Legacies

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Sometimes I think our time is drunk on perfection, high on it, or perhaps demanding it, like a two year old in the candy isle at the grocery store.  Which is weird because perfection is a myth. It is in fact impossible.

At one time I had a friend who is in real life involved in editing scientific publications (real ones, the ones people involved in research have to read, not the popular stuff.) edit my first set of reverted books.

These books had already been gone over (twice) by me, and then sent out to my regular chain of editors and proofers.  And yet, he found at least one mistake per page.

I was mortally embarrassed until he pointed out to me once he was in charge of a proofreading department with (I think) 15 proofreaders.  Because he’s a hard task master, he had each person initial each line, just to make sure they at least attempted not to skip any.  (Because a lot of it was numbers and data that must be absolutely right.)  He then told me when the pages landed on his desk, they had still the average of errors he found on my work.  And he was sure, despite his immense effort, some errors escaped him.

I’ve seen this over and over with processes that are supposed to yield perfect results.  Perfection just isn’t in us. No matter how hard we try.  Even the best whatever has a moment of distraction, a day their head hurts, a moment of confusion.  And an error, great or small slips through.

Human systems like societies and cultures are even more fallible and every dunghill cock who yells that we should excuse the massive death tolls of communism and the silent death toll and death of hope and interest in the future of socialism because “capitalism kills through” and people slip through the cracks should be hanged by the neck till dead and then buried in his dunghill.  If there were a way to make him suffer for eternity whatever the ghosts of those killed by the arranged children of Marx wanted to inflict on him (or her. It’s so often a her) I’d vote for that too.

There is a difference between not being able to guarantee perfect outcomes for everyone in a system that nonetheless has lifted most of the world out of poverty, a system that is not even a system but what humans will do when allowed (and even when not allowed. Look at the black markets that prevented people starving to death in communist “paradises”) and a system that promises perfection and from each according to his ability and to each according to his need (spits) and which then proceeds to treat people as widgets, most of them having the same need to live in squalor and misery so the chosen “enlightened” (Dare we say woke) few at the top get to have all of the best and a dacha too.

And hell and thank be to anyone who is cranking, communist systems weren’t “perfect” too.  Had they been their already stupendous death toll would have been multiplied ten times.

Trying to tear down the pretty good in the name of the perfect is delusional.  It is delusional because Marxism’s central conceit has been proven wrong over and over and over again.

What was the central conceit? That freed from the Rousseaunian fall from grace constituted by commerce, work and hierarchical society, humans would be perfected into something lacking individual needs or individual defects. That Homos Sovieticus would emerge, infused only of the need to work for the whole and — of course — perfect.

It’s not just that this didn’t happen (can’t happen) but that humans subjected to the system that was supposed to give it birth became more corrupt, more venal, more willing to die or kill for their own benefit (and that own benefit often no more than a sausage stuffed with sawdust.)

This should surprise no one that hasn’t lived a life of perfect ease and comfort (which I suspect is why most communist adherents come from the ranks of the very comfortable.  Most of its shock troops, meanwhile, come from the ranks of the deranged who long ago traded in their humanity for a hunk of burning hatred and don’t even care if it consumes and hurts them more than the objects of it. And no, their hatred is not proof of injustice. The hateful shall always be with us. It’s an all-too-human failing.)  Humans who are reduced to living like animals and struggling for everything become feral and lose all contact with a higher ideal of humanity.  The only “perfect” thing at the bottom of the communist program for perfection is hatred and blindness.

Which brings us to feral humans.  Yeah, I know, it only took me 800 words to get to the point. You must surely deal. I’m also not perfect, and had an awful night for various reasons mostly not internal.

I was thinking — I’ve been thinking of stuff like this a lot, as I try to chart a course for the future, partly because 2018 scoured my attachments as clean as possible (except for my marriage and family. I’m not giving 2019 ideas.)  Even my friends are, for various reasons, very busy and while I still love them and I presume they love me, no one has any time. Last time this happened was 2002 — about legacies. About what I want to do and say with this megaphone I accidentally picked up, and of which the biggest part MIGHT well be the fiction.  What do you say? What do you do?

And then I thought of Terry Pratchett.  Terry Pratchett could be said to have brought me to fantasy.  I read fantasy before him.  Fantasy was just never a favored mode of story for me.  Partly because when I first encountered it in Portugal I had no place to put it.  Parts of it were just “how life is” (i.e. a lot of the old legends are assumed to be true) and part of it was “do they really believe that cr*p.”  Also by virtue of being where I was D & D passed me entirely by (I have a strong feeling if someone had shipped me a manual, my little friends and I would have carved our own D20s from potatoes and played like fiends.  Sometimes I think much of what we did was struggle blindly towards D & D but we never got there.) so the whole trolls, elves, etc. was more than a little bewildering. At times still is, I’ll be honest.

But Pratchett, found in 92 because SOMEONE in Colorado Springs bought all the English editions and then sold them used (I swear it must have been in trips to England, as I had to spawncamp at the used bookstore to grab them when they — irregularly — came in.) made me like fantasy and sold me on his world.

He’ll never be one of my formative writers. One doesn’t meet formative writers in our thirties.

But part of the reason he appealed to me was the long buried British strain of my upbringing.  As Foxfier noted, I often SOUND like Agatha Christie. Which is nothing short of amazing since I was i my late twenties by the time I read her in English.  But I read her in Portuguese before my teens. And before her, I read Enid Blyton who went a long way to forming who and what I am (more on that later.)

Before I met Heinlein, (in books. I never met him in real life) that substratum was there.

What I never thought — never occurred to me — was that Pratchett would have the same influence on my kids (or at least one of them. The engineer embryo prefers hard sf which he found on his own, thank you so much.) that Heinlein had on me.

Older son lives and breathes Pratchett.  Like me with Heinlein, it’s where he retreats when too wounded to face the real world.

When Pratchett died it blew his world apart as much as Heinlein’s death blew mine.  And because he’s his mother’s son, he wrote an elegy to him. Because we deal with unbearable grief by leaking out words like a broken vessel.  Until the cracks plug.  And heal. Or at least scar over.

I happen to think this is one of the most beautiful pieces of writing I’ve ever read, and possibly the most beautiful send off ever.

But the pixels were barely dry before the *ssholes came out to say Pratchett didn’t deserve a send off because he’d believed in suicide for his incurable early onset Alzheimers. And that his stand encouraged others to do this awful thing, and blah blah blah.

Let’s suppose that what Pratchett had was not a defect of the thinking meat.  And lets please, since we are perfect, stand in judgement of a man facing a predicament none of us has faced (or pardon me, I don’t know who’s reading this:few of us have faced) and facing it AS HIM, with his upbringing and background.

And then, yeah, because we’re perfect and shiny and chrome, let’s condemn a man whose books for all their flaws (mostly flaws of viewing systems through late twentieth century European eyes) managed often to distill a scintilla of truth and more — far more — than an ounce of beauty, and managed to make his characters human and admirable.

You mean he wasn’t perfect? And he believed things we don’t? Into the ash heap of history with him, the damnable blot on the face of humanity.

It occurred to me this piece of crazy from the right was exactly the same as the crazy from the left.

“You have to be perfect according to our standards, or we’ll make it as though you’d never been.”

At least the right hasn’t tried to do that to living people yet.  While the left screams “shut up, she explained” the right says “Sweet mind, speak thyself.” Though that might be because it’s the most cruel thing we can do.

But they often do the same “he’s not perfect, I won’t listen” that the left does to living people too.  Eh. It’s a free world.  You’re not forced to enjoy someone.

I’ve read a lot of people who were far from perfect, and derived what I could from each of them.  In a discussion with friends, recently, on the writer whose wife makes poems to suicide bombers, I said I don’t read them because his thoughts “taste wrong” to me, and often make me want to shower inside my skin.  Not as badly as others. But still.  I don’t read him because “it tastes bad” to me, personally.  I know it’s a personal thing.  Heck, there are authors with whom I agree in almost every respect that I can’t read because something about their writing puts me off.  And sometimes that’s only in a portion of my life, and I get over it as I age. I certainly would never deny this writer’s talent (he’s stuffed with it) or say people shouldn’t read him.  De gustibus dictates that he’s not for me. BUT as much as some of his public posturing annoys me, I’m sure people find valuable things in his writing. Or he wouldn’t be as successful as he is.

I certainly don’t demand writers be perfect in their personal lives, or their personal beliefs. I particularly don’t demand they be perfectly congruent with mine.

I was in my thirties — mostly because Portugal is in many ways a remote place where bio and critical writing don’t arrive except by mule, smuggled under a load of fish (or at least the Portugal of my childhood) — before I encountered a screed calling Enid Blyton elitist and racist and pointing out she hated gypsies.

Frankly, I’ve never tracked the racist and gypsy thing down. I never cared enough to, because it doesn’t matter. If anything from her books (Circus of Adventure) I’d think she loved gypsies, even if what she did with them was fairly stereotypical (but then it’s a YA) and I don’t actually remember anyone of other races, in books mostly written about British children in the early 20th century FOR British children in the early 20th century.

Oh, she was elitist. But in a way that our self-proclaimed elites can’t decode. Something that’s impossible for them to comprehend, as though it were written in Martian.  She was elitist from the other side.  Not “My status gives me the right to” but noblesse oblige “we don’t do that because people like us don’t do that.”

