Humans are imperfect and transitory beings.  Our moods, attachments and directions, often change.  You don’t even need to scan the Ashley Madison ranks for that.  You just need to go to your local craigslist “Lovely puppy, two years old, moving in with boyfriend who doesn’t want him.  Free to a good home.”  (The ones who try to get rid of their elderly pets?  Those I want to shoot.  We have gone through this six times now, seeing a cat down to that final spiral, trying to keep them as comfortable as possible and give them as much love as possible because it’s going to be a long time before we see them again — yeah, I do know what theologians say. I don’t believe them.  Souls on the order of a human, no.  Able to partake their humans redemption? I believe so.  Otherwise Himself is not a gentleman — and OMG cleaning up stuff where they forget where the box is.  We’re going through this with an 18 yo now, and when he goes we have two not very far behind.  But they’re family members.  More importantly, they’re bonded to you and your family.  In this case, the vow is not spoken, but is there.  Upending their little world at the end?  Putting them in the hands of strangers who almost for sure won’t have our patience?  People who do that are SCUM.)

I suspect that since long before civilization our associations and bonds were held together with vows, bonds, and a given word.  Yeah, people will default on that — humans are imperfect — but it’s pretty clear who defaulted, and how to repair it, if the bonds, both ways, are clear.

We know from earliest recorded history that the “kings” (at about the level of tribal lords if that.  Remember Ulysses, king of Ithaca, plowing his field with a team of oxen?  Yeah.  Not stuff you’d catch Louis XIV doing.  Or for that matter Chaka Zulu.  Those were more kings and chiefs as we understand them, but human groups used to be bands.  Like that band of banditi led by Romulus and Remus, which took all the women from the nearby band and proceeded to spawn Romans) held their servants by fealty, oaths, often with the gods thrown in for good measure, in case you felt like defaulting.

Feudalism, which is a sophisticated form of government evolved from the tribal, was held together at every level by mutual bonds.  The lord to the vassal, the vassal to the Lord, world without end.

In a world torn by invasions, where the Pax Romana had collapsed, the vows and given word were the architraves of society.

Did they get broken?  Oh, holy hell, yes.  Read up on the War of the Roses sometime. Humans are flawed and imperfect.  But it held enough to build civilization on.

Did marriage vows, solemnized before priest and society get broken?  Eh.  Your generation — whichever one it is — didn’t invent sex or adultery.  It’s been around always, and people are flawed.  But it held enough that the married couple/family was the foundation of society.  Good enough to raise the kids.  Something to build on.

We haven’t gone to many weddings recently.  It’s the age we’re in.  There was a time in our late twenties when we went to several weddings a year, and it would probably have been a monthly activity if we hadn’t moved away from all our friends from high school and college.   Right now, we’ve gone to a “second batch wedding” of a friend’s daughter.  There have been others of people marrying late or whatever.  Not a lot.  They might ramp up, they might not.  It’s not the eighties anymore.

But I’ve watched movies.  Okay, pieces of movies, usually when my husband is watching something and I’m doing something else in the room.  I am not precisely ADHD, but most movies don’t have interesting enough plots to keep me riveted.  Even when I read, I’m usually doing something else like crocheting or (audio books) cleaning the house.  If I didn’t have audio books, the house would never get cleaned.  I bore easily and wonder off.  But I have watched a lot of weddings, in a lot of media.  Honestly it started with the year right after 9/11 when I mindlessly watched a lot of sitcoms because it was easier than thinking.

That’s where I first came across the concept of writing your own wedding vows.  I thought “that’s weird” but assumed the same generation that thinks the height of originality is misspelling your kids’ names had decided they wanted the promises of lifelong love, support and fidelity  to be more poetic or something.

And then I started seeing/hearing examples.  And boy was I wrong.

Most wedding vows — at least real people’s we’ve heard — are rambling incoherent speeches that don’t even have any kind of promise in them.  They usually start with “Ever since we met” pass on to reassurances of love, and if they are semi-decent, end with stuff like “I shall always love your independent spirit, and will do my best to support you.”  The professional ones, which we hear in movies, are surprisingly not much better.  The “Serious” ones are poetic and pretty, but if they remember to promise to always love, you’re ahead of the curve.  The funny ones…  I overheard one of those recently, will say things like “I promise to never blow my nose in the shower.”  “I’ll keep your bicycle in good working order.”

Half the time when I hear these “wedding vows” I start yelling “That’s not a wedding.”  “That’s not a marriage.”

I mean, I can promise to keep a friend’s bicycle in good working order (I could, if I knew how to) without it carrying anything else with it, much less love and lifelong fidelity.  Even promising to always love someone is not a wedding vow, and it doesn’t make a marriage.  I have tons of divorced friends where they and their exes still “love” the other despite having married someone else.  There are many forms of love.  How do you define love?  How do you KNOW when you’re in breach.

And that’s where we come back again to “do you divorce the guy because he broke his ‘vow’ of not blowing his nose in the shower?”

You’re going to say I’m being silly.  Sure, the wedding/marriage comes with assumed bonds.  Everyone knows what being married means.  You’re signing contracts that make you an economic team, etc.  Sure.

But those are laws around what you’re doing.  Those vows?  That’s you putting the yoke on your shoulders, voluntarily.  They’re putting your honor on the line.  If you didn’t promise, personally promise, all that’s between you is a contract and contracts are broken and dissolved all the time.  Sure, okay, you might have to pay some penalty, but it’s no big deal.  It doesn’t break you.

I don’t know how far this lack of making good vows goes.  I KNOW that medical classes are writing their own oaths and that Hippocrates would lose his mind if he heard it.  Nothing about “first do no harm” but a lot of rambling incoherence on social justice and helping the helpless, and being voices for the voiceless.

I don’t know if this has reached county offices.  I don’t know if engineers take oaths.

I do know that every profession, contract, bond, in which people are writing their own vows and oaths is rotten to the core.

What is the point of vows, if you’re going to write them to suit yourself and not to be difficult?  “As long as we both shall love,” means absolutely nothing.  As someone in a 33 year long marriage, how do you track love?  How do you define love?  Love as most newlyweds feel it is a chintzy thing.  That elderly couple in the corner who never talks to each other, probably love each other more.  The butterflies at his being near will eventually vanish.  Does that mean you stopped loving and the marriage is invalid?

“Caring for the most disadvantaged” means nothing.  Who are the most disadvantaged?  How do you care for them?  Gosh, gee, would it be better to put them out of their misery?  It means nothing.  It is bound by human interpretations of the moment, and humans are flawed beings.

I suspect, though I have no proof, that the rot is all the way through.

In a time of fast technological change, my life is bounded by principles, which derive from the oaths I took.  My citizenship oath, my marriage vows, which included promises to look after the kids.  All of that.  Am I perfect at them?  Dear heaven.  I’m human.

But they’re sort of directional beacons, beyond my human understanding and vision.  Even if I don’t feel like something, I promised, and there’s an eternal pointing light.

It makes life easier.  It’s hard to be adrift when you have a compass.

They say that family is the cornerstone of society.  If so we are doing it wrong.  “Not blow your nose in the shower” is a hell of  a promise to build society upon.  Worse, each couple writes their own, so maybe the people next to you promised to dance under the moonlight every month.

There’s no predictability, no assumed certainty.  There’s nothing to build upon.

Humans are creatures of the band and personal loyalty.  When you lose that we’re just great apes with vaguely social instincts.

As we have proof daily.

Let’s turn ‘er around.  Take your oaths and mean them, and do your best to keep them.  It’s what’s difficult that’s most worth doing.  It’s what’s stood the test of time that stands forever.

Follow the beacons shining in the night.


401 thoughts on “Vows

  1. I’ve always disliked personalized marriage vows because I think they sound stupid. I’ve never heard any of them that can compare to “to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” I’ll admit that I’ve never really thought about the fact that these “personal” vows aren’t really promising anything, though it’s true that they’re not. And given the prevalence of no-fault divorce, the legal aspects of the marriage contract are somewhat weak as well. Given that both the legal obligation and personal honor aspects of marriage are so weak, perhaps its a miracle that the divorce rate isn’t higher than it is.

      1. The traditional vows, in any form I’ve seen, are about making your marriage as long-term as possible — and like all such challenges, your “possible” is more than you might think it is, when reinforced by your faith, your public honor, and the help (or at least, expectations) of the friends and family you chose to witness those vows.
        They are not particularly about personal happiness, fulfillment, wealth — although those are (experience says) more likely to come when the vows are upheld.

        1. … those are … more likely to come when the vows are upheld.

          People tend to miss that “personal happiness, fulfillment, wealth” are more a byproduct of a strong marriage than its purpose. We too often focus on “what’s in it for me” when what matters most is: “What are we creating?”

      2. My Lady and I wrote our own vows, largely because we were having a Tudor English wedding (tactical reasons; it allowed us to keep her Father and Mother from sitting at the same table, ever), the only minister we could find who would put up with the pagentry was a Unitarian, and I suspected any vows he brought from his ministry would be as loosey-goosey as the usual ‘wrote our own’. So we wrote vows along the close lines of the old customary ones, arranged so that he would feed us each successive line (there had been a horrible example of flubbed lines in a recent family wedding). Everything came off without a hitch, amd we’ve been married for more than a third of a century.

        No credit to me there; I married my best friend when I was too young to do anything that smart on purpose.

        In BALSAMIC DREAMS Joe Queenan has a good rant about free form funeral services, pointing out that we have rote ceremonies exactly FOR times when everyone is too shell-shocked to be poetic…or even make sense. He also recounts telling his son (after a particularly cliche new-age funeral) that if at HIS funeral anyone so much as mentions the Tibetian Book Of The Dead the son should take a baseball bat and break their knees.

        1. No credit to me there; I married my best friend when I was too young to do anything that smart on purpose.

          A seriously underrated tactical choice. I approve. (And not just because we did it, too!)

          I like the point you point at about the customs making it so you don’t HAVE to think when that is more than you can bear.

          1. Not my point. I honestly hadn’t thought about it that way – although ‘we wrote it ourselves marriages, eulogies, etc. always made me squirm – until Mr. Queenan pointed it out. He’s worth a skim, to see if you get on with his style. IF YOU’RE TALKING TO ME YOUR CAREER MUST BE INTROUBLE cracks me up, and BALSAMIC DREAMS was damn good, too.

            I liked the way he summed up the political arrogance of the Baby Boomers by saying “We instisted our parents admit that Richard Nixon was Beelzebub while denying that Jimmy Carter was Bozo.”

        2. “In BALSAMIC DREAMS Joe Queenan has a good rant about free form funeral services, pointing out that we have rote ceremonies exactly FOR times when everyone is too shell-shocked to be poetic…or even make sense. He also recounts telling his son (after a particularly cliche new-age funeral) that if at HIS funeral anyone so much as mentions the Tibetian Book Of The Dead the son should take a baseball bat and break their knees.”

          THIS. In the not-too-distant future I’ll be doing the last thing I can for my father; being the bearer party commander at his funeral. There is a set form to the ceremony, and precise drill, and that carefully defined procedure will be part of how I cope and get through, come to grips with his passing. A POX on people who think ‘free-form’ is appropriate in such circumstances! When we are coping with loss is when we need the touchstone of formality, solemnity and tradition the most.

          1. Formality for the funeral & internment, even when internment is a private pioneer cemetery*. Wakes are for the informal portion.

            *Although regulations have put stop to one family tradition sometime after 1973. When we interned dad’s ashes, non-professionals were able to open the grave site, but normally that is not allowed anymore, even in private cemetery. The last time anyone other than professionals dug a grave was in 1973. My Uncles discussed how they & daddy got drunk digging their Uncles grave & all the stories told while doing so, plus the stories dad told them then about digging their dad’s grave with the Uncles (dad’s brothers were much younger) & how they couldn’t do the same for their mother, or allow family to do so for their niece & one of their daughter’s. All of this was discussed, & stories were repeated while we filled in dads grave after placing dads ashes. Surprisingly that little extra process made things easier.

            1. Wakes? I fear the SJWs getting involved and demanding “woke” wakes.

              I’ll stick with Finnegan, again.

            2. My wife had cousin who was buried in a cemetery in Southern Utah, and I was pleasantly surprised by the ritual of everyone there willing to do so filling his grave. (I learned from the death of my father-in-law that the locals are a little too practical when it comes to preparing adult graves: they use a back-hoe for that purpose.)

              This experience was a major reason we chose to bury my son in the same cemetery. I helped dig the grave, and we filled it up and replaced the sod afterward.

              It wasn’t an option for when we buried my Dad (who was buried in a Utah city cemetery), but I really wish it were.

              1. My parents own a family tomb: a marble do-ickey with the family name. It’s not one of the ones dug into the hill with the locked iron gates that you can look through and see the stacked coffins.
                If I should meet my demise before we can buy a place, I’ll probably be flown over to the family tomb.

                1. I don’t know why this would matter one way or the other, but I like the idea of a family tomb as well.

                  I recently attended the funeral of a friend who passed away suddenly. There was no viewing, and there was no graveside service: my friend had been cremated. I don’t know why, but that bothers me greatly — it bothers me that someone’s existence, bones and all, have been reduced to dust. Perhaps it would bother me less if there was a marker signifying where his resting place is…

                  I’m not even sure why I find cremation so repugnant — technically, given millions of years, we *all* will be reduced to dust — but perhaps it’s that it happened so suddenly.

                  Incidentally, this funeral had no songs nor prayers, and besides a few “I don’t know where you are, but I’m sure you’re watching over us now” or something to that effect, no religion. (I couldn’t help but observe that, despite the lack of religion, it seemed to be at least touched by the local religion — but then, I suspect that my friend was raised LDS, and then drifted away at a fairly young age.) But it was odd enough that I was tempted to announce to my family “I don’t care how anti-religion I become! When the time for my funeral comes, I demand that you get the hymnbooks out, and pray, and preach the Plan of Salvation — even if it means that you say you’re confident I’m not going to be happy with my Judgement! And *then* you’re going to dedicate my grave, darn it! AND you’re going to have funeral potatoes at the meal afterward!”

                  And this reaction came from a service that wasn’t necessarily gloomy (I’ve heard rumors that non-religious — heck, even non-Latter-day-Saint — funerals can be *very* gloomy) and certainly not at all anti-religious….

