The Value of Pain


Look, I’m not a masochist.  I hate pain.  No, I mean I really hate pain, particularly emotional pain.  Not that I’m fond of physical pain, but it’s easier to just lean back and endure than emotional pain.  Also ibuprofen does bloody nothing for emotional pain.

But I figured out when I was giving birth to younger son that there is a purpose to pain, a purpose to effort and struggle.  You see, without it babies wouldn’t be so incredibly important to mothers.  No, really.  I think if you could have a kid with absolutely no, or very little pain, you’d not value them so highly.  (Yes, I explained this to the doctors WHILE I WAS GIVING BIRTH.  I’M A BIT NUTS.)

When I was young and stupid I created a gengeeniered human subspecies (you’ll see) who give birth with next to no pain.  Since a lot of them are nomadic, at least I worked it through fine that they’d do things like forget the baby hanging from a tree cradle.  (Yes, even at 14 I got that, but it took me another 14 years to formulate it while conscious.)

Anyway, recently pour raisons, I’ve been thinking a lot about this.  Pain sucks. But it seems to be needed for humans.  Maybe for all animals (there are certain cats that are going to experience pain if peeing in the family room continues.  There’s this mat that gives you a shock if you pee on it. I’m just mad enough to try it.)

Heinlein said humans thrive on strife.

Look, I’d feel better with less of it, particularly less economic strife, as Dan put it last night “We drive straight at the wall, and more often than not we miraculously get through.”  And if we don’t, it usually resolves in a few months. Because when I get scared I work stupid-hard and that usually pays off.  Because …. well, because it usually does.

But I was wondering if that’s a problem with not just a lot of kids, but a lot of people these days.

People don’t seem to have a sense of proportion.

If you’ve never been told “no” the first time you’re smacked hurts harder and you need safe spaces and protection from harsh opinions that don’t agree with yours.

Maybe it’s because you’re an emotional bubble-boy.

We were talking this weekend about how I found out it IS actually possible to throw up from being excessively upset.  It took me till 56 for something to hit me that hard that I did it.

We know someone we always assumed fake throwing up when upset to control her kids.  But maybe that’s not true. Maybe she just gets upset at any sign at all of opposition.  Being an only child of older parents and the sole survivor past infancy of (I think) six kids, perhaps she simply was never told no, and being told by her kids that they don’t want to follow her plans for their life is so upsetting that it causes a physical reaction.

… and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe that’s why people want to eliminate all suffering and strife, because they perceive even a little bit as the worst thing ever.

I’ll leave as an exercise for the class whether or not the pampered ones’ desire for socialism and communism with their atrocious track records is innocent, or their subconscious trying to bring strife into their lives to correct the lack.

I think by historical standards, all of us are incredibly pampered and have experienced next to no pain.  Is this actually destroying us and civilization?

I don’t think we should do stuff to bring more pain into the world, but is it something we actually need? Is the lack of pain, or at least of strife destroying generations and making us think that we could make heaven on Earth if we just tried?

Of course that last solves the problem handily, but it might also send humanity into the long night for a while.

The question is, how do we get around it?

My only vision for this is going to space, forming new colonies, and giving kids something to work towards and dream about, something other than this involuted need to end all pain and strife.

We could do worse.


413 thoughts on “The Value of Pain

  1. Not that I’m fond of physical pain, but it’s easier to just lean back and endure than emotional pain.

    There were times that I had some pretty significant issues. Those who know me might say that I still have issues although, perhaps, I’m a bit better at handling them now (a bit anyway).

    And based on my experience emotional pain is so much more difficult to deal with that the deliberate exposure to physical pain is a not uncommon coping mechanism for emotional pain. The physical pain distracts from the emotional and is easier to deal with.

    It’s not a healthy coping mechanism, but it’s an entirely too common one.

    1. I have a wonderfully compartmentalized brain just stuffed with emotional pain incident boxes. Let’s see, here’s the one where I got jumped and beaten by a gang when I was 13 and the cops wouldn’t do a damn thing. Oh and here’s one when I was 16 where my mother was dying and losing all control of her bodily functions and I felt embarrassed to be cleaning her up. Part of the problem with emotional pain is that each time we relieve it, it lays down another track in memory. Might not be an accurate memory, but it still reinforces itself. You can flood it to try to numb it, but it never goes away completely.

      1. And physical trauma can leave physical marks which can be witnessed and believed rather than dismissed as mere imagination or some sort of ‘weakness’.

        Sticks and stones, etc. is bogus. Another point that time travel doesn’t happen is that the folks in my past who deserve one helluvan arse-kicking didn’t get it when they deserved it most. And yes, I *still* have something of a list. And if you don’t… you are either Amazingly Fortunate.. or on someone else’s list.

        1. Also, because the experience is more subjective a lot of people will just dismiss entire classes of emotional pain or the emotional pain of an entire class of people as “not that bad”.

        2. I seem to recall a panel wherein Susan Richards sees Viktor von Doom without his mask and thinks, “That scar’s not much.”

      2. Oh, yeah, that too. My dad was dying of cancer in ’95 and had developed a bed sore. I could have cut up the stryofoam padding from an old computer box (I still had the computer), to make him a pad for his recliner. I didn’t. My sister got an inflatable ring.

        I think I still have some of that pain bricked up somewhere; mostly I just remember the funny things. My first cousins (of my dad’s brother who passed in ’03) laugh about the stories. They would say that they heard the same stories, but when their dad told them, it was always my dad’s fault when we had heard them the other way. Most notably there is the infamous flaming paper airplane incident leading to the curtains being set on fire.

        1. A couple of scouters (one I’m married to, the other was the scoutmaster at the time) were NOT allowed to tell “let us tell you what we did growing up” … They both came of age in the ’60s, near the desserts near Mexico (did not grow up together, just close to same age). You know when firecrackers, rockets, etc., were still legal; siblings & friends launching them at each other … Hitch hiking with backpacks to the mountains to go hiking, without adults, before driving age (about 12 to 15). On at least one trip using jeans as a “sled” down a slope, on snow. Yes, in retrospect, they each wondered how they actually grew up to have their own kids …

    2. the deliberate exposure to physical pain is a not uncommon coping mechanism for emotional pain

      In the community you can’t say this directly, but the reality is a lot of S&M bottoms are self-medicating with it. It’s the second (or third, depending on if the first is one or two things) most incorrect thing you can say in that world.

        1. That a significant fraction if not the majority of people into the D/s part are looking to manage the traits that lead to one being an abuser/abused. Especially among subs there are a lot of people looking for a safe abuser. I see it in Dominants too although not quite as much (or I am in the wrong convos).

          I know several submissives who will own it in private, but it is not a convo for what passes for polite company in the scene.

          1. I can see how that would be…problematic. Like talking bioethics with someone who found out there’s a genetic reason they can’t have kids. It’s not less TRUE, it’s just a pain that doesn’t need to be inflicted.

            1. Maybe, but weeding out real abusers and keeping people away from them is a big part of that world. The Internet removed the key tool to do that so encouraging reflection is becoming important.

          2. That…sounds like it should be painfully obvious, given what little I’ve observed of relationships that had that dynamic.

            Then again, given how I’ve seen people react to the idea that there are people who share their politics for dubious reasons, I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that people would freak out at the idea that their sexual preferences might be shared by persons with…peculiar…motives.

    3. A word (you wish it were only one) in support of emotional pain: it is necessary. The emotional pain of early relationships teaches wonderfully. You learn to be more sensitive to the other’s needs and moods, you learn to be less needy, you learn to carefully signal conversational lane changes rather than forever picking up from a conversation three days ago while in the middle of a different but similar one, you learn to prepare the other person before delivering news …

  2. I read an article relating the evolution of playground equipment to being “safer” to later issues people have with evaluating risk. If you’re not allowed to hurt yourself in a controlled situation, the chances of you getting hurt in an uncontrolled situation skyrocket.

    I especially think of this when I pass the memorial on the corner of a 12-year-old who tried to shoot the gap under a 5th-wheel trailer on his bike right before Thanksgiving several years back. If he’d had a better place to take risks on his bike, he might still be around.

    (On the playground situation, I’ve noticed that they’re putting more daring things back in, like climbing nets and self-spinning things. Prioperception is a thing.)

      1. When my oldest niece was a baby, she stuck her fingers in my mouth. I bit her (not hard). I got yelled out, but more by others than my sister, as I recall at least.

        1. Had a stepbrother who had a bad habit of waving his hands in front of my face at the dinner table. Told him several times to cut it out. Finally, he did it one too many times and I chomped down, fairly hard on him. Dad backed me up on that; but Stepmother was horrified at MY behavior. I told her I’d warned him. Little ratfink never did it again though. And for the record, he tasted terrible.

          1. To some extent, not his fault (the ratfinky part), if no one allowed consequences for awful behavior, how was he supposed to know?

              1. I routinely tell my daughter that people make choices and choices have consequences.

                On more than one occasion “I hate consequences” has come out of her mouth.

                1. Which neatly dovetails with something I suspect I am far from the only person to have observed: Almost the entirety of progressivist philosophy is designed around the elimination of all possible negative consequences for choices.

                2. Funny how we tend to think of “consequences” in the negative when in fact they can be good and bad. Play the lottery and the likely consequence is you have tossed your money down a rat hole, but a possible consequence is a significant payout. Make a pass at a person and the likely consequence is you will get your face slapped, but a possible consequence is a night you will never forget (and not because you awoke the next morning immersed in a bathtub full of ice.)

                  Risk/Reward analysis is one of Pain’s most important lessons.

          2. Kind of like the time I mock threatened my sister with a spoon full of mashed potatoes directed at her face like a catapult. She said the dumbest thing possible at that instant “You wouldn’t dare”. Turns out, I had almost perfect accuracy with my improvised potato weapon as said projectile hit her in the eye. I don’t feel responsible for the injury to her jaw that followed when it hit the floor after I did, indeed, dare.

            I ended up having to go to my room after my parents were able to stop laughing long enough to banish me.

              1. I can think of a fairly long list of things not to say to teenage boys. Any derivation of a statement including ‘dare’ would be at the top of the list!

        2. When I was very little (probably around three or four) I had a bad habit of biting my younger brother. One day when Grandma was at our house, she saw me do that, and she bit me pretty hard on the shoulder. I never bit anyone again. And I never forgot the important lesson from that — children need to know that things hurt.

          1. Do you remember this or were you told?

            I’m wondering in part you know… I remember hearing that you should never bite your kid if they’re a biter, but toddlers often just don’t *get* the concept and I’ve never actually heard anyone say that they (or someone else) bit the kid back and that the kid kept biting people.

            1. My two year old does bite, and we’ve always made it clear biting isn’t funny, but it’s complicated by him only biting when he’s tired. All the kids have done it– they get to the “so tired I want to cry” stage, you pick them up, they snuggle against your shoulder…and sink their teeth into it, sometimes drawing BLOOD.

              Only two have done it as a tactic, and they did stop after being bitten.

    1. Tangent alert,

      My mother felt, and I agree, that the same logic applies to alcohol. With the drinking age pegged at 21, and many states making no exception for familial supervision and permission, most kids first experience of drinking and drunkenness necessarily happens in unsafe circumstances. They aren’t at home, or if they are they are hiding what they are doing and probably drinking more than the normally would because they have to kill the bottle.

      1. Mom and Dad Red allowed us to try what they were drinking (beer and wine, nothing harder than Pimms Cup). Took all the mystery and fun out of it, so neither Sib or I were tempted to drink to get blotto. Plus, I discovered very early that I’m allergic, so I had another arrow in my quiver if “No thanks, I’ll stick with the soft stuff” didin’t get the message across.

      2. BINGO.
        I allowed my kids as teenagers to drink alcohol at home, if they so desired, as long as my wife and I were around. (NH can go piss up a rope with their legal age crap. Just another law that I refuse to obey just because the majority decided to shove it down my throat for my own good.) They’re in their mid-twenties now, and appear to have their heads screwed on straight when it comes to alcohol.

