Envy and the Crab Bucket – A Blast From The Past From March 28 2013

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Envy and the Crab Bucket – A Blast From The Past From March 28 2013

Yesterday one of my online acquaintances/fledgelings who is fast becoming a friend had an unpleasant experience which brought to mind sideways and backward something that’s been percolating at the back of my mind for a long time.

First let me start with a story – years ago (21 years ago, to be exact) my family was living in Columbia, South Carolina and we were dead broke.  Part of this was because my husband had been unemployed for six months, and hadn’t been able to get a job, since he had to look after me through a difficult pregnancy.  Six months of paying your visa with your mastercard when you’re young and were barely making it before REALLY puts a dent in your finances.  Then the birth of our long waited and worked for son was a three-day-nightmare ending in a two-surgeon emergency Caesarean under COBRA.  The bills, when all was said and done, came out to 20k.  Twenty one years ago when that was still money — heck, it was a third our debt on our then house.

To make things worse, it took me about a year to recover from the pregnancy, I had post partum depression and was neither physically able, nor emotionally capable of thinking clearly, much less finding a part time job or even doing little stuff (I started towards the end of our year there, stuff like making baby booties from tapestry scraps, and selling those at our garage sales for $5 a pair.)

Dan got a job almost immediately after I gave birth, but it required moving to Columbia.  We still had our house in Charlotte and it took us more than a year to sell it.  We had to pay for a place in Columbia.  All we could afford was a house with no air conditioning.  Yeah, it sounds like “uphill both ways” but on a normal day, not the three months that passed as winter, we woke and it was 104 degrees in the house.  And Dan worked sixteen to eighteen hour days (It was that type of software shop) and we only had one functioning car.

I honestly think if it hadn’t been for its being South Carolina and there being cheap places to buy fish and vegetable stands by the side of the road selling excess zucchini, and if I hadn’t got help from my parents, we’d have starved to death.  We did, more than once, consider going into a soup kitchen.  Never quite had the nerve to.

As the year wore on and we worked out a payment plan for the medical bills, and I started being more able to think and do stuff, now and then, rarely, we could afford to go to Burger King.  We’d get a burger for Dan and a grilled chicken sandwich for me, and we’d drive down the street to this really nice neighborhood and park in a place with a nice view and eat.

I’m no saint.  I didn’t like the situation we were in.  I got bitter very often.  But it never occurred to me to envy those people (many of them our age) in the nice neighborhood.  I liked the thought that even though I couldn’t and might never be able to, these people got to live in these nice houses, with these lovely gardens and not everyone had to slog along with me.

I didn’t think these feelings were that rare or that strange, but around that time I was reading about Eva Peron and there was a quote about how she grew up poor and the thought that there were rich people in the world infuriated her.  I was shocked, not just at the naked envy but the fact the magazine doing the profile seemed to think of it as normal or maybe even a virtue.

In writing, G-d knows, I’ve come across tons of people who had a much easier ride up than I, and yeah, I do get bitter.  Do I envy them, though?  Do I want to see them brought low?  Well, no.  I do get very annoyed when they assume (sight unseen) that I must write much worse than them/be stupid not to have broken big yet (instead of suffering from a bizarre combination of luck and odd circumstances.)  I get annoyed because even from my modest success, I can tell you writing, like all other careers, is not a meritocracy.  Wait, like all other careers not dealing with vital stuff, like things that will explode if mishandled.

Now, I believe in traditional publishing (Baen excepted, of course) there is a strong element of political bias.  Yes, I know, the OTHER side says that conservatives just don’t make it because they’re establishment and therefore not creative.  First, it would be the first time in history that creativity is consigned to a political side.  Second – REALLY?  We’re the ESTABLISHMENT?  Really?  Only if establishment is defined as “people who hold no positions of power in the industry whatsoever, except a relatively small house we love to beat up on.”

Anyway, so I do think there’s political bias.  Whether it hit me or not, I don’t know. There were ways around it, but some I couldn’t do and sleep with myself.  (Or wake with myself.  Waking was the hard part.)  But I do know that BOOKS that got the fawning treatment had to hit the points they were looking for.  (Yes, there is a way to tread the needle, I just never did it.  By the time I knew enough craft to, I was in a permanent state of anger at having to do that, so it didn’t happen.)

But beyond that, there is luck.  While I don’t think that my first publisher had me slotted for a long and fruitful career, I also don’t think they planned 9/11 to completely torpedo sales of my first book.  I also don’t think  that they planned to pay for a book dump, then have stores order only two, so most stores never unpacked it.  And, of course, according to the push model then being used, that book and those numbers  took me ten years to recover from, to get even to the level of “normal beginner”.  (The name changes, though that house adores them, did nothing but make it harder for people to find me and for me to build a following.  Jim Baen told me — and Jim would know — that the numbers go off the COPYRIGHT page.)

Even from my small amount of success, I keep running against unpublished or small press published people who are at least as good as I am.  Yeah, sometimes it means that though their talent is great, they fail at something: submitting, sending out, application. BUT I don’t assume they’re idiots.  Sometimes, it’s luck and life circumstances.

Anyway, all this to say I don’t precisely feel envy of people above me in readership and distribution.  I want to get where they are, but I don’t want them to not be where they are.

Again, I’m not a saint, and I’m not bragging.  It would be like bragging that I never wanted to eat live snails.  It’s something left completely out of my makeup.  I don’t want to bring people down to my level, though I often want to get up to theirs, and sometimes – mostly on my friends’ behalf – I get a little annoyed when people who have a lot with a lot of help think I’m a lower life form because I’m stuck where I am (or my friends are where they are).

But we’ve got – partly because of the idea of Marxist economics, I THINK, in which everything is zero sum and if you have something it means I can’t have it; but also because of this odd idea that seems to affect mostly boomers (no idea why) that anyone who succeeds is crooked and must be brought low – to a place in society where we glorify envy.

People are considered worthy, not because of how hard they’re working or because they’re decent people and good friends, but because they’re “disadvantaged.”  I.e. they’re in a bad position, and this alone entitles them to bring others down to elevate themselves.  And people who are successful – at least in all books and movies – are considered somehow crooked and evil because they’re successful.

I don’t understand this.  I don’t think that a society as a society can survive this sort of upside down idea.

While we’ve always as a society been sympathetic to the underdog, now we’re sympathetic to the underdog qua underdog.  Forget deserving poor. The most deserving thing is to BE poor, and the only way to remain moral is to never try to do better, never “sell out.”

This was brought to mind by friend’s experience.  He is in a position, after a long time, to do something about writing a book he’s thought about for over ten years.  He’s been talking about it a lot, as writers do with their early projects, and he’s just got told that he can only do this because he’s “lucky” and that therefore he’s somehow unfair for doing it.

Look, guys, I know what we all told Josh K. (And told him, and told him – runs!) about homeschooling, and I won’t say anyone can do whatever they have their heart set on.  I know very well that any number of people end up in places in life for a time at least when NOTHING can be done, no matter how much we try or want to.  And sometimes the time you can do it, never comes.

I was there the year after Robert was born.  Between the depression and recovering (not least from six months on bed rest) there were days I counted myself lucky if I and the baby were both out of bed, bathed and dressed by two in the afternoon.  And the days dishes got done and we had time/energy for a nice walk down the street were red letter days.

However, if there’s something you want to do ENOUGH which is not bound to a particular time (so, not like homeschooling!  But a lot like writing) you can do it in practically any circumstances. Not all.  But almost all.  I did write – and send out – a novel during that horrible year.  Note only ONE 90k word novel, but given what all was going on, not bad.  It was my first personal rejection too.  And the other novel I started that year eventually won me a writing contest, which sort of got me on the road to publication.  At least it showed me I wasn’t delusional.

Now, I’m not going to say it’s easy to have a full time job or infants and a house you’re rehabilitating, or anything else and write (or do art.  Or compose.)  And yeah, some people have it easier than others.

But here’s one thing I noticed: once you start working on it and pursuing your dream (whatever it is), there will always be people who come out to attack you and go out of their way to try to stop you.  Most of these people SAY they too want the same thing, but they just caaaan’t.  Poor they.

However, I’ve lived fifty years in this world. I’ve seen a number of those people get their “opportunity.”  Do you know what happens?  They continue whining, sometimes finding the most transparent excuses for why they “can’t.”

Whining is a WHOLE lot easier than trying, and in our society it comes with its own crown of victimhood.  Pah.  And bah.

Don’t let these people get you down.  They’re all wanna be Evita Perons, unable to be happy until everyone else is in the muck.

