Truth

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I realized recently that I have a “hunger and thirst” for the truth.

This might be strange for someone who writes fiction, and knows she does, (I always giggle at “this book was dictated by a supernatural entity/famous dead person” because I know that when I get a fully realized character that’s what it feels like.  The voice comes through (no, not auditory hallucinations, though some writers have them) but just a consistent voice in my head, and the story is told to me, as though it came from elsewhere.  But I know it comes from my subconscious.  I know if I exert will I can shape it and change it (sometimes harder than others) and I know it’s just a story.

But working in that half-light is part of the reason I need the truth, or to approximate the truth.  Look, I don’t think it’s possible to know the full truth this side of death.  The human brain is simply not designed to process it.  But knowing even a part of the truth, knowing what’s behind things like economic or political events, knowing when I’m being lied to, knowing why, all that is vitally important to me.

I spend a great part of my life reading about biology and evolutionary biology and paleontology and archeology, because … because I thirst for “as close to the truth as I can get to.”

Even building imaginary worlds should be based on a general truth: truth about people, truth on how things work.  I can have much fun with stuff like the brooms and anti-grav in Darkships, because a) it’s cool and b) I think one should introduce an element of “that should be impossible from what we know today” into any science fiction more than 100 years in the future.  This is because the future is not only weirder than we can imagine, but I guarantee some of our certainties will be upended.

On the other hand, stuff like the biological effects, I try to stay as close as we can to real science.  There are things we don’t know about the body and genes, and places I can fudge, but I try to stay within “what we expect will happen” because that is of course the “science”part of the book, the “true” part, and the cautionary tale and dream all rolled into one. (Weirdly, except in the actual engineering of humans, I haven’t even gone beyond today’s science.  All those viruses?  Yep. Biology graduate student, high school lab, about 10k in materials.  It does suck.)

And of course, I try to make humans work as they have historically.  Because if you’re not writing about people who feel and act real, why bother.

There’s more to my craving for truth: I grew up in a village, where finding the truth of even the most ridiculously small event was almost impossible.  Each household, each head of household, each cleaning lady had their own version, and you had to be  master detective to figure out who stole the schoolmistress’s hairbrush and why it turned up in the fishmonger’s stand.

If I’d loved that kind of slipperiness, I’d have made a great politician, but I didn’t.  I wanted to know what had really happened.  And the times I managed it gave me more insight into the village and the hates/personalities/loves roiling through than anything else could give me. It gave me a firmer place to stand, a place to act from.

The truth, when you figure it out, is a wonderful thing.  When I find a book that reveals a facet of some historical event that is obviously true and obviously illuminating, it’s like turning on a lantern in my mind.

Also so many of the lies I was told growing up were such limiting, destructive lies: “Humanity is a blight upon the earth and is killing it.”  “There are too many people” “the individual doesn’t matter, the future is inevitably communist.”  “We’re going to run out of fossil fuels in ten years.”  “You’ll live to see an ice age.”  (Well, that last one… never mind.)

Of course, we can’t be everywhere or know everything, but there are guidelines I’ve found to discovering the truth:

1- If a story is too smooth, it’s a lie.  Whether it’s a political theory/prediction or a narration of an historical event, if everything fits, works together smoothly and everything clicks, and particularly if it tells you about history always moving in ONE direction, it’s a lie.  Real life is messy, self contradictory and confusing.  Real history stumbles, falters, weaves across the road like a spider on LSD.  I mean, sure, we live better than in the 19th century in many ways, but we lost other things along the way.  Are we freer?  Well, in some ways.  And in other ways–
Which is why, btw, either triumphalism or utter despair about the cause of freedom are always wrong.  Always.

2- If a source, be it person, newspaper or school lies to me about one thing, I’ll never trust it about everything again.  Yeah, the lie might seem minor and inconsequential, but how can you trust the big stuff now.  I don’t dismiss them out of hand, but I verify, verify, verify.

3- Never trust anything coming out of a country that tries to control all flow of information.  Particularly do not trust GOOD reports coming from such a source.

4- Never trust something awful said about someone you already hate.  Verify verify verify.

It would be impossible to manage this, btw, if I gave a hang about most people’s private lives.  I don’t.  Trying to learn what I can of the truth about science, politics, economics and current events is about all I can manage.

And it’s also why, btw, I — and our side in general — doesn’t try to silence anyone.  Even if we know they tell us lies, their lies are a way to discover the truth behind them.

The other side?  The other side is enamored of a “Just so” story, a convoluted morality play in which it’s always the fault of someone else when you fall and break your nose. It’s a weird system, so smooth, so perfectly fitting and so without flaw, provided you don’t apply it to real people.

Because real people are messy and real history is confusing, and yep, “victim groups” can be victimizers and groups you hate can produce saints.

Admitting that would crack their entire system to pieces.  And so they must keep us muzzled, must pretend that we too believe in the system, and that our attempts to poke holes in it come from “hatred”.  Which is how they come to call supporters of almost no government “nazis.”

It’s also why they want to tear down statues and destroy physical reminders of the past.  Because if they manage it, nothing will rear up to disprove their oh, so smooth, so internally consistent system.

Except they don’t realize that humanity itself would still do so.  Because humans don’t work the way they think they do.  And their system will never survive an encounter with the truth.

 

 

313 responses to “Truth

  1. One of the best parts of an environmental history book that I’m currently reading is that the author spends a chapter shooting down Garret Hardin’s “Tragedy of the Commons” story. My own research showed that things didn’t work the way Hardin hypothesized, and here’s another researcher, in a completely different area of history (medieval Europe) showing the same thing. Yeah! The easy, simple, “everyone knows because it is so obvious that everyone would do this” story is wrong for many (and probably most) cases.

    • My niece and nephew come to my house everyday after public school, I am basically home schooling them because of how dire public system is.

      I was teaching them other week on why tragedy of commons concept is nonsense on stilts. There are many examples where tragedy of commons did not happen on shared land, there just needs to be a few basic rules between people. I also learned first female to win economic Nobel, Elinor Ostrom, won it for proving that tragedy commons theory was wrong.

      My niece also noticed that socialists, often people who peddling theory of tragedy of commons, want to turn entire country’s into one large common. How does that make any sense, she wondered?

      • Wait. Wait wait wait wait. The tragedy of the commons is intended to be PRO-Socialism? I…. what?!

        I’m not being facetious. This is literally the first I’ve heard of it. How in the seven hells can “It’s bad when everyone shared something” be used to argue in favor of enforced universal sharing?!

        • Same here– I’ve only been exposed to it in the form of “why ‘we all just share’ does not work”, in support of why it has to be long to somebody or SomeJerk(tm) will abuse it.

          Seen that happen, too, even when they sign the dang contract.

        • No, I only ever saw it as ANTI SOCIALISM. So I’m with you. And frankly I saw it enacted in Portugal with public lands, etc.

        • That’s a new interpretation for me, as well.

    • Robin Munn

      Nice! I used to believe wholeheartedly in the “tragedy of the commons” (which is, of course, the justification used for SO MUCH government interference in the free market), and your comment made me realize that I do not actually have any evidence for that belief. Which environmental history book is that, so that I can see the author’s argument for myself and acquire some rhetorical ammunition?

      • Richard Hoffmann’s Environmental History of Medieval Europe. I really like it as a great overview of relatively current research, but it is written for people who are already familiar with European history, and have some sense of the jargon of environmental history. Skim the theory and historiography, read for the case studies, and it’s a cool book. https://www.amazon.com/Environmental-History-Medieval-Cambridge-Textbooks/dp/052170037X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1526949683&sr=1-1&keywords=Environmental+History+of+Europe

      • You could probably rephrase it as “The a-hole theory” and it works, though.

        • Good point. My wife likes to read the “Not Always Right” site*, which has thousands of stories of customers doing dumb and/or jerkish things. Some of them are momentary brainfarts on the customers’ part; they then realize what they just said and how stupid it is, and have a good laugh about it with the employee. But other stories are of customers being either really, really dumb — or entitled snowflakes who just HAVE to have what they want, and never mind the cost to anyone else. Get one of those jerks pasturing their goats on the common green, and they’re going to push off the costs of maintaining the green onto everybody else. Get enough of them, and the “Tragedy of the Commons” is going to happen in classic form.

          So basically, what the classic formulation of the TotC is missing is the idea that not everyone is a jerk. Or to put it another way, an unstated premise in the classic TotC formulation is that everyone is an entitled *sshole and there are no Sons of Martha in the mix (because they would have seen the problem coming and started taking proactive steps to deal with it before the issue turned into a full-blown problem).

          * There’s a sister site, “Not Always Working”, which details similar dumb and/or jerkish behavior from employees towards customers. It’s not always one way.

          • No sensible person who has ever worked sales (speculation about whether that number is greater or less than three digits can await another occasion) would ever agree that “the Customer is always Right” — but all will, when pushed, concede that nobody ever won an argument with a customer.

            Unless you define “winning” as making the sale at a price pint which permits you to profit.

    • TXRed … what book is that? Sounds interesting.

      • Scroll up a bit: she replied to my similar query. It’s Richard Hoffmann’s Environmental History of Medieval Europe.

    • The thing is, TXRed I think the tragedy of the commons DOES occur. I saw it over and over in Portugal.
      I just think it depends on hardware in the head, if that makes sense?

      • As best I can tell from the data I’ve had access to, the story as Garret Hardin tells it is the exception. He posited it as the rule, especially for the American West. But when you start looking at the actual cases, even in the American west, it didn’t happen that way. Or there were environmental factors (grass fires, for example) that forced people to concentrate livestock at numbers they themselves knew were too high, and they tried to find fresh grazing ASAP so the commons didn’t get ruined.

        Hardin tells a nicely packaged story that accounts for some cases. Then he and a lot of others tried to make it THE story. That’s where he fits into “beware of neatly packaged, all-inclusive, tidy explainations.”

        • In Portugal, common areas became pastures for people’s goats, and became strewn with trash. Places that were private were better kept.

          • Somewhat related–
            can anybody explain what it is with the middle east and goats?

            Elf and I are both familiar with the desertification effect caused by, basically, tragedy of the commons goat-keeping in the middle east– but the Jews kept sheep, and cows, so why doesn’t everyone else?

            Why all the goats? Is it that they CAN survive at stripping everything down, or what?

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Somewhere I remember reading of satellite images made of a green area surrounded by desert. (It may have been an article by Jerry Pournelle.)

              Apparently, the green area was caused by the land owner putting up a fence around his property so his neighbors goats couldn’t get in. 👿

              Seriously, it may not be goats causing deserts but uncontrolled goat populations causing deserts.

              IE Those “filthy” Jews are raising goats but are keeping their goats controlled. 😉

              • Oh, it’s definitely a matter of out of control goats, not just “goats,” but you hardly ever hear about SHEEP doing this in the middle east.
                I know it’s a problem with sheep in the US, although the sheep don’t kill trees. Usually.

                Cows you’ve got to have starving before they do that kind of damage. Part of why they’re not as efficient, honestly.

            • It is precisely because they can survive at marginal levels, and on weedstuff that would kill sheep. When you’re living on the margins, you’re not considering the effects you’re having, because you have to be able to get to tomorrow before you worry about it.

              • And that’s where the “tragedy of the commons” aspect comes in. 😦

                • And because nomadic traditions die really hard. You are going to move on, so why worry about “conservation?” Add in a massive dose of In’sh’al’lah (it will be as G-d wills) and if there is fresh growth, G-d be praised. If not, well it was G-d’s will. (One reason why the west has insurance and building codes, and Iran et al have horrible post-earthquake fatality rates).

                  In some ways, some of the Muslim theology makes Calvin and St. Augustine look like hard-core free-will theologians.

  2. It has to be said:


    “I WANT THE TRUTH!”
    “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

    Those who seek best be prepared to not like what they find. But it is generally better to confront an unpalatable truth than defend a comfortable lie. [insert golf joke]

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      “I WANT THE TRUTH!”
      “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”
      Also, I was raised to be polite. 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈 😈

    • The sad reality is, most people CAN’T handle the truth, and are scared of those who can, or live with it anyway, or seek truth despite it being possibly scary. The truth itself doesn’t change.

  3. Read the first paragraph and have the chorus of this stuck in my head:

  4. Beware the patient man (or the quiet man).

    After 9/11 I recall there was a bit of a research project to see just how much it would take to come up with an effective (perhaps non-ideal, but *working*) biological weapon. The folks looking into got scared fast. If one was quiet, patient, and could spend the price of a good new car (not low-end, but hardly Rolls Royce either)… it was possible. And would take a disturbingly short time.

    I keep wondering if we’ll be surprised by a ‘patient man’ who doesn’t want a nuke Right Now, but is willing to wait a while. Ordinary dirt isn’t high-grade Uranium ore, but… and small, distributed isotope separators aren’t fast, but… and small-ish, distributed (and hidden) reactors aren’t fast, but.. and if someone takes a different approach.. (e.g. Np-237).. well, as Tom Clancy said (in a post I can no longer find… hrmm..) “Second-best also goes boom.”

    • Joe in PNG

      The tricky bit is the scale of the thing. Screening ordinary plain dirt for the right stuff that goes boom would probably take a few centuries.
      I can’t recall the math off hand, but I believe that a roomful of uranium ore has enough U235 to fit comfortably under a fingernail.

      • Joe in PNG

        Also, second best doesn’t go “boom”- it just fizzles. You may get some radioactive debris, but it’s not going all that far.

        • Grind it into powder and put it in a conventional bomb. You get some nice fallout that way.

