There is a book I can’t remember if I heard about or actually read called “The Gift of Fear” and the idea was that women — in particular? I think? — were supposed to listen to their fear, to their instincts.

For instance, when going into an elevator with a burly man whose eyes look feral (you’ll know it when you see it, trust me) you might feel a pang of fear. But if you’re a well brought up woman and particularly if the man is another race you might not want to show it. After all you’re not a racist, right?

But what you actually should be asking yourself is: Should I die because I don’t want to be impolite?

Sure what you’re picking up on might be prejudiced. Or just paranoid. Sure, maybe you’re reacting to this guy because his clothes are old, and he’s a different race.

But maybe not.

Me? I’ve had some interesting experiences and come pretty close to the edge of the knife a few times, and I’ll tell you I won’t go into an elevator with a male, period. Or with a younger and bigger woman than I.  It’s very easy to pretend you forgot something, and turn back. Or to fake going elsewhere.

I’ll also only go into an elevator with two people if it’s obvious they don’t know each other and/or if it’s a large enough group and so utterly typical for that building that it raises no alarms. (Like, in a con hotel, it’s a group of obvious fans.)

But more importantly, I’m alert, say, when walking in a nice suburban park. I had an experience where if I hadn’t been alert and realized I was heading into an area I couldn’t be seen from the road things would have got very very ugly, probably in terms of robbery, but who knows? I realized, I turned back. Which is when the guys sprang from cover.  Yeah.

Now, I might have been completely wrong, okay. But then what would I lose by turning back?  Uh….nothing? I’d lose not taking that part of the walk, but I could double down on the part by the road, in sight of passing traffic. (As was I was so shaken I gave it up. And have yet to go back. And that was a couple of years ago [not my neighborhood, just a place I visit often.])

This was brought about by thinking of the “xenophobic” insult thrown around.

It literally means “fear of the stranger.”  Or in other words “completely normal human being.”

Let’s be real here for a minute, okay? A lot of us are parents. Which of you teaches your kids to go up to strangers and ask for candy?

If you’re going to say “but my kid is defenseless!”

Well, so are a lot of  us in a lot of situations. Why wouldn’t we be afraid of strangers? What makes a stranger a stranger?

Well, at a deep set instinctual level, a stranger is someone who doesn’t look like your family or the people around you.

Remember that ridiculous article a few years back on how toddlers were racist? Yeah. It was stupid nonsense. The toddlers weren’t afraid of people who didn’t look like them (and certainly didn’t hate people who didn’t look like them) they were afraid of strangers.  If, for instance, you have a little black kid who grows up as the adopted son of an Asian couple, that kid is going to be afraid of black people, should he meet them. Because to them, they’ll be not like the people who have cared for him and taken care of him.

And that’s just all sorts of wrong. Because in the not so distant past — evolutionary, yesterday — a toddler who strayed from his group and into a completely different group of people was more like to end up as lunch than adopted.

But why should this change when you’re an adult?

Well, obviously because you can’t go through life avoiding making new contacts and learning new things.  The normal way of growth is to leave the house for the neighborhood, the neighborhood for the city, and then to chart your own path, possibly to places your parents have never been.

Sure, but when is the last time someone called you xenophobic because you didn’t want to talk to the neighbor?

No, the insult “xenophobic” is hurled around when you don’t like “the other.” And it usually doesn’t refer to a race (there’s a word for that. And honestly in the states a difference race doesn’t ‘feel’ different.) It refers to strange behavior. To speaking a different language, to speaking (eh) with an accent. To people who dress weirdly or eat weird stuff.

Okay. Fine. So you should maybe be open to new experiences — look, you’re talking to a woman who packed everything and became an exchange student at 17. But then I always ran towards what scared me — and there’s things to discover out there.


But remember the gift of fear.  It’s perfectly okay to be afraid of the stranger. Because by definition, you don’t know what the stranger will do. It’s not only okay but sane to be reserved, proceed with care, make sure you can, metaphorically speaking, back out of the elevator.

Being open to new experiences is a thing, but them furriners, you know can have weird ways. And it’s best to be safe. I mean, what’s the worst that will happen if you get a bad vibe and back off? You’ll miss out on a nice experience? You’ll offend them?

What if you get a bad vibe and you don’t? What is the worst that can happen?

And mostly, actually, this insult gets hauled out not because you disapprove of someone’s recipe for peach pie, or someone’s colorful attire, but of something someone is doing that you — in your culture — consider deeply offensive.  Like, say killing their daughter for kissing her boyfriend.  Or marrying off their thirteen year old to a fifty year old she never met, or…

And why would it be an insult to disapprove of this?

Let’s suppose, in fact, that the custom you disapprove of isn’t even that radical.

Until about six years ago (I don’t know why it changed) I couldn’t stand cumin.  There is in fact, in Portugal a cumin line halfway down the country. And I was from the no-cumin portion. Which meant I avoided Mexican food.

Was it xenophobic?  Why? I mean it limited my ability to go out to eat in groups, that’s about it. So?

Humans are social apes. That means having a sense of who we are and who our people are is very important.

Sure civilization starts with the dissolution of tribalism. But the dissolution of tribalism doesn’t mean immediately considering everything you are and everything you do wrong, and willy nilly embracing everyone else’s culture, just because it’s not yours.

There’s nothing wrong with loving your own people, and your own country. It doesn’t prevent you from becoming acquainted with other people and other countries, and even coming to love them too. It just means you know who you are. Yeah, some freaks of nature like me find their people and their country elsewhere. But they darn tooting better think those people and that country are better… otherwise what’s the point of the whole exercise?

It’s easier to evaluate and maybe even come to know and love the “other” when you know and love your own people first.

And trust me, even if neither culture is precisely objectionable, getting along with someone from a very different culture is difficult, and there will be dangerous pitfalls on both sides. (Otherwise known as the first five years of my marriage.)

No one ever — no one sane at least — taught their kid to hate their own family and love any stranger, indiscriminately.

That’s a good way to end up dead.

For a child, an adult or even a culture.

The fact the left thinks xenophobic is an insult tells you they want you to deny your sense of fear.  Perhaps because their weird little system is instinctively frightening to any rational being.

Remember the gift of fear. It’s better not to get in the elevator with the suspicious stranger, than to die in order to avoid being called xenophobic.



328 thoughts on “Fear

  1. I recall the first time my eldest saw African people. She was only a baby, a few months old. She stiffened and stared. I say African because they were wearing traditional clothes and had the very coal black skin that is displayed only by folks from Africa. She cried when the pair had vanished into the crowd, which surprised us as she had seen people of African descent before, but figured out later she had never seen anyone with *black* skin, just different shades of dark brown. It took her some time (several more sightings) before she stopped reacting with fear. To her unclear infant sight, such dark hued skin obscured features, and made eyes and mouth more stark in contrast.

    From the perspective if a baby this is understandable.

    On a similar vein, Jaenelle was REALLY afraid of headgear for months. Hats, sunglasses, turbans. She freaked seeing people familiar to her if they had hats or shades or worse, both (given the weather then this was often the case) because to her, we supposed, the hat or turbans looked like something eating the person’s head, and sunnies made the person look alien. She did not have the same reaction to hijabs as they resembled hair enough, and glasses did not hide the eyes.

    But eventually she started losing that fear, especially when she saw me putting on hats or sunglasses, as well as taking them off.

    Her reaction to children regardless of ethnicity has been to smile and try make friends. Well, outside of the NICU. When she was surrounded by other crying babies her general response was to be grumpy and burrow into her swaddling to try drown them out.

    1. My uncle– bald as a billiard ball, big but not bushy beard– says that babies and little kids scream or start crying when they see him all the time, if he’s not wearing a hat.

      As he pointed out, his head is on upside down. His bare chin on top, hair on the bottom, trying to visualize this translated into adult terms is a horror show!

      1. My late Father wore a goatee and had busy eyebrows that came to pronounced peaks (which I inherited! Yes!). One day, as he was leaving his office and taking the elevator down to the garage, he noticed a little girl in the elevator was hiding behind her mother and clutching her mother’s skirt. The mother was trying to get her to stop, and finally asked her, “What’s the matter with you?”

        (little girl, pointing at my Father) “Momma! It’s the DEVIL!”

