Having had occasion in the last month — because I’m the one who speaks both languages — to mediate two bureaucracies of the same organization across two countries, I’m now convinced most people are not just bizarrely provincial. They’re unaware that the customs of their tribe are not a law of nature.

And people run on automatic with this, even when it doesn’t make any sense.

For instance, when I changed my name at citizenship, I didn’t know I was going to have to engage in a pissing contest over older son’s birth certificate.

You see, North Carolina has — or had 27 years ago — the sort of ridiculous paperwork for producing a birth certificate that would only occur to people who never gave two thoughts to how things are done elsewhere.

Instead of asking for the mother’s maiden name, it asked for mother’s maiden surname, and then drafted a birth certificate using that and the mother’s name.

My name at marriage was Alice Maria da Silva Marques de Almeida. But when I wrote my maiden surname was Almeida they proudly gave us a certificate saying Robert’s mother, when single, had been Sarah Almeida.  Head>desk.

I tried to explain this was a massive problem, because if anything happens and they need to trace their ancestry and/or need to prove who I was before I was married/changed my name, it will read like fraud.

At which point they told me it was okay, because when you change your name, they go back and change your birth certificate.  (Bangs head slowly on desk.)

I had to point out that, as far as the Portuguese government is concerned, I’m not even married yet. Because I’d have to pay a bazillion (more or less) dollars (okay, it was 4k and travel to places with a Portuguese consulate) to have that recognized in Portugal, and I’m just not that invested. Recognizing a name change from another country? not on at all.  Hell, I’m not sure they do the birth certificate thing when you change your name in Portugal.

They eventually conceded and changed the certificate but it took forever and a day, and they kept insisting that of course my birth certificate had to be changed. That’s just the way things were done.

Let’s say what I’ve been battling is of the same order, if slightly more explainable.

This arrant provincialism penetrates everything.  For instance, in conversation with my mom a few weeks ago she told me the doctors that treated me in childhood had no idea what the antibiotic doses were for a child, so they just gave me adult doses.  Later I mentioned this in a party of family and friends, and they all told me it was impossible.  All, of course, except the friend who has spent time abroad, dealing with their medicine, and who just nodded.

Because of this, politics at the international level is blind man’s bluff both ways.

Particularly since all the press is determinedly invested in misreporting and both ours and their sides tilt as left as possible.

A friend abroad assures me that in her country the people think that US anti-abortion protesters are troglodytes and religious fanatics (and also very few) but they don’t know that our abortion laws aren’t the same as theirs. I don’t remember if her country has an utter ban after 10 weeks, or 8 weeks, which they of course assume is exactly the same here. They don’t understand that if they were here and faced with actual attempts at legalizing post-birth infanticide they would, if they’re capable of morality at all, also be anti-abortion (and morally outraged.)

People in Europe, whose countries nationalized/socialized medicine shortly before or after WWII, solemnly tell us that it would be barbaric to just let medicine be private, and that they’d have people dying on the streets for lack of care… as we have.

They have absolutely no idea that our hospitals are bound by law to give care to anyone who comes in. It is in the best interest of their press which is by and large leftist to keep them uninformed and thinking that the alternative to their slow, sclerotic, biased system is “dying on the streets.”

And of course, they have no idea of how many innovations our medical system implements, that are unheard of in their countries.

Then people here hear how satisfied people abroad are with single payer, think it’s a great idea and we should have it here.

That’s not even counting the people who, during the cold war, kept telling me if Russia really were such a hell on Earth, surely people who lived there wouldn’t speak so well of it. The entire idea of suppression and fear meant nothing to them.

And let’s not get started on people who say things like “But it has to be that way. It’s like that here” because they think the way things happen — anything from finding a job to getting married — in their place is the only way they can happen anywhere.

I run into this more often than other people, of course, because of dealing with family on both sides. So I’m more aware of it than the average person.

So, what is this to people who dojn’t have family both sides?

Two things: first the globalization thing. The left still doesn’t understand why it doesn’t work, and the only reason they can figure out for us to oppose masses and masses of immigrants coming in is “racism.” Because they don’t understand how deep culture is, or how much it changes… everything, from work habits, to attitudes towards law and order, or learning, or innovation. To them culture is different attire and interesting food.  And the only reason you could disapprove of those is that you are a vile racist, of course.

They honestly think giving pamphlets to Middle Eastern men in Germany telling them that rape is wrong, m’kay is going to change attitudes towards women that have been taught and propagated for centuries. Because of course, culture doesn’t mean anything.

I don’t, btw, understand how they correlate this with their belief that culture is genetic and can’t be changed, but then, you know, if they were consistent they’d also have to explain how the sexes are exactly the same except for reproductive organs, meaning they think and feel exactly the same, and yet it’s worth it to go through massive surgery because you feel like the other sex inside. Or how saying that people start diverging by sex while in the womb is “transphobic.” (After all why change if you’re already the same. Pfui.)

But this ignorant provincialism is why the left thinks that they can just bring people from everywhere here and nothing of significance will change except they’ll be more progressive by nature because neo-Marxism, through the person of Gramsci, told them so.

Second thing is that as communications bring our world ever closer, and enmesh various cultures into work groups and companies, more and more as tech gets better, the cultural clashes and the assumptions that blow up in people’s faces are going to be spectacular.

And only being aware of the differences will allow people to survive.

Paradoxically, better communication will bring the world closer and further apart, and might perhaps for once and all put paid to the idea that nationalism is meaningless or dead.

Interesting times ahead.

234 thoughts on “Provincials

  1. We used to have arguments in graduate school over whether a researcher doing field work on a particular culture should come from within the culture or outside it. The “within” group said “But he’s bound to miss things!” and the “outside” group said, “But somebody inside the culture doesn’t see all the assumptions.”

    It was kind of a silly argument, given that the only field work we were likely to do was studying languages, not the totality of a culture, but the arguments were an acceptable way to use up the 45 minutes of certain extremely boring classes.

    1. From the sounds of things, though, I would conclude that the answer would be “yes”: you shouldn’t have a single researcher doing field work on a particular culture; instead, you should have one from within, and one from without. Ideally, you should have several “withouts”, where each researcher is also from a different culture of all the others.

  2. The “People are the same all over the world” fallacy.

    I saw it at work plenty of times during the Cold War. We’d hear that the “Russian People” are the same as “Americans” without the speakers really knowing how the Russian Leadership thought.

    Yes, there are always similarities between people of different cultures but it is the differences between the cultures that will get people killed. 😦

    1. In fairness, it is a very natural fallacy for Americans. We have people from around the world, still showing signs of cultural distinctness. It wasn’t obvious that such distinctive cultural elements had been hammered to fit with the overall American consensus culture.

      Your neighbor of thirty years, who speaks very strongly accented English, seems foreign and American at the same time. So you don’t think about how different someone who spent the forty years back in the old country might be.

      Now with Muslims, Mexicans and other elements, it is possible to be in America and not have one’s culture hammered to fit. Some of the subcultures broadly classified as ‘Black’ have even diverged from fitting. There is a growing awareness of alien cultures, but because the understanding is inference and experience, mostly not based on theory, people are able to paint it as racism. (And because it is so painted, there are a number of people who can’t tell the difference between it and real racism. Some of these people slide into racism in this way.)

        1. No, the Left will deliberately and maliciously impede assimilation. Because they rely on hate to gin up votes.

    2. It makes my head hurt that folks who think human nature isn’t a thing also think people are all pretty much the same.

    3. Oh, yes. I’ll add that studying the history of a nation gives insights into how they think. I had a course on Russian history that ended with Catherine the Great…and it was astonishing how much of modern actions fall into place when you understand their past.

      1. Stalin was just Peter the Great mixed with Ivan the Terrible. Hitler was an attempt to resurrect Fredrick the Unique mixed with Bismark. Mao was basically one of the unifying Emperors of the ancient dynasties. Tojo was a return to the Bakufu. Mussolini was a poor attempt at a Roman Emperor.
        And on it goes.

        1. No, Stalin was all Ivan the Terrible’s bad points. Redoubled. Not one iota of Peter the Great, who might have been incredibly hard-nosed, but he led from the front…and IIRC, died from pneumonia he caught rescuing a guard who had fallen into the Neva River.

          No way in Hell Stalin would do such a thing.