        • Jeff Gauch

          It’s called a fizzle, but by any ordinary scale it’s a respectable boom. Tons of TNT rather than kilotons.

          • I don’t know the precise demolition power of TNT, but I assume “tons of TNT rather than kilotons” works out to “levels the building it’s in and several adjacent buildings, rather than leveling most of the city”. Does that sound about right?

            • The blockbuster bombs of WWII, which could take out roughly a city block, contained anywhere from 1.5-4.5 tons of TNT, so you’re pretty close. Which is not where you’d want to be, especially downwind.

          • Joe in PNG

            Depends on the fizzle as well- ponder Buster Able. The wiring was buggered up, and the yield was bugger-all.

          • One calculation in The Los Alamos Primer, as I recall, figured a fizzle (rather than a ‘dud’) would have a yield of approximately 50 Tons.

    • 11B-Mailclerk

      There are engineering hurdles to atomic weapons. Much of the “alternative” fissile material is highly radioactive, emitting ionizing radiation and/or many neutrons.

      Neither of which is good for the precision electronics needed to get a reliable chain reaction from an implosion the device.

      The fissile materials can also be rather non-useful in some designs. The earliest example is the “Little Boy”/gun-type design. It works well enough with highly-enriched U-235. It works rather badly, if at all, with Plutonium. It doesn’t work -at all- with most of the other stuff.

      U-233 from breeder reactors can work, but the emissions are …. energetic, and tend to fry the electronics and the mad bomber in short order.

      Bio has its own engineering issues. Delivery is surprisingly difficult, if the goal is widespread distributed simultaneous outbreak. Producing such outbreak -here-, in the USA, is -very- difficult due to our relatively robust health and widespread availability of good care.

      John Ringo covered the bio topic well and thoroughly in “The Last Centurion” (although it was a natural outbreak). Clancy gave bio-genocide a scary take in “Rainbow Six”.

      • For those willing to go a bit deeper in the weeds, Richard Rhodes The Making of the Atomic Bomb is useful. If you have some physics background, it explains things fairly well.

        As I recall (it’s been over 20 years), in a gun design, the plutonium would melt before assembling a mass critical enough to go boom. OTOH, the implosion technique and the breeder reactors meant that once the technical difficulties were solved, you could get a bunch-o-bombs. Much harder to do with U-235.

        On the gripping hand, the gun approach was bog simple, though proving the theory was hair raising. (Feynman might have written about that in his first autobiography. That’s pushing 30 years, I fear.)

        • 11B-Mailclerk

          Plutonium hs multiple density phases, and has an odd property of “pre detonation” where the approaching masses begin to boost each other’s neutron flux well before assembly.

          U-235 works extraordiarily well in weapons when highly purified. It is also useful in the more advanced/high-yield designs. But it is a cast-iron (b-word) to make it. The separation is difficult, expensive, and slow. Plutonium is much easier to make, but more difficult to use. The utility of Uranium is why novice nuclear powers spend so much on centrifuges. They want those advantages, including the advanced/small designs.

          Uranium works so well for nuclear reactions it was once possible for ground-water and Uranium ore to form a natural reactor. (~1 billion years ago) They found evidence of at least one such instance, where the mined ore was missing most of the expected traces of U235, and had a crap-ton of decayed fission products.

          Uranium is an incredible metal, with all sorts of industrial uses. The “waste” U238 has utility.

          • I have some older (1990s or so) pottery books warning about the dangers of using Uranium Oxide for yellow glazes. Not sure when such were banned. Heavy metal poisoning, and somewhat radioactive. Tasty!

            • I got curious and found this lovely little number collection, for those who are also curious.
              https://www.orau.org/PTP/collection/consumer%20products/uraniumceramicsgeneralinfo.htm

              Short version, that’s the stuff famously used in the orange/red fiestaware, and the health risk comes from the heavy metal, not the radiation.

              Also some funny stories about stuff like urinals triggering the alarms, because of natural radioactivity in the clay, and a mini-section on Radon. ^.^

              • In the late 1970s, I was working in a memory division in a Silicon Valley company. This was when a 4 kilobyte RAM chip was at or near the state of the art. A lot of people were having problems with random bits flipping in the RAMs. As it turned out, they were in ceramic packages, and the ceramics occasionally had some great alpha emitters in the mix. Oops.

    • Jeff Gauch

      Civilization is lucky that the nuclear weapons that are easy to build are difficult to fuel and the weapons that are easy to fuel are difficult to build. Enriching uranium to weapons grade takes a lot of energy, and a lot of raw material. The difference in mass is only 1% and you have to raise the concentration over 120 times to get something useful for a bomb. Plutonium, on the other hand, is relatively easy to extract from spend nuclear fuel, but making a bomb of it requires precision engineering with high explosives.

      A nation state or a large corporation could become a nuclear power if they so chose – and the rest of the world consented – but nothing smaller could really manage it.

      • Not necessarily precision engineering; having a really good effective espionage network helped the Soviets a lot. Once you know the details, it’s precision machining.

        • Joe in PNG

          And precision timing- you got to detonate all your lenses at the same precise time, or you don’t get an earth-shattering kaboom.

          • 11B-Mailclerk

            More than just timing involved. How you implode the thing is crucial. You also have to manage neutrons on the way in. Be just a little bit off on either, and you get an expensive hellihsly-radioactive boomlet. We had an embarassing number of “fizzles” in our testing.

            Keep in mind that the per-unit cost of a warhead can exceed a billion dollars.

            • Rhodes goes into a little bit of detail on the initiator inserted in the core of the Pu sphere.

              From Rhodes second book (Dark Sun), the opening section talked about the industrial grade espionage work the Soviets were doing during WW2. It sounds like they ended up with all the key design information.

              For the Trinity test, they built (and didn’t use) a containment vessel in case the explosives didn’t go off properly. The concept of getting the detonators to fire simultaneously might have been one of the less hard tasks to do. You need a batch of really consistent detonators and a way of getting multiple signals to them at the same time. At least the electronic portion could be tested. It’d be a lot easier with modern equipment, but it would be doable with what they had.

  5. “You had to be master detective to figure out who stole the schoolmistress’s hairbrush and why it turned up in the fishmonger’s stand.”

    This so needs to be a Miss Marple story…

    • My suspicion? A kid (or two) trying to see what trouble they could cook up.

      • Some trouble makers don’t care how much trouble they stir up or how many people it hurts.

        • And that is because causing trouble and hurting innocent people is in fact their intention as a pathway to their final goal.

          • And many enough will do it even though it is likely to hurt themselves too. Because they aren’t all that good planners and don’t bother to think of all the ramifications.

            And often enough the troublemakers didn’t actually intend to cause SERIOUS harm to anybody – like permanent injury, or to kill – but yep, don’t bother to think things all the way through and to consider all the possible end results. Then when shit happens you’ll get the guy crying to the police or in court that he “didn’t mean to” and actually mean it, he really didn’t mean for it to end that badly. Because it didn’t occur to him it might.

            Which could perhaps be worse in some way than the monster who does it deliberately. I don’t know but sort of have this feeling that if somebody I loved had died because some asshole had been goofing around rather than had been deliberately murdered it might be more frustrating. Because the murderer you can hate, he would get worse sentence if caught, but the idiot might even get off almost without punishment, and if the idiot didn’t learn anything – and a lot of them don’t seem to – he will remain a danger you can’t touch until he does something stupid again and somebody gets hurt again.

            • Or the idiot might be consumed with guilt and destroy their own life because of it, which is a further tragedy. We’re all idiots, at some time or another, our minds can lose focus at dangerous times. A huge percent of our military casualties are friendly fire, and it haunts me how someone who accidentally caused a death must feel.

          • I once entered a conversation about hazing and why they are so cruel to newbies in various occupations, and was the first person to suggest that perhaps it’s just that they are cruel.

            • Jeff Gauch

              But it isn’t cruelty. Most of it is social dynamics, people value belonging to groups that are harder to get into – fraternities command more loyalty than book clubs. There’s also the need to fully understand when and how members of a stressful organization, such as the military, will break.

              That being said, there are sadists out there who will use legitimate hazing to go too far. That’s when you get headlines, investigations, and zero-tolerance policies.

              • And how do we know that? You admit that some of them are in fact outrageously cruel. How do you know that the rest, or some proportion (large or small) aren’t using the things you offer as merely the pretext to be somewhat cruel?

                • Because most men have been hazed, and hazers, at one point or another. It’s a pretty well studied phenomenon. That’s why organizations as diverse as drug gangs, military units, and Freemasons, all have initiation rituals that involve some degree of challenge and discomfort.

                  • And how would that be evidence that it’s not cruelty? All that would be saying is that many people are cruel.

                    This has been observed true in many situations.

                    • It would be evidence that not all cruelty is needless.

                    • Well, no, it would be evidence that not all cruelty is pointless— if the effect could be gained without the cruelty, it’s still needless.

                    • ((tips hat in acknowledgement)

                      A fair point.

                    • Why on earth would not to be needless merely because a lot of men do it?

                      The studies, OTOH, are discussing effects, not motives. That it produces Stockholm syndrome doesn’t prove a thing about motives, just like cows trampling an endangered plant at water holes, helping it spread, doesn’t mean the cows are interested in anything but water.

                • I concur with what Jeff said. There’s a useful social function served by initiation rituals: they provide a “cost” to join the organization, and then once you’re in, you value it all the more because you “paid” something to get in. Think of the all-night vigil that a squire was expected to undergo before becoming a knight. That served the purpose of helping him take the ceremony extremely seriously. This wasn’t just some minor thing where you get tapped on the shoulders and promoted: this was a complete change in your life status, and the fact that the ritual included some difficult things (fasting and staying awake all night) helped install a sense of the seriousness of the change.

                  Similar phenomenon with boot camp: the difficult and unpleasant experiences of boot camp serve several purposes. One of them is to help train the new recruits to follow orders even though they don’t understand the purpose of the orders (note that this is different from following orders without questioning whether those orders are moral). For example, it really does not matter whether your bedsheets are squared away properly to the military standard or not. But it really DOES matter whether the tools in your workshop are squared away properly after you finish repairing the vehicle: because the next vehicle may come in for repair with no warning, and the next guy to use the workshop probably won’t be you. If you are the kind who got lazy about your bedsheets in boot camp, you’ll probably get lazy about putting your tools away properly later on, which results in the next guy not being able to find the 3/8 wrench that he needs to fix that vehicle. And for want of that vehicle, the battle was lost, and for want of a battle, the war was lost, and all for the want of a 3/8 wrench. So boot camp’s pettifogging orders serve a useful purpose in creating soldiers who will function well as interchangeable parts of a complex military social structure. (And the military, where you might be killed in battle at any time, or you might be reassigned to a new field to cover for someone else who was killed in battle, is one of the few places where it IS important to treat people as interchangeable widgets… up to a point, at least).

                  I’ve rambled for too long about this, but the point is that hazing and other induction rituals do serve a useful purpose. They can be abused by jerks, just like anything else that’s useful can be abused (medications, relying on the kindness of strangers, you name it). But the fact that they can be abused does not mean they serve no purpose.

                  • Robin, it just occurred to me, when I was a kid — six — they made us fast all day (24h) before first communion. I have a picture of myself somewhere, looking cross as a bear (to be fair, they gave us breakfast immediately after the service.)
                    I don’t know if that was ever done in the US, or if they simply decided it was too cruel to do to kids, but I’ll note the occasion didn’t feel nearly as important to my kids as it did to us.

                    • Mandatory fasting has gone way down– you likely got caught in one of the “it’s not mandatory by church law but we’re going to enforce it anyways and not explain, assuming we bothered to check” things.

                      We didn’t do a full day of fasting, just a half-day, and that was basically my mom.

                    • They just told us two hours before the service, which wasn’t all that hard since we had to show up early for pictures and so forth. (My second child just had First Communion a week and change ago, so it’s fresh information.)

                  • I’ve rambled for too long about this, but the point is that hazing and other induction rituals do serve a useful purpose.

                    That may be an accident. It may also stem from the notion that once you’ve paid your dues, then you get the chance to be cruel yourself.

                    Also, as your very example of a vigil observes, there are costs that don’t involve the chance to be cruel. They tend to be less popular.

                • It can be both socially productive and cruel.

                  Although I suspect that in many instances the hazers do not recognize the actions as cruel,not given their having suffered similar mistreatment and (to the extent they can judge) survived none-the-worse.

                  “Cruel” is a word frequently subjectively defined and known to vary according to the empathetic comprehension of the participants and observers. Note how in a mere 230 years our polity’s understanding of “cruel and unusual” punishment has varied.

                  • There’s also that hazing inside of a complex system can avoid the self-centered idiot factor.

                    A lot of real initiations, there is a trick to it. Bad Stuff happens because some moron tries to make it from scratch, without even realizing that yes, there is a TRICK to it.

                    One case, we had a gal who had a grease gun shoved up her rear and pumped as part of the initiation. She avoided the hospital…probably the origin of that was something like it shoved in the crack and some grease getting near a guy’s rear, but the (unofficial) hell that came down was of course attributed to her being a chick, not to them being idiots who narrowly avoided damaging gov’t property charges, nevermind sexual assault ones, or that they hadn’t done that to any of the guys.

                    For those wondering, no, the chain didn’t cover it up– she did.

                • We know that because of the places where hazing was forbidden, and the attachment to associations or institutions declined.
                  My college was one of those. (Not in my time. I just used up all my skip days for the hazing days. Okay, people probably wouldn’t mess with me, because I was in Portuguese terms a moose, but I didn’t feel like dealing with it. I wasn’t going to feel a great deal of loyalty to my “alma matter” anyway.)