        I think it says something about my Father that he chuckled over that for years.

        1. I have one single mono-brow across both eyes, thick and straight and black. I started plucking and shaping at 11. Now the eyebrows have given up.
          Both boys got it, though. And yes, both remove it from between the eyes, over the nose. 😀

                  1. And then there’s the protagonist of Dungeons of Dredmor:

                    The female version is just as bad. Your enemies refer to him/her in-game as “The Eyebrowed One.”

        2. Dad had a friend who only needed the addition of horns to look like the typical depiction of Satan. He had a pronounced widow’s peak too. He stayed with us for a while in France, sharing my brothers’ room. His first few nights there apparently caused my middle brother some sleepless nights as the dim light from the window heightened these features and was very unnerving. The fellow in question was a deep voiced but soft spoken gent, so that helped… some.

          He has sadly passed away so I hope he and Dad meet later on.

        3. When I got out of the Marines, I figured I had about enough haircuts to last a while (one a week to stay in regs, that’s a LOT of haircuts). And I grew a long goatee because why not. I was in the Marines before I legitimately needed to shave daily, so I had never had the chance to grow facial hair.

          One day I was standing in line at a local Mom and Pop Sub Sandwich shop, and a little girl in line with her Mom in front of me tugged on my pant leg. When I looked down, she looked up at me in awe and asked “Are you Jesus?!?” Her Mom was initially really embarrassed, but then said, “Now that I think about it, you really do look a lot like the picture of Jesus on the wall at our church.”

          I found it quite humorous. I never knew Jesus was a Viking. LOL!

      2. My parents were genuine weed-smokin’, carob-eatin’, commune-havin’ Jesus Freaks, and my father was about as hairy as you would expect. I’m told that I screamed bloody murder the first time I saw a man without a beard.

        1. First time I saw a black person, I’m told that I said in my extremely penetrating 3-year-old-voice, so that the entire train station could hear…. “Why is that man’s face dirty?”

      3. When my parents came home with my little sister, my father said, “What’s this, Mary?” and I said, “Baby!” and my mother said, “Very good, Mary, I didn’t know you knew that,” and I got a look at her, screamed, and ran off to hide behind the aunt who had been looking after us.

            1. When you said “and I got a look at her” I think Sarah assumed you meant the baby sister, not your mother. I know I did.

              1. Unclear antecedents.
                If it makes you feel better, Mary, the late Ed Bryant did the same thing. I was in a writers’ group he mentored, in the springs, all through my pregnancy with Marshall.
                Beginning of first meeting after delivery, he looked at me and said “And you’re new?” Then his eyes reset and he went “Sarah! You’re unpregnant.” It was one of the funniest moments.

                1. LOL 😆

                  At one place I worked, I had a nice beard and then for various reasons I shaved it off.

                  The next day somebody that knew me wondered what was different about me.

                  IE He knew who I was but hadn’t really noticed that I removed my beard. 😆

                  1. That’s really funny to me. I wouldn’t have recognized you at all. But I am one of those people who don’t recognize faces the way most people do.

                    I’ve been trying a bit to identify what my brain uses for face identification, but haven’t had a whole lot of luck. I do know that I take hair style too much into account, but beyond that, not sure. I am hard pressed most of the time to recognize someone from having only seen a picture of them, though I do better at identifying people who I already know in pictures.

                    1. I’m not “face blind”, but sometimes it’s a real hassle to identify people if I have only seen them once or twice, or not for a long time. And several people have been upset that I didn’t recognize them.

                    2. “upset that I didn’t recognize them.”

                      I’ll recognize them. Won’t remember their name 99% of the time, usually …

    2. When my toddler first saw me come home on my motorbike, he cried and cried. Then I took off my motorcycle helmet, and he got the funniest look on his face, like… “Wait… the weird alien creature just turned into Daddy???” So I stood in front of him and put on my helmet again — tears started up — took it off again — tears stopped. Next day he was already used to it, and now he runs up to me and wants to play with putting my visor up and down, and sticking his fingers in when the visor’s up to touch my face.

          1. Our border collie still freaks out on occasion when she sees me in a hat from a distance (she’s almost 13. Have I mentioned that BCs are allergic to change?). The seriously weathered wide-brim hat is the worst, even though she’s seen it hundreds of times when the weather is foul and it’s potty time…

      1. I was in Bolivia, talking to a man who was holding his toddler. The toddler looked at me, started crying, turned away into Dad’s shoulder, and quit. Then he looked back at me, started crying again, and turned back to Dad, and stopped again. This went on for a few more cycles, until my companion and I excused ourselves and left. I think it was my glasses that scared him.

        1. Children often just stare and stare at me. They are fascinated, and I don’t know why. It’s happened when I was a healthy weight all the way up to when I was my heaviest (WAY overweight). In the grocery store, they will sometimes even lean away from the shopping cart to keep an eye on me, and search for me when their parents move off to another aisle. It’s kind of freaky, really.

          I tell the parents, “Yeah, a lot of kids look at me like, ‘Who is that weird-looking guy???’.”

          1. I have very long hair and there was a time when I went to SF convention with a hand puppet with very long hair. Small children would often stare for a long, long time — including tracking me and puppet so it was clearly me.

            Once in a con suite a baby stopped fussing and started staring so I stood there and the puppet waved while the mother got her coffee.

            Then there was the young child who told me that the puppet looked like me, and I said, “Well, from her point of view, I look like her,” and his eyes popped, and after a second he said, “Both of you look like each other!”

          2. When I come upon a mother with a small screaming child I often ask the kid “Do you need to be oiled? You squeak!”. That, combined with my somewhat odd appearance, often causes the c child to shut up; “Ohmygod! If I make a lot of noise, weird people take an interest in me!”

            1. Most of the children I am talking about aren’t really old enough to understand sentences.

              When slightly older ones are around me enough to get used to me, I tend to be used as a climbing mountain.

            2. Once upon a time, kidlet (toddler..) was moving all over the restaurant booth.. so I “watched intently” {from well away, mind you}. It took a while, but eventually kidlet Realized.. and suddenly Clung to Mommy – quietly.

      2. My first Halloween (I was a few months shy of a year old), Mom decided that she was going to dress up. As a clown. Scared the ever-loving juju out of me. To the point where I still don’t like clowns to this day. Mom would bring it up every so often to tease me about it.

        A few years back, we discovered a picture from that Halloween. If I remember right, Mom had decided for whatever reason to only use white and black makeup. End result was her face looked rather skull-like, to the point where Little Brother, who goes out of his way to push my buttons, nudge me, and give me grief about my irrational fears (remind me to tell you the crocodile story at some point), took one look at the picture, turned to Mom, and basically said, “WTF was wrong with you?”

        1. Oh, gads, are you familiar with the Day of the Dead style makeup?

          …the Chief (just turned 3) wasn’t.

          He was NOT impressed during Halloween, it was kind of adorable how the really cute lady who was wearing that makeup slowly realized that “Hey, realistic skull to hand out candy to kids under five is maaaaaaybe a bad idea.”

            1. FWIW, he’s also the one whose reaction to the giant, animatronic dinosaurs for Jurassic Quest were between “You stay between that and me, got it?” and “AAAAH KILL IT WITH FIRE WHY THE **** DO YOU EXPECT ME TO STAND WITH MY BACK TO IT SCREW YOUR PICTURE!!!”

              1. Honestly, having seen those things–in videos, at least, not in person–I don’t blame him. And I’m a lifelong dinosaur lover who wanted to be a paleontologist at the age of six… 😀

                1. The reaction is legit in person, it was just awesome to watch all the little kids (like ours) going “screw this, no” while the ones trying to be big tried really, really hard to act like a 10 foot tall thing with BIG FREAKING TEETH was totally not worrying at all.

                  And yes, I did jump and squeak from one of the gotcha ones they put in– they have some of the animatronics not moving for at least two minutes, and then they throw back their heads and snarl.

                  1. For those wondering– that dinosaur was behind one of the biggest fences in the area, very solid.

                    I would guess that they’d had more than one or two folks attempt to dino-cide the giant monster that just roared at them.

              2. We saw Forbidden Planet first(ish) run, so maybe 1956. I would have been around 4, and Robbie the Robot scared the hell out of me, or so I’m told.