        1. May work for more than just kids. Whole cultures. I have seen one research which claims that Finns were moderate drinkers back in the history when distilling alcohol in home was legal a few hundred years ago. But then first came taxing, then it was forbidden in homes and by private parties, you needed a permission from the Crown (first Swedish, the Russian, as the land was taken by that empire), then came the teetotaler movement, and finally we had our own Prohibition era in the early years of our independence. And alcohol went from something freely available and taken in moderation in company by most to something forbidden and hard to get and something that had to be used when you got it, all of it, because you couldn’t keep it in your place and who knows when you next might get it.

          And Finns developed the reputation of being hard drinkers and drunks.

          1. I don’t recall any research on the matter, but it used to be common belief that certain cultures — Jews, Italians, French — had lesser problems of alcoholism both because of traditions (and modeling) of moderate use (with corresponding onus attached to over-doing it) and absence of any association of “Forbidden Pleasure” — that last being a major contributor to the fascination it holds for youth today.

            1. I honestly believe that genetics plays a big part in whether or not alcohol is addictive. My husband doesn’t drink at all because, he explained, he got roaring drunk a couple of times when he joined the military and he liked it so much it scared him. His father has a bit of a problem, though it seems somewhat under control, and that made a difference to his decision as well. But anyhow, the docs discovered that my husband has “non-alcoholic steato hepititus” iirc… basically his liver looks like he’s a drunk but he’s *not*. So which came first? The booze or the fatty liver?

              1. Genetics undoubtedly is an element — it has to do with, IIRC, how the liver processes the stuff. And cultures in which alcohol-influenced behaviour is unacceptable are likely to eliminate that particular genetic factor over time.

                But how you behave when drunk is decidedly culturally bound; at least that was what the anthropological research indicated when I was studying the field in the early Eighties. No doubt additional “research” has determined that how you behave when inebriated is a consequence of white male structures of oppression.

                I wonder how much of Americans’ behaviour when drunk is a reflection of depictions of drunkenness on-screen, just as we’ve found that much sexual activity is influenced by Professionals Orgasmically Roistering Nekkid? (Sorry about the weakness of that last component f the acronym, but the rebuilt knee is aching something terrible and I haven’t the energy to flip the the “N” pages of the unabridged dictionary in search of a better word.)

    2. Pretty much this. There was a discussion thread (and no, I can’t remember where or when) some years ago, which devolved to a lot of people remembering crazy-dangerous stuff we had done as kids. Stunts on bicycles, dangerous experimentation with old quarries, deep water, tall trees, sh*t that goes “BOOM!” – and the eventual conclusion was that better we learn to gauge the odds as tweens doing reckless stuff on bicycles, and take our lumps in broken bones and concussions then – than do it with high-powered automobiles and other stuff which could result in no-kidding permanent death as a stupid twenty-something.
      Living dangerously is a skill – better learn how to manage it early on, than later.

      1. Right before we moved from our home town, my mom let my friend come over and play. We decided to go climb the mountain behind our neighbor’s house. Two seven year olds, climbing sandstone cliffs with loose rocks, dead cedar trees and it was still warm enough that rattlesnakes and scorpions were still a danger. But I knew the way up to the cave and back again, and Mom could follow our path from the kitchen window.

        1. I remember being forbidden to climb a cliff-face in the backyard of a neighbor’s house (with kids) — about three years after we had started to climb all over it.

      2. In general I agree with the idea that kids should be able to play at taking risks where there is little real danger of terminal results.
        I did have to draw the line at playing Lazer Tag on the roof.

        1. I did have to draw the line at playing Lazer Tag on the roof.

          Wouldn’t that depend on the pitch and placement of the roof? When I was a kid we lived for a while in a house with flat roofs, and it would seem perfectly safe to play on the roof of Bag End.

  3. I don’t think the problem is so much the lack of pain as the lack of any opposition in their lives previously. When we grew up rural in the 1950’s and 60’s, we learned never to say we were bored. If you admitted that, you instantly found yourself given more chores to do, and very seldom chores that you didn’t mind. The same thing happened when you wanted to do something other than the chores that were yours to do. Whining about, “I’ll do them later, I want to go play ball now!” would get you absolutely no sympathy; if anything, it might get you extra chores. But what these experiences did do was teach us the value of deferred enjoyment–that the things you want to do right now aren’t necessarily (or even very often) the things you need to do right now.

    1. An amazing amount of what used to be terrible drudgery is now not only tolerable but actually rather enjoyable, thanks to these tiny little devices called MP3 players and earbuds, permitting me to listen to a novel or history while washing dishes, scrubbing floors, making beds, doing yard work — in fact, just about any kind of manual labor which involves the hands but not especially the mind. We live in an amazingly generous era and too few appreciate its richness.

      Indoor plumbing, central heat and air conditioning, terrific roads, pizza (and Chinese and Indian and Thai and Sushi and …) delivery, easily affordable casual clothing, in house laundry ability, more entertainment than we can consume available at the flick of a switch … it’s a wonderful life.

      1. People used to do all those things in company, so you could have a conversation or a duet with an actual person, not just with your electronics.

        …but I will concede that the electronics are better than silence and the inside of one’s own head.

        1. The reason a certain kind of primo Cuban cigar was called the “Monte Cristo” was that cigar factories used to employ a reader to read news and books to the cigar rollers. One of their favorite novels was “The Count of Monte Cristo”, so…

        2. Trust me: the list of things that are better than the inside of my own head is extensive.

          As for conversations with others, it has not escaped my notice how many of those seem to consist of the other party slowly backing away while discreetly groping for a rock or large stick.

          1. > Trust me: the list of things that are better than the inside of my
            > own head is extensive.


  4. People who don’t feel pain have to be very very careful to notice injuries because if they don’t, they’ll lose a limb or die. People who are too comfortable and happy because their brains don’t conceive of or worry about tomorrow don’t take care of themselves.

    But normal people? If we don’t have enough worries we make them up. If we don’t have enough pain or strife we make them up. Or misidentify what we ought to be worried about. Rather suddenly (it seems) being disapproved of is far too large a burden to bear and people crumble under the weight of it… and that’s without any actual mistreatment, just the disapproval.

    My husband sometimes wishes for dragons or aliens when life gets to monotonous. It would be awful, of course, if monsters tried to eat us on our way to work, but it wouldn’t be boring. I’m pretty sure that people who did have to look out for large predators when they went about their work days never got back to the cabin after the day and said, “Darn, no wolves today, how dull!” At least not in anything other than jest!

      1. Depends on the size. .50 cal might have torn Smaug up a bit before he toasted your gunship or APC; but I doubt it would have taken him down. The most ancient dragons of Earthsea or the new god-like dragons of Krynn? .50 cal wouldn’t even scratch their scales. You’d need something like a Hellfire missile or three.

        1. Just did some checking. Apparently the .50 cal would work just fine on critters about the size of an elephant, mammoth, or mastodon; or a tyrannosaur. Bigger than that and you’ll need to go to something that has deeper penetrating power, as in depleted uranium sabot rounds, and a whole lot of them.

          1. In “A Gun for Dinosaur” L. Sprague de Camp tells us that the .600 H&H is strongly recommended for tyrannosaur, a .500 or .465 double is a bit light, and a few people managed with .375 repeaters.

            One of the .50s would certainly do, though few of them are light enough to be practical for safari. I keep telling a friend he needs to put a wheel on his Barrett so he can drag it behind him like one of those “hiking trailers.”

        2. I remember a book where (fantasy people) had grabbed an APC and crew out of Vietnam and brought it to (fantasy world). IIRC, one of the GIs tossed a WP grenade down a dragon’s throat, with effect.

            1. He wrote a sequel: The Starfollowers of Coramonde. Not as powerful, but a good read, and wraps up the loose ends properly.

                1. David Weber wrote a novella for his Bahzell universe that involved Wencit pulling a Marine LAV back to go demon hunting with a Bushmaster 25mm.

                  1. Wencit was trying to summon a gryphon. Dragons were too intellectual.

                    I think Weber drew inspiration from Coramonde; he made something new of it rather than just filling off the model number.

              1. I know one person who is in remission for pancreatic cancer, probably because it was found as the docs were treating him for prostate cancer, so it was really, really early. I knew or knew of a lot more (relatively speaking) who died.

                1. I know I had uterine cancer only because they accidentally discovered in the pathology report after my hysterectomy. That’s the way to find it cancer early — alas!

                  1. Mom just had skin cancer (don’t know what kind) removed off her shin. Found because my 14 month puppy ran to great her. Small enough that puppy dancing for attention waving front, just clipped (sharp edges), scraped her shin (being 84, didn’t take much). Exact middle would not heal, even with strong dose of antibiotics. Absoultely no sign of anything wrong before that.

          1. Stuffing a firey grenade down the gullet of a creature that *generates* Dragonfire seems – contraindicated. Unless, I suppose, it sets off the flammable in storage before it hits the deployment mechanism. Guess I’ll have to track this down and read it.

        3. The most ancient dragons of Earthsea or the new god-like dragons of Krynn? .50 cal wouldn’t even scratch their scales.

          I suddenly have this image of a dragon spreading wide its wings, leaning into the cannon fire and purring, “Mmmmmmm, yes; a little lower and to the right, please.”

        1. Yeah, a Carl Gustaf or equivalent, if I couldn’t get a missile of some kind.

          Heat-seekers should work just fine, at least until the dragons wised up enough to start carrying chaff.

          1. My mind just came up with an image of the dragon dropping chaff. Hot shit, indeed! (Now, where’s the mind bleach?)

                1. What self-respecting dragon would have old beer cans? They’d have full kegs or cases of it; preferably of the good brands.

          1. I’m trying to figure out story-world rules that would make leaving the dragon alive despite its people eating habits an absolute necessity. Maybe a short story. Trying to figure out how to introduce that. I’ll probably accidentally sound too much like Godzilla movies I’ve never watched though.

            1. Oooo. Short story of a dragon that makes a living renting itself out as a hunting target for well-heeled adventurers.

              1. That basic line has been done twice to my knowledge. Larry Niven used it with bandersnatchi, and James Schmitz in “The Lion Game”.

              1. The danger of the dragon is still less than (other monster) so you may still lose people but not as many as you would without the dragon.

              2. And for considering the trade off? Working elephants in India were allowed 3-5 handlers killed before being destroyed.

            2. Whom are they eating?

              I tweaked in this in Dragonfire and Time, but there the people they are entitled to kill are thieves they catch — and it’s the king’s duty to see to it that thieves who escape are tracked down before the dragon decides to do its own justice.

              Assuming the victims are more innocent than that — the dragon is just too dangerous, and the rampage in the face of failure will be a catastrophe — the dragon tricked a promise out of someone suitable and failure will have magical consequences — the dragon’s hoard-guarding tendency was exploited in a form of sympathetic magic to guard the realm (which, of course, requires the bigger danger issue).

          2. Of course! I’m now realizing how inadequate my armory is. I don’t have anything to deal with a potential dragon invasion and Christmas is coming! I haven’t gotten a good ‘me’ present yet. . .

          3. It’s what we do.
            Get Larry involved and we can even go into the ballistics, impact, penetration, damage, etc.

            Let’s see. How big are various dragon’s scales? How are dragon’s scales attached? Do high velocity projectiles shatter or pierce dragon’s scales? What’s the minimum pounds per square millimeter required to penetrate a dragon’s scales? Do dragon’s scales completely cover the skin of a dragon, or does naked skin show between the scales? What kind of variance is there between scale patterns of oriental, western, and space dragons? Do feathered dragons really count as dragons? What gauge shotgun would you use to hunt feathered dragons?

            Good heavens! There’s enough material here for a college thesis!

            1. Smaug bought it because he had a hole in his armor, which Bard exploited like Luke Skywalker exploiting a Death Star exhaust port. Careful examination of the dragon with a scope from a distance would seem to be in order.

              We know that magic weapons, or maybe even non-magic weapons wielded wielded by a physical or spiritual badass (e.g., St. George) can kill dragons. How about having a wizard enchant the bullets? Would that work? What about bringing a saint along to operate the Ma Deuce? Does it have to be a Catholic saint, or would a Latter Day Saint like (once again) Larry Correia be enough?

              There are many questions here.