                  • We know that because of the places where hazing was forbidden, and the attachment to associations or institutions declined.

                    Motives can be overdetermined. Also, effects can produced without intent. The first cases of Stockholm Syndrome (and probably many others) were not intentional

              • For the same reason birth hurts. If there were really ever the “happy farmers” who gave birth without a whimper and went back to work, the tribe did not survive.
                Why? Well, the mother herself is going to feel depleted and out of sorts. Even without positing things like intentional child killing, do you know how easy it would be to FORGET you had just given birth, while you were a bit loopy? And the tiny ones need constant care.
                Birth pain attaches you to the child.

            • > hazing

              https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/confessions-of-an-ivy-league-frat-boy-inside-dartmouths-hazing-abuses-20120328

              Add some “Stanford Prison Experiment” and some jihadi, and a lot of “inexplicable” things in history start coming into focus.

    • Terry Sanders

      “This so needs to be a Miss Marple story…”

      It probably was. She just didn’t run across a murder it reminded her of.

      • Terry Sanders

        But, hm.

        Hey, Sarah! Do you think there’s a market for Miss Marple homages? Sounds like you’d be qualified…

        • I would definitely buy it!

        • There’s a market for what I call Agatha Christie fanfic with different characters, but the same feel. I read a lot of it.
          I have the Miss Grant series outlined. I outlined it in summer three years ago. I need to stop having massive immune attacks that put me on benadryl for months — I can’t write on benadryl. Trust me on this — so, I can catch up on the to-write list.

      • Seems likely. It’s right up there with the story of the gill of pickled shrimp.

  6. Because real people are messy and real history is confusing, and yep, “victim groups” can be victimizers and groups you hate can produce saints.

    There is (was?) a chart of various geek/nerd groups in hierarchy, with furries at the bottom. I suspect this is now obsolete as it is a few years old (if it was ever really true). Each group of one level was a victim of those above and a victimizer of those below. And even (if one accepted the silly chart) the furries have the folks who don a ‘suit and visit the children’s ward in hospitals, etc. and make the world a slightly less cruddy place.

    I suspect the chart would me true if it were printed on a sphere with links continuing and things semi-repeating. I also suspect said sphere would need many more than a mere three dimensions to even close whatever is The Truth. That or it would give even topologists terrible headache.

    Topology? Oh, right, need to read a bit more of A Pocketful of Stars.

    • You know, for going to grad school in mathematics, and despite never taking a graduate level topology class, I did end up learning several things. Who knew I would benefit from that knowledge decades later when reading a fiction book????

      (And I greatly enjoyed the book.)

    • An old friend who’s always loved funny animal comics (like Donald Duck and Bugs Bunny) really hates the kinkier end of the Furry community, because they’ve ruined it for the normal people. (She was part of a group of fellow funny animal fans on an early internet site, and she said the furries would show up and start propositioning people, even (especially!) the kids in the group.) It’s kind of destroyed that fan community.

      • About in the ’00s, I worked our local furry convention. I was a fan of Albedo and the concept of how other species that are close to us would create societies. Even though I was a heterosexual male, I had a good time. There was a great amount of heterosexual furry stuff in the dealer’s room, there were discussion about things that were not blatantly sexual. But, I could already see the people coming in that were…interesting.

        I went to the convention last year-and if you weren’t a gay male or a rainbow catcher, you were massively out of place. And the politics went the same way. The stuff in the dealer’s room was every variety of male homosexual, including some borderline pedosexuality. And the panels were so blatant to the homosexual sexual experience that it was scary.

        And, a lot of the euphemisms used are scary as well. A lot of fandom is interesting, a lot of fandom has issues…furries have problems. And I still consider myself one.

        • Part of that was that as the “bottom of the heap” it attracted *all* the folks who were rejected by others… and too often accepted them without properly thinking it over. The result(s) can be… interesting, to put it politely.

    • A Pocketful of Stars was much more interesting than The Shape of Space (I couldn’t find the title on my Kindle – doh! because I have the hard-copy).

  7. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Preach Sister!

  8. Never trust something awful said about someone you already hate. Verify verify verify.

    This is one of the lessons I’ve worked to learn. I do not need additional reason to detest Hillary Rodham Clinton, so accusations that she is a lesbian don’t matter (not that there’s anything wrong with being lesbian, but in her case it would represent a public misrepresentation.) I can deplore HRC for tangible, demonstrable bad things and do not need more barnacles on her bilge.

    • Mike Houst

      I really couldn’t care less if Hillary was a lesbian or not. That’s not the reason why I despise, loathe, and oppose her. (Hatred is too self destructive. I don’t hate pests, I just try to exterminate them.) It’s “The other side is enamored of a “Just so” story” which reveals her as the Progressive criminal monster she truly is; and why she can never be permitted to hold another high level position of power or authority. That “Just so” story was her attempt to frame Billy Dale (and his entire extended family) for theft, mismanagement, tax evasion, and sexual abuse/misconduct to justify firing him from the head of the White House Travel Office just so she could privatize it and hand it over to a Clinton crony.

      • And she would be astounded by your ire as she did nothing that wasn’t business as usual for her ilk, dirty corrupt politicians and crony capitalists.
        While there may be honor of a sort among thieves, there is no honor with such as her.

        • Mike Houst

          Hillary would have felt right at home with the Roman Senate as they were sticking it to Caesar.

      • Word around back in the day was that Hillary didn’t complain about Bill’s shenanigans because she had her own boys on the side. Also there are tales about Bill being seen with claw marks after a night with Hillary…

        Those stories, I find perfectly believable, as being merely in character. But lesbian? I doubt it.

    • Also; to be a Lesbian she would need to love SOMEBODY ELSE of the female sex.

      I can’t see it.

      And that is the core of dealing with vilifications; do the accusations fit what you believe to be the truth of the person. Bill Clinton accused of boinking the help? Totally believable. Hillary Clinton accused of being a Lesbian? Only if it would benefit her in some way.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Liking knowing that other women were raped by her man would seem to fit on the LGBTQETC spectrum. Being sexually excited by the distress of women is a subset of being sexually excited by women.

      • Huh? You don’t think that using “love” as a euphemism means that they actually love each other?

    • Lesbian, not lesbian… who cares? I’m not sure it would “represent a public misrepresentation”, or at least not one that matters. What HRC might or might not do to get her groove on isn’t really anyone’s business.

      Might as well ask if she puts the lid down before flushing, or if she watches it go down.

    • Terry Sanders

      Yeah. This. I don’t know if I believe that Jane Fonda came to Christ. But when the reports came out, I was ashamed to realize that I had not once prayed for her. This is painfully similar.

      • Please, Lord, deliver Hillary from her iniquity… deliver her far, far away.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          “May The Lord Bless And Keep Hillary….. Far Away From Us.” 😈

          • From public office in the US, anyway.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              For what it is worth, that’s a take from “Fiddler On The Roof” where the village rabbi was asked about a blessing for the Tzar. 😉

  9. it’s smooth but I’m not convinced that it’s internally consistent. Oh, I suppose some parts of it are very nice internally where the explanations all fit so well, but such things as “tolerance requires intolerance” aren’t. (Or, gasp, Requires Hate…) And maybe interpreting words the opposite of their actual meanings is internally consistent.

    But what bugs me so badly (other than the toxic results) is that none of it fits. None of it. Even intersectionality which is *by definition* supposed to fit everything together into a comprehensive whole doesn’t, and mostly doesn’t even try. I can dredge up some sympathy for those who are well meaning and just want everyone to be nice to each other except for the fact that there seems to be no attempt to fit stuff together, no attempt to see if a policy improves a situation or degrades it. You can’t on the one hand insist that teaching people to hate is a poison in their souls while insisting that a “good” person is *required* to hate certain other people. You can’t say that being raised in a home that hates harms children and then say that it doesn’t do active harm to minority or vulnerable children because of new definitions that make stewing hate somehow not harm those people who count as part of an oppressed population.

    Sure, everything is shiny and pretty and very very satisfying but only because no one even tries to make it all fit into a coherent whole.

    • The big problem with real world – okay, Finland has had Roma, or gypsies, living here for over 500 years, and they are still a separate and shunned group.

      Now, for centuries they were shunned and seriously oppressed partly because they were different. But there always was also some cause for that. They had developed their lifestyle presumably in great part because they had to, not having found permanent homes where they could have settled down anywhere, but that lifestyle included thieving and cheating the natives of the lands where they wandered.

      Which of course just increased the shunning and resentment. They were the horse traders who cheated you, they stole things and livestock and they were rumored to sometimes steal children too, and you could never ever trust them fully.

      Then slowly things changed, and the Finnish society started to try and treat them better. Social security, efforts to integrate them into our society – in the beginning that did include efforts to make them to abandon their culture fully, but that got dropped decades ago.

      But as a group they refuse to comply. They take everything they are offered. But they still cheat and steal. Most times any of us end up personally dealing with any of them it is because of something like that, they stole from you or cheated you or somebody you know, or caused a disturbance in the apartment house where you live, or vandalized something. Most times you see them in the news it’s because shoplifting or stealing gas or because their interclan feuds – although they don’t kill us whiteys all that often they do kill each other. Yep, newspapers never outright tell it was Roma doing something, but there usually are certain tells in a story which indicate it was a member or members of that group, and when it gets to court and names are told they do have different types of surnames and first name traditions.

      So – how the hell do you solve that kind of permanent SNAFU? They are given lots of chances now but hardly any of them seem to take those up, most just seem to use without any intention of ever giving back to society. Which causes increasing resentment. Unless this can be changed the main society’s current almost tolerance towards the Roma (yep, they often are still treated differently, but while that often may be unwarranted as said there also are some valid reasons why lots of Finns are more or less suspicious of them) may end up as a temporary situation, and as a group they might once again become full on outcasts. But they don’t want to play because they still see the main society and its members as the enemy.

      This is not a stable situation. It has to be solved one way or another sooner or later, and preferably so that everybody can be happy with the solution, but HOW?

      Just singing Kumbaya does not cut it, I’m afraid.

      (And then there these new groups now coming in… if any of them do become permanent residents and end up as the Roma, never fully or even partly integrating – NOT GOOD).

      • When I was in the Czech Republic, the group I was with were touring public gardens. A local gent had two enormous Aslatians (German Shepherd dogs), the size of a Komondor or Great Dane. Old blood Alsatians, not the modern version. He noticed us taking in the dogs, smiled, and said in German, “I feed them Gypsies [Roma].” The official guide was mortified. I wasn’t the least bit surprised, either by her being flustered or his comment.

        The Roma and some of the Travellers in England and Ireland are like certain American Indian groups in the US. They don’t want to make the cultural changes needed to succeed and fit into modern society, but they want the benefits of modern society. Alas, the traits that worked well for group survival in the past are real drags on the same group today.

      • Question:
        Are they easily visibly identifiable by something that can’t be changed?

        I’m thinking about some of the folks who…well, go Spock. They’re in some way not the same as the group they have chosen, so they become the best example of whatever that group embodies that they can. They have (physical trait)? Well, they have (behavior) and (outfit) and (signaling) all turned up to 11.

        I know the videos of Roma shoplifters, they dress in a very different way….but I don’t know if that is just part of why the video is popular.

        • That dress isn’t even truly traditional, they adopted it as part of their group identity only around late 19th to early 20th century. From what I have read nowadays a girl has to make the decision to either adopt the dress or not around her late teens, but then it is supposed to be a permanent decision, she either wears it the rest of her life or if she decides not to, never will.

          They do look a bit different, most of them, darker, and with facial features which look kind of exotic to Finns. But that alone should no longer be a problem, there have been enough immigrants to this country now, as well as people adopted from abroad as children, that you can’t automatically assume “Roma” when you see somebody with a bit darker hair color and maybe complexion and slightly aquiline nose like you still could when I was a young child.

          Seems part of the problem for them as individuals – there have been some stories by those who have left their society – is that they do have pretty strict internal discipline. Similar to the complaints I have seen of American blacks, especially the ghetto blacks, act too “white” and you may end up being shunned by your own people, even your own family.

          • Sounds like the relatives that escaped the Rez. Gotta be willing to leave everyone, and everything, and they might not be willing to let you go….

            (Not as in escaping guards, escaping as in got out of the crab bucket.)

      • So – how the hell do you solve that kind of permanent SNAFU?

        The traditional answer is genocide. It works. Mass expulsion also works. You send them somewhere else where someone else does the dirty work of- genocide. Keeps your own hands clean. You simply expelled them.

        If you don’t like those answers, then you have to live with SNAFU.

        Muslim refugee camps in Germany are being firebombed. That particular development is not being reported by their media. For fear the people will decide- “Hey! Good idea! If the government won’t get rid of them…..”

        • Mass sterilization and forcible removal of all children also have worked.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I felt bad earlier for thinking things through so superfically that I’d forgotten about taking the kids away.

            Reservation schools might not work with Roma. It is a theft culture, not a warrior culture. No critical warrior training cycle to interrupt.

            • It’s the learning higher morality to the effect of “am I going to get caught” not being the end-all that matters then.

              If you can change the mental landscape as to the humanity of Everybody That Isn’t Us re death, you can probably do it re property.

              Or at least give the kids a chance.

              • At one point I was serving as a missionary in a VERY poor country in West Africa (it was dead last on one of the U.N.’s Human Development Indices the year I was there). One of my fellow missionaries was talking about the many social factors that reinforced the cycle of poverty (corruption on every level, from gov’t officials pocketing money that should have gone to schools, all the way down to lazy relatives “asking”* for “loans”** instead of working to earn their own income, so that you can’t build up the capital to, say, start your own small business). He finished by saying, “The only hope for this country is for the Holy Spirit to change people’s hearts. And that’s why we’re here. Our work as missionaries is the only thing that will change this country in the long run.”

