The Despicable Savage And Other Tales

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Humans are funny creatures.  Particularly now.

I think the biggest difference between us and our ancestors is not that we’re living way longer, that very few humans are actually starving to death, that we can talk to people around the globe in the blink of an eye, or that we don’t need to feel the changing seasons, if we have even moderate wealth.

Sure, those are MASSIVE differences, but the difference I’m talking about is bigger than that because it gets in the head and into what makes us humans.

It’s entirely possible that at some point, after much pondering, an anthropologist will define human as “The ape who makes up and believes stories.”  All other things that distinguish us from our relatives are a matter of degree, but at least that anyone can figure, lacking language they can’t package experience as story and story as something that changes how we interact with the environment.

Which leads us to two things: like anything that helped us become us it has two sides, the good in which the stories helped us build civilization (look, okay, without persuasive stories we’d not even be tribes as such. Even those were and are welded together by origin stories, most fictitious.  We’d be family bands if that.  And there would be maybe a one millionth the number of humans in the world.  Ad we’d be… slightly better apes) and the stories that take it apart.

The problem is the second type of stories is getting too much of a foothold.  And it’s getting it because stories have been so successful AND BECAUSE STORIES ARE EVERYWHERE NOW.

No, seriously.  You see above, where I mentioned that very few people die of hunger now, worldwide? Even fewer people go without story.

You might think that this is a silly thing to say, but it didn’t use to be like that.

Heck guys, I grew up in a strange land and time that was still hypersaturated with story by historic standards, but which was, by our standards, perhaps 1/3 as saturated.  And being a bookish kid who lived mostly in her head, I starved for story.  I used to make mom buy me tiny little books (about half the size of a paperback, but maybe 4 pages stapled together) they sold at the grocery store. They were printed with stripped down versions of traditional fairy tales.  That’s where I encountered stories like The Drunken Soldier.  The Goose Girl. Etc.  But most of them were better known. And I knew them already, but the chance to read a slightly different version made me beg and whine till mom bought it (think kids with candy bars.)  The whole thing read and re-read was over in minutes (at least after the age of 6) but it was still worth it.

Though even in my teens the plot made me roll my eyes, I used to time my walk from the bus down the village street so I could hear the currently playing soap opera (broadcast on the radio. TVs weren’t universal and only ran in the evening, anyway) in snatches through the front doors.  Because, heck, it was story.

Books… I bought all I could, but I still read most of the books I wanted to read standing up in bookstores.  Seriously. I’d read till someone noticed and chased me out, then walk to the next bookstore and resume. Then the next.

And yet, even with all that there were still VAST amounts of time where I was left bereft of story.

Then there were the lean years when we were first married.  Our TV broke down shortly after #1 son was born, and we decided to save for a better TV, but then the money was needed for something else.  So we re-read the books we had, bought when we could, and only bought another TV 8 years later.  (And currently, technically, have no TV, as we watch stuff on the computer.)

But in the wake of a move to CO and getting rid of all non-essential books (the ones I was less fond of, or which weren’t research.  I.e. all but about 300 of them) AND being broke as heck (technically but not really. Sigh. Part of the thing, see, is that if we were willing to live on credit we wouldn’t be so pinched all the time. But not only do we refuse to, but because we know my income fluctuates, we try to save when times are high. And then if we do fall through — I suspect will happen this year, just because of a concatenation of circumstances or to put it another way, everything went to hell at the end of 18, and indie is going to take me six months to get going — and have to borrow, we go insane and live like the refugees of story until we pay it back. That particular year from hell, we were paying back about 30k, between older son’s birth (on COBRA! Emergency caeserean with three surgeons) and being unemployed for 6 months, and moving expenses.  Yes, we paid it back in two years, despite the fact that it was about what Dan made at the time.  We lived as you expect.) story was really had to come by.  Sure, we subscribed to the daily paper and we got some story that way (no? Think about it.) BUT other than that, I was starved for story.  Yeah, we went to the library twice a week, but there were things I couldn’t even read, and… Yep, like a junky in search of a fix, I hit all the free books outside bookstores. ALL OF THEM. I read a lot of — heaven help me — gothic romance, which until then I didn’t even know was a genre.  I read old chemistry and biology school books.  You have no idea.

And sometimes I had to go without story.

But even in that state, I had access to about a million times more “story” than say your well-read medieval person, who might own MAYBE 12 books.  And these weren’t, in general, your goat gagger books, but relatively slim volumes.  I probably had access to more than Elizabethan readers, and they could buy books in stalls in the market (well, pamphlets, and chap books, anyway.)

Go back further than that, and you realize how scarce story must have been.

Which is why we’re wired to pay attention to it. Because the stories that got told (mostly oral) and retold and passed on were if not factual important.  In fact, a lot of the non-factual ones were vital: from welding together tribes with origin myths to convincing your warriors they were invincible, to getting rid of socially counterproductive habits like, say cannibalism, to convincing people to fulfill their roles in society, mythological or just-so stories were VITAL.

The problem is that story has taken the bit between its teeth. Ever since literacy became a thing — about at the level of Elizabethan England, say — we’re surrounded by story, some of it utterly persuasive and completely not only false but counterproductive.  As in “Some stories are against civilization.”

And with broadcast of stories, we can now soak in story even the vast illiterate and “don’t care to read” majority which before got their story second hand through some guy who’d talked to some guy who’d read it.  In fact, it’s easier to become addicted if you don’t read and don’t question.  And story is now served up in song, in movie, in broadcast TV, in (mostly unfunny) comedy every hour of the day to everyone within reach of civilizaiton.

You might be homeless on a sidewalk in a major city, but you probably have a charity-phone on which you watch movies/tv/youtube.

And our school has long ago stopped teaching just the basics and now teaches story.  One of the most prevalent is the story of “humans destroying the planet” and “America is guilty of all ills.”

That last one slots neatly into the entire crazy of the noble savage.  The noble savage is a myth as old as time.  No, seriously.  There are traces of it in the first preserved fables.  Perhaps humans felt some regret at leaving animality behind (some people think that’s what the garden of Eden is about. I don’t buy it, but people do) and tat is embedded in our mind forever.