              1. When you look at some of the early depictions of St. George and the dragon, the dragon is slightly smaller than St. G’s horse. From which I conclude that a .50 caliber would be overkill for the Mark I dragon. Now the Mark II+ might be a different story …

                1. Artists of that period had yet to figure out perspective, so they had to depict that dragon as far smaller than it actually was in order to get fit into the picture.

              2. A saint’s power isn’t his own, so a blessing should work on the bullets or weapon.

                Sword of Truth, fly straight and sure, that Evil die and Good endure!

              1. Pound of shot or no, that’s still getting closer to the dragon than I’d want to be.

                If you went old school, maybe grape or canister shot. Still pretty short range, but I’m assuming tactical nukes would be frowned upon.

                1. If you used a tactical nuke there wouldn’t be anything left of the dragon for trophies and/or armor.

              2. Ooh, I like that idea!
                But where would you find a punt gun? Museum?
                How hard would it be to make one?

                    1. What about various aircraft? Bombers, fighters. Otoh, if dragons felt light gunfire like a good massage, you could repurpose artillery as dragon massage.

                      Personally I’d rather shoot a dragon from as far away as possible.!

                      Why is fantasy so often medieval?

                    2. Fantasy is so often medieval because that’s when the good stories were written down, and the patterns set in western literature. Plus, if you look at a lot of cultures, you’ll find lots and lots of magic and strange beasts “back then,” before the world was made safe/the dragons relocated/the Flood/ the end of the Dreamtime…

                      And the costumes are a lot cooler than a modern business suit. I’m not certain how well a woman in a 1980s power suit and sensible heels would serve as the damsel in distress. 😉

                    3. I’m not certain how well a woman in a 1980s power suit and sensible heels would serve as the damsel in distress.

                      Good Lord! I’ve this sudden vision of Maggie Thatcher dressing down some poor dragon.

                    4. I’m still remembering old B&W Superman shows with Lois Lane in business attire doing her best damsel imitation.

                    5. the Fleischer Supermans? weren’t black and white….

                      (Incidentally, i met Fleischer’s grandson while i was in film school, he spoke in our business class. He thought it was great that I knew what his grandfather invented and could explain it to the rest of the class….)

                    6. “Why is fantasy so often medieval?”

                      1. People aping Tolkien

                      2. It’s a lot easier to introduce magic into an era when society had a larger slot for it.

                      3. Lots of wild places to have adventures without going far.

                    7. 4. Insufficient familiarity with ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, India or China to make them effective settings for such tales.

                      5. Arabia was once a popular setting for such tales but geopolitical niceties advocate against that at present

                    8. You gotta admit that respecting the damsel in distress is easier if she doesn’t have access to an equalizer, and might really not be able to rescue herself.

                    9. Guess I should have said TV shows.

                      I’m talking about the live action The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves, televised in the 50s. Apparently seasons 3 onward were filmed in color, but not shown that way until 1965. The series started in 1952 and went on to 1958

                      We watched it in the ’50s. I don’t recall seeing any color TV until the mid 1960s.

              3. An acquaintance had a black-powder replica of a WW2 vintage cannon. So, there’s somebody who can do it. It used a ballasted coke can for a round and a coke-can worth of black powder to launch. OTOH, the breech block had a bad weld; sheer luck nobody was seriously injured when it failed. If anybody’s serious, ask around.

                The wikis say punt guns had their heyday in the mid 1800s, so black powder would be appropriate.

                FWIW, my acquaintance never had trouble with tailgaters when he was towing the cannon.

                1. I recall a cannon shooting competition team from Litchfield Connecticut had a brass cannon with a rifled steel sleeve that used Contadina tomato paste cans filled with concrete and capped with lead for projectiles. Watched them compete up at Lake George several years back in the 1970s. Other folks used sections of 2 inch conduit pipe for their projectiles.

                  Mind you, these were solid projectiles, not explosive ones. The damage they caused in the trees and bedrock backstopping a half mile away was absolutely awesome. Trees were completely gone about the 3rd year.

              4. There’s a cannister round for the Abrams’ 120mm Rheinmetal smoothbore. It’s filled with 1100 1cm tungsten spheres. In tests it tore big holes in two-foot concrete walls a thousand or two feet downrange. If you could get that cannon in range and properly aimed it might have good effect.

            2. Gordon R. Dickson’s dragons flew via internal chemical reactions that made them lighter-than-air. So rather than truly puncturing them, scaring them into expelling gas and dropping to the ground would work for an air-air defense.

            3. And what happens when the sapient dragons start investing in ballistic vests and tail covers? I can imagine the head scratching at the factory about the orders for a size eighty chest and one two-meter-long sleeve.

              1. Same thing that happens when humans start wearing body armor.

                You shoot them in the face.

                Nothing likes getting shot in the face.

          4. If we did have a Smaug-class dragon (~75 meters, with heavy armor) the proper military response would be to send in a wing of A-10s. They would actually be faster than the dragon and that gun is designed to destroy heavy tanks.

            “No! I am the great mage Malodorous! My dragons cannot lose to pigs!”


            1. Ha ha! I like the idea that the reason that wizards wear robes is that they are bad at personal hygiene and don’t bother to change out of their jammies.

              1. Hey. If you could destroy whole battalions of soldiers with a single spell, would you care what people think about the way you dress?

                The wizard opened the door. He had on violet yoga pants, hot pink bunny slippers, mispatched socks (one blue, the other mauve, and plaid at that), his chest was covered in a grey, torn, UNH t-shirt, and covering it all was a dingy white fluffy bathrobe with a rainbow colored web belt. Instead of a pointed wizard’s hat, he was wearing a forest green beret, with an advanced case of bed head sticking out from under it in all directions.

                “I’m sorry. Can I help you?” he asked. “You’re not Jehovah’s Witnesses or from the IRS are you?”

                1. Depends what kind of impression you’re trying to make, and on whom. They’re not all created equal….

                  Then he finished yawning and rubbing his eyes, and as the wizard’s vision cleared, only the willpower honed in a hundred contests against the wills of the Lords of the Lower Abyssal kept his jaw from dropping. Even in her pearl-gray business suit, the woman at the door was undoubtedly the most beautiful he had ever seen.

                  Unfortunately, the expression on her face — the faintest narrowing of the eyes, the slightest flare of the nostrils, the near-imperceptible tightening of the mouth in its now just-a-bit-too-polished smile — was not. She held out her hand, but it obviously took her some effort. “Good morning,” she said. “I’m from the realtor’s office, you booked an appointment?”

                  For the first time the wizard realized just why those quick-change sartorial magic spells had been on his school’s syllabus.

            2. “Warthog go BRRRRRT!!!!”

              I’m going to try to link a picture of the GAU-8, for those who haven’t seen what the Warthog’s gun looks like:

            3. > If we did have a Smaug-class dragon (~75 meters, with heavy armor) the proper military response would be to send in a wing of A-10s.

              Agreed, if (fantasy world) has the infrastructure to support it. If you were limited to what your party could carry, I’d still go with shoulder-fired missiles of some kind.

              1. Would an aircraft carrier be useful in killing leviathans? On the other hand what would be useful in killing Cthulhu? Lots and lots of depth charges or perhaps an SSBN? The kind of submarine that fires nukes.

                1. Assuming we’re talking about a physical Leviathan (as opposed to a spiritual one, which is also part of the traditions) one aircraft carrier task group probably wouldn’t be enough. It’s supposed to be miles long, after all, and stays in the water, which limits what you can throw at it. A specialty torpedo or ‘torpedo missile’ would have to be built for the job.

                  Cthulhu? The great old ones can be beaten – it’s happened once before. We’d probably have to use nukes, along with some stuff that’s still in the lab (rail guns, gamma-ray lasers).

                  1. We actually had nuclear warhead torpedoes for hunting boomers back before guidance systems got accurate. I suspect that the Chinese artificial islands will find out if we still have them the hard way.

                2. Actually, dear, in one of the later pastiches written in Lovecraft’s world, someone did use a Hiroshima level nuke on him. He reformed in about 10 minutes.

            1. *snickers*

              Oh, gads, I was picturing a “gun board” as in the military board– the thing where you’re tested on stuff.

              What? I can totally see a range having one of those, for bragging rights at least.

        1. We also would need to think about what kind of missile would be best. LAWs (good against armor)? Stingers (good against aircraft)? Something else? Maybe a combination of the armor-piercing warhead of a LAW with the heat-seeking capability of a Stinger? LADW (Light Anti-Dragon Weapon)? MANPDDS (Man-Portable Dragon Defense System)?

          1. I don’t think I care for the range of the AT-4 or LAW, although I never fired either (I had to do KP that day). A Javelin or a TOW would probably be better. I would say what do use to shoot down helicopters, but I think dragons of any appreciable age are tougher than helicopters.

      2. I know multiple RPGs that let you play out exactly that scenario. Shadowrun, Torg, Rifts. I can probably find others if I think a bit more…

      3. Dragons vary.

        One hopes that the scales are not arranged in a manner that makes a sword thrust the most reliable way.

      4. One of the most prolific elephant hunters back in the day used a British Enfield .303 when other hunters were using custom built rifles in monster calibers.

        He preferred the .303 because it went bang *every* time, and he was versed enough in elephant biology, good enough to put the bullet exactly where it needed to be, and stout of heart enough to get close enough to do it.

        Which is to say that if you’ve got your asbestos undies on, and can hit just the right spot a .308 will do. If you have to stand off and get what you can then you’d best go with the .50.

        1. If you’re thinking about “Karamojo” Bell, he actually used a .256 Mannlicher according to Peter Capstick.

          Mr. Capstick’s books on big game hunting in Africa and it’s history are a wonderful resource, and along with Theodore Roosevelt’s “African Game Trails” are finally available on Kindle.

        2. OTOH, there’s also a hunter who shot a sable antelope lengthwise through the heart, with a 4 gauge smoothbore musket, and it still made it a hundred yards before it dropped.

    1. I don’t know if it is still the case, but I recall when grandpa would listen to baseball games on the radio and the announcer would pause… the crowd noise would come up… and then drop.. and come up… and drop… the Automatic Gain Control (AGC) was ‘pumping’… the local ‘loud’ announcers wasn’t there, so the crowd noise was amplified more… unti it hit a level that triggered a lowering of the gain (things got quieter, as received)…but the local ‘loud’ wasn’t there… and.. so on – until the announcer started speaking again. I don’t know if more modern circuitry or DSP has alleviated this and I’m not about to listen to a ball game to find out. I find them quite uninteresting – YMMV.

      I suspect a LOT of things have a sort of ‘AGC’ and when the ‘noise’ signal is tamed (and humans have gotten rather good at taming many such noise signals. Not all, no, but many), the AGC doesn’t know, so boosts the ‘gain’ until there is SOME sort of signal – even if it’s a Bad Idea to boost that particular thing.

        1. AGC should act on the signal before demodulation, in which variations in the audio level should make no difference.

      1. Most cell phones have automatic gain control. Some of them have a menu selection to turn it “off”, but they just reduce the gain a bit instead.

        Does your phone sound OK in a quiet environment, but all you get are quacks and barks when it’s noisy? The AGC is doing it.

        1. I have not experienced that, but then I might find quacks and barks more intelligible than some alleged speech (telespammers) and there is the matter of the device being used the least for actual sonic communications despite the nominal claim to be a ‘telephone’. Seems it’s more a PDA with a phone app.. but.. well, things is how and what things is.

          1. I found that answering wrong numbers in something other than English of Spanish tends to reduce the incidence of wrong numbers.

              1. Spammers don’t talk to me they just ring my phone a lot. They need to find a new number faster than I can block it.

                1. Long ago, a company called DAK used to sell a box that would pick up the line, play a message, and wait for a passcode before ringing.

                  I’ve been trying to find one for years. The great thing is, it doesn’t matter who calls; the phone only rings if they have the right code. And if that gets out to too many people, you just change it and let the people you want to talk to know what it is.

                  Most people seem to be so enamored of their spam calls that they have their answering machines record them for their future enjoyment. Having worked too many night shifts, I’d prefer the damned phone didn’t ring at all…

                  1. My folks’ new phone company put in an anti-spam measure that is basically a human verification thing– the first time you call a number, it has you do something like type in your number or “push the number five” and then green-lights your number for future calls.

                    What I would like is something to report illegal do not call list robocalls, fast enough to DO something about them.