                I think something similar about cultures like the Roma culture that pohjalainen is describing. The only hope for those cultures long-term is for them to come to Christ and have their hearts changed by the Holy Spirit. Which is why I’m so encouraged by the reports I’ve heard (can’t remember enough details to cite, though) about revival movements among the Roma and other nomadic cultures. They need our prayers, that more of them would turn to God and would have their hearts and worldviews transformed by the Gospel.

                * Scare quotes around “asking” because you really couldn’t refuse such requests from your family, so they were more like demands. Or if you did refuse those requests, you (and not the sponge) would be socially outcast.

                ** Loans which would, of course, never be repaid.

                • There’s another item about West Africa- Africa in general.
                  https://iq-research.info/en/average-iq-by-country

                  • I’ve seen that one quoted by racial determinists a lot, but it doesn’t show what they think it shows. There’s strong evidence for IQ being increased by years of education. One study in Norway looked at IQ before and after a law that changed how many years teens were required to stay in high school, and looked at the IQ tests from their mandatory military service period, which included a mandatory IQ test. So they had VERY high numbers. They found that an additional year of high school conferred about 3.5 points of IQ.

                    Therefore, that chart is not showing causes, but effects. It’s not that the African countries are full of people whose genes code for inferior performance on IQ tests*; rather, it’s that the African education system, by and large, sucks (for a variety of reasons such as the aforementioned government officials pocketing the money that should have paid the teachers), and is therefore turning out people who perform WAY worse on IQ tests than their natural intelligence would otherwise have allowed them to.

                    Note, for example, the disparity between the results in Venezuela (average of 84) and Argentina (average of 93). Those who argue that racial factors determine IQ have to somehow explain how Venezuelans are racially different from Argentinans. But if you go with the theory that sucky education systems yield sucky IQ scores, and that communists don’t produce good education systems, then the difference is easy to explain.

                    Or note the difference between Romania (average of 94) and Italy (average of 102). Romania’s language and culture come from Italy, way back in history (the name sounding like “Rome” is not a coincidence), and you’d be hard-pressed to find large genetic differences between an average Romanian and an average Italian. Yet Romania, which suffered under communism for several decades, is eight IQ points behind Italy, which didn’t.

                    Also, look at the numbers for the lower end of the scale, such as Equatorial Guinea (average of 59). The IQ bell curve is calibrated to put the average at 100 and have a standard deviation of 15, so that 95% of the population (of a well-educated country) is in the 70-130 range. Is it remotely plausible for the average of a country to be 59 if that’s determined by genes? That would mean that nearly half the country were mentally retarded to the point of being unable to care for themselves.

                    As I said, that chart you linked to is showing effects, not causes. The effect of a government whose officials steal the money that should have gone to pay teachers is that you end up with an uneducated (and thus low-IQ) population. And that is the case all over the place in Africa, sadly. That continent BADLY needs a culture change.

                    * Note that I did not say “inferior intelligence”. I’ve met some VERY smart people who didn’t have much education, and would have done poorly on IQ tests.

                    • Hell, half the village would have failed IQ tests when I was a kid, but they functioned normally. Most older women just didn’t know how to read (it wasn’t thought necessary. One of the distinguishing characteristics with my family was always being literate as far back as we can look.) And most people didn’t take a lot of interest in discussion and abstract reasoning (the later being necessary for IQ tests.) But once they brought in mandatory schooling, the village produced an unusually large number of college entrants (it was on merit, and in my day very difficult because they hadn’t built colleges/created new places in college in decades. For my year, as an aggregate of all degrees, half of one percent got in. On grades and a couple of exams.) We weren’t in day to day life perceptibly smarter than the prior generations. We just had different focus.
                      Another thing about IQ is nutrition. We know that “short” “breeds” like the Portuguese grew to Northern European heights my kids generation, when they had a ton more protein, and green vegetables and fruit year around instead of summer only. If it were possible to separate it from schooling, I bet we’d find IQ would have grown too, proportionally. The brain is a physical instrument.
                      So the whole “Haitians are genetically stupid” for instance, is the purest bullshit.

                    • I’d presume that at least in some countries diets also contribute. What you eat as a child and a teen, what your mother ate when she was expecting you etc can affect how your brains develop, so if we assume a diet lacking in some key ingredients at the critical periods due to whatever reason, poverty, war, just cultural preferences, it will presumably show.

                    • Eating stuff with fat in it when you’re little is already known to have major pay-offs in development– some of the extreme vegans have induced extreme retardation in their kids because the baby didn’t get any whole fat type foods, so their brains can’t develop. (This is why hard core vegans will totally flip about stuff like avocados and other lots-of-stuff-your-growing-body-needs stuff for little kids. The serious ones realize what’s at risk.)
                      There’s minor, but known, damage from giving kids skim milk as well. My mom probably made sure we had good brains just from her disgust with “blue milk”!

                      It’s like cats going blind from not getting meat.

                    • I HATED skim milk, and when the kids were little we’d drive out of our way to buy full milk.
                      Is this why they have both at times had weight problems? Probably not. Robert has issues because I had pre-eclampsia with him (same thing that screwed up my metabolism forever.) Marsh has “intermittent fat” which I suspect is correlated with being depressed and not moving, but is usually “normal weight”.
                      Are they both taller and stronger than us? You bet. Smarter, too.

                    • Doing so probably made it so their weight problems were less, the recommendation for kids to drink whole-fat milk that led to the identification that growing brains need it was based off of someone noticing that kids who didn’t, were fatter.

                      Your body recognizes the fat is very valuable and stores it.

                    • My dad’s family only drank basically skim milk (they took the milk from their cows, separated it in a centrifuge and sold the cream), but they got plenty of fat other ways – cooking with lard or bacon grease, gravy, pork, etc. Or in the middle of the day, grab a leftover biscuit and dredge it in the grease left on the morning’s meat serving plate…

                    • Aha, Sarah said that already, I hadn’t read that far down.

                    • BTW, I think northern Europeans were always taller because cold climates allowed you to preserve fruits, vegetables and meat longer. In portugal, winter was fish and rice, pretty much.

                    • My husband and I aren’t short folk. There’s a good chance that all three of our kids will overtop me—and that the boys will certainly overtop him. We had good nutrition when growing up, but there’s a chance that his genes wanted him to be taller, since he had a bout of pertussis at the age of two that probably took an inch or more off his final height.

                  • Note that yes, there are some measurable IQ differences between different ethnicities within the same culture — I believe the difference between blacks and whites in America averaged something like 8 points. But I don’t find it remotely plausible that a gap can be 8 points between two ethnicities in America, and 40 points between those ethnicities in Africa and Europe, only from genetics. That assertion, which many racial determinists are implicitly making (they usually don’t state it, but it’s a necessary premise in a lot of their arguments), utterly fails the laugh test.

                    A different explanation for the 40-point gap is needed, and the “education can increase IQ” explanation (which is well-supported by evidence) explains the observed facts extremely well. If one year of education in Norway (which appears to have a good educational system) confers about 3.5 IQ points on average, then 12 years would confer about 37 IQ points. So if the schooling system in Africa is so sucky as to essentially confer no IQ benefit to its students (and having lived in West Africa for a year, I would have no trouble believing that), a gap of 37 points is easily explained. The remaining gap once you account for the education system is a few points (up to about 5 points depending on which country/ies you look at), and I wouldn’t have any problem believing in genetic factors influencing the averages by about 5 points or so.

                    But do NOT be fooled into thinking that those 40-point gaps are exclusively, or even primarily, genetically caused. That idea, as I mentioned, doesn’t pass the laugh test; there’s way too much evidence stacked up against it, including what happens to the IQs of the children of immigrants who have the same genetics as their parents but live in a different culture (with a better schooling system).

                • Familiar with the pattern over here, although thankfully it’s not as common. 😦

                • I’ve seen some of this at one remove with acquaintances. Guy trying to move out from living with relatives who have some problems not of their own making and some that… well… I think they choose how to spend their money knowing that he doesn’t want to have the utilities turned off for nonpayment. And I don’t know if he’s ever going to have the money to leave.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        What Gospace said.

        Have you heard about the Reservations and the Bureau of Indian Affairs?

        Finland surely has some inhospitable, isolated and desolate location. Resettle families that cause problems there. Give them just barely enough resources to survive. Now, they probably have more enzymes for digesting alcohol than the Indians did, so you can’t rely on drink to kill them off.

        • FlyingMike

          I’m thinking for Finland that’s called “Russia”, but the Russians would likely protest.

          • 😛

            There was Siberia when Finland was part of Russia. Okay, maybe if we could pay the Russians enough?

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Looking at wiki, there’s a chunk of land that looks like it is on the border with Russia and Norway, that might do.

            • Kola peninsula? Part of it was part of Finland for a few decades, before the wars, there was this corridor of Finland between Norway and Russia – Soviet Union back then – giving us a route to the Arctic Ocean. Lost it in the Continuation War, 1944 peace treaty. Yes, I guess that might be a reasonable replacement for Siberia, except that it is a lot easier to escape from as it’s nowhere that isolated.

        • Yes…

          There just should be some way to give a chance to those willing to take it while keeping those who refuse co-operating where they can’t do that much damage (to themselves either, considering groups like the Roma are a minority which COULD easily be wiped out if things go haywire here, and all the resentment they raise makes that possibility that more likely) – and scaring those who want to come here not to become true citizens of our countries but to either to hurt us or to use us or both away at the same time. Without going full on jackboots. I don’t like full on jackboots. That rarely turns out well to anybody. Including the ones donning them.

      • Yeah. I grew up with gypsies nearby/coming into the village.
        When regency romances fastened on the Roma as the poor minority that was oppressed and that the lady would marry and redeem, I threw them against the wall.
        The culture itself sets its hand against everyone. It’s not a clear cut oppressed/oppressor.
        The Jews were similarly despised and mistreated but they gave far less reason, and as soon as the barriers were down they became an integrated part of society.
        So it can’t be just “despised and mistreated” causes “bad culture.”
        BTW interestingly NONE of these romance writers wanting to sanctify the oppressed minority use Jews as the good but oppressed guy/gal. I wonder why. Historically, in Europe it would make way more sense. Or you know, Catholics in England. Protestants in Catholic Europe.
        But no, it’s always Roma.

        • Rebel without a Cause* thing– the point of being the “despised outsider” is that you can break rules, it’s wish fulfillment.
          Jews don’t work for that because not only do they follow the rules, they’ve got EVEN MORE rules to follow.

          * I was probably eight or so when I first heard that phrase, and my gut response is still “So…destructive idiot, eh?”

          • Heh. With the Roma, as said, that “outsiders with no rules” thing does seem to be an illusion as they do have their rules, and make damn sure everybody follows them (who knows, what might finally today save them from that could be stuff like social media, their young and teen are no longer quite as badly isolated as they used to be…). And there seem to be hell of a lot of very detailed rules as to who can deal with whom or marry whom or live in the same building with whom (or higher or lower in the same apartment building…) and so on. But the illusion is of course of these free wanderers. Nice romantic illusion.

            • *shudder* Tribes.
              (Imagine that said with roughly the same tone one might say “Reavers” and one is close.)

              • With that bunch you can add “clans”. Another thing which sounds oh so romantic (most of the time, I think the only almost universally deemed to be bad “clan” is the klan) – highlander clans and whatnot – but in real life can be VERY restrictive and offer anything but freedom to their members.

                • At least as used here, “clan” can be a lot looser– it’s just a fancy way to say relations.

                  Usually. The ones that act like…well, like you point at… tend to be called a tribe.

                  There’s two-way obligations, sure, but the level of control (and cost of not going along with it) is much lower.

        • Wouldn’t this make theft by anybody not Roma an act of cultural appropriation?

          Is there someway we can find to define outrage over cultural appropriation as an act of cultural appropriation?

          Can we complain that Rom-Coms never feature any Roma?


          Note intro.

        • Jews are evil because Israel. Also, we’re not particularly sexy, dashing rogues.

          • Gives Matthew the hairy eyeball. You must not know the Jews I know.
            Well, terminal nerds, sure, but some of us find that sexy. About half QUITE good looking.

            • Funny but true:
              Not ten minutes ago, saw one of those link-spam things with a picture of a lady in Israel who’s doing her military time.

              She, of course, was drop dead gorgeous. (Do they ever share any that are less than that?)

              And I don’t even have the whole “she’s armed” turn-on, nor do women in uniform especially impress me. ^.^

              • I’ve seen a few that I thought were on the pretty side of plain, not gorgeous, but they probably don’t share the really plain ones. “Hollywood-ugly” maybe.

            • My wife liked the terminally nerdy types. Why do you think she married me?

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Just thought I’d give you a head’s up and warn you that Cammy is using your comments for blog fodder. You’re “talking yourself into proposing genocide”. Seriously.

      • “This is not a stable situation. It has to be solved one way or another sooner or later, and preferably so that everybody can be happy with the solution, but HOW?”

        Who says it HAS to be solved? The Roma have existed in Europe for thousands of years under exactly the same cloud of suspicion and distrust you describe, without causing any significant deleterious effect to the European majority they lived among who loathed them, as far as I can recall from the history books. One should beware of the false imperative that ‘It has to be solved’, because the solutions that one may come up with due to that false imperative can be ugly.