          1. Think Peter the Great’s bad points (forced westernization, willingness to sacrifice thousands of workers to make his capital), plus desire to make Russia strong.
            The Russians will love a tyrant as long as he’s seen as strong, but will always despise a weak leader.

              1. The freedom loving libertarian is automatically opposed to any government forcing culture change on it’s subjects.
                Living in an era of forced Europeanization, I can haz sympathy for the old Russians of that era.

          2. Wisely, Stalin would have had him shot for falling into the river.

            Peple are all the same — but their values and their understanding of how the world works… those vary widely.

  3. People in Europe, whose countries nationalized/socialized medicine shortly before or after WWII, solemnly tell us that it would be barbaric to just let medicine be private, and that they’d have people dying on the streets for lack of care… as we have.

    We do have people who die on the streets.  If someone refuses to go to the hospital they are rarely forced to do so, as involuntary commitments for more than an initial limited observation — which is what it would take to see some people received necessary medical care in some cases — are difficult to obtain and rare. 

    Were there people who were institutionalized unnecessarily in the past, when the legal hurdles to involuntary commitment were less strict?  Certainly.  Are there people now who are not receiving care they need because the legal hurdles are now set so high?  Certainly.  Could we design a system were neither ever occurred? Dream on.

    1. The only reason that the European socialized medical systems work to the small extent that they do is because the USA subsidizes the entirety of it with our medical innovations and our bearing the expense of paying for it, not only for ourselves, but for them to. If the Democrats ever succeed into turning us into Venezuela north, the European (and Canadian) socialized medical systems are going to be in for a massive shock. Of course since they have already effectively barred private ownership of weapons and are well on their way towards banning speech they don’t like, it may not be easy for people to voice their displeasure adequately.

      If the European socialized systems paid the actual cost for what our system provides them, they would 1) be even broker than they are now and 2) our system would be far less expensive. But of course that would take away the lefts’ whole pretext for socialized medicine. It has nothing to do with providing good healthcare and everything to do with accumulating and keeping power over other people.

      1. There’s also the fact that the thing that often takes the biggest chunk of a nation’s budge- national defense- is mostly covered by the USA.
        Should Europe have to actually field it’s own armies & air forces, their welfare state would immediately dissappear.

  4. Moving from Australia to the US is probably one of the closest cultural matches out there – and it was still a huge culture shock. Just from that experience I figured out that culture includes a set of unwritten rules that the people you’re with when a child teach by example and get absorbed so thoroughly they’re not part of the conscious awareness.

    Of course this also left me with the view that it’s a good idea to be very very skeptical of anyone pontificating about a culture that hasn’t lived in that culture for long enough to know it’s downsides and what it chooses to present to the rest of the world.

    The US is one of a very few cultures that happily airs its dirty laundry for the rest of the world to see. Naturally, the rest of the world thinks “If this is what they let us see, what kind of horrors are they hiding?”

    1. I found that moving from Center City Philadelphia to rural east Tennessee was a cultural shock in 1970.  I can only imagine the move half way around the world.  I cite Churchill’s quip, ‘Two nations separated by a common language,’ adding that it can be as simple as regions.  That common language thing can fool you into thinking you share more than you do.

      1. I moved from Texas to a Dutch-German corner of the upper Midwest (Lutherans on the left of me, Lutherans on the right of me…). If I had not lived in Germany for half a year, and studied German culture, I’d have been totally at sea. Other than the spoken language, it was like living in Germany again, right down to “Aber, was sagen die Nachbaren!?!” You would have your place kept neat as a pin, or people would… talk.

        1. The clear proof is in how the coastal leftists simply don’t understand anyone who lives outside of that coastal bubble, and why they consider everyone else to be racist, deplorable rubes.

          1. Hell, the Urban Provincials don’t understand anyone who lives more than 25 miles away from a major city. They really ARE mind-bogglingly provincial. Pig-ignorant and proud of it.

    2. “If this is what they let us see, what kind of horrors are they hiding?”
      Me. My foreign policy thinking is totally mainstream, it’s just that everyone else hides it to keep the rest of the world from banding together in self defense. 🙂

      Seriously, yeah, I identify as monster. I’m more moderate than I talk sometimes, we can tell that a lot of my views are quite fringe, and foreign prejudices about American motivations seem to be so monstrous that I would not be shocking in comparison.

    3. Well,a ton of our press hates the USA anyhow, so they have reason to present any warts in the worst possible light. All a throwback to the Soviet meddling.

      1. A lot of our press thinks the Soviets were the good guys during the Cold War.

    4. The cultural differences that are smallest are the ones most likely to trip a person up. Moving from one part of the country to another or… getting married.

      1. German spies in Great Britain and British spies in Germany during WWII were tripped up by looking the wrong way first as they crossed streets….

        Doesn’t matter how much training you do when instincts kick in.

        1. IIRC in the movie The Great Escape (allied POWs make a major escape from a German POW camp), there’s a scene where two of the escapees are in a line to board a train.

          After their papers are checked one of the German Soldiers tells them IN ENGLISH to have a nice day and of the escapees replies IN ENGLISH “thank you”.

          We see the look of shock on his face just be begins to run away.

          He doesn’t make it. 😦

          1. Ironically, the same character was seen during an earlier practice session warning one of his men about that.

            1. In addition, the prisoner (a minor character) chastised during the practice session, was successful with his escape … (I think).

          2. Same sort of thing happened in the movie Inglorious Basterds. Apparently German people use the thumb and first two fingers to indicate three, rather than using the thumb to hold down the pinkie.

            1. That was a big thing for American Soldiers initially arrivig in Germany when I was stationed there in the 90s. You’d go into a bar to order one beer and end up with two when the bartender misunderstood your holding up an index finger for holding up the index and thumb (or at least pretended to misunderstand, I was never quite convinced). One to them is what we would consider a “thumbs up” gesture and the fingers count up from there.

    5. A friend in England said he new half a dozen people who had decided to retire in America. All but one had moved back. Abruptly, after running into some seemingly-minor thing that freaked them completely out. One of them was buying stamps at the Post Office when the lizard people unmasked, or something…

      Heck, I see that in Americans who move from one place to another, then freak out because trash pickup is on a different day. What they’d do when they found that getting their trash to the county dump was their own responsibility, who knows…

        1. I wish I could still do that. It looks like the local “sanitation department” got a big dose of “woke”, and now there are huge fines for burning anything without a permit, which they take pains to assert is highly unlikely should you be silly enough to try to get one.

          1. Burn pit? No this is a campfire for cooking, see the packages of hotdogs and spits?

              1. “Testy” ??? Around here it’d be “come to Jesus, fire preachin’ time”. IF they are feeling generous. FWIW, I’m on the wetter side of the state. Testy, uh, no, way past Testy.

                I’ve been on them fire lines … they ain’t fun. Granted it was over 40 years ago. I was only on smaller local ones (fill in when fire crews were sent off district to the big nasty ones). I was never on the big nasty ones.

                1. Yep, I worked a rural brigade for a couple of years a while ago. Lightening fires are bad (we never had any really bad ones close to us; so far), but the idiot-caused ones get people’s ire up.

                  The people who started their neighbor’s land on fire with illegal fireworks got off light; only a $5000 fine (and a bunch of ticked off locals along with the ODF people–not fun getting up at 5AM on July 5th).

                  The guys who started a 2000 acre fire 5 years ago (a few dozen homes destroyed) either got out of town in a hurry or if they were caught, nobody was talking. That area had a lot of people with no fire insurance and really bad tempers… I was safe from that fire, but the air was downright chewy for a couple of days. I might not have been in the 3S temperament, but I know people who were.

                  1. Yes. I know of a lot of people who can’t get Fire Insurance. Insurance companies flat out will not insure them for fire given where they are; no matter what fire prep they take. My grandparents place outside of Drain/Yoncalla, was like that.

              2. If by around here you mean Southern CA…yeah, I can understand the reasons for that. My family was stationed at Vandenberg in the late 70’s, and my father knew several of the men killed.
                CA’s environmental policies don’t exactly help, but hey, you can’t be blamed for that much.

        2. It’s still legal here, outside fire season, though if anybody does a burn on a red flag (extreme fire danger) day, the powers that be will be extraordinarily annoyed. Happened to a neighbor once. (Innocently slides phone into pocket.) The offender was required to put it out and to stick her head in the barrel to be sure it was out. I’m sure the (illegal) plastic crap did wonders for her lungs.