                    1. The FCC isn’t going to do anything about spam calls. Neither are any of the states I’m aware of.

                      While there are now some fairly draconian anti-spam laws for email and telephone calls, they all have the same problem: funding. CAN-SPAM, for example, drops all the fine money into the General Fund. The FCC wanted that money, so they’ve chosen to make only a few token efforts while whining that they need a big bump in appropriations to… essentially, do their freakin’ job.

                      It’s interesting how much “enforcement” turns out to be driven by money, all the way down to the local level.

                    2. Do it the way Facebook and Google have already confessed: Do a geolookup on the originating IP address. And I’m pretty sure they have a way to get past at least some of the location concealers, probably by recording the first IP you connect through and defaulting to that as “home”, aided by an analysis of your searches and shopping patterns.

                    3. Before the national Do Not Call list, there was one place that used the state Do Not Call list as a list of numbers TO call as there was an exemption for place that finalized any transactions in person. One automotive glass repair/replacement place figured this was a dandy way to get numbers… no, they weren’t very smart.

                      After a few times of even telling them to not call anymore, $HOUSEMATE had had enough and arranged an appointment. The place is a good hour’s drive away. So they someone to come look at…. nothing, only to be told WHY he got sent that goose chase. “I can’t believe you had me drive all this way for nothing!” “Stop the calling, or I’ll keep doing until your company learns.” There was one more call, some irate telespammer trying tell off… that also failed. And the calls stopped.

                      When I did need some automotive glass work done, guess who did NOT get my business? The place that DID… the fellow doing the work heard the story and wondered if that place was even still in business. If not, it will not be mourned. *checks web* Alas, it seems to still be around.

                    4. Sounds like the IT at the company I worked for ’96 – ’02. Don’t remember the trigger nationwide, but someone in manufacturing did something stupid & infected a computer which got into the company network. So, with that & something else nationally, IT locked everything down – exactly 2 people company wide could install any executable or library, even, wait for it … Tech R&D, you know those people who compile executable & libraries about every 5 seconds; okay at least once or twice every time IT turned around.

                      IT & I quote “When you need to compile, call us, we’ll unlock your computer so you can compile, then lock it up again.” We played round robin on them. An hour later they called “Uncle”. Point made.

                      Fast forward about 6 months after this, company gets bought out by a company across town. Their IT takes over AND does guess what? Yep. Same darn thing. Only this time those that are responsible are no longer in the building … this time we’d gave them enough time between calls to almost get back to the other office before one of us would call again, with the admonishment that there was nothing to do until they got back to unlock … yep they called “Uncle” too. Idiots. Policy put into place originally even though they were well warned that was our job. Second time around our (out going IT) personnel added to R&D’s warning with a “Don’t. Just Don’t.”

            1. Hmmm. I know a couple languages worth of phone greetings. I may have to try this.

              It will deprive my coworkers of the entertainment they derive from hearing me break out The Voice on scammers, but…

              1. For a very long time, the robocallers waited until they heard a voice before they went into their spiel. My wife and I developed the habit of picking the phone up, listening for a moment, and then hanging up if nobody said anything. After training various friends and relatives, it worked quite well.

                Unfortunately, now that we’re on cable VOIP instead of POTS, the callers can no longer easily tell when we’ve picked up the phone, and on our end, the time between picking it up and the voice actually being transmitted takes several seconds… and the time varies according to no pattern we can figure out.

                1. With VoIP there is delay, but they still seem to key on voice and “Hello” in particular. And that is why I rarely if eve use that word, if I speak at all if I can’t see a number (not all phones have nice displays) that I recognize.

      2. I’ve found that physical pain is the signal my body is giving me to do something differently.

        About 30 years ago, in a decidedly less than sober moment, I finished a box of wine. Blew up the mylar bag and tried to break it. Got the idea I could break it by jumping on it. It worked. Then the two layers of mylar slipped, and my feet flew and I landed smack on my tailbone.

        Fast forward 30 years to last Friday. I was laying conduit in a muddy trench, and set some plastic tarp to keep cleaner. It was below freezing, and I was sitting at the edge of the trench, so I doubled the layer. As I was wrapping up, I was walking on the formerly well-glued layers when they melted. My feet flew as before, but this time I hit my left butt cheek and did a number on my left side. Didn’t break anything, but I got that not-so-subtle reminder to watch my footing, especially when I’m not in an optimal state. (Frickin’ exhausted, actually.)

        If I pull that stunt in another 30 years, they’d scrape me off the ground.

        1. A friend of mine did a pratfall last winter, fell flat on his butt and bruised his tailbone. A few days later he was in agony and running a fever; his wife wound up calling an ambulance and hauled him off to ER. He was in the hospital for five weeks after that…

          Apparently there are some connective tissues attached to the tailbone, and he’d ripped some of them loose, and then they got infected, and they had a hard time getting the infection under control. Enough that they finally went in to exise the infected tissue…


          – TRX (also a member of the Broken Tailbone Club, fortunately without that level of complication)

          1. Me too. Twice. I can’t sit long time on a hard surface because the tailbone starts to hurt, I assume the last time it set in something not its proper alignment.

          2. I was lucky; tailbone trauma wasn’t lasting, so I suspect my glutes cushioned the fall just enough that time.

            OTOH, I have a longstanding membership in the screwed up back club. Getting up and moving this week has been interesting.

        2. My mother’s feet slid out from under her on ice. She landed on her backside.

          Two days later, she was at the ER telling them she had fallen and now had headache, stiff neck, and nausea.

          Whipped straight to the X-ray, where they concluded after some time that she did not actually have a concussion.

          1. 10 years ago we had some serious ice/snow storms, with a result we had some really smooth ice under a layer of snow.

            The pastor’s wife was late for church, and she found one of the bad stretches. She landed on a wrist and shattered it. She got an ambulance ride and some reconstructive surgery.

            One patch north of our house can do that. I built a second stairway on our deck so we didn’t have to be Hans Brinker in the winter.At least, when the deck ices up, we have mitigation/removal measures and a decent hand rail. Never had luck with melter on that part of the drive.

            1. I had fun years ago on one house on the paper routes I was doing then. The mailbox was on the house’s second floor because the main door was there, the ground floor served as the cellar. Rather long stairs to that mailbox, where I had to take their morning paper.

              The damn owners NEVER, and I mean never, cleaned those stairs when it snowed, just walked on the snow till it packed hard, and sooner or later, turned to ice. End result, more than a few times every winter those stairs were covered in a thick layer of ice which often was also kind of rounded on top.

              No gravel or sand was ever used either.

              I assume they started to use the cellar door when the stairs became impossible, but that damn mailbox was up there…

              Well, there was also a permanently attached metal ladder to the roof going up next to the spot where the mailbox was. So at some point I started to get the newspaper up there by climbing that ladder instead. Was a lot younger and more limber back then, if I faced a similar problem now I would just leave them without their paper and advice my superior of the situation, or maybe drop it on the stairs or on the ground. But as I was rather more diligent back then too I figured I had to deliver the damn thing where it was supposed to go, which was that mailbox. 😀

              1. We had a customer like that. They tried to complain that the carrier wasn’t taking the paper all the way to the door and “the ice makes it too dangerous for me to get it myself”. Dad’s reply “if it’s too dangerous for you, it is also too dangerous for your carrier and we now have proof of advanced knowledge when they break a leg and need to go after your insurance company.” Dead silence, and the porch was kept clean after that. I miss the days when Dad was allowed to handle customer service.

                1. And, it’d be likely that the insurance company would take measures. If given evidence of neglect, they could walk away from the claim. Failing that, the new premiums would be expensive.

    2. Recent fun. Condition that is supposed to be very painful, and is. But I assumed that it was a different system, that I was in the process of fixing. So sucked it up, and ignored it until a third system, known defective and in need of attention, became so wonky that I knew I shouldn’t ignore it very longer. Might have been very bad if I had ignored it longer.

    3. I’m one of those people who don’t always notice pain. I feel it, but sometimes when I’m working on something and not paying attention, either I’ll look down and see blood, or someone will say “hey, you know you are bleeding?” and sure enough, I will have hurt myself somewhere and not even noticed. Not to the point of losing a limb or anything though.

      1. I have long found interesting the occasional experience of feeling no pain until noticing the bleeding, and suddenly realizing that there was pain, and it was very non-trivial.

        1. I once stubbed my toe and was going ouch, ouch, ouch for some time before I realized it was bleeding. Copiously.

        2. Once upon a time, long ago, I had that experience where I felt something but didn’t pay it much mind… until someone pointed out the bleeding. Then it was suddenly rather painful. Now? “Doesn’t that hurt?” “A bit, but I really just need to stop the bleeding.”

          That happens less now. Mystery bruises do appear and I forget just what exact incident caused such – but I do know at least roughly what happened.

      2. I once hit a piece of sheet metal with my shin. There wasn’t a whole lot of pain, so I was surprised to find a deep, 4″ cut there afterwards.
        The only real painful thing about the injury was when the doctor pulled off the tape to stitch it up.

        1. I found that walking around the back of my truck after forgetting to remove the drawbar from the receiver hitch is painful enough to make a grown man tear up…

          1. We have two Subaru Foresters, 4 years different in age, but similar appearing. One has a hatch that’s a bit lower when it’s open, and I’ve been reminded of this on occasion. I’m lucky, no sharp edges. My old pickup’s hatch frame specialized in that.

        2. Similar thing happened to me when I was 12. Hit my leg on the cut edge of a metal barrel, felt just a rather trivial bump, looked down and saw I had a big wound with very ragged edges on it. But it didn’t hurt. Looked scary so I ran to mom, and got take to a hospital, but I don’t remember it hurting much at any point. I still have a fairly large scar on that spot, the doctor who sewed it up had to remove lots of torn skin and some muscle from it, and when the stitches were opened it kind of spread open, it hadn’t healed properly shut but there had formed a sort of cavity under those stitches.

      3. I can push pain aside by being deeply involved in something. When I broke my ankle, in the ambulance and in the ER, I knew there was a knot of pain centered around my ankle but it didn’t bother me at all while I was laughing and joking with the EMTs and doctors. Nor did it bother me while I read the book that was in my backpack that my roommate had brought with her when she followed the ambulance. As soon as they stopped joking or made me put the book down to ask about what happened and to discuss what to do, the pain would increase to the point that I would have tears in my eyes and it was hard to breathe (until they finally gave me morphine).

        1. Apparently I broke my ankle a year and a half ago. it hurt for a few days, so I thought I’d twisted it and took it (relatively) easy but this last week the d*mn thing keeps going out from under me.

        2. Laughter is funny that way. I worked at a restaurant when I was in High School that stayed open after bars. There are lots of hungry people when bars close. Staying open that late kept the place in business.

          Closing one night, we were told that we needed to empty the fryer because the boss wanted come in early to clean it good and put all new oil in it before opening in the morning. We were worn out. LOTS of hungry drunk people that night. So we didn’t want to wait for the fryer oil to cool, so we decided to “be careful”. Unfortunately, that place didn’t have a direct fryer drain, we had to drain the oil into a metal bucket, and then dump that bucket in the used grease bin in the alley out back. It was just me and one other guy that night (college student who went to college with the owners).

          When we went to dump the oil, which was too heavy for one person to do (yes, the whole thing was dumb the whole way round), He said “on three” and counted. So I lifted ON THREE, while he did the 1, 2, 3, then lift, and only didn’t get hot oil dumped on him because I was quick to realize he wasn’t lifting. THEN, we tried again. Only he lifted on three, but I did 1,2,3, then lift (because that’s what he had done). Only, he wasn’t quick to realize the mistake and I got one arm covered in sizzling fryer oil all the way up to my elbow.

          As soon as it happened, he luckily had a wet towel hanging on his pocket (for wiping tables/counters) and quickly wiped as much grease off as he could. But the look on his face sent me into hysterical laughter. (I think I freaked the poor guy out).

          We went in and rinsed the arm in cold water and… no burn. It was completely fine. A tiny bit pink maybe, but not out of the ordinary because I have such pale skin that everything leaves a mark. No idea how. I probably should have had 3rd degree burns, because that oil was HOT.