        “Every period of human development, Susan,” said the Co-ordinator, “has had its own particular type of human conflict — its own variety of problem that, apparently, could be settled only by force. And each time, frustratingly enough, force never really settled the problem. Instead, it persisted through a series of conflicts, then vanished of itself, — what’s the expression, — ah, yes ‘not with a bang, but a whimper,’ as the
        economic and social environment changed. And then, new problems, and a new series of wars, — apparently endlessly cyclic….

        “And in those same centuries there were the more barbarous religious wars, which revolved about the important question of whether Europe was to be Catholic or Protestant. Half and half she could not be. It was ‘inevitable’ that the sword decide. — Except that it didn’t. In England, a new industrialism was growing, and on the continent, a new nationalism. Half and half Europe remains to this day and no one cares much.

        “And so we have a pattern… it is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you? In the twentieth century, Susan, we started a new cycle of wars — what shall I call them? Ideological wars? The emotions of religion applied to economic systems, rather than to extra-natural ones?
        Again the wars were ‘inevitable’ and this time there were atomic weapons, so that mankind could no longer live through its torment to the inevitable wasting away of inevitability…”

        -Asimov, “The Evitable Conflict”
        The Roma have existed in the world without ever causing significant harm enough to ever have been noticed as a ripple in the history books to the people they’ve lived among. There IS no imperative to ‘solve’ them. Any society they live among has the right to punish the individual lawbreakers among them (and ideally, rehabilitate them) but not to attack the group as a whole for the actions of individuals.

        • There is an imperative for Europe to solve them. At least from the European point of view where Welfare State is sacred.
          Every country in Europe is being milked of disproportionate amounts of money by them.
          No blame to them, it’s what they do. Blame to Europe? Well I think so.
          But the point remains. Either get rid of the welfare state, or the Roma are going to be a problem forever.
          Something else you might not know — American leftists rarely do — is that Europe is beyond broke. Back of beyond broke. So even a relatively small parasite is a massive problem.

          • @accordingtohoyt As in any welfare state – or in any state at all – there are always some who will abuse the system. Any unlawful behavior by an individual can and should cause the individual to be lawfully judged and punished by the society in question. But I STRONGLY suspect that abusing the welfare state – or abusing any law of any state – is not the exclusive province of the Roma, or any other group. It is wrong and immoral to single out a group – religious, cultural, racial, it doesn’t matter which – and point them out as an especial ‘problem’ that must imperatively be ‘solved’ collectively in punishment for the actions of individuals among them – even though these actions are not at all unique to that group. That’s scapegoating.

            • I STRONGLY suspect that abusing the welfare state – or abusing any law of any state – is not the exclusive province of the Roma

              [Search Engine] Minnesota Somali Day Care.

              Tell any group that they are an oppressed, exploited minority and they are likely to believe you. This is especially true in a culture which has substituted a culture of entitlement for one of gratitude.

              • You think the majority in any culture NEVER abuses welfare benefits?

                • No, of course I don’t think that. But when a recognizable group does, the majority can go seriously ugly. Studies have been done on this. What we’re talking about here is prevent Europe from going from welcome mat to genocide in about three days.

                  This is obvious, btw. Are you twelve? Or does IQ hit at around 80? Or is your mind UTTERLY virgin of historical knowledge, Oh, friend of Fieldsy? (His mind is virgin of everything, so that wouldn’t be surprising.)

                  • “But when a recognizable group does, the majority can go seriously ugly. ”
                    So the solution is that groups should render themselves ‘unrecognizable’ to pacify the majority? Doesn’t work. Ask the half and quarter Jews in Nazi Germany who hadn’t been religious for generations. Not to mention those who can’t become ‘unrecognizable’ with the best will in the world.

                    • A single failure does not invalidate a general principle. In the United States we had a notable record for assimilating such ethnicities as Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, Scots, Irish, French, Italians, Swedes, Finns, Norwegians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Hmong, Koreans, Japanese, Spaniards, Portuguese, and many more — or at least we did until the nonsense about Blood & Culture as ethnic identity got underway.

                      We had even, in many areas, eradicated White/Black antagonisms until Black Identity politics gained traction. Dr. Sowell has written a great deal upon the topic of cultural patterns; it would probably do you well to read him.

                • Of course they don’t! Please report yourself for commission of bad thoughts and re-programming!

                  More seriously, if the majority is in position to abuse welfare benefits that society is in a state of economic collapse into an unsustainable abyss.

                  Which is the drain you will inevitably circle once everybody becomes convinced they are oppressed and entitled.

                  • So what’s your point? That there is no such thing as oppression of a minority? And that ONLY minorities abuse welfare benefits? Everyone is in a position to abuse any legal structure in society. Humans do that sometimes. Why is it pertinent for you to bring up Somalians in Minnesota in a conversation about Roma in Europe, while not mentioning non-minority people on welfare?

                    • My point? That this is an imperfect world and that somebody is always going to be “oppressed” for one reason or another — therefore it is an act of idiocy to obsess over oppression of specific groups.

                      If you cannot grasp the relevance of widespread welfare fraud perpetrated by a presumed oppressed minority in America to exploitation by the Roma of welfare programs in Europe you are demonstrating a poor capacity for pattern recognition. The correspondence is a systematic abuse of the program by a minority claiming to be oppressed — similar in structure if not detail to the use of fears of being thought Islamophobic to conceal the widespread grooming and rape by Rotherham’s “Asian” community. Exploitation of the welfare system by members of the social majority does not employ the same tactics.

                      Or is it your argument that any criticism of some groups must be accompanied by blanket denunciation of all potentially offending peoples?

                • Because that is a totally rational response to someone pointing out the very predictable outcome of a subculture that is openly built around exploiting welfare and violating laws.

                  Yep yep yep.

        • Who says it HAS to be solved? The Roma have existed in Europe for thousands of years under exactly the same cloud of suspicion and distrust you describe, without causing any significant deleterious effect to the European majority they lived among who loathed them, as far as I can recall from the history books.

          I happen to think the modern disinclination to slaughter people who are a member of a specific group is a good thing.
          The current situation makes it less and less likely that it will continue, rather than having a snap-back where violence against the identified “outsider” group is acceptable.

          Thus, it has to be solved. Or the price is going to suck.

          • This. It has to be solved NOT by genocide, but in a way that will avoid genocide. Again the left pushes pushes pushes without thinking of unintended consequences.

            • One notes that they do not think of consequences, or that there is much evidence of thinking ahead at all.

              I mean, we were making fun and mocking the whole ‘but it’s part of their culture and denying the Roma their thieving is akin to cultural genocide’ idiocy by basically going “okay, let’s go plundering, we descendants of Vikings and pirates!” – but laughing at the idea emphasized that the thing they argue for in one group could easily be taken by another and applied to parts of their culture that would NOT be nice in any way for the social justice zealots… or the rest of society as a whole.

              We joke about it… someone else is likely to take it far, far more seriously.

          • It is my considered opinion, and has been for a very long time, that the Europeans are going to death-march Muslims (and anyone else they don’t like) to the Turkish border. This will most likely happen in the next ten years. Then they’ll do some serious fricking war on the Turks. Again.

            Because that’s what the Europeans ALWAYS DO. They reach their tipping point, and they slide all the way the other way to all-out war. We just finished seeing the Balkans do this in the 1990’s. We are currently watching the Hungarians march Muslims through their country under the guns of Hungarian soldiers.

            Now, while Floppy Camel and company would like to pretend I’m proposing that as a desired solution, I’m not. My desired solution would be a massive tax cut and a similar reduction to the welfare state. If Europe did that, the Muslims would all walk home on their own, in a nice, safe, orderly fashion, with no hard feelings. No free lunch, may as well go home where there are no crazy White people.

            But the Euros won’t do that. They’ll default to type and start killing everybody. That’s what makes Frau Merkel such an idiot, and possibly a monster. She knows this, just like I do. Probably better, because she’s a German and grew up in the repair-phase after WWII.

            It doesn’t matter if its a holocaust, a nightmare, a bad idea to crown all bad ideas. Its what they are going to do. Probably pretty soon.

            By the way, if there are any Canadians feeling all smug about how great Canada is historically, let me suggest y’all look up what happened to the Germans and Japanese in Canada during WWII. The -only- countries that behaved in a civilized manner were the USA and Britain. The USA because the Supreme Court upheld the Constitution and dismantled the DemocRat’s Japanese internment camps, and Britain because they were too busy being bombed to act up.

            So y’all Camel-Flop lurkers can shove that where the sun never shines.

            • Including Galaxy Jane, who I think is Fieldsy wife in disguise (but not a good one).

              • She’s starting shit again? Figures. I take it new Fieldsy evidence has surfaced? May I be the first to say “yawn, whatever” about that.

                They literally have nothing else to talk about than us. Look at the f-ing Hugo picks, and the Nebulas. Boring. And no one is talking about them, even on their side. They’re too busy looking over the fence to see what we’re doing over here.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                I think the troll here may be distinct from the occasional poster that outright uses the handle ‘Galaxy Jane’, if the troll is one of the morons from Brisbane. Our ‘Galaxy Jane’ has a different pattern of posting, and clearly has more actual knowledge of the US than the two camels.

                • Definitely not from Brisbane and not sure why I am being associated with this at all! I just prefer lurking to posting unless it is something specifically in my wheelhouse that someone hasn’t beaten me to.

              • I literally have no idea who Fieldsy is, I am only an occasional poster because this community is so darned smart and tight knit that I generally have nothing to say that someone hasn’t generally beaten me to. In fact until I saw my name mentioned in a different comment thread today leading me to go back and see what brouhaha had developed over this post I had no idea I was being bruited about as some sort of infiltrator. (Which I’d be offended by pretty deeply if I weren’t aware of the fact that nobody knows who anybody is online and these days lurkers can rightly by viewed with some suspicion).

                • Amsel, Matthew

                  Fieldsy is the Camel-dude (Camestros Fapper? Something like that) troll. Apparently Dave Freer figured out who he is (real name Meadows or somesuch).

                  There was a jaynsand being an idiot in the comments on https://accordingtohoyt.com/2018/05/21/truth-2/ that Sarah misread as your handle. There are indications that she may be Camel Man’s wife.

            • …pretend I’m proposing that as a desired solution

              Some people refuse to acknowledge the difference between warning against flying a foil kite attached to a wire in a thunderstorm and wanting the kite flier to be struck by lightning.

        • Yes, and they had it worse, much worse, most of those centuries than they do now, times when they even could be hanged just for being Roma. Right now it’s better, but if it doesn’t change they might end up back where they were before, as total outcasts. This current state is not stable, unless it gets better it will probably start to slide back towards what it was before.

        • Unless you think that having a group of people as permanent outcasts, so that no individuals in it can get out of that status because they were born into that group, is a good state of affairs? Do you? Seriously?

          • galaxy jane is a known progressive empty head, so she MIGHT in fact think that.

          • And yeah, they do. Hence “White privilege” and “Shut up because your great great great grands were mean to mine.”

            • I can’t really get that way of thinking. Much less the fact that people who think that way can’t seem to fully get it themselves. They claim to worship people like Martin Luther King Jr. but something as clearly said as “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” seems to fly completely over their heads. 😦

              • Okay, I said that in an unclear manner: I do get it as general human trait, suspicion and fear of the strangers is a pretty natural trait with humans, what I can’t get are people who claim they really truly don’t think that way when they very clearly DO, and seem to be completely unable to comprehend that they do. While blaming everybody else of it.

              • Me either. People are first individuals and then members of groups, but not all to the same extent on the second, the groups don’t need to be “color” and honestly, who the fuck cares what one’s skin color is.
                Me, I’m spun gold. Husband is…. um… Count Dracula.
                Seriously, does it affect our relationship? Not even slightly.

              • They worship people like Martin Luther King Jr. in the abstract. If they cannot rewrite his words to suit their present needs they will make them out of whole cloth.

                What they actually worship is power and the tools that maintain their access to it.

          • Well, since I’m Jewish, I can say that I belong to a group that spent much of recorded history being ‘permanent outcasts’ from one society or another. It is certainly not a good state of affairs. At the same time, I don’t think ‘assimilation’ was ever really the answer for us. Someone in this thread mentioned that Jews were better at assimilation – I don’t think it was really so. For most of recorded history, if you look at Jews as a group, I would say that the vast majority of them were religiously observant – which meant they dressed differently, acted differently, had different religious observances than the majority, refused to intermarry or eat the same food. Yes, there were always a few ‘court Jews’ who due to special talents got some acceptance among the rulers. But true ‘assimilation’ into the population was always scant…possibly because we noticed that even in places where Jews made efforts even to conversion to assimilate, their families were often looked at even generations afterwards with contempt and suspicion as merely converted Jews.

            The last great effort to assimilate, I think, came about in the 19th century in Germany, with the Reform movement in Judaism. Religious observance was changed to resemble more their neighbors’ ceremonies, dress and dietary restrictions were dropped. It spread to the US and was quite popular. But that assimilation did NOT protect them in Germany, obviously. And I would NOT blame the Jews for not having changed ENOUGH to suit the xenophobia of Germany at that time. The problem was the mentality of people ready to commit genocide on people who were different, happily inventing rationalizations – ANY rationalizations – for why such genocide is imperative. Blaming the victims is wrong.

            You say that the Roma are going to be ‘permanent outcasts’. Yet earlier, you said:

            “Heh. With the Roma, as said, that “outsiders with no rules” thing does seem to be an illusion as they do have their rules, and make damn sure everybody follows them (who knows, what might finally today save them from that could be stuff like social media, their young and teen are no longer quite as badly isolated as they used to be…). “

            • Low reading comprehension? Yes, I said that there is a big risk they will end up as permanent outcasts – or even worse as there are no guarantees that the direction societies move is always towards what any of us would think more advanced, and genocides do happen even now but they used to be a pretty more thorough once upon a time – UNLESS something changes, and expressed hope that the modern social media just might be the tool which will, well, get the younger generations from below the thumb of the tradition keeping elders and give them freedom to change so that they will in time bring that needed change to the whole group.