          The Oregon Department of Forestry types are good people (in my experience; YMMV) but you do not want to piss them off, especially on a red flag day.

          Now that mixed paper recycling is kaput, I’ll use a week’s worth of paper as firestarter in the shop stove. I have to do periodic burns during fire season, but it’s legit in a stove, and safe if you are careful.

          1. You must be on the less wildfire danger side. There are places where you’re lucky if the powers that be get at you; they can protect you from the mob.

            1. No, we’re on the bad side. I felt generous and turned them in to ODF. In our county, shooting an idiot like that would probably get jury nullification. OTOH, I didn’t like the “probably”. Might have gotten city folks on a jury.

              OTOH, those people left the area a week or so later. They were building up a reservoir of hate to them, (non-fire related), so it was time they left.

              1. Yes. K-Falls is on the really fire dangerous side of the Cascades.

                Pretty much the safest fire areas in Oregon would be: 1) the coastal range to the coast, less some of the more southern reaches east side of the coastal mountains, south of the Willamette Valley. 2) Willamette Valley, through foothills of the west side of the cascades.

                It has been a long time since there has been a large fire in the Coastal range north of the Umpqua River. Less than than that in the Cascades. But, even at that, other than evacuating hikers & campers, little developed property damage. Not even sure if the last fires around Black Butte or Sisters resulted in any homes lost.

                When I worked on the southern USFS district, I was on a dozen small fires, in 3 seasons. (Actually 2 seasons, for some reason my boss wasn’t thrilled about sending an 18 year old untrained co-ed on fires her first season. Yes sarcasm. Looking back, I wouldn’t have sent me either. This WAS the mid-70s). Was on call for a lot more while the lighting rolled through. One season on the more northern district, there was exactly ONE fire the entire season (lightening). Wasn’t federal land, but the state called for reinforcements; the district fire crews had been dispatched to CA the night before. I didn’t work on a fire crew. But all field personnel got sent on fires, when needed (back then).

                1. Unfortunately, the coastal mountains/hills in the SW corner of the state can brew some nasty fires. In 2002, the Biscuit fire happened just east of Brookings (north of the CA border on the coast). Vague memory says it got 250,000 acres. There were a lot of standing dead trees, but the greenies kept objecting in court until the wood was useless for salvage logging. Last summer, lightning started several fires west of the Cascades (and one near Summer Lake, about 50 miles NE-ish of K-Falls, burning trees that had been beetle-killed.)

                  The biggest of the fires was the Klondike, and a lot of the fuel was (you guessed it) the dead wood from the Biscuit fire. Brookings was at serious risk for several days. (There was also a NIMO team in place, and they damned nearly got lynched with their “watch it grow, and sorry about your destroyed house that we didn’t protect” attitude.)

                  There were several others, too. Crater Lake was pretty much a no-go area for several weeks due to yet another large fire. That one threatened the Rim Drive and the air quality was between Hazardous and “That’s Not Air!”.

                  We’re in a relatively safe pocket; south side of the river valley, and we’ve been aggressive at removing trees that could be an issue. It’s fairly bad for the people on the other side of the valley, especially where the juniper trees are thick. I removed all the adult junipers on our land, and periodically will hunt for and cut seedlings (usually below a pine branch–the birds love some juniper berries, whether fresh or nicely fermented. Yes, birds do get drunk.)

                  We’ve had a wet winter, so we might not have a really bad fire season. Maybe. However, if it’s a wet spring, it’ll be ugly when things dry out.

                  1. Lots of fire fighters in my mom’s family (Lakeview area).

                    You can get them flat-out foaming by mentioning beetles– the areas of dead trees are apparently especially horrible from the air, and twice that when you are looking at the hills and can figure out where the wind would hit it on a slope covered with dead wood and…. *shudder*

                    1. Yes. I bet. You can get my husband going too. Just we’ve been out of the wild land fire suppression for 40 years. Hubby did go on large fires. I never did.

                  2. Yes. I consider Southern Cascades & East as heavy fire areas. That is South of the Willamette Valley. Both Umpqua systems, & Rogue river, etc. Coast range is less likely to have super big fires, but they definitely aren’t unheard of. Yes, knew of the Brookings fires. There was one that took out a few ridges north of hwy 126 between Veneta & Florance, in the late ’90s or early 2000’s. Don’t remember the fire name, or acreage. Hurt Roseburg Lumber bad (it was after they bought that timber land from IP). Of coarse there is the infamous Tillamook burn. Been a few other big ones but drawing a blank on them.

                    What people don’t realize is the entire state of Oregon is based on fire ecology. There is more timber now than when the pioneer’s first got here & fire suppression fully started after the Tillamook burn. Not going to be pretty when it hits the more northern reaches on the coast or cascades. But this is what they are angling for.

                    Have you been over Hwy 126 between Sister’s & I-5 lately? The pass is mostly brush & meadows from the ’03 fire. 2017 fires took out all the timber on the East/South part of hwy 242. It’ll burn again, then be a meadow around the lake there, for a few years. No place for the burn to go except the already burned timber. Surrounded by the lava flows.

                    The ’03 fire scared me. We had the troop in the area that burned, while it smoldered. Got to watch the lightening storm blow through that sparked the fire. We were way north of where it smoldered & blew up 5 days later, the day AFTER we finished the trip. Burned through the hiking route over the few days. Blew up, is the right word too. It not only jumped the highway (not narrow), but there are rocky areas that burned that still have little brush, grass, or anything, growing under the dead standing tree trunks.

  5. An acquaintance complained to me that part of Japan’s problem was their inability to embrace diversity.  I countered that not all cultural diversity worked well, such as that which has created no go zones in France.  

    Later that evening I told The Spouse about this conversation.  The Spouse cut to the heart of the matter, observing that to attempt to force Japan to embrace cultural diversity would be an act of cultural imperialism on our part.

    1. I was at MCAS Iwakuni for 6 mo. for a deployment. Is Japan perfect? No, no place is, but Japan was pretty neat. An acquaintance parked his bicycle, with no lock, and then forgot where (yes, large amounts of alcohol were involved). Days later, we found it exactly where he parked it. Name me one place in America where you could do that. At the risk of sounding like a racist, I think you can only find that kind of thing in a very culturally cohesive place.

      Sure, Japan has some weird stuff, like non-Japanese people are not allowed to own property, which seems a bit extreme, and there was that small percent who were hostile to foreigners (happens every where, and yes I did see some of this first hand in Japan). But for the most part, they were nice, quiet people who kept to themselves (which as an introvert, I can appreciate). I found a little bar there that was tolerant of non-Japanese people, but wasn’t commonly frequented by Americans and frankly, I’ve never been more comfortable in any other bar that I’ve ever been in. I wish there were such a place here in America. If there is, I sure haven’t ever found it.

      1. Eh. When I was there my bike – locked with the little ring-lock that comes standard on the bikes – got stolen twice.

        The first time, I reported the theft to the police and never again saw bell nor spoke.

        The second time, I went looking for it, found it with someone else’s lock on it, locked it with a chain of my own, and got the garage attendants to cut off the thief’s lock by presenting my purchase papers.

        And umbrellas are fungible, too.

          1. I live in Japan and I leave my house unlocked all the time. At least on a daily basis. When I go out of town, I lock it.

  6. Many years ago (who here remembers IRC?) I was part of a small group of software developers who hung out on a particular IRC channel. One of our group was a young Spanish guy who insisted that he knew all he needed to know about the USA because he watched American movies and followed the news.

    We tried to explain to him that pretty much none of what he believed was true, but he ignored us. After a bit we started telling him stories, getting more and more extreme, to see just when he’d realize that we were pulling his leg:

    “No Manolo, all that wild-west stuff you believe isn’t true at all! Why, I haven’t been involved in a serious gunfight in almost a month! And we hardly ever see more than 9-10 high-speed car chases in a week around here! Well, yes, my mom did have to shoot a few home invaders last week, but no big deal, she got ’em all with the first couple of rounds.”

    Unfortunately, he didn’t always realize that we were having him on. Sometimes he believed even the most extreme stuff.

  7. To be honest, I think we ought to play to the prejudices of all those nose-in-the-air leftist folks:

    “Yes, we’re exactly the racist, selfish misogynistic rubes you’ve been led to believe! You’d hate being among us–don’t ever come here, on peril of your life!”

    Why in the world would we want them among us?