And since what she communicated we wouldn’t do included things like be mean to those weaker than us, or make fun of the impaired, she was an amazingly good influence on me.

So I don’t care what flaws she had in her personal life, or her beliefs. Why should I?  I treasure the legacy she gave me, and move on.

Agatha Christie, too, was in many ways a conventional thinker of the early 20th century, and sometimes it comes through her work. But what I loved about it was the profoundly human characters (even the communists) and the fact that she set her face resolutely against the evil of envy and greed and murder.  Oh, and the whole “We weren’t put on this Earth to be safe/comfortable/merely happy” which fit in very well with what I’d got from Blyton.

And as for Heinlein… well, he did believe a lot of things I don’t. Particularly about relationships between humans. Understandable for someone of his place and time who believed the “scientific” papers of the time.  And?

He taught me competence. He taught me to not kowtow to evil. And mostly, he taught me the importance of the human spirit and not squashing that.

I should hate him because I disagree with him on some things? Because he wasn’t perfect?

WHY?

We take from the past that made us the best of their legacy, and we let the evil (or merely the things we disagree with) that men do be interred with their bones. That’s the way to destroy civilization.

Demanding of the past a perfection that no human ever achieved; demanding the past be perfectly in tune with future prejudices and illusions or even new found truths (those are often indistinguishable in the rear view mirror); demanding that people only be remembered if they were flawless does not in fact build a better future. It doesn’t build any future. It tears down civilization to its roots by removing the one thing that makes humans better than animals: the ability to learn from the experiences, heroism, and yes, errors and horrors of the past.

For all we know, after all, the man who invented fire was a slaver who killed little children, hated the next tribe over and beat his wives every night and twice on the not-yet invented Sunday.

But if we extinguish his legacy all we’ll achieve is perfect darkness.

 

 

231 responses to “Legacies

  1. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Hear, hear.

    My views are so obnoxious that if I stuck only to those whose opinions I found palatable, I would have only myself, and I’m not sure about even that.

    If you reject the notion of a bad person with good qualities, qualities worth learning from, you will never really learn the skill of judging good and bad in human beings.

    And with legacies… You played a major role in my discovery that I could write fiction, and that I need a great deal more work to do so. Your tutorials informed my first and second stories. The first worked, the second was an immediate effort to duplicate the success of the first, and was hot garbage. Additionally, finally looking at Swain after years of your recommendation seems to have done me a fair amount of good. I just haven’t had much time. But I will have time.

    • The Left does not reject “the notion of a bad person with good qualities, qualities worth learning from” — they embrace it, as we saw when the Feminist Movement defended Bill Clinton against impeachment “because he protected our right to murder our children in our wombs abortion.”

      Look at the entire message of the #MeToo Movement which revealed the extent to which private predation was overlooked for those who paid public fealty to the Progressive agenda. Harvey Weinstein was clearly wrong-footed when he attempted to buy his way out of sexual predator jail by promising to campaign against Guns In America, but his error was one of timing, not of principle. (Moreover, had he the looks of a young Harrison Ford rather than an old Jabba the Hut it is likely he’d have gotten away with it.)

      • Eh, I think they do. With Bill Clinton, they never acknowledged while he was in power that was he was doing was wrong. I remember all sorts of twisted rationalizations as to why what he’d done wasn’t really wrong, wasn’t really sexual harassment, may have been a bit crude but was certainly in no way comparable to what they had drilled Republicans out of office for, etc. And yeah, part of this was a justification for the masses, but I think most of it was a justification for themselves.

        • And the premise that Billy boy was impeached for schtupping a White House intern is a fine case of misdirection. The two actual charges were for perjury and obstruction of justice in conjunction with the Paula Jones lawsuit.
          And of course the Senate vote failed to reach a two thirds majority and so he remained in office.
          In separate action he was cited for contempt of court, fined, and suspended from practicing law for five years. He was also allowed to resign from the SCOTUS bar rather than face disbarment.

          • Carrington Dixon

            And of course the Senate vote failed to reach a two thirds majority and so he remained in office.
            Of course, would you really have preferred that Al Gore run for (re)election as an incumbent President?

            • I dunno. The Algore is such a hunk of rotten wood (as opposed to Presidential Timber) that he might have embarassed himself out of position by 2000.

              *shrug*

              My personal take was that, regardless of the charges, what the Republicans wants to impeach Clinton for was A) all the stuff they KNEW he did that was unethical, but won’t be able to prove one way or another until he’s been dead for 20 years and B) the President of the United States isn’t supposed to be banging the help. That may be par for the course for the Leader For Life of some Third World kleptocracy, but the POTUS is supposed to e able to do better. Sure, when St. Kennedy the Martyred was bedding Marilyn Monroe he was taking advantage a deeply insecure woman, but she WAS the National Sex Symbol. It looked better.

              • And Marilyn Monroe was not an employee. She was a free agent. (Yes, you can argue power differential and all that, but the point stands. )

              • I think there’s a fair argument that incumbent President Algore, with the baggage of replacing the by-then-sainted Billy-Jeff, would have still lost TN and FL and thus the Electoral College.

            • “…would you really have preferred that Al Gore run for (re)election as an incumbent President?”

              At least it would have been funny. The ALGORE had some pretty extreme ideas back then that didn’t come out during his campaign because his campaign staff stuffed a sock in his mouth, sat on his chest, and made him punch himself in the face (no doubt saying: “stop hitting yourself, stop hitting yourself”) until he agreed to keep is “better” ideas secret (such things as OUTLAWING THE INTERNAL COMBUSTION ENGINE). If he would have short-circuited straight to POTUS via Cigar Sniffer Bill’s impeachment, there probably wouldn’t have been anyone to shut him up.

        • And even in the era of MeToo, we had Lefitsts going “O! Willie Horton!”

          As if pointing out that a presidential candidate had deliberately ensured that a murderer was let out of prison, leading to his committing a rape of uncommon brutality were not the only sane thing to do.

  2. Sometimes I think our time is drunk on perfection, high on it, or perhaps demanding it, like a two year old in the candy isle at the grocery store.

    Would that we were. Instead we have an entrenched culture which demands (more than) perfection from certain factions and excuses gross imperfection from those it deems “morally correct.”

    Look at the “debate” over AGW for an example. The shoddiest possible
    ‘science” is fawned over when it supports the narrative while the most cogent of criticisms is casually dismissed as “Denialism” or attacked because it’s funded with “tainted” dollars — as if the funding mechanism a) matters or b) isn’t basely manipulated.

    Look at the Wisdom Of AOC, celebrated in the MSM and any criticism attacked as “I think there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right.”

    One side in our public debate is held to a standard beyond perfection and the other side is being held to a standard of advancing the narrative.

  3. I had to spawncamp at the used bookstore to grab them when they — irregularly — came in.

    Silly immigrant. You are supposed to befriend the bookstore owner/staffers and make sure they know they’ve sucker fish on the line for any of those books as soon as they come in, and thus they put them aside, held back for the “special” customers.

    What, you doubt the lives of used bookstore staff are so dreary they are not susceptible to a little bit of charm?

  4. The logic of not mourning the guy because he supported medical suicide is … self-contradicting, the offense is against folks having value, and that’s why we mourn.

    I know when I heard he’d passed, I feared he’d killed himself– and was glad of the slight comfort that he had not.

    • I too was glad. And I’m sure the eternal artificer welcomed him, whatever his sins, because his quality and his legacy shone like gold. Or rather like love. PTerry loved people, and it shows. And He who made people can’t help but respond to that.
      So, I look forward to meeting him again, in the long hereafter, where we’ll laugh at how foolish we both were, on this side. And maybe talk cats, because that’s what we always did when we talked.

      • PTerry loved people, and it shows.

        And that my dear, is why the jackals attacked him after he’d fallen. He didn’t even denounce Teh Deplorables!

    • When Pratchett was alive and advocating suicide, I was all for fighting him. (And I prayed for wisdom for him as well as healing.) Because a lot of us are suicidal in the good times! Nobody depressed should get encouragement to kill themselves when chronically sick and low on energy!

      But when he stopped trying to kill himself and was getting more treatments instead, I was glad he had gotten some sense, or that someone around him had. I certainly hope that none of his pro-suicide efforts bore fruit (or destroyed fruit), but it was all very out of character; and frankly, a lot of his own characters would have advocated the opposite.

      Fear makes a lot of people do strange things.

      More to the point, we are directed to pray for the souls of even and especially our enemies, much less for our confused friends and families and acquaintances. I had met Mr. Pratchett briefly a few times during his healthy years, and he was a polite man with kindly instincts. I hope he is with God, or at least hanging out with the virtuous pagans, because otherwise he was a strong voice for goodness, sense, and what is just and right.

      We have all done stupid sinful stuff; it usually should give us some understanding when others go evil and/or foolish.

      • We have a friend whose wife was finally diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, she was 62 (I think). In hind sight it became obvious she’d been failing in little things at home for the last 6 to 8 years before diagnosis (now over 10). Which actually put the illness as emerging before their marriage.

        It was hard to watch/hear, & we are at a distance, from her. She was our friend because of him. She was more of an acquaintance due to mutual volunteering. Met him at same place, but we have/had more in common with him so more of a friendship. We did offer to host her if he needed, for reasons, never have had to.