Pity them a little, if you’re a good person.  Then run ahead and forget them.

The best way to live is to do what you can, work towards what you can’t (yet) and never try to pull others down to your level.

It’s what’s best for you.  And over time maybe it will turn the culture around, too.

228 responses to “Envy and the Crab Bucket – A Blast From The Past From March 28 2013

  1. Suggested post theme song:

  2. “…he’s just got told that he can only do this because he’s “lucky” and that therefore he’s somehow unfair for doing it.”

    Yeah, I’m “lucky” too. After a lifetime of hard work and forced retirement, I’ve got the time to write some books. I’d be making furniture full-time if my knee worked right, but since it doesn’t, I’m “lucky”.

    Good thing whatever [lots of swearing] idiot it was didn’t tell me that. I’d have had a few words for them.

    Anybody out there with an envy problem, y’all give me your good knee and take this black dog off my hands, you can have my writing time.

    Idjits. 😡

    • “lucky” is a lot like “privilege”.

      It’s an excuse to attack someone who is actually doing and thus showing up those who are only talking.

      • thephantom182

        Did you get your White Privilege check this month? I’m buying truffles with mine, and getting the Rolls gold-plated. The silver had a water spot, you know.

        • My White Privilege checks have been getting lost in the mail for 52 years and 4 months. Once I get all my back checks I’m buying an island.

          • Only 52+ years? My white privilege checks have been getting lost for an additional 10 years and 1 month, but then the monthly amount isn’t as much because of the female vs male pay differential so the amount lost is probably the same … 🙂 … (Hey, they’re going to claim that, so why not?)

            They’ve been loosing my mom’s for over 84 years. They lost her folks for over 95 years, each …

            I mean, come on. They’ve had at least 100 years to get it right …

          • I haven’t gotten my checks from Big Oil, either.

            • You feel cheated? I’m not only white and conservative but a (presumed) beneficiary of the Vast Zionist Conspiracy. I’m not only supposed to be getting checks from the afore-mentioned but also Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Ed (that’s the Charter School Conspiracy), and Big Pen (the private prison combine.)

              There are a few others but as they aren’t paying their dues I’m giving no publicity.

        • Gold is lower maintenance; you don’t have to polish it. I read on the Internet, so it must be true, that silver didn’t used to tarnish until the Industrial Revolution dumped so much sulpher into the air. Anyone know if that is true?

  3. I think part of the taking pleasure in other folks’ success is training. I know it isn’t 100%, but it seems related to ‘love your neighbor’ and sincere desire for the good of another.

    • Even if things aren’t great for me, being happy for other people is the right thing to do.

      • This might be an element of why Progressives are so miserable and conservatives relatively happy:

        Living in heavily polluted areas increases risk of mental illness in children
        Kids exposed to filthy air were up to 72 percent more likely to report having a psychotic experience, according to new research from King’s College London.

        Oops!!! Wrong article! Try this, instead:

        How to get in a good mood in just 12 minutes
        Maybe that whole “self-care movement” was just a bunch of empty hype.

        When we’re feeling blue, wellness gurus so often advise doing “something for yourself” — like taking a relaxing trip, going shopping or sipping bubbly at a spa. But researchers at Iowa State University suggest that being kind to others for just 12 minutes may do more to make ourselves feel better.

        “Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection,” says psychology professor Douglas Gentile, who worked on the new study appearing this week in the Journal of Happiness Studies.

        Gentile and his team asked student-participants to walk around the campus for 12 minutes, and were each assigned a different mood-boosting strategy. Some students were told to observe others around them and sincerely think to themselves, “I wish for this person to be happy” — called the “loving-kindness” strategy. Others were asked to consider their “interconnectedness” with others, perhaps through mutual friends or classes, or shared emotions.

        Finally, a third group was asked to make a “downward social comparison” by considering how they might be better than others around them. A control group was told to simply observe others noting appearance, fashion and demeanor, with no instruction on thoughts.

        Those who practiced loving-kindness and wished other well ended-up happier, more caring, and less anxious than the other groups after the 12 minutes. The interconnectedness group grew more empathetic and caring, while the downward social comparison technique showed no benefit. Indeed, they felt less empathetic, caring and connected than other groups.

        Researchers suggest that social media can be a pit of comparison despair for many (see: FOMO).

        “We often feel envy, jealousy, anger or disappointment in response to what we see on social media, and those emotions disrupt our sense of well-being,” says Gentile.

        Add psychology lecturer and researcher Dawn Sweet, “At its core, downward social comparison is a competitive strategy… [and] competitive mindsets have been linked to stress, anxiety and depression.”

        [Being a wallaby and thus naturally superior, I can get results in only NINE minutes]

        • What an amazing example of social science as applied to social media– “the emotional difference is in what you do in the exact same situation. And that is why social media is bad!”

        • I note the shift from “self-care” to “empathetic.” Reminding yourself that others have less is a way to foment gratitude not empathy.

    • Also it seems that there’s a bit of projection going on. There are people who cannot be genuinely happy for someone else’s joys, and thus don’t believe it when someone else is actually happy for someone else.

      • I’ve heard of people who can’t be happy unless the other people they know are doing poorly.

        • Yes. We’ve run into some of those, haven’t we?

          • Dorothy Grant

            Yeah, and the fact that they let their “enemies” live rent-free in their heads, obsessing over any possible downfall or denigration possible, growing furious and bitter at any success and happiness…

            Well, certainly proves why “the best revenge is living well.”

            • they let their ‘enemies’ live rent-free in their heads

              In a way you have to admire their consistency. They’ve been the “low rent” party for as long as I can recall, advocating in favor of the rights of tenants and against the rights of property owners.

              In news of the BOHICA variety, I was cleaning out old boxes in the garage and found a box full of cut-down magazines our favorite newsstand had gifted to us, a clutch of copies of vintage 1995 The New Republic. Conceding we hadn’t paid for them, hadn’t read them and were even less likely to read them now I set them aside for the recycling, but before I did I glanced through the TOC of a few, recalling that the magazine had given us such readable writers as Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, Michael Kelly and Charles, the last Sane Liberal on the WaPo OpEd page.

              It was with much amusement I noted an article on the Evils of Managed Care and contemplated the world of ObamaCare and Medicaid For All. … I presume the Liberals’ primary complaint about Managed Care was that they were not calling the medical care shots, x-rays, Pap smears and colonoscopies.

            • they let their “enemies” live rent-free in their heads

              Given they are tireless advocates of the “low Rent” and for tenants’ rights above the rights of property owners, you have to grant some slight admiration of their (uncustomary) consistency.

              In the BOHICA Dept., I spent part of Saturday sorting out old boxes left in the garage from when we moved in 20+ years ago and came across a cache of old-magazines, cut-downs we’d been gifted with by our newsstand. This particular box had a clutch of New Republic from 1995 or thereabouts; considering we hadn’t paid for them, hadn’t read them and were not now likely to read them I put them aside for recycling but first, remembering this magazine had been the source of such writers as Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, Michael Kelly, and Charles Lane (aka, the last Sane Liberal on the WaPo OpEd page) I scanned the TOC of a few issues.

              I noted with wry amusement that back then the Left was railing about the Evils of Managed Care … and contemplated that it was these same activists who’ve been pushing the whole country into the worst possible Managed Care programs, Obama(don’t)Care and (pending) MedicAid For All. Sigh; the more things change …

              • Sigh. I ran a utility to toss my cookies last night and now WP is more than usually obstreperous. First it wanted me to log in again (okay, reasonable) but when it accepted my log in it denounced I was guilty of attempting to post the same comment twice — and yet it was not posting the comment either time. Now that I have re-written the comment and posted it anew I am advised “Your comment is awaiting moderation.

                As if I am ever moderate!

                WPDE.

        • Envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins for good reason.

  4. Reach down to pull up, or reach up to pull down; which is the proper choice? In Heinleinian Philosophy, the moral choice will always be the first one; where morality is defined as “behavior that tends toward survival.”

    Giving others a hand up to your level increases opportunities for both of you; especially if you’re not in competition with each other, but even if you are competing, that usually drives both of you to higher levels of excellence, if only to do better than the other. Consider the baboon in the tree pulling fellow members of the troop up when the big cats want to eat them; the whole troop benefits.

    Pulling down to the least common denominator reduces opportunities for all. There are always going to be some living for a time below subsistence level, either by choice, or by circumstance. If they were to pull everyone down to their level, then the entire community, society, nation, species would become extinct. NOT a moral choice.