        1. I’m not a fan of tamales of any variety. Does this make me racist? I *love* a good burrito or enchilada. Does this make me a cultural appropriator and therefore racist? Ask me if I care . . .

          1. “Ask me if I care . . .”

            Well, no, because who cares. They keep changing the freaking rules.

            In the late ’90s the company I worked for required certain departments & department heads to take “Sensitivity” seminars. Which not only include the normal suspect of harassment but “respecting” cultural differences.

            There were games played to learn each subsequent point. One was a card game where each group was given written instructions. First round you could discuss the rules, then played without speaking. After a few minutes, the high scorers were moved to a different group. Yes, spoiler alert, the rules were changed. A few minutes later, groups were changed again, one of the original movers, & one who hadn’t. I moved both time. Heck by then I knew the rules were changing.

            Lesson suppose to get out the exercise:
            1) Rules are different from one culture to another. -> check.
            2) The more you encounter & are aware of rule 1, the easier it is to recognize & adapt, or translate what you need. -> check.

            Unintended consequences regarding the rules change -> “Ask me if I care?” …. oops.

            If I’m going into someone else’s culture, even regionally, AND staying, then yes, it is important to care; at least avoid treading on toes. At work, pretend interest/ignorance/surprise, depending on what works. At home, go away …

            1. For the SJWs the mutability of the rules (at their whim, only) is the entire point. In the British musical The Roar of the Greasepaint, the Smell of the Crowd the theme is that the ruling class enjoys the right to arbitrarily change rules, thereby condemning the working class to a subordinate state. In America a similar point was made more graphically by Bill Watterson:

            2. This week using tamales to represent any sort of “all of south america” dishes is raaaaacist, since it’s more of a regional thing. Which actually means it’s not popular in some regions, or it developed into a different thing (I think there’s a version that became sweet and wheat based for the part that’s corn? I can’t keep track.)

              I’m not a big fan, either.

              1. Tamales? The time I was in Brazil, they weren’t on the menu. Good pork and steak, though.

                1. Awright youse guys, we all know there are Hot Tamalas and then there are Hot Tamales, and Marcia Ball is the latter sort.

                  So, that’s enough of that stuff.

              2. Hmm, the last time I had good tamales was near Christmas in San Jose. I haven’t tried any of the mercados in K-Falls, and tamales with wheat would be much more interesting than my body could tolerate.

  8. I got a chain email from my dad about Julia Gillard doing something as PM that angered Muslims . I punted out she hadn’t been PM since ’13 or so, & was me likely to do stuff that favored Muslims over Aussies and angered her nation anyhow. Most Americans can’t name any Aussie PM, let alone the current one (swapping via backstabbing certainly doesn’t help), so nonsense like that can live on.

    1. I follow Aussie news (close neighbors), and I don’t even know who the current PM is without looking.

    2. Mostly we see pictures of Australians wearing T-shirts or holding banners assuring us that DJT is not *their* President.

      Trying to figure out who they think they’re virtue-signaling to threatens to bring the migraine back, so I usually just chalk it up to “Eh, Oz” and ignore it.

      1. It’s funny- during my last visit down under, a whole lot of Aussies told me that they liked President Trump. Of course, that was in north QLD, so YMMV.

  9. *Snort* A friend from NYC visited me in college, and I had to explain later that my friend wasn’t being rude. It was just that NYC manners and Southern manners differed a bit.

    1. Aw yes, “Toothpick” Shrdlu, a fine second baseman for the Cleveland Indians in the Twenties, sure-handed, weak bat, could steal a base. Finished up his career with a couple of seasons playing for the St Louis Browns.

      You could look it up.

  10. “That’s not even counting the people who, during the cold war, kept telling me if Russia really were such a hell on Earth, surely people who lived there wouldn’t speak so well of it. The entire idea of suppression and fear meant nothing to them.”

    ‘Hello, Mr. Soviet Worker. I am an inquisitive stranger. God knows who I work for! So, would you like to express you satisfaction with the Party regime that controls every aspect of your life, or shall we just tear up your ration card right now?’

    Based on an idea by P.J.O’Rourke.

    1. “If the press was so free in the U.S., Putin asked, then why had those reporters at CBS lost their jobs? Bush was openmouthed. ‘Putin thought we’d fired Dan Rather,’ says a senior Administration official.”

      And Putin was highly schooled in America’s characteristics.

      When your average Soviet “man-in-the-street” (assuming he was not a planted agent) was advised that his interviewer worked for an independent news agency, of course he believed there would be no repercussions for what he might say. It wasn’t as if the government could not identify every individual that reporter spoke with, or was unlikely to liquidate a dozen innocent men to get the one individual who shot off his mouth.

      1. A tutorial in writing reports for consumption back home.

        A lack of new construction is the surest sign of a faltering economy.

        1. And a sign that the concrete makers, who’ve controlled the world for centuries, will be working in secret to topple the government.

      2. But while Putin was a Polkovnik of the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti, he was snitch, not a spy so he would not have been told even the truth that intelligence officers HAD to be told.

      3. Nowadays I don’t think Rather would get fired for what he did. He’d get a raise and the cover of Time and Rolling Stone.

        1. “On the cover of the Rolling Stone…”
          Remember when they were actually hip & relevant? Pepperage Farms remembers.

    2. My reply was always “You know, the reds shoot those trying to leave.” People risking death to leave isn’t a sign things are all that great. A system that needs armed force to retain population, can’t be called good in any sense of the word.

        1. Why, they’re going towards the dystopian hellhole capitalist police state of Amerikkka, of course!

          1. America, A place so bad, people regularly risk life and limb to try to get there.
            Cuba, A place so perfect, people are willing to stuff clown car levels of people into a 50’s pick up truck on a raft made with water bottles to try and float away from it.

          2. Wait, it’s actually better than that! The thought is more “Amerikka is a racist, hateful, brutal dystopian hellhole capitalist police state… and we need to help as many people get in illegally as we possibly can!”

      1. The Lefties never liked the “If South Africa is so bad to Blacks how come they have a serious problem with Blacks from other parts of Africa trying to get in?” argument either.

          1. And when South Africa completely descends into chaos and cannibalism, the Western Left will wring their hands and cry “Who could have predicted this!”

            And the Conservative Right will say “We did. Repeatedly” And no-one will pay the least attention.

        1. Because those other parts were even worse?
          Of course, the lefties would have been fit to be tied at the notion that blacks might be crueler to other blacks than whites were.

    3. This practice of suppressing unwonted information means that the commanding heights of the economy have no idea what is happening in the trenches.

      No wonder the Dems fought like hell to deny this guy a cabinet puplit.

  11. the alternative to their slow, sclerotic, biased system is “dying on the streets.”

    Far better to have them die in ambulances idling in hospital parking lots awaiting an open gurney in the ER hallways.

    if Russia really were such a hell on Earth, surely people who lived there wouldn’t speak so well of it.

    And yet they insist that conservative women are Stepford Wives and Handmaids — and that America’s suburbs are hellholes no matter how many people willingly move into them.

    if they were consistent they’d also have to explain how …

    No, were they consistent they would not be idiotic Leftist provincials. Sorry, that conditional is of the “If a frog had wings” variety.

    It is telling of Progressives that they think far ore highly of the people who they imagine live overseas than of their fellow citizens here in America.

    1. Far better to have them die in ambulances idling in hospital parking lots awaiting an open gurney in the ER hallways.

      Or lying on the floor in their own hallways, because it takes two days for the ambulance to get there.

      1. Or having the NHS decide that you are better of dying rather than receiving treatment, even if someone is willing to pay all the costs of the treatment so it would not cost the government a dime; see, e.g, Alfie Evans, and many, many others.

    2. Well, people who willingly move into US suburbs are clearly either misguided or evil. And you vote conservative, you’re either voting against your own interests or selfish for voting for your own interests….

  12. Years ago, my mother was part of the local/area leadership for the women’s organization of our church. The leaders from the various congregations in the area were meeting together to discuss ideas for different enrichment activities they could do. Lots was said about “going back to basics” of homemaking things. Stuff like sewing, canning, tying quilts, baking, etc.

    My mom said that one of the women was very quiet during all these suggestions, then finally spoke up. Her particular congregation had a large immigrant population at the time, and she quietly said that “going back to basics” for them had to be things like “flush the toilet and wash your hands after using the bathroom” and “it’s illegal to butcher goats/chickens in your driveway”. All the other women in the room were rather taken aback by the stark difference.