                  There really is something important about rituals that I don’t think we fully understand….

                  1. In the cemetery where my mom bought the family tomb (her family didn’t have one, and the other side had one in the other village, and htis wasn’t …. practical) there is a tomb, one of the old ones that go into the hill, with the weathered name “Junius” carved over the entrance. Relatives of Brutus? Possibly. About that old.
                    There’s something about that. Leaving a mark no matter how small.

                  2. Cremation is much less than alternatives. I was surprised my folks opted for cremation (not that mom has died), but it makes sense.

                    I know why mom chose it did for Grandma & Grandpa, that is all the estate could afford. Kids were able to resell back one grave site, & get the grave headstone for both of them for the one site with them both interned there. But, in both situations we have grave sites to go to.

              2. “they use a backhoe”

                Uncle had a backhoe brought in for digging dad’s grave. Don’t know why they didn’t for great uncles in ’73, either they couldn’t get one or couldn’t get it up the hill. Professionals bring one in. But now graves have to be prepared just right & private family cemetery’s are not exempt now. Dad’s we could because we were interning a box filled with ashes. Mom & her siblings were able to do the same for their folks at the local masonic graveyard out of Yoncolla Oregon for the same reason (which FYI is alongside the Applegate Pioneer Cemetery that is on part of the Charles Applegate original homestead grant).


          2. Back at the turn of the millennium, when my mother died, my sister and I arranged with one of her long-time friends to hold a memorial event. We invited all of my mother’s friends, had everyone sit in a circle, and asked anyone who had something to say about her to do so. It was mildly embarrassing to have one of our cousins turn it into an occasion for religious testimony, but it didn’t destroy the occasion. My sister got out her flute and played one of her compositions; I read Robinson Jeffers’ “Hurt Hawks.” It was kind of a secular version of the old Quaker idea of “speaking when the spirit moves.”

            More recently, when a different cousin died, her funeral was held at an Episcopal church. The priest told the people assembled that we shouldn’t feel sorrow, because my cousin was with God, and happier than we could conceive, and not missing us at all. And after the event, still another cousin, who had been invited to read a Bible verse, said that she felt ashamed, because while she was reading she felt as if our dead cousin were with her, and started to choke up. The only thing I could think of to say was that I couldn’t imagine that L would be offended to know that we missed her. I went away from that shaking my head and thinking how stifling it was to deny people the expression of natural grief.

            C’s mother died in 2016, not long after we were married. No one has announced plans yet for any sort of observance. On the first anniversary of her death, C and I had a small private observance of our own, feeling that it was past time.

            I’m not sure that I agree about formal ceremony in such a case, though I suppose it makes sense that if you’re going to have one, the old forms are likely to be better than something newly made up.

            1. Young priest? Most clergy are well aware the sorrow is not for the soul of the deceased, whose current condition we cannot know; but for the loss of the deceased’s presence in our lives; i.e. for ourselves. There is no shame in missing a friend.

            2. I can’t remember who it is that had the same sort of response to “but she’s in a better place,” but here it is:
              You’re not sad for them, you’re sad for you. Because you love them, and you can’t see them now.
              You are missing them and know that unless something very, very unusual happens, it will be a very long time before you can have any kind of contact with them.

              It’s totally reasonable to be sad for that.

              Even as you keep in mind that they are better, now.

              1. **I can’t remember who it is that had the same sort of response to “but she’s in a better place,” **

                Last time I overheard that was someone saying that to my Aunt at her 12 year-old murdered (pedestrian hit by a car & run) memorial. Not. The. Right. Thing. To. Say. Learned what “she snarled …” sounds like.

                  1. I am reminded of one of Mercedes Lackey’s songs–related to her Heralds of Valdemar books which is about a character that died. The first verses are all about “no that’s not him in the grave, he’s far better now.” Then closes with this gut-punch:

                    But there is silence at my side
                    That haunts the place he used to ride
                    and my Companion can’t allay
                    The loss I sustain this day

                    How bleak the future now has grown
                    Since I must face it all alone
                    My road is weary, dark and steep
                    And it is for myself I weep.

                    Pow. Right in the feels.

                  1. Not this time or at least not directly. Trust me.

                    It didn’t help that on the day of the Church Funeral, Memorial at the School, internment, family gathering afterwards (it was a VERY LONG day), & young cousins asking “why Katie won’t wake up & play”, the person responsible was found & arrested. He was extremely fortunate Aunt & Uncle had other children & grandchildren. Rational they were not. More than a few people willing to “hold their coats” so to speak or “wait my turn”. But no. Best option was some prison without time out for good behavior & insure system did not interfere with that (it tried), plus loss of driving privileges.

                    1. Not this time or at least not directly. Trust me.

                      You, and the guy doing the eulogy. It’s not DIY hour for a freaking reason.

              2. As I have thought about the claim of “she’s in a better place”, I have concluded that this isn’t necessarily true: there’s a reason for us to be alive, and there are joys we can best appreciate when we are mortal, and leaving that behind has certain problems.

                I am *maybe* willing to extend that to the elderly, but even then, I have wondered what influence my grandpa could have had on my cousins and me, had he not been struck down by cancer at the time he was. Heck, I have sometimes wondered what my dad’s father could have done to influence me, had he not died a few years before I had been born….

                By analogy, college life may not be the best that life has to offer, and you have to graduate in order to move on to better things — but if you cut college life short, it’s going to make things rocky for both the fellow students who you could have helped, and possibly even for your own future — and thus, leaving earlier might not literally be “a better place” after all….

    1. My husband and I surprised the preacher by going old school leaving the ‘obey’ part of ‘love and honor’ in. (He thought I wouldn’t want it because I’m headstrong, he didn’t get that that was the very reason I wanted it there.)

      1. The whole point is to find someone worthy of following! If you can’t do that, why bother with the wedding?

        <= similar issue; feels better because folks are crazy enough to think her mother ignores her father…man, they have no idea….

        1. Indeed. If I don’t trust him enough to obey him when he puts his foot down, why would I marry him? Likewise if I don’t trust him enough to not ‘pull rank’ as it were, callously, why would I marry him?

          1. This. This. This.

            (And what everyone below said about the other half of the equation and what’s expected of him in return.)

      2. We did too. That “Obey” part saved my life a couple of times so far. Now, he doesn’t lay down “direct order” unless it’s needed. Those two times? It was needed and I was in no state to think through things.

        1. We’ve only been married 3 years and it’s already saved my hide once. It turned out I had pneumonia and was stubbornly refusing to go in.

        2. That “obey” part often relies upon how carefully the other exercises it. Beloved Spouse has never disobeyed me but I’ve never issued a demand that Beloved Spouse wouldn’t obey. (Nor has Beloved Spouse demanded of me that with which I was unwilling to comply.)

          The old principle of never issuing orders which the troops will not follow applies.

          1. “t obey. (Nor has Beloved Spouse demanded of me that with which I was unwilling to comply.) The old principle of never issuing orders which the troops will not follow applies.”

            Yes. It goes both ways. Marriage is a partnership, not a dictatorship. We kept the “obey” too, for both sides. 40 years this December & counting. I too married my best friend, we meet in college, not childhood. Friends first, then more, then marriage.

            1. Mine, too. Ouch, 31 years already?

              Only once was it invoked against willingness to comply – she was quite adamant about driving herself to the E/R. Nope. I have both keys in my hand, and you are NOT getting them.

          2. The key is that a command given needs to be a righteous demand. If I were to command my wife (as opposed to jokingly suggest it) to go rob the local bank, then by all means, she should disobey me.

            OTOH, while I haven’t necessarily made a covenant to obey my wife, I had *darn well* take what she suggests *very* seriously, and do them, if they are righteous desires that are in my power to fulfill. (Due to my own human foibles, however, I don’t always fulfill these desires in as timely a way as my wife would wish… 😦 )

        3. We left that in too. The obey part was fine, she managed to choke that out, but somewhere in there was obedience, and she choked over that during the rehersal, and then during the actual ceremony, she managed to get it out, and then she, the preacher and me all burst out laughing. And I have been wise enough for the last 40 years to not push that. Yes, she would obey if I pushed it, but there has been nothing earth shattering requiring that, and I would not push it for less than earth shattering.

      3. I have a good friend who was raised Very Conservative Baptist and was just as headstrong as she was Conservative. She included “obey” in the ceremony on her own initiative, but she did giggle mid-word. So did most of the congregation, who knew her quite well.

      4. Recall the Wimsey-Vane marriage vows. Between two very modern (albeit sensible) people for their times.

        After they’d ripped the “modern” vows his sister-in-law had tried to foist on them to shreds, they got into an argument over “obey.” He didn’t want to force her into that. She said if the house was on fire he’d bloody well expect her to obey when he said get out. He said in that case they should vow to obey each other, but they agreed that would upset entirely too many sensibilities.

        They eventually compromised. He allowed her to “obey” him. In return, she allowed him to “endow” his worldly goods rather than merely sharing them.

        His mother remarked on the shocking lack of principle on his part. 🙂

        1. “Obey”, from Eph. 5:22 — oft do people ignore the other half: that he shall love her as Christ loved the Church – i.e. totally & sacrificially.

          1. Yes. Sometimes, a husband’s duty is to load his wife into the lifeboat…and go down with the ship.

            1. Though usually, his duty is to do all he can ensure his own survival once he’s ensured hers, because it would do her great harm to leave her a widow.

              But yeah, it’s part of the husband’s duty to put his wife’s needs above his own, and give orders that are to the benefit of the entire family, not just himself alone.

              1. it’s part of the husband’s duty …

                People who don’t understand this likely think that being captain of a ship is a great power trip, with lots of perqs and real ego boo.

                Unfortunately, if we tried men wanting to be husbands as rigorously as we do aspiring ship’s captains the species would soon die off.

    2. We were pretty much forced to write our own– and ended up rephrasing the traditional wedding vows.

      In it to the end, we swear to God, love honor and cherish.

  2. Nothing about “first do no harm” but a lot of rambling incoherence on social justice…

    And they call MY kind monsters. That there is the most frightening thing I’ve encountered in some time. There is a story, no, there are many stories there – horror stories. If they keep NOTHING else of the Ancient Oath, “First, do no harm” is the one thing that must be kept. That is the Oath of a Healer: no harm. Remove that, and they might as well worship at the altar of Mengele. Oh, they claim to mean well? Then mean well with that proviso. Good intentions, sure. They make such lovely paving stones. But place the stones without proper survey and the road does not end well.

    1. But it all depends on your definition of harm. Remember a few societies tossing docs who were at executions because “harm” but not euthenasia or abortion.

      1. I don’t much like doctors as executioners, either, but it is noteworthy that they don’t include those who murder the ones in their care, isn’t it?

    2. I’m rather fond of the Prayer of Maimonides as a guide for physicians of various stripes, but it converts poorly to an oath.

    3. I have long suspected that Mengele was not nearly as far outside the medical mainstream as they like to claim.

        1. That he tried his methods on slaves, usually with the rider “without anesthesia.” (There was no anesthesia at the time for anybody, FWIW.) I’d need to know a lot more about his methodology before either condoning or condemning him.

      1. I figure he was a pretty standard personification of the temptations to which doctors are prone– it is easier to work on people if you dehumanize them. You can’t have a surgeon that flinches every time he slices skin, after all. I only do things like get slivers out of my kids’ feet, and it takes a lot out of me to do that ‘for your own good’ mindset.

        Much easier to shift over to “because I say it is useful,” so you don’t need to think of them at all….

        *shudder* If I were a doctor, I’d have nightmares of becoming that guy, or worse

        1. This is the sort of comment that makes me wonder about my sanity because I don’t have any qualms about doing what needs done.

          You have glass in your foot? Well, take it out and let’s wash it up already! Crying won’t fix it

          1. Don’t worry, at least for me, the price doesn’t hit when it’s in the middle of needing done. Tha’s more like a “don’t even stop to think” thing.
            It has to be “turned on” if it’s something where I have to figure out that a thing needs to be done, and prepare for it (like when Chief had a HOLE IN HIS FOOT that was not bleeding, but obviously needed to be opened up) or when everything is done and I can sit back…and then feel horrible because the Duchess is limping off, because of me. :/

        2. The pastor at our regular local church is also a doctor, and he touched on that concept this Sunday. He said that you have to learn to install a “compassion switch” in your brain, or you can’t function as a doctor. Many of the patients in intensive care are going to die despite the best you can do, and if you let yourself feel the pain of those deaths, you won’t be able to do what’s needed to save the ones that you CAN save. But you also can’t function with the “compassion switch” permanently turned off, so you have to also be able to flip it back on at will. So you have to alternate between looking at someone and seeing the whole person, and looking at them and seeing a collection of tissues and organs which you’re about to try and fix. It’s a tricky balance to maintain.

          1. And you really don’t want a doctor who can only reliably do it when they’re in a panic state, or whatever you call That Thing where you deal with it and THEN fall down.

            This is a verification of the identity check that hit our house just before dinner got going. *salutes*

            1. Oh, that was you. Sorry, I probably should have recognized your name. Baby pictures forthcoming.

              1. Given the week you’re having, I would not begrudge you forgetting YOUR name!

                ’tis a rational paranoia, so I gave a verification. 😉

              2. I’d like baby pics, but I haven’t even been able to send an email. Laying down floor and really overdue with work, while my body is going nuts with … probably allergies.

                1. I believe we’ve exchanged emails before; let me see if I can find your email address in my inbox archive. If so, I’ll send you pics as well.

                2. Okay, baby pics sent to the one address I have in my inbox, which had an email address related to SF/F. Since that domain has apparently been closed for a year, I’m not sure whether you’ve received those pictures, but it’s the only address I know to reach you at.

                  Praying for you to have some relief from allergies et al so you can sit down and rest for a couple minutes.

                    1. Will re-send to that address soon as I have a moment, but that might not be until about 12 hours from now.

        3. There was a scene in one of the Babylon 5 episodes (Season 1: Believers, IIRC) where Dr Franklin is being told he has to accept the parents wishes for their child not to be treated even though he thinks he knows better what to do, and his response is:

          “Everyone tells me the patient’s health is my responsibility. Well if I’ve got the responsibility, I’m damn well gonna claim the authority, too!”