But no “noble savage” became as noble savagy as the Amerindian.  Particularly in Europe, as far back as the seventeenth century, the tribes in America were invested with all the virtues of upright and exemplary Christianity.

If you read — I do — factual accounts of the frontier you see a different picture. One of my areas of fascination is the meeting of the west with other cultures, and the true tragedy that often ensued, which was a tragedy on both sides, btw. If you read it you can’t help see people with such divergent stories in head that massacres and destruction are inevitable. It’s not, as the Marx story overlay leads most of the world to believe civilized man exploiting/destroying native cultures.  “Civilized” when the cultures met was a matter of degree, and not far. Weaponry etc. were close to each other. The west tends to win because it has a story in the head that goes beyond tribe.  And the “noble savages” tend to commit atrocities and horrors because their story in the head is TRIBAL.

In tribal societies not only are those outside your tribe not quite human but — and this is important — the way to survive is to meet other tribes’ encroachments with the most horrific massacre you’re capable of.  That scares the intruder away and stops the bloodshed. And your tribe survives.

This led tribes like the Zulu or the various Amerindian tribes to commit such horrible massacres that Christian, post tribal, even well-intentioned Westerners wondered IF THEY HAD SOULS AT ALL or if they were beasts in human form.

That is what a true cultural clash is.  We are kind of in the middle of one with Islam, too, and refusing to understand that’s what it is (which is part of the tragedy of a cultural clash.)

Anyway, the real stories, first hand, written down, of what happened are… appalling.  And true tragedies in that it was going to happen no matter how people of good will tried to avert it.

But by the time the story got to Europe we had the noble savage.

Now go back and look at the original Covington footage, the one that had serious minded, supposedly literate people calling for the massacre… of the boys.

In your mind make old Chief Spinning Bull a blond woman.  Make the young man standing there black.  Not ghetto. Not disheveled.  Just a nice, self-contained middle class young black man (the idea those don’t exist is another story. Ignore it.)

Would anyone have seen that as anything but an adult being crazy at a kid who behaved admirably?

Ah, but this involved an Amerindian, the original Noble Savage of modern age (TM) and therefore everyone’s sympathies were instantly with him, and no one even questioned things like “so he was blocking you.  Why didn’t you stop beating the damn drum and instead elbow him gently aside?”  Look, I’m a woman in my fifties and not in the best of health (though the problem right now is JUST a bad cold) and I could politely elbow my way out of that IF the kid had been blocking me.

Of course, the kid wasn’t blocking anyone.  This whole thing was footage designed to hook into the now old story-in-head of the noble savage. And they threw in “Vietnam vet” to get the right. THAT WAS IT.  (True fact, if everyone who claims to be a Vietnam vet had served in vietnam, the human wave tactic would have been ours. Also, probably, our troops could only lie down on alternate days, when the other guys squinched against the trees. It’s another story in head, for complex reasons.)

Stories are insidious and sneaky like that. They get in your head and make you perceive things wrong.

The main reason many industries are rolling left and dying is not because people who run them want them to die (some do, but that’s something else) it’s because the stories in their heads are so dense and thick that they don’t let them see reality anymore.  And they’ve distorted what they’re supposed to do, so they think their job is changing the world, or speaking truth to power, or…. instead of selling entertainment, stories, facts, or razors.  Or you know, teaching kids to do jobs.  Just off the top of my head.

Marxism is a really powerful story in head.  I might have yelled at a few of you about that, in the comments to yesterday’s post.  Sorry. Part of the reason I yelled is that it has taken me so long to see through the Marxist indoctrination I thought I had completely rejected.  But it infects everything, including the way we perceive the world.  Partly because it hooks into the really old noble savage myth.  And partly because it is already old. The older a powerful story is, the more it has infected other stories.  Even those of opponents.

So, people in the western world tend to think of the Noble Savage or the dispossessed or whatever in Marxist terms, in noble savage, les miserables terms.

Perhaps it is the fact that I’m “racially indistinct” (as in, now the incredible pallor of extreme hypothyroidism is falling away, I can be perceived as anything depending on how I dress.  My friend Bill is the same, which is a bond between us) and the fact that — see above — I’m really insecure about spending money and hate to use credit which means our entertainments tend to be cheap, which means really high brow (museums. They’re good value) or low brow, like diners and cheap amusement parks and therefore I see a lot of “the poor”.  Or perhaps it is that I grew up “poor but honest.” But let me tell you that most things people in general believe about the poor — heroic or despicable — are the myths of the Noble Savage and Les Miserables.  Neither is correct.  Nor are even Dickens scrappy, slippery poor.

The poor right now are mostly lower-middle-class and people working jobs that don’t pay much.  In America it tends to be a transitory condition. (We’ve been there. Several times.) People either rise, if the stories in their head tell them things like “If I work hard I’ll get better” or they fall, if the stories in their head tell them things like “You’re special, and the world is against you, and the man won’t let you improve your lot. Here is a government check. Indulge your worst tendencies and uncle sugar will keep paying.”

I mean the left is convinced most of the “poor” have been “left behind by progress” and can’t do more complex jobs.  You don’t need to be smart to rise in America.

How smart do you have to be to show up on time, look clean, operate a cash register?  When I was working at that level, if you did that for a couple of months and wanted to, they’d lift you up to manager so fast.  And even that doesn’t require a ton of brains. Just check who’s supposed to come in, count money, etc.

Smart doesn’t come into it. You don’t need to be able to repair the register or the calculator. JUST run it.  People who say people are being left behind due to low IQ just betray how highly they think of themselves and also that they never worked a starting job, ever, in their lives.

Do you know what the main problem we had when I worked retail? Getting people to show up more than two days in a row. Getting them to pick up the paycheck THEY’D EARNED.  My main problem working retail? BOREDOM. Seriously, it was unrelenting boredom. I became “Super housewife” straightening and cleaning shelves, just not to go stir crazy. IQ? Oh, please. And yes, if you went manager you could make decent living, enough to support family.  No, not enough for two cars and a yacht and a condo on the weekend, so if that’s your measure of “living” yeah, it was brutal. But since I’ve never made that yet, I think of living as something more modest.