    My own experiences with those kinds of cultural disconnects have been rather minor, but I do try to keep this story of my mother’s in mind and not blindly assume things. It’s challenging.

    1. I half think that this is what is wrong with the imbeciles who are so set against Africa getting reliable power instead of wind and solar; they actually have no frigging idea what it is like to live without reliable electricity or safe water. Even if they have seen it, and had it pointed out to them, they don’t get it in their bones.

      Sometimes it really makes me want to go to the nearest Liberal Left campus and have a grand old time with a ball-peen hammer.

      1. They haven’t any frigging idea that solar and wind are erratic, insufficient and will always be so unless one reduces one’s electricity requirements to so close to zero as to not matter.

        If you give in to that urge make sure your ball-peen hammer is silver and identify yourself as “Maxwell.” Your defense attorney will understand why.

        1. No, it’s worse than that. They have no idea how fundamentally harder life is without reliable power and safe water. If they’ve thought about it at all, they think about camping, completely forgetting that when you are camping (absent some truly unusual accident) you can pretty much STOP when it gets to be too much.

          They. Don’t. THINK.

    2. Though all of Europe probably has similar problems, parts of Italy had had to put up cartoon instructions in bathrooms with signs indicating that the device with water in it is for defecating in, not the wastebasket or the floor.

      Last I heard, the signs hadn’t helped much…

      1. All I’m going to say is that those signs showed up in direct relation to the number of H1B imports. As did signs with pictures indicating that you should actually sit on the toilet rather than squat over it on the seat.

      2. We had those in the latrines in Kuwait so that the
        “guest workers” (no, not Kuwaitis, Kuwaitis don’t work, that’s shameful) who handled all the mundane tasks of running the installation (food service, sanitation, maintenance, etc.) would understand how this newfangled Western plumbing was supposed to be used.

  13. Warning: rant incoming. I just want to take a moment to complain about the “-phobic” words the Left uses to decry opposition to its ideas, and how they are, mostly, flat-out falsehoods.

    The original “-phobic” word in this context was “homophobic”, and it was brought out in the 90’s to advance the theory that those who complained the most about homosexuals were, the idea went, afraid that they might themselves have homosexual desires — and were therefore vocal in their opposition to the idea, as a way to repress their unwanted desires. While this idea was ludicrous when applied to many people, there were a few high-profile cases where someone who had spoken out against homosexual behavior (often because their religion forbade such behavior) was revealed to have secretly engaged in homosexual sex themselves. This led some credence to the idea, and soon it became common practice for the Left to engage in their favorite activity, Bulverism*, by accusing people of homophobia when they spoke out against anything political related to homosexuality. That then morphed into “If you disapprove of homosexual behavior, you hate homosexuals, you homophobe” — by which point the “-phobia” part of that word had become a falsehood. The meaning of “homophobe” in practice was no longer “You are secretly scared that you might be homosexual yourself”, and it had become “You hate homosexuals”, a totally different meaning. This isn’t a case of motte-and-bailey, because in motte-and-bailey the motte actually is part of the bailey. This is a case of “your motte is in another castle”: the actual meaning of “homophobe” is completely different from how it’s now being used.

    The same, of course, applies to the “transphobic” term. Its literal meaning means someone speaking out against the normalization of transsexualism because they’re afraid they might be trans themselves. But there’s pretty much nobody who could credibly be accused of that. So instead, the Left is using the word completely incorrectly, to mean “hates trans people” (which accusation itself is usually false), rather than what the word actually means. This is yet another example of how the American Left abandons using logic and reason in favor of using emotionally-laden words as their weapons. As Humpty Dumpty said, “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”

    Why am I ranting about this? Because the meaning of words matters. If you just use a word willy-nilly to mean whatever you want, it becomes impossible to communicate clearly, and you can’t even understand, let alone refute, the arguments of your opponent. The Left has been getting away with this nonsense for too long, and I want to see more people pushing back against the inherent falseness of the “-phobic” words (and other terms, but this is long enough already). Make them find a word that actually means what they’re saying, and refuse to accept their lazy language. That will often derail their train of thought, and they’ll either blow up at you for using logic (thereby giving you points with the bystanders listening in), or else they’ll be forced into unfamiliar territory where they actually have to use their brains, and there’s a slight chance you might get them to question something.

    * See for a suprisingly** decent summary of C.S. Lewis’s term.

    ** Given that we’re talking about a Wikipedia link about something vaguely politically related, I’m surprised that the article still has good content.

    1. I used to try to convince people to start using “-sardone” rather than “-phobe” in such situations (“sardone” from the Greek “sardonios,” derisive, literally: of Sardinia, alteration of Homeric “sardanios” scornful) to mean not afraid of but rather viewing with scorn. And of course the expansion “-sardonic” instead of “-phobic.” It would be more accurate, which of course would mean nothing to the leftists. But as you say, “[X]-phobe” said by a leftist just means “You hold an opinion I disagree with and I therefore hate you with the strength of a thousand suns.”

      1. …and also shut up.

        There’s a whole list of words that mean “shut up”. I was thinking that it would be interesting to have a dimension traveler end up in a magical world where (naturally) language from “home” worked in magic spells. (This has been done variously with computer language, etc., as the gimmick.)

        So our nacent wizard discovers that he or she can make people mute by uttering “racist” or “-phobe”.

      2. Their usage of -phobe is intended to declare opposition unreasonable and therefore eliminate any need to refute arguments. It is a form of declaring the [Blank]phobe a non-person whose arguments are unworthy of engagement. It is a verbal equivalent to their antifa fascism, legitimizing their brutality.

        In the same vein we see how they are in the process of redefining “oral” and “decent” to automatically include their policy preferences. If a person is indecent there is no need to treat him with decency, no position of his that need be deemed legitimate.

        1. Yep, and once they do that, gulags, re-education camps and concentration camps are sure to follow.

          1. TREATMENT camps. Phobia are mental disorders after all, only humane to treat them — and obviously mentally ill people can not be left to wander.

    2. There is a HUGE difference between “I hate you” and “I fear you” and “I do not wish to have YOU in MY bed.”

      There are a great many people (of all species, yes) who I would prefer NOT to have as bedroom company. Precious few, if indeed any, do I have actual fear of (their proclaimed policies, however, might well be another matter entirely) and even fewer do I bother with any emotion as strong as “hate” – more likely, I feel an overwhelming sense of “meh” at best/worst. Or, whilst my standards might seem ‘low’, I still have some.

      1. It seems to me that there’s also a lot of space between “I hate you” and “F’cryin’ out loud, please don’t dress on the steet in such a way that I can’t HELP imagining what you do in your bedroom.”

        1. It’s not you or what you represent I hate. I hate using brain bleach to remove the image …

          1. Also, if what you do in the privacy of your bedroom is none of my business, KEEP it none of my business. Don’t make it hard for me to mind my own business.

    3. I’ve always thought of the term homophobic/homophobia as meaning “fear associated with homosexuals” in general, whether it’s being afraid that you might be one, or afraid a homosexual might try to “turn” you, or even afraid a homosexual might try to force themselves upon you. Just because the Left means one particular usage of the word one time, and another at another time doesn’t change the definition of the word itself, I think that’s a mistake that a lot of the anti-Left make too often; letting them define the words. When we let them control the language, we let them control the conversation.

    4. Because the meaning of words matters.

      Not to the Left. Like Humpty-Dumpty they have abrogated to themselves the right to use words to mean whatever they wish, and as communication is not their purpose they are fine with that. They are bullies, plain and simple, and their screeching is intended to shut down opposition, to preclude debate.

      1. “they have abrogated to themselves the right to use words to mean whatever they wis”

        Furthermore, in a classic example of emotional abuse, if we fail to intuit what they mean, WE are BAD PEOPLE.

        Screw ’em. If this were a marriage, I’d want a divorce. Happily in my REAL marriage, we learned the ‘no relying on ESP’ rule early.

        1. if we fail to intuit what they mean, WE are BAD PEOPLE.

          Of course: good people would know what they meant.

          Sigh – I’m now so old I can (hazily) remember when Dan O’Neill lampooned conservatives for such attitudes in his Odd Bodkins comic strip.

          1. *tilts head* Isn’t he kind of assuming that people only know the first part?