    • thephantom182

      I think you may have just described the whole “Left vs. Right” dynamic in modern politics almost perfectly. Achievement unlocked!

    • Yes, but pulling everyone down to your level makes it easier to become the ruler.

      I don’t call Leftists “Miltonian Satanists” for nothing.

      Hey, you could argue The Morningstar’s revolt and he subsequent temptation of humanity are the ultimate acts of envy.

      • If only Satan had used the slogans “Resist” and “Persist”; oh wait, she did, and has been ever since she lost the 2016 election. 🙂

        • You do know that’s why she didn’t die from her ailments?
          Satan doesn’t want her for competition in Hell.

  5. What’s the line, “It took years of work to become an overnight success” or something like that?

    And it seems much healthier to look at those with greater wealth, fame, whatever as inspiration rather than as a sign of injustice or such.

    • The problem with taking them as inspiration is it requires works.

      If there is a zero sum game out there it is the internal levels of envy and work in a person. It seems their sum is a fixed value and those who envy most work least and vice versa.

      • Aye. I had (note tense) a coworker who could have been *great* had he bothered with more than “just enough to get by” – but since he didn’t… and the sad thing is, it really wouldn’t have taken much on his part to be golden or at least gold-plated. Instead.. base is base. He has the distinctive walk of The Defeated (see: any 1930’s racist cartoon, the black characters walk thus – but Jim Crow was a real reason… then) – and from outside it’s so plain the wound is self-inflicted.

    • Now THAT sounds like most professional writers!

  6. Faith Clendenen

    You can’t fail if you don’t try. You insulate yourself against the potential knowledge that you aren’t good enough if you never make the attempt. So when the opportunity arises, you have to find excuses why you can’t try “right now.”

    Also, if you know you didn’t really try very hard, that becomes the excuse for why you didn’t do very well. I fell into that trap as a result of a hypercritical mother who always had “constructive criticism” about everything I ever did. No praise was ever without some “helpful” suggestion about what could have been done better. You get to the point that if you know you’ll be criticized, you sandbag a little so you can tell yourself that you could have done better if you really put your mind to it. Thus are underachievers created.

  7. Wait, like all other careers not dealing with vital stuff, like things that will explode if mishandled.

    As we are learning, great efforts to make this longer true are succeeding as at least one of last year’s Navy collisions had a strong element of this as did that bridge collapse in Miami.

    And it is going to get worse before it gets better because the pipeline is getting corrupted.

    • Even in fields where the margin for error is teeny there is not a pure meritocracy. Consider merit an ante — the minimum sum required to enter the game. After that, other factors take over. Some people are decent at the core skill but really “good” administrators while others are great at the core skill but utterly lack “people skills.” It is a complex world and merit has many elements.

      • I would argue we are seeing that ante is now being lowered or removed outright.

        No one, regardless of playground equipment, should be an OOD or OIC of CIC if she is unable to overcome a spat enough to communicate with the other position while on duty.

        Period.

        They both should have been hung from one of the ship’s masts along with the CO and XO for not stopping it.

        • It seems a characteristic of Liberals that they want to play but don’t want to make the ante. In the long run that does not end well.

          It is possible to debate whether the ante is the appropriate measure but disastrous to deny the need for any ante at all (especially if that denial is selectively applied.)

        • Insufficient enlisted staffing in the involved department (was mostly mentioned in the piss bottles reporting) probably had more to do with both the conflict and the crash.

          • Gah. I hated being the piss test monitor almost as much as I hated being selected for “random” (my eliminatory orifice it was random!) urinalysis.

            • Think more trucker.

              They had to eat, exercise and piss in CIC to meet minimum bodies, major system was not getting repaired, theyweren’t even hitting maintenance schedules, and don’t get me started on nobody having freaking quals.
              Bet they had their ^$#^^# boards and fluff done.

              • Yup. CDR Salamander’s blog is HIGHLY recommended if you’re interested in naval affairs. With the loss of CAPT LeFon (aka Neptunus Lex), he’s the core of the naval blogosphere.

                And if you want to read some truly lovely wordsmithing, go over to https://thelexicans.wordpress.com and weep.

              • Well, we have every Cold War commitment except some 2nd Fleet submarine work and all the commitments add post Cold War.

                The target fleet (never quite reached) for the Cold War was 600 including 100 fast attack submarines and 19 surface battle groups (15 carrier, 4 battleship). The idea was a submarine operational tempo of 50% (deployed 50% of the time) and the carriers in 4 3 ship groups covering the four active major fleets, 2 reserve, and 1 in long term shipyard

                Currently we have about 326 active combatants with 54 attack submarines and 11 carriers. We now have five active major fleets (Fifth Fleet is arguably more important than Second right now and maybe Sixth).

                Now, when Mitt Romney argued it was a problem we have fewer ships than we have had since the start of World War One he was told by the Lightbringer:

                ““You mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets.
                We have these things called aircraft carriers and planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines. It’s not a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s ‘What are our capabilities?’”

                It appears no one told him we don’t have the capability to be in two places at once.

                Even ignoring the BS trainings Foxfier mentions you simply cannot be in more places than a 600 ship Navy does with a 300 ship Navy. The only way is to wear out the ships with over use and skipped maintenance. There are currently 3 submarines so overdue for maintenance they are not allowed to dive. The only way is failing to train crews properly because you like the breathing room. Yes, sailing is mostly OTJT, but that was done with steaming time and workups, not during deployments. You have neither time nor money for steaming time (that mostly ended with the Cold War and was a huge mistake).

                That does not change my argument that officers, you know, the people I had to salute even when they had a butter bar and straw in their hair (and an ego about a third of the time…M Div usually cured that), need to be f*cking grown ups and talk to each other. When JOs are not then SOs need to discipline them.

                All four from the USS Fitzgerald, the CO, XO, OOD, and TAO should be hung. Period. All four were derelict of duty and enlisted men paid for it with their lives. The USN paid for it with a destroyer out of action. Yes, you can argue their behavior is more a symptom of the over work of the fleet, but at some point you saluted for a reason.

                • It appears no one told him we don’t have the capability to be in two places at once.

                  It wouldn’t have mattered, as he is accustomed to straddling both sides of every issue and assumed he’d be able to do that come what may. See: Red Lines

                  • Jug-ears was so over his head the fish swimming around his feet made their own light. Quite possibly he was also actively trying to undermine the country; there’s certainly a plethora of evidence. But I truely believe that most of the damage done was because he was in now way qualified, and listened to cronies instead of people who knew what they were talking about.

                    So he reduced the armed forces AND got us into a series of third-world piss-ups. He undermined the police while still not enacing or trying to enact) any serious reforms. He bitched up immigration enforcement without actually reforming the immigration laws.

                • The issue I have is that lets off the folks who set the standards that having no functional redundancy, making brag-sheet stuff a minimum mandatory, transfering people before the person they are sponsoring arrives (which was occasionally happening when I got out, and is now an accepted norm even with officers) and instituting a culture of pass-the-bag politics.

                  • “Having no functional redundancy” is a direct result of LEAN, and Just-in-time business practices. It’s the reason why the U.S, and many other countries today for that matter, are only 1 week from total social breakdown, and 2 weeks from starvation. When you penalize businesses for large parts or product inventories, they reduce those inventories to the minimum necessary to operate. There is no reserve for when something goes wrong, and the lines come to a dead stop. Now a business might be able to survive occasional stoppages like that; but in a military event, that means you lose; sometimes big time, and permanently. Even Sun Tsu recognized that. Of course most MBAs have never heard of Sun Tsu, much less read The Art of War, or even considered its application to business.

                    • thephantom182

                      “Of course most MBAs have never heard of Sun Tsu, much less read The Art of War, or even considered its application to business.”

                      They have in China and Japan. And I notice that everything in life these days is made in China and designed in Japan.

                    • Probably more to do with too many officers (especially upper level), too few enlisted, “cost saving” reductions and various social engineering efforts.
                      It is very similar, though, and both need fixing.

                    • How can most MBA programs not have it on their reading list. I honestly thought this book is fairly common knowledge.

                    • Lean manufacturing is not simply about avoiding inventory taxes. it is based on the Theory of Constraints, first widely presented by Eliyahu Goldratt in his very readable novel, The Goal thirty-five years ago.


                      Goldratt’s focus is on system optimization, which means that excess inventory represents avoidable cost.

                      And yes, the weakness is susceptibility to supply disruptions. An Israeli business and management consultant, Goldratt was highly conscious of such issues and offered means of addressing them in later works. Anybody interested in further understanding should search on Theory of Constraints.