          He’s got a point that probably needs to be discussed.

          1. If there was not significant backstory to justify that, then he was being a freaking moron.

            Short version:
            Know that school that expelled two guys who went to the range with their parents and were photographed holding guns next to the (round) targets showing their skill?
            That’s what he was pulling.
            He has authority to work on the kid’s health. It stops dead when a greater legitimate authority listens to his expert opinion and says “thank you, your services in this matter are no longer required.”

            1. Franklin was being a jerk and an idiot.

              A jerk in over-riding the parents’ decision (and IIRC the B5 commander’s decision).

              An idiot for not realizing what the parents would do when they learned that their son had “lost his soul”.

              1. *headdesk* Ugh.
                I thought they might have set up a situation where the parents forfeited their legitimate authority– thing is, that would lead directly into having to take over custody of the kid, too. No pretending that the parents had any sort of authority when you’re functionally denying it.

                Major extreme measure.

                1. He was “playing the ultra-secularist” by thinking “of course those idiot religious people will reject their religious views when they see their son is OK”. 😦

                  Oh, there was a Star Trek DS9 novel that had a similar story but the DS9 doctor managed to get the mother’s permission for the operation and “of course” she would be able to bring the father around after the child was healed.

                  IMO the author of the DS9 novel was an idiot. 😦

                  1. IMO the author of the DS9 novel was an idiot.

                    Never discount the possibility the author merely thought the readers of DS9 novels had to be idiots.

                    “If he’ll believe that, he’ll believe anything.”

                  2. *sigh*

                    It sometimes worked for Christianity– know them by their fruit– but even then, you can’t do an evil and justify it by good intentions. *grumble*

            2. Oh, agreed. Provided he has an absolute defense when the result isn’t to someone’s liking: “You told me you were going to ignore my recommendations, and leave. When the result I predicted happens, you can’t haul me into court and claim the outcome was in any way my responsibility.” Sadly, our current mindset, and the legal system that results, doesn’t accept that.

              1. In as much as that situation exists, it is a recognition of the fact that a great many doctors will fail to recognize that the patient gets a say– and will do things that are actually harmful if their final step is not taken.

                For an example, c-sections when a risk was minor or non-existent; delaying or inducing labor to fit the schedule of the doctor, rather than the welfare of the mother and child (a known risk-factor for c-section)– all with the assumption that one or both partners will be sterilized in no more than two births.

                Medical treatment that assumes the patient will be able to do next to nothing for a month is another– I’ve known a lot of doctors who asked “can you take three weeks off to recover from this,” were told no, and went forward as if they’d been told no. Mostly know them by the working men and women they maimed.

                Doctors get held liable for situations that the patient ignored recommendations because they acted in such a way that caused problems and ignored what the patients said.

                THAT is the authority that doctors often take upon themselves, and that is why they are held responsible for the outcomes of it.

    4. I once needed root planing (ie, really deep cleaning). My regular hygenist was unavailable, and I got a new person. Cracked a joke about falling asleep during the procedure, and her response was “Not if I can help it.” Among other things, I’m pretty sure she underdosed the local anesthesia, and the last part of the job was painful.

      She would have been a useful assistant to the bad doctor. The only good news is that I never saw her again. (Knowing the area and the clientele, it’s possible she might have pissed off the wrong person. The complaint process might have been terminal. There’s more than one way to enforce an oath.)

    5. The thing that causes me to gag is the way the Medical Progpfession are always so goddamned SURE that the current fashion in medicine is The Right Way.

      There are honorable exception, amd I try hard to find ‘em.

      But I swear, I fully expect to live to see all the surgeons who did ‘gender reassignment surgery’ held in the same general esteem that we now reserve for the quacks who injected men wth pureed monkey testicles back in the day.

      Not that the Alternative Medicine crowd are an improvement. Hey, if it works for you, great. And if it’s the placebo effect, anything that can get your brain working on the problem – even a fakeout – is good. But what is powdered rhinoceros horn but Alternative Medicine that just happens to not be accepted by the Beautiful People right now?

      BTW it isn’t supposed to be a male potency thing, but a fever reducer. Makes you wonder just how bad Mainstream Medicine in China really is, don’t it?

      1. Yes. It’s worth pointing out that the team that did the first such procedures has stopped. They realized there was no benefit.

      2. There is a Chinese idiom. Like being injected with Chicken blood. Under Mao it apparently really was the fashion to inject people with Chicken blood.

    6. That was the first step toward the Holocaust: allowing society any kind of interest in whether the patient lived.

  3. “There’s no predictability, no assumed certainty. There’s nothing to build upon.”

    I think your point is a great and important one.

    I’ve heard some people define the dichotomy as a choice between “passion” and “dedication”. Certainly this generation tends to idolize passion or feelings; dedication or duty sounds dry, boring (and probably “oppressive”). But as C. S. Lewis might put it, even passion flourishes best within the context of the stability and dependability created by dedication.

    1. Is “true love” possible if someone doesn’t have the ability to be “true?”

      1. It often entails redefining both “true” and “love” … as certain Lotharios well grasp. Once you reframe it as an ephemeral perfection of emotion one can experience “true love” several times a day.

        “Finchey, thinking of two broads in the middle of one kiss is dirty.”

      2. I think the point of true as in faithful — or committed — is how I am going to address the true-love’s-kiss concept when it comes up with the little one.

        1. He: I think [sexual congress] is fine if you’re in a committed relationship.

          She: A committed relationship? You mean, marriage?

          1. Heh. A good one.

            I was not trying to weasel about that but had (without typing most of this) mentally gone off in the realms of a literary discussion involving quests/spellbreaking required before the wedding.

  4. To have and to hold, through sickness and health… Yeah, that’s a vow, oath, and promise. Thank you for pointing out something that’s been tickling in the back of the hind brain. *wanders off mumbling incoherently….*

  5. because it’s going to be a long time before we see them again

    I don’t know if there’s an afterlife or not, but I refuse to accept the possibility of one that does not include our beloved animal companions. It would be a cruel god indeed, to so structure things.

    As for the rest, in the path I follow (or try to–never claimed to be anything close to perfect), one of the major “sins” is oathbreaking. I’ve wondered often if I could define it as the major sin with others being aspects of it, but too many things that I believe in my gut are wrong aren’t really part of voluntarily sworn oaths (unlike, say, marriage vows). Nevertheless, I’d put oathbreaking right up there with stealing, if not quite so high as murder.

    1. For me, THE unforgivable* sin is lying, and I consider oathbreaking to be a subset of lying. (A particularly nasty subset, of course). But it’s lying as a whole that I find despicable, which is a bit part of why I hold China Mike and his Circular File site in such utter contempt.

      * That is, the sin I’m most inclined not to forgive. But since I’m a follower of Jesus, and He commands me to forgive those who sin against me, I have to put aside my natural feelings and obey Him. He does not, however, command me to trust someone who has lied to me in the past, and in fact, what He said about being “wise as serpents yet innocent as doves” implies that “forgive, but do not blindly trust again” is completely in keeping with His commands.

      1. I do not love lying. In addition to ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’, I have the burden that my mind is so abnormal that I do not accurately judge where people are telling falsehoods or telling lies. My first instinct is often enough ‘that is so obvious a lie that he can’t possibly expect me to believe him’. Further reflection reminds me that other people have different information and different mental abilities, and that I do not have absolute control over what expectations they have.

      2. This is one of the differences between my ex-wife and me that really hit me the other day. For various reasons, she’s moved out of state and left our daughters with me. She neglected to tell her mother ANYTHING. The other day I got an angry phone call because she had called her mother for something planning to BS her way through and still not tell her about what was going on only to find that her mother and I had already had a conversation where I had let some details slip. Yea… she should have known I a) wouldn’t keep the girls from their grandma and b) don’t have any interest in keeping her stupid lies straight (there are VERY good reasons she is an EX, even though 10 years later I still feel like a failure for not making it work somehow). The real funny thing is that she has NO IDEA how much her mother really knows. Her mom and I basically had a few hours long conversation comparing notes trying to sus out just what was true and what was fiction.

        Even funnier, the Ex is delusional enough that if her lack of ability to tell the truth comes up, she’ll ask “When have I ever lied to you?” and mean it non-ironically.

      3. There’s lying, and lying. Answering “How are you?” With “Fine.” Is often a lie. But your Starbuck’s Barista who you see every blue moon when you’re in that party of town can’t do anything about your recently diagnosed stomach cancer, and (as his job as a Barista might tend to indicate) he probably has enough problems of his own.

        And there are nuances to that “Fine.”. It can mean “You don’t want to know, and I don’t want to go into it anyway.” . It can mean “I see you and acknowledge that you exist, but you aren’t important enough to talk to.”. It can mean a lot of things.

        Lying to decieve is something else.

        1. This is actually a really fun part of theology– I don’t have the exact phrasing right here, but lying can be defined as something like “deliberate withholding of a truth to which someone is entitled.” Catches lies of omission, but not “I’m fine” or “gosh, loved that (utterly inedible) pie you made us!” or “The Jews are in the basement.”

            1. Yep.
              “I know what you mean, I know you have a right to that information, I know that I am the one who should be telling you…but I am not going to, because if I wiggle it around juuuuust right, you didn’t ask correctly.”

        2. There is good reason why my customary response to such inquiry by any other than medical personnel is “Tolerable.”

          Of course, those forced to tolerate me might hold different opinions, but they weren’t the ones asked.

          1. I have a cycle of answers, depending on my mood;

            “It could be worse, I could take it seriously.”

            “”It could be worse, I could take it personally.”

            “It could be worse, and I won’t go into details…they take suggestions.”


            “The details would only depress you.”

            Amd every once in a while somebody asks “How’s life treating you?” And I get to say “Like a chew-toy.”

            1. I go with the standard “Fine, or OK” as shorthand for “not great but tolerable and if I thought you really wanted/needed to know more, I would be more specific.”
              Last time, I was temped to add “I get better every time someone asks.”

        3. Yeah, I meant to say that “little white lies” for the sake of politeness are a different category. And it’s also not lying to NOT tell someone everything, especially if the things you aren’t telling them aren’t any of their business. (Though it’s also possible to lie by omission, of course, if you don’t tell someone something that you know they really DID need to know).

          The lying I object to is the lying with intent to deceive. Politeness like saying “I’m fine” when you’re not really fine is not at all the same thing.

          1. Dad had a routine where if somebody asked “how are you”, he’d give this long statement about some fictional pain that went from one leg up to his head and then back down to his other leg.

            Oh, he only did the routine to people who knew him and his “interesting” sense of humor. 😀

            1. I have been known to allow as somebody, somewhere, has a voodoo doll of me and has given it to their schnauzer for a chew toy.

  6. My wife and I went with the traditional marriage vows (for richer, for poorer, etc.), just a little less than three years ago. So nine days ago when she started having severe pain in her side, I dropped everything and stayed with her at the hospital: “in sickness and in health”. Long story short, she ended up having two operations, removing an ovarian cyst on one side and her appendix on the other… and a C-section at the same time to have our baby boy, since he was 39 weeks along and they needed him out of the way to take our her appendix. We had hoped for a “normal” labor and birth since I’ve heard that C-sections make it more difficult to have further children, but since the result of those operations were a healthy mother and a healthy baby boy, we’re grateful that God provided good, affordable health care (total cost for three operations and a week’s stay at the hospital: $5,000, which we already had in savings) for us at this time when we needed it. We just got home from the hospital this morning, and my wife is feeding the baby right now as I type this.

    I won’t post our baby’s name or photos on the public Internet, but any Huns and Hoydens who want pictures are welcome; just email me at (my first name) dot (my last name) courtesy of Gmail, and I’ll tell you the private details that I won’t put on the public Web, and send you a photo if you want one. (Do allow for time zones and busyness, though: Joe in PNG, I still owe you a reply to the email you sent me last month about meeting up in the USA sometime).

    1. Congrats! And hopefully the c-section heals well (I’ve had several children via c-section so it is possible 🙂 )

    2. Congrats! I had to be induced a couple weeks ago, so I kinda get it. Glad Mom & baby are doing well. Hope you get to take lots of time to spend with them.

    3. Congratulations! That’s very good news all around. (And I heartily agree with no baby pictures on public net fora.)

      1. Agreed – happy to hear all are prospering in initial stages of family life and second the endorsement of not publicizing. Were I write my own vows I would use the traditional and insert something about protecting family members’ social media presence.

    4. Congratulations! On both counts!
      A C-section shouldn’t normally prevent any future problems with childbirth. It’s pretty frequent that delivery by C-section requires the same for any additional children; but that’s not set in stone and many women deliver vaginally after C-section, it just requires more careful monitoring for problems.
      The operation to remove the ovarian cyst is a bit more concerning. If they removed the cyst and saved the ovary, you’re probably okay. If they had to remove the ovary too, then your odds for future pregnancies are probably going to be lower, but not impossible.
      God willing, you should be able to keep growing your family without any big changes. Kids make enough changes in lifestyle as it is. 😉

      1. They used to say that it would prevent future vaginal births but the thinking on that has changed, as has the quality of the surgery. VBACs are commonplace now in most of the US.

          1. (note that this includes even emergency c-sections like mine, where I was torn up BAD before they made any kind of a cut– for one that was basically “hey, we need to move the kid,” the only probable source of complications would be a failure to heal)

          2. Good reason for doctors to be skittish. Women still die delivering babies, even in the U.S., or with the best care available. I still remember a tragedy we had about 10 years ago where we lost a mom from hemorrhaging.

            1. We lost a homeschool mom last month– normal delivery and all, then she just…faded. Never left the hospital.

            2. Side note:
              I was one of those “almost died” moms, although they didn’t bother to TELL ME. (I found out when a later doctor very politely ripped me a new one for not telling him, and was only saved by my own obvious shock at the news.)

              And, looping back to the start, it still obviously didn’t hurt our ability to have more kids.

      2. The cyst turned out to be on the end of the ovary, by the Fallopian tubes, and they said that the ovary is just fine, and there’s just a little scarring near the tubes. So next time we decide to try for a child, we’ll be praying that the egg doesn’t get hung up in the tube and lead to an ectopic pregnancy — but we’ll also be asking the doctor what we can do to minimize the chances of such.