            It’s not like it’s unknown for the “right” (and what did “neocon” mean, then? I only hit it after 9/11) to try to make stuff right, they just tend to be trying to bring it BACK to right, not the “yeah this country is great except for everything is and always has been bad.”

  14. There’s a different side to this.

    A few months back, one of my groups of gamers was going on about politics from a progressive viewpoint, not understanding why anyone would have problems with foreign immigrants. So I told them about the Rotherham rape gangs as an example of what might make people fear immigration. They were appalled—at me. One of them eventually said to me that I should recognize that these were people from a culture with different values. I think she found it upsetting that I said that then what should be done was to punish them harshly for acting on values that told them raping underage girls was okay, until they either gave up that part of their culture or went away.

    It seems to me that I ran into the attitude that other cultures do exist, and have different values, and should get to act on them even, or perhaps especially, when they’re doing profoundly abusive things. I’m not saying the unawareness of different values you mention doesn’t also exist, but I think there’s a back attitude.

    (There was a little extra ugliness to having a woman tell me that repeated forcible rape of women was perfectly okay if the rapists came from a culture where that was accepted. I don’t suppose she meant it to apply to her, or my other women players.)

      1. So does mine, actually, contemplating the ugliness of a woman excusing the rape of other women by pleading the cultural excuse.
        Kind of like all those privileged feminists excusing the sexual-harassment by Teddy Kennedy of working-class women – because he was such a champion of women generally.

        1. “So does mine, actually, contemplating the ugliness of a woman excusing the rape of other women by pleading the cultural excuse.”

          Reminds me of “British & Suttee” (whether accurate or not) British were unable to stop the practice, even tho it was declared illegal, because it was rooted in religion & culture. But as one officer was said to state. “You practice your religion of suttee. I’ll practice my religion of justice.” And built hanging platforms while the funeral prier was built for burning, to hang anyone who forced the Suttee either physically or verbally.

          My culture states rapists are incarcerated for their natural lives; & beyond (prison graveyards work). Actually should be they are neutered physically, fully. But our legal system has declared this as cruel & unusual punishment.

          Yes. My head hurts too.

    1. The obvious rejoinder might have been, “Yes, they come from a culture where the forcible rape of women is OK. However, when they come here they are no longer in that culture, they’re in ours, where such behavior is criminal. They should abide by the values of the culture they find themselves in, just as you believe we should when we visit their cultures.”

      With the added fillip, “But if I do visit one of their cultures I think I’ll still refrain committing forcible rape even if it’s culturally permitted.”

      1. I still like the Charles Napier version of “Multiculturalism”:

        “Let them build their pyre and we’ll build our gibbet, and let each keep thi his customs.”

      2. I have to admit, I would be strongly tempted to say “Well, I belong to a culture that feels that stringing rapists up from a handy tree is appropreate.”

        1. “You may follow your custom. And we will follow ours,” as Charles Napier put it.

          Though personally I’m opposed to the death penalty for rape, for purely prudential reasons. If a rapist KNOWS that he will be put to death for rape, and that he will be put to death for murder—he has nothing to lose by killing the victim, and it will prevent her (or him) from testifying. With a lesser (but still severe) penalty, killing the victim can bring harsher punishment. I don’t think it’s a good idea to give criminals an incentive to commit worse crimes. I suppose some rape victims might rather die than live with the trauma, but I’d rather they have the choice if possible.

          1. personally I’m opposed to the death penalty for rape

            I am largely indifferent to the death penalty, neither particularly for nor against it, but will point out that there are multiple ways of executing the condemned, some … less pleasant than others.

            For example, letting the victim’s female relatives attend to the execution if the rapist also killed her.

            1. I think that will be classed as cruel and unusual. Of course I know that’s precisely its appeal, but I’m not ready to tear up the Bill of Rights.

              1. I think that will be classed as cruel and unusual.

                I think many folk have a mistaken idea of what the restriction against “cruel and unusual punishments” was intended as. If one considers the actual punishments inflicted back when the nation was new, it wasn’t a prohibition against doing anything that might be considered…unpleasant. Rather it was against punishments that were disproportionate to the crime–no drawing and quartering for spitting on the sidewalk for example.

          2. There are deaths and there are *deaths*.

            If you hang a rapist and crucify a murderer….

          3. And by effectively killing the accused by ruining his life, you’re going to promote that fate for hoaxers too.

        2. Beat me too it! Shorter & more to the point too.

          Should have scrolled down further before replying …

      3. My culture thinks shooting commies and leftists is a good idea, thank you for telling me that it is Ok for me to follow my culture.

          1. But once you’ve nuked them, there won’t be a dark to shoot them in! They’ll glow too much.

            1. Nope, Because they glow, you can see them to shot them when there are no other lights around. 😈

    2. Back in the days of empire the Brits dealt with such concepts quite directly:
      “Be it so. This burning of widows is your custom; prepare the funeral pile. But my nation has also a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property. My carpenters shall therefore erect gibbets on which to hang all concerned when the widow is consumed. Let us all act according to national customs.”
      General Sir Charles James Napier
      Sadly, a once Great Britain seems to have succumbed to multiculturalism these days.

    3. That’s standard multi-culturalism. Every culture is equally valid, right and just. And the only culture you’re allowed to criticize is our own.

      Extra virtue points for accepting aspects of other cultures that you find personally disturbing, because that’s hard to do and means that you’re better than those who can’t do as well as you.

    4. I sat in on part of a college philosophy class, in which the (very good) professor challenged the whole concept of cultural relativism. Many, perhaps most, of the students were rather shocked, practically disoriented, by this critique. The idea that “it’s their culture” wasn’t necessarily an all-encompassing rationale for behavior had never been presented to them or crossed their minds.

      It should be obvious that cultural relativism cannot be the sole guide to behavior when people from different cultures share the same geographical areas. With a little more thought, it should also be obvious that a single individual is not necessarily a member of only a single culture: the example I used was the German WWII general Ludwig Beck, who was simultaneously a member of the German military culture, the European enlightenment culture, and the Catholic or Protestant (can’t remember which) religious culture. Cultural relativism could give no guidance on which of these should have influenced his decision to participate, or not, in resistance of Hitler.

      1. I suppose that any response to such rape must be performed within the rules of their culture, so what does their culture say is the appropriate response to assault of our women? The rapists and their clans must be slain?

        Okay, I think we can work with that.

        1. The victim’s family gets to execute the rapist? Immediately after conviction? Sounds like a deal. “You follow the teachings of your culture, and then we will follow the teachings of yours,” to mis-quote Sir Charles James Napier.

        1. The Left staunchly supports Truth. Their Truth. Not your Truth. And certainly not my Truth.

          They insist their narratives must be based on Truth, even if they must redefine it to fit

    5. If “it’s okay because it’s part of their culture” is a valid excuse, then why condemn “rape culture” or “the patriarchy” or slavery (et al) in our history?

      If the answer is some variation of our culture being more enlightened, then isn’t that assertion racist? The implication in that thought is that the others are too stupid to attain the same level of enlightenment as the white man, and are brute beast best left in their state of nature (a few as exotic pets aside).

      And once again we see the racist roots of modern Progressive thought.

      1. It’s because the whole of cultural relativism is simply a veneer for leftists’ utter loathing of Western Civilization and their desire to do away with it.

        1. But you never see rich Leftist willing give up their nice houses, regular electricity, running clean water, nice cars, medicine, fancy dinners, trips to the theater, or any other benefits of Western Civ.
          They say one thing, but their lives show what they really believe.

          1. Or their teenaged or younger daughters to the use of men who think a girl out alone, if it’s just walking home from school, and showing her body in something like shorts and a tanktop, can be raped because she is obviously not a good girl. Well, maybe you can find a few such leftist parents, but most would fast forget the “it’s his culture” if the girl was theirs. It’s okay to them only as long as it’s something they only read about in newspapers.

            Now somewhat more of them might defend being raped themselves afterwards with “it’s his culture” because they fear their comrades and as it already happened they’d think it might be easier to just try and forget… but even that would probably fade if it became something they realized might happen more than once, or was now likely to happen to them, not something that happened once and was unlikely to happen again.

    6. I would be tempted to say “So if a man from a Muslim culture rapes you on your way home, you are ok with that?

      1. If she’s ok with that, is it still rape?

        Besides, weren’t those girls in Rotherham (and Stockholm, and Cologne, and Essen and …), by their insensitivity to Muslim Culture, asking for it? If they’re too Eurocentric to realize they are communicating to Muslim men that they are whores, who, really, is at fault?