          1. 1) Guardian angel is a BA.
            2) slapping exposure– was wiped off
            3) quickly got cooled.

            The Baron slapped a hot stove– from just below his pinky, along the side of his palm, and about two inches down his arm. (He ran towards the stove, which had a fence around it; someone reached to grab him so he wouldn’t slam into it, and HE DODGED. Then “caught” himself…over the fence..on top of the hot stove.)

            We didn’t find out about the arm until AFTER we’d done the emergency burn stuff on his arm, so there was maybe a five minute gap between cooling on the hand and cooling on the arm.

            Hand didn’t even bubble up. Arm…really scared me.

            1. Robert at one and a half fell sideways in bucket of near-boiling water with bleach up to his shoulder. Cut wool sweater away. Washed with freezing water. Rubbed ice on it. He was fine. (Note, I’m not world’s worst mother. He’d thrown himself over a baby gate and I was trying to stop him.)

              1. To quote my mom:
                90% of childhood accidents happen WHILE the parent is trying to stop them, usually after you yell NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

                1. A month before, while we were moving, the dang kid’s life was saved by a mover. Having escaped the high chair (don’t ask) he darted into the office and tried to pull a full loaded moving dolly down on himself. I was too sleepy to move fast enough.
                  Yep, when we moved to CO he had a massive bruise all down the right side of his face… 😦

                2. Or “Oh CR*******” as you watch your toddler cartwheel between the wall & the back of a kitchen island from either the top or 3/4 up the stairs going up to the second story. Still don’t know what happened, exactly. Cousin & him had been crawling up the stairs to the bonus room, where the fathers were, then coming back down on their butts (not sliding, just one step at a time). Very controlled, “relatively” safe. Until something happened on the way up, about the 3rd time. You have not seen 4 adults move so fast in your life. Sis & I saw him come down. Dad & BIL heard it. Kid was fine. He was startled. Scared the adults into our 3rd or 4th century (give or take). We decided, that maybe that fun was done for the day (or forever).

                  OTOH. Yellowstone. Kid was on a leash around the thermals or the canyons & no chance to run toward the “doggys” (before wolves, so buffalo & bears). Sorry. Not stupid.

  5. > I think by historical standards, all of us are incredibly pampered and have experienced next to no pain.

    Oh, no question about it. No worries about the crop failing and starving to death. No worries about the aftermath of a natural disaster. No worries about Vikings, or Mongols, or Barbary pirates, or Frenchmen, suddenly appearing to loot, burn, rape, and enslave. Not nearly as many worries about epidemic diseases killing you or all your children. The list goes on.

    Perhaps the human psyche is prone to overreaction when there aren’t any real threats in the environment, and that’s why we have people perceiving jokes as “violence”, in much the same way that some scientists think the rise in autoimmune diseases is related to us not having so many parasites these days.

    “There’s gotta be a threat here somewhere, and if I can’t find a real threat, I’m just going to pick something at random and define it as a threat.”

    1. Spent 20+ years chronic low level worry about what I was going to have to do to survive nuclear Armageddon. Makes you wonder how many of us are secretly disappointed we didn’t get the opportunity to use those survival skills that we’re happy to not have to use. Yeah, little cognitive dissonance there.

    2. I think you’ve got something there. We may be wired to experience a certain degree of pain and if the universe doesn’t deliver, we keep lowering the threshold until we’re feeling the amount of pain we consider “normal.”

      1. Part is also experience. If you’ve experienced very little deprivation in your life then from a psychological perspective it won’t take much for the smallest amount of deprivation to be a serious problem. Think about an injury from your childhood that had you in tears, if you received the same injury today, how big of a deal would it be? Tears? Probably not, mostly just some swearing followed by peroxide and bandages.

        With people living longer it’s also entirely possible that people won’t experience the death of someone close to them until they’re in their 30’s.

        1. That’s what some of the psychiatric-types have suggested about the “snowflakes.” The youngsters are so swaddled and coddled that they have no idea what true pain feels like, and so their perception scale is askew. To them, someone disagreeing with them and saying, “No, the world can’t work like that” feels so severe that they assume that’s what physical assault or even rape must feel like. Yes, they are delicate snowflakes, but their perceptions have also been warped by the absence of actual stress and hardship.

          1. It makes sense. It just seems insane the world has changed that much over the last 4 or 5 decades. Now for the real question, how do we make money off it? 🙂

              1. It’s all in the marketing. We just call them ‘Anti-Fascist Kits’ and include a nerf bat so they don’t hurt themselves or others with an actual bat.

            1. $SPOUSE tells me that canned goods are falling out of favor, so how about “Safe Space in a Pouch!”. (Complete with organic juice boxes, coloring books and a plushy stuffed Unicorn.) Only $199.99!

              1. I think they already have those. I remember seeing some ads for a tent thing you could have in your living room. Though we can improve them by adding a mini-cooler and a bookshelf 🙂 The stuffed unicorn is a nice touch!

          2. Occam’s Razor: by claiming actual physical harm and trauma from words, they are able to equate it to physical assault and thus invoke both criminal and civil law against speech they don’t like. It’s a tactic.

  6. I do think that what’s most physically disturbing to the body is when your pain is caused by a person, thing, or organization to which you cannot lash out in retribution for some compelling reason.
    Still, any competent adult will soon identify the source of their pain, then determine how to remove that disturbance from their lives. That is simply looking after one’s own health. Loosing the wrath of hellfire and damnation upon that source, while personally gratifying, might be just a touch self indulgent. Keep in mind that the best revenge is to live well and spite your enemies.

    1. The classic “humorous” definition of stress….

      The Confusion Created When One’s Mind Overrides The Body’s Desire To Beat Or Choke The Living S*** Out Of Some A****** Who Desperately Needs It.

    2. I’ve always said that I pity the fool who drives me to despair so great that it would drive others to suicide. I don’t do suicide. I am into problem resolution, very old school.

  7. Maybe we are becoming elves.
    A long time ago I figured that beings who could expect to live a very long time as long as nobody chopped them into tiny pieces would have an extraordinarily risk-averse culture.
    My five-year-old grandson is not allowed to ride his scooter without a helmet. In the back yard.

    1. I think part of the wisdom of elves is that they were smart enough to recognize and act to avert unnecessary risks without having to experience them first; thereby avoiding the need for constant pain. In fact, IIRC, Tolkien’s elves packed it up and left Middle Earth if they were exposed to chronic pain, physical or emotional; being unable to deal with it otherwise.

    2. Good heavens on the helmet part.
      Part of the reason is that we’re having SO FEW children, all of them are “precious and overprotected.” This doesn’t breed healthy adults.

        1. Researchers seem to’ve gotten gene editing up and going, and there are already plastic surgeons, various cosmetic treatments – maybe give it another decade until we can all look awesome and the babies are coming out that way?

        2. Unearthly beauty, or the uncanny valley?
          A lot of celebs with lots of plastic surgery just look off.

          1. Giant duck lips, facelift for the Occasional-Cortex white-around-the-eyes stare, Botox for some facial muscle paralysis, weird manga triangular bump nose…

            My wife watches some reality show about a couple of surgeons who try to undo some of that surgery; the people with the giant duck lips usually can’t even speak clearly through the pair of sausages under their nose…

            1. I saw something featuring Madonna a few years back, and it’s as if an alien sculptor tried to sculpt an attractive human woman based on verbal descriptions alone. Technically, all the proper proportions and smoothness was there, but it was just off.

              1. Poor woman used to be rather pretty when she was young. Couldn’t leave well enough alone and maybe get just a little bit tucked to avoid hanging flaps as she aged but had to try for perfect. And now she just looks, yep, really weird. And undignified, when it comes to her clothing choices, woman is way too old to try for as scanty clothing as she does for her gigs and photoshoots. Doesn’t really look all that sexy anymore, rather trying too hard with not enough goodies left for the attempt. Well, photoshopping can still make the end result photos serviceable, but the original photos… ugh.

                Would hate to be her kids. Whatever they say or don’t say in public I’d bet they feel embarrassed in private.

                1. While they are the type of article I usually skim past, I believe there have been court arguments about her son preferring to stay with his Da (Brit film director somebody or other; did Robert Downey Jr.’s two Holmes adventures) primarily because Mom does indeed embarrass him. It’s tough when you’ve grown up more than your parent.

                  Aging female sex kittens are as pathetic as aging male jocks. Exiting gracefully and moving on is not a skill our society prizes.

                2. Honestly, there’s a major parable in there somewhere.

                  Especially given that so much of her rise was based on attacking that which is wholesome.

                  At first, it gave some spice…but it rather quickly rotted.

        3. You know, we’re kinda already there. I mean, how many faces at the grocery store do you see ravaged by smallpox, chicken pox, mumps, and measels? How many adults have a full set of teeth… or can afford dentures? How many elderly people aren’t blind with cataracts? How many people on the street have sun- and wind-ravaged skin, craggy and cracked? Where are our lepers, our amputees on their crutches begging for a crust of bread?

          Heck, look around and realize that not only do we have easily a foot on average on the medieval lords, we’ve got all the plumpness that only the richest could afford… (Only a culture where famines never happen could value skinniness instead of plumpness as a standard of beauty.)

          And when you look around the average collection of geek, you’ll find that we have the milk-white skin so prized as the most unattainable luxury by a culture that had to work under the sun all day just to not starve.

          1. Hmm … interesting thought. Honestly, how long ago was it that we actually saw a seriously acne-poxed teenager? I can; it was in high school, in the late 60s, and jeeze, was that poor kid a mess, facially. I couldn’t sit across from him and eat tapioca pudding without feeling faintly nauseated.

            1. Sister-in-law-to-be and her sibling had serious problems with this as teens. No idea why, but they got hit badly. This was in the 60s for them.

          2. Teeth, damnit! Good teeth are now the norm, even in Britain.

            Look at the teeth of those men, around the one-minute mark!

        4. Consider we don’t have scars from the pox or otherwise, and we’re pretty well fed/etc. we might all count as gorgeous (remembering people my age from the village.)

  8. Totally off topic… though perhaps given a moment I could tie it in… was thinking of how obviously upset and horrified people seem to expect you/me to be about the latest object of horror (okay, maybe not off topic) usually, you know, whatever horror inducing thing that our president tweeted this time, and how “rude, true, but I’m not quite getting the problem here” seems to be my honest reaction most often and… and thinking that the horror might be based almost entirely on language used. Not just being crass or rude but certain rhetorical flourishes and word choices that signal affiliations alongside the surface meaning. So, “yes, but that’s not actually *racist* to say that, you know,” or “it’s impossible to talk about immigration without mentioning people’s nationalities and that doesn’t make mentioning them racist, you know,” or whatever. And I think about how often the exact same *meaning* can come out of the mouth of Ta-Nehisi Coates or the Duck Dynasty guy… SAME meaning and argument, but word choice differences indicating acceptability or “hate”.

    And yeah, I suppose this really does tie into just how far we go in order to find strife and create tension.

    And also, perhaps an interesting question of how far we’ll go to create whole parallel languages that exist within seemingly homogeneous communities.

    1. I think most of the people horrified at what comes out of President Trump’s mouth are the ones conditioned to think Presidents are only supposed to utter lies acceptable to everyone. They’re categorically incapable of accepting a President, or any other person for that matter, who says exactly what he (or she) is thinking. Just as they’re unable to understand a President who kind of lacks transitions from when he’s just talking about something to when he goes into negotiation mode on something else.

      Considering the number of people who dislike him personally, I suspect Mr. Trump has not read, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

      1. Too used to the car salesmen, hyper polished soundbite politicos. Trump’s positive and negative is that he doesn’t do as much of the preparation and evasion others do. He can be blunt, uncouth, and impetuous but I’d rather that than our ruling class as is now.

      2. There’s also the history of Republicans as the spineless, go-along-to-get-along squishy wimp types who buckle at the merest hint of disapproval from the MSM.

        1. What happened? The Republicans seemed pretty feisty well into the presidency of Fascist Delano Roosevelt, but from WWII until recently only a few nationally-prominent Republicans seemed to be willing to go against the media narrative.