Ah, but the myth. “We must help because most people aren’t smart enough for modern society” is really big on the left. It powers most of welfare and make-jobs bureaucrat boondoggles.  And yeah, it’s racist and sexist. (Though probably not homophobic. I’ve never seen any leftist claim that gay people are dumb. Though I presume they, like straight people, have the usual distribution.  But it’s just not part of the myth.)  As the left and Marx have always been.

The vast underclass in America are not noble savages (dear left)or the dispossessed (dear right.)  They’re just people who are very human and have found they can live easy by exploiting the myths in other people’s heads.  Only after a couple of generations, it’s impossible to break out of it.

Looking at the footage of the Covington thing what occurred to me is that Phillips was in fact hemmed in.  Oh, not by the boys, who behaved admirably and who, my bet is, will grow up to be decent productive members of society.

He was hemmed in by his own stories.  Noble Savage. And “Great bad things were done to me.” (Which they weren’t. They might or might not have been done to his direct ancestors, who probably gave as good as they got. Some were done to “people who look like him.” but the possibility that either one of the Covington boys’ ancestors, or Phillips ancestors or anyone was involved in the true horrors of colonization are… minor. It’s a story. A pernicious one.) and of course the Marxist idea that class must fight class, and the neo-Marxist idea that race must fight race and that anyone who wears a MAGA hat and therefore declares he/she doesn’t believe in socialism is an oppressor.

That man is a prisoner of poisonous stories. Everything I’ve read about him shows him to be bitter, mean and full of anger towards… well, everyone.

The stories have him and they won’t let go.

As a purveyor of stories I tell you: Enjoy them. Use them when they’re helpful. Learn to discard them before they eat you and make it impossible for you to lead a joyous, productive life, or really do anything good or build anything that lasts.

Tearing down is easy. But it destroys everything.  And you too.

Most of our opponents are bitter, hopeless people, caught in the hell of their own vision of the world.

Don’t be like that.

 

 

 

148 responses to “The Despicable Savage And Other Tales

  1. Humans are funny creatures.

    Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?

    (I really expected to be able to find a Gomer Pyle gif or video for this. Do. NOT. Look. For. THAT. It will not end well.)

    • “Do. NOT. Look. For. THAT. It will not end well.”

      You know you might as well have typed it into my search bar yourself, right?

      • All I can do is warn you against pushing the Big Red Button; I cannot be held responsible for what happens when you have done so.

        I don’t think any of what you will see as a result of that search is NSFW (well, maybe towards the bottom, where any search is liable to produce such) but it will be banal, jejune, stupid, insipid, and dumb as all heck. And not the LEAST responsive to the search.

    • Embrace the power of AND.

      Though I concede that sometimes they fail to be funny haha. Perhaps increasingly.

  2. Sure, we subscribed to the daily paper and we got some story that way (no? Think about it.)

    HA!

  3. The noble savage is a myth as old as time.

    Enkidu, for example, the Wild Man of Gilgamesh.

    • Tacitus and his Noble German is perhaps the fully developed form — where they weren’t freaks of nature but actual tribes.

  4. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Okay, I have an obnoxious question, but it is for later, when we are both feeling better. And maybe I’ll be wiser by then.

    One of my reactions to Covington was “Why can’t ‘build a wall’ be meant as a solution to the Indian problem?” Of course, I’m on team “maybe the guilt people should be feeling over how the Indian wars were resolved is about our failure to finish the job”. 🙂 That said, if Phillips is the most evil individual of the surviving Indian populations, the job is more or less finished.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Anyway, that led to Build A Wall as an answer to problems of Federal Bureaucracy. I have a mad scheme involving a structure partly inspired by the Pentagon. Build that in the middle of nowhere, relocate a bunch of agencies to it, and terminate anyone who doesn’t want to move.

      • I hear that Riverton, Wyoming is a nice place to put a major portion of the federal bureaucracy (apologies to Riverton residents…)…

        • Perhaps a more decentralized approach might be better.

          Some or all of the Department of Interior could be moved to Interior, South Dakota – smack dab between a National Park and an Indian Reservation – and far from, well, anything else.

          And if Transportation moves to Promontory Point, Utah, adjacent to the Golden Spike NHS but actually lacking in any extant rail connection and far from any highway, it might be for the better.

          Agriculture might work better if it were placed smack dab in the middle of Kansas, or perhaps Iowa.

          • There’s not physical room for them on Baker Island, but we might be able to squeeze them all into Guantanamo.

            Alternatively, move them all to Manhattan Island, then cut the bridges and phone cables…

            • And make Isaac Hayes the new ruler of the island?

              • Well, the Duke *is* A-Number-One…

                Nobody liked my idea of turning Congress into one of those “survivor” reality-TV shows, where they’d be dropped onto an island with limited food supplies, and the last one standing would get his bills passed…

                • That’s only because I’ve just now heard about. Sounds like it has promise…

                  • I’d DVD* & watch that, honest. With “where’s my popcorn?”

                    *I’d have to fast forward through Warren, Pelosi, & a few others. I just can’t take the whining anymore. They put 2 year olds having tantrums to shame, I mean, really …

                    Although my fear is that someone with reasonable bills would take those two to the end thinking “I can beat them.” Then lose. Then where would we be?

                    • Right where we are now.

                    • Well, dang … You are not wrong.

                      Only I don’t tape it, just occasionally change to Fox, listen, change off. I mean, its not like the news changes throughout day. Everything is reported, again, again, again, again, again, again, … I give up.

            • I was about to note that we (the USA) does still possess many islands.

              Actually, the Bikini Atoll is still in our possession, yes?

          • Iowa with its miles and miles of corn fields? And what’s wrong with Fredonia, Arizona, close enough to the middle of the 10,000 square miles of “It would all wash away in the next good rain if it ever got a good rain” country?

          • One of my pet suggestions!

            All you really need is access to a decent airport and you can put them all over the place– just think of the savings vs paying DC prices. SOME things should stay in DC, but it shouldn’t be an assumption.

            • Oh good Lord, NO! Nothing should stay in DC if it can possibly be dispersed! That’s just begging for a nuke or 747 full of jet fuel to be dropped on you. Spread everything out and communicate via email, Skype, and other electronic means. Sure, limited bandwidth and lack of face-time will greatly limit what government can do, but that is just the burden the American People will have to bear to ensure the safety of our beloved bureaucrats!