                    • I had a job where The Goal was required reading and I think some LEAN people are seriously missing the point. His complaint was about making running everything at capacity when there were inbalances in capacity that would lead to wastage on several fronts: inventory rotting in various ways and not being usable, consuming resources that could be used to produce things in low supply to keep other lines producing when not needed, and so on.

                      Certainly, despite being in a company where that was required reading we didn’t implement a JIT system to the point that one supply chain failure stopped all production. It maybe that we were a semi-custom cabinet shop so everything was to order with options making inventory an odd idea for all but some intermediate parts, but still.

                    • I guess the idea I got from The Goal was that production was a choice and that production had costs. If the cost of production could be spent more profitably elsewhere then just because you have the line doesn’t mean you have to produce on it for less profit.

                      So, yes, inventory is an avoidable cost, but you avoid it for reasons not just to avoid it for avoidance sake.

  8. I think the crab bucket is one of the most insidious demons to haunt humanity.

    My father’s side of my family is descended from the ‘black sheep’ of a formerly New England Irish group. We were the black sheep because an ancestor of mine decided to not get involved in who inherited the lion’s share of a rich dead relative’s money, took a pittance, and headed out of state to start his own businesses and make his own money.

    For this he was deigned to be ‘disrespectful’ and ‘thinks he’s better then us.’ Also somehow choosing to not take the money and making your own was ‘greedy.’ Apparently what really cemented him (and us by descent) as the outcasts was him replying to such sentiments with what was essentially ‘yes, I am indeed better then you.’

    In a less personal sense, someone once expressed the same thing about the story of Parsifal. Apparently Parsifal acting as if you could be moral and righteous, at the expense of personal comfort and safety was ‘unfair’ and ‘made people feel as if their choices were the wrong ones.’

    I think the crab bucket is based on the ethic of not facing up to your own moral and life failures, trying to instead fob everything off on someone else and despising those who remind you of moral and fiscal responsibilities you tried to ignore. .

    • On TvTropes, “Honor Before Reason” tended to be used to describe even the most trivial of morally good actions, at the most minimal sacrifice. (Probably still does, I suppose)

  9. What are you DOING here? Go ‘way. make celebration for son and new relations.

    • I’m packing. I’m here in breaks from packing. We’re flying with zee red eyes tonight.

    • Richard Mcenroe

      QUICK! Everyone mail them a toaster oven!

      • Toaster oven? No, Fondue pots! You can never have too many fondue pots.


        Of course, candle sticks always make a nice gift.

        • Sometimes CNC programmers will verify toolpaths by running a test part in machineable wax. You can melt the wax down and re-use it.

          When I needed a way to melt the wax a few years ago I wound up using a double boiler. But if fondue pots are back, one might be just the ticket for melting wax…

      • I notice She didn’t post a gift site for the Bride and Groom.

        • Can you imagine? First, whatever randomness the regular crew here think to send the happy couple, followed by the risk posed by unbalanced puppy kickers piling on.

          Come to think of it, it would be worth seeing. Prior planning and some sorting are required…

          • Well, I guess we’ll just have to post our well wishes for the happy couple here, and have Sarah relay them to them.

  10. I don’t think that my vices include envy. Vanity, sloth, a critical spirit? Sure. But not envy. I’m sure that I’m as human as anyone else but envy was SO taught against in my upbringing and if someone was gossiped about (another sin, there) it was likely to be how envious or small spirited someone was. And we were poor with a capital P. And I might wish that I HAD things that I didn’t have, but I never would have ever thought to hate someone who had more or feel like they ought not. Oh, not beyond “that seems wasteful” and I’ll still do *that* because some things I just can’t imagine myself spending money on even if I won the lottery. (Purses… really… why?)

    But the thing really is… what does envy do for you but rot yourself out from the inside? It’s like hate. Envy or hate don’t hurt the subject of the envy, they poison YOU. There’s no upside, no profit to yourself in them.

    Besides, what I’ve noticed the most is that people who are doing well are almost certainly working harder than I care to work. Let’s be honest. Whatever benefit of birth, and certainly benefit of personal training and family culture that lead to good work habits and confidence… it never ends there, it ends with lots of work. And sometimes it ends with broken families. Ambition often seems not to be worth it to me. But, BUT… when I look at what people DO who are doing well, those are usually things that I could also do if I cared to do them. Observe and learn. And choose.

    That’s all.

    • Sloth is the easiest sin 🙂

      I used to think sloth was my #1, but have come to accept its wraith.

      • wrath. Meh. My sloth is often induced by wrath I don’t know where to put.

      • Eh? You say sloth haunts you?

      • Well, depends on how you do it. As a technical term, sloth can be FULL of all sorts of busy work. What it requires is neglect of what you should be doing.

        Monks writing on it warned that the “noon-day devil” was often full of wonderful suggestions that the monk should be doing instead. The monk should stick to his cell and his daily office, and if that got too hard, just remain in his cell.

    • Envy requires ignorance of the fact that nobody has a perfect life — you simply do not know what burdens another bears. Wealth brings a whole different set of problems, after all: fear that people “like” you because they want to exploit you, fear your child will get the “Patty Hearst Experience” and the fear your luck will run out. There is a certain liberation to having “Nothing left to lose.”

      Envy means wishing for a whole new set of problems.

      • Which is why Marxism, which is an ideology based entirely on envy, is so insidiously evil.

        • Marxism has come to be based on envy. In its ideal form it is based on the ideathat people are intrinsically altruistic. And they are, to some degree, under some circumstances. But they aren’t ALL THE TIME. All the time gets wearing fast, and that ends up wit envy.

          Capitalism runs on ambition and greed. The first is mostly neutral and the second mostly bad, but they are reliable. And the system has room for altruism, in a way that Marxism doesn’t have room for ambition or greed. So Capitalism mostly works, and Marxism mostly doesn’t.

          And to whatever degree Marxism works at all, it works on fear. The fear of being declaired a wrecker.

          Hence my Cranks’ Principle that “Capitalism is the theory that a system that works from greed is superior to one that works from fear.”

          • In its ideal form [Marxism] is based on the idea that people are intrinsically altruistic.

            People are, until it becomes required of them, at which point they become peevish, quarrelsome, resentful and greedy.

            OTOH, when people are given free reign to indulge their ambition and greed they often feel released to indulge in altruistic behaviour.

            It’s almost as if people are naturally contrary.

      • Envy doesn’t care.

    • “Wow, that is neat, I wish I had something like that, too” as opposed to “wow, that is neat, I wish it was mine, not theirs”?

      • What is even worse is many seem to embrace, “That is neat and they shouldn’t have one whether I do or not.”

        • With the added thought of “they must be bad and evil to have that neat thing that I don’t have”.

        • FeatherBlade

          Or “I don’t even want that [desirable object] but it burns me up that the other guy has one [because he doesn’t value what I value]”?

          • Dorothy Grant

            “How dare you have an AR-15/SUV/4-bedroom house/pickup/airplane? Nobody NEEDS one of those! You shouldn’t have that! Because… because environmentalism! or socialism! or something that’s not flat out admitting the corrosive envy in my own soul!”

          • My “favorite” variation on that one is “[Famous profession] makes millions while teachers make thousands so people who do and support [famous profession] are bad”

            • Some people’s logic is cause to fear their ever becoming programmers:

              AOC’s latest self-own: Expensive airport croissants
              In one of the finest self-owns I’ve seen in a while on the worst website on the Internet, the future of the Democratic Party dropped a galaxy brain take on Twitter today.

              Croissants at LaGuardia are going for SEVEN DOLLARS A PIECE 😱

              Yet some people think getting a whole hour of personal, dedicated human labor for $15 is too expensive??
              — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 1, 2019

              Where even to begin? Perhaps with the immorality of her utilitarian equation of economic value and human worth? Or perhaps with the fact that LaGuardia is about to enact a $19 minimum wage that will likely raise the cost of these very croissants even further?

              Or better, the fact that every airport in the country still has a McDonald’s Dollar Menu if you’re willing to trade in French pastries for French fries, like the rest of us twenty-somethings on a budget?

              Let’s start with the very reason why airports can charge exorbitant prices for garbage food: the very absence of the free market, caused mainly by a captive passenger market and government regulation.

              [SNIP]

              All of these burdensome regulations means that a beer that costs less than a buck at the supermarket, and $8 at a concert venue can cost well into the double digits at an airport bar. And that’s not just vendors being stingy per se. As we’ve seen above, they have to offset the costs of regulatory burdens from the delivery of raw materials to the price of labor willing to work at an airport.