    5. Congratulations on the Munnion!

      Since she didn’t even have a trial of labor before the c-section, you’re probably going to be fine, although of course she needs to make sure she lets herself heal. (Seriously. Sitting up is NOT as simple as her brain will insist it is….)

      Modern c-sections are a horse of an entirely different color, says Mrs. “hey, we are at LEAST six months away from Irish Twins!” 😉
      Basic fertility, stress, inherent healing ability and Random Acts of What On Earth all involved as well, of course…

    6. Congratulations! And that’s a lot to have happen at once.

      Word of advice: get your wife’s favorite instant foods in quantity and have them right next to her. Nothing worse than the HUNGER hitting and having to actually cook something first. Protein bars, yogurt in the fridge, cheesecake, whatever. Have it ready and waiting. She will bless you for it when she gets out of the newborn baby fog of war.

      1. Also, if she’s nursing, clean grapes in quantity are surprisingly useful. Hydration and energy in a convenient, one-handable package…saved my sanity many times when I was doing Personal Lactation Duty. I will cease and desist with the advice now. 🙂

        1. Fresh fruit, in general. Quick boost for blood sugar, hydration and high in vitamins and dietary fibre. Cherries, pineapple (it comes in handy single servings plastic bins), applesauce, peaches, citrus mix (be cautious with grapefruit, as it interacts with many common medications.)

        2. I drank orange juice. Sometimes I’d feel queezy when nursing my first one and that helped.

            1. Apple juice for me. Never knew why, but I *craved* it for about six weeks and then didn’t care any more.

          1. In case anyone having a baby is reading this… it’s the sugar. The liquid sugar and all the yummy vitamins. Don’t try this “sugar free”.

            This has been a pregnant service announcement.

            1. Oh, and listen to your cravings. I craved potato chips. But I had pre-eclampsia, and they told me I had to have low salt. So I had no salt chips. Then I craved tomatoes but they told me I couldn’t have them, too high in salt.
              Turns out the type of pre-eclampsia I had only hits those on a low-salt diet. Yeah.

              1. My case I was diagnosed with ‘Reactive Hypoglycemia’ before I got pregnant. Symptoms while pregnant were similar to high blood pressure, took a diabetic to recognize the symptoms as low blood sugar, & used her test kit to verify; was also a pediatric nurse.

                Then nursing followed the cravings, Orange Juice, whole Milk, etc.; yes, repeatably had the symptoms of the low blood sugar. Lost the “baby fat”, & then put on weight that I am still trying to get off 29 years later (grumble, stupid pioneer genes).

      2. We have a really good community here. Lots of our friends & colleagues signed up at https://takethemameal.com to bring us meals during the next couple of weeks. And as it happened, my wife had made a BIG batch of curry the day before we ended up going to the hospital, so we also have two or three days’ worth of leftovers in addition to the food that people are bringing.

        But yes, I’m going to stock up on her favorite yogurts and so on, too. She also has a “breakfast balls” recipe that she got from a colleague: a mixture of mashed-up bananas, peanut butter, oats, and chocolate chips. Make a big batch in a bowl, roll into balls the size of Ping-Pong balls, and refrigerate. Then breakfast involves grabbing the Tupperware container and eating four or five breakfast balls. Since my wife is more of an evening person than a morning person, a breakfast she doesn’t have to cook is a welcome thing.

    7. Welcome to your little one! And I’m glad your wife is okay. Also, that decision on no child pictures floating around the internet is a wise one.

      1. Absolutely!!!

        Recently divorced niece is being bombarded with ex’s campaign to see “his” daughter with new born pictures through age 50; first 3 years are being pulled from mom’s Facebook page.

        Full disclosure, NOT bio-dad, was NOT in picture during child’s infancy/early-toddler. Yes, primary caregiver during summer months (all 3 of them), he (was) employed by a school district. His parents provided daycare when they both worked, as did moms, mom’s sisters, & great-grandma.

        Not taking away from step-dad status. Do resent his duplicity by implying he has been there from the beginning.

  7. Civilization can be understood as a network of deals. I agree to live in peace with my neighbor, so long as he agrees to live in peace with me.

    It can be more challenging to hold oneself to honest dealings when one is cheated at every turn.

    I think socialists have a strong drive to behave in ways I consider cheating.

    Civilization is a choice. Integrity is a choice. Holding to the promises one has freely made is a choice. It isn’t on the rest of the world. It isn’t about the rest of the world. It is on and about me.

    1. It starts with the people whose job is to do the impossible, ie predict and control the economy. They cheat because the alternative is an exciting career move to Siberia. Amd they keep on cheating because they have no real choice. And since the plans are based on those cheats, pretty much everyone has to cheat to keep abreast of the tide of shit that will inevitably break when The Plan goes kerflooey.

      It must be a very strange world that the people who believe in Socialism (as opposed to those who seek to ride it to power) live in….

      1. This ties in with something I realized about Russia and China, vis a vis Communism. Communism didn’t change anything fundamental about how either country ran.

        A clique close to the ‘throne’ made plans that had only occasional contacts with the reality on the ground, a host of middle-men worked frantically to keep any news of actual conditions from reaching the ears of the ‘king’, and the peasants who were actually at the sharp end did their level best to ignore all the idiocy to whatever degree possible.

        Russia and China were inefficient authoritarian governments before Communism, chock full of nitwittery and brutality, and Communism changed f*ck all about that.

        1. I have a copy of Journey for Our Time: The Russian Journals of the Marquis De Custine with a foreword explaining that the American embassy staff thought it the best book to understand the USSR. It’s the translated and somewhat shortened edition of La Russie en 1839.

        2. It made it perhaps a little worse. And made it impossible for industry to save them. This is adduced as an excuse for the failures of communism in those countries, but honestly, most countries were like that before the industrial revolution. They got better. Communist countries didn’t.

    2. Ayn Rand was wrong. Forcing people to commit crimes on a regular basis does not result in a population that’s cowed and afraid of the government. It just results in a population that’s not especially afraid of committing crimes.

      1. Only partly wrong, I think: in a population of any significant size, you’ll get a lot of both. Some people will end up cowed and afraid, and cringingly obeying the next government mandate to turn in their neighbors for BadThink. But others will gravitate to criminal gangs because hey, if I’m already a criminal, I might as well benefit more from it. I don’t think it’s an accident that after the Soviet Union broke up, Russia had mafia-style organisations ruling over large areas. (Like, say, the whole country: the difference between Putin and a mob boss is… well, none. The KGB functioned just like a criminal gang, and Putin basically is a mob boss.)

        1. Parable read somewhere (actually lots of places). What causes rebellions? Crew on the way to “work”. They take a break.

          Question: “what happens if we kill our ‘king’?”
          reply “we die”
          Question: “what happens if we don’t show up?”
          reply “we die”
          Question: “what happens if we rebel or fight?”
          reply “we die”
          Question: “what happens if we’re late?”
          reply: “we die”
          reply: “well … we’re late …”

          1. Supposedly, it was a certain Chinese general who was delayed by weather (which caused a flood, iirc).

            So he promptly mutinied. Because why not?

              1. See “Ham Sandwich Nation” — when any prosecutor can find something to charge anyone with, because too many laws and rules with force of law, the nation loses: law has caused itself to be held in disrespect, and those the law applies to no longer have anything much to lose.
                “A republic, if you can keep (i.e. properly maintain) it”.

    1. Kinda sorta. There are multiple codes of ethics and I gotta actually do a commitment tomorrow. Iirc most state PE at least some ethics component. But not the type of “repeat after me” oath.

    2. Sometimes…but you still ride the ship down the ways when she’s launched. The Blood Warranty always applies.

      1. From the Roman tradition that military engineers, after building a bridge, were to lie under it while a century marched in lockstep over it. Yeah, a tradition of “overdesign”!!!

        1. That was the biggest sticking point for me with the pedestrian bridge at FIU. Doing what they were doing with traffic underneath was beyond criminal. And all indications were that it was seriously underdesigned. Arggh.

            1. And so? 🙂
              I know that some womyn were running the construction, but the likely source of the design screwup seems to have been pretty widespread. There was a lot of crowdsourcing of the available data, and it seems that one of the important beams wasn’t tied to the lower deck with anything more than unicorn farts and well wishes.
              Though, trying an off-design “fix” while there was traffic underneath? Yikes!
              FWIW, the bridge seemed to have been designed to 1) look cool, and 2) be innovative, and 3) work, in those priorities. Two out of three ain’t passing.

              1. It can be a problem if, by holding women to a lower standard of performance you also lower the expected standard of performance for the men in the company because otherwise the “womyn’s tee” will be so obviously easier as to disrupt a company.

                This also happens when you affirmatively act on the basis of race or sexual identity or, really, any non-relevant to the work reason.

                1. Yes, letting the SJWs of any of the 57 genders get control in any hard-core STEM project doesn’t give a warm, fuzzy feeling. The laws of physics doesn’t hand out participation trophies, unless you count a granite tombstone to be one such.

                2. We saw that with the mortgage crisis: they wanted lower standards for Official Victim Groups, and realized that they couldn’t have standards for ANYONE because the non-members wouldn’t stand for it, and several of the groups were things that couldn’t be publicly verified.

                1. Agreed. If any one of the three is “necessary & sufficient” that decides the issue.

                  1. The gabberflasting point for me was when I discovered that the “cable stays” for the bridge were primarily decorative, and had only a minimal planned effect (minor contribution to stability). Thus, making the beams line up with the “cables” compromised the entire structure. And then, some key bits got ignored.

                    Yep, safety should have been the first priority, but it looks like it got dropped to third place at best, both in design and construction. Sigh.

                    For the interested, there’s a long (5 pages, broken at 200 comment marks) at http://www.eng-tips.com/viewthread.cfm?qid=436595

                    It’s a fascinating way to see failure analysis done on the fly, from publicly available information.

                    1. The eng-tips thread went dormant while NTSB was review bits, but it went active in late April. I have some reading to do. Initial take; it’s interesting, and a designer could be in very deep trouble.

                    2. It seems the politics of needing low impact on traffic took precedence over shutting down the highway when critical work, possibly under-analyzed, and possibly a fix-it for problems discovered during construction, was being done. Priorities out of joint.

          1. Wadya wanna bet that, if it ever gets off the planning stage, the California ‘bullet train’ is at least that badly underdesigned, amd it’s test run kills fice times as many people?

            1. I’m not sure it’s going to get to rolling stock. But, if it did, casualties might be high.

          2. From what I’ve seen, it wasn’t underdesigned, it was under-construction. It was designed as a cable-stay bridge, and the morons decided to allow traffic under it before they put up the cables. Or the tower to hold the cables. Or enough temporary supports underneath.

            1. See my comment above; it was actually a concrete truss bridge gussied up to look like a cable stayed bridge. I learned a fair amount about structural engineering from the eng-tips thread; my background is EE, but I’ve had enough mechanics to get into and out of trouble.

              The best guess right now is that the diagonal element nearest the central tower wasn’t tied to the lower deck with sufficient (if any) reinforcing. If the thing had been completed, the ends would have been held in place by the tower, but some temporary post-tensioning cables were doing the job at the time (needed for the build-then-swing-into-place construction method). The workers were doing something with the tension on those temporary stays when the beam parted company from the rest of the truss.

              It was also pointed out that concrete is a dubious material for a truss; it’s a better idea to have some flexibility in how the beams and deck elements join. Flexibility and concrete ain’t in the same book.

              The only good news out of the fiasco is that it wasn’t populated by a mass of students at the time; the thing was supposed to be a meet and greet hangout place; nicely located above a tranquil canal and an equally tranquil six-lane thoroughfare. /sarc

              1. There’s a fair amount of new information in the eng-tips forum thread. It’s pushing 1000 total posts, but if you go to the 5th section, there’s a summary post at the end of the March entries. Follow from there and into the 6th section, and you can see what was going on.

                Looks like the design was sketchy, the engineering review missed critical portions of the connections at the north end of the span, and the pressure to keep the road open was built into the entire Accelerated Bridge Construction methodology that’s a key part of FIU”s programs.

                NTSB is due to put out the preliminary report in a few weeks; should be enlightening. My guess, there’s going to be a lot of blame to go around, mostly at the design stages.

      2. ‘A new battleship had made an uninterrupted voyage from the top of the ways to the bottom of the harbor. The launching ceremony had included a number of dignitaries of imposing tonnage, and when one of them came out flat footed and called the whole thing a disgraceful waste of champagne, Fodorski was sent for…’

        PROFESSOR FODORSKI by Robert Louis Taylor

      1. Sarah, it was almost exactly two years ago that somebody else mentioned the Order of the Engineer in a comment thread here. I’d never heard of it, even though I am an engineer, so I researched it. And the following December, I was accepted into the Order of the Engineer, and got my “engineer’s ring”.

      2. Many years ago, when I first read Lois McMaster Bujold’s book “Falling Free” I was caught by an essentially throwaway line, a sign on a wall “On the eighth day God saw that he could not do it all so he created engineers.”

        My mind took that and ran with it. And thus was born “The Church of the Holy Engineer”, a feature in my main future history. It hasn’t shown up in any of my published work yet, but it does put in an appearance in one of my current active WIPs. The idea is that building things, and inventing new things is an act of creation and are supreme acts of worship of God the Creator.

    3. Hymn of Breaking Strain
      Rudyard Kipling

      THE careful text-books measure
      (Let all who build beware!)
      The load, the shock, the pressure
      Material can bear.
      So, when the buckled girder
      Lets down the grinding span,
      ‘The blame of loss, or murder,
      Is laid upon the man.
      Not on the Stuff—the Man!

      But in our daily dealing
      With stone and steel, we find
      The Gods have no such feeling
      Of justice toward mankind.
      To no set gauge they make us—
      For no laid course prepare—
      And presently o’ertake us
      With loads we cannot bear:
      Too merciless to bear.

      The prudent text-books give it
      In tables at the end
      ‘The stress that shears a rivet
      Or makes a tie-bar bend—
      ‘What traffic wrecks macadam—
      What concrete should endure—
      but we, poor Sons of Adam
      Have no such literature,
      To warn us or make sure!