              • *hands over crowbar for his tongue*
                That is a very serious worry, really, especially with all the important national symbols there.

                The risks of having our elected reps there is probably worth it to allow the whole grievance thing, but department heads? No way!

              • See, Washington DC is a politician-bureaucrat ‘dense pack’ (and oh, how very dense they are!) while what is being suggested is more of an MX-capitol. I’d even suggest that having multiple sites with who is where changing (in not-decided/published ways) every few years. And have more places than actively needed – why make a list of targets that are all ‘woerthy’ when you can have several (not) dummy ones as well?

              • I like the idea of limited bandwidth. I have a couple of Zoom modems that I’d be willing to donate to the cause.

                (Contemplates the new, improved tax code after a few iterations of 56Kb (on a good day) linkage, especially with a requirement to review the full document before approval.)

                Alas, I gave up my 14.4K modem a few years back.

                • What, we can ‘bless’ them with nice, shiny DUAL-SPEED modems?

                  And by that, I mean they have a choice of 110 or 300 baud.

                • I’d like to see the new improved tax code after all members of congress, their immediate families and staff are required to do all their taxes themselves, by hand, without electronic assistance with the knowledge that they will be audited by multiple agents who get a nice bonus for every error they find. (Oh and a removal of all congressional tax perks. as well, just in case.)

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              What if instead of good airports, all traffic went through a single airport with fairly high capacity, but otherwise optimized for being terrible?

        • I’d suggest North Dakota, up near the Canadian border, though Montana (same latitude) would work, too.

          • Wyoming, some in Idaho, some Montana. We already hold significant national assets there, so emplace the Federal Government around Yellowstone … preferably on the downstream side of any caldera eruption.

            Or we could put them in some of those missile silos we’re no longer using.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Michigan.

          Pros: Has some nicely isolated areas. State Representation may already be lost to the Dems.

          Cons: Dems may have too much influence with local construction.

          Gripping Hand: The cold is a trade off with the design I envision.

          • San Francisco Bay Area — already home to those who imagine themselves more intelligent, more enlightened than the average and convenient to the San Andreas Fault. Besides, they would do well to directly experience crazy greater than theirs.

          • What do you have against the citizens of Newberry? 🙂

            OTOH, Vermilion might be a good site. It was pretty a half century ago, though the life saving station buildings tossed on their sides might have just implied the weather is a bit rough.

    • “Why can’t ‘build a wall’ be meant as a solution to the Indian problem?”

      Because all the work-visa Indian electrical engineers arrive in Silicon Valley via aircraft?

      • Amerindian. Feather not dot.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Insert insane pedantry about how not every tribe of Red Indian uses feathers, and besides, in today’s global community every foreign population is essentially a neighbor squatting on land that they aren’t making the most productive use of. Why can’t it be both?

          Editor: Because we don’t have a handy set of pathogens to do the heavy part of the extermination work?

          Editor’s Editor: Dude. Obama’s screwing up of nuclear deterrence means that we are totally going to have a world war waged as a total war with biological weapons. It’ll be rad.

          Editor: You are insane, and fired. Nobody’s biological weaponeers are smart enough to make that workable with an adequate safety margin.

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    With American Indians, there was other problems.

    1) While “tribal”, the tribe had no group that could enforce agreements that were made with outsiders. IE Any agreement/treaty made with the US couldn’t be enforced by the tribe.

    2) Going along with the above, “tribal” societies had no problem with raiding other groups. Of course, this meant that a smaller group of a tribe didn’t see itself “bound” by what other groups of the tribe decided. Normally, the other groups of the tribe.didn’t “mind” what the smaller group did as long as the smaller group “didn’t bother them”.

    Thus when the smaller group raided white settlements, the other groups “thought not our doings” and may have wondered “why are the white tribe angry at us”.

    Moderns who scream about the US breaking treaties with the American Indians either don’t understand the US (at that time) reasonably saw the Indians “breaking the treaty” or somehow imagine that the US reaction was “wrong” because the Indians were “a different culture and shouldn’t be expected to follow Western Ways”.

    Mind you, one of the legitimate roles of government is to protect people under its authority. The US government had to take action against outsiders killing its citizens. Even a non-democratic government would have “interesting problem” if it didn’t protect its subjects. 😈

    • Another factor was that the US federal government was scarcely much better than Indian tribes at forcing John Q. Public to abide by treaty terms and refrain from settling Indian lands, or exploiting resources there. Some efforts were made, but the political will was generally lacking.

      • Without drone surveillance the actual capability was lacking too. “Last of the Mohicans” was fairly accurate in showing how low the force to space ratio was.

    • > the tribe had no group that could enforce agreements that were made with outsiders.

      …and that’s the exact problem the Romans faced with the Celts they chased up into what’s now Scotland, and the USSR faced with the mountain tribes of Afghanistan.

      The Romans also spent centuries playing Whack-A-Mole with the Greeks and the Jews, who by and large weren’t that attached to a physical location. They’d decisively conquer some group, and then they’d just drift off and assemble into new groups. You can almost feel Tacitus’ frustration as he expounds on the Jewish Problem… by all the gods, why won’t those people just stay put and pay their taxes instead of being an Imperial grade pain in the buttocks?!

    • Half of sorting out Comanche history is “Which band did what when?” And compared to the Cheyenne and Dakota/Lakota, the Comanche were, well, not quite anarchists but close. Don’t like what your current leader wants to do? Pack up and leave, find a new rancheria, or found one for yourself if enough others come with you and join you. Old boss made a treaty? So what? If you need to raid you go raid. New Mexico might be left alone, but Texas was fair game, as was Mexico.

      • Navajos and Apaches lived by hunting and gathering…and raiding more settled tribes. Not excluding the white men, when they moved in. Not that the land where they lived was much good for much else. Full of spectacular geological wonders, but in a place where a sufficient abundance of shrubs gets called a forest, it’s hardly prime farmland. Although there are genuine pine forests, they sit on top of soil that has been described as “two rocks for every dirt”.

        • Rocks and dirt… you should see the road-cuts east of Albuquerque. 10 stories of rock and about two inches of dirt held in place by some grass roots and cedar.

        • Not excluding the white men, when they moved in.