              For what it’s worth, I found a deal on Amazon for a dozen croissants for $20.94. I would say that Ocasio-Cortez just learned a valuable lesson on the merits of the free market over oligopolistic ones that devolve into cartels, but she’s the one that kicked 25,000 Amazon jobs out of New York in the first place.

              [END EXCERPT]

              She’s been a bartender and wants us to believe she thinks people give “a whole hour of personal, dedicated human labor”??? Maybe over a full eight hour shift …

              • And who gets all the money from the mark up at airport eatiers.

                Why, it is Ms. Cortez’s favorite people, the government.

      • There’s a fairy tale where the farmer gets three wishes but whatever he wishes for himself, his neighbor will get twice as much. It ends with him wishing himself blind in one eye and his neighbor drowns because of sudden blindness. Envy truly is poisonous.

        • I can remember reading variations on that; even the version where he HATES the neighbor, I don’t get.

          • I can sort of see it if he fears the neighbor. Especially if he has good reason to fear the neighbor. “Whatever I wish for, he will get twice, and then use that to get what I got from me.”

            Otherwise, I’m with you.

          • The variant I heard was an evil spirit and the peasant farmer says, “Scare me half to death.”

            • The variant I read was a Robert Sheckley short story in which the Devil makes it as an introductory free offer of three wishes. The recipient is a Jewish businessman who learns that his “worst enemy” is his partner.

              The third wish is for a young bride, loving and caring and sexually exactly everything a man could handle.

            • The clever versions I like, they usually have the “your worst enemy will get twice as much” which I can understand, it’s just the neighbor one that really confuses me.

              • My mother, who was crazy, declared war on every neighbor and plotted their downfall. Fortunately, we moved every few years, and it took her some time to scale hostilities back up after relocating.

                She never had a *reason* for any of it as far as I know. Other than that they existed, anyway. Her mother was the same way.

              • Competition with your neighbor is as American as Suburbs. Competing for the more perfect lawn, the better Christmas decorations, the bigger BBQ? All are elements of too many TV & Movie comedies to count.

                And it isn’t simply Dads, either. Mom Competition can be destructive beyond words (well, since much of it consists of gossip, maybe not beyond words.)

                • I get what it is mocking….but also that such nose-cutting action is not historically odd.

                • …and this is why I don’t join the neighborhood “Nextdoor” group. Because if people want to snipe and bitch, whine or be catty at me, they’ll have to leave their keyboard, get up, and ring my doorbell to say it to my face.

                  So far, I’ve had one conversation about my lawn, and that was the neighbor noting he’d gone ahead and cut mine when he cut his, because it looked like we were having a hard time of it all. At which point we hired the neighbor to help with lawn care for a while, to the happiness of both of us.

                  Then again, this neighborhood? I would be as unsurprised if they rang my doorbell to borrow some 12 gauge as a cup of flour. ‘S a good Tiny Town Texas sort of place.

                • My family and I used to watch such shenanigans with puzzlement, and concluded that the people engaged in such were very bored with their lives.

    • Does wishing one had something (of one’s own) that someone else has, or ‘oh, hey, that’s nice. Wish I had one,’ count as envy? Usually the feeling makes me go and set aside pennies to get it (figuratively speaking.)

      If we’re talking seven deadly, sloth, lust and wrath are mine.

      • I think it can rise to idolatry or causing problems, but how can it be coveting when it is just getting an idea to pursue a goal? That would make the old country song “I wanna be loved like that” be envy– or even the example of Christ in the Bible, since we try tobe Holy like Him.

      • I think if you don’t resent that the other guy has the thing, that just thinking “that would be so fun, I’d sure like to do that” isn’t wrong. It’s just not destructive and it might be motivating.

        If someone goes into “I’m so unhappy that I don’t have that” then it can get destructive even if they don’t resent someone else. But “I can only be happy if I have all the things” might edge over into gluttony.

      • thephantom182

        “Does wishing one had something (of one’s own) that someone else has, or ‘oh, hey, that’s nice. Wish I had one,’ count as envy?”

        No. Envy is “That guy is a prick because he has that car I want.”

        “I want that car!” is desire. Its good to want things. ~:D

      • When the Holy Bible talks about coveting, it tends to focus on coveting specific things. i.e. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet they neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox…” etc… That says to me that having a goal to attain something in and of itself isn’t bad. It’s when you want the specific one that someone else has, and are willing to go to unethical lengths to get it that there’s a problem.

        As an example, see the parable that Nathan the Prophet told to King David after the latter’s stunts involving Bathsheba and her husband. The parable revolved around a rich man with a large herd of sheep. A neighboring man had a single sheep, and bestowed a great deal of affection on it. But the rich man stole that sheep even though he already had a large herd of his own.

        (and then arranged for the other man’s murder, since the other man was a direct reference to Uriah)

  11. Congratulations to you and your family, Mrs. Hoyt, on the upcoming weddings. I wish your son and future daughter-in-law every happiness.

    Until you mentioned there was a civil ceremony here and a religious ceremony in Portugal, I was a bit puzzled about why you kept mentioning weddings.

    • I have a feeling in my water younger son will be married by end of year or early next year. Which is weird, since he won’t even admit to dating anyone. I could be wrong. The future isn’t set in stone. It’s just this NAGGING premonition.

      • Must be the psi strain from the Irish Rovers that raided Portugal way back when.

        • Could our gracious hostess have laran?

          • Well, I understand her natural hair color tends toward the reddish end of the spectrum. How many fingers does she have? And does she carry around a small leather or silk pouch that might contain a psychoactive rock?

            • MZB may have been a deplorable enabler in her personal life (never met her, and don’t know the truth), but she did write a number of entertaining stories in an interesting world.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                There are documents filed in California court containing statements from MZB and her later lesbian lover that were taken relating to the Breen matter. The things that the lover relayed about statements from MZB and the girl who became Moira Greyland, which the lover purported to have found innocent explanations for, are so obviously damaging that I think Greyland’s claims of MZB’s abusive behavior are credible.

              • Eh, mileage may vary there. I found that Bradley’s…unorthodox views on sexuality infested her writing to the point where I can’t read her fiction. The allegations hadn’t been made when I was trying to get into Darkover, but in retrospect, it isn’t perhaps surprising that the woman who wrote that not naming the rapist of your 11-year-old daughter as your heir is “unreasonably hanging onto the grudges of the past” turned out to be a child molester.

                • I think it is kind of hit an miss. It shows up more in some books than others and tracks mostly, but not completely, to age. Earlier Darkover are more adventure and even the early Free Amazon novels weren’t too bad.

                  I suspect that much like Heinlein getting established enough to publish some of his later works she got to fly her freak flag more once she established a solid audience.

                  • … she got to fly her freak flag more once she established a solid audience.

                    By which you mean, of course, once she could tell her editors: “Stet.”

                • I suspect that she knew what was going on, and was enabling it. What I can’t figure out was she wrote the feelings of one of her characters who was subjected to homosexual abuse and mind rape so well that I find it inconceivable that she would allow such a thing to happen in real life. But then again, I’d have to go back and check when she wrote that story, and when the alleged abuses happened. I may be putting the cart before the horse.

                  • I believe that it’s a matter of public record that she knew what was going on with Breen and enabled it; there have been sworn depositions on the subject. To the extent that there are unresolved questions, it’s about whether she was an abuser herself.

                    I can’t figure out was she wrote the feelings of one of her characters who was subjected to homosexual abuse and mind rape so well that I find it inconceivable that she would allow such a thing to happen in real life.

                    It’s a truism that you can’t conflate the feelings of a character with those of the author. Usually it’s used to remind people that odious views of the characters aren’t necessarily the author’s, but it’s true the other way as well. An author can write realistically about the feelings of a rape victim while at the same time thinking contemptuously about how weak the victim is and how pathetic for not understanding that the rapist was in the right and only had everyone’s best interests at heart.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    Digging into the depositions, the Breendoggle letter, and some other statements is suggestive of a pattern.

                    MZB and Breen maintained a carefully curated set of social circles.

                    In the outermost was basically the untrusted folks, folks with too much integrity, and those who had not yet been sorted from those folks. The outermost were fed the most innocent and unimpeachable cover story. The cover story that gave least cause for concern, and least grounds for police action.

                    Within that are a series of concentric circles of people chosen for their ability to buy increasingly suspect bullshit. The folks who produced the Breendoggle letter apparently thought that there might be some sort of acceptable reason to let Breen molest little girls right in front of them. MZB’s lesbian lover apparently thought their might’ve been some sort of defensible child-rearing practice that could justify MZB tying up a six year old girl and threatening to pull out her teeth with pliers.