                I don’t recall freaking out over clowns and such; when one or another of my brothers was in Cub Scouts, I tagged along for a live TV show of something like Howdy Doody*. Didn’t bother me, though the only clown images I sort of like are the paintings by Red Skelton.

                (*) Detroit, in the 50s, so it might have been Jingles in Boofland.

                1. My mother said that the forest scene in Snow White scared her little sister (don’t know how old my aunt was at the time).

                  1. She wasn’t alone. I recall reading that after Snow White finished its original run in Radio City Music Hall, the theater needed to completely reupholster all of the seats: a significant number of children who saw the movie were so scared by the forest scene that they wet themselves.

                  2. Once was in an online discussion where a mother was asking advice because her daughter had been terrified by the Disney Snow White in book form — crawling over her father and demanding that he tell her it had a happy ending or she wouldn’t let him read it — asked for it again as a bedtime story, and then had a nightmare.

          1. I’m familiar with it now. Notsomuch at the time, obviously. Don’t think Mom really was either (this southwestern PA in the late 80s), and I’m certain that wasn’t what she was going for, since anything skull-related was absolutely verboten (including pirate-related stuff) while we were kids: Mom got on what I’ve dubbed a “religious kick” for a few years and forbade Little Brother and I from interacting with anything she’d dubbed “satanic” or “idolatrous.”

            1. Ahhh, the good ol’ Satanic Panic of the 80s. (well, and into the 90s, to some extent)

              Even my parents–fantasy fans, both of ’em, especially Mom–got bit by it a little bit. Then, thankfully, they got over it–though my dad still twitches a little bit when I mention D&D (although he relaxed a lot when I told him that I had spent one entire afternoon combing our church’s archives–hooray for the LDS church loving the digital age–and no, in fact, at NO point did any of our general authorities EVER say that D&D was bad and should be avoided. 😀 )

              Of course, these were also the parents who took me to see Legend in the theater, and the Goonies, which were rather chock full of skulls and stuff like that, lol. (Like I said, they were too nerdy themselves to be fully bitten by the Satanic Panic bug.)

              1. Maybe it was the Satanic Panic? I always took it as Mom being overly concerned (paranoid) about our “spiritual well-being” and not wanting us to be “corrupted.” (I may be misremembering since it’s been well over 25 years). I thought the Panic was more fear over ritualistic child abuse.

                On the flip side, Mom had no issue with stuff like magic, dragons, and standard fairy-tale tropes – though she did believe all the BS about D&D until Little Brother took it up in college, sat her down, and explained how everything worked. Then she discovered it was more “role-playing LOTR” and less “sacrificing your best friends.”

                And she had no problem with me whatsoever leaping off the deep end into Star Wars fandom when I was 8-9.

              2. Yep. They even had a training day for Police on how to recognize signs of potential Satanic Cultists at the hotel where I worked in 1986. I was quite unhappy to see a copy of Stranger in a Strange Land on the table of books considered to be indicators.

                1. The FBI has a list of books they use for “profiling” serial killers; that is, if you own any of them, they rate you more highly as a suspect. For some reason it’s not showing up on my web seatches at the moment. As I remember, the top five included any Star Trek books, the Constitution of the United States of America, and The Federalist Papers. I’m pretty sure the Star Trek books were #1 on the list.

                  Now, considering how common the above are – Wikipedia claims 850 licensed Star Trek novels, and doesn’t even attempt to guess how many copies – their “profile” could just as usefully contain inciminating indicators such as “ears” or “underwear.”

                  1. One of the things that folks tend to not get about profiling is that they apply it backwards.

                    It’s not “this person has X, Y and Z, so we suspect him”– it’s “this person is a suspect, they have X, Y and Z, they’re a better suspect.”

                    It’s kind of like how folks who do child abuse are much more likely to have been abused themselves– but most victims who live never abuse anybody, child or adult.

                    Given that serial killers hunt, that sounds like a means of catching prey.

                  2. No fly lists are just another example of Kabuki security that are mostly designed to provide excuses to the bureaucracy for selective enforcement against American citizens.

          2. *Answers door at Halloween….

            “Trick or treat!”

            * Gives out candy…

            “Why do you have horns?”

            * Looks concerned, “Oh, haven’t your grown out yet?”

            ** Kid looks bewildered…
            Mama: “They’re there! They’re there!”

    3. Oh, yeah. I was terrified at six, when I first saw a Scandinavian blond.
      I also remember the kids being afraid of hats. LOL. I’d completely forgotten that.
      Or when Dan shaved his beard, he became a stranger.

      1. And there are soooooo many videos out there of baby reactions to Daddy shaving too.
        I was not a toddler any more when I saw my first stereotypical redhead, but I do recall thinking that the hair was so orange, it was really the colour of carrots!

      2. My younger brother had never seen a Black person, so when a very nice lady came to the door dropping off samples, he took one look and freaked. Screamed and ran under the dining room table.
        Kids in that “stranger recognition” age (where they can first distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar people) will go nuts at the idea of a stranger in or around the house. Which, once he shaves, Daddy is.
        Funnily, dogs can, and do, act hostilely towards people of a different race, if they’ve been raised in a mono-ethnic neighborhood. Those not like their owners are treated as OK to attack.

        1. Well, given that most scientific studies place dogs “human intelligence age” as being somewhere between 3-6 years old, that makes sense. “Doesn’t look like the other humans” would be in full force.

        2. Oh, gads, I had totally forgotten this event— when the Princess was MAYBE 3, 4 months old, we took her in to Elf’s work.

          She met one of his buddies, who’s pretty dark black, and looked at him when he spoke–and stared at him like she might start crying.

          He laughed it off.

          Another male coworker came.
          She did the same “stare like I might cry” thing, he’s blond and can’t grow a beard to save his life– the pattern was “does not have facial hair.”

          She also hated being held by people without glasses, for a while.

          1. >> “the pattern was “does not have facial hair.””

            I’m guessing she had no problem with women, though?

            1. As long as they didn’t sound like a man, she was fine.

              This is the kid who at like a day old glared at daddy, until he laughed, and then she totally snuggled in…. apparently a man’s voice required facial hair in her mind.

              1. Hmm… I’m bearded, but with an androgynous voice that has often gotten me mistaken for a woman. Probably for the best that she never met me. 😛

                1. Worked with a guy who had, not an androgynous voice, but a slightly whispery and feminine voice. If you closed your eyes, the voice sounded REALLY sexy. Dude could have made serious bank on a phone sex line.

  2. There are rational and irrational fears. The key point is to be able to identify the difference. Ignoring rational fears is a good way for bad things to happen.

        1. Okay, this looks like a good place to leave a link to this thing I posted to a Reddit Minecraft forum a couple years ago:

          If you don’t play Minecraft with mods, just skip over the body of the post as that won’t be interesting to you, and just read my first comment below the body of the post (the one that starts with “P.S. I was tipped off to this…”).

          1. Well, sheesh, I didn’t intend for WP to expand the entire Reddit post. Sorry about that. I guess I’ll just copy the comment that I meant for people to see, right here:

            P.S. I was tipped off to this by some strange cultists in blue robes, who would occasionally stop in the middle of a sentence to chant about some kind of oyster they worshipped. I was skeptical at first — I mean, would you trust some weird blue oyster cult to have good information about Forestry? — but I checked the source code, and it turns out they were entirely right. Who knew?

                1. Definition of inflate:
                  transitive verb
                  1: to swell or distend with air or gas
                  2: to puff up : ELATE
                  3: to expand or increase abnormally or imprudently

                  No inflation possible as Wallaby egos are solid as the $

                  1. Is that the Australian $, or the American $? Neither one is what I would consider solid.

                    Of course, cotton candy is technically a solid, so there could be some wiggle room in that definition.
                    Edna Mode: “No capes!!”

              1. Makes giant limpid pool puppydog eyes …

                Pay no attention?

                “Never mind” I could understand, but no attention?

                ‘Tis a cruel crewel world, it is.

            1. On Grandpa’s farm it was Big Orange all the way. Sadly, Allis-Chalmers went out of business a long time ago.

              1. Grampa Tony had a JD tricycle (My youngest Uncle still uses it to plow snow!), Grampa K had a Ford, and before that a home made tractor of iirc a Plymouth frame with a Buick Straight 8.
                While the JD is a cool old thing, I always preferred the lower Grey Ford. and I like Ford Blue (now New Holland) for equipment paint. The home made tractor was one of those responsible for the 3 point hook up being patented.