        My other experience with dementia was my Grandmother. Ultimately she was diagnosed with social dementia. But not until grandparents were forced into a different county (month before they died). Because she came across lucid socially, the county they were in, wouldn’t let family interfere. Because family couldn’t interfere grandparents situation continued to deteriorate, medically, physical surroundings, & financially. Any interference was deemed “elderly abuse” by the county they resided in. Talk about frustrating. Family knew situation wasn’t “right”, but until everything crashed, & diagnosis was made, didn’t know how bad it was. Then everything went fast (grandpa died after 10 days in hospice, grandma two weeks later less than 24 hours after his funeral).

        My point is. Personally had some contact with Alzheimer’s & Dementia, but not close & personal. Let alone having to watch someone over time deal with the diagnosis or be the person dealing with the diagnosis.

        Sigh. OTOH. Starting to see some of the stubborn things Grandma pulled in Mom … but we’ve another 6 to 10 years to worry about it (when we saw grandma really start to deteriorate). AND, FYI. The apple here, didn’t fall far from that stubborn tree, but I’ve got another 30 years before kid has to worry about it … I just turned 62.

      • My objection to the Suicide movement is that I don’t believe for one fat instant that it will stop with assisting lucid people who want to die. The Terri Schiavo case scared the piss out of me; it showed that we had gone from “We’ll allow you to decline life support if You painstakingly prepare legal documents in advance” to “We’ll take the unsupported word of someone with a financial interest in your death that this is what you would have wanted.”

        People behave as if the autopsy that purported to show she was brain dead made this all ok.

        I don’t friggin think so!

        • One of our biggest problems as humans is that tolerance leads to acceptance which leads to approval. That wedge drives the entire abortion debate as well as drug legalization and all kinds of sexual predation. I’m perfectly willing to overlook a lot of things which I disapprove of (as long as they don’t hurt others), but I refuse to give up my disapproval or believe that my tolerance is hypocrisy. “Hate the sin, but love the sinner,” as the holy man saith.

          • Legalization of most drugs strikes me as a good idea. The War On Drugs doesn’t seem to materially hinder the flow on the black market, and has cost us a lot, not even counting money. The whole litany of no-knock, dynamic entry, SWAT raids on everybting down to VFW poker games comes from the WOD. So does the festering pile of corruption known as ‘asset forfeiture’.

            A lot of the Drug Deaths that are routinely ‘viewed with alarm’ are a consequence of adulteration issues, which one hopes legalization would address.

            But for me, the icing on the cake is the way the WOD seems inevitably to lead to interfering with the treatment of chronic pain. If the WOD causes one person with chronic pain to be unable to get effective medication, then I flat don’t care how many druggies it saves from themselves; it’s still barbarism.

            Abortion is going to be done in by the arrogance and self-rightious stupidity of the Pro-Abortion forces. I fully expect to see it tightly regulated (to the point of only being for mothers in immediate danger of death) in most States, possibly excepting Nevada and a few of the more extreme Peoples’ Republics.

            Human Trafficking could be dealt with most effectively by leaglizing prostitution, thereby allowing women who were being coerced to go to the Law without fear of being arreested…or blackmailed by crooked cops. In fact, one of the reasons I suspect that the Human Trafficking hysteria is the old Victorian/Edwardian White Slavery panic with the serial numbers filed off is that it’s purveyers DON’T advocate legalization and DO advocate policies that effectively mean that ‘Traffcked’ women are imprisoned – without trial – in ‘rescue’ operations. The old Victorian panic has been judged by historians to have been driven by Society women who resented the sexual competition….and it looks to me that we are seeing that again.

            • . The whole litany of no-knock, dynamic entry, SWAT raids on everybting down to VFW poker games comes from the WOD.

              That’s gang related, more than drug.
              They get money from drugs being illegal– but if it wasn’t drugs, it would be (more) human trafficking, murders, stolen goods….
              And IIRC the “VFW poker game” was much less sympathetic than aimed— short version, they were closer to why laws against unregistered gambling exists, even before money laundering.

              • I still would like a coherent explanation as to why a dynamic entry raid on non-violent suspects is EVER justified. The scenario seems full fo possibilities for mistakes in judgement, misunderstandings, and general mayhem…many of them lethal.

                Also, any State that runs a Lottery is in a piss poor moral position to outlaw any kind of gambling.

                • Because violent guys don’t go “hey, yeah, we’ve got our auto weapon pointed at the door.”

                  Also, any State that runs a Lottery is in a piss poor moral position to outlaw any kind of gambling.

                  It’s not the gambling, it’s the fraud (crooked tables), tax cheating, and money laundering.

                  • See, if it weren’t for the Progressive AND Puritan instinct for creating black markets, we wouldn’t have the ‘Eliot Ness and the Untouchables’ mentality that leads to full on raids on the house of somebody with no violent record. There are violent criminal gangs in the US. BUT the police do these dynamic entry raids a lot, and a lot of them are bad information and or wrong addresses. And more are ‘the mook smokes a little pot, maybe deals some’. And homeowners who react rationally to being woken up by their door caving in at 3 in the morning get killed. There are cases where a dynamic entry is justified. There are cases where a SWAT team is crucial. But by doing it in so many cases the police have shifted too much of the risk from their shoulders to the citizenry. It needs to f*cking STOP.

                    There was a period in the 1990’s and early 2000’s when I was tracking drug use statistics. I was taking them from the DEA, figuring they were unlikely to understate them. At that time,myearmafter year, the figures were that the DEA claimed about 16 million regular users of illegal drugs, of which 10 – 11 million were basically pot smokers. That left 5 – 6 million for all the rest. ‘Regular user’ was defined as once a month or more.

                    5 – 6 million ot of (then) 270 Million is slightly over 2%. That isn’t an epidemic. That’s a hiccup.

                    Legalize all drugs. The the dealers will fight over territory in court, and if they want to stay in the drug business they’ll have incentive to keep their noses clean otherwise.

                    Oh, it won’t be paraidise, but maybe we could get back to the idea that a cop who kicks in the wrong door is an inept thug who needs to find other work.

                    • And more are ‘the mook smokes a little pot, maybe deals some’.

                      If you trust their lawyers and Reason.

                      I’ve caught Reason and their buddies hiding important facts– say, that somebody was a suspect in a murder, and turns out that they were eventually found guilty of it– but it was “just a drug raid.”

                      Same goes for a “violent record” or “only pot” or the dozens of other justifications– I remember what happened when they caught the crime ring that broke into my car, cleaned out the glove box and stole my tire. They were actually dealing a wide variety of illegal drugs, stealing identities, draining bank accounts as well as stealing radios and anything of value in vehicles.
                      They were found out because one thought that they’d cheated him on his share of the take for the hard stuff, and went to the cops, who broke in with them having a bunch of electronics, dozens of falsified identities, various drugs in large amounts ready for distribution, and weapons. (The detective that returned my tire gossiped a bit.)

                      They were eventually found guilty of…possession of pot without intent to distribute. Given a suspended sentence, too.
                      Don’t get me started on the co-worker who was a (proud) dealer and car thief, but they couldn’t get anybody to testify against him.

            • BTW, from the evidence, demand for prostitution appears to outstrip supply of those willing to enter into it. Or there’s just demand for the power of a sex-slave, in addition to the current issue of more normal slaves, heck if I know.

              • Also child prostitution is going to stay illegal, and with the way they can prey on runaways, not going to go away.

                • The laws could – and should – be rewritten so that the child prostitutes themselves were not breaking the law. As matters stand, a child prostitute who goes to the cops is almost certain to be arrested, or blackmailed into sex with the cops, and in any case will be shipped back to whatever situation made them leave home in the first place. It’s a combination hit that ensures that child prostitutes will stay as far away from people who might be inclined to help them as possible.

                  • Since I was a teen being deemed ‘trafficked’ meant that a prostitute put into circulation as a minor (some were in their 20s) wouldn’t be charged for being a prostitute, although they might be charged if they were one of the pimps or were luring new meat for the pimp, so they can get help; arresting them gives the cops the ability to keep them away from a bad home situation, if there was one.

                    The only thing I can find is that some states allow those 16 and up to be charged for prostitution, and cases where cops had to make up bull charges to be able to “arrest” trafficked kids (example: minor in possession of tobacco for a 14 year old) instead of dumping them into systems not made to deal with either the emotional abuse used to keep them “willingly” with the pimp, or violent threats gangs use, or…well, horrifically, folks here are familiar with the growth in 12-15 year old assassins in Mexico when they set up their laws so nobody under 16 can be charged as an adult, or held after turning 18. Same thing happens in prostitution. This ignores the “I’m 15” illegals with gray hair, too.

                    I don’t know what to do about someone who gets broken like that, but I know pretending they’re normal victims of assault is going to get people killed.

                  • That won’t do you any good. They use force now.

                    There was a girl who, to escape her pimp, came running into Covenant House New York City when it was substantially below freezing. She was wearing no coat, and no shoes either.

              • All statistics about Prostitution are highly suspect, the more so when there’s a ‘morals crusade’ going on. The ‘Human Trafficking’ bullshit keeps putting out scary numbers that are not upheld by subsequent reality; claims that so many hundreds or thousands of trafficked women in an area justify a major task force…which then turns up a few dozen women who can be shoehorned into the definition of ‘Trafficked’, if you squint.