      We hold all Earth to plunder—
      All Time and Space as well—
      Too wonder-stale to wonder
      At each new miracle;
      Till, in the mid-illusion
      Of Godhead ‘neath our hand,
      Falls multiple confusion
      On all we did or planned—
      The mighty works we planned.

      We only of Creation
      (0h, luckier bridge and rail)
      Abide the twin damnation—
      To fail and know we fail.
      Yet we – by which sole token
      We know we once were Gods—
      Take shame in being broken
      However great the odds—
      The burden of the Odds.

      Oh, veiled and secret Power
      Whose paths we seek in vain,
      Be with us in our hour
      Of overthrow and pain;
      That we – by which sure token
      We know Thy ways are true—
      In spite of being broken,
      Because of being broken
      May rise and build anew
      Stand up and build anew.

      1. Yes, one of my favorites of his poems. “Take shame in being broken/However great the odds” is one of the most tragic phrases in the English language. It makes me think of Jubal Harshaw’s interpretation of the Fallen Caryatid.

        And it’s remarkably science-fictional!

  8. I always tried my level best to not perform such bodily functions as peeing or blowing my nose in the shower.
    Unless of course I was alone in there, then all bets are off.

  9. Joan and I used the traditional vows when we married in 1972 and I still cry when I think of her, three years after she died.

  10. A lot of legal and social problems are theological and/or philosophical problems first.

    In this case, a lot of people don’t understand that marriage isn’t a deal or contract (unless you’re a 19th century French family); it’s a covenant.

    A covenant is a solemn ritual that makes an unrelated person part of the family, or at least part of the extended clan. Marriages, adoptions, blood brotherhood — all that stuff.

    In the ancient Near/Middle East, both treaties (Ooh! our tribes are relatives now! So we can sell each other stuff!) and declarations of royal conquest law (Ooh! your city is now one of my kids, which is good because I don’t have to kill you all!) often took the format of covenants. People tended to keep them a little more than contracts?

    Why? If you’ve read about Abraham, you know the drill on covenants: sacrificial animals cut in half, and both parties walk down the path between the halves. The animals represent the covenant curse you incur by breaking the covenant.

    But here’s the tricky bit: breaking a covenant’s terms incurs the curse, but never ends the covenant. Because you’ve already made yourselves family or clan, and you’re stuck with each other. (But now you’re cursed, unless you do something to make amends.)

    1. Ooh! your city is now one of my kids, which is good because I don’t have to kill you all!

      For some reason, this strikes me as darkly hilarious. Probably related to the type of week we’re having here. 😉

    2. And note that the bit in the Bible with Abraham and the covenant ended up being non-standard: God made Abraham fall asleep right before he was due to walk through the animals, and only the symbols of God passed between the animals. So in essence, God was saying in that culture’s language, “If you break this covenant, the curse will fall on Me, not you.”

      God is an expert at foreshadowing. Since He’s the Great Author, that’s no surprise. 🙂

  11. “Not stuff you’d catch Louis XIV doing.” Maybe not. But Louis XVI was known to be handy around the palace – the sort of fellow who would do his own minor repairs. And even Louis XIV put in a long day’s work running France.

  12. I bore easily and wonder off.

    Not sure whether that’s a typo, but I like it. I have the same problem; something in the back of my mind will get bored, wander off, and start wondering about things. Then the rest of my mind will go “hey! that’s more interesting than what I’m doing!” and before you know it, I’m not getting anything done anymore.

    That’s why I have to have tunes while I’m working; keeps that rogue thread busy so it doesn’t pester me.

      1. It’s that ADHD brain running at 200% of maximum peacetime power. The stuff she’s writing now keeps jamming up with the stuff she’s going to be writing a couple minutes from now. A glass of wine, some meditation, might slow down the racing enough to keep traffic in an orderly line. But it could negatively impact creativity, so don’t pay any attention to me. I’m not a doctor, I just evaluate their performance. 😀

    1. I’m kind of there myself- I need either music or background tv to keep that part of the brain occupied so I can get some work done.

  13. Engineers rarely take oaths, other than those associated with a Government or military post. But there are customs…the designer of a ship is afforded the honor of riding it down the ways on launching. It had BETTER float, and not turn turtle. Happens on aircraft, too, when feasible (it often isn’t). Or the fine custom of standing under a bridge when the test loads are applied.

      1. Would you believe we had to tell younger son “no swearing in church?” the unfortunate side effect is that when trying to clean up his act he’s unusually inarticulate.

  14. Everyone knows what being married means.


    Everyone has what they THINK marriage is… it’s amazing how much the details vary, even with folks who actually talked about it.

    For starters, the massive gap between “marriage is forever” and “hey, you can always get divorced” is pretty hard to bridge, and even the folks who do talk about it tend to have a lot of assumptions. (most related to being, well, in love…so they don’t think about their failure state)

    1. Ayup – that’s the phrase that jumped out at me. Everyone thinks they know what being married means. It’s a cultural thing; our assumptions are buried so deeply that we’ve no real idea what we think. Once upon a time it meant a wife had to be receptive to her husband’s every sexual desire (those repressed Puritans even went so far as to believe a husband had to sexually satisfy the wife! How crazy is that?)

      The simple fact is that even in an institution so basic and common as marriage people’s understanding of the concept is highly subject to variance, which is why there is always a slight period f adjustment required.

      1. I seem to remember quite a few of the “repressed” cultures (which seems to mean “the ones that expected sexual fidelity”) had things where the wife could divorce because the husband was frigid.

        I do often wonder about the unstated expectations in the various cultures we have any information on; I’ve noticed a tendency for things to have “Well, of COURSE” aspects when it’s…well, as important as sex.

    2. … so they don’t think about their failure state.

      One of the good advice I got when my wife and I were going through pre-marital counseling was to think long and hard about “for worse, for poorer, in sickness.” Because nobody* has difficulty with keeping their vows when it’s “for better, for richer, in health”.

      * Nobody who took their vows at all seriously in the first place, at least.

  15. FWIW, if you want a pet that’s an obligation, try a parrot. Macaws can live 60+ years. My parents left my sister and I three parrots…fourteen years ago. We’ve still got them. 🙂

  16. OTOH, you have vows and oaths, which is a connected concept. In a covenant, the oath is the terms and the acceptance of the curse being incurred. But in all sorts of cultures, vows usually include a punishment clause for nonfulfilment, even if it’s just the punishment of everybody thinking ill of the person who swore falsely. In many cultures, it puts you in a bad legal position for doing other things, like taking a responsible position or having trade partners.

    In most cultures, the idea is not just that you should mean what you say. You say things with your breath, and your breath is (or represents) your life or your soul. An oath is more serious than ordinary chatting or casual promises. So a false swearer is a little less alive, a little less himself.

    So you get societies where people swear by certain gods. They’re implying that the gods are witnessing the oath, and that the gods will punish the oathbreaker. You also get things where people swear by “my eye” or “my hand,” where the implication is that they will be punished in the eye or hand if they fail, or that their eye will see or hand will strike anyone trying to stop the oath’s fulfillment.

    Anyway, to tie things together, and as Scott Hahn points out in many of his books, St. Jerome’s Vulgate Latin translation of “covenant” was “sacramentum,” which had previously been used for the oathtaking ceremony of the Roman legionaries when they started their hitch.

    (The Hebrew for “covenant” is “berith”, and “oath” is “sheva,” which can also mean “seven” and launches a thousand Bible wordplays and number symbolisms.)

  17. When getting married at a Catholic church my wife asked me to write the vows and I just frowned thoughtfully and said no. The church had been gracious enough to marry us and it seemed ruse to think I could do a better job and write a better vow.

    Is it arrogance? Everyone thinking themselves both special and advanced. As if no one before them had wisdom to give.

    Or is it a fad? One did it so a friend feels pressure to do the same thing, which snowballs down a hill of meaningless words. My older brother had a fancy wedding with expensive food in part because their friends had done the same. Same with writing their own vows. Not out of arrogance but because it was expected in their circle.


  18. We were married in the Orthodox Church. Not only is there absolutely no possibility of personalized, custom vows, there’s only one place in the marriage liturgy where the couple has any input at all. You can either accept the vows or reject them. That’s your option. If the vows were changed, it wouldn’t be a marriage, as marriage is a sacrament of the church. We don’t care what the government claims to be marriage–if you didn’t get married in the church you’re not fully married. Next Sunday a convert couple who have been married for 45 years will have their marriage blessed in the church by our priest. This is the only accepted way of “Orthodoxizing” a non-church marriage.

  19. I’ll add that I’m a cranky old-fashioned sort who believes that Civilization took a turn for the worse when they abandoned dueling. The Code of Honor meant that your word HAD to be good. Or Else. And that sense of personal honor made a wide range of civilized behavior possible. Handshake contracts. Parole for prisoners of war. Honest elections. Laws of war.

    1. Well, I’m not on board with dueling, but there does need to be more enforcement of consequences.

      Your average SJW fears neither man nor god nor law of gravity, except a cannibalistic attack from his own side.

      And unfortunately, they’re not the only ones who don’t understand consequences, or think about how other people might enforce it. I see college kids do some unbelievable stuff. No malice, but just no understanding that “If I do X, I will lose Job Y.” They literally don’t think anything can happen to them, or that bad stuff happens randomly — because nobody has ever given them punishment as a direct consequence of a particular action.

      1. I’m on board 100% when it comes to dueling; as long as the challenged has the right to choose weapons. The convention of dueling requiring either swords or pistols was an elitist invention to keep the common folk from dueling their betters. Frankly, I’d like to see Bernie Sanders duel some Vermont farmer with pitchforks at 2 meters and see how well he comes off. Ooo. Baling hooks would be even nastier.

        1. Ah, but the purpose of limiting arms to “conventional” weapons was there to prevent someone from specifying something obscure…and that he had mastered. John Lyle Wilson’s “Code of Honor” explains the matter quite nicely.

          1. Too bad. You challenged him (or her); that’s the risk you run. Fencing is a game, or a sport. Dueling is the real thing. On the other hand, I look at dueling as a regularized solution to the problem of, “One of us has got to go”; and not really one of, “My honor must be maintained.”

                1. If the existence of liberals inherently creates an “either you go, or I do” situation for you, then the problem isn’t liberals.

                  Yes, they are prone to creating very negative situations. That’s why you don’t let them get the power to do it, and build systems with the notion of preventing abuse.

        2. There is a famous, albeit likely apocryphal, story of Abraham Lincoln being challenged to a duel and choosing blacksmith’s hammers standing in six feet of river water …

          1. Another where he suggested broadswords–with a log on the ground between them which neither was allowed to cross. Not as extreme, but same principle.

            1. In researching the Lincoln tale I came across the broadswords. Lincoln, who was 6’4″ met his opponent, who was 5’9″ on the sward and demonstrated his strength and superior reach by severing a branch overhead, which prompted the challenger to attend to cooler heads.

              Some two decades later Lincoln nominated his erstwhile foe, James Shields, for promotion to Major General following Shields’ administering Stonewall Jackson’s only defeat at the Battle of Kernstown (where he was gravely wounded in the process.)

              1. Which led to one of the more interesting “lessons learned from a defeat” stories. The story goes that Jackson, a staunch Calvinist, wondered why he had been defeated there, and concluded that it had been because he attacked on a Sunday.
                Thereafter, he never did so again. One might could argue with the methodology, but the results speak for themselves.

    2. I’ve had too many experiences being in the right, yet being on the losing end of a fight because the other side was bigger, faster, and had no downside because they were also more popular (or popular at all really) to believe in something as might-makes-right as dueling. Sorry. Yes, it would be nice if there was a way for society to enforce a certain amount of honor/appreciation for honor, but being a better shot (better swordsman, better whatever) doesn’t usually guarantee someone isn’t a dishonest a-hole.

      1. In practice, I think the medieval world had it right with the granting of a Field of Battle. Two gentlemen could not just go off and have it out at the local dueling ground, they had to get authorization. Which might or might not be granted. It kept the “lets you and him fight” crowd at bay, while allowing for personal retribution for the most egregious cases.

        1. Even then, the combination of stronger and more popular is already dangerous enough. Giving that combination the added ability to permanently shut up someone who they dislike (as soon as they can make-up a good enough excuse for a duel) doesn’t seem like a good idea.

    3. That part of code deullo was useful, and perhaps sometimes good. The practical side – that honor becomes subject to skill or strength – not so much. But it’s a shortcut, anyway, for assessing honor via actual knowledge (yours and/or people you know) of the person you’re treating with.

    4. The thing that I like about dueling is that when some slime manages to do something horrible while barely skirting the law, instead of a call for a new law, someone just challenges him and deals with it directly. Thus dueling reduces the number of named laws (which are always bad laws).

      1. Yup. As a rule of thumb, any bill with a flossy high-visibility name should be voted down. They are almost always poorly thought out and sloppily worded.

        1. Remove the sequence of words beginning with “with” and ending with “name”, and your post is equally true.

  20. Christ counseled us not to vow anything:

    — Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. [The Gospel According to Matthew, 5:33-37] —

    I’d say the Redeemer had a good grasp of the human propensity to unreliability, both in memory and deed. Nevertheless, some vows are important. Marital vows qualify, and one should not take them with fingers crossed (Cf. The Truman Show). The oath of citizenship and the oath of military service qualify as well. Apart from those, Our Lord’s advice seems good to me.

    1. Not swearing by something or someone else, to imply your commitment is more reliable than that of other people, is well forbidden. To vow that you, personally, will perform such and such, seems to me not to contravene this commandment.

      1. The impression I got back when I was studying such things was that every word out of your mouth should be as reliable as any vow so you should never have any need to swear an oath. “I’ll do it” should carry all the force of “I swear by the Great Panda (or whatever) that I shall do this thing.”

        Swearing, then, is an admission of a lack of trustworthiness otherwise.

        1. There’s also the issue that no matter what you swear by, or how seriously you take your vow, you can still end up foresworn entirely due to circumstances beyond your control. Being honest means saying what you mean, and taking reasonable steps to achieve what you said. Oaths and vows don’t let you off the hook so easily.

  21. “We’d like to show off by staging a $20,000 event with our friends, but we don’t want to harsh our mellow by that icky ‘commitment’ stuff.”

