establish nation-wide ability. Too familiar with people doing a cost/benefit on how much effort to put into a test to think it is really someone doing their best job.

        1. True. And the questions might be so easy that many people purposely mess them up for fun.

          However, I’m not very impressed with the abilities of many of today’s college students. For example, when I was younger I used to check out the textbooks in campus bookstores and buy any that seemed interesting. Unfortunately, over the years, I noticed that the psychology and sociology textbooks started looking like elementary school books: large margins, bright pictures and “motivating” sidebars. For example this January in New York University’s bookstore, one of the psychology textbooks devoted most of a page to a picture of Beyonce and another female pop star, stated that these two women gave millions to charity, and explained “This is known as ‘altruism.’ Psychologists study why people are altruistic.” Apparently this is now college-level material.

  19. This concerns me as, unless something drastically changes, I’m not going to be able to homeschool my kids for some years yet. I’ve got about 2 years before the oldest is going to have to go to Kindergarten. Small town is at least a plus, but It’s worrisome. The upside is both my husband and I tended to be the ‘argue with the teacher’ sort and both kids show signs of that sort of contrariness.

    1. I’m not going to be able to homeschool my kids for some years yet.
      Oh heck, you should be “homeschooling” them now. It’s merely ensuring that you use every opportunity to communicate a love of learning and curiosity, and to fill their noggins with knowledge.
      It can be as little as telling them small facts when you’re doing something together to as much as getting a book or a video about a subject because they want to know something.
      “Homeschooling” is nothing more than taking responsibility for what goes into the heads of your kids. There’s a range of how much of that you do yourselves and how deeply you dive into it.

      But, don’t worry about it. Just talk and give knowledge and curiosity. (It sounds like you might already have managed to kick-start the critical thinking function. 🙂 )

      1. I was speaking of their formal schooling. They’ve already gotten the simplified physics versions of several things in response to ‘why’. Or at least the 3 year old has. The 1 year old is still at ‘goo’. and endless repeats of ‘dada dada dada’

        1. There are some superb lessons available on Youtube, lessons I unfortunately lack leisure to track down just now. You might look into the Khan Academy videos, or try this:

          Is starting pint, yes? WARNING: POTENTIAL TIME SUCK!

          1. Here it is – Eureka!

            First in a series of about thirty-some videos explaining basics of Physics.

        2. Look up They Might Be Giants’ educational CD/DVD sets. “Here Come the ABCs,” “Here Come the 123s,” and “Here Comes Science.” Put them together with Schoolhouse Rock and you’ve got a whole bunch of catchy tunes that teach a wide variety of basic topics.

  20. Hmmm, regarding the Resurrection/Ascension confusion, if one were feeling charitable, one could assume that the writers meant that Jesus did not die permanently but ascended to heaven, and that the statement was worded poorly..

    1. I usually try to be charitable about figuring out what the heck someone meant, but that’s a pretty dang absolute “no” type statement.

      She might’ve gotten confused and “misspoke,” though. After re-writing it like six times to try to avoid Wrong Tiles?

      1. Well, she got the Islamic interpretation correct at least: since they believe Jesus was taken bodily to Heaven and an illusion was crucified in his place.

        Speaks to their priorities?

      2. I just had to follow two links before I could find the original post to check its context myself, and I find a correction issued and the original phrasing apparently removed.

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