                I recommend the ‘The Honest Courtesan’ blog if this issue interests you. Sorry, no link. My Web-Fu is weak.

                The Historical theory about the White Slavery panics that kept cropping up in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is that they were driven, to a great degree, by women who were accustomed to using access to sex to coerce the men in their lives, and who thus deeply resented the existence of rental-sex.

                It seems to me that the women who have hysterics about ‘Human Trafficking’ are curiously silent on the subject of female enslavement in Islamic nations, where it is a serious and widespread issue. Instead they carry on about it HERE, and decline to consider the possibility that some women – however misguided – have chosen sex-work over other options. This smacks to me of Feminist scolds who are scared that if rental-sex is available, men won’t put up with THEM.

                I wouldn’t. But, then, I found my life mate a third of a Century ago.

                • All statistics about Prostitution are highly suspect, the more so when there’s a ‘morals crusade’ going on.

                  Except that should favor the legalization angle. It even removes the motive for someone to claim they were forced into prostitution when they weren’t.

                  But that doesn’t happen. The demand goes up, going off of the numbers of “I was enslaved” reports.

                  It seems to me that the women who have hysterics about ‘Human Trafficking’ are curiously silent on the subject of female enslavement in Islamic nations, where it is a serious and widespread issue.

                  Wouldn’t know, I haven’t met any who have hysterics about it at all– and most of the actual human trafficking work that isn’t directly tied to the cartels is Islamic. Generally raping maids they bring over with them, and getting pissed when the ladies escape and the cops don’t hand them back over.

                  The only folks I see flipping out hysterically also fixate on ‘human trafficking’ being exclusively sexual, when it’s not. The kids Obama’s department farmed out got that into the news a little, even the girls that were found in a sweat-shop in LA hit the news for a little while.

                  The slavers do tend to rape the victims, but more normal forced labor seems to be the main profit angle.

      • “but it was all very out of character; and frankly, a lot of his own characters would have advocated the opposite.”
        That is what I thought also.

        Kind of fits with what Frank says here. Still we are disappointed when our favorite authors can’t be as perfect as their fictional creations.

        Frank | January 8, 2019 at 5:14 pm | Reply
        I can usually separate a writer’s stories from a writer’s biography and (frequently) his ideology. That’s because what makes a good story is what makes a good life. That’s how writers with real talent, even be they raging ideologues of evil, will write stories of heroism that belie their own ideology. Yes, I’m looking at you Joss Whedon. Rarely in their stories (and never in their good ones) do the characters mimic their ideologies. Somehow they never seem to notice this.

        • In his book The Rhetoric of Fiction (I recommend it), Wayne C. Booth talks about the “implied author” — the sort of person you would deduce the author to be from the work — and how it frequently differs from the actual person, often by being a better person.

          In A Rhetoric of Irony, he noted that Saul Bellow told him it was unsurprising that the implied author was often a better person, what with all that careful revision.

  5. You mean he wasn’t perfect? And he believed things we don’t? Into the ash heap of history with him, the damnable blot on the face of humanity.

    I paste here the Wkipedia description of one of Ayn Rand’s sock puppets characters:

    Ellsworth Monkton Toohey is Roark’s antagonist. He is Rand’s personification of evil—the most active and self-aware villain in any of her novels. Toohey is a socialist, and represents the spirit of collectivism more generally. He styles himself as representative of the will of the masses, but his actual desire is for power over others. He controls individual victims by destroying their sense of self-worth, and seeks broader power (over “the world”, as he declares to Keating in a moment of candor) by promoting the ideals of ethical altruism and a rigorous egalitarianism that treats all people and achievements as equally valuable. Rand used her memory of the British democratic socialist Harold Laski to help her imagine what Toohey would do in a given situation. She attended a New York lecture by Laski as part of gathering material for the novel, following which she changed the physical appearance of the character to be similar to that of Laski New York intellectuals Lewis Mumford and Clifton Fadiman also helped inspire the character.

    Criticism is often a tool deployed to point out that great men are merely men, as if that contradicts their greatness. oddly enough, such critics often dismiss their own flaws, as they are “simply human.”

    The only standard to which they strictly adhere is the Double Standard.

  6. even if what [Blyton] did with them was fairly stereotypical

    OMG! A writer, a YA Writer who employed stereotypes! Stone ‘er! Good writer, literary writers, WOKE writers never use a stereotype! They never employ a plucky adventurous heroine with father issues who understands & defends homosexuals and social outcasts! Their writing depicts minorities exhibiting the full range of human complexity from A to B. They never present a villain whose tribal markings are white, male & Christian with no deeper exploration of motivations! They would never use a deus ex machina device such as a wise, empathetic My Little Pony equine companion as adviser!

    Please! Most contemporary literature is as laden with stereotypes as Piers Plowman. What matters to such critics is that all such be the correct stereotypes.

  7. Comments when ever there is some sort of accident reported in the newspapers where a car was involved: it’s always the fault of the car driver. Doesn’t matter what the story says – if the person walking was crossing the street when the light was red to him, it’s still the driver’s fault because he should have noticed and stopped in time. Doesn’t matter if it was also pitch dark and the walker was wearing dark clothing and had no reflectors because the driver should have adjusted his speed so that he could stop in time when he finally noticed. If it was a biker running that red light, going at full speed, same thing, the driver should have noticed and stopped in time. If it was a walker stepping onto the street to cross it in a spot where there was no crossing, the driver should have noticed in time to stop. No matter if it was rush hour and any driver would have had most of his attention on the car on front of him so he wouldn’t cause a fender bender when the first car stopped suddenly. The driver should always, ALWAYS, also notice everything else going on, including walkers and bikers doing stuff they shouldn’t be doing. What if it had been a child too young to know how to act in traffic!

    Sometimes the commenters are also telling that they are drivers themselves, but THEY would never be so reckless as to hit a pedestrian or a biker, no matter what…

    I suppose part of that is because far too many assume that every single time it is because the driver WAS reckless, as we of course way too often see ones who are. However traffic is also something where every single one of us is always depending at least some on luck – nobody is able to stay totally alert every single second, and even the way our senses work is against us there, we always miss a lot as what we see is NOT the world as it is but as our brains interpret it to be according to the always at least somewhat faulty information our senses give it. Hence the unreliability of eyewitnesses and things like the Invisible Gorilla, we see what we assume is there as often as we see what actually is there.

    So even the best and most careful driver ever in the whole world might one day run over a pedestrian crossing the street, even in full daylight where said pedestrian was clearly visible, because the driver’s attention was divided for the critical moment and he just plain didn’t see what was clearly in front of him. Because he got unlucky and that pedestrian more so and they met at that exactly wrong moment.

    But a lot, hell of a lot people demand that the drivers of cars should be perfect while they do not demand the same thing from the pedestrians and the bikers.

    I assume that is because the ones driving the cars are perceived as being the strongest of the three. If they hit either of the other two they will most likely not be hurt personally. Maybe there will be damage to their cars, but not to them. And because of that the other two are the underdogs in those encounters. And people often like to side with the underdogs.

    So if you are seen as the stronger in some encounter it’s quite possible that far too many people will demand that you should be perfect.

    And the same seems to go for people who are in some ways pretty damn good. Maybe because they are then no longer underdogs. So nothing is forgiven, and every fault fastened upon.

    Looks like being pretty damn good is in some ways a lot worse than being a known loser. Because the losers are forgiven a lot more.

    • I’m reminded of the idiot protesters who kept running onto a highway, at night, thinking the light on their phones would protect them. And when one of the idiots got hit, there was great upset because “The driver should have seen her!”

      Because it COULDN’T have been her fault, running onto the highway, at night, with a tiny light would have been PERFECTLY safe if only the damned driver, etc.

    • Years ago I was driving along, on a not-main street that had no or almost no stop signs and there were some kids on bikes and.. I slammed on the brakes as something wasn’t right. And a fair sized group of kids all screamed through the stop-sign they had… but had I not stopped, the news would NOT have been “Bunch of Dumbass Kids Get Clobbered Ignoring Traffic Sign.” I did get a couple looks of “What the, traffic?” or such as they went by.

      [And that is (one more reason) why, if I am on a bicycle*, I will stop at the signs – a few years ago I got some funny looks for doing that.. from cyclists. From motorists, a different look of disbelief.]

      * Having friends at convenience(s) store relate how many people drive impaired, even at 8 AM… I am ever less inclined to not have a steel cage around me for wheeled transport.

      • Cyclists…

        A few years ago I saw a cyclist blow through a red light (it was for a four way crosswalk, and thus there was no cross traffic at the moment), right in front of a cop on his own bicycle. The cop didn’t even twitch in response.

        • Before he started drinking the NY Times Kool-Aid David Brooks had an interesting Weekly Standard article (which was, I believe, the genesis of his BoBo ((Bohemian Bourgeoisie)) thesis) observing that in many New England towns they determined right-of-way according to moral virtue, thus cyclists always had right-of-way over cars.

          One more argument in support of the idea we’d have been better off letting New England secede back during the War of 1812.