  22. Kathleen Norris, the writer, talked about her maternal grandfather living “a vowed life,” not because he was clergy, but as a physician, husband, god-father to several children, and medical examiner (rural Dakotas). When he died, they found prayer books for several denominations in his office, because he’d used them at the families’ request when his medical skills were no longer sufficient.

  23. When C and I got married in 2016, I went online and looked up vows, and showed them to C. We decided the original Book of Common Prayer was the best starting point; I just trimmed out all the God stuff (we were having a civil ceremony). But what we both liked about the old form was that it wasn’t promises to feel X or Y (which isn’t under voluntary control and therefore can’t meaningfully be promised) but to DO X and Y. That seemed like a suitable form for adults making a commitment. The “modern” vows felt like fingernails on a blackboard to my copy editing nerves.

  24. Marriage. If you’re not in it for life, then you’re not married.

    My wife and I wrote our own vows when we first married, mostly because we had a JOP and were married in a civil ceremony, not sharing a religion at the time. We did promise the, “have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part” which was a heck of a lot more than the law required. That was 33 years, 2 kids, 3 deployments, 6 moves, 2 career changes, a retirement, caring for several dying family members, several dumber-than-dirt decisions on both our parts, as well as sleeping in different rooms most of the time due to medical conditions. Couple of years after we got married, she converted to Catholicism, and I returned to it, and we got married in the Church with the standard vows. She’s stuck with me until the day one of us dies, or she chooses to leave.

    Now I can see dissolving a marriage if it turns out the person you thought was your soul mate really was faking it and is a murderous monster constantly a lethal danger to you and your kids. If they become such due to illness or injury, they’re still your responsibility to pen them up, or put them down to protect the rest of the family.

    Do pets have souls? I doubt it. That would imply that they had a choice of doing good or evil, as well as being able to go to Heaven or being condemned to Hell. And I doubt all dogs go to Heaven.

    1. I don’t think that it’s something clear enough to base any sort of doctrine on and outside the purpose of scripture, which is to show humans how to be saved (or relate to God) and not to show dogs how to be saved. And while I get super cringy when people do try to make it doctrine, there are some interesting hints.

      Firstly, on the logic front, if animals can’t choose good then they can’t choose evil. Except that the concept of original sin doesn’t involve choice.
      And there’s bits in scripture that say that all of creation is fallen, so that would include animals. And anything subject to the fall would be subject to redemption. There’s also the part when God explains to a grumpy Jonah that he’s not going to destroy Ninivah and says part of the reason is all of those unable to make a choice, who don’t know their left hand from their right, and also cattle. I always figured that to be young children and the mentally infirm… and animals.

      1. there’s bits in scripture that say that all of creation is fallen

        The original design had Man above all in Stewardship and Grace. With Man fallen the whole scheme sort of falls apart.

    2. What I’ve heard that sounds about right is that divorce ought to be reserved for the three “A”s: adultery, addiction, or abuse. I might add a fourth “A” for abandonment, but the list should stay short. Not non-existent, but short.

      Though I don’t know if there are very many cases where “the person you thought was your soul mate really was faking it.” Even in the cases of those three, usually the spouse made it perfectly clear what was going on long before the marriage: in most of the divorces where I’ve personally known what was going on, the fact that this relationship was heading for a train wreck was clear long before the couple got to the altar.

      1. I might add a fourth “A” for abandonment

        Divorce for abandonment is merely the de jure recognition of a de facto circumstance.

      2. The Catholic Church lets marriages be annulled under certain circumstances that prove that one partner did not give the vow in good faith. Addiction and abuse fall under those categories, though I have one friend who managed to get her marriage annulled when her partner decided he never wanted kids (and kids were something she had always wanted.) Granted, there was abuse in there as well, but she didn’t have to prove that with his declaration of “no kids” in hand.

        1. “I am absolutely against even the possibility of offspring” does rather demonstrate that you’re not willing to enter into a valid Catholic marriage! Oy.

          1. Well, he also wasn’t Catholic. So their marriage hadn’t been. But she wanted to go to her second marriage free and clear, so she got the annulment run. (And she has several kids now, too.)

            1. Doesn’t matter if he’s Catholic or not– the finding that there hadn’t been a true marriage would just be looking at if he was calling a dog’s tail a leg, so to speak; you can’t dissolve a marriage, but sometimes what has been called a marriage isn’t, when the rubber hits the road, a marriage. It’s…shacking up, or joining economic forces, or getting a tax write-off, and at least one party was entering that instead of a marriage.

              Glad for her!

        2. “Addiction and abuse fall under those categories, ”

          As pre-existing occurrences. If you become a drunk after marriage, it can not retroactively invalidate your marriage.

          1. Abusers wait—it can’t really be a pre-existing occurrence if they’re canny enough to wait until the wedding is done, but it still counts. And the way it was explained to me is that certain forms of addiction indicate an incapability of making a true pledge.

            1. Ah. I assume you meant that she was too terrorized to consent of her free will. You seem to mean the case where her consent was invalid because he deceived her, and she would not have consented without it.

              1. Yeah. I’ve unfortunately known lots of people who have been abused, so I’ve done a lot of deep research on the subject. The creepiest thing is that most abusers wait for about a year before they do overt abuse—and the psychological grooming starts much sooner, so that the victim starts to doubt their perceptions (and gets isolated from friends before the abuser really starts digging in.)

                In the case of my friend who got the annulment about kids, it was all psychological/sexual abuse. He moved her to a city where she didn’t have deep ties, and in her words, he’s “a sad clown.” So people excuse him because he makes it funny, or things like that. A lot of their former mutual friends have said things like “there’s two sides to every story” and I even saw a story from a friend of *mine* who was in that group about going to that guy’s second wedding. (I refrained from posting good luck to the bride.)

                Basically, by the end of the marriage, he had destroyed a lot of her self-worth, made her flinch from certain physical behaviors, and gave her no emotional support at all while expecting her to support him monetarily while he was looking for his big break.

                She didn’t know he was going to be like that when she agreed to marry him. And honestly, I don’t know most of the details; this is pieced together from a very few hints that she’s dropped in safe spaces. If I lived within a distance that we could have long face-to-face talks, I’d probably know more, but it’s creepy enough knowing what I do, and that he has plenty of friends who believe he’s not like that, it must have been her fault. Abusers are deceivers, and deception is the big no-no in valid sacramental contracts.

                1. My niece found out this the hard way. No physical abuse. She was watching for that. Bio-daddy for her daughter was a piece of work, family had finally gotten her & the baby away from him before really bad things happened there, only because his older kids (at least 4 with 4 different mothers) got old enough to speak up. He lost all rights to all 4 (enough said?).

                  So, when she found the guy she married, she was looking for a decent father figure. Never mind he really didn’t have an income, but a decent guy, decent extended family (heck he’s the son of a cousin of my BIL 3rd wife). But, & but is in the details. So, 2 years into the marriage, he had started & quit, 5 business adventures, gotten fired by his dad’s business, investigated but turned down police work because he’d (essentially) actually have to work. Expected her to work & pay all the bills, including the rent on the house provided by his folks, keep house & cook; any money he earned was his. His contributions? His folks provided the place at reduced rent in a horrible neighborhood, & summers he was home for childcare, except when he had something to do, then his mother stepped up, or her sisters, folks, & grandmother, did. She wanted a father for her child, he wanted a ready made family without the work or financial commitment. When she found out he was cheating … Straw. Camel. Back. They are divorced. FYI, everyone wants to tell the new woman, RUN, NOW; but she will not be in any danger physically.

                  1. I agree that she should run, now, fast– but the main difference I can see between Husband #2 and most of the “normal” guys my age is that he actually married her. 😦

                2. Theodore Dalrymple, who had a battered woman for a patient basically every day of his professional life, found that it didn’t take that long. In fact, while they would deny that they could have told the man was violent, if he asked if HE could have told the man would batter them, they all said yes, and for the very reasons that he would have said so.

      3. That’s about what my mom told me when I was young. Adultery because cheating can (and does) kill people. Abuse? He hits you, you leave.

        Addiction is trickier. It can go under “sickness and health”, depending.

        I know that it doesn’t always work and people are human and they fail, often. But taking it all more seriously might lead to… taking it all more seriously. And if “not in love” isn’t a good enough reason, then maybe people would think about how well they’d like the other person if they *weren’t* in love. And “am I actually willing to obey this guy” might lead to some serious consideration and self-reflection.

        (I know people lose their sh*t over the “obey” part but mothers do nothing but manage other people’s lives and it’s far too easy to start treating a man as if he’s supposed to obey YOU… after all, everyone else in the family does.)

        1. He hits you, you leave.

          Just a mild interjection of a reminder this goes both ways: wives are not to abuse their husbands, physically, psychologically or emotionally.

          While that likely goes without saying in this crowd it is significant to remember that it must occasionally be said.

          We likely also do not need to explore the interpretations of “He hits you” for which the proper response is, “Thanks, I needed that.” Human relations can be complicated.

          1. Yes. Women can and are both physically and emotionally abusive and no one should be expected to just “take it”. Even if you’re bigger than she is, leave.

            (My mom was talking to me, so her advice was “gendered.”)

        2. > Addiction is trickier.

          Agreed. But it’s also seldom accidental. There’s no American reaching the “age of reason”, however it might be defined, that hasn’t been warned that it’s a bad idea to smoke, snort, inject, or drink various drugs.

          And addiction is, a lot of the time, not just a “personal choice”; entire extended family units have been wrecked by a single individual’s problem. When they take that first step, it’s not just their own lives they might be wrecking.

          1. I was including alcoholism.

            But staying to be hurt really isn’t part of the deal. And if children are involved they have to come first.

        3. > Abuse? He hits you, you leave.

          My wife’s response to that sort of thing is, “they have to sleep sometime.”

      4. Well, I’ve seen marriages where everyone else around them knew it was a train wreck because they knew one of the people was a conniving scum; but the other was head over heels in love with them and didn’t see it.

        All they could do was say, “I don’t think it’s going to work for you two; but I wish you the best of luck, and this is the last you’ll hear me say it.”

        1. “I can change him, Mama” is a popular refrain.

          (“I can change her” is less popular to say but I think that there are a number of guys who will think it. In the train-wreck relationships, it isn’t always the man who makes it clear that they’ve got no intention of being a good partner long before the marriage.)

          1. It seems more common that guys think the stuff that makes her a horrible idea is GOOD.

            IE, the “crazy.”


            1. My father’s second wife, and my brother’s first wife come to mind.

              God must like me for some reason. I’m still on my first and only.

      5. Adultery. You know, that seems to be the one commandment thing that RAH wasn’t hung up on in his stories. But then looking back at his characters, few, if any, treated their sexual partners, married or not, as personal property. I can see Lazarus Long saying, “You want to have sex with my wife(s), and she’s willing, go for it. You try to have sex with her against her will; I’ll dismember you and bury the pieces at several crossroads.”

    3. Do pets have souls? I doubt it. That would imply that they had a choice of doing good or evil, as well as being able to go to Heaven or being condemned to Hell.

      I figure it’s in the category of God respecting love (…which is pretty much basically self-respect to Himself, then….) so we know pets are a good thing, so whatever happens is going to be good. Can trust him on that one, y’know?

      1. I don’t figure I’m qualified to tell Him how to run His Creation. I have my hopes to meet certain pets in Heaven (and one or two of my parent’s dogs, such as the psycho poodle, I suspect will be in Hell) but the one thing of which I am most sure is that it is not for me to dictate.

        1. This. The thing always to remember, is that He is God, and we are not.
          Would I be disappointed not to meet my favorite pet in Heaven? If it is His will that pets don’t go, then I trust His will to make Heaven overwhelmingly wonderful in other ways, and for all to be made clear. (And if pets do, it will be a large company we keep!)

        2. “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

          – Will Rogers

          1. What Will said: If there’s heaven and where the dogs went, I know where I’m going.

            And I’m with Sarah: If that’s how Himself set it up, we will be having words.

            1. Well, if you go with “dogs are part of the redemption of Creation,” they might not be in Heaven but will be present after the General Resurrection, as part of the “new heaven and new earth.”

              But however it works out, I am sure it will be great.

      2. At my wife’s memorial service (she passed away suddenly on May 2nd), my cousin, who was the minister performing the service, said at one point that pets could not be redeemed, because Jesus came to Earth in the form of a man, not a dog or a cat. I decided not to ask how he knew that there had been no dog, cat, or other form of savior, but wondered how he could be so sure.

        1. I’m sorry.


          Wanna get technical about it, God made us here in His “image”, and we’re the ones who are screwed up…I wouldn’t want to tell Himself that the cat isn’t in his image enough, or that dogs have to be redeemed at all.

          ….hm. You know, that might be the angle… the angels angle. Pets can’t be “redeemed” because they’re not fallen, although my goodness is the physical expression able to be warped….

          1. Thank you.

            I’m not sure which version of Southern Baptist my cousin is, but he’s always got some sort of little unusual angle that comes out. I know, you’d think I wouldn’t have wanted him to do the service, but overall, he does a good one, and is generally one of the most decent and respectful people I know, so I just roll with the minor oddity as it comes along.

          2. “”Neither by virtue, speech nor art
            Nor hope of grace to win;
            But godless innocence of heart
            That never heard of sin:

            “Neither by beauty nor belief
            Nor white example shown.
            Something a wanton–more a thief–
            But–most of all–mine own.”

            “Enter and look,” said Peter then,
            “And send you well to speed;
            But, for all that I know of women and men
            Your riddle is hard to read.”

            Then flew Dinah from under the Chair,
            Into his arms she flew–
            And licked his face from chin to hair
            And Peter passed them through!”


        2. More importantly, Wayne, theologically Christ is the new Adam. if all creation fell through the old Adam, why wouldn’t it all be redeemed int he new?

  25. 38 years ago, we wrote our own vows. We’re still married, still in love, and have survived a lot of bad stuff. There were times when one or the other of us (sometimes both) wanted out. But, we remembered what we wrote all those many years ago and stayed together. Kids, jobs, cancer, heart attacks, retirement, and all the other bad times; we survived them all.

    1. Why talk about love right now?

      Building a life together … if that’s not love what is?