  3. A lot of the better advice blogs out there frequently recommend the Gift of Fear, but many of them also feel they must pooh-pooh his section regarding domestic violence.

    See, the author grew up in a hellish, abusive, violent home. With BOTH parents being abusers of the other, and their various significant others. He has zero tolerance and not a lot of sympathy for anyone who chooses to stay in an abusive situation, and so gets accused of ‘victim blaming’ by the oh-so-correct crowd. Frankly, given his background, I think he’s earned a pass on being harsh about it. (I mean, I get that every situation is different, but really I think he’s largely referring to those who got out and then wouldn’t STAY out rather than those who have yet to find a way out that doesn’t end with them getting killed–I don’t think I finished the book, I need to give it another go.)

    I do recommend the book to pretty much anyone, because it’s sensible advice for anyone, even those of us who were taught to pay attention to our instincts, but who have gotten used to the very safe environs most of the U.S. still is. (For those of us who live in the U.S.)

    1. Agree. It’s worth a read to everyone. One caveat to mention though, de Becker is (or was, haven’t kept up with the fellow over the years) *very* anti gun. One of the best tools to protect oneself with, and out the window it goes because whoever knows.

      1. Yeah, his anti-gun attitude irked me. On the other hand, since one of his earliest memories–and which he uses as an intro to the book–is of his abusive mother shooting (though not killing, if I recall) his equally abusive father…I suppose that for him hating guns DOES make sense to him, because it is related to Personal Issues. He came out of childhood viewing guns as an instrument of abuse, not defense.

        I don’t think it’s entirely responsible of him to try and project that onto every other potential victim out there, though.

        1. It’s like MG, the daughter of MZB and WB, shouldn’t be called “homophobic.” Her attitude has deep, trauma-based roots, and her distaste is based on all the worst abuses you can imagine. I don’t agree with her perspective, but she is totally rational in holding it, given her history. (And phobias are irrational, hence why she shouldn’t be called homophobic.)

          1. Homophobic just means you don’t approve of homosexuality.

            Nothing more, nothing less. 😦

          2. THIS. The annoying thing is, I have seen a screenshot of a tumblr post explaining why it’s rational for a woman to fear men if she has been abused in the past, by using the analogus experience of being bitten, then later savaged by a dog, and the resulting fear of dogs being rational. But apparently this reasonableness magically only applies to men.

        2. He also comes at guns from the perspective of someone who is hired to keep high-profile people out of trouble. The last thing he (or his team) needs is the customer trying to use a firearm in a situation when he’s trying to get them out of harm’s way. His people don’t know what the customer is going to do, the customer doesn’t know how to work with the bodyguards when firearms are involved . . . Not a good combo.

          1. From what I’ve been told this view is not always a given.

            For a short term close protection gigs the “unarmed protectee” preference is pretty universal, since there’s no time to asses the protectees skillset or mindset, so it just complicates things.

            But for long term close protection detail jobs, if the protectee is suitable and trainable, I understand getting them trained to a sufficient level and equipped can enable more flexibility by the protection team, basically giving the protectee another layer of protection in the worst case. The team still has some one person assigned to yank the protectee to cover and such in case they get fixated or lock up, but if it goes really, really bad, another shooter does not necessarily hurt their chances.

            Or so I’ve heard, with caveats that I am not even tangentially in that biz. If anyone has a line to Michael Z. Williamson he’d be a primary source.

            1. That’s my understanding, too, and deBecker works with Hollywood types among others, so not close coordination over extended periods (plus . . . CA gun laws.)

              IIRC Pres. Bush the Younger was rumored to have trained with his security detail, since he was used to CCHL and using it if needed (four-footed coyote while jogging, turned out to be rabid if memory is correct.) Again, rumor, but believable in his case and with his background.

              1. Yeah, imagine the gun handling habits that Hollywood stars have picked up on set. Were I doing close protection for one of them I believe I would keep them as far away from firearms as humanly possible.

                Though I am led to understand that Keanu Reeves actually has put in the effort to build solid, albeit action competition based, real world gun handling skills for the John Wick movies, and I have heard that Tom Cruise has likewise put in some serious live round firearms training time as an underlying skillset for his MI movies.

    2. … those of us who were taught to pay attention to our instincts

      When a significant portion of our society denounces facts & logic as “tools of the Patriarchy,” insists we “listen to our hearts” and “get in touch with our instinctual selves,” … does it seem contradictory for them to then denounce us when we do heed our inner selves?

      Asking for a friend.

      1. I’d like to point out to those idiots that the Jedi did that too, and look where it got them. (Wiped out. And arguably NEVER the good guys any more than the Sith were.)

  4. Years ago, I read a Star Trek novel by John Ford titled “The Final Reflection”.

    This Klingon Captain was visiting the early Federation (especially Earth).

    It was a fact-finding mission for his Empire (although he had other reasons).

    There was a scene where he plays chess with a young Spock (can’t remember who won) and Spock’s Mother comes along to pull Spock away from the Klingon but then apologizes.

    His response was “You fear the Klingon, that’s not a mistake”.

    Which can be taken several ways. 😉

    1. Res I believe they actually played 2 games, K’renn (the Klingon) wins the first, Spock the second. They’re about to start a 3rd when Spock’s mother Amanda shows up and grabs Spock away precipitating the discussion you quoted. Lovely book, Mr. Ford’s Klingons were far more alien than the STNG and later incarnations which just seem to be rehashed Samurai/Bushido code.

      1. I loved the Klingon’s response to the Human Peacenik who had just told him that the Federation would never “intrude” on Klingon space so “Peace was a given”.

        Basically he said “our word you translate as Empire mean “that which grows” so my leadership won’t believe you”.

        Oh, there was an interesting scene where he has blackmailed the Federation leadership to reveal the Federation’s progress in an important area of research.

        He either told the Federation leadership or just thought it that his leadership won’t believe that they showed him everything. So while the Federation was far behind the Empire, the Empire would believe that the Federation was closer to them than the Federation showed him. Thus, the Empire would “hold off” from starting a war with the Federation.

        Apparently, while he may have enjoyed fighting, he really didn’t want the Empire to fight the Federation. 😉

        1. Right in the Klingonaase its a dichotomy, the structure that grows (translated empire) vs the structure that dies. No sane Klingon would believe that the federation would choose to be the latter. Which goes to show there are no SJW/Transi types on the Klingon Home world (or at least for long 🙂 )

    2. Also a favourite of mine. Not just a great tie-in, but a solid science-fiction novel as well.

  5. I know I picked it up– either from a review here, or over at crossoverqueen.wordpress — and picked up the book.

    The guy has some serious issues, and made a really good point anyways; elaborated, and supported, my mom’s old line about the hairs on the back of your neck being there for a reason.

  6. Part of the issue is that there are people who are actually xenophobic–that is, irrationally afraid of the “other”–and never get beyond the “I don’t know this person and they’re not from around here, how do I know I can trust them?” stage, even after the “other” has demonstrated, by any reasonable measure, that they are not untrustworthy.

    However, the reaction to said people tends to go too far in the other reaction, as mentioned above, and having issues with behaviors that demonstrate untrustworthiness is labeled as “xenophobia.”

    I don’t really know how to solve this, other than treating people on a case-by-case basis, and hollering at anyone trying to play collectivist games.

    1. Sure and genuinely xenophobic cultures, afraid of ah…. cultural appropriation ossify.
      HOWEVER trying to force us to accept EVERYTHING is a mug’s game.
      It’s like I’ll get in an elevator with a little old lady or a little kid who look harmless. I try not to get in alone with anyone taller and stronger than I. Not always correct, but….

      1. Also there’s this thing that the U.S. used to be famous for, and which Japan still does, which is being so thoroughly Xenophillic and xeno-cautious / -distasteful that they happily take other folks stuff and transmogrify into completely THEIR OWN. And then it gets widely popular. To the point that the originators happily take the transmogrification on without recognizing it!

        See: sudoku and anime. Or pizza.

      2. I’ll get in an elevator with a little old lady or a little kid who look harmless. I try not to get in alone with anyone taller and stronger than I. Not always correct, but….