      • Ages ago, when I was in Japan and tootling around the base in my little Honda Mini, I narrowly escaped hitting a Japanese Local National on his bike – tootling around the long oval avenue which ran the length of the base in front of the historic old HQ building. It was dark, mid-winter, snow was falling, the LN was wearing dark clothing, had now reflectors on his bike, and he was nonchalantly and obliviously riding along in the car traffic lane. By the grace of God and swift reactions, I did not hit the stupid bastard, or go into a skid when I swerved.
        Because, of course if I had hit him, it would have been my fault. In the dark, wearing dark clothing, no lights or reflectors on his bike or person.

      • Locally, we have a promotion called Blue Zone, some kind of fitness thing. Parking spots marked somewhat further from the store (we usually park 50% further away) and such.

        The spokesdoctor for the program decided that one snowy day she’d take a sled down the side street. Where it crossed the busier street, she kept going. Doctor on sled vs pickup truck was quite the mess.

        One nice thing about this area; the general reaction was “she was a dummy for doing that…”. I never heard of any criticism of the driver. Daytime, but I gather she was going pretty fast. Oops.

        • Sheeesh.. it’s amazing how sometimes someone so smart can be so dumb, and this is hardly the only example I’ve heard of or encountered.

          It does remind me, though, of a conversation Pa once related to me. When Pa rather young, his father (my grandfather, of course) related how he’d sled down the street they lived on… and the sled would indeed cross (a) main street:

          “Wasn’t that dangerous?”
          “Dangerous?”
          “Cars.”
          “There weren’t any then.”

          Still suspect that any collision, or even near-collision, would have been a pretty nasty thing with pained or spooked horses.

        • The movie City of Angels had Meg Ryan as a trauma doctor, and she would bike to work. Sans helmet. Drove me nuts, because that was such a stupid thing to do.

          Wouldn’t you know it, *spoilers for movie two decades old* that was an actual Chekov’s Gun instead of a stupid, since she died after a bike/vehicle collision.

    • Driving at the speed limit, in base housing, my wife had a 4 year old child dart out in front of her from between two parked cars. No warning. No body chasing her. No ball or toy rolling into the road. No way to see the kid before at all. Fortunately, she only hit the kid hard enough to knock her down and scrap her up a little without actually running over her. Drivers can be doing everything right and still have an accident. It’s not always their fault.

      OTOH, at least in America, and everywhere I’ve been in Europe, most drivers are exceeding the speed limit. Most drivers are going to fast for the posted speed limit, their vehicle condition, weather, traffic, road, etc. most are following too closely. Most do not allow enough space to pull out into traffic. Most do not signal changes in lanes or turns. Way too many are doing something other than just driving the vehicle. For those drivers, any accident they are in is at least half their fault.

      • Fault which they will deny simply because they were doing the very same damn thing that they’d gotten away with 99 times before.

        • Just because you can stomp your foot on a stick of dynamite a dozen times without it going off doesn’t mean it won’t go off the next time you do it.

        • scott2harrison

          To be fair, I have driven in places where signalling a lane change would immediately result in the space you were going to change into disappearing.

          • Which is reason 66 why I no longer live in California.

          • Happens frequently in most big cities, and during rush hour.

            • I have also heard it about New Jersey highways. Remarkably, both the times I have driven those (granted, not the busiest) and the one time I accidentally went through DC during rush hour, people seemed to proceed with surprising courtesy.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            I was always amused by the Atlanta driver I saw, who squeezed at 70 mph into a space with maaaaaaaybe a couple feet on either bumper…and then put on his blinker.

          • Right, should you drive in the environs around Boston (particularly Rt 95/128 or Rt 93) you use of turn signals is viewed as a challenge. You might as well take out the proverbial red flag and wave it at a bull (no disrespect to Orvan intended).

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Of course, the purpose of the “red flag” is to get the bull to go after the flag not the person holding the flag.

              Our Ox would ignore the flag and go after the person (assuming he had reasons to do so). 😈

              • Aye, you seem to have it. When younger and there was a bus to and from school, some had the ‘Great Idea’ to casually, ‘accidentally’ slip a foot or leg out into the aisle as I was moving along it. They protested, but everyone knew the real story, when the tripping failed.. but they got a good, solid *stomp* as a nonverbal ‘suggestion’ to think such a thing over. This happened more than once… but somehow it failed to become a common thing.

            • Meh. it depends on what you drive. For years I drove a ’75 Buick, cold Detroit steel with a mismatched paint repair of a gouge in one fender. Other drivers would look at that, recognize a driver who didn’t care, and slide aside to let me merge.

          • Not to mention that everywhere, leaving adequate following distance means someone will duck into it.

            • Yep. In Finland too. Irritating as I try to keep those. Especially during winter, after having slid to hit the car in front of me on bad weather a couple of times when young when I tried to stop (neither time much damage to either as the speed was by the time I hit very slow, but those cost me some anyway. Not to mention embarrassing).

              I’ve been also hit from the back a couple of times too, but as neither caused any damage to my car I let them go without asking for anything. The other time there was noticeable damage to the car which hit me though. I was driving a Lada Niva with a trailer hitch on it, one which was connected to the underside with some very solid steel bars very thoroughly welded to it. Afterwards my father told me that he actually did find some signs on those of the hit, but nothing which needed fixing. The other cars front bumper on the other hand got into a nice V-shape, and there was bit of dent also behind the bumper… driver didn’t look particularly happy even if I did let him go without asking for any identification or calling the cops. I had stopped when the lights turned yellow, I assume he has assumed I’d drive through and was intending to go through the intersection after me.

              • Grin. Yes. The driver of the corvette (a low slung long hooded white sports car of some sort), was not happy with sliding under the ’82 heavy duty 4×4 pickup (it was not jacked up, just regular, short enough, didn’t need it higher) I was driving at the time; 5 PM traffic. He got out screaming at me for “stopping suddenly” in the middle of the street, as I was sliding out of the door. I stopped because the police cruiser in front of me stopped, who stopped because traffic, all 3 cars till the red light was stopped.

                Officer saw me turn on my flashers, & get out of the pickup. So he did too. He asked what happened? My response, because I hadn’t gotten to the back to see what had happened was “I don’t know. No idea what he’s yelling about, because pretty sure riding my brakes for the last 3 blocks is an indication I might have to stop.” Pickup went 20 to 25 miles an hour without your foot on the accelerator, traffic was moving slower than that. “Besides, I stopped because you did.”

                Got to the back of the truck. Saw what the other driver had done. Officer looked over the truck, no visible damage**, & sent me on my way with his card. Said to fill out the accident report, but not turn it in unless I heard from him; he’d give me the other drivers information then. He then turned to the other driver. Never heard from the officer.

                Damage to the sports car. Well hood was totaled clear back to the windshield.

                ** No invisible damage either. Hubby had it inspected.

              • There have been a couple of times when going through on a yellow has saved me an accident.

      • Car stopped at a red light. Nobody on corners, what you can see, nothing coming, either in car lanes or bike lanes. Pull out slowly into cross walk to get better visibility for legal right turn. STOP, fully, not even a CA rolling stop, which is legal at that point if no traffic is seen. Only to get hit by a bicyclist, going the wrong way riding fast on the sidewalk (note, bike lanes on both sides of the road, so “technically” bicyclist was 100% illegally riding). Bicyclist didn’t stick around. Just clipped the bumper. No damage.

        No way I would have seen the cyclist even if I’d been looking for him specifically, I don’t care what the light color was.

        Had police been right behind me, doubt I’d have gotten a ticket, but had it been reported in the news anywhere, doubt bicyclist would gotten any blame either.

        • A bus was sitting on a side road, behind a stop sign. I am trucking along the main road — no stop sign — and the bus abruptly pulls out ahead of me.

          Slam and swerve and I get away with nothing more than pounding heart, but — I’ve been in two accidents where I was on the school bus. It would have been BAD.

      • And if your wife had driven over that kid lots of people would have assumed it was totally her fault, no matter what the evidence. Partly, yes, because there are far too many actually reckless drivers. But there are as many reckless pedestrians and reckless bikers (if not more, especially those damn bikers… yep, I have had a few close calls). I still think it has to do with the underdog idea, or possibly that virtue idea, that the ones environmentally friendly AND using less money for their moving because bike – less expensive – or their feet, no cost at all really except for footwear – are the ones whose side is taken more often, to the point that there are far too many people who seem to always assume their innocence and the driver’s guilt, on reflex, and often enough even no matter what evidence may be given that the driver was not at fault. Their argument being that no matter what the driver should have driven so that nothing bad could happen to the pedestrian or the biker.

        They think you should not drive a car unless you can be perfect at it.

      • Two of our vehicles have adaptive cruise control (it’ll follow the leading vehicle at a safe-ish distance if it’s going slower than the programmed speed). One part of the cruise control is the ability to set a precise speed (Subaru is quite fussy about it; Honda will let you overspeed a few MPH on a hill.)

        I’ll set the CC for 55 MPH (the limit) on the highway. Plenty of places for cars to pass me if they want. Some spots in town I’ll set the speed, but it’s a bit nervewracking in traffic.

        • Love adaptive Cruise. Hyundai will let you override how fast you have CC set, nice for pulling steep hills on freeway or passing. What you can’t do is set CC at (I think) 25 or below, but you can set it higher, then use the “slow max speed down” to actual traffic flow, or slightly higher. Nice on the 55 mph Beltline (OR 569) when backed up over the river. Then you let the ACC stop/go with the traffic flow. Set it just right, there are few stops. But you have to get it set before you get to the traffic backup. The Sonota 2015 doesn’t have collision stop avoidance, when ACC isn’t engaged. Both of us thought ACC was a feature we’d never use. The regular CC yes, ACC, no. Boy were we wrong. We both love it.