                    People ID’d as mentally pliable were selected, fed a line of bullshit, and pushed further once they accepted that. Writing about a homosexual rape would have suited that purpose, but too positive a spin would have given away the game. So she put a negative spin on it, to avoid freaking the mundanes, and to provide herself with plausible deniability.

                    Writers and politicians have professionally developed manipulation skills. Writers and politicians who do that as a means to sexual predation, where the sexual predation is the driving focus of their life, can have some really incredible manipulation skills. Witness Bill Clinton’s charm.

                    • What gets my back up isn’t so much what Bradley and Breen did, as it was the people who claimed they knew what was going on all along, and how glad they were that Greyland was finally exposing it.

                      Wait, what? They claim knew about rape and child abuse, and that they couldn’t even be arsed to drop a dime on the police or Child Services?

                      Breen and Bradley could have claimed mental illness, but the ones who saw and didn’t do anything, they *chose* to be dirtbags.

                    • BobtheRegisterredFool

                      Confusion and fear are two strategies that work hand in glove for predators.

                      Bill’s charm, getting people to like him or to change their position on an issue, produced both “he is so nice, how could he have hurt anyone” and “everyone likes him, I do not dare cross him”. Hillary’s ability lies in generating an inchoate terror of crossing her, or drawing her attention.

                      Besides fear of physical vengeance, from the Breendoggle letter we can tell that folks held their tongues because they had people they were unable to walk away from, whose opinions they feared being branded ‘Homophobic’ in.

        • The North of Portugal and Ireland had trade and um… exchanges since the fourth century.

  12. It is natural for people to be envious when they see others succeeding beyond them. I know it happens to me, even though I am awesome*. The important thing to understand is: It’s a trap! (Admiral Ackbar was right) First comes the envy, then comes the excuses, then depression. At that point, the choice is quit, or pick yourself up and keep at it.

    Confession: I quit. I haven’t written anything in months. Guess it’s time to kick myself in the rear and start writing again. 🙂

    I think we all fall into this at some point. For me, it was watching someone sit down and write a book, edit it, and release it. I got to watch someone living MY dream first hand. While I would scrape together maybe an hour each day to write, if I was lucky between work, cooking dinner, and taking care of family. All those things working adults have to do. He would sleep in, and still have hours and hours to write and work on his book. When I couldn’t keep up, it felt like I was falling behind, failing. Yes, I’m my own worse enemy in this regard.

    Thanks for the reminder Sarah. Time to quit making excuses and write!

    * for those who don’t know me, this was me making fun of myself.

  13. Only if establishment is defined as ‘people who hold no positions of power in the industry whatsoever, except a relatively small house we love to beat up on.’

    Hadn’t realized conservatives were Jewish, had you?

  14. I do know that BOOKS that got the fawning treatment had to hit the points they were looking for.

    That doesn’t mean there was Political Bias, it just meant that the way in which the Publishers, Reviewers and Book Stores defined a “good” book had little to do with characterizations, plot, literary technique or sales. Especially that last, as readers generally do prize those elements.

    Which is why such cromulent books as the Harry Potter series (insert alternative series, such as Twilight, as you like) take off and sell like hotcakes, if hotcakes sold like free government stuff. Despite what writing instructors, writers, editors, publishers, and critics claim, good writing is a useful but unnecessary element of book sales. Capturing the public imagination is what’s needed, and nobody has yet really found the formula for that.

    That it is human nature to imagine we have some control over that, that we have earned it through hard work, skill, the favor of the gods or whatever does not make that thought fact. Being a great artist, a Rembrandt, does you no good if what the public is buying is paintings of dogs playing poker.

    • “Capturing the public imagination is what’s needed, and nobody has yet really found the formula for that.”

      That may be because there is no real formula: wild success is most times totally unpredictable, especially in books that actually have serious flaws in craft (Wizard of Oz, among others), although the appeal is sometimes discernable in hindsight (which leads to copy-cats that are even less well-written than the ice-breakers).
      However, there are also many bestsellers which IMNSHO deliberately capitalize on the memes that are known to catch the public’s interest (for whatever reason), and unexpectedly hit the mother lode, even though no better-written craftwise than scores of others (Da Vinci Code, Twilight, Hunger Games, Bridges of Madison County, many others).

  15. odd idea that seems to affect mostly boomers (no idea why) that anyone who succeeds is crooked and must be brought low

    The root of this idea is somewhat less obscure as we learn more about what it takes to get into “elite” universities.

    • I think the rise of the evil businessman trope started in the early to mid 60s. You can see it in the progression of James Bond novels. The initial focus was Bond against the Godless Commies, aka SMERSH, while the later mutated into a bunch-o-evil plutocrats aiming to subjugate the world. (Thus ignoring the communists…) The movies, at least through Roger Moore had this in spades.

      That trope is so (dominant/easy/boring) in network TV that it’s refreshing with the villain de jour is evil but not a businessman. In the Heat of the Night played with it circa 1965, while having the eventual murderer not being the successful-but-evil (& raaaaacist!) businessman but an ordinary lowlife.

  16. Christopher M. Chupik

    We’re getting a masterclass in envy from certain quarters of our field this week. But I guess it must be galling to write something that caters to all the latest trendy wokeness, gets raves from io9, Tor.com, The Mary Sue et al and is still be beaten out in the sales rankings by a guy who died over 40 years ago. They must be so confused.

    • OOOH, are their popcorn worthy links?

        • Oh, dear Lord. https://archive.is/o/khxts/https://twitter.com/ScottPetersenJD/status/1110620331428007937 You know what an author who steeped himself that deeply in the mythology of Africa could do? “Holy, f*ck, they have a thing with food.” Which is not a criticism. So do Portuguese myths. BUT BUT the “mythology of Africa” is not as complex and coherent as any European mythology. Several reasons:
          Even for pre-Roman Europe, there were bigger areas belonging to ONE people, as opposed to multiple, fractional tribes. So myth was more “unified.” (And might all be grounded in indo european myth)
          Africa was in pre-history much longer.
          Having actually spent about 10 years studying the myths of Africa… they also have severe (not just a little) cross-contamination via Arabs (and probably Portuguese).
          Their myths are not “supernatural” I don’t know how else to explain this. Their folktales don’t tend to involve the supernatural. Part of this is I think “not telling stories to outsiders.”
          There are ton of animal stories, but these hasshats have issue with Uncle Remus, so…
          Also, what asshat actually means is “person of the right color immerses xerself in…” Because if I tell them I did, they’ll scream “cultural appropriation.”
          But over all? Fragmented, incoherent, very very tribal, and given the impression there is no way to know the deeper myths. You probably COULD have known them, if you’d gone to Africa circa the 17th century and hit it off right with a tribal elder.
          On the whole though, this comment is fucking insane BECAUSE as Campbell proved myth tends to echo each other across the world. Something to do with how humans interact with the world.
          African (or any other) myths aren’t any “deeper” or more complex than European myth. On the contrary. China has hints of having been more complex, once, and you can sort of catch part of it, but their cyclic book burnings took a toll.

          • China has hints of having been more complex, once, and you can sort of catch part of it, but their cyclic book burnings took a toll.

            Jane Lindskold’sBreaking the Wall series plays on that exact detail to great effect.

          • Huh.

            Well, there’s “tie bamboo to your spoon if the gods invite you to dinner,” but that’s more a proverb.

            There are straight up classical mermaids who marry fishermen, and if you go by his hut at night you might hear her voice and their kids’, but you’ll never see her and them.

            There are shape shifting shamans who can become lions.

            I might have to get my husband yarning and turn on a recorder. West Coast, so Portuguese, Viking, whoever-hopped-a-boat, had influence.

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            Several authors have. George Saunders did in his Imaro stories, written 40 years ago.

          • I remember reading about an anthropologist collecting folklore and he had found a place where they had no Cinderella stories. When other anthropologists went back later; there were Cinderella variants. A story for a story, I guess.

            • I have to wonder if the shallowness of Africsn myth has something to do with the unifed idiocy of the do-gooders who havfested Africa since WWII. You-all and I know that for the last fifty years (at least) anthropologists ‘studying’ various African Tribes have been chock-full of Progressive ‘we know what you mean better than you do’, and that could certainly kill off anything interestingly different from what they expected to find.

              Maybe there were once Westerners who got told the deeper African myths, but they were full of Colonial Badthink, so their stories have been destructively ignored.