        Appearances can deceive …

        … but they’re a good place to start.

        (I considered a clip from Galaxy Quest … I leave it as an exercise for others to guess which one.)

  7. Always be polite, always be respectful, and always have a plan in place to kill everyone else in the room should that become necessary. That’s not fear, just good common sense.

      1. By all means, help yourself.
        Basically my cut at a meme common amongst special ops, milsf, and similar types.
        Partners nicely IMHO with Heinlein’s observation that “An armed society is a polite society.”

      2. The infamous quote by General Mattis (though the sentiment may well predate him) is: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”

        1. That quote is also closely associated with firearms trainer Clint Smith of Thunder Ranch, a Marine veteran of two tours in Vietnam. I’m not sure if he got it from the Marines or if the Marines got it from him.

  8. True crime buffs have a lot of conflicts with this, when they are wokey. They know what cases and victimology tell them one thing, and their wokism tells them the opposite. Very sad. But a lot of them are at least learning basic habits of caution, since apparently they learned nothing useful from their parents.

    1. There is an entertaining true crime podcast I listen to–called Crime Junkie–where the two hostesses have a list of “Things You Should Never Ever Do.” If I recall right, they are not only advocates of paying attention to instincts, but also of keeping a “If I go missing” file that will allow family, or cops, to be able to access your phone/social media/other things that might have clues as to what happened to you. They play it up for jokes, but it’s not ENTIRELY a bad idea. Reading between the lines, they also are down with being armed, even if they can’t come out and say “WITH GUNS” lest cancel culture get them.

      (They–and also most of the other podcasts out there–are also big proponents of never take a polygraph and always lawyer up ESPECIALLY if you are innocent, which I find both sensible and amusing given what tv shows try to push on us.)

        1. They’re pretty good. I also recommend True Crime Garage and, more recently, The Murder Squad (wherein an investigative journalist and a retired cold case cop–both of whom had a hand in the capture of the Golden State Killer–are looking to solve MORE cold cases). Dark Poutine is an excellent mostly-Canadian-centered one as well. 🙂

      1. Yeah, yeah it really is double-edged.

        I’ve also found that, when I am entirely alone, watching Criminal Minds is not such a great idea. (I’m not prone to nightmares, nor am I particularly worried–where I live is pretty danged safe, and your bigger threats are likely to come from moose than people, but.) It certainly makes me twitchier…

        Oddly, I get less of that from the true crime podcasts, but the ones I listen to tend to focus more on the victims and catching the perpetrator (if uncaught), or discussing that they were, in fact, caught than on the gory details of the crimes themselves, too.(I can’t entirely disagree with Mandy Patinkin’s distaste and the reasons why he left Criminal Minds–it DOES kind of glorify stuff, and thus makes it feel a lot worse. Even though I rather like the show…he wasn’t wrong.)

        Or, y’know, it’s because I really only listen to those while driving to and from work, which is probably the real reason why it doesn’t bug me. I tend to watch CM at night, after I’m home…

        I also suspect that if I were a parent, it’d be a lot worse, as you say.

        1. Given a lack of any other TV fare (we have only basic cable these days) I’ve been binge watching Criminal Minds. While I find I need to take breaks from it at times, I have come up with some valuable lessons from watching that I need to pass along to Darlin’ Daughter.

          In many episodes a victim gets the upper hand on the Goblin of the Week and hits them over the head (frying pan, rock, etc.) or stabs them. Once. And then stands there until the Goblin recovers. I plan on posing the scenarios and see if I’ve raised her right and she gets the right answer (keep pounding until the Goblin’s head is flat, keep stabbing until you hit all the vital spots and ensure he has bled completely out).

          And all those episodes reinforce the advice to Never, never allow yourself to be forced into a vehicle. If you are going to die, fight now, while you can, and at least have a chance of taking the Goblin with you, or at least dying quickly.

          1. IRL Navy training for dealing with terror related threats:

            If someone who is willing to hurt you wants you somewhere else, you do not want to go there. They don’t want you there to make it less bad for you. They want you there because it is better for their goals.

            1. Me too.

              Also the knowledge that if someone tries to abduct you while you’re IN your car…well, honey, you’re in a deadly weapon that weighs several tons. Sure, you will probably be injured as well, but what d’you want to bet the would be kidnapper didn’t bother with a seatbelt…

                1. A cop in San Francisco recommended to my sister that she keep a ballpeen hammer on the seat (this was back during the carjacking craze). Same principle.

              1. I think it was Larry Niven who wrote a story about an attempted car-jacking where the driver convinced the car-jacker that he was going to attempt a suicide by crashing the car.

                After a few attempts by the driver, the car-jacker attempted to take control of the car and then the driver burned the car-jacker with the car’s cigarette lighter (yes, it was an older story) and the car-jacker jumped out.

                Oh, the driver called the police (with enough info to id the jacker) and when the driver came in to id the jacker, the jacker sneered that the driver “chicken out” (about killing himself). 😉

                Oh, the title of “Most Dangerous Weapon” comes to mind.

              2. I had a conversation with a former coworker that told how she was stopped at a stop light and someone came up and tried to open her drivers door. “fortunately I had locked it this time for some reason”. (I strained myself not rolling my eyes). She said she was glad the light changed and she could drive away but what if they had had a knife or a gun?

                I told her to crank the steering wheel hard left and stomp on the accelerator. Her reply was “But that might hurt him!”

                Some people are just born to be victims.

                1. Whereas I happily retell the story of the older lady who was on the news around here several years ago because, while she was putting gas in her car, some guy came along and pointed a weapon at her (I no longer remember if it was a knife or a gun) and asked where her purse was. She told him it was in the front seat, and he opened the driver’s door and leaned way in to get the purse, so she started slamming the door on his legs and screaming. By the time the cops got there he was screaming for help to get away from her.

            2. My first personal defense instructor hammered it into us repeatedly: “The place the bad guys want to take you is termed the secondary crime scene.” And it’s usually where they find the bodies.

              1. And you know, it can be really weird too. Walking into the church school building late in the evening, with a kid by the hand (I don’t remember why. Probably some RE thing) and someone gets out of a parked car as I pass. Something touches my back and he tells me to turn around and get in his car.
                a) My dad didn’t raise no fools, so no.
                b) I was calculating how to throw Robert from me, reach for my knife and turn around. While I’m thinking about it I said, “No” and continued walking.
                Guy didn’t follow. I thought “Joke. Some idiot teen or something” and didn’t think about it.
                A month later, one of the ladies who cleaned the church, about my age got abducted (by same method) taken somewhere (elementary school parking lot up the road, I THINK) and raped. She managed to run away, but yeah….
                Same guy? Don’t know. Don’t particularly care.
                But note I didn’t even have to fight back. I just said “no” and walked on. That was apparently too much trouble for the guy. (Who if he was the same who kidnapped the other lady had a knife.)

          2. Oh, if someone wants to challenge the idea of “for the love of all that’s holy, don’t cooperate”– have them look up the remains of those poor folks who were caught in that mall that was taken over by terrorists.

            It’s way, way, way better to die from the bastards taking out your throat than to give them days to be as sadistic as they can imagine.

            1. I confess, I have always been utterly baffled at the idea of “cooperate and they won’t hurt you” attitude. I know that it’s probably linked to fight-or-flight responses for a lot of people but…I found out long ago that I’m not wired that way at ALL.

              But then, I’ve also come to suspect that I may come from a line of people genetically hardwired to mistrust strangers to a larger degree, and to follow the idea of “be polite, be kind, be professional…and have a plan to kill everyone you meet.”

              (Given that a lot of our ancestors were of the stroppy, belligerent Celt stock…this is probably true.)

              1. I actually find it very reasonable– because I’m looking from a unified culture perspective.

                They’re not BREAKING the norms, they’re on the edge– kind of like how bad guys in the old movies didn’t do torture or rape, and would actually hold to an agreement.

                I know from history that there were folks who completely voided the social agreement…but a lot who just kind of avoided chunks of it, to maim a metaphor.

                Probably because they could get what they want without insane brutality, and the real crazies got killed along the way, but still.