          • The road departure facility also helps a bit. (Driving several times over the Cascades with one functional eye meant that I’d take all the technological help I could get.) It sucks when the road is snowy or really wet (the machine vision is good, but by no means optimal), but it can help.

            I picked the Honda Ridgeline model to get the ACC and road departure features. The budget said OK, so we went for it. No regrets.

            • I think we were a year or two ahead of the availability of the lane departure & actually does something collision avoidance options. Our’s beeps at us when going outside the lane without signalling, & squalls if collision is real possible, but you can avoid if you are paying attention. Might have been available in luxury high end, but not in the Hyundai Sonata top model.

              We are looking at the Hyundai Santa Fe & other midsize models. They all have it now, standard.

              Hubby only has tunnel vision too. But then he’s been that way since he was 4 or 5, from a childhood accident involving a climbing child & a **chain link fence. He doesn’t remember anything else. I can’t imagine dealing with that as an adult.

              ** To point out that I was a tyrant on kids climbing chain link fences when I was around is a bit of an understatement. My kid or not. Actual scene: “I said they could climb on the fence!!!” (me) shrug, “Your (older) kid’s coach left eye is legally blind because he did that as a kid.” (pause) “She said get off the Fence!!!!” Every. Time.

          • I keep forgetting that you live near my in-laws. I know EXACTLY the place you’re talking about—and I don’t think I’ve ever been through there at full speed. The Delta Highway merge just kills all the momentum.

            • Yes. West bound Delta interchange kills the momentum. East bound it is River Road & River Avenue. Spoiler alert, the new merge lights have been very helpful. You know: backing traffic up onto RR, River Avenue, and Cresent Avenue, plus have made the problems worse both directions toward the Willamette Beltline Bridge. (okay sarcasm off).

              I used to get on Beltline E bound in the AM, from the NW Expressway. Anytime it was backed up that far, I went another direction. I did have to get over the river somewhere (near new Eugene Police building). Retired now.

              Problem with west bound, is you don’t know there is a problem until you get there, with no good choices to bail if it is bad; unless you’ve been at Costco. If Beltline is backed up over Coburg, no sense in going Cresent, because that will be backed up too. Been a few times we’ve taken Coburg South, to pickup 6th street. Ain’t that a joy, but at least traffic is moving.

              3 ways over the river. All of them get backed up during “rush hour”. At that I can’t complain, because even stalled, you might add an extra 10 minutes to any commute; what locally is called “sludge” (doesn’t count major accidents). Recently they’ve added big electric boards that tell you what your commute time is from the electric boards location; to River Road/W11th or Delta/I-5. W bound is right at the Coburg exit. E bound is just after the NW Expressway on ramp. Nope, not very helpful either.

              • Honestly, though, in terms of slowdowns, while it’s annoying, it’s so much lighter in terms of the cities we’ve lived in (like Denver and Sacramento) that it’s more looking out for idiot drivers than worry about time for us. Unless a kid has to use the bathroom. We really try to avoid that.

                • Hubby grew up & learned to drive in San Diego. Granted he left mid ’70s. He has no sympathies at all. I grew up here. I remember when 569 was 2 lane & ended at River Road. Mom says it didn’t come that far when we moved in in ’63. I do remember the bridge over River Road went in before I was in HS; not sure of the exact year, but before ’71.

                  Not that we go South often (or ever anymore) but anytime we are where more than 2 lane freeways are a possibility, for some reason hubby doesn’t let me drive … Besides the # of lanes, I learned to drive when it was max double nickle, & was well in my 30’s before the speed limits increased. I can handle 405/I-5/205/I-80 in Portland, but otherwise, no thanks.

                  When we were in Scottsdale, AZ, I learned how to use the shiny new nav system on the Sonota to navigate street level only, no freeways; or walked. We were down there for his annual mens club golf trip. FYI. I walked a lot.

      • The scary thing is that hitting someone when you couldn’t do anything is MORE traumatic than doing it when you are drunk driving.

        • My dad hit a motorcyclist on a dark road, when the man came out of nowhere, was wearing dark clothes, and HAD NO LIGHTS.
          Dad was clearly not at fault (he’d have diverted not to crash, but it amounted to suicide, as it was a mountain road with a rock wall on one side, a precipice on the other. The guy came out of the only opening in the rock wall (a minor road.)
          Dad was not at fault. No one thought he was at fault.
          He still helped pay the man’s hospital bills and sat by his bed till he was out of danger, and suffered untold psychological damage.

    • If it was a biker running that red light, going at full speed, same thing, the driver should have noticed and stopped in time.

      Do not get me started on the subject of “virtuous” bicyclists who seem to believe that because they’re not in a gasoline-burning vehicle, they’re entitled to ignore the traffic laws. I have seen bicyclists do things that would get automobile drivers sent to jail.

      • Both my kids have had bike versus car accidents while bike riding. Both of them were at fault, although for the oldest, the car driver was equally at fault for failing to stop for the stop sign, or looking to see if anyone was approaching on the sidewalk. (It’s unlawful for anyone over the age of 12 to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk in NH.)

    • I was quite glad when I realized the construction on a bridge near my house was adding a walk-way to it.

    • I drive a tractor-trailer, it’s always my fault. There was a court finding last year about a car that had crossed the median in a divided highway during a snowstorm, and hit an 18 wheeler driving the other way. The truck driver was found at fault because as a professional driver he should have known it was unsafe to drive with those conditions and should have been parked elsewhere rather than driving.

      • Same reasoning that made TX stop recording your score for the range test for a CHL. When you had to shoot someone and it went to trial, if you didn’t shoot perfectly but passed, it was “you weren’t good enough to carry”; if you did shoot perfectly (not that hard), it was “you’re such a marksman you could have shot the perp in the leg”. Catch-22.

      • How evil.

  8. For all we know, after all, the man who invented fire was a slaver who killed little children, hated the next tribe over and beat his wives every night and twice on the not-yet invented Sunday.

    In my world he invented fire in order to roast little children because they tend to be somewhat flavorless without cooking.

    • The Wright Brothers were pretty nice guys, but even they were sue-happy.

      Btw, there is a revisionist book now, claiming that Wilbur did it all. The author could not actually get any of the dates right, including that of the infamous 1913 Flood. It was not a typo, because the guy based some of his theories on the non-date that he had created for his book.

      Vick Mickunas, one of our local reviewers, was basically banging his own head against the wall, gently and repeatedly….

  9. …because SOMEONE in Colorado Springs bought all the English editions and then sold them used…

    Another data point in the suspicion that Historical Engineering might be / have been taking place.

    • Peterson AFB is in Colorado Springs. So is Ent AFB. Airmen tend to buy books when they’re overseas, then swap them at used book stores when they’re Stateside. The local AFB is almost certainly the source of the various British paperbacks on my shelves…

      • And, once again, the mundane explanation…
        I might have Occam’s Razor burn.

      • Heh. Stars and Stripes bookstores were my friend for most of my military career; even after I discovered I could order the books directly from the publisher myself.

        • Mine, too – overseas for such a long time! My rule was that if I saw it in the S&S, and wanted to read it, better buy it NOW, because it would be ages before the base library got it (if ever) and the S&S never got many copies of anything. What they had on the racks was what they had …
          I did have subscriptions to a couple of British book catalog services, though – and Athens had a couple of very nice English-language bookstores, so it wasn’t that I was TOTALLY deprived…

        • I found the thrift store on Sasebo Naval Base yesterday, for the couple hours it was open in the evening. Emerged with eight or nine books, including some interesting science fiction, paranormal romance, and some historical stuff. Total price for all of them: $1.

          Good thing I found the post office, too. I will be MPSing a box to myself.

      • Don’t forget SGC, which has grown so large that they had to kick everyone else out of Cheyenne Mountain a few years ago.

  10. And then, yeah, because we’re perfect and shiny and chrome…

    Anyone want a big swig of hexavalent chromium?
    No?
    Didn’t think so.

  11. riteturn/Mac'

    These people have no idea that they will be eaten by their own in a few years because the list of sins is always expending. It has to, because the only way many can feel they have elevated themselves is to condemn and denounce others.
    There is no predicting what will retroactively destroy your reputation in the future. Something innocently posted on Facebook today will be the basis for your expulsion from civil society tomorrow.
    Is there a picture of you in a wool coat? A jacket with a fur trim? Even if it is synthetic it is promoting the IDEA. The same with fake leather – the very idea of copying the barbaric customs should make you ashamed.
    Have you used improper pronouns? I bet you have. Waving goodbye? An obvious white power gesture. You should have known even back in the dark ages of 2019.
    I bet you dated people who identified as a single gender, didn’t you?

    • It’s not that they have no idea, they don’t think it’s possible. Because “WE are good people going after fascists/nazis/evil conservatives/worthless libertarians!”

      Tried to point out to some people on a Bookface thread that their ‘Attack and silence anyone who says things we don’t like/somehow threaten SOMEBODY/and so forth’ was, sooner or later, going to turn around and bite them in the ass with big poisoned fangs; that got me called a ‘nazi enabler’ for thinking free speech should actually include people you don’t like and ideas you don’t agree with.