          If they weren’t willing to be raided what were they doing moving in, eh?

          Stupid effing pale-faced morons have no character, no cojones, no sense of the neighborhood mores. Send ’em all back to California!

        • Apache started in the High Plains until the Spanish and Comanches ran them out… because the Spanish thought the Comanches were less dangerous.

          Oops.

    • Some groups also had a sort of “boys being boys” tradition where when it WAS their guys doing it, but they were thugging around on their own, it didn’t “count” as the tribe doing it.

      • Given what the Iroquois Confederation did to the Erie and the Huron, and what the Lakota, Dakota, and Omaha did to everybody, I do not want to hear a dang thing about genocide from one of their tribemembers.

  6. “And our school has long ago stopped teaching just the basics and now teaches story.”

    It’s a powerful tactic. How can you deny someone’s personal story?! You brute, you!

    Nowadays, personal story trumps facts, data, and history. Stories feed the Narrative and Narrative feeds the stories. It works so well because you can’t verify someone’s personal stories. At least, not easily. So they can plor theirs down in the middle of a discussion, true or not, and end all discussion (in their minds). Reality be damned.

    Irrespective of that, thanks for the optimistic post. That’s why I pass by here (among other reasons).

    • plor=plop

      Damn my editor!

    • The question I have is how much of history is really nothing more than personal story? After all the cliché is history is written by the winners. i.e. you get their story, and not the unvarnished truth. Kind of like trying to dig the truth out of the media today: you need multiple sources, good guesses, and a lot of skull work.

      • A lot of today’s so-called journalists apparently believe that their job is to afflict the comfortable and to comfort the afflicted. But, inasmuch as journalists have ever done so, it has been a side effect of telling the truth, which involves multiple sources and skill in sorting truth from half-truth from outright lies. In my experience, anyone who digs hard enough for the truth is likely to discover some painful or embarrassing truths about themselves as well. (Since you yourself are the easiest person in the world to fool.) Propagating lies themselves in order to bring down suspected liars or to make their audience feel good is no part of it.

        When journalists abdicate telling the truth as best they discover it, calling their product “fake news” is no more an attack on the free press than identifying quacks and fakers is an attack on the medical profession.

        • Afflicting the comfortable and comforting the afflicted is a byproduct of the assumption that the party of the first part are so by virtue of concealing unpalatable truths, such as “Behind every great fortune there is a crime.” while presumably the “knowledge” they’ve been wronged assuages the discomfort of the party of the second part.

          Utter trash, which is why the creed has so corrupted journalism.

          Identifying quacks and fakers is an attack on the medical profession when such has become the dominant faction in the profession, when they believe their highest calling is selling patent nostrums, snake oil, and practicing bloodletting to balance the humours of the patient. After all, is it not true that the one-eyed man is a dangerous heretic in the country of the blind?

  7. I like the noble savage story. Tarzan is the epitome of it for me. More noble than those sitting in parliment, more savage than the murderous tribesmen and various predators of deepest, darkest Africa; Yet Tarzan lives by the conservative-libertarian ethic of leave me alone and we’ll get along just fine; screw me over and I’ll kill you.

    But I’ll be damned if I can find actual real life examples, other than rarely heard from preppers; and they don’t care to live in a bare cave with a dirt floor and fire pit while dressing in uncured skins and eating whatever small vermin and bugs they can scrape up.

  8. Particularly in Europe, as far back as the seventeenth century, the tribes in America were invested with all the virtues of upright and exemplary Christianity.

    This is rather easier the further removed you are from the reality of the subject matter. People with actual, direct acquaintance of the Apache, Comanche and certain other tribes had far fewer romantic delusions about the nobility of those savages.

    We see similar dynamic in contemporary delusions about Islamists or even the Urban Poor …

    Gee, Officer Krupke we’re very upset
    We never had the love that every child oughta get
    We ain’t no delinquents, we’re misunderstood
    Deep down inside us there is good

    There is good, there is good
    There is good, there is untapped good
    Like inside the worst of us is good …

    • Gee, Officer Krupke, you’ve done it again.
      This boy don’t need a job he needs a year in the pen.
      It ain’t just a question of misunderstood.
      Deep down inside him he’s no good!

      I’m no good!

      We’re no good, we’re no good,
      We’re no earthly good.
      Like the best of us is no damn good!

      Arguably the song is all about what Sarah’s talking about here: exploiting the stories in people’s heads. Rafe even says so: “They believe everything they read in the paper about us crummy JDs. So that’s what we give them: something to believe in.”

      • According to Hunter Thompson, for a while in 1963-64, at least one of the Hell’s Angels clubs made it a point to stop and help every stranded motorist they found and leave a business card: “When we do right no one remembers / When we do wrong no one forgets.” As he put it, “Not as classy as a chromed head bolt, but better than nothing.”

        “Unfortunately, it tended to work something like this: Dad is out about to start changing a flat and a dozen wild bikers come over the hill and pull over. He screams for the Missus to floor it and charges them with the tire iron to buy her time to get away because he’s HEARD about these guys. The net result is one beaten up dad, the bikers in jail for assault and maybe rape, and the business cards get left at the clubhouse on the next run.”

  9. People who say people are being left behind due to low IQ just betray how highly they think of themselves

    Testing, testing:


    If you see an image of the Dilbert comic strip, this test has been a success. If that image fails to appear, please click on the link.

    • I was once told of a fantastic place (and it does seem a thing of fantasy) where the work was technical in nature, but there were no Dilbert cartoons about … and not because of Corporate Dictate that There Shall Be No… which is why I do consider it utter fantasy. If real, it would be one heckuva a great to be.

      • My favorite Dilbert story is where someone signed up for a newsletter, switched computers (somewhat before corporate email was standardized) and Could. Not. Unsubscribe. because the signup computer didn’t exist anymore and the newsletter needed the original email address.

        Actually, the someone was me, and the newsletter was Scott Adam’s in the late ’80s or early ’90s.

        (I think that Catbert worked in HR where I worked. Ratbert had many avatars in real life along with PHB. Not enough Wally’s though we had a few Alices.)

      • *Snicker*
        My last overseas (at AFKN-Seoul in 1994-5) I had the wall by my desk papered in Far Side and Dilbert cartoons – to the general appreciation of my coworkers there.