        Besides, it is lawful for Muslims to rape Christian women. It says so right there in their scripture.

    7. Given the objections from certain parts of the progressive cult from the President making “gay people have a right to exist, too” part of his foreign policy initiatives because it is “colonialist” or some such thing, you can be assured that this attitude is not as rare as we might like.

  15. Obligatory historical quote from the dusty cellar of my mind:
    “Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature!”
    ― George Bernard Shaw
    From his play Caesar and Cleopatra I believe.

    1. In response to Brittanicus who was shocked at the Egyptian custom (as presented in the play) of incestuous marriages of the rulers.

      Make of it what you will.

  16. People use the expression “The past is another country, they do things differently there.” The problem with that expression is that too many people don’t realize that other countries are other countries. And even within a country (particularly one as diverse as the US) “they do things differently there” (in that other part of the country) is something entirely too many don’t “grok.”

    1. Impetus for that entirely too common southern phrase:
      “You ain’t from around these parts, is you?”
      Generally inspired by some snowbird commenting on how much better they do some particular thing back home.
      And followed either by “bless your heart” or “Delta’s ready when you are.”

        1. they did things so much better ‘back home’

          That is awfully judgmental and approaches cultural imperialism. You need to learn to distinguish “more familiar to me” from “better.”

  17. “People in Europe, whose countries nationalized/socialized medicine shortly before or after WWII, solemnly tell us that it would be barbaric to just let medicine be private, and that they’d have people dying on the streets for lack of care… as we have.”

    Yeah. Just ask Alfie Evans how great socialized medicine is . . . Oh, wait, you can’t.

    1. Well, he was just a little kid. When you watch little kids die for their policies, or pull their limbs off to kill them, they call it “compassion.”

    2. In the Alfie Evans case, his family had the very vocal support of Everton FC, which is considered the biggest football (i.e. soccer) club outside the “Big 6” in England (Everton is based in Merseyside, which includes the city of Liverpool and which is where Alfie Evans and his family lived) They helped the family raise funds to fight the NHS. They spoke out on behalf of the family, And the NHS could care less. If someone getting the help of a major football club in England couldn’t get heard, what about everyone else?

    1. I think the theory may be that there is no such thing as “apolitical.” If you induce or invite or allow people to read books that don’t have the correct political message, that in itself is a political statement: It says that books with political messages are optional.

    2. I don’t think the market is so much for “apolitical”, I think it’s more for “a good story, where the ham-handed political message doesn’t beat me about the head and shoulders and give me a migraine.” Other than that, yea…

      1. Though it must for fairness’ sake be conceded that most folks will cut a little more slack for political messages they already agree with.

      2. I will also accept “political that doesn’t assume its ham-handed political message is Revealed Truth so obvious that only an eeeeevil person could disbelieve it.”

        I have a sneaking fondness for Steven Universe despite its obvious screaming SJWness, and one of the reasons is that they lean heavily on “our perspective is cool!” and not “your perspective makes you eeeeeeevil”. Not coincidentally, the only episode featuring the stereotypical evil close-minded conservative is the only one I’ve never re-watched.

    3. Michael Anderle is best known for his series starring a young woman with guns, fast cars, military friends, and space vampire powers.

      Basically, a rule of cool series that goes on and on, with new installments by him or someone else, every month.

      Can’t imagine why he leads the field in cash.

      1. Oh criminy. A couple of newbie writers, one a Sri Lankan guy, got their novella into a military anthology run by Martelle, Anderle’s partner in pub. Jonathan Brazee liked it, other people liked it, and folks got it nominated.

        And then the Usual Suspects started getting nasty and calling it token brown person stuff, as well as getting mad because it came from Martelle’s anthology.

        So basically, if you have Indian and Sri Lankan STEM guys writing the non-Western sf that the Usual Suspects claim to want, it is also badthink and wrongfun. And it is wrong for them to be published by Wrongpub or Wrongindie, and it is particularly wrong to try to make money in any way. Some people are just less equal than others.

        These Twittermob creeps are horrifying human beings.

  18. Paperwork is stupid. Names are stupid.

    My father was born Miguel Angel Bermudez in 1951, in Chicago, IL.

    When he started school (a year late, because he didn’t speak English and was sent home to learn it…), he was told that he lives in America, and now his name would be Michael.

    So when he registered for the Draft, and got his Social Security Card, he gave his name as Michael.

    But, he calls himself Miguel, so he works under Miguel. Uses the same SS#, just the different spelling. Since that’s what he went to school, and trade school, and such, under. That’s what’s on his driver’s license and such. Always has been.

    Now, fast-forward to 2017. The plant he works at is starting to wind down US production in favor of plants overseas (as is the style), and instead of trying to find more work at 66, he figures it’s time to start looking into this whole Social Security deal he’s been paying into his whole life.

    Oh! But MIGUEL has never worked. MICHAEL has, but he has no documentation showing that HE is MICHAEL. Never mind that he’s been audited twice when folks have used his SS# to work illegally in California and Texas, the tax folks knew EXACTLY where to find him then, but when it’s time to pay out, noooope.

    I believe that the final solution was to change his birth certificate to match his Social Security card…but I know the payouts haven’t started yet, and I really should get on him again about this. He’s the type to just get mad and ignore problems.

    So yes. Even within the country (born here, parents from Ouerto Rico, never even went through immigration kerfuffles), it’s just stupid.

    1. He merely needs to explain to them that although his name is “Michael” it is pronounced “Miguel.” Their failure to understand that is racist and he is a) going to the media b) contacting his local congresscritter.

  19. People want to argue how we’d communicate with aliens when they fail to communicate with people from 1,000 miles away.
    Consistent failure I see over and over… Those horrid fly-over deplorables want to kill me. Son, if we wanted you dead you’d have been bones in the ground YEARS ago. Be glad we mostly want you to shut up and go away.
    I do have to say regarding walking in a hospital for treatment:
    They will STABILIZE you. If you have something wrong that is going to kill you in six months, tough shit. Go do it somewhere else where it won’t impact our morbidity stats!

    1. Depends a great deal on the hospital, and which department you have to deal with. A hospital’s business office is always staffed with blood sucking leeches who will do their level best to extract every penny you have or ever hope to have. It’s a mandatory requirement for that job.
      But medical personnel will do their utmost to treat your condition, and it they determine you cannot afford their services will try to steer you towards the best free or subsidized health care available in the area.
      Bu as I stated, depends on the hospital and the people you must deal with.

    2. This is the thing that gets me, because they will go on and on about people’s political preferences LITERALLY killing people, and then you realize that the people doing the killing are usually of the same political persuasion as the victims, and live in the same urban areas, not the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rural areas. Where everybody knows your business, but no one cares unless and until you make it their business.

  20. Oh, man, I see it on both sides, in my wife, after 20 years here, still getting lost in American culture, and me, in dealing with her family back in Brazil and their lopsided comprehension of my wife’s behavior, viewed through a mass media that is obsessed with American culture and at the same time disgusted by it.

    1. It can be an effort to realize that for most of the world, Beverly Hillbillies (or, more recently I guess, Beverly Hills 90210) is virtually documentary.

      My mum’s sister lived in Chicago and well into the nineties when they would travel in Europe Auntie’s family would, on mentioning they were from Chicago, get responses of, “Oh! Eliot Ness, bang-bang-bang!”

      Of course, these days those are the good old days when things were somewhat under control.

  21. the globalization thing

    There’s a parallelism here with how Tech Corporate Management does the green-card-engineer thing due to share underlying concepts – they play all the games and make all the hands-held-over-heart attestations that they really, really tried really hard to find and hire engineers that already had the right to work in the US (note that a green card works for this just dandy), but they just could not possibly find such scarce and skittish unicorns, so they are forced to hire all these wage-slave H1B engineers from foreign climes, and also please increase the annual quota.

    Tech has bought into the employee-as–interchangeable-widget, which is the close cousin to human-as-interchangeable-widget that is at the base of the German experiment in worker-replacement, initially with Turks and now with Iraqis and Syrians and Libyans and Afghans, who, while their background may be in subsistence goat herding, are totally capable replacements for trained up Prussian and Bavarian industrial working class folks who are scarce on the ground these days, at least at less expensive pay scales. And plus they are willing to have babies, which is these days A Job Germans Won’t Do.