                For example, even though my great-grandmother divorced him and took their son, my great grandfather never tried to do her or papa any harm. Even though he was such a cold SOB that he was a stagecoach robber that married the lady who ran a stage coach stop– WHEN SHE DIDN’T KNOW IT.
                (Which is why she divorced him; she figured it out.)

              2. Oooh! Example:

                Bank robbers, old style.

                They don’t want your pain. They don’t want to assault people. They want the money, and want you out of the way. Taht’s it.

        2. >> “I’ve also found that, when I am entirely alone, watching Criminal Minds is not such a great idea…. It certainly makes me twitchier”

          I had no idea Lawrence Gowan videos affected people that way:

            1. But they still make you twitchy? 😛

              Actually, that version of the song is incomplete. I think this is the full version:

                1. It’s a theme likely as long as travelling. Even the tale of Theseus warns of untrustworthy innkeepers.

        3. When Vincent was a tot this fear was not limited to me alone. He was a very Caucasian baby, with cheerful cherubic features, and my mom fretted that he would be kidnapped a lot, as he would fetch a very high price in child exploitation rings. Or that the children be victimized by an opportunistic shabu addict. Even at home we were on alert.

          The terror we have from that did not comes from local news. The horrific descriptions of what happens to shabu addict rape victims does not reach Western news, even with the Internet. There is a very good reason why a lot of the locals, especially the poorer folk, did not get angry at Duterte’s crackdown on the drug pushers and users.

          1. [wonders what ‘shabu’ is, goes off, looks it up]

            Oh, what we’d call crystal meth. The modern scourge. I can’t get too angry at anyone’s crackdown on that shit.

      2. Yep. I got downright paranoid when my godkids came around for the first time. It’s starting to come back now that female godkidlet turned 12 a bit ago. On the plus side, all her friends know her godfather is crazy. And armed. And is teaching her all sorts of ways to say “not just no but H*ll No!”

        Now if I could only wean her off the cell for for a few more hours a day, say 23.5 of them, life would be pretty good…

        1. What ALL Girls need to be taught is to say “NO, Get away from me!” and other such statements is a LOUD and COMMANDING voice anywhere anytime. Many can’t do it. They need to be taught that it is alright to say it. First thing the feminist should have done but they ignored it.

          1. Women learning to stand up for themselves is pretty much the last thing radical feminists want to happen. It would keep them from needing radfem “help” and the poor radfems would lose their phony baloney jobs. (Harrumph!)

            Which is why they claim things like learning self defense is “enabling” rapists and such. They want women to be helpless, so they can use that to “justify” using the State to “fix” things…. and gain power.

            1. It’s a false confidence. Women who cuss at you for holding a door for them, or sneer at “miss” and “ma’am.” Others who loudly proclaim they are the equal of any man and go on to act like the worst of men and call it empowering. And the pitiable ones who grow up in feminism and come into the world confused and scared of men, who are told that dressing provocatively and cursing makes them better people.

              Men and women need each other. We are incomplete otherwise. The whole structure of modern feminism seems built on a foundation that requires the destruction of families. The sooner it goes into the dustbin of bad ideas the better for us all.

        2. Last year I kept a serious tab on what sex ed was like for my son. It was not very detailed, probably owing to the high numbers of Muslim kids in his school, which meant less or none of the pushing of homosexuality and transsexualism as a cool thing that has been protested against here.

          I made sure to educate him about STDs, that contraception has a failure rate, that the biological purpose of sex is babies, informed him that he has no say if a woman chooses abortion, what abortion is (which horrified him because he had enjoyed coaxing reactions out of his then unborn siblings, and he loves playing and helping me care for the babies) and introduced him to a British docu-show called ‘Thirteen and Pregnant.’

          In return, I found out that his age group know a bit more about fetishes than they really should, though it helped me with explaining that there are people out there aroused by things most people don’t consider erotic. Like water balloons being rubbed on a woman (his expression of wtf was amazing).

          1. Yeah. Locally, the Catholics are no-no on sex ed before middle school, thank goodness. And the nuns (one of whom I know from when we were both in school) is pragmatic to a fault. *chuckle* Her sex ed class for the girls is about 45 minutes and involves anything a farm kid learns about by the time they are about five with “y’all can ask me anything and I won’t blush. I worked Nearby Larger City ER for eighteen years and have seen. It. All.”

            Godson on the other hand is Odd enough that at thirteen going on fourteen still thinks girls are another species and gets annoyed when they interrupt his practice time (sports, music. Godson has a bad case of “I’m good enough at it, so I want to do it ALL.”).

            1. My son just asked me to share to him the PJW vid where the talks about the guy who likes sex with bugs. He wants to red pill / horrify his mates*. 5 min into the video.

              *Both into either abstinence for longer, thus keeping them safe from the negative consequences of sex for a while longer as well as warning them of freaks out there. Other entertainment includes ER horror stories.

      3. I know what you mean. I used to watch true crime shows by the hour (craft work at home, needed background noise) and then I reproduced and I couldn’t do it any more. Worse during the first six months, when my news-junkie husband would start off conversations with “Hey, did you hear about-?” “Nope. Won’t, either.”

  9. I don’t think fear is the only form of xenophobia. There’s also disgust, or “Ewww, I’m not putting that in MY mouth.” That protects us from disease, but it comes from an animal background when we didn’t know what caused disease, but just had a sense of things being nasty.

    Of course, people vary in how susceptible to disgust they are. There’s some evidence to suggest that libertarians tend to be less susceptible than usual to disgust, and to the purity/impurity value system that grows out of it. Or so I remember reading somewhere.

    1. LOL.
      This is funny because Ist was the Latin pronoun for something foreign or disgusting.
      Isto is the Portuguese pronoun for “this.”
      Which can allow you to imagine a young Roman colonist going around pointing at everything going ist ist ist until the locals thought it was the pronoun for “this.”
      Still makes me giggle.

  10. I had a similar experience to yours. On my morning walk, I was about to go through the underpass over towards the mountains when I saw two men silhouetted against the far side of the tunnel. I told myself it was probably just a couple of professors who ran into each other and stopped for a chat, that I should keep going and there was no reason to fear, but then my sensible self asked, “Why? Is there any reason you must go through the underpass? Couldn’t you take your walk on this side of the street this morning?”

    I listened to my sensible self and just made a loop around campus. Probably it was just two people who’d stopped to chat, probably I would have been fine if I’d kept going, but I don’t regret the fact that I never had to find out.

    Not long after 9/11, John Derbyshire looked at our Security Theatre and summed up the philosophy of the TSA as, “Better dead than rude.” It strikes me that that sentiment applies to far more than just the “War on Terror.”

    1. Which is a funny sentiment, given how appallingly the TSA behaves. But then, it’s not in service of actual security, it’s security theater, and attracts petty power abusers…

      1. I bet that its formation was used by other agencies as an opportunity to get rid of assorted screwups and pests by ‘suggesting’ that they be transferred.

          1. I work for the fed gov and…yes, this probably has a LOT of truth in it. Not all of them–my best friend, who is neither petty tyrant nor a screwup–did work for them a few years. But. Yes. Otherwise…

            Because somehow things are set up–officially, or because of deathly fear of lawsuits I do not know which it is–that it’s near impossibly to actually FIRE someone from a gov job. So yes, they promote or transfer problems so they become “not our problem HERE.”

            And, of course, scum floats to the top…

          2. And it is actually how some fingers of the State operate. I know. I used to work for a certain place and saw how those unwritten rules worked in real time.

            I tend to use the analogy of the human body when describing it. Disease, specificically. The body carries a certain amount of disease load (virus, etc) all the time. Symptoms start occurring once the disease load reaches a certain mass (yes, I know gross, oversimplification and all that).

            The bureacracy of the state in general has been showing worrisome symptoms for a good while now. Some parts far worse than others.

        1. Nah – TSA pay is too low compared to every other FedGov job other than “basic infantry” to enable it to draw transfers.

          TSA jobs are mostly pulling from the “I can pass the really basic tests, I’m clean enough to get past the agency background check and personable enough to pass the security clearance interview, and I can’t think of a different job I’d rather have” demographic.

          As far as I’ve heard, the “encourage that moron to transfer” destination reputation was always assigned to the ATF enforcement teams.