        • There isn’t an computer person anywhere, whether military or civilian who doesn’t appreciate Far Side & Dilbert.

          Anyone remember the “I’m going to go build me a mini-van!” quote?

    • Test successful. I see it.

    • “People who say people are being left behind due to low IQ just betray how highly they think of themselves”

      Well, yeah, except for people like the employees at Kroger where my wife and I shop who have obvious developmental issues upon extended conversation. They are fully productive checkers and baggers, though: 40 hours a week.

      Of course, self-checkout kiosks don’t require either checkers or baggers. Maybe they should learn to code….

      • well, and the thing is, they’re having trouble finding people to be cashiers because… welfare.

        • Looking at places that hire folks with Serious Underlying Issues also suggests that they will stay once you teach them how to do the job, so the competition shifts to folks who look nice enough to support the store’s desired image.

          I still think one of the things that makes Certain Folks froth at the mouth about WalMart is that they’ll hire visibly deformed, hard-road old, or scarred folks for public service positions.

          • Compare & Contrast:

            Walmart hires “visibly deformed, hard-road old, or scarred folks for public service positions.” Also, photos of Walmart customers have become an internet thing.

            Abercrombie & Fitch, popular shopping venue peddling outdoor wear for people who never go Outdoors, is discovered to be hiring store clerks who are meet “Brand Appearance” standards; world yawns.

          • Oh, if you haven’t seen this segment by Penn Gillette, he lands on that notion with cleats…

  10. Lots of old magazines, some from the 30’s, were piled in one of the rooms of a building (one used both as a place to sleep during the summer, originally, and for storage) on uncle’s farm. I used to spend half of the time I was there (60’s and 70’s) sitting on the stairs of that room and reading through them. First place where I for example ever read about the Titanic sinking, I think it may have been an article on some early 50’s magazine. Or possibly 40’s. At least the illustrations were all drawings, and painting or two in black and white, no photos. The place didn’t have much in the way of books, apart from the family bible which was one grandfather had brought from USA, if in Finnish, seems they printed those in areas with lots of Finnish immigrants. A huge thing with embossed leather covers and nice illustrations. Read it through several times too, just because, well it was stories.

  11. > their story in the head is TRIBAL.

    And it can be that way even in first-world European cultures. The history of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire is a glaring example of that… and why the EU overlords are freaked out about Hungary’s barbed wire and armed border guards. Hungary has spent most of the last two centuries dealing with what essentially were border and immigration issues, and the EU has pushed them to the point of racking the charging handle and announcing “we’re not playing this game any more.”

    • Not quite. Small countries aren’t tribes. It’s a stage up City-State. Still not great, but…

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Nod.

        Tribes are more “extended families” than they are nations (including city-states).

      • Margaret Ball

        Hungary’s pretty tribal, what with speaking a language that’s not related to anything nearby and most people having a distinct Hungarian look. (I can’t tell a Czech from a Hungarian by looking, but they can.) I recall people got very confused because I spoke Hungarian — not well, but apparently better than foreigners were expected to do — but didn’t look right. More than one casual conversation ended with the other guy shaking his head and muttering, “She must be a gypsy,” because the Gypsies were literally the only people he’d ever encountered who spoke Hungarian but didn’t have the typical Magyar look. I don’t look like a Gypsy either, but the human need to classify is very deep-seated.

  12. What amazes me about the Covington story is how far the Left seem determined to go to keep up their story. “Well, maybe this incident didn’t happen exactly [ed. or at all] like it was described, but they’re white males and they were protesting abortion and they provoked it all by wearing MAGA hats and OH LOOK, A PICTURE OF SOMEONE WHO GRADUATED FROM THE SCHOOL AT LEAST 5 YEARS AGO DOING SOMETHING THAT WAS MAYBE RACIST. Clearly, we’re totally justified in telling people to punch these kids.”

    • Yep. They NEED their narrative, because at this point they’re basically a cult.

      • Damn the facts, Full Speed Ahead!!!

        Besides, that was then, NOW he’s a Tribal Elder (Whatever the eff that means.)

        Native American activist Nathan Phillips has violent criminal record and escaped from jail as teenager
        Nathan Phillips, the Native American activist who falsely accused Covington Catholic High School students of blocking him during a confrontation he initiated, has a criminal record — including assault and escape from jail — and appears to have misrepresented his military service.

        Phillips, 63, suggested high school junior Nick Sandmann, the teenager at the center of the viral encounter after separate D.C. rallies, face expulsion for failing to “accept any responsibility” or apologize to Phillips publicly.

        In his own teenage years and early 20s, Phillips, using his adoptive name Nathaniel R. Stanard, was charged with escaping from prison, assault, and several alcohol-related crimes, according to local news reports at the time from his hometown of Lincoln, Neb.

        Phillips, who was 19 at the time, was “charged with escaping from the Nebraska Penal Complex where he was confined May 3,” according to a May 9, 1974, article in the Lincoln Star. The court approved a bond of $500 and set a preliminary hearing for May 14.

        He pleaded guilty to assault on June 19, 1974, and was fined $200. In addition, he was charged with underage possession of alcohol in 1972, 1973, and 1975, as well as negligent driving. A destruction of property charge against him was dropped in August 1973, but Phillips was sentenced to one year probation for a related charge of alcohol possession by a minor. In December 1978, he was charged with driving without a license.

        Phillips also appears to have misrepresented his military service in the U.S. Marines. In April, he was quoted by Vogue as saying: “You know, I’m from Vietnam times. I’m what they call a recon ranger. That was my role.”

        In fact, Phillips spent most of his time in the Marines as a refrigerator technician after initially being an anti-tank missileman for four months. Phillips, then named “Stanard,” was not deployed outside the U.S. and never saw combat, according to the Marine Corps. …

  13. Re. Phillips getting bothered by people like him. If he’s really a member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), then he’s likely been shot at by other Indians, harassed by other Indians, and threatened by other Indians. And vice versa. Especially if he was active in the 1970s into the early ’80s. For a while, at least from outside, it seemed to verge on “Either you’re with us, or against us. If you’re against us, we’ll kill you.” Like so many other groups.