              • Reading comprehension? You wrote: ” …you think that having a group of people as permanent outcasts, so that NO individuals in it can get out of that status because they were born into that group,” [my emphasis, your words].

                You wrote nothing about ‘a big risk’ of having them as permanent outcasts. There was nothing conditional about your assumption as you wrote it. You wrote it as an absolutely FOREGONE conclusion that NO Roma would assimilate to your satisfaction – thus substantiating your earlier declaration that the Roma ARE a serious problem that absolutely must be comprehensively SOLVED. And as I said earlier, such comprehensive and unnecessary solutions of problems that aren’t really problems are fraught with peril.

                As you acknowledge yourself, there HAVE been cultural inroads made among the young. There’s no reason why that can’t continue, is there? Going by the history of the Jews, the best way to foster assimilation is to foster a generally welcoming atmosphere. The history of the United States had this, the Jews flourished and adapted to the prevailing culture. Denmark is another example – so welcoming were they that, IIRC, a huge part of the Jewish community disappeared from the community census in the past few decades simply because they assimilated and ceased to count themselves as Jews. If Finland is indeed as welcoming and nonjudgemental as you say, the process should happen there as well.

                Of course, it won’t happen overnight. In the US, anti-Semitic discrimination was rampant till the 20th century – hence the adaptation was also slow and the process of trust longer. Historically speaking, the Roma just came out of their own Holocaust within the last century – one can’t expect them to assimilate in a much briefer time. If the welcome is real, it will eventually happen.

                But. Even if it DOES happen, it is wrong to expect it to prevent the danger of genocide. The Jews assimilated in Germany – it did nothing to prevent their attempted genocide by people who went hunting for Jewish grandfathers in the family trees of people who didn’t even consider THEMSELVES Jewish. It is the responsibility of every society to prevent genocide of minorities. Blaming the minorities for their own genocide for not changing themselves to suit the majority is not merely nakedly unjust, it is also completely wrong on the facts.

                • Dear BOB you need everything spelled out? You’re not a very good troll deary. Up your game.

                  • Some folk like to inhabit the shadows, torturing any bit of imprecision to suit their agenda, and condemning punctiliousness as excessively pedantic. They are not seeking conversation they are seeking to end conversation.

                • These groups have their window of opportunity now. Start to integrate, intermarry, stop thieving and control their own group’s potential thieves and troublemakers, get jobs, invent jobs – their ancestors were tolerated because in spite of everything else they DID serve a function useful to the host societies, by being traders and fixers who moved from place to place.

                  The current generations have lost that, and are seen mostly as a problem by the majority population, as thieves and a drain on resources.

                  So if they don’t integrate now, and things change, as they are pretty damn certain to, as Sarah said Europe and western welfare societies in general are RUNNING OUT OF MONEY –

                  – so when things change they will not have that many defenders left. If they are lucky they will then still have a short time to adjust, by stopping their bad habits and trying to fit in as the host society tries to force them to do that, but it will most likely be short.

                  And if they, and the rest of us too, are not lucky the way most countries here will tip when they tip it will be straight to some version of the jackboots solution. In which case their whole group might face extinction.

                  And again, they are not only disliked or shunned due to being somewhat different and because of rumors, like the Jews, they are also disliked and downright hated because with a lot of people the only contact they have had with the Roma personally happened when the Roma stole from them or cheated them. The Jews will probably have at least some helpers and defenders if sh*t hits the fan again (even if most people will never take any personal risks when it gets that bad – humans are humans), but how many will the Roma have? Especially after wasting their window of opportunity they way they are wasting it now?

                  Humans are humans, and humans act in certain ways, and no wishing and saying that it is wrong (yes, it is, but that is not particularly relevant when talking about what actually works) will not change that. See former Yugoslavia, see Rwanda, see Darfur, Cambodia, China during Mao, and yes, the Holocaust – even societies where the minorities have integrated reasonably well are at risk, now ponder how much bigger the risks are when they haven’t.

                  And yes, I am pissed at them as a group. Because they are wasting their window of opportunity. I do NOT want to face the choice whether to defend them if things go badly wrong in my lifetime because I have no idea if I would be willing to risk myself for them – it’s kind of like having to choose whether you would be willing to defend the bully you knew at school who you knew to be a bully because he had horrible family, but while knowing that might make you feel a bit more sympathetic towards him that can not make you like him.

                  Fortunately I am old enough that I probably don’t need to make that choice, as I will probably die before sh*t will next hit the fan here. And it will. History hasn’t stopped. Sh*t will always hit the fan again sooner or later, whether it takes years, decades or centuries.

                  And btw, greetings from an Arab Christian I know: he said to tell you that you are full of fertilizer.

                  • “These groups have their window of opportunity now. Start to integrate, intermarry, stop thieving and control their own group’s potential thieves and troublemakers, get jobs, invent jobs – ”

                    As I mentioned before, doing ALL that even in the ‘window of opportunity’ you demand guarantees nothing of safety. The Jews did it to a great extent in Germany – they still were victims of one of the greatest genocides of history. Demanding the Roma to do ALL those things, including to abstain from things that are NOT against the law like marrying within their own cultural group – and do it all QUICKLY within your timetable –

                    • – is a demand they give up their identities for a payoff that anyone who knows history knows is illusory.

                    • Amsel, Matthew

                      The Germans were willing to go after the Jews as they did for 3 major reasons:

                      1. Jew hunting was always a favourite German pastime (the protests to Napoleon when he outlawed it make that very clear). We’re talking close to living memory in some of the rural areas.

                      2. Jews, as a group, were significantly wealthier than the median German, which always breeds resentment

                      3. Post WW1, the Germans were convinced that they had been stabbed in the back, and one *always* looks for a group to blame for that. In Germany’s case, (1) and (2) made Jews a prime group to look at. Remember, the Germans thought (not without some justification given how the war ended) that *they* were the victims, and that they were attacking their victimizers.

                      That’s why, despite efforts to assimilate in the nonreligious spheres, Jews were easy to point out as a target.

                      The major resentments of the Roma are due to the special treatment they are seen as receiving. If that goes away, the idea that they are a victimizers and thus the threat of massacre can be defused.

                    • Frankly, they probably don’t even need to start intermarrying (though not flipping their lids if someone DOES would help), but if they won’t assimilate culturally and stop thieving, then no one is going to care what happens to them.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      Telling me my people can’t carry out mass killings of hostile populations is demanding we give up our identity.

                    • Given that the “identity” pohjaleinen is suggesting they give up is of the “thieves and beggars” variety, I think you seem to be claiming the that all identities are created equal.
                      However, we both know you don’t believe that. If I were to claim, as a Southern white, that oppressing black people was part of my identity and demanding that I give it up in order to avoid being cast out of polite society was wrong, you would laugh in my face–rightfully.
                      Pohjaleinen isn’t saying “give up all your customs.” She’s saying “give up the self-destructive behaviors that are morally wrong AND make people despise and mistrust you.” I’m not sure why this is so difficult to grasp.

                    • Are you alleging that as a Southern white man, being racist is an inextricable and inevitable part of your culture, and if you gave that up you would have to give up EVERYTHING about the culture that you love and value, whatever that may be – the food, the music, the traditions, ALL of it? If I said that to you, you surely and rightly would laugh in MY face – your culture is much more than just racism, nor are all cultural Southerners racist. But the OP is speaking of Roma and thievery EXACTLY the stereotyped prejudiced way (They’re ALL thieves, it’s their whole culture) you protest I would speak of all Southern whites. He does not subtantiate his claim, but everyone accepts it without a murmur, brings up genocide without demur, someone gets creative about reenacting the Trail of Tears in Finland, someone more humanely suggests converting them all to Christianity, without noting that there ARE such things as Christian thieves AND that most Roma who originated in Christian countries have been Christian for centuries. Which underlines my point that this whole ‘Roma are ALL thieves and are inevitably bringing genocide on themselves!’ rush to judgement isn’t necessarily based on fact. Not to mention that Wayne Blackburn here demands that they ‘assimilate culturally AND stop thieving’ or else ‘no one is going to care what happens to them’ which implies that it’s the cultural differences that are the problem, not just the thievery (which, as I remarked, is already punishable by law for Roma and non Roma alike, and therefore needs no extra discriminatory penalty for their families that only certain cultural groups MUST pay). Why is it so hard for you to see that this all seems a bit alarming?

                    • Are you alleging that as a Southern white man, being racist is an inextricable and inevitable part of your culture, and if you gave that up you would have to give up EVERYTHING about the culture that you love and value, whatever that may be – the food, the music, the traditions, ALL of it?

                      You might want to go back over your claims that not being thieves, lawbreakers and infamous abusers of charity would mean giving up the Roma identity.

                      Maybe you’ll be able to figure out the example, then.

                    • Why is it so hard for you to see that this all seems a bit alarming?

                      Because unlike you we are not hysterical gits, bent on warping all conversations around our personal dysfunctions?

                      Just guessing, of course.

                    • Because all identities are sacred unless they’re western. (rolls eyes.)

                    • @jaynsand: no, and that was exactly my point. Which, in your determination that anyone who is part of a group that has been oppressed is as pure as the driven snow, you seem to have missed.

                    • I was looking at an article about Harvey Weinstein’s arrest and his lawyer’s defense about the “casting couch” being a long established tradition in Hollywood the Theatre and it struck me that he was, essentially, claiming the casting couch was an essential part of that culture, and it would be an act of cultural oppression to deny Weinstein’s right to use it in its traditional manner.

                    • So if I said (which I didn’t, but let us suppose it) that racism is an inextricable part of the culture of ALL southern white men, that it makes them ALL irrevocably racists, that would be horribly simplistic and unfair of me, and easily disproved by finding of contrary examples.

                      Whereas if someone says that Roma culture IS entirely and inextricably a culture of thievery, making them all irrevocably thieves, then it is a self-evident truth that requires NO examination or search for contrary examples, and it’s only my sentimental partiality for a group who’s suffered horribly from attempts at genocide that blinds me to that fact? That fact that is SO obvious that enlightened and clear-sighted minds accept it wholesale without need of examination or questioning? Do I understand you aright?

                    • Do I understand you aright?

                      No.

                      Which is kind of obvious, since you’ve spent several days now coming up with ever wilder interpretations, and utterly ignoring even the simplest of corrections.

                      All so you can attack a lady who pointed out that trouble is coming.

                    • Given that pohjaleinen never claimed that Roma were irrevocably thieves, it has become patently obvious that you are arguing in bad faith.

                    • Pohljaleinen did not use those specific words. But he did say this:

                      “But as a group they refuse to comply. They take everything they are offered. But they still cheat and steal.”

                      The WHOLE group, that’s what they do. He identifies their problem as a refusal to assimilate into the majority. He also mentioned the ‘rumor’ that they habitually kidnap children as another reason the majority doesn’t like them, without mentioning it is false.

                      And what I specified was ‘alarming’ was not simply pohljaleinen’s original comment, but the way it was accepted and enlarged on without demur. The anthropologist who explains that the Roma’s is a culture of thievery without citing their study. The genocide proposal, the discussion of ways and means (forced removal of kids and sterilization, Trail of Tears). Wayne Blackburn saying that they all must stop thieving AND give up their culture, which shows that for him, at least, the problem is not just the thieving but the icky, obnoxious difference.

                      The genocide of the Roma is described here as them standing stubbornly in the path of an oncoming train.

                      Why yes, genocide is EXACTLY like a train driven without malicious intention – going along an absolutely predictable route that is useful and necessary and absolutely NOT planned to deliberately intersect with and harm these people – and therefore the Roma are EXACTLY like a family of idiots standing in front of the 5:45 ignoring your warnings, who kind of deserve what they get! Think how bad the driver must feel, having the trauma of killing those idiots while going about his useful job! And think of the horrible twinges of conscience of the onlooker who decided not to bother trying to run to turn the switch, and maybe remembers a conversation or two he’s had with the driver about how a couple of members of that family picked his pocket so of course they’re all no good. Yeah, that’s what all genocides are like, we can see who the REAL victims are.

                      See the problem with that analogy?

                      As far as I can tell from my reading, most genocides are more like a car (not on tracks, not on a predictable schedule) being deliberately driven into a crowd of people, the majority of whom are law abiding citizens and in being in that crowd were committing no unlawful act. The driver(s) are primed by their leaders and convinced by many others around him who wouldn’t have done such a thing themselves but had no problem with going on and on about how ‘they’ ALL are treacherous/shiftless/parasitical/dangerous and NEED to be stopped, NOW. because listening to those talkers had convinced him there was NOT ONE person among them who didn’t deserve it.

                    • “But as a group they refuse to comply. They take everything they are offered. But they still cheat and steal.”
                      The WHOLE group, that’s what they do.

                      That’s because, you ignorant twit, THAT IS WHAT THEY DO. Those who refuse are not allowed to be members of the culture.

                      That is the group identity.

                      They build their culture around it.

                      They are PROUD of it.

                      Which puts them one up on you, who are apparently stone ignorant and outraged, but pride yourself on having some sort of knowledge and the wisdom to entitle you to instruct others.

                      Or are you so high and mighty that you get to go tell that culture that they ARE NOT ALLOWED to be what they are, just so you can tell Pohljaleinen that she’s not allowed to tell them that such a choice is a bad idea?