          1. I liken it to a dog I once knew. When he was a little puppy, the neighborhood tomcat would bully and beat and terrorize him whenever possible.
            Even when he grew to his full Great Bernard/German Shepherd mix size, that cat still intimidated him, and could whip him in a fight. In his mind, that cat was still a huge monster.
            Basically that.

              1. I sometimes forget people assumed that. It does help explain it, somewhat. I think I just have trouble grokking how common an attitude it was.

                Perhaps because I came to my first awareness of politics and the Cold War after Reagan was already in office and pushing back somewhat, and because I grew up hearing a good bit of anecdotal evidence that gave the lie to tales of Soviet advancement. I had my Dad’s stories of his college-age experience driving around some Soviet nuclear physicists who were eagerly asking him all sorts of car questions because they thought they’d be able to purchase cars in 5-10 years after they got back from the US. I had a Hungarian-American friend in elementary school whose father could discuss how much better life in Hungary was before the Soviets came. My parents had friends of Czech extraction whose relatives managed to come over to the US for a visit in mid-80’s, and I heard secondhand the stories they’d shared about how much more advanced and prosperous the US was.

                Anyhow, whatever the reason, much of the Republican Party has been too compliant for too long, and it is time for that to change. A few of the Tea Party and Freedom Caucus types, and President Trump, seem to realize this. Too many of the others don’t seem to have gotten the memo. Campaigning would help. I’m still a bit miffed at many of the Republicans candidates this last cycle. They should know by now that they need to overcome the margin of fraud, but still we got the invisible Jim Renacci senatorial campaign here in Ohio, and by all reports Martha McSally in Arizona was a poor candidate and a worse campaigner.

                1. Whittaker Chambers explains in Witness that he thought he was going over to the losing side.

                  Though he did think it would not be while the US had a certain type: he went to buy a gun when leaving the Party, the guy asked what he needed it for, he was surprised into the approximate truth, saying he wanted it in case of prowlers, and the guy assured him that gun would do just fine.

                2. From recollection, the Left was fairly on board with the Inevitable Triumph of The Dictatorship of the Proletariat.
                  The Right tended to believe the myth of the New Soviet Man, that Communist ideology had somehow trumped human nature, and that the Warsaw Pact was uniformly made of men who were selfless, sacrificial, Spartan, and utterly devoted to promoting the worldwide spread of Marxist-Leninism.
                  Yeah… and then some of us learned better- that like all tyrannies, the Soviets were super corrupt and inefficient.

        2. There’s also the problem of living in the Beltway Bubble, where the MSM is still seen as the Voice of the People. If all you hear is the Democratic Party line and Leftwing false consensus, it is easy for people to gaslight themselves.

      3. They’ve never read transcripts of or listened to the tapes from LBJ’s tenure. Trump is a model of propriety and tact compared to some of Johnson’s conversations.

      4. While it is tempting to accuse them of hypocrisy, I think a different factor is in play. They hear Trump and are aghast at his unpresedential behaviour but when Obama or Clinton did as much it was evidence of how they “are not tied down by the petty proprieties.”

        Similarly, they ignored Obama’s rewriting of Constitutional authority with his pen and phone but are gob-smacked when Trump exercises Article II authority and denounce it as “Unconstitutional!” Or when conservative Justices rewrite “settled law” with the elan of proponents of a living Constitution. Their sun has suddenly risen in the West and set in the East and they cannot grasp it.

      5. The people who hate him are going to keep on hating him no matter what he says, so why should he cater to them?

        1. I was saying it for at least a couple of presidential election cycles before 2016… “We’re attacking you and treating you badly because you deserve it,” was always a lie. And yet politicians tried to conform, to be un-lie-about-able. Un-attack-able. Leave-nothing-to-spin-able. And yet, the most white-bread-conciliatory-boring-careful candidates were still attacked. And the Republican candidates this last round tried the same “be bland, appeal to the middle” route and were attacked.

          1. John McCain though he was loved by the media, right up until the 2008 party conventions. Then he got to be Hitler until after November 2008, where the medial “loved” him again.
            What he never understood until his dying day is that the media never loved him, they just wanted a “maverick” to beat the Republicans over the head with.

  9. Forgive me for engaging in copy editor humor, but when you write, “There’s this mat that gives you a shock if you pee on it. I’m just mad enough to try it,” it really sounds as if you personally are planning to pee on an electric mat. Now I can’t unvisualize that. . . .

      1. One of the more, er, colorful residents in my freshman dorm admitted to doing just that. OTOH, he could have given a bag of hammers a run for the money.

      1. More seriously, I told my wife about this exchange, and she asked, “Has she tried Feliway?” It’s a cat pheromone (available as a spray or an electronic vaporizer) that reduces feline stress levels; we used it after our last move to get Macavity used to our new apartment. Less stressed cats have less impulse to mark territory. See if you’d like more information.

        You might also take a look at FourPaws (; they have a line of products for removing urine stains and odor and another for repelling cats with the impulse to mark territory, and possibly one of those could be useful. But I think lowering the stress level might be a better first step than trying to repel the cat.

  10. I’ll leave as an exercise for the class whether or not the pampered ones’ desire for socialism and communism with their atrocious track records is innocent, or their subconscious trying to bring strife into their lives to correct the lack.

    One motivation for advancement in society was the desire to elimination of pain.  This ranges from that caused by tyranny and other man made problems to that caused by disease and other natural circumstances. 

    Now we have people who don’t want to have the pain of overcoming pain.  They think if we only get the right people in charge we can all be taken care as if we were when we were very young.  

    Don’t any of them remember that one of the first words a very young child utters is, ‘NO!’?  Or how frustrated they were when they were prevented from doing what they doing (What is so special about the street that I can’t just run there to get where I want when I want?) and forced to learn to do difficult things?  OK, most don’t remember that even the best of childhoods came with hard times and difficult challenges. Still, if you simply observe small children you should be able to figure that out.

    So what is wanted is an idealized version — a fantasy of an eternal childhood where one is loved and cared for and it is always that blissful summer night under the stars catching fireflies.  One without apparent restrictions or pain. 

    Because being a free and independent adult comes with unpredictable and unpreventable risks many undervalue it, selling it off for a guarantee of something like a simple pottage in their bowls.

    1. The American Boomers were the first generation that never really had responsibilities forced on them at an early age. Most of the previous generations had essential responsibilities they had to do if they didn’t want the family to starve. It was fairly common for rural kids to hunt if they wanted any kind of meat for dinner, to name one example.
      That changed with the post WWII economic boom- the Boomer kids were spoiled, because their parents wanted them to have all the things they didn’t.
      Which meant the Gen X kids were spoiled by their Boomer parents, and they went on to spoil their Millennial kids, and so on.

      1. Not just because their parents wanted them to have everything they did not have. For example there has been a steady pressure, supported by unions, to extend required schooling and to raise the legal age for employment. With the rises in minimum wages young people find that they are among the real losers in the job market. And the social engineers have prolonged uselessness, and promoted restrictions on children’s independence.

        1. President Reagan backed a plan to allow lower minimum wages for people under 21.

          The letter I wrote was vitriolic enough I’m sure it became the first entry in my Secret Service file…

          “And what part of ‘equal pay for equal work do you not understand?'”

          1. Equal pay for equal work is right.

            Entry level workers who have yet to be trained are not doing equal work. Why should the company have to pay them the same as those who have been fully trained — even if they are both manning a counter?

            1. Further:
              as a baseline.

              If an employer decides that they want intangibles and are willing to pay for them, THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO.

              They think someone who is unmarried is worth more? Let them pay more to them; they think a married guy is worth more (or that the loyalty from supporthing his family is worth more)? LET THEM.

              They think chicks who fill out a t-shirt to bursting are preferable? LET THEM.

              The key is that nobody is forcing them to do it…and if they judge wrong, THEY pay for it.

            2. Oh, somewhat related– murmurs of outrage about a story where a teacher “was required to sign a pro-Israel oath” and when she was refused she was fired.

              Actual story:

              Texas required that state contractors sign an agreement that they will not pledge to boycott Israel while under contract with the state. Since Texas is in the 40s of “trading partners” for Israel world-wide, it’s actually a licit worry that contractors would artificially inflate prices by refusing to use materials associated with Israeli (or connected, that “boycott israel” junk was pretty broad) companies.

              The “teacher” is a speech pathologist looking to contract with the school system.

          1. That doesn’t make sense! If it were true they wouldn’t hire new workers with college degrees.

            Students Know Less After 4 College Years
            Students at many of the country’s most prestigious colleges and universities are graduating with less knowledge of American history, government, and economics than they had as incoming freshmen, with Harvard University seniors scoring a “D+” average on a 60-question multiple-choice exam about civic literacy.

            According to a report released yesterday by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the average college senior at the 50 colleges and universities polled did not earn a passing grade.

            “At the most expensive colleges, they actually graduate knowing less,” the executive director of the Jack Miller Center at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Michael Ratliff, said. “Colleges and universities are not directing students to the courses that would educate them. We want to know whether after getting $300 billion to do their work, universities are actually educating their students.”

            At universities such as Princeton, Yale, Cornell, Duke, and Berkeley, seniors scored lower on the test, available here, than freshmen, living proof of the broadening relevancy of the old Harvard adage that the university is a storehouse of knowledge because “the freshmen bring so much and the seniors take away so little.”

            The average foreign student studying in an American college learned nothing about the country’s history and its civic institutions, according to the study.


            Less than half of the students who participated identified the phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” as a line from the Declaration of Independence. Many of them identified its source as “The Communist Manifesto,” or said that it was an inscription on the Statue of Liberty. …

            1. Interesting test, and one I would have aced back in high school (I was a bit more up on Fed policies and Keynsian policy then. I missed 4 today).

    2. Yup…although I always wanted to grow up. They don’t let children play with the GOOD toys. 🙂

      1. Real guns, and shops full of power tools are so much better than mere toys.
        The fact that I build my own bass guitars, amps, and effects pedals from scratch makes me almost a wizard in the eyes of a lot of people.

        1. When I was in High School there was still an indoor rifle range in Central High School, although it was no longer in use. We still got to work with dangerous chemicals in science labs and power tools were employed in wood shop and mechanics.

          Fear of lawsuits and other considerations have greatly curtailed what is viewed as an acceptable risk.

  11. “My only vision for this is going to space, forming new colonies, and giving kids something to work towards and dream about, something other than this involuted need to end all pain and strife.”

    And for this we need to wrest the concept of “colonizing” out of their perverse death grip of moral preening and human destruction.

  12. That cat peeing problem? I’ve broken cats of that by spending a few days following them around, holding a water pistol. When they start to do it any place other than their box, hit ’em with a squirt. Cats vary in their quickness to associate the two, but eventually, just about every one gets in line.

  13. As the old trope goes,
    Hard times make for hard men.
    Hard men make soft times.
    Soft times make soft men.
    Soft men make hard times.

  14. I recommend “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt.

    They claim that the latest generation is extremely fragile, and one of the reasons is that they are the result of a parenting philosophy that says “What doesn’t kill you makes you weaker.” Thus, they have grown up being protected from anything that might discomfort them and so crumble at the least hardship.

    Apparently these days parents are told not to allow their children to be unaccompanied, ever, until they are 15!

    1. I think that small family size is the biggest driver of this. Parents, moms… you only have “n” amount of energy available for hovering or micromanaging. If you’ve got 9 kids it’s hover-per-child = 9/n. If you’ve got 4 kids it’s hover-per-child = 4/n. If you’ve got one child it’s hover-per-child = 1/n. Plus a stay-at-home mom had a great deal of work to do. “Show up to eat and be home before dark” was usually considered adequate supervision. Not that it always turned out well, but the supervision was more or less expected at that level and there were usually older kids or cousins for the youngers to tag along after.

    2. Yeah, drives me up a wall. I have to figure out what laws in specific areas are so I can let the big kids read in the car! (Eight and over, in Texas. And obviously not on sunny/hot days.)

        1. At 15, my little sister was sitting up at the local resort-lodge on New Year’s. Basically all they provided as a room, to avoid liabilities.
          (I remember because she got a $100 tip from the parents of the probably very bratty two kids.)

    3. “Apparently these days parents are told not to allow their children to be unaccompanied, ever, until they are 15!”