      1. “With your backstage pass /
        and white sunglasses /
        you look just like a queen./
        Even all the fans, they know your name /
        from all of the magazines…”

  26. While my husband was dying (although we didn’t know that at the time), he murmured to me that he was sorry I had to go through all this. I told him not to worry about me and that I seemed to remember a promise about “in sickness and in health”. I couldn’t believe that he was more concerned about ME than HIMSELF at a time when he was in terrible pain and no one knew what was causing it. He was a wonderful husband and father for 56 years. He kept all his promises, big and small, to every person he interacted with. His wedding ring was engraved with “honest and true” and he lived like that his whole life. Not a bad legacy to remember him by! And BTW I am sure all the dogs are up there with him…

    1. “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.
      An elephant’s faithful, one hundred percent.” — Horton Hatches the Egg, Dr Seuss.

  27. Whenever I hear the phrase “they wrote their own vows”, I’m reminded of a scene from the MST3k version of “Night of the Blood Beast”.

  28. If your wedding vows do not include ” . . . forsaking all others . . . ,” then you’re not married to one person, you’re simply taking a break from playing the field.

  29. Funny that this should be posted right after I finished re-reading Machievelli’s “Discourses on Livy”. One point he keeps coming back to is that a free & virtuous people cannot be enslaved unless it becomes corrupted first, because a virtuous people is more concerned about keeping the law over personal gain.

    1. As if the present political environment were insufficiently depressing.

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

      “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

      Too many people interpret the Franklin summation as relying on the first definition of “keep”:

      1. To retain possession of

      I suspect what he had in mind was one of the later definitions:

      6. To maintain for use or service
      7. To manage, tend, or have charge of
      8. To preserve
      9. To cause to continue in a state, condition, or course of action
      12. To adhere or conform to; follow
      13. To be faithful to; fulfill:


      See also: Phrasal Verbs
      keep at
      To persevere in work or an action.

      keep to
      To adhere to: keep to the original purpose.

      keep up
      1. To maintain in good condition: kept up the property.

      2. To persevere in; carry on: We asked her to stop talking, but she kept it up. To preserve or sustain: kept up the appearance of friendship.

      3. To continue at the same level or pace: The snow kept up all day.

      4. To continue to pay off (a financial obligation).

      5. To match one’s competitors, colleagues, or neighbors in success or lifestyle: couldn’t keep up with his friends who went into business.

      6. To remain adequately informed: loved to keep up on the gossip.

  30. If your wedding vows do not include “. . . forsaking all others . . . ” then you are not making a commitment to one person, you are taking a break from playing the field.

  31. I’m reminded of Sam Vimes. To him, the oath he took as a member of the City Watch is both his lifeline, and what keeps him human. It gives him the authority to go after criminals. But it also acts as a restraint to keep his darker impulses in check.

  32. That was the impression I got, too.

    Anything you swear by is false, because you cannot forfeit it. Neither heaven, nor earth, nor the temple, nor even your head, is yours to forfeit if you lie.

    If you don’t lie, you won’t have to swear any oaths. “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

    Which is why a lot of Christians have no trouble with vows and oaths in court, in a church, etc. They’re not doing it because they’re liars, they’re indulging a local custom.

    1. Right. Though some Christians do have trouble with it, which is why the standard phrase was changed to “Do you solemnly swear or affirm that …” to accommodate the consciences of those who felt they were forbidden to swear. The government’s main concern isn’t whether you “swear” or “affirm”, it’s that you have been clearly told that if you lie in this statement, we can prosecute you for perjury. So if John Smith is someone who feels that obedience to Christ means never swearing an oath, he can just say “I affirm that X is true”; he would have told the truth anyway because that’s his duty to Christ, but being allowed to affirm instead of swear satisfies his conscience. And the government is satisfied that John Smith has made this statement with the full understanding that he’s subject to perjury if he lies, so his statement is allowable as evidence in court or whatever. And so both parties are satisfied with a simple wording change. Whoever decided to change the wording to “I swear or affirm …” had an excellent idea.

  33. Does anyone have a link to one of those summaries of how effective the US military would be against wide spread civil breakdown?

    I know that every summary I’ve seen boiled down to “are you Fing nuts, the military would be DEAD,” but I also know I didn’t save any of the actual write-ups…and apparently people seriously think that it is laugh out loud obvious that civilian firearm owners vs the military, the military has the advantage.

        1. I think he did a nonfiction version of “What I saw at the coup”

          I came across it once, but haven’t seen it again.

    1. “But the military has tanks and bombers and big guns!”

      “Yes, and look how well that worked against the Viet Cong and the mujahedeen.”

      Militaries work great against other militaries, cities, and fixed infrastructure. At the insurgent level, they’re like using a sledgehammer to kill ants. The ants get killed, but it’s hard on the countertop…

    2. Best thing the military can do in that event is to hunker down, use their higher rate of fire to protect bases and dependent, and wait for civil order to occur. (I think they know it, too.)

      1. Yes, to put it mildly.

        The closest I can find to a “the military has an advantage” side being pushed by any kind of professional is with a single city, which can be subjected to choke-points (by both sides, which is how they cut down on non-targets in the war zone), and even then it’s pretty much “we could PROBABLY do it.”

        1. If we want to be generous, we could probably expand that to a state the size of Delaware or Rhode Island.

          1. Assuming some truly epic fwittery on both sides and reasonable strengthening of military force as civilian rights are whittled down, sure. Not sure how long they’d hold it, but I could see that.

    3. One thing is that most of the US Military is bean counters, not door kickers or trigger pullers.
      Then there’s the fact that a lot of the equipment the military possess is not of the best condition- a lot of stuff is worn out and used up.

      So, the big ironic thing is that a huge and expensive military build up would be needed before any government could expect to quash a wide spread domestic unrest.of the best condition- a lot of stuff is worn out and used up.

      So, the big ironic thing is that a huge and expensive military build up would be needed before any government could expect to quash a wide spread domestic unrest.

    4. The other thing to consider is that there are at least 5 times more former military members in the general population than there are in uniform at any time. Now granted, most were not the shooters; but all of them are a lot more mature and knowledgeable than they were when they were still in the military. And a huge number of them are gun owners themselves. No, it would not be a sure thing in a civil breakdown. Btu I’ll vote for the retirees.

      1. You will also see a lot of active duty people who will feel more attachment towards their retired compatriots over their current leadership.
        Especially if the leadership treats those in uniform like crap.

        1. Oh definitely, this is a ‘capabilities’ discussion, which is completely leaving out the “With all due respect, are you frikkin nuts, sir?” aspect of orders to go roll down the interstate and blow up those U.S. civilians.

          It would take a massive purge of the NCO ranks and a deep restructuring of the entire culture of the U.S. military to something like Soviet lines before there was any chance in heck of orders like that working out well for the order-givers, let alone generating any vehicle movement.

          Even the Chinese PLA had units that sat on their hands (reportedly with “transport difficulties”) when they received orders to roll into Beijing and crush the Tiananmen Square protests.

              1. *Slaps forehead*

                It probably gives away that I have no military experience to say that until I read your comment just now, I had been seriously worried about what Obama’s purge of high-ranking officers would do to military culture. Granted, it won’t do anything good (I’m still incensed by that letter coming from a West Point instructor about the inherent structural problems in West Point, like cadets who are known to be cheating but about whom nothing is done because they come from a protected “minority” class). But if it’s the NCOs who really run things, then you’ve just relieved my worries a little bit.

                1. As much as any of it is really run, yes.

                  The officers can do a TON of damage…but we’re already built around routing around Random Idiots, although it’s still damage. (I swear it’s not a joke, we had an officer that had all the symptoms of early onset Alzheimers. Divo. *shudder*)

                  I think it was World War II where there was a might-be-a-legend thing about how shooting American officers was a HORRIBLE idea, because that just meant the enlisted went and DID IT THEIR OWN WAY.
                  What was painful.
                  And unpredictable, even compared to when they were whining about how it didn’t do any good to read our tactical manuals, because we didn’t.

                  1. My friend who was in the Army (did a tour in Iraq as an EOD tech) told me about one officer he had over him for a while (a captain, if I remember correctly). This guy would literally spend thirty minutes a day in front of the mirror, according to my friend. Classic narcissist.

                    And yeah, I know the quotes you’re talking about. Probably apocyphal since I’ve only ever found vague attributions as opposed to specific ones, but they’re too good not to quote again:

                    “The reason the American army does so well in wartime is that war is chaos, and the American army practices chaos on a daily basis.”

                    “A serious problem in planning against American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.”

                    1. Not apocyphal … it was a German General (post war). No, I can’t give a linkee, but German Generals didn’t know about links…

                    2. Thing is, “A German general” is the *only* attribution I’ve ever found. Which specific general said it? When did he say it? Nobody seems to know, which is what makes me suspect that it might be the quotation equivalent of an urban legend (no specific source, and many people find it “too good to check” so they repeat it without digging to see if it’s real).

                    3. I have seen the chaos quote attributed to Rommel, but never with a specific citation. The doctrine failure has been attributed to a KGB document but no specific one.

                      As any pursuer of quotes knows, until you source it to a specific document it hasn’t really been attributed.

                      “Do you have a plan?” asked [Kebra].
                      “Stay alive, kill all enemies, reach the coast, find a ship.”
                      “Things always look brighter when you have a plan,” said Kebra.
                      — David Gemmell, “Winter Warriors”

                    4. “A serious problem in planning against American doctrine is that the Americans do not read their manuals, nor do they feel any obligation to follow their doctrine.”

                      Anyone serious totally dissects the manual – so as to understand how to get around the manual and get the f***ing job done. (daily survival stuff)

              2. Or more like the service academies are still an academic environment, and he had experts in subverting those.

          1. One of the things I have trouble conveying is that the existence and exercising of the 2nd amendment is what gives us the US military.

            There’s a world of difference in translating from civilian to military when the number of legal firearms in your entire county/province/whatever is less than one small ship’s armory, and the one where legal firearm sales per store are more than that each year.

            I actually got to see this, a little, with some of the folks who signed up after 9/11. Literally nobody they knew had guns. By and large, I was very glad that they were in support roles. The gobsmacking assumption that of course anything being done, had to be done by organized military or cops…..

            1. In most US wars, the US has been able to rely on the public to produce a fair number of young men who already know how to shoot, or have other valuable war skills like piloting. Not everyone, but a solid group. Life is a lot easier for drill sergeants if they just have to teach marching, and not, say, reading.

              But we have been ridiculously lucky as a country in the skills of sharpshooters.

              1. Marching only has a few uses: making sure everyone gets to the same place at the same time, exercise, looking pretty and impressive, pole arm use and single shot firearm volleying. Only the first two have much applicability in today’s military world.

                1. Following directions. Even when they’re stupid, so long as they’re harmless. A shocking number of people are just freaking morons about “gosh, I joined the military and I have to follow basic instructions?!”, this is kinda important.

                  One of the guys teaching us drill was an AT. He answered honestly when someone asked “uh… Navy…why are we marching?”

                  1. Sometimes even when they don’t look harmless to you – otherwise you’d never get enough people to assault together to make it work.

                    1. Actually this points at one of the reasons the Wehrmacht complained that the American Army didn’t fight fair in Europe: The Prussian tradition, based on combat experience from before the ascendancy of artillery, was to encourage initiative in junior officers and NCOs but require absolute obedience to direct orders. If ordered to take a town by assault, they assaulted the town, and on meeting resistance, either pushed through or fell back and then immediately counterattacked.

                      In contrast, the Americans, on meeting resistance, would pull back and call in overwhelming artillery, and air support if available.

                      The Germans thought the Americans should stand up and fight infantry with infantry in a grand maneuver battle. The Americans thought they should survive the war so they could go home.

                    2. Yeah, tactical flexibility vs. “alles in ornung” (implied emphasis on formal order).

                    3. What FlyingMike says. When it comes to war and combat, make the other guy dead, and me still alive so I can go home and enjoy it.

                    4. The Married Man

                      The bachelor ‘e fights for one
                      As joyful as can be;
                      But the married man don’t call it fun,
                      Because ‘e fights for three —
                      For ‘Im an’ ‘Er an’ It
                      (An’ Two an’ One make Three)
                      ‘E wants to finish ‘is little bit,
                      An’ e’ wants to go ‘ome to is tea!

                      The bachelor pokes up ‘is ‘ead
                      To see if you are gone;
                      But the married man lies down instead,
                      An’ waits till the sights come on,
                      For ‘im an’ ‘Er an’ a hit
                      (Direct or recochee)
                      ‘E wants to finish ‘is little bit,
                      An’ ‘e wants to go ‘ome to ‘is tea.

                      The bachelor will miss you clear
                      To fight another day;
                      But the married man, ‘e says “No fear!”
                      ‘E wants you out of the way
                      Of ‘Im an’ ‘Er an’ It
                      (An’ ‘is road to ‘is farm or the sea),
                      ‘E wants to finish ‘is little bit,
                      An’ ‘e wants to go ‘ome to ‘is tea.

                    5. Right. “”The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” – George S. Patton

                    6. War is not our business. War is a distraction from business. Come home so that you can return to your business. Finish the fight the first time so you don’t have to leave your business again any time soon.

                  2. Exactly. Practice following directions. Practice following them in concert with others where one person messing up messes up the whole formation.

                    The same with most of the other stuff we had to do. For example, there is no military purpose to folding the toilet paper end. Our TI said we had a choice and could decide how we were going to do it. We could make sure that the toilet paper was ripped neatly with no ragged edges, or we could fold it like a hotel maid, left or right, or in a point in the middle. So we chose a fold a certain way. There was one woman (even older than I was at the time) who absolutely refused to just fold the toilet paper end. It was a personal insult to her. (She eventually got “recycled” and I’ve no notion if she ended up going home.)

                    But folding the stupid toilet paper end was the same sort of practice. It didn’t matter what we did so long as everyone did it exactly the same. It was practice for attention to detail, to stop being sloppy. And you know? There were girls in our flights who’d never had a moment of self-control or discipline in their entire lives. I kept thinking (as Foxfier said), how hard can it be to follow a simple instruction? But apparently it’s hard if you’ve never bothered before in your life to do it. It’s like dealing with babies asked to put their spoon in a dish by the sink and you find spoons behind the couch and under their beds because they just *can’t*.

              2. In most US wars, the US has been able to rely on the public to produce a fair number of young men who already know how to shoot, or have other valuable war skills like piloting.