                    • And what I specified was ‘alarming’ was not simply pohljaleinen’s original comment, but the way it was accepted and enlarged on without demur. The anthropologist who explains that the Roma’s is a culture of thievery without citing their study.

                      OMG! An informal online discussion group and somebody failed to provide academic citation! The horror, the trauma, the tragedy!

                      Wayne Blackburn saying that they all must stop thieving AND give up their culture, which shows that for him, at least, the problem is not just the thieving but the icky, obnoxious difference.

                      Given that the discussion was about thieving being an intrinsic part of their culture, the “icky, obnoxious difference” you complain about is thieving. So yes, the problem is not simply their thieving but their thieving being core to their culture.

                      As far as the question of genocide goes, are you seriously suggesting that people here are plotting such a genocide or even have any capacity of perpetrating such? Are you so utterly clueless that you cannot recognize an online equivalent of a dorm-room discussion in which ideas (you’ve heard of those, I presume) are batted about for intellectual exercise and no greater purpose?

                      As far as I can tell from my reading

                      Indeed? What, pray tell, have you been reading? Bibliography and Citations, please. What efforts have you made to read contrary interpretations of trends?

                    • She can’t read and think independently. She can just get offended and REEEEEEEE.
                      And yes, this blog is the secret masters of the world and we can TOTALLY cause genocide.
                      Precious flower, instead of taking it that if people like us can talk about this, less thoughtful people are already at “kill them all and let G-d pick his own” and that therefore genocide is a danger NOT FROM US but fromt he vast mass of people, is looking for something to stigmatize us as bad people. Because scoring ideological points is better for her than actually preventing genocide.
                      She comes from the floppy camel’s blog, and might be Mrs. Camel. She JUST wants to score points, like the Camel did.
                      This is who they are, this is what they do. They care nothing for people, minorities or not. They just care for fighting the “evil right” defined as those who tell them that their wonderful imaginary system can’t work and has killed millions of people and will kill more.
                      This is what they are, this is what they do: soulless, brainless, egotists, willing to sacrifice millions to their egos.

                    • Pojjaleinen is a she, and you’re a disgusting genocide enabler, looking to score points for your lefty side and aggrandize your ego on perpetual victimhood narratives, caring nothing if it means that millions will die either when your pseudo-utopia fails, or when sane people revolt against it.
                      Be gone, you make me ill.

                    • You leftists treat humans as abstractions and widgets dividing them in arbitrary classes and pitting them against each other, and then you act all self righteous when deaths and misery ensue.
                      I don’t know how you can stand to look at yourself in the mirror. I think your entire screeds and evasions are an attempt to stop seeing the graves and the rotting bodies and the misery your favored system causes.
                      Again, be gone. You’re a disgrace and a horror to the human race.

                    • Hmm. Fascinating. Now, if you will permit me to go back to the original mentality, it would be entirely fair to state that, for some time, Southern whites as a group oppressed black people, and those who did not were usually…hmmm…ill-regarded by their peers.
                      Could that have ended extraordinarily badly for them? Yes. Yes it could have. It didn’t, thankfully, but if you look to what happened in Zimbabwe, and what is happening in South Africa now, you see what happens when someone needs a scapegoat and a minority group has developed a rep for behaving obnoxiously.
                      Live in the world-that-is, not the world-as-you-want-it.

          • C’mon: who doesn’t love a good caste system? It’s like racial slavery but better because it has more tiers!

            • Looks like Jaynsand wants that. At least he seems to be basically telling me that trying to yell at people who have parked in the middle of a railway crossing to keep moving is wrong because there is no guarantee there will be a train coming again. To me the rails do look rather used, but whatever. I should not be yelling anyway, I guess, because it’s rude or something.

  10. And of course the pretty, shiny, smooth beauty of “white privilege” is that it simultaneously sets white people at the center of attention and lets them off the hook for *doing* anything about their privilege on account of they have no control over any part of the situation in any way whatsoever, with fun little virtue drama witch hunts on the side.

    • White guilt about privilege seems so performative to me. It isn’t about helping less fortunate people it’s about saying “Look, I’m not like those OTHER white people. I’m woke, I’ve checked my privileges.” It’s about feeling superior to other white people and not about helping minorities at all.

      • A variation of the “apologize on behalf of (group)” thing, where they declare the group guilty, and say sorry for all them uh I mean us?

      • > white guilt

        California. Third grade, mid-1960s. The school was all white; being back in the day before busing.

        We got lectured for *days* about White Privilege, and how our ancestors were bad people too, and so then we we, and we were supposed to dedicate outselves to righting that injustice. Over and over.

        I figured I had no responsibility for something that might have happened in my great-grandfather’s time, and I sure as hell felt no guilt over it. The whole concept gets my back up, and I’m liable to say pointed and unkind things to people who advocate it.

        • IF Africans had invented powder weapons before us, they’d probably have done worse. We had our centuries of nation-states and Christianity that led us to consider everyone human. Sure, Whites considered themselves superior. They were on top. That’s human. BUT if Africans had been the better armed, they’d have scoured Europe clean via genocide. Tribal warfare was all they knew and tribal warfare was, and still is, like that.

          • Not sure it would have been possible. Logistics *counts* with gunpowder weapons, and developing the necessary industrial and infrastructure base would be pretty difficult given the tribal mentality.

            • yes, I understand that, but imagine they could.

              • Assuming they managed it, it would be nasty as hell.

                I’m reminded of Orson Scott Card’s Pastwatch book

            • It works the other direction, too. The requirement for effective logistics tends to push cultures toward developing/reinforcing a logistics capability. Feedback loops, after all.

            • Matthew, you might want to research the Zulu some before you generalize.

              • IIRC, the Zulus used mostly muscle powered weaponry with a few captured guns. I’ve never read anything about them manufacturing their own on any kind of scale.

                • No, but they were incredibly organized. They conquered most of Africa on it.

                • snelson134

                  That would be because the Boers and English wised up from watching the American experience and discouraged the tech transfer.

                  What the Zulus did have, that American Indians didn’t, is a social and military organization that would have led to a Zulu Empire in southern Africa if they had had the same level of access.

    • Exactly. There are privileged people in the world – hell, if you learned that you had to go to work every day by the example your parents set you’re privileged over some – but that privilege has nothing to do with race. It’s cultural (of course, the Progressive racists “think” that culture and race are the same, but they don’t believe it. The Obamas act exactly like an upper professional white family do). But if they don’t say that it’s a racial privilege then minorities might start emulating the successful culture, and then who would work the Democrat vote plantations?

    • Except that isn’t how “white privilege” is being used. Instead, it’s being used as an automatic justification for taking money or position or anything else away from “unwoke” whites on the grounds that they didn’t earn any of it by their own merits, but stole it from those who had it.

      And since you can’t steal from thieves, anything, specifically including violence, is justified to take it “back”.

  11. Richard Feynman gave a talked about “Cargo Cult Science” in which he talked about scientific integrity: the need to bend over backwards to make sure that you have made not only the case for your Bright Shiny New Theory, but all the ways you could be wrong.

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.”

    The principle holds true for other fields of inquiry as well . As Paul advised.
    Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21 KJV)

    This is why I consider myself an Anthropogenic Climate Change skeptic: Even not knowing all the facts, I have observed that the people most insistent that Climate Science is Settled and We Must Do Something Now or Doom Is Sure To Follow argue like lawyers, instead of like scientists. (If the law is against you, pound the facts. If the facts are against you, pound the law. If both the facts and the law are against you, pound the table),

    Those with political points to make too frequently don’t care about the truth at all. Even starting with a plausible argument, after about three rounds of rhetorical exaggeration, Black is white, the sky is purple with green polka-dots and it’s night because the Sun is shining.

    • These days If both the facts and the law are against you, go for the feelz. Prey upon the uninformed by striking repeatedly at their unreasonable fears.

  12. I grew up in a village, where finding the truth of even the most ridiculously small event was almost impossible. Each household, each head of household, each cleaning lady had their own version, and you had to be master detective to figure out who stole the schoolmistress’s hairbrush and why it turned up in the fishmonger’s stand.

    Sounds like Rashomon on steroids.

    One of the most elusive yet profound statements I’ve encountered in fiction came from Inherit the Wind, when defense lawyer Henry Drummond, challenged by prosecutor Matthew Harrison Brady — “Does right have no meaning to you, sir?” — demurs and says “Truth has meaning…as a direction.”

    We can approach truth…but we can never be sure we’ve nailed it. It has an asymptotic quality that, paradoxically, makes the desire to know it the most important of all intellectual drives. Note in this connection that leftists, including many (perhaps most) liberal Democrats, disdain the concept of objective truth. There’s a moral in there, somewhere.

  13. This ties into hat I learned about History and Scholarship by listening to my Father;

    That styles permeate a culture and a time, so that when you have Baroque music and Baroque Art you must be on the watch for Baroque politics and Baroque science.

    That Scholarship is a skill, and one only a few people really develop. And consequently, principles, theorems, and ideas that work perfectly well on a scholarly level are highly likely to be misunderstood and/or misapplied by the broader culture.

    Take Evolution; as a method of understanding genetic diversity and how environment shapes it, it works very well. Not perfectly, but well enough to be going on with. Misunderstood by non-scholars, it acquires the addition of an arrow; the idea that evolution is directional, and every evolution is an improvement. This is flat out wrong. Then wrench it out of its biology-oriented setting and apply it to societies, cultures, and all manner of non-biological constructs and you very probably have complete nonsense.

    Like Social Darwinism and Marxism.

    Or take multiculturalism. I believe it started as a guide for historical scholarship; history, anthropology, and so on. You cannot apply the standards of your culture to a completely different culture if you want to understand that culture. That doesn’t mean that mass sacrifices of the Aztecs weren’t objectively wrong; that’s a completely different argument. It means that if you start from the position that the Priests of the Aztec culture were being deliberately evil, you cannot understand squat about their society. You may END UP with the conclusion that the priests were deliberately evil. Or you may end up with the conclusion that they were completely deluded. Or, hell, you might end up discovering that mass sacrifice was an objectively rational reaction to a situation you discover they were dealing with. What you DON’T do is conclude that mass sacrifice would be reasonable today (unless you discover that the Aztec Gods were quite real, and that they are going to destroy the world unless sacrifices resume. Seems doubtful.).

    But take multiculturalism out of its scholarly setting and you get palpable nonsense. You get Feminists defending Islam, with is grotesque. You get otherwise sensible people defending Communism.

    Not that there aren’t people defending Communism who are completely despicable. Just not ALL of them.

    • “…unless you discover that the Aztec Gods were quite real, and that they are going to destroy the world unless sacrifices resume.”

      That sounds like an excuse to find out how the ancient Aztec gods would deal with thermonuclear weapons crammed up their abundantly large noses. Or megatons per second… hmm…

    • “The past is another country. They do things differently there.” Absolutely true and well worth keeping in mind. The second bit is what the multi-culti folks missed. “But it is NOT a different planet.” Meaning people are people, and will do noble/stupid/amazing/depressing/strange/alas all too familiar stuff, often for reasons that sound familiar. Like, oh, Indians accidentally burning their own camps down by not keeping watch over their campfires, or gals running away with guys because of love/lust.

    • I like to point out that modern bacteria are EXACTLY as evolved as you and I, just for a different environmental niche.

    • William O. B'Livion

      > Not that there aren’t people defending Communism who
      > are completely despicable. Just not ALL of them.

      If, in 2018, someone defends communism, they are despicable.

  14. “The other side? The other side is enamored of a “Just so” story, a convoluted morality play in which it’s always the fault of someone else when you fall and break your nose. It’s a weird system, so smooth, so perfectly fitting and so without flaw, provided you don’t apply it to real people.”

    I’m having a giggle writing a story in which it doesn’t even work with robots. Some of them get cranky and have themselves a nice little mutiny.

    Consider that even in a “Star Trek Utopia,” where all Human failings are curable (with a quick re-compile) and all material needs are met… even “location location location!” can be met by a sufficiently advanced technology (in a story, anyway)… the things that become the coin of the realm are Respect and Ability. Probably other things too, but those two for sure. If you are an AI you can -buy- Ability (add moar RAM, get a 386!), but not Respect.

  15. Christopher M. Chupik

    But what if there is a mask behind my face?

  16. I write Fantasy, and I decided I needed to know a little of everything to make it work. You need fantasy elements, but the human element (or non-human as the case may be) need to be recognizable, otherwise it can’t get through to the reader. I compiled some of the information I gathered over the years at my website sunderedspheres.com to help out those who haven’t had time to get it together. Kind of superfluous now that the internet has so much specific information available, but once upon a time it was hard work to find a lot of it.

    I wrote this on my blog: “And yet, at root, that is what art is all about: truth. Art is all deception: whether a statue or a novel or just a single word, art is an interface, a means of demonstrating or illustrating what is true, though the interface itself is intrinsically not true.”

    So I think your dedication to learning the truth is INTRINSIC to being a good writer, whether popular and famous or not. If you don’t know any truth, then you can’t write about it, or paint it, or sculpt it. A writer wants to share what he or she has learned, and if that’s not truth, what’s the point?

    An excellent essay, thanks.

  17. I’m the daughter of an auditor, so, yes, truth is really important. I do agree that there are some truths that are better off unsaid – white lies to preserve people’s feelings and such – but that’s about it. More than that, I really really hate liars (I’m particularly hating them this past week, what with what’s happened with Larry Correia, John Ringo, Diversity & Comics, and all.)