      • that got me called a ‘nazi enabler’ for thinking free speech should actually include people you don’t like and ideas you don’t agree with.

        Because the actual Nazis were notably in favor of allowing “people [they] don’t like and ideas [they] don’t agree with.” to speak.
        Organizing Principle #37 from the Dept. of It’s Different When WE Do It

    • I haven’t even dated a radiocarbon!

    • Is there a picture of you in a wool coat?

      PETA is attacking the sheep shearing industry, in part because the sheep are not seated in comfortably padded barber chairs and given a choice of styles or even a hot towel. Even worse, many of the magazines in the shearing sheds are hopelessly out of date and tend to reflect the reading interests of the shearers instead of the sheep..

      • You might want to try it — I’m told they’re really hot.

      • Shearing sheds sound more comfortable than doctor’s waiting rooms through.

        • A few minutes, and you’re done. You don’t have to go in search of a bunch of thorny bushes to run through, either.

          Yesterday I was in an auto shop (all male employees), and all they had to read was basically the gossip rags. I remarked to the son waiting with me that I much preferred our hairdresser’s (female) place, where she put out her old issues of “Guns and Ammo.”

          I ended up reading yesterday’s column, to distract me from the mental writing with nothing handy to record it. Only partially worked… while I’m not one that has characters talking to me all of the time, I do come up with rationales for various plot elements – yesterday, it was the biological reason for the extreme sex imbalance in a posited alien race.

          • Makes you wonder why for most of history no extreme sex imbalance in humans when a single male can “service” a number of females. That doesn’t count socio-religious structures promoting polygamy.

            • a single male can “service” a number of females

              But can he support them in the style to which they would like to be accustomed?

              • Heck, most guys can’t even support themselves in the style they would like to be accustomed.

            • Well, that is because reproduction is not the only reason for having males.

              Many of our closer genetic relatives only have one primary male reproducer at any one time – but for band / tribe survival (genetic line level), they also need the surplus of stronger and more aggressive males, even if most of them will not pass on their particular genes.

              • riteturn/Mac'

                You need a few disposable idiots to run in and stick a spear in the Mastodon to weaken it so the older and wiser males can finish it off later.

            • Because if one man has a hundred children with a hundred women, his mother and father (by having a son) had a hundred grandchildren, whereas the women’s parents had one apiece.

              NOTHING can stand up to an evolutionary pressure that huge.

              There can be subpopulations where there’s an advantage to having one or the other, but there is always a counter-population with the opposite advantage. (Chimp mothers can continue to influence their grown children’s status. Therefore high status ones have more daughters, to reap the benefit; low ones, more sons, to escape the detriment.)

      • This is sarcastic, right? With PETA, it’s hard to tell.

        • The perversity of PETA approaches infinity. I swear they try to outdo fiction.

        • No, no, the activists are pushing “vegan wool” because shearing is demeaning and brutal to sheep. Now, how they will have their vegan wool without using petroleum products, the PETA types have yet to figure out, nor how to keep the sheep from dying because of the weight of the unshorn haircoat and the things tangled in it.

          • how they will have their vegan wool without using petroleum products, the PETA types have yet to figure out

            If we get started on things the PETA types have yet to figure out Sarah’s gonna need a bigger blog.

    • “Did you know an animal DIED to make that coat?!”

      “I didn’t know there were any witnesses. Now I’ll have to kill you, too…”

      • Is that you, Mr. Gein?

      • Feather Blade

        “Did you know an animal DIED to make that coat?!”

        “Yes, I did. And I took great pleasure in offing the little vermin too…”

      • Do 1%er Bikers ever get called out for wearing leather, or pimps for fur?

        • Actually, I’ve never seen one in real life that was wearing leather, other than shoes and maybe a belt. The usual attire is jeans and a shirt with a denim vest with their club “colors”.

          • I have come across many, but then I rode a lot when I lived in Texas.
            Then some of the times, it was me in critter skin.
            I got a red and black full set, pants zip to the jacket and are somewhat drag race legal, and most track days allow them.
            Made sure, for the RTE (Ride To Eat) we had at a trendy cafe with a Vegan Menu, I wore that outfit. They served me cold soup with my sandwich.

            • my late BIL wore full leather often.

            • I was going to argue with TRX on that one, too, but Joe was specifically talking the gangs– from the death photos, they do NOT look like normal “I like my skin” bikers.

              • The Banditos I came across a few times were in varying amounts of critter skin.
                Also, the group of 5 in San Antonio was actually polite and helping folks blend into traffic as we came up on a construction zone.
                this was around the time of the “Twin Peaks Restaurant” shootout.

                • Good enough; none of the few we’ve run into were wearing leather, but then the ones that spooked my husband were wearing the high tech, fancy version— Space Leather!!! (No idea what the stuff is actually made of, but it still looks like space suits to me.)

                  • be careful, the suits might “blow up”

                    That’s the Dinese brand suit. Alpine Stars also has a similar design, and some have multiple charges so you can low side, pick the bike up, and continue and still fall again with the same protection.
                    MotoGP made this mandatory this year, and if your brand doesn’t have it, Alpine Stars makes one you can wear under your preferred (or sponsoring) brand

      • “Yes, and to make my shoes, and my supper, and the buttons, and the spoon, and other things. Waste not, want not.”

      • “Did you know an animal DIED to make that coat?!”

        No, but hum a few bars and I’ll fake it.

        “Did you know an animal DIED to make that coat?!”

        Nonsense! It was made by small children in a sweat shop in Guyana. Only their little bitty hands could do this fine stitching.

    • It’s a counterfeit morality. You find someone worse than you are, and loudly denounce them to make yourself look moral and righteous in comparison.
      Plus, you don’t have to do any of that hard work that real virtue & morals demand, like mixing with the lesser peoples or getting one’s hands dirty.

  12. PapaPat .Patterson

    It may simply be that I am forcing my own perspective on this discussion, and not listening to the squeaks, but I’m thinking about toxic people with good ideas.
    If I am in possession of good ideas, which will, if implemented, bring about individual benefits to those who adopt them, as well as societal improvements due to the uplifting of the individuals;
    Wouldn’t getting that message across be important to me? Perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT thing to me?
    If so, then why in the world would I want to act rudely toward others? My rude, abrasive behavior may cause them to turn away from what I KNOW to be the truth; and if they turn away, their lives will be ruined without hope of mending.
    Why would I act that way? Unless what I was really seeking was not a paradise on earth, but a hell on earth and maybe beyond, for a pack of worthless, contemptible throw-away people. If I really DON’T like people, I don’t WANT them going into the Golden Lands with me. So maybe that’s why I treat people like dirt.
    Just thinking.

    • Or maybe you don’t appreciate the idea that you live in a society in which people, even deplorable people, must be granted the right to make up their own minds and therefore are owed persuasive arguments.

      Or perhaps you haven’t realized that “Because I said so, you ten-toothed, slope-browed sister-schtupping ungrateful inbred oaf!” is not quite as persuasive as it sounded in your head.


      Perhaps you haven’t realized the importance of dressing like a North Korean functionary to enhance your proposal’s credibility.

  13. Because he’s a hard task master, he had each person initial each line, just to make sure they at least attempted not to skip any. (Because a lot of it was numbers and data that must be absolutely right.)

    What field is your friend in? Because I’ve got to say in my field (computational biology) the vast majority of authors and reviewers don’t seem to give a damn if the numbers are right or not.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      There’s a possibility that the friend in question was Uncle Lar, and the time in question was when he was working for NASA.

      The flight dynamics, they are very unforgiving.

      • You only get them wrong once or twice.

      • Now, now. I can neither confirm nor deny any such involvement.
        Apropos of nothing in particular, much of my tenure at NASA was command, control, and data retrieval for experiment operations in low earth orbit on manned vehicles. We always went to great lengths to idiot proof every procedure, those involving hazardous command uplink in particular. That said, because you can never anticipate every experiment result we built many layers of contingency and fail safe into every manned or robotic process.

        • Must say that the 18 months I spent doing ground support for US experiments on the Russian Mir were a great learning experience indeed. Mostly regarding any number of catastrophic life threatening events on orbit.
          High points off the top of my head:
          Repeated failures of the oxygen generation equipment.
          Rupture of emergency oxygen candle resulting in serious cabin fire and smoke.
          Puncture of the hull causing depressurization of the Spektr module.
          Loss of most solar power due to the decision to route power cables through the Spektr hatch which then had to be cut to allow said hatch to seal to prevent depressurization of the entire vehicle.
          And most annoying, trying to locate just about anything on that flying garbage can. Somewhere there exists a video of exactly how packed with crap Mir had gotten over the course of its operations.

          • but, but, they were able to fix things by using a Kiev Hasselblad copy as a hammer!

            On a side note, I own a Kiev SLR medium format camera. They do make a decent hammer.

  14. Regarding “perfection,”

    I’ve come to define”imperfection” as the distance between expectation (or description, or desire) and reality. Things really are perfectly what they really are, whether we want them to be or not, yes? Which means that “imperfection” measures something that isn’t there. Strictly speaking, it doesn’t exist.