              By hope for the 20th Century is, absent a return of good old fashioned Colonial Paternalistic Exploitation, M’boto (and Juan, and Chang) put a Third World Brown foot up the collective rump of the Progressive/Left swine currently ‘helping’ them, and get on with their own Industrial Revolution.

              Don’t think it’s gonna happen, but it’s my hope for them.

              • Some considerable time ago Beloved Spouse read a book about an area in West Africa (I want to say Ghana but cannot truly recall) which had myths full of praise for tricksters and high honor for those who engineered betrayal — unsurprisingly, the region had a long history of internecine conflict. Missionaries discovered they also had a myth about a sacrificial child, a myth preparing them for recognition (and acceptance) of the Risen Christ.

                Funny how such things work.

                • Decades ago, I read the same story about missionaries and a tribe in South America. But I’ve never been able to remember the name of the tribe.

            • Going from a long-ago reading, I remember some tale collector marvelling at how an old Appalachian folktale he called “Like Salt for Soup” mirrored the story of King Lear, until someone pointed out that the area had been settled by Scots/Welsh/Britons who originated the legend that Shakespeare worked over.

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

              • In Grandfather Tales by Richard Chase, he talks about how he wrestled with the Love Like Salt tale that he included because it did look like that there was not only influence from Shakespeare but it was King Lear with a little reworking — the biggest probably being that the tale stuck to the father, not the daughter — but several elements induced him to keep it in.

          • There are some relatively old novels that have survived in China. It’s likely that some of them tap into the old folk stories. For instance, while Journey to the West was intended as message fic, many of the fantastical elements likely circulated for quite a while before they were used in Journey. And the characters in Water Margin, while loosely based on historical characters, could be viewed as a Chinese take on Robin Hood and his Merry Men.

          • All is grist!

            A lack of system may in fact make the muse happy to frolic.

          • I posted a reply, and actually thought I saw it up immediately after doing so. But it seems to have vanished into the great unknown.

            WordPress delenda est?

        • I saw that thread. Someone was also claiming that certain modern writers (NKJ) were better than Tolkien.

          • I can understand people not liking Tolkien for his idiosyncratic style, but a fantasy author who does not understand his greatness is a knownothing.

            You know what this is about, though. The biopic trailers for the Tolkien movie are out. They do not want to see any movie about poverty, grief, war, and heartbreak making a man great in scholarship, faith, love, and literature.

            • TL:DR version:
              They do not want to see any movie about poverty, grief, war, and heartbreak making a man great in scholarship, faith, love, and literature.

              They object to the parts about man, scholarship (other than culling for offense and appending such tags as racist, sexist, -phobic, etc.), faith, or love (except of the erotic sort.)

          • Tolkien is a problem. In structure, much of LOTR is a 7th Century Eddic saga written in Edwardian English. Of the major characters, only Sam p, Merry, Pippin, and (a very little bit) Gimli show charcater development. So by the standards of The Modern Novel, LOTR should be a right mess.

            Of course academic of English Literature have that problem a lot. Much that is immortal – or at least very long lived and influential – doesn’t firtmtheir neat categories. And this isn’t just a problem of modern academics. The Literary Experts didn’t like the works that come down to us from pretty much any period…until they were so established that they had to be worked in somehow, and the academics who had condemned them as vulgar had mostly retired.

            Oh, not in EVERY case. But a lot.

        • Really?

          That was just…sad.

          And I want to say a troll.

        • Oh, and the follow ons were totally clues, such as Tolkien being the principle inspiration for D&D.

          Anyone saying that with a straight face is just proving they know nothing of the genesis of D&D.

    • If the dogs won’t eat the kibble there’s nothing to be done but get different dogs.

  17. I understand the pull of envy, but have always been more drawn to taking pleasure in a world full of people who create such wonder. I could NEVER paint the kind of city-scapes that Viktor Shrekengost painted…but looking at one, I see the city he was seeng, and I love it. Years of practice didn’t get me even sorta CLOSE to the wild imagination of Jack Kirby, but gods-DAMN it was fun to read the comics he helped create. I don’t want to live the kind of life that a game programmer lives (I’m not a techie, but I did marry one), but wow!

    Why more people can’t feel this way is beyoned me. Maybe it’s a characteristic of Odds.

    • >>I don’t want to live the kind of life that a game programmer lives

      Heard rumors. Been close. I am (or rather “was” until I retired) a programmer and software designer (only because early in the career was able to do both due to lack of staffing). Been close to the life a game programmer is expected to dedicate to his “craft” for the employer. When the reviews were “well, you’re only getting a 3% raise, because you don’t put in 70 hours a week …” 100% not fair … but hey, 100% true. Had no desire to actually find out if the rumors were true.

      Interestingly enough, son’s job, it is illegal to work anyone on the floor, which includes supervisors, more than 60 hours a week. If they were to have an accident the company would be targeted for a law suit, as well as any penalties from the state, for overworking them, because obviously they were too tired.

      It amazes me that the work programmers and developers do aren’t considered “tiring”. Trust me been on both sides. Not manufacturing but very physical work (in woods, and climbing on/off log trucks) as well as the computer programming. The latter is just as exhausting over the same hours worked.

      • Going off of driving and how it drops my weight, I would bet the glucose burn backs that up.

      • My programming was mostly for semiconductor test equipment. It was a mix of bog standard (take the 8 x 256 bit program and modify it to 8 x 2024–hey, it was a lot of years ago) and “here’s a vague concept, make it work in a month”, or simply create the first program from scratch. The more complex ones took a) lots more hours and b) lots of brain energy. If sufficiently thorny, I’d be dreaming about the issues. OTOH, the last time I did that, I made a considerable amount of money–until the client went bankrupt. That slug kept us going until we could finish fixing up the old house and get the frack out of California.

        Yeah, it’s a calorie burner. Maybe not quite as much as construction, but that has definite time slots. I won’t do outside carpentry at night unless something is seriously wrong. (So far, so good. Please can it stay that way, Lord?)

      • Timothy E. Harris

        Technically, I have been a professional programmer; i.e. somebody paid me to code (back in the late 80’s). However it turned out not to be something I could do as a career.
        It takes too much mental energy to sustain working even 8 hours a day. I code best in spurts with long breaks for my brain to figure out how I’m going to do the next bit.
        Don’t know how the gaming coders manage. These days I rarely code more than an occasional patch or shell script.

        • “It takes too much mental energy to sustain working even 8 hours a day. I code best in spurts with long breaks for my brain to figure out how I’m going to do the next bit.”

          Yes. 100% understand. Been lucky in that all tho technically I would have been pounding out code 8 hours/day, 5 days a week. I’ve always had other duties. Could structure the coding as I wished, breaking it into smaller bites, and taking breaks. Hands to the keyboard 8 hours a day, could happen; or longer if I was “in the zone.”; but that was my bad, not the work environment. Day in Day out, without a break, did not happen.

          It took 34 years before burn out hit. Didn’t recognize it until the last 5 months or so. But once I made the decision to quit, it became damn obvious … “Am I sure this is worth waiting until year end bonus? Just take my outstanding vacation, then come back and give notice?” / “Two week notice.” Every. Single. Day. Until the bonus check received in December. Deposited. Gave 6 week notice … of which was 3 1/2 weeks of outstanding vacation time … Spread over Christmas Break which included another 3 holiday days that couldn’t be denied (total, just short of 20 work days.) Worked it out so the last week I was only working 4/hours day. And I made damn sure it was ONLY 4 hours. To be clear. My password at work for everything varied from: IAmOutofHere2016 to 20160131Done (we had to change passwords every 60 days). There might have been less polite equivalents. 🙂

          OTOH once I was working in software, crafts came to a screeching halt.

    • I don’t want to live the kind of life that a game programmer lives

      I knew someone who was a game-bug finder. They demanded long hours, paid for peanuts and nearly drove the guy to suicide because he was struggling to find work that was remotely related to the field of his degree.

      He didn’t though, moved to a different field of work, and is a lot steadier now.