          1. > I’m clean enough to get past the agency background check

            There’ve been a few catastrophic fails of their checking process that made national news. Given that they’re likely only the tip of the iceberg, I suspect their “security check” is just a quick check of Equifax (sole supplier of non-government data to the FBI, such a deal!) and rubber-stamping the applicant.

            Of course, the flip side of background checks is, “just because they never got caught doing something wrong before, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.”

        2. Actually, I’m pretty sure that they mostly drew from the existing airport security workers, on the grounds that the people who failed to notice anything wrong on 9/11 would suddenly turn into superheroes if they drew a Federal paycheck.

          1. Depends on your airport. Smaller airports seem to have more former military and long-time security personnel, larger ones more, well, hires that appear based on other characteristics. I could be way off base, because of my limited observational pool.

            1. That’s the case for the local airport in the county here. When I was doing infrastructure work out there, the security staff I worked with were all vets. Good guys and gals, easy to work with.

          2. TSA did initially hire from the existing airport security folks, but it was also public recruitment (and still is – here’s the local listing for San Jose International, including locality pay for this area of +41% over the national base rate, plus now apparently an additional retention incentive: https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/519736000 ).

            Back when I was between jobs in around 2004 I decided I should do something to fill my time, so I applied, took all the computerized tests (basically language skills, a little math, and a kinda-sorta spot-the-shape-in-the-x-ray-scan section that I think they said at that time was non-score for baseline prior to any training), and filled out a security clearance form (the same SF 86 I filled out before for other stuff).

            A number of months later I was called in to a local hotel where I apparently passed the interview with the Federal Agent (man, what a crap detail – I wonder who he pissed off), and then demonstrated that I could see through my glasses and that I could pick up the not-very-heavy test box from the table, walk one lap around the table, put the box on the floor, then reverse, all without stroking out.

            So yeah, not a high bar.

            By the time (more months later) that I received a phone message to come in and start as an hourly on-call replacement TSO I had landed a real job back in cubical-land for a real salary, so I never returned their call.

            All of which basically managed to put my SF 86 clearance application form in the pile that the Chinese hacked from OPM, so now I have identity protection for life from Uncle Sam.

            And I am very glad I did not return that call.

        3. The TSA was set up, specifically, as a payoff to the Democrats in Congress who insisted that unless flight security was made a Federal agency staffed by SEIU they were going to obstruct any response to 9/11. DDG the phrase “To professionalize you must federalize” for some inkling.

      2. True. I suppose it should be modified, “Better dead than rude to Muslims.” Because we wouldn’t want young, Arab men to think that we think they might be more likely to hijack a plane than a Swedish grandmother.

    2. I have always thought that the core problem with the TSA was that Bush knew it was pointless. As several subsequent incidents demonstrated, for the next while any Islamotwits who tried to hijack an airplane full of Americans was going to get dog-piled and stuffed into the overhead luggage compartment. At the same time, the public was clamorous to have something like the TSA established, and explaining to the public why it was unnecessary would have taken time and energy Vush wanted to put into other things, and might not have worked. So TSA got established, but nobody with any heft really gave it much attention.

      1. Yeah, but the coastal elites that made up the GWB team could not sit back and let all those flyover people police themselves back in steerage, and the run-to-momma nanny-state-is-exactly-what-I-want voters demanded that Something Must Be Done, so Something was what we got, good and hard.

        1. Or you can look at it this way, the coastal elites didn’t want anyone realizing that they could solve the problem themselves, and didn’t need to create another government organization that was custom designed to train people into being obedient cattle.

          1. > elites

            “That word… I do not think it means what you think it means.”

            Perhaps “parasites” would be more apt?

          2. There is a “Special Interest” which benefits from establishment & staffing of federal bureaus, so a good first principle is “Follow the money.”

        2. I’m not a huge fan of GWB, but I think it’s more a matter of “We don’t want to spend the political capitol to NOT do this” than “We can’t let the Plebes future out that they can protect themselves.” There was a LOUD demand that “Something be done” about airport security, something that I think the traveling public has forgotten since.

          GWB had a two (minimum) front war to fight, and then let himself be talked into the idiocy of “Nation Building” (we really should have wrecked Iraq and Afghanistan, and then LEFT). I think a lot of what he might have done given infinite time and energy and political capitol went by the wayside .

          1. I’ll defer to anyone who has actually been there, but it is my impression that the problem with wrecking Afghanistan is that you would not be able to tell which photo was before and which was after.

      2. I saw a movie back in the 80’s or 90’s where the hijackers killed enough passengers the survivors decided they had nothing to lose, took them down, and then said, “Now what?”

        Consensus was, they’d all get fair trials, maybe go to jail for a few years, other wackos would hijack more planes trying to get them out.

        Final scene: plane is coming in for landing, camera dollies forward, shows hijackers’ feet slowly swinging in the aisles…
        Dark Willow: “Bored now.”

    3. This one was scarier, because there was one dude by the tree, and I had a feeling he was tracking me, which is why I went “well, no. I’ll go on the sidewalk, not the path. And as soon as I turned away, other guys came out from under bushes and behind a tree.
      Yep, it was an ambush.
      Because I’m not that important, I have to assume it was just a “let’s ambush one of the women who walk this path and take their wallets/whatever.”
      It would have ended badly, as I had left everything in the car and had only my phone with me.

      1. Oh, no question. You know your instincts were right there; I’m guessing mine probably were giving a false alarm. Still, it was an alarm I lost nothing by listening to, and I’m glad I did.

        1. I wouldn’t be so sure. While it’s a case of “we’ll never know”… in my experience, anytime those instincts–or that ‘little voice’, if you will, speaks up, it’s never wrong. There was something there that set them off. I’m honestly not sure there IS such a thing as a ‘false alarm’–we’ve just been conditioned to believe that there is, because we don’t want to be rude. To paraphrase Pratchett: they can say wolves never eat people, but that’s only because we never get to talk to the people eaten by wolves.

          It’s only when we fail to listen to it that we find out that it is, in fact, a REAL alarm. When we DO listen to it, we can rationalize it as having been false. 🙂

          But as you said: you lost nothing by listening to it. So really it doesn’t matter either way. (Just that this idea of false alarms is, I think, a disservice done to us by our civilized society–we don’t want to think badly of people, so of COURSE it was a false alarm.)

          1. From the other side of the equation, if you happen to be a male of certain stature you set off alarms simply by existing sometimes. Not usually as obvious as people crossing the street to avoid you. But suddenly having the elevator to yourself? Happens. Of course there’s also the little guys who want to prove how tough they are to their friends…

            I like the idea that that little voice exists in people, though. Not every scary man is a gentle giant. It makes me glad the ladies in the family are compulsive in their concealed carry. *grin*

            1. Yeah, I suppose I can see that, coming from the other side–although in my own personal experience, I’ve never had the “scary because big” vibes. But then again, I’m nearly 6 feet myself, most of the men in my family are OVER six feet and large, so to me big does not equal scary/dangerous. ::shrugs:: (That, and the scariest people I’ve met are scrawny, and of the ‘bottle cove’ variety, and totally feral. One of them is a sibling, and I’m very glad he’s not out and about in society–it’s not his fault he’s that way, but he is not safe for anyone, ever.)

              1. Got a cousin that went that way, and yeah. Some folks aren’t suited to polite society- any really- at all. The most dangerous female I know is about five four. You can trust her with little kids, animals, horses, but Himself help you if you’re a threat to any of the above. I’ve seen her break men easily twice her size without weapons, but she prefers to have multiple options because “giving a criminal (or multiple opponents) equal footing in a fight is criminally stupid.”

                1. She sounds like a sensible woman, to me 😀

                  (I may be “big” for a woman, and unusually strong, but you’d better believe that one of my favorite pastimes when bored is to contemplate how random objects could be turned into a weapon…)

                  1. Suze is good people, and the more people like that in the world, the better in my opinion. *chuckle*

                    As to your latter, it seems to be a running gag in my social circle to find the most unusual manner of death involving only objects in direct view. Death by fish poison, death by compressed air injection, death by electrically induced heart attack (takes some prep work in a food court, but more original than the more obvious stuff).

                    Gotta find the fun in life where you can. *grin*

          2. Unfortunately, MY “little voice” (I’m assuming this is the same as “following your gut”, which would include other situations) is almost invariably wrong. I have no explanation. Just every time I follow any kind of a hunch, it tends to be wrong. Unless I try to use reverse psychology on myself and do the opposite, in which case it would have been right.