    I also don’t understand liars – I mean, someone’s who’s frightened and trying to divert attention, that I understand. And someone who has listened to liars, and thinks it’s the truth. But the ones who deliberately, knowingly, commit slander, I just don’t get that.

    One of the best things my auditor dad told as a general rule, if you hear someone talking about how AWFUL something or someone is, the first words in your head need to be, I need to find out about the other side. Heck, I’ll even try to argue it. I used to drive my friends nuts playing devil’s advocate. But how else can you truly understand something?

  18. “Because humans don’t work the way they think they do. And their system will never survive an encounter with the truth.”

    Which is why they hate humanity and believe that most of us should die.

    And lest there be any doubt that gun control advocates are anti-USAian, the Good Men are designating the NRA a domestic terrorist organization.

    https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/designate-the-nra-a-domestic-terrorist-organization/

  19. Quick quiz: What does a Viking wear? And what does a ninja wear?

    And what do the two popular—and incorrect—conceptions of what they wear have to do with each other?

    The answer is drama; the early performances of Wagner’s Ring Cycle put horns on the Viking helmets for visual emphasis, so we think of Vikings as wearing horned helmets even though that would be a foolish thing to do (and they weren’t particularly foolish warriors.) And ninjas were supposed to blend in, right? Well, that all-black outfit that you think of happens to be the dress of on-stage stagehands in some forms of Japanese drama, who move furniture and manipulate puppets and are functionally invisible to the audience. Japanese dramaturges quickly realized that hiding ninja characters that way was shocking and effective, like having a couch rise up and kill a main character.

    That sounds like truth, right? Well, the first one is well-documented… but the second one isn’t something I’ve ever seen deeply researched. It’s either something I saw once in an article “somewhere on the internet”, or something I put together myself after reading about ninjas in Japanese drama, knowing what I know about the stage dress.

    And that is how half-truths and inaccuracies can perpetuate. It could be true. But I don’t know that—and unless you’re an expert in the subject, neither do you.

    • 11B-Mailclerk

      The costume equivalent from Westerns would be the Cowboy Hat.

      Most of them were actually a fairly plain style called “boss of the plains”. The modern shaped and creased and/or fancy-banded version is almost entirely Hollyweird of the 1920’s forward.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Apparently bowler hats were also popular Western wear.

        • Yep.

          Here’s a picture with the mostly-unshaped hats that Mailclerk mentions:

          FINDING it took a lot, because most of the guys were wearing “nice” clothing when photographed, which meant their bowlers. Or they took their hats off.

          But you can page through and find a lot of examples of hats that were made unshaped, then shaped by the owners– look like fedoras, and like six from the picture above is a 1925-ish where they’re dipping calves, one guy has a straw hat (as best I can tell) that’s “cowboy style” shaped. With a kid in a golf hat, and the dude wearing a felt hat that looks half bag….. 😀

            • Picture shows up for me, but it’s from Facebook. Perhaps your Internet connection is blocking Facebook; are you at work right now?

              • Nope, home. But I do use adblocker, could be that, maybe.

                • And no, not that, at least disabling the adblocker does not help. I’m also logged in FB right now.

                  Oh well, fb occasionally seems to block stuff those of us in Europe, everybody in USA can see something but we can’t.

                  • snelson134

                    That may be a function of the copyright filters. My Avast VPN allows me to set my location to appear to be in various countries; it affects the content I see on YouTube, Blogger, etc.

                • snelson134

                  If the picture was from a closed Facebook group (Sarah’s Diner, forex), Facebook will block it. Sarah, as admin, may not be affected by that.

              • It’s from *another* of the Hydra of FB content servers. Criminy, another to add to the hosts file. I’m going to have to move site blocking off to the router at this rate…

            • Facebook!

              facebook (dot) com/ModocHistory/photos/a.752758078158871.1073741828.728011013966911/1235813516519989/?type=3

      • Eeeeh….. *hand waggle*

        Hat bands aren’t new, and people stick stuff in them.

        People shaped their cowboy hats depending on what worked in the area, and what they “knew” was a good way to deal with wind/rain.

        Beading wasn’t unusual, either. People like pretties. 🙂

        But they wouldn’t be shaped when you bought them, generally, no, and oh my gosh the fashions…. *eyeroll* Don’t get my mom started on some of the impractical styles!

        There were usually things in an area where your hat looking like *this* meant you were a sheepherd, and like *that* meant you were in cows, and a third way meant you were a cowboy (think more like “wandering freelancer” than Hollywood) from Somewhere Else….. Mostly had to do with where your people were from, though. My dad could look at photographs from before his mom was born and tell you what the group did or who they were, for hundreds of miles around his home town.

        • Terry Sanders

          I’ve also read that the dent patterns were a function of how you picked the hat up–which also varied with the climate. Grip it from above, with all your fingers, from all sides, and you got a Smokey Bear hat. Pinch it, thumb on one side and four fingers on the others, and you got a “cowboy hat” or fedora dent. Etc.

          • That would be before my time of reference–it wouldn’t work with a properly shaped hat, but there’s less reason to properly shape it if the only purpose is “keep hat off top of head.”

            • Want to have a moment of insanity. Go look at musketeer hats. Then cowboy hats. Then musketeer hats (sans plumes.) Functionally same shape. Not that distant in time. Kind of like “traditional dress” in most European cultures is “eighteenth century dress with local geegaws.”

              • Oh, that is awesome— the only ones I’ve seen have been highly stylized third or fourth remove and I think based on movies at that, so they’re Spanish hats with a big feather…. I may have to spring that on my dad at some point.

                (He’s a Zorro fanboy, and likes the Musketeers as far as sword fighting goes.)

              • Oooh, and a lot of them are in *leather*….
                Totally going to suggest it when my husband’s “duster hat” wears out. 😀

              • Look at images of hats worn by cavaliers …

            • Terry Sanders

              I’ve never been able to wear a “properly shaped” hat–my head is longer and narrower than the standard–lasts? molds? what DO you call those things?

              In any case, any formed hat is only tolerable to me after it’s “softened” a bit. And I doubt I am unique.

              • Shaping isn’t about the part that goes around your head– it’s how the crown and brim are shaped.

                • Terry Sanders

                  I’ll take your word for it. I was never rich enough to buy a hat at a place that made the distinction.

                  • *laughs* Work gear. My dad has bought two good hats since I was born…and the one he owned when he married my mom is still in use.

                    Thing is, the companies that make good hats (and he’s had to change once!) also make the straw hats that are not expensive, you buy them at the start of the summer, they’re half-black with work by the end. The quality carries over.

                    It’s like horses. Expensive hobby, but you can learn a lot of the same stuff from folks who use them for work. 😀

                  • Aye.. someday I’d like to have a hat that I can wear and actually look good (or a reasonable facsimile, yes) in. And, of course, I have no fashion sense to speak of. Alright, slightly more than Dr. Who #Whatever (seven?) – but’s “damning with faint praise” indeed.

              • 11B-Mailclerk

                Terry, try the “long oval” option on a good Stetson or Resistol hat. -much better fit if you are not a “round” type.

    • Joe in PNG

      The best depiction of a historic Ninja in fiction is probably old Lu-Tze.
      After all, who pays attention to a sweeper?

    • Terry Sanders

      I’ve also heard the stereotypical ninja outfit described as battle dress for night ops–camo, in other words. They wouldn’t wear it every day, any more than a soldier would wear BDU’s to a dinner party.

      Kinda like how all burglars wear black spandex and a watch cap.

      • Black sweat-suit with a hoodie is pretty common, though.

      • Kinda like how all burglars wear black spandex and a watch cap.

        That’s a guild thing; they’re only allowed to dress up that way if their dues are up to date, for reasons which ought be obviious.

  20. Ah, but as Aristotle observes, fiction is more true philosophically than mere history. History has pure accidents where a man on the verge of a dramatic decision gets the flu and dies. Where a mystery is unraveled because someone made a lucky guess motivated by pure spite. etc.

    But fiction can demonstrate what happens — not in this case or that case — but just what happens.

    • Where the murder is solved because cops had parked their car in front of the garbage can where the body was hidden, and the garbage man could not collect the trash and drove by, and if that had not happened it might have gone no body no murder. And then the neighbor was interviewed about the case, and was told, on camera, that the body had been found, a surprise to him, and the guy could not keep a poker face. Which caught the attention of the police. Who had not suspected him before that. 😀

      Yep, true crime stories can be fun to read.

      • true crime stories can be fun to read

        And now they have their own convention:

        OKAY, CRIME DOES SOMETIMES PAY (I WONDER WHAT’S ON DISPLAY IN THE DEALER ROOM?): The convention where fans go to relish tales of rape and murder.

        It is only the second year but I’ve no doubt their own version of Hugos (and Sad Puppise) are soon to arrive.

        • Oy…

          Well, they can be interesting. Or absurd. One of the enticing things IS that fact that real life can be so thoroughly weird, and you’ll get cases with coincidences and so on which no crime writer would write as a fictional story (except maybe as a black comedy) because they are so damn unbelievable.

          • Heck, Charlaine Harris (of Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood fame) had a mystery series that started off with the local crime hounds (Real Murders was the group name) getting picked off in ways that mimicked real cases. Put together, it seems totally unbelievable, but if you read actual true crime cases (not just the ones in the books), you realize she was modeling after some of the real things out there.

            • snelson134

              Before she went porn, Laurell Hamilton told a lecture at DragonCon about asking a St Louis detective how they would handle a cannibal gang that was attacking homeless (so she could figure out ghouls), and said his response, after looking at her crosseyed, was telling her “The last time that happened, this is what we did…..” I suspect there’s a LOT of stuff that gets hushed up…

              • Don’t have to hush it, just have to make sure it doesn’t get told beyond the after-it’s-all-done, in-a-boring-way manner.
                If they don’t find most of the bodies until AFTER the killers are caught, gets easier.

  21. The lies hurt them more than they know. Ban everything associated with Slavery but celebrate Black History Month while pretending Africans didn’t hunt capture and sell slaves to America? Maintaining that partition takes it’s toll on the nueral pathways. And they have so many partitions to maintain. Fingers plugged in their ears and in a thousand leaky dikes. Every single day forever and ever. Or their fantasy world gets swept away and they drown.

    Sounds like a plane of hell.

    I often wonder if that’s why they seem to be choking on madness all the time.

    • Thing is, most of them aren’t pretending that the initial captures made for the slave trade weren’t made by Africans. Most of them don’t know that.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        David Drake had an “interesting” conversation about the practices of the Barbary pirates and slavery.

        IE The other person didn’t thinking David Drake knew what he was talking about.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbary_pirates

        Oh, his latest RCN novel Though Hell Should Bar the Way “transplants” the Barbary pirates into the RCN universe.

      • Precisely. And most of them don’t know that there’s still slaves in Africa.
        They were told by people in authority — schools — that slavery was created by whites to oppress blacks.
        Talk about a lie that corrupted/corrupts the world.

        • Well well, at least the current wikipedia article seems to be pretty true as to the history – and current situation – with slavery, in its “History of Slavery” article. Mentions that, for example, maybe up to 20 % of the people in present day Mauritania are in effect slaves as bonded labor. And that in the African countries during the 19th century up to half of the people were slaves in some of them, and up to one third was common, it also talks almost as much of the Islamic world slave trade than of the transatlantic one, and the fact that the African kings on the western coast of Africa – those who, and whose countries, had grown rich capturing and selling slaves to Europeans – were not at all happy when England made trading in them illegal.

          Interesting to see if that article stays that way.

          • Yeah, but most of the people who “Know” that won’t check wiki even. They know it from school, so it’s “proven.”
            The number of times I’ve run into smart, educated black people who KNOW this is… amazing.

    • Yeah, fingers in their ears and a thousand leaky dikes. No matter that each little element is highly polished and satisfying.

      I imagine people looking at this group of comments and, like a certain person horrified by “chicoms”, having an absolute cow. But if problems can’t be talked about and examined, then they can’t be solved and who benefits from that other than the person who gets a nice “woke” emotional drama to perform? Pretty much no one.

  22. Re “Never trust anything coming out of a country that tries to control all flow of information.” — back when I still lived in Holland I found a very interesting book in the “remainders” sale. The author, Emmanuel Todd, is a French historian; I have Dutch and English translations. The English translation is entitled “The Final Fall: An Essay on the Decomposition of the Soviet Sphere”. It was published in 1979, when the SU seemed to be invincible and eternal.
    That notion of “never trust” is central to the analysis. The author discusses that you have to approach the study of closed societies the same way you study ancient societies (like pre-revolution France). You look for records, but you test them by logic and cross-checking to sort the valid data from the fiction. And you may run into snippets of data that are very revealing but slipped past the censors because they didn’t realize what it meant. For example, child mortality may slip by, and it reveals a lot.
    One interesting conclusion was that the periphery (the SU satellites such as Poland and the DDR) were better off than the SU itself, both by being farther from the central authority and by being closer to the West. The other conclusion was that the SU was inherently unstable.
    I wonder if he expected his forecast to come true in just a decade, any more than Neil Smith did when he made a similar forecast around the same time.

  23. weaves across the road like a spider on LSD
    That has to be one of the more vivid metaphors I’ve seen.

  24. karllembke

    Real history stumbles, falters, weaves across the road like a spider on LSD.

    Nice, evocative, but…
    I once saw a series of photos showing the effect of various drugs on the webs an orb weaver spider produced. Some were fairly predictable. The spider given downers fell asleep before completing more than a portion of the web. Marijuana had roughly the same effect. LSD had a slight effect, and in some cases seems to have increased the spider’s ability to concentrate.
    The most chaotic web resulted from drugging the spiders with caffeine.