      And the people telling them have an entire weaponiized legal system to enforce their whim.

  15. A related thing which in see in many of the same people is a frightening emotional sadism. It is frightening because these people (often, but not always, those who fall under the SJW tag) delight in pain whose severity they have no concept of.

    I mean, in the S&M world I know emotional sadists who plenty of people play with knowing they are dealing with an emotional sadists. Those people don’t scare me like the “never heard ‘no'” emotional sadists because they understand the pain they are inflicting, carefully target how they do it, and know how to watch for trouble and back out if it happens. I’m not saying there aren’t accidents and bad out comes (there are reasons RACK is an acronym after all), but there isn’t the recklessness, carelessness, or cluelessness of say the “losers of OK Cupid” blog.

    Yet, often the same people scream bloody murder at a basic ‘no’. I seems like lack of emotional and physical pain also prevent the development of empathy, which Adam Smith argued was key to moral behavior (I agree), among the other things it stunts.

    It does seem lack of empathy is a common thread to a lot of actions of the radical…was going to say left, but beyond just that.

    1. One of the big lessons one can learn is the fact that the Universe doesn’t revolve around you and your wants. The world existed just fine before you came along, and will keep on going long after you are gone.
      Likewise, there’s the realization that those other people around you are people like you are also a people, and they have feelings, hurts, loves, and the whole gamut of human experiences that you have.
      Spoiled children usually don’t learn either of those lessons.

  16. My only vision for this is going to space, forming new colonies, and giving kids something to work towards and dream about

    But Sarah, don’t you know that would be promoting hateful, neocolonial biocentrism? If you keep saying things like that, people might think you want the human race to survive!

    1. North east Asians colonized the entire north and south American continents but nevermind *that*… colonizing is BAD ‘mkay?

        1. Polynesians colonized every tiny little Island in the middle of the Pacific. THAT took some dedication!

          1. And if modern humans originated in Africa, which we believe they did, then Africans have colonized the entire world…

  17. Pain sucks. But it seems to be needed for humans.

    I don’t know about needed, but Pain ‘n’ me are old pards. We haven’t spent a day apart in almost forty years. Ache is always around, too, but sometimes Pain just crowds Ache out, such as when Pain brings around Back Spasms, or Migraines, or his newest buddy, Gout. When that crowd gets together it’s the kind of party in which Ache just gets lost.

    If Pain wasn’t there to greet me in the morning I would fear I’d woken up dead.

    Pain is also necessary for those who refuse to learn without it. Even though they can see the ceiling is low they don’t adjust their stance until they’ve bumped their heads more’n twice.

  18. Pain and struggle are also good for the creative process. Far too many artist, authors, musicians, and film directors turned in brilliant work when they were struggling nobodies, only to turn overindulgent and complacent when they became successful. George Lucas is the shining example of this.

  19. A couple thoughts crossed my mind as I read this. The first is the words of wisdom from the supervisory chaplain at the hospital I used to work at as I was about to go on paternity leave. “Remind your wife that epidurals can be seen as part of the cure for the Fall.” Second, to quote the eminent theologian the Dread Pirate Roberts, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling something.”

    1. Good chaplain!

      I’ve known ladies who refused pain management from religious convictions.

      (Theologically questionable, imho–where else do we avoid fixing things because they were broken by the fall?)

      1. They used to knock women *out* and I think that we’re way too far the other direction. But the usual reasoning I’ve heard is that any pain meds for Mom end up in Baby. I’ve never heard a *religious* conviction… though maybe on the tofu and nuts hippy side it could be religion…

        1. My middle name is Chinese. In the middle of the delivery process my mother decided that “natural childbirth” was for the birds, and among other things, promised to name the baby after whoever would give her an epidural.

          I should probably be glad the doctor’s name wasn’t “Doris” or “Twyla”…

        2. Synova, if you read the history surrounding anesthesia, using it in childbirth was commonly argued against on exactly that basis, even by doctors. One of the early pioneers actually countered with the description of God taking out Adam’s rib as proof that God Himself used anesthesia.

      2. Trust me. I’m in complete agreement with him. The theology in your story just makes my head hurt. Chaplains aren’t supposed to push their theology on to their patients, but there are days I want to smack some people up the side of the head. Life is hard enough without convincing yourself and your family that God wants you to suffer more than you have to.

  20. I think if you could have a kid with absolutely no, or very little pain, you’d not value them so highly.

    Note, being pregnant in and of itself is pretty dang painful.

    Was going to argue from the perspective of someone was gutted instead of having a natural birth, and realized the “painless” methods of child birth are only less painful.

    1. Well, it may not be fair, but there are women who have almost painless deliveries. Without drugs. They are not the average, but they are definitely the more fun outlier.

        1. I seem to recall Sandra Day O’Connor, in her memoir, telling of observing her father treat a bad tooth at round-up time by matter-of-factly grabbing a length of baling wire, heating it in the branding fire and cauterizing the tooth.

    1. Have to agree with that perspective.

      Cinderella was oppressed by her female mother and two female sisters. Snow White was placed under a curse by an evil female witch where the terms of the antidote required a male to bestow true love’s kiss on her. And it was the female Sea Witch who caused all the trouble for the Little Mermaid. Elsa in Frozen? How about a female teenager whose powers are so out of control she brings a magical equivalent of nuclear winter on the kingdom? I don’t see any male oppression of women here.
      Beauty and the Beast? Sorry, that’s nasty Gaston against the Beast; and rather equal opportunity nasty too. Aladdin? Sorry, that’s an evil power-mad magician taking advantage of a gullible young man. Sure, Jasmine is the consolation prize, but the kingdom is the main target, not her.

  21. Admit it, you knew this was coming, didn’t you?

    Capitalism crushed the patriarchy
    by Tiana Lowe
    Biology does not favor women.

    Women are physically weaker than men and (usually) the gatekeepers of sex, meaning that for most of human history, a world rife with violence and devoid of rules has been awful to women, as gatherers, as homemakers, as sexual objects, and as property.

    Luckily, we got capitalism. While men throughout the Middle Ages and modernity have always been seen as functional economic actors, the advent of free markets allowed for the sorts of innovation that allowed women to spend less time on “gathering” or homemaking as a necessity. As a new report from the Cato Institute notes, the division of labor by parts, automation, and advances in technology has turned cooking and cleaning from full-time jobs to minor chores. A century ago, American households spent a quarter of the day cooking. Now they spend around an hour. As the overall time required for these tasks has diminished, their distribution has become more equitable.


    Even more significant on women’s liberation have been advances in healthcare. As Cato notes, women in 1800 on average would birth seven children, with only four living past infancy. Since then, both maternal deaths and infant deaths have plummeted. Female life expectancy has improved by a matter of decades.

    Men had much to gain from the ascent of capitalism in similar terms, but in decoupling immense risks of danger from motherhood and freeing up the labor associated with traditionally female tasks, there’s not much that men can do that women can’t. Jobs requiring incredible physical strength still remain mostly male, but the greater workforce now has plenty of room for women who are also mothers and homemakers.

    Furthermore, the greatest advances of second-wave feminism, such as modern birth control, were only made possible by a market-driven pharmaceutical industry. After all, it was American, not Soviet, researchers who first developed oral contraceptives. …

  22. >>
    I think by historical standards, all of us are incredibly pampered and have experienced next to no pain. Is this actually destroying us and civilization?
    Several months ago I had a conversation much like this. We were comparing (specifically) the Valley Forge experience (obviously in the late 1700s) to our “modern” standards; stuff like their looking up by one or two dozen feet to the tree branches they’d cut small wood from, *back in the winter when the snow was that high*, to get just a little warmth into their tents.

    And it featured things like, the common acceptance of childhood deaths, the (to us) near-utter disregard for “creature comforts” (that they often couldn’t get anyway), hunger, and so on. We couldn’t *believe* humans are *biologically* different, over such a relative eyeblink — so it must be social and/or cultural.

    It did seem kind of worrying, that our capacities (or is it *perceived* capacities being allowed to *amount* to the same thing?) have contracted so much over such a (relatively) short time

    1. I’ve spent about 20 years in PNG, near the equator, without air conditioning.
      I went to college in Wisconsin
      People are actually pretty good about adapting to difficult conditions. We don’t like it, and it’s not comfortable at first, but you eventually get used to it.

      1. Which sounds like pretty direct evidence for the “perceived capacities” side of things to me.

        Personally, I’m a lot better with (moderate) cold than heat (it’s the trying to sleep part that tends to fail badly); but I naturally get cold-tolerant enough to not notice the cold down to about freezing in “normal” clothes and no wind, *until* I come inside and those 70-degree insides feel about 95 or so.

        And some of those old NASA environment-tolerance tests can be pretty eye-popping, too. IIRC, people can stand *air* temperatures hot enough and long enough to bake cookies — we have a lot more water per surface area than they do, and we know how to sweat it out.

        The one thing that seems to sabotage this? “I can’t” or even worse, “It’s wrong to make anybody do this!” — which of course is what many chilldren now get.

        1. Visited Colonial Williamsburg and surrounding historic environs a couple of years ago, during the heights of summer. It’s kind of eye opening to think about doing manual labor (a lot which involved fire of some sort) while wearing wool clothing (you probably couldn’t afford linen for summer). Yet, the modern reinactors were out doing various historical task in the heat.

          1. Wool’s cooler in the heat than some weaves of linen. Plus a tight (hard) wool weave will catch fewer sparks. Also keep in mind temperatures were cooler in the 1700s than they are today. (The humidity was just as bad, though!)

            1. Doesn’t catch on fire well, either. I once tried to burn a couple of woolen socks that were past usable in a fire when camping. Took a while. Well, they were a bit damp too.

        2. I have an 1800s steam textbook that mentions that boiler room temperatures in some of the old ironclad ships was around 165F, and that the stokers could only work 20 minute shifts without passing out.

          150F is considered “well done” for steak…

  23. Thinking about it, it may be that part of the problem is the Guilt Complex so many kids have been raised with…for the last 60 years or more. The whole “eat your vegetables because there are children starving in (Africa/India/Belgium)” line of argument leaves kids feeling guilty for things they did not do, and have no control over.

    And I suspect this makes a fertile ground for Liberalism. Guilt-ridden young skulls full of mush, usually with a bushel of inherited privileges and opportunities, eager to slake their guilt. Not by giving their OWN money, of course…it’s MY money they want to give away. And MY liberties, too.

    WRT pain…my parents believed in a very short leash. At least for me. Do what you’re ordered, or get dosed with the belt – and THEN do what you’re ordered. A sentence without a “Sir” or “Ma’am” meant a smack. I didn’t like it, I wasn’t SUPPOSED to like it. But I learned discipline and obedience.

    Life is hard. It’s harder when you’re stupid.

    1. Family legend holds that Mother-In-Law, when she was a wee girl, took the “staving children in India” so to heart that one summer evening she carved “To: children starving in India” into the side of her quarter of watermelon and generously dropped it into the corner mailbox for pick-up the next day.

  24. “We drive straight at the wall, and more often than not we miraculously get through.”
    Hey, I’ve seen that movie!

    “Buckaroo Banzai: Across the Eighth Dimension”

    Just conceivably this might be in some small way inspirational. Or at least diverting.
    (ca. 1980s, features John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, and Jeff Goldblum.)

    1. I was unimpressed when I saw the movie shortly after it came out, and a *lot* more impressed when I saw it again many years later.

      I just wish the resolution on the DVD was high enough to read all the graffiti on Professor Lizardo’s wall…

  25. There are too many people that have been protected, or praised, or allowed to heal without doing their penance for pissing on the electric fence (metaphorically or literally). They haven’t had to been forced to face their failures or their mortality, not really.

    Because they haven’t been properly disciplined, either internally or externally, they fall to the level that their lack of training provides. Which is a very low level indeed.

    I’m not suggesting that we regularly torture people, or do terrible things to people to “build character”…but, we need to create the tools to give people the ability to grow up.