    So back in Silicon Valley in Tech, the C-suite types fill their cubical farms with vast swaths of H1B indentured servants, tied to the job and only getting to stay on good behavior. This includes not complaining about their lower pay vs. “U.S. Person” co-workers until the period of their indenture is up. Once they can finally get their green card and can leave for a better job they are replaced by new H1B workers, and the cycle begins again.

    All because people are interchangeable widgets, fundamentally moldable with the proper pressure and heat to fill whatever role is required. This of course implies people are ultimately perfectible, given the proper pressure.

    And Tech industry depends on government immigration programs to avoid paying more in wages, as they would absent the availability of H1B indentures.

    So the way the Tech industry capitalist enterprise actually works these days rests on the same ‘moldable and ultimately perfectible’ conception as the “we’ll just import a new working class from the Middle East” folly of the Germans, and ultimately as the starvation in Venezuela and the last century’s mass graves of Socialism.

    1. I’m convinced that H1B visas should have to be paid for. Say $20K/year, maybe $30K

      1. I spent five years working for an immigration lawyer and am 100% behind this proposal.

      2. My outsider view is that the program should be terminated. If these companies want to pay India-scale wages, let them do so in India, where the money will buy more and the workers will have more freedom of movement and choice of employer.

        1. And if they want to do that, we will not spend a single American life trying to get their employees out of the way of nuclear armed Pakistanis.

      3. H1B visas should have a minimum salary attached. If you’re paying $200k yearly for 50 hour weeks, or $500k yearly for 80 hour weeks, I’m willing to believe you couldn’t find an American to do the job. If you’re only paying $50k for a programmer job, the problem is not that you couldn’t find an American, the problem is that you couldn’t find an American for what you were willing to pay.

  22. To provide a convenient example of this provincialism, I’ll openly admit to being a bit slow on the uptake and ask: What’s the difference between “maiden surname” and “maiden name”? I had always blithely assumed they were the same thing and would have made precisely the mistake the North Carolina office people made — likewise assuming that if you’d introduced yourself as “Sarah” that that was your actual first name.

    What should the NC office have done, if they’d known what was correct?

    1. What Colorado did. They asked for MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME.
      Maiden surname is the LAST name. They assumed adding my maiden surname to my current first name gave a valid mother’s maiden name. It doesn’t, obviously. Because between marriage and first son’s birth, I changed my first name (no one pronounced it right. It’s pronounced Uh-lease in Portuguese) during my citizenship ceremony.

      1. “They asked for MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME. Maiden surname is the LAST name.”

        That part I got, I would have just assumed that “maiden name” by definition meant “maiden surname”, since it’s almost always the surname that changes with marriage if it changes at all. Legally I think “Alice Maria (et al) de Almeida” would be known as your birth name rather than your maiden name, since the legal change to “Sarah” didn’t happen until after you were already married and wasn’t made because you’d gotten married.

        I don’t mean to suggest that bureaucracies can’t be idiots about accounting for possibilities they didn’t think of. But in this particular case I honestly don’t think your situation was common enough that failure to account for it counts as unacceptable provincialism. No matter what culture you come from, people just don’t change their personal names that often.

        (This daily dose of anal-retentive persnicketiness brought to you by the letter Q and the number 27. To provide the appropriate response, whack-a-mole hammers are available on your right.)

        1. Nope. We actually asked in CO. They said it was my birth name.
          The difference from NC? They have more immigrants here (or did in the 90s) who had changed sometime unpronounceable names at citizenship.

        2. My mom changed her (legal) name to Firstname Maidensurname Husbandsname, since her legal name had always been a vast simplification of her given name.
          (Mom has three middle names, each more Irish than the last; whoever filled out the birth certificate chose the middle of the middle names and simplified it to a common version– like correcting “Seanandolla” to “Shawn.”)

          For Federal stuff, the recorded Maiden Name is supposed to be the whole thing, so my BS has mom’s original legal name under Mother’s Maiden Name.

          With a lot of cultures, the kids actually get mom’s maiden name as an additional middle name, too– the Mexicans in the Navy have to deal with this a lot, but the forms only have one spot for a middle name, so they get hyphenated, and then THEIR kids get hyphenated with BOTH, and you wind up with a lot of guys nicknamed “Q-47” or similar.

  23. For names and bureaucracies it might amuse you to ask Kris or Dean if they ever heard the nearly full story of AJ Budrys and his use/choice of names.

    Much after the manner of Salvatore Albert Lombino who isn’t remembered nor does he sell under that name, AJ’s earliest complete and family name disappeared with his country as well as his birthplace and was superseded by a choice of noms de guerre/noms de plume. Like his writing in Who? there is a layer of identities behind his name as used and reported in later years and in his obituary.

    I think at least in later years it amused him and also that he was happily identified as AJ.

  24. Dad went by his middle name. Mom always joked that grandpa won the name battle, but grandma won the war. Don’t know where dad’s first name Alfred came from (it’s either his father’s middle name or his dead twin’s name, nobody knows anymore), John was grandma’s father’s name. So, “Alfred John”. His legal signature was A. John …

    When dad’s obituary came out in the paper. Both my husband & son were “who is Alfred?” Never thought about it. Son was 20, & we’d be married for almost 30 years when dad died. Neither had ever heard dad’s actual first name … for that matter neither had either of my BIL’s or nieces & nephews …

    1. My Dad, and two of my uncles go/went (Uncle Jim passed away) by their middle names, though one of those uncle was even more known by a knickname (Uncle Bud). You could tell who was calling by how they were asked for.

      1. Yes. Had a great uncle “Kelly”. One nephew & great niece were name after him. His given name was Walter..

        I could of gotten huge generational points (whatever) if we’d named our son “William”. FIL & one of daddy’s brother’s names. Triple points for William John. Especially since FIL passed away 6 weeks before kid was born. Thought about it for about 10 seconds, about 5 seconds longer than hubby did. Kid would have been either “Little Bill” or “Little John”. Already had the latter (a cousin). Both the uncle & cousin, said “oh hell no, don’t do that to the kid”, when they found out latter. FWIW … I caught hell for not insisting on William over hubby’s objections from MIL; because obviously, it was my fault. I let hubby handle it. It was his mother that was whining, & his late father we didn’t name the kid after.

        Chose a name that was not a name: A) of a living or dead family member, no matter how distant. or B) Friend, either at college, or growing up. No claims of favoritism could be made (were, but see whining above). Not particularly unique or strange spelling. There were at least two others with same first/middle name combination, in his class by the time he hit HS.

        1. I (and my parents, and my sisters) got asked if I was named after Dad (Middle name everyone knows him by), and my Uncle (Mom’s brother’s first name), but Mom just like how John Paul sounded and planned as a girl I think to name her son such when the time came (apparently it came). Of course, I got called J.P. from shortly after birth, and shortened to J. by family and friends often enough. In a crowd, Yelling “John!” will not get me to even think it might be for me. Even my Work ID says “JP Kalishek”. Shocked that happened, turned out all they had was the last name and no one remembered what my first actually was. Oddly enough my old Work Email was for the same reasons, HR was off and no one was around who knew what my “real” name was when IT set it up (I was on vacation) and none was willing to guess at spelling my last name.
          The Uncle (Dad’s older brother) who passed away, though, never called me JP in his life. It was always two other letters, normally rhyming with JP, mostly DB.
          My Grandma Bev, and My Aunt Max though mostly called me JohnPaul (one word spoke fast) . . . well Aunt Max is still around to call me that, and Aunt Pat would use both until her Alzheimer’s got worse. then she only remembered the JP before losing speech. Grandma Toots always called me JP.

  25. “…they kept insisting that of course my birth certificate had to be changed. That’s just the way things were done.”

    Wow. They would love a British name change. It is done by a deed poll, which is a signed declaration. It is usually drawn up by a solicitor (lawyer), but that is not necessary.

    You can guess how the Turkish government responded to that when my wife tried to register our marriage, which was under her British name (born in Turkey, brought up here in the UK; name change for business reasons)*. Her Turkish passport is still under her original name, and passport control never seem even surprised she has British and Turkish passports in different names.

    Thinking about it, her Green Card is also in her British name, so the US Federal Government must be more open than your state government to our foreign ways.

    * British bureaucrats are actually the best. We now have a correction to our marriage certificate with “also known as [wife’s birth name]”. So if I really still want a Turkish passport now we are no longer living there we could register our nuptials.

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