    Most of the time, our human desire to move the social status quo from wherever it is (imperfection) toward wherever we want it to be (desire) ends up with us pursuing a path that runs afoul of the deeper physics (i.e., reality); that is, the hidden Natural Laws which impartially and uncaringly govern whether or not the desired path will get us there at all.

    (Whether or not the desired goal is viable within the same physics is a separate question.)

    And then, when our desired path doesn’t work, we double down…

    Snarky associative aside: do leftists believe in reeeeeality?

    From a perfection standpoint, as I have just (negatively) defined it, that leaves us with four tough but inter-related people-problems that need immediate solving:
    1. What is the underlying social physics, the “perfect” set of Natural Laws that faithfully describes what is possible in human social space?
    2. Given the set of social options defined by that universal physics, where in that space is the “perfect” goal destination?
    3. Given that goal, how can we socially engineer our eventual safe arrival there as a society?
    4. How do we enlist the help of our current opponents to help get us there?

    Doubling back around to the main point, then:

    If reality is perfection, in the sense that everything is perfectly what it is,
    and
    if it is just our expectations and desires that are “imperfect” in the sense of failing to map reality adequately,
    then
    the answers to each of these four questions have been right in front of our noses the whole time.

    All we have to do is learn to see them. Further thoughts in my link.

    /ramble

  15. The only person you will ever agree with, 100% of the time is yourself.
    And that is subject to change. (even if you’re not a politician)

  16. Out of curiosity I’ll toss a slightly opposing thought into the mix. I don’t think the increasing tendency to ostracization is about the demand for “perfection” so much as it is a change in people’s definitions of their Dealbreakers.

    The Dealbreaker is, of course, the thing that constitutes an utterly intolerable element in any situation, product or relationship, something which no amount of positive counterbalance will suffice to make acceptable. Infidelity is a relationship Dealbreaker for many; change on a single key issue, or discovery of a single previously unknown opinion, is often a Dealbreaker for political allegiance or creative/philosophical fannishness; and so on. You shouldn’t demand and can’t expect perfection, but it is within the bounds of human reasonability to say, “There are things up with which I will not put!” and enforce those limits. If one accepts the broken-windows theory, or the camel’s-nose-in-the-tent theory, there is even social merit in pointing out that failure to enforce a Dealbreaker will inevitably result in the degradation and eventual dissolution of the Deal for all parties.

    However, if it’s an error to have no Dealbreakers or to fail to enforce the ones you have, it’s also just as much an error to have too many Dealbreakers, or to set their threshold too low to avoid, or to enforce them so inflexibly there can be no restitution or forgiveness afterwards. Part of the reason our culture has become so hung up on its Dealbreakers is its paranoia that forgiveness in one instance will amount to condoning in all instances (which may well be a legitimately slippery slope, but is not nearly so slippery as the Internet makes it look). So while we can still tell ourselves we’re not looking for perfection, if we’re not willing to set our Dealbreakers anywhere less demanding, it amounts to the same thing.

    • Infidelity is a relationship Dealbreaker for many

      Quantum fidelity, OTOH, is often acceptable, as witness Bill Clinton and our current president. Call it Schrödinger’s Fidelity: just don’t open the box and you remain happy.

      • Well, from my distant regard the fidelity practices of moneyed classes fit pretty well with Don’t-Ask-Don’t-Tell “Schrödinger’s Fidelity”, but Billy Jeff was not a denizen of that strata, and by all reports Billy-Jeff’s spouse, whatshername, knew all about all TehBimbos, and only started throwing lamps when stories about them hit the press and endangered her ambitions.

      • Good point. There’s also the Conditional Dealbreaker: something that’s an absolute no-no *except when…* Usually, of course, such exceptions have a tragic tendency to be based on personal or political convenience. “What proice salvation naow?”, as Bill Sykes cynically remarks in MAJOR BARBARA.

    • Out of curiosity I’ll toss a slightly opposing thought into the mix.

      This is the reason why I love this crew. We can talk and discuss stuff like this as thought experiments.

      The progs, even discussion of this = ‘YOU BELIEVE IN IT’.

      …*lightbulb* And that’s why they don’t want even opposing ideas to exist. To them, mere existence = exposure, thus risk of their web of lies falling apart.

  17. There’s a number of memetic faults in human programming for whatever reasons. “Ban a bad thing, and it will go away” is one, as is “don’t think/talk about bad things, and they won’t happen”.
    This is one we’ve seen throughout history- “Let’s delete the past so we can start over afresh with our new, scientific (or Divinely instituted) system”. It doesn’t work, it never has worked, and it never will work. But they try anyway.

  18. I can usually separate a writer’s stories from a writer’s biography and (frequently) his ideology. That’s because what makes a good story is what makes a good life. That’s how writers with real talent, even be they raging ideologues of evil, will write stories of heroism that belie their own ideology. Yes, I’m looking at you Joss Whedon. Rarely in their stories (and never in their good ones) do the characters mimic their ideologies. Somehow they never seem to notice this.

    “Sometimes the things that may or may not be true are the things a man needs to believe in the most. That people are basically good; that honor, courage, and virtue mean everything; that power and money mean nothing; that good always triumphs over evil; and I want you to remember this, that love… true love never dies. Doesn’t matter if it’s true or not. You see, a man should believe in those things, because those are the things worth believing in.” -Hub (Second Hand Lions) by Tim McCanlies

    • Something I discovered I’m going to have to work on is getting the students to separate the individual from the office and policies. “TRump’s stupid so his ideas are too!” “RBG’s nuts so her rulings don’t count.” “Justice Thomas is gay so his opinions don’t count.” Sorry, folks, the universe doesn’t work like that, especially when you get graded on paying attention to policy.

      • A philosophy class in logic helped me with that although I still believe the slippery slope is a valid argument, at least politically. Also I would love to go back in time and slit the throat of the coiner of “begging the question”. No it doesn’t mean raising the question, it means circular reasoning. Just a listing and short explanation of logical fallacies should help your students start to understand. It requires work and discipline to notice it in practice of course.

        • Recognizing the difference between “logically supported” and “very likely to happen” is worthwhile. 🙂

        • AKA, the Fallacy Fallacy– being logically unsupported does not mean something is false.

          • so if one doesn’t believe that, do they have a Fallacy Fallacy Fallacy?
            ***run away, run away***

            • This is an actual thing:
              https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Fallacy_fallacy#Fallacy_fallacy_fallacy
              A fallacy is an argument that doesn’t follow proper rules of logic.
              A fallacy fallacy happens because true statements can be defended through fallacious arguments. Merely proving that an argument is fallacious does not prove that the whole entire position that it defends is immediately false.
              A fallacy fallacy fallacy then, is the claim that disproving particular arguments or versions of a position is irrelevant to disproving the position itself. While fallacious reasoning in support of a position does not, in itself, provide absolute proof that the position is false, it does mean that the person making the argument has failed to present any case for it to be true.

              • Yup. Very true.

                People can be right about a whole lot of things without having the ability to legitimately argue the point that they know is true. Very often we “know” things without being able to even say why we know them. Others can analyze and explain better than others. It doesn’t make them more right more often.

      • But it is so entertaining hearing the laments of the leftoids when one of the leftoid Justices sides with those ultra-evil nutters who thinks the COTUS means what it says it means, especially on 2nd issues, but also others. Kagen has been one most often, and Sotomayer too has occasionally done the correct thing to my surprise.
        It is disappointing when those who should know better get it wrong. Though the dissents, especially by Thomas, can be pleasantly blistering.

      • Almighty and merciful God, save us from those whose hearts are in the right place, but their brains are not.
        Lord, hear our prayer.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      In Whedon’s case, his own behavior belies his ideology.

    • “Second Hand Lions” is such a perfect movie….(not sarc!)

  19. Congratulations to your son on his Pratchett post. He honors Pratchett, his parents, and himself thereby.

    • “Was his work always perfect? No writer would say that of their own work, and he, like all of us, had growing pains coming up. But what made his work special was the ray of insight that lay beneath whatever he wrote. Whatever tale he told, even given that a writer’s job is writing interesting and entertaining lies, his always contained that grain of truth that was at least as valuable as gold.” – RAHoyt

      This.

  20. thephantom182

    “So I don’t care what flaws she had in her personal life, or her beliefs. Why should I? I treasure the legacy she gave me, and move on.”

    This is why you’re in heck with the Snowflake Brigade, Sarah. You’re supposed to obsess over every failure to live up to this week’s fax from the Central Committee by every historical figure. When Lovecraft’s bust gets removed from the World Fantasy Association’s book prize, you’re supposed
    to throw a party.

    Truth that you can’t see the writer behind the book is irrelevant. Truth is not a defense among the snowflakes.

    • Asserting that there is a truth rather than various multiple, personal truths, is a thought crime. ‘Struth, I swear!

  21. Geoff Withnell

    Going back to the proof reading statements. Many studies have shown that if a product stream (and writing is certainly a product stream) contains errors, then NO amount of human inspection will eliminate all the errors. A study with the American Red Cross on blood donation records even showed that adding a second, additional inspection step INCREASED errors. Apparently, humans being what we are, the first inspector, knowing they were being backed up, tends to be less diligent. And the second inspector, knowing the product has already been checked, is less diligent.

  22. Democrat Presidents have had in-house mistresses since Andrew Jackson. I’m sure more than one Republican has put a foot wrong but they haven’t put it on the payroll, to my knowledge…