    1. The self esteem movement/ positive encouragement idea or whatever it has been called had its good points in the very beginning: not rewarding properly for good behavior or necessarily even telling the kid when he has done well is equally bad. My parents were in some ways too permissive, maybe because I was a relatively easy kid, I didn’t cause problems if I was just left alone to my own devices because I mostly liked to play nicely in one spot, and later draw or read, and they spend most of their time trying to make money and keep everything in good shape and working in our home (father had a garage which was on the same plot as the house, and mother did most of the paperwork for it as well as making clothes for clients, she was trained as a seamstress). But their method raising me was also by mostly just telling me when I had done wrong or not well enough, not to encourage me by, for example, telling me that while this time wasn’t good enough it was a good try, and if the second try still wasn’t good enough that maybe I had at least improved.

      And that was a bad combination, and I think one reason why I didn’t learn to fail well. When I was young I pretty much went with the idea that it had to be perfect or don’t bother at all, and if I failed I got terribly discouraged and often enough didn’t try again, at least not for a while. One reason why I have never learned to ride a bike, I had bad balance already as a kid, and it got worse when I was older (hit my head, fell when riding, on my head too, presumably the problem with my ear balance centers which got finally diagnosed when I was middle aged might come originally from that, maybe, but I actually also did the same when I was toddler, that time I fell from a sofa, on my face… might explain a few other things too, I guess 😀 ) but I presume I could still have learned to do it if I had just kept trying to learn long enough.

      So yes, you should encourage kids by giving them emotional rewards when they least try, and telling them about whatever may have worked with that try. But as things often go, when that idea caught wind and became popular it went way, way overboard.

      Balance is good.

  26. A fanfic I am very fond of has a very harsh take on Belldandy, seen through the perspective of that movie with Celestine. I think mostly set prior to the events of that movie.

    I recall a discussion of the possibility of eliminating human suffering. A cold blooded discussion of the end results and human cost of by magic eliminating the ability of human beings to experiencing pain or of eliminating the ability to care about pain.

    Some classmate later amused themselves by asking others if we were opposed to women suffraging. Probably correctly calculating that fewer of us would recognize suffrage instead of interpreting suffering. They were not fishing for my answer.

    I favor the suffering of all human beings.

  27. I suddenly had a bit from Star Trek V flash to mind. Kirk: “Damn it Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves.”

  28. You stated — “I think by historical standards, all of us are incredibly pampered and have experienced next to no pain. Is this actually destroying us and civilization?”

    My response — I would say no. But if someone goes mad (like Hitler) you don’t want an army of nazis attacking that don’t feel pain.

    Just a thought

    1. Blink. WHAT?
      Yes, indeed. You don’t make sense but you like pizza.
      I don’t think you understand the whole point of the article.
      And your last paragraph has nothing to do with anything.
      Also Hitler went mad? Says who? Are you confusing evil and madness?

      1. You stated — “Are you confusing evil and madness?”

        My response — No. I was simply stating that pain may possibly be a mechanism to ensure that no species becomes unstoppable in aggressive actions rather than something like emotional pain which may be self-generated in the mind.

        Another way of saying this is that machines such as AI/Robots would have no concept of pain. There would be no motivation for them to avoid escalating conflict. They would endlessly engage in war and destructive actions since there would be no negative feedback.

        I was just reading your article and it occured to me since I work with computer systems.

          1. I wasn’t addressing his state of mind per say, I was focusing on the fact that when men (with followers) go unchecked, we still have pain as a deterrent to stop them. Hitler himself was irrelevant. It was just an analogy.

            Your post – “…next to no pain. Is this actually destroying us and civilization?””

            I responded — “I would say no. (with analogy)”

            You stated – “okay, but it has nothing to do with post.”

            My now more detailed response – I don’t think people have to experience pain to be good or productive people, but I do think pain is needed to stop those who engage in destructive or harmful behavior.

            How it connects to your post; You stated the following:
            “I think if you could have a kid with absolutely no, or very little pain, you’d not value them so highly.”
            “Pain sucks. But it seems to be needed for humans.”
            “… and maybe that’s the problem. Maybe that’s why people want to eliminate all suffering and strife, because they perceive even a little bit as the worst thing ever.”

            There was more but clearly my response is connected to your post with a slightly different perspective.

            It’s not a big deal, I’m not looking for an argument, I just found your post interesting.

          2. I haven’t read much of anything serious on the topic in several decades, but I vaguely recall it was commonly believed Hitler had gone mad by the latter years of the war. Something to do with syphilis, I believe. That, and unrestrained power; it tends to be bad for one’s mental health for everybody around you to be convinced that telling you other than what you want to hear can be terminal.

            Of course, that goes further to explain his fall from power than his rise.

            1. Dr. Morrell and his infamous “pick-me-up” injections – a mix of cocaine, heroin, vitamins, and whatever was laying around when he mixed them up – would seem to be adequate explanation for Hitler’s behavior later in the war.

        1. But in practice, pain is just a damage warning system.

          Removing the warning system can let you keep going for a bit longer– but then tends to end in catastrophic system failure.

          1. I agree that’s where I think pain has it’s purpose to prevent that full system failure.

            Without it mankind might endlessly run themselves into the dirt with war. Pain may be why we fear battle (it doesn’t prevent it) but it does limit it.

            Just a thought on why it may be useful rather than a world void of pain entirely.

            1. Without it mankind might endlessly run themselves into the dirt with war.

              Only if at the same time they could avoid fatalities.

              We actually have this theory played out– have you ever heard of chewing khat? Or of the various groups that were “go into battle drunk as skunks”? Or the various druggies who are so high they don’t notice fatal wounds?

              Yes, they do enough damage for five men….but they still lose, because they don’t have numbers high enough. You’ve got to conserve your forces to take advantage of four-to-one odds being in your favor, and dying because you can’t tell you’re bleeding out doesn’t do that.

              1. I see what you are saying, that the fear of loss would still be there in the absence of pain.

                It’s an interesting concept. I will have to concede my opinion to this new understanding.

                You are correct.

                    1. You might appreciate how I had that…impressed… on me.

                      In the Navy, I was a calibration technician. I made sure things measured correctly.

                      At one point, we got a young, idealistic guy down in Engineering, who was assigned the collateral duty (Navy for “chores,” everyone has them) of calibration petty officer.
                      Well, he decided to do a good job of it, by the book….and discovered that about half of the safety systems had been…well, effectively disabled. The “warning gages” had been adjusted so they SHOWED the correct reading, no matter what was going into them. The guy who’d put him in that position expected him to falsify the paperwork for it., just like the last several guys had.

                      Didn’t happen.

                      Ended up swept under the rug, since nobody was harmed, but….we were all at serious risk of death for a while there.

                      They’d disabled the warning systems, so that things went smoother.
                      And it did– thank God, part of the system was that not all systems were under the same control, so it wasn’t done for ALL of the “pain” systems.

                      But the temporary gain of “we didn’t stop for those warning thresholds” could very easily have cost the entire ship.

      2. Well, towards the end, his evil did get screwed up by being crazy….

        But yeah, the “all evil is just crazy” is…wrong.

        Hm. In a way that matches the heresy of Communism, it assumes Christian morality as a baseline of sanity– failure to recognize the inherent moral worth of others, and respect it, is “insane.”


        1. Yeah, Hitler and Stalin were people I am very comfortable describing as evil and insane.

          Those are value judgements on my part, but I think they bear a relationship with objective truth.

          Definitely they violated the tenants of even my ‘Sherman, Harris, and LeMay were right’ moral code. They killed people for no legitimate end, in order to avoid the consequences of their own poor decision making.

          Sanity has aspects that have to be judged within a cultural framework. The assumption that all specimens of Homo sapiens are people and should be valued as human life is a cultural preference. I do not think the decision making of Hitler or Stalin make sense as sane within the framework of any culture that can be a functional culture over the long run.

          They were fairly functional at implementing their evil madness, and perhaps for that reason should not be considered mentally ill.

          People who are insane are not the rate limiting factor for horrible things. Wicked functional madmen like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, etc., would not have had the opportunity if not for the stress level on their societies providing a motivation for licensing their evil.

  29. Pain is God’s gift to us. It enables us to know something is wrong and generally scales to how wrong things are. Without it, males would be prone to even more stupidity than normal. “Hey guys, watch. When I do this my fingers come off!”

  30. Have you seen this JP video on pain and the meaning of life?

    (This article poses some incredibly useful Q?s for me. Thank you, SH.)


    “If I knew any way of escape I would crawl through sewers to find it,” Lewis writes. “I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. That is what the word means. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine of being made “perfect through suffering” is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design.”

    1. Oh yes. Looking back, the h-ll I went through at the hands of my “peers”, plus the later results of my own arrogance and stupidity, were absolutely vital to making me a much better person. I’d just as soon not have been so improved, or at least not by going through all that…stuff.

      Fire tempers steel, but the steel probably doesn’t like the experience.

      1. I’ve heard people defend what amounts to bullying. I think that there is an important difference between that and needing to learn to get along with others. For example, I don’t think that I was improved in any sense by bursting into tears and bawling in 10th grade because a classmate was getting laughs and jokes at my expense. Maybe *she* was improved by the experience and interaction when I started to cry, she protested that she “didn’t mean it” and I bawled back “why did you say it then?” Maybe the teacher was improved when she asked if I wanted to move to a different desk and I looked at her like she was a complete idiot and bawled “what good will that do?” But, no, I don’t think that I was improved.

        1. I’d love to have adult me go back and give the little monsters a taste of their own medicine. And I wouldn’t wish Junior High on my worst enemy. I suspect my marbles would not be nearly so loose today if the “adults” had done their job. (One did what he could. But the administration chose to be blind, and then their recommendation to my parents would have kept me in the snake pit for another year.)

          1. On reflection I wonder if how I was “improved” was that I learned to fight back, though that was probably in 5th and 6th grade in response to an abusive teacher. Learned to fight back. Learned that my enemy might well be in authority. Learned that no one would stand with me, no matter what they said privately, when my abuser was in authority. So important lessons all around.

            (That teacher didn’t “learn” anything until one of the other teachers finally had a student in her class who became her “project” student and then she got fired. The school didn’t believe other parents when they complained, and certainly never believed students. Oh, and the CS Lewis quote about being tortured by someone who would never rest because they did it for your own good? Yeah… that.)

        2. *grumble* Part of the job of ADULTING is to identify, and stomp on, malicious behavior– that includes, for this, taking joy in the pain of others. (Actual pain.)

          Ties into a somewhat related thing, where folks can’t figure out why people are upset about a teacher that decided to “help” little kids “understand” that Santa isn’t real, when they’re nowhere near as upset about an evangelical atheist pulling a similar dumb stunt.
          The motive.
          Nobody is seriously upset for the future of kids because they are still thinking Santa is real, it’s a GAME; most atheist evangelicals are jerks, but they are at least taking a stand on an important point of truth, even if they’re wrong. The pain one is inflicting (on a captive audience, no less) is not out of proportion to the gain.

    2. I think Lewis might not have been considering all the angles.

      Pain is information, that often tells us about things to avoid doing if the cost is not worth it. Experience with pain is often helpful when carefully paying costs that are worth it. Some poster above made some comment about a nazi army that does not feel pain. Set an army to catch an army. Cetarus paribus, the army that is experienced with serious pain will beat the army that is using methamphetamine to compensate for the pains of poor decisionmaking. See how the tender snowflake army of antifa has largely failed to make any real military gains, despite the lack of any organized opposition that is as broadly backed.

      There’s a cost in stopping unnecessary cruelty. When people are not willing to pay that cost, things can get very bad.

      I have some appetite for cruelty. In our society, I can carefully pick venues that are safe, and targets that are acceptable within that venue. People pay the costs to keep folks under control in some areas, but any given person is only in one place, and those who pay the cost to protect are unevenly distributed. The major thing limiting me is myself. Being cruel to others has never brought me any lasting happiness. Maybe being nice hasn’t either, I dunno. But life is easier not spent searching for acceptable targets, and I’m happier not spending my energy that way. It costs to stop myself when I’m in a situation where I notice that I’m about to slide into being unnecessarily or inappropriately cruel to someone. I need to remember why I want to pay that cost. Pain helps me remember.

      Later all.

      1. IIRC, wasn’t Lewis dealing with losing half his soul?

        Pain of the overwhelming sort is kinda known for …impacting…judgement.


        You are doing the right thing.

        Even though it’s expensive.

        Keep at it.

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