  14. I can see the appeal of some stories, like… I was shopping in a little mystic-ish shop. There was a nice mix of pretty things and then crystals and what-not. And I could see the appeal and even, to some extent, that the women building their reality about this sort of mysticism probably did manage to create it in a reasonably real way. But it was colorful and happy, or at least it seemed so.

    Where does telling stories about endless oppression and hopelessness become so appealing to so many people? I suppose it works as an excuse for not “making more of yourself” if you point at the patriarchy or systemic-whatever or the “man” keeping you down so why try. Does it do anything else? At all?

    Is it like the movie where the guy makes himself into the biggest villain possible because he wants to create a superhero and you can’t be a superhero without a villain of equal strength to fight?

    A pretty colorful shawl and fancy tea selection and pretty rocks lending positive energies just seems so much more pleasant, if one is choosing to create one’s own reality.

  15. Since I live near Philadelphia, I got interested in the whole Mumia thing and did some reading. And one thing that struck me was, when he was arrested (or so I read) hemwas sitting on the curb. He didn’t run. And I have to wonder if, in that moment, he had realized that his whole ‘revolutionary’ life, he had been loving out a role imagined for him by Liberal White players of Radical Chic games. And where it had gotten him was a dirty curb in Philadelphia, havng just murdered somebody.

    If he had that realization, he stuffed it back in the bottle as quickly as he could, and played the role to the hilt at his trial and after, because what the hell else could he do?

    But I wonder. Does he, on some level, know that he killed a man and ruined his own life by accepting the whole Black Power story?

  16. It’s insane just how disconnected folks are and just how much narrative has obliterated truth. You have to search out reality while news, entertainment and everyone else pushes nice, just-so stories that pump them up and tear down enemies. For example, the whole freakout about how Trumpitler is running all transgenders from the military. Where the understanding I have from what I read is that you can serve once stable in biological sex. So ya, if you have a given medical condition you cannot serve. Meanwhile all these folks come out screaming how it hasn’t affected these peoples service (who served under the same rules). But that ruling is apparently driving transgenders from public space.

    But bankrupting, deplatforming, and dehumanizing Christians isn’t. Pull the other one.

    • And note that stability in one sex, if the medical transition has occurred, makes one non-deployable. Which is a violation of current policy, as well. And also incredibly entitled. People who have been injured in national service may be retained in the service in order to ease the burden on those deployed, sure, but elective surgery, even at one’s own expense, or prior to accession, is not the same thing

      Military service is NOT a right. An honor and a privilege, yes, but not a right.

    • Some animals are more equal than others.

  17. I remember when it sank in for me what Chaucer was saying about the Clerk of Oxford:

    For hym was levere have at his beddes heed
    Twenty bookes, clad in blak or reed,
    Of Aristotle and his philosophie,
    Than robes riche, or fithele, or gay sautrie.

    Of course, that was before printing, and twenty books represented a substantial amount of labor. C and I have about a hundred shelf feet of books, and I imagine the Clerk would have thought of that as a library for a major university, or for a royal palace.

    • People talk of how the smartphone is Such A Big Thing and it is, yet a few feet away from is an old chemistry book… the knowledge in that one volume would have been such a revolution only a few lifetimes ago. The books next to it, on radio, is not quite such a guide, but close. The book after that, on television, might as well be a work kept chained to avoid magic spillage. Oh, and that small CRC manual? “Dear Engineer, here is a list of cheat codes for Reality.”

      • Geoff Withnell

        OOO CRC Manual That and Machinery’s Handbook, and I can duplicate pretty much everything up to solid state.

  18. Heck guys, I grew up in a strange land and time that was still hypersaturated with story by historic standards, but which was, by our standards, perhaps 1/3 as saturated.

    If you need proof of how story has infected culture to the point of being the sole definition of culture look at how common Harry Potter references are in the “resistance” to Trump.

    They jackasses call themselves Dumbledoor’s Army half the time.

  19. Tribes. Ancient grievances. Hmmm… One of the more radical ideas in teh United States is E Pluribus Unum, From Many, One. The Revoluton was fought, on our side, by Dutch, Germans (although they all viewed themselves as Bavarian, Prussian, or whatever other German tribe they came from), Engish, Scots, Irish, Welsh, a sprinking of Italians (from whatever Italian tribe….), all against an Imperial power- Great Britain, which used it’s own troops and mercenaries. In the rest of the world, at that time, that alliance of all those nationalities and tribes would be laughable. And the thought of such a ragged bunch beating an imperial power in a head to head match-up unthinkable. But it happened. And they all became Americans. And until recently, the immigrants who came here were encouraged to become Americans. One big identity to rule them all.

    I’m descended from southerners who lost that big unpleasantness back in the 1860’s. And northerners on the other side. So my ancestors got over it. Most Americans did as we mixed together again.

    Watching British shows is interesting. We’re currently binging on Midsomer Murders. A lot of the murders occur due to class differences we don’t have here, and another lot due to disputes that stretch back centuries. And then the run of the mill motives like jealously and money. The McCoy-Hatfield feud is infamous here because it’s an anomaly here, not the way things are. If feuds like that were the norm- no one would know about it.

    I live on land that was owned by the ancestors of a family across the street and down a little. The street bears their name. I’m the 3rd owner of this particular plot of land since the family sold it. The people across the street don’t view me as an interloper on their land. I bought it, it’s mine. Same isn’t so in much of the world. Americans buy and sell everything freely, including land.Identity is tied to the land in cultures we descend from. Losing the family land is a disaster. Even if it’s freely sold.

    • We also are bingeing on Midsomer. It’s interesting…

      • Mrs. TRX is watching them from the beginning for the third, or possibly fourth time.

      • The local station is coming up to the end of the Tom Barnaby era. As this is the second run, I *hope* they have the inclination (and money) to start on the newer shows. They normally run a couple years worth, then repeat, then advance.

        (Checks schedule.) Tomorrow is the last of Tom, and next week it’s:

        Pavarotti. And I don’t think he’s playing Nero Wolfe. Arggh.

    • Back at the beginning of the 20th Century, if you bought an old house you were likely to find out that it was known, locally, as the Jemmens House….Jemmens being who had owned it a few owners back, the intervening residents being folk who didn’t stick around enough generations to make an impression. I think Phil Stong writes about this in HAWKEYES, his social history of Iowa.