  18. I apologize for the repeated posts. WordBucket is making me jump back and forth between logins.

  19. Heh.

    Socialism for Thee, But Not for Me
    By Jim Geraghty
    At the National Review Institute’s 2019 Ideas Summit, a panel featuring the great Representative Dan Crenshaw of Texas, our Kevin Williamson, and Charlie Cooke on “the new Socialism” made the important point that most of today’s socialists, even the self-proclaimed ones, either don’t understand socialism, or want it implemented in a way that doesn’t really touch their lives. …

    [SNIP]

    Charlie pointed out that American socialists keep emphasizing that their role model is Norway (which is not all that socialist in its economy and political system, and whose economy was helped by roughly $30 billion from oil revenues last year, making it 17 percent of the GPD and 21 percent of the state’s revenues) and that Venezuela somehow isn’t representative of socialism, despite its government embracing the label. Kevin observed that if the socialists are right, and that true socialism has never been tried, their preferred system is the unluckiest in human history, as the countries that embrace it keep “trying” it wrong and coincidentally collapsing into authoritarian economic basket cases with gulags, secret police, bread lines, and the rest.

    What most self-proclaimed socialists want is price controls for what they want to buy but not what they want to sell; wage controls that will only raise their wages, never limit them; a government-enforced system of wealth redistribution that will only give them more, but never take from them.

    [SNIP]

    A lot of cries of “socialism” really are just code for “the government should use its power to get me a better deal.”

    • Addendum:

      Dan Crenshaw on Young Americans and Socialism
      [SNIP]
      At the summit this afternoon, [Crenshaw] insisted that the left’s socialist momentum stems from a culture that has made Americans feel disempowered. “That’s why identity politics is so powerful,” Crenshaw said. “It pits you against someone else. It allows you to feel like you’re a victim, and we’ve elevated that status of being a victim.”

      Instead, he said, individuals who feel empowered reject victimhood and attempt to rise above the attacks. “That’s what I tried to do when someone made fun of me,” he added, referring to the incident with Davidson.

      Crenshaw also offered a theory of why socialism seems to be growing in appeal to young Americans, as well as how conservatives should work to counteract it. “Well-intentioned liberalism always leads to progressivism,” he noted. “It has to. When you start believing that someone else has to be responsible for you, you always have to keep doing more.”

      [SNIP]

      [Crenshaw] said that the debate between capitalism and socialism isn’t always about substantive arguments. “It is really a culture war, deep down,” he said. “It is about whether personal responsibility should be valued, or it should not.”

      The panel concluded with Crenshaw’s ideas on how to appeal to young people, and his theme was clear: “To young people: I’m not going to try to buy you off with promises I can’t keep.” …

    • Nailed it.

  20. This reminds me of P.J. O’Rourke’s (pro-capitalist) interpretation of the Tenth Commandment…no, don’t covet your neighbor’s wife, or donkey, or house, or goods…go get your own!

  21. I didn’t think these feelings were that rare or that strange, but around that time I was reading about Eva Peron and there was a quote about how she grew up poor and the thought that there were rich people in the world infuriated her.

    Interesting that that thought came from Evita:

    “I came from the people, they need to adore me
    So Christian Dior me from my head to my toes
    I need to be dazzling, I want to be rainbow high
    They must have excitement, and so must I.”

    Yeah, I know those are Tim Rice’s words rather than the historical Eva Peron’s, but from everything I’ve heard, the sentiment was accurate. Eva believed that by outshining everyone else, she was doing a service for her fellow descamisados; she didn’t expect them to envy her flaunting her wealth but to be inspired that one of them had made it to the top. She expected them to enjoy seeing her success the way our hostess enjoyed seeing the wealthy neighborhoods.

    Funny how her attitude changed the second she actually did have money, isn’t it?

    • There’s certain cultural expectations that go along with the expectations that people have of a leader. She may well not have been wrong about her own culture. An attitude of humility might have been actively scorned and weakened whatever power she had.

      We come up against that with our own expectations vs. a good deal of the rest of the world… we view a presentation of strength to be when someone *doesn’t* react to the rabble… letting dissidents speak, etc., While often enough other places, if you let dissidents speak it’s only and ever because you haven’t the power, influence, or position to shut them up.

    • Among some Indian tribes, someone who was poor couldn’t serve as a spiritual or political leader. Why? In some cases, it meant he had nothing to give to would-be supporters and probably was not a good provider. In other cases, it meant that he had not gathered enough spiritual or political power to have supporters who provided him with wealth. Very different cultural approaches, same outcome.

  22. So… What is being served at the rehearsal dinner tonight? 😉 Crab? Lobster? Fillet of sacred cow?

  23. Oh, hey, there is a new Jamie Oliver show on PBS — “Quick and Easy Food.” He has some fun ideas. None of the recipes have more than five ingredients.

  24. Christopher M. Chupik

    I hope the hope the wedding preparations are going well.

    • Tomorrow is supposed to be the big day, so I am hoping that they have gone well.

      I must admit, I’ve been checking in here about three times a day – to make sure that there is NOT something new from our hostess. So far, so good…

      With luck, we will not hear from her again until Tuesday, earliest.

      • Wedding has happened and everyone was beautiful. 🙂

        Here’s hoping that Sarah has good travels. I heard something this morning about airlines being grounded, which even if not the one they’re on, will make travel difficult.

        • Our flight is very delayed. We’re at the airport and have five hours to wait.
          Wedding went off beautifully. The happy couple looked radiant.
          HOWEVER the groom did say yes twice not waiting for the celebrant to finish saying her piece. As in he said yes halfway through, then again when she finished and captured his bride’s hands with a will immediately after.
          It is possible he was very eager. We are just glad he didn’t say “Oh, h*ll yes!”

  25. For amusement while we wait:

    Genderbot lets us outsource our feelings about gender to a bot, which I think should free up a lot of mental space for other things

  26. Harp Music for Weddings – sampler
    Not the best harpist I’ve ever heard (and I used to run in those circles, in addition to running in circles), but the idea’s the thing.

  27. Therese Honey is among the harpers I know personally, and her recordings are the best in the business for musical expertise and tone quality.
    https://www.therese-honey.com/about/

    You can hear some of that even in this outdoor setting (our family frequented the Texas RenFest and saw her there often, but this is not my recording).

    The Cantigas de Santa Maria from medieval Galicia, played on her reproduction medieval harp, are among my favorites.

  28. Christopher M. Chupik

    We need a new post, even if it’s a not-a-post.

    • Pictures. We MUST haz pictures!

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        She may be on the road home or still asleep. 😉

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        If you’re friends with the right people on FB you can see a few.

        • FB? Nassssssty place. Data minings. Tailings. Mind pollution. We avoids going there.

          Originally read that as “friends with the right people in FBI” and was going to say, “The way they keep driving by my house and call me up on the phone but never saying anything, you would think FBI & I were friends, but they remain curiously reticent.”

        • Some of us aren’t loved enough 😉

          I am happy to know it happened successfully.

          • Heh. I saw a couple pictures of the wedding… well, no. I saw a couple pictures of the ringbearer and the flower girl, both of whom managed to get through the wedding while looking wonderful in their outfits, not spill or tear them (that the pictures showed), and one picture of them with their parents.

            …By which I conclude that nothing disastrous happened, and whatever may have gone wrong was minor and easily fixed, because neither small child looked close to meltdown (though one did look very tired.)

          • So the wedding went off without a hitch! 🙂 Uh, wait, that didn’t come out right . . .

            • There is a reason folk are encouraged to NOT refer to the altar/podium/whatchamacallum as “the Hitching Post.”

              Except in Vegas, of course.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I disagree.

      I’m torn between insisting on back posts, or no more posts until three days after the comments automatically lock on this.

      I need to do a trade study on which would be more obnoxious.

      Actually, since there is a wedding, and not ever having been married I am perhaps ignorant enough to plausibly claim to think that this is how it actually works: Option C: Create a new blog, accordingtosmith, and post there Plan 4: Create a new blog, accordianteasilver, and post there.

      But in all seriousness, I have no strong expectations of posts. I’m not sure how wiped out folks are, and want them to have recovery time if they need it.

  29. Hey Everybody! New month: time for those who tip to hit the jar!

  30. “Man is not ordained to the body politic, according to all that he is and has,” Thomas Aquinas wrote; “and so it does not follow that every action of his acquires merit or demerit in relation to the body politic.”
    https://dhspriory.org/thomas/summa/FS/FS021.html#FSQ21A4THEP1

    • The aardvark offers apolitical bonbons.

    • Sadly, the totalitarian lefties do not agree . . .

      • And they am wiser than Aquinas because they haz College Degrees!

        • shush Talk about that too much, and someone might mention that so did he.

          • It would not matter. They would assert that he didn’t attend a proper college. There was no 100,000 book library, no average SAT, no football of basketball team, no Office of Diversity & Inclusion. Just a bunch of Old White Cismen enjoying their privilege.

            Heck, Aquinas probably never even took an Ethinicity Studies class.

      • They think 2+2=5.