                Generally, yes, but note that the proximal trigger for the founding of the National Rifle Association was a perceived lack of marksmanship skills in recruits inducted during the Civil War – from the NRA “About” page (https://home.nra.org/about-the-nra/):

                Dismayed by the lack of marksmanship shown by their troops, Union veterans Col. William C. Church and Gen. George Wingate formed the National Rifle Association in 1871. The primary goal of the association would be to “promote and encourage rifle shooting on a scientific basis,” according to a magazine editorial written by Church.

                After being granted a charter by the state of New York on November 17, 1871, the NRA was founded. Civil War Gen. Ambrose Burnside, who was also the former governor of Rhode Island and a U.S. senator, became the fledgling NRA’s first president.

                1. “…charter by the state of New York…” — oh dear, hope this was replaced or moved. I can just imagine NY trying to revoke the charter!

                  1. See the next couple graphs on that same page:

                    An important facet of the NRA’s creation was the development of a practice ground. In 1872, with financial help from New York State, a site on Long Island, the Creed Farm, was purchased for the purpose of building a rifle range. Named Creedmoor, the range opened a year later, and it was there that the first annual matches were held.

                    Political opposition to the promotion of marksmanship in New York forced the NRA to find a new home for its range. In 1892, Creedmoor was deeded back to the state and NRA’s matches moved to Sea Girt, New Jersey.

        2. ROFL at the idea of President Hillary “What Difference Does it Make” Clinton saying “Eff Posse Comitatus, suppress those deplorable sons of beaches NOW!” and assuring the troops that she’ll “have your backs.”

          1. Kratman wrote a novel with that premise: A State of Disobedience. President Hillary Clinton (with serial numbers not even close to filed off) orders something unconstitutional, Texas says, “Not gonna do it” and secedes, Clinton orders the troops to invade Texas. Lotta people get killed, but in the end, the Texans win. Since it’s Kratman, the novel is well-thought-out and the military doctrine & tactics are quite believable.

            1. Sounds oddly like Travis Corcoran’s Aristillus books, which have a Texan founding a lunar free colony that gets attacked by a Democratic woman president. Though Corcoran’s president really reminds me more of Oprah (which is a scary thought in its own right).

      2. Ditto.

        And, as my husband pointed out when he all but choked laughing at the idea that our civilians are “outgunned,” there’s the considerable leap that the military would be willing to fire on our civilians at all.
        That leap is there in no small part because “we have guns” is NOT that unusual. Most of the military grew up around them….

    5. Wide spread civil breakdown and civilian gun owners versus the military are maybe different scenarios.

      In reverse order, a monolithic military versus monolithic civilian gun owner fight is very low probability. Civilian gun owners don’t have any unity of command, so the organization and initiation of the fight would have to happen from the military end. People who haven’t studied say easy peasy. Problem is, you need competent officers to win a civil war. Competent officers have studied civil wars, know how much they suck, and are accordingly hard to entice. A political faction wanting to start and win a civil war would need to make sure the officers are politically reliable. If such a politically reliable officer corps was already in place, they would have already taken action. Ergo, not yet in place. Trump won’t manage it even if he gets six, and a hypothetical Democrat 46 couldn’t manage it in eight. If a civil war does start which involves the military as an inciting force and combatant, it’ll be too fratricidal to call it for ‘the military’.

      The ‘winning’ faction of the next civil war is likely going to be the one that can build the best consensus coalition among people who matter in the fight. Those people are likely to be the sort who would think it stupid to start a civil war. Ergo, the best way to unite them would be to have your overconfident enemy start the thing.

      Widespread civil breakdown, how widespread and how severe? The recent ‘burn down minority neighborhood’ riots we’ve seen have had both a lot of stage management and restriction of the police by sympathizers in city government. This is evidence in favor of “rioters aren’t that potent”, which is also suggested by theory. At the moment I’m not feeling like there are a lot of obvious paths to such disorder. Sure, California. Sure, maybe the Democrats are holding back, and will get really unhinged. ATM, I think we may have dodged the bullet, and kicked the can some years down the way.

      Kratman had a column at Everyjoe for three years.

      1. You mentioned the reason that I don’t believe in RAH’s “First Prophet”.

        No way in just four years could he have a “loyal only to him” US Army. 😦

        1. Unless someone had been doing a lot of prep work before hand that he merely took advantage of.

          In fairness, Heinlein wrote that in a different time. ACW was fairly recent when he was born, and the Union Army was more firmly in the hands of Lincoln and the Republican Party than the modern US Army is in the hands of any President or Party. Wilson and FDR, who were recent, had tremendous power, but perhaps not an Army under officers as politically reliable as Union officers may have been. Heinlein would have seen significant changes in power in other countries. Why not here?

          Many people who became officers and NCOs saw the same things overseas Heinlein did, and put a lot of effort into making sure it wouldn’t happen here.

          Heinlein wasn’t necessarily plugged into that process, and maybe wasn’t aware of how successful it ended up being. Frankly, I wouldn’t know how successful that had been, except for hearsay from veterans of Reagan’s era and later. The conscript era army and the immediate post Vietnam era Army may not have seemed as stable and reliable in the same way.

          1. Heinlein would have seen significant changes in power in other countries.

            How rapidly had Herr Schicklegruber’s rise been? Did Germany seem less politically forward than the USA?

            Besides which, it was somewhat of a throwaway, needed for story purpose at a time when readers were less inclined to nit-pickery than now.

            1. Well, after hearing people screaming “Nehemiah Scudder” about any “too religious” Republican President, I want to poke nits about that Heinlein story. 😦

              I’ve even gotten to the point of believing that the main reason Heinlein didn’t write about the rise of Nehemiah Scudder is that he realized that “he couldn’t get there from here”. 😈

                1. I agree with you Sarah on both accounts but too many “individuals” see him as Christian. 😦

                  1. It’s been awhile since I read it but the “First Prophet” thing of his is not valid Christian Theology of any sort.

                    For that matter, IIRC the Christ wasn’t mentioned in the story as in “Vicar Of Christ” (one of the Pope’s titles).

      1. Indeed, it is.

        And the guy DOES have solid numbers on why, exactly, the “teh military will run ’em over!” thing is hogwash.

      2. Timing isn’t surprising. With Parkland the Dems made a pretty big push, and revealed some aspects of their strategic thinking. Either this is their way of getting serious about mid-terms, or their senile boomer leadership thinks it is making a play.

        1. I think they are serious. The local paper had a front-page story by the local interest writer about how the US has 5% of the population and 15% of the mass shootings, and how we need to come up with something to stop shouting at each other and fix the problem. I bet the incoming letters to the editor are going to be … interesting.

          1. 15% of the world’ mass shootings….

            Umm……. Africa? Asia? Europe?

            1. Serial killers, spree killers (what we have lots of) and mass murderers (Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot) are fairly distinct.

              Of spree killings, the US has more school shootings, and fewer cases of stuff like running amok.

              1. HT: Power Line

                America needs to step up its stabbings folks!
                Source: powerlineblog[DOT]com/archives/2018/05/ban-cutlery-now-2.php

                1. The Super Hyper Local Show has taken to reporting on if London is still beating the greater LA area on homicides each week.

                  So far, yes.

                  1. It’s a shame LA and London can’t be locked in a room together to settle the matter.

              1. It tends to be oddly limited in scope to exclude things like “shot by the government”.

                Frequently goes by news stories.,….

                1. Because that’s medical services, medical services we should be providing to our people. Why do you want poor people to suffer? XD

                  Funny thing on redstate today; apparently Obama’s DEA upped the number of folks permitted to prescribe controlled substances from 1.2 million to 1.7 million, and this apparently included a fair number of people with convictions for illegally manufacturing, distributing or using controlled substances.

                  1. I’d want to look at that very closely, because the only way I can think for it to have any kind of foundation is if it’s based on the nurse practitioners getting permission to write prescriptions– and even then it’s going to be really hard to show they had the convictions BEFORE they got the the authority.

                    I would guess someone is trying to take out broadening of who can write scripts using a bait-and-switch, because I seem to remember that the DEA did a REALLY HUGE crackdown on the folks who were actually selling drugs out the back door. (As in, not the “their prescriptions were too broadly offered,” but fake paperwork and all.) Those guys, of course, have permits…but unless they are offering proof that someone found a way to falsify the permitting process, those kind of convictions make it so you can’t get a permit. That’s why it’s such a vicious way to go after doctors who recognize chronic pain exists.

                    1. The provided explanation is that the body in charge of providing permits was funding itself from permit fees. If the fellow wasn’t outright lying, there were a number of cases that should have been blocked but weren’t.

                      The bulk of my uncertainty is over how representative the reported samples might be. A mostly functioning system could tolerate a half dozen false negatives per couple million. If it is malfunctioning, we would expect to find quite a few more false negatives.

                      Though, the federal gun registry thing is supposed to work, and we have proof that it is not working due relying on reporters that do not report. See Broward, and the Air Force.

                    2. Well, yes they’re funded by the fees. That’s required by law, and isn’t new; fee goes up if the costs go up.
                      Poking around, all I can find is that there are college professors who think more doctors ‘should’ have had their licenses stripped for prescribing ‘inappropriately.’

                      That is, someone who is not a doctor, whose career is built around “doctors cause drug problems,” is declaring that doctors are deliberately giving out drugs wrong, in cases where they don’t even have casual grasps of the medical situation, much less access to the relevant medical details, insists it must be more common.
                      ….I’m betting this is the same group that has the pet doctors that insist that chronic pain doesn’t exist. And they pulled out the lie about most heroin users having started with an opioid prescription— no, there have been studies that found that heroin users often started with pills. Why? Because PILLS DON’T HURT. They’re seldom pills that were prescribed to them– usually, they’re “diverted” pills that didn’t even make it to the infamous “Grandma’s medicine cabinet.”
                      (not that I would trust an addict on how he got hooked, especially not when it’s much more sympathetic in the “childhood experimenting” story than “idiot who bought oxy on the street.”)

                      The only meat I could find was the document that shows what appeals were granted.
                      So the complaint is, stripped of all the fluff, that not everyone who was denied a license was turned down on appeal.


  34. Regarding old pets, the tricky thing is what to do with the older pets of an older relative, especially if they can’t keep the pet anymore.

    My family tried to keep my Grandma’s old Jack Russel, but the poor thing was utterly miserable in the strange new house. The neighbors said that she would just cry all day long from loneliness while the folks were at work.

    Happily, a friend of theirs with other old dogs took her in,

    1. One of Harry Turtledove’s Supervolcano novels has a young woman drive across two or three states to get out of the area contaminated with volcanic ejecta, taking her cat with her. Then as her car is breaking down, she gets to a town that has a refugee facility—and they tell her, “No pets.” She struggles with herself, briefly, and then releases her cat from his carrier into the street and tells herself that he’ll be all right, and goes into the shelter. I thought that was one of the most brilliant pieces of characterization I’d ever seen from Turtledove.

      1. And that’s when I walled the book, because I know that city, and where four vets’ offices are, and they would have taken that cat. One was not far from where the scene was set. That was the final straw. I still want to hurt that character for sentencing an animal to a lingering, miserable death.

        1. I’m perfectly prepared to believe that a character who was as self-preoccupied and impatient as this one would have not taken the time to look around for a vet’s office. That’s why I say it was brilliant characterization; it established that the character was ethically flawed in an important way, very quickly, and in a way that crystallized all the things about her we’d been shown previously. And it did it without making her into a gloating pulp villain: just somebody who was under pressure and chose to do the wrong thing because it was easier.

    2. When my grandmother’s health started to fail, my parents would bring her dog Katie over for “sleepovers” to give Grandma a break from the feeding and especially the walking. Gradually these visits became longer and longer, and by the time that the “visit” became permanent, Katie was as comfortable at our house as she was at Grandma’s.

  35. I grow disappointed, because too many of the people that I have honored my word with and for have exploited my honesty and integrity.

    I’ve helped to desperately move people out of their apartments at 1 am before the local PD got there to lock them out, and because nobody else would help. (Important hint-one person, one room, HUGE pile of boxes. Don’t make it into a social event.)
    I’ve worked and volunteered for events for no other reason than I believed in what the event was.
    I’ve helped out friends (never with money), because they needed the help.

    When I ask for help moving? Nobody shows up, despite me warning them that I’ll need help about three months in advance.
    I’ve been passively thrown out of events that I’ve worked at, because I wasn’t willing to kiss the right ass.
    And, when I ask friends if they have any time to do anything together, their schedule is mysteriously full…until they need bailing out again.

    I don’t know if it’s the age, the era, or the place, but honoring your commitments doesn’t seem to be high on people’s lists.

  36. The Oath of the Engineer, given every semester at Tennessee Tech to graduating engineers who choose to participate in the ceremony. They hand out a steel ring to be worn on your dominant hand after the oath.

    I am an Engineer.

    In my profession I take deep pride. To it I owe solemn obligations.

    As an engineer, I, (full name), pledge to practice Integrity and Fair Dealing, Tolerance, and Respect, and to uphold devotion to the standards and dignity of my profession, conscious always that my skill carries with it the obligation to serve humanity by making best use of the Earth’s precious wealth.

    As an engineer, I shall participate in none but honest enterprises. When needed, my skill and knowledge shall be given without reservation for the public good. In the performance of duty, and in fidelity to my profession, I shall give the utmost.

    Started in the 70s at Tech, earlier in some places.

  37. I find this conversation fascinating and foreign. Jewish marriages, you see, have no oaths or anything like that. (The officiant also does not technically have a role beyond the purely ceremonial one tradition gives him; he’s primarily there to deal with the sometimes complicated questions of Jewish Law that might arise in the process.) There’s the ancient pre-nup contract, the kesubah, but that covers only certain financial obligations during the marriage and in case of widowhood or divorce.

    1. Weirdly, one of the weddings we attended with “self-written” vows was officiated by a rabbi. But I think we can say it was very, very reformed….

  38. The books that The Spouse and I are exchanging in recognition of our 43rd anniversary (tomorrow) arrived. With great joy I have read the first chapter of Uncharted, but am forcing myself to break there so I can spend some time with The Spouse.

      1. After forty-three years? I suspect all additional influence is limited to holding a pillow carefully placed while spouse sleeps.

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