      It may still hang on some places, but I don’t notice it much.

      • It hangs on pretty well in the rural South. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to my folks’ rural Arkansas property when they pass on; we have a polite relationship, but no more.

        But that land was in the Yarborough family since the 1840s, and it’s still referred to as the Yarborough place. Unless they’ve made plans I’m not aware of, it’s going to get at least partially sold for tax payments. And that’s going to hurt.

        • We figured that was what would happen with grandparents place when they died. Taxes had been deferred, since they were 65 … 30 years before they passed away. Figured family would go in, pull family **mementos out, tell the county “all yours” & walk away. Nope. Somehow they got a loan, property taxes were current. (double sigh)

          Okay. Change of plans. Bank gets it. Nope. Property alone worth more than the loan. House not. So, it was sold & mortgage was paid. Long term a bank did end up with the property. Don’t know what happened, neither do the newish neighbors that recently moved there. Last time saw property, blackberries were all but over topping the house, & property overran with poison oak. That was almost 2 years ago now.

          ** Nothing worth anything except to family. Grandpa’s paintings, great-grandma’s sketches, grandma’s quilts, china, photos, etc.

  20. Most of my ancestors were people who went west before the Late Unpleasantness began and and sat it out, being more occupied with scratching out civilization from semi-desert scrub. Although I believe one was a Union soldier from Illinois who went south afterwards and married a Texas girl.

    • My ancestors too were mostly those who were west before the Late Unpleasantness, Montana & Oregon. Might have been some distant relatives left north & south of the Dixie line, as well as the johnny come lately that came from Scotland via Nova Scotia, making their way across Canada, south into Oregon. Grandma always joked, of coarse her mother & her sister had to marry foreigners, everyone else they knew were siblings or cousins …

  21. I’ve said elsewhere that the Progressive Left is absolutely determined to take up the White Man’s Burden, to the point where it will take half a ton of C-4 to blast it out of their cold, dead, fingers.

    • If they actually had an idea of what that meant, they wouldn’t be the problem that they are. They are Kipling’s folks in England who think they know how to run the empire but never leave their comfortable homes to see how very wrong they are… Like in the Muddir’s cranes story.

      • https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/pagett_mp.html

        “The toad beneath the harrow knows
        Exactly where each tooth-point goes.
        The butterfly upon the road
        Preaches contentment to that toad.

        Pagett, M.P., was a liar, and a fluent liar therewith —
        He spoke of the heat of India as the “Asian Solar Myth”;
        Came on a four months’ visit, to “study the East,” in November,
        And I got him to sign an agreement vowing to stay till September.

        March came in with the koil. Pagett was cool and gay,
        Called me a “bloated Brahmin,” talked of my “princely pay.”
        March went out with the roses. “Where is your heat?” said he.
        “Coming,” said I to Pagett, “Skittles!” said Pagett, M.P.

        April began with the punkah, coolies, and prickly-heat, —
        Pagett was dear to mosquitoes, sandflies found him a treat.
        He grew speckled and mumpy — hammered, I grieve to say,
        Aryan brothers who fanned him, in an illiberal way.

        May set in with a dust-storm, — Pagett went down with the sun.
        All the delights of the season tickled him one by one.
        Imprimis — ten day’s “liver” — due to his drinking beer;
        Later, a dose of fever –slight, but he called it severe.

        Dysent’ry touched him in June, after the Chota Bursat —
        Lowered his portly person — made him yearn to depart.
        He didn’t call me a “Brahmin,” or “bloated,” or “overpaid,”
        But seemed to think it a wonder that any one stayed.

        July was a trifle unhealthy, — Pagett was ill with fear.
        ‘Called it the “Cholera Morbus,” hinted that life was dear.
        He babbled of “Eastern Exile,” and mentioned his home with tears;
        But I haven’t seen my children for close upon seven years.

        We reached a hundred and twenty once in the Court at noon,
        (I’ve mentioned Pagett was portly) Pagett, went off in a swoon.
        That was an end to the business; Pagett, the perjured, fled
        With a practical, working knowledge of “Solar Myths” in his head.

        And I laughed as I drove from the station, but the mirth died out on my lips
        As I thought of the fools like Pagett who write of their “Eastern trips,”
        And the sneers of the traveled idiots who duly misgovern the land,
        And I prayed to the Lord to deliver another one into my hand.”

  22. And Marx found a way to invent a new kind of tribalism, one that could never be washed away by history. Like AIDS, it gets into the DNA.

    • You are not wrong, but it’s a religion and it is already weakening.

      • 10 million more Central American “voters” later…….

        There’s a reason Obama was careful to scatter groups of “Dreamers” in the Red States like Texas. 58,000 voted here, voter ID and all. And that’s just what’s been confirmed…… They’re finally being prosecuted. The candidates they tipped over the top are still seated in Congress etc. #Winning

        https://www.star-telegram.com/news/state/texas/article225094315.html

        I’d LIKE to be an optimist. I really would. Facts on the ground say otherwise.

        • Imagine here, where it’s vote by mail.
          But Steve, what does being a pessimist get you? If you give up now, what do you guarantee? Who do you empower?
          Fight like there’s a chance, otherwise there won’t be. there is a reason despair is a sin.

          • Gives supporting evidence to the guys making the false accusations?

            • Like they won’t invent whatever they need? When your enemy dictates your possible responses, you lose. It’s why the US never takes military options off the table.

              • When your enemy dictates your possible responses, you lose.

                ….so why exactly are you arguing that them accusing me of doing something bad means that I should do it, even though it’s wrong?

          • Because holding out false hope that “something will turn up” is equally crippling. I’m just not able to force myself to believe that people will decide to be virtuous when going along is easier.

          • You mistake “despair” for a realistic assessment of what it will take to reverse these things. People aren’t motivated to action by people who with every example of problems (that aren’t being addressed) are told “it’s not really that bad; just keep repeating what hasn’t turned things around in 50 years but a little harder.”

    • Envy and greed are two of the deadly sins for a reason. And those are the foundation of Marxism.

  23. Humans are shaped and driven by story … explains a lot for me.

    Made me think of this song by Nightwish:

  24. Warm body franchise tends to accelerate that process, no?