            1. Heh. That reminds me of a guy I used to work with back when I was still doing steamfitting work. He was a bit like that, except he always thought it was a good idea even after it blew up in his face. If I could have kept following him around and doing the exact opposite thing, my thought was I’d own the company inside of a decade…

  11. Given how often ‘feminist’ turns out to mean ‘feminist on the streets, predator in the sheets’, I have the unfortunate feeling that the thought-leaders on the left have ulterior motives for wanting the vulnerable to disregard ‘xenophobic’ instincts.


    1. I actually think that’s an example of the other end of things: the predator learns all the proper feminist buzz-words and slogans, dons the tribal symbols – the man-bun and problem glasses – to put the prey at ease and make them think he’s ‘one of them.’

      1. Which leads to the thought “if our woke male feminist allies are creeps and pervs, then those non-woke guys must be far, far worse.”

      1. And their people are the ones running public education, too. Which is why they were well over a hundred times more likely to molest kids than Catholic priests back in ’04, and it’ll have only gotten worse during O’Bummer reign of terror.


  12. Multiculturalism is the great lie of our age. Because not even the multiculturalists believe it. Ask them if they consider deep south redneck culture to be the equal of Manhattan progressive socialite culture. Ask them if Utah LDS culture is the equal of secular California “woke” culture. Absolutely not, and they won’t subscribe to their own doctrine. It’s a plaything with superficial markers and tokens only. Multiculturalism is nose rings and fashion-statement hijabs and saying “Namaste” and everyone goes to Starbucks afterward and talks about how exciting the Bernie campaign is. Cultural homogeneity with a patina of diversity.

    1. The ones who have subscribed and actually tried to live according to the ‘these cultures are just being lied about, because racism!’ have paid for their xenophillia with their lives. The hair-raising response to this is to encourage single travellers, especially female ones, to take solo trips in these areas, the tragic results being quickly memory-holed by the MSM.

      1. Wait, hold it–people are being encouraged to go into these lands alone?

        Gotta wonder if certain folks are getting kickbacks from human traffickers.

    2. Mark Steyn had a great quote, which I’ll paraphrase:

      “Multiculturalism is the art of feeling vaguely good about other cultures in order to absolve yourself of the need to actually learn anything about other cultures.”

    3. Or as I like to say, that person wants to have a lovely color palette of decorative individuals in the cast of the movie that is her life. And what the individuals in question actually want or are is completely irrelevant.

    4. Could anybody who truly believed in multiculturalism dismiss half the United States populace as “Deplorable”?

    5. Yeah, weaponized falsehood to defraud.

      If laws really should not enforce the values of religion and culture, recognition of common humanity is such a value.

      We are only enjoined against enforcement of norms when that enforcement would be against the socialist religion or against foreign cultures.

      Try to float “I’ve been told that my culture is mass graves full of aliens.”

      We do have a moral right to restrict abortions, rapes, and substance abuse (or, alternatively, to cut substance abusers off from automatic provision of services from others).

      There is no obligation to put up with all decisions going through a process where one party always has their thumb on the scales. If one set of rules will not be applied evenhandedly to everyone, others can be found. Accept that we can be uncoupled, and less involved in each other’s business, or accept that massive intrusion will not always be at your personal bidding.

      1. On a practical level, most folks– when I get them talking long enough about legislating morality to figure out what they mean— either mean “no laws against what I don’t have an issue with” or are opposing immoral laws, from their POV.

        On a try-to-format-a-universal-translation level, something like “laws aren’t mind control” might work. I cannot legislate your mental/emotional interactions and/or motivation. Doesn’t mean it’s not legit to legislate your actions. (Such as “no rape.”)

        1. There’s another axis.


          Are you willing to do nothing, and sit here talking, trying to change my mind? Or is it too important, too much of an emergency, to bother convincing me that you have a good case?

          If you say it is urgent, I may want to test your conviction of that. If I can quickly come up with a proposal that also addresses your literal statement of intent, and can make the downsides from hasty consideration a negative for you, I can learn how serious you are.

          Because I get so angry when people try to stampede me with urgency, especially combined with appeals to emotion, and outright dishonest argument, I find mass murder a far more acceptable price to pay than conceding the field on criminal justice reform, immigration, global warming, etc. Of course, I need consensus to be able to deliver mass murder, and need to work to develop that consensus.

          Right now, for example, the American people would rather find some other compromise on immigration than murder the north of Mexico. And the American people would accept a bunch of bullshit carbon tax costs if the only alternative was murdering the whole of the rest of the world.

  13. I am a concealed carry holder, and I find myself far more cautious than I was before I started carrying.
    While being armed does give a sense of security, it also makes one think about having to use it and why it would be far better to avoid situations where one might need to!
    The more training I get the more cautious I find myself getting!

    1. And that’s one of the reasons why concealed carry weapon holders are safer, and less likely than police, to accidently shoot innocent bystanders. Police (and military) are trained to react upon immediate identification of a pattern of threat; and usually have legal coverage if they’re wrong. i.e. they can afford to shoot first and ask questions later. CCW doesn’t have that protection. We have to take that extra second or so to make sure the target really is a threat, and not just a false alarm before we aim and pull.

    2. But— but— that’s a rational approach to the issue of armed self-defense! You must be Eeeevul Raaacissst Right-Wing Redneck Xenophobic Troglodyte! Get out of their Safe Space!
      Dark Willow: “Bored now.”

  14. To be fair, there’s the other end of things: predators who put on ‘masks’ by learning slogans, buzz-words and colloquialisms to earn your trust.

    There’s a reason the stereotype of the crooked politician who wraps himself in the flag and Bible verses to try and hoodwink voters exists – as does the stereotype of the crooked African American preacher or community leader who makes appeals to solidarity while bilking the community.

    I know a lot of people who suspected Trump was pulling the same trick before the 2016 election.

    1. I find it both amusing and frustrating when they try to use the buzz-words without understanding them.

      They get called ‘snowflake’ when they scream about how a commercial for cereal promotes stereotypes when one character seems darker than others and is doing janitorial work, so they call someone else ‘snowflake’ for pointing out the stated goal of moviemakers and marketers was to attack and degrade men, the franchise, and original characters.

      Or they say you’re a poor specimen of masculinity because you’re intimidated by Saint Greta. Because that’s the only reason to object to her.

      Amusing because: these words aren’t magic spells you say to get a result: they actually mean something.

      Frustrating because many of their listeners nod and cheer as if they’ve made a point.

    2. I wondered the same thing… but if true, he’s running such a long con that it might as well be the real thing.

      1. He’s drawn enough flak from the left that nobody who is not a nihilistic sociopath would simply surrender their families to it.

        Perhaps he is hiding nihilistic sociopathy under everything, but he has proven better than the alternatives.

  15. By serendipity, I’d re-read a poem by Kipling – The Stranger – A little before reading this post.

    Kipling makes the cynical – but perhaps accurate – point that the ‘other’ might be good or bad, and your neighbor might be your friend or your enemy, but at least you understand your neighbor in a way you don’t understand the other.

    Many of the woke crowd simply can’t comprehend that – yes – there are cultures out there full of people who think utterly differently from them.

    1. They don’t understand why people like us (same culture) can be nice people while thinking differently than they.

      Yet, they imagine that other cultures are filled with “nice people”. 😦

    2. This is what I meant by “the stranger is dangerous because unpredictable.” Even if otherwise not dangerous.
      Look, I married across cultures, and until I acculturated (and sometimes still, when something deeply inlaid is tweaked without my knowledge) a completely innocent situation could escalate to insanity because we each read the other completely wrong on ONE thing and were wildly offended/insulted.
      And keep in mind US is one of the easiest cultures to acculturate to and be accepted in. It was STILL insanely difficult.

      1. “And trust me, even if neither culture is precisely objectionable, getting along with someone from a very different culture is difficult, and there will be dangerous pitfalls on both sides. (Otherwise known as the first five years of my marriage.)”

        QFT. Though we’re at 18 years and counting and there are still dangerous pitfalls and difficult days. Some cultures are closer than others.

        If I’d known what it would be, I’m not sure I’d’ve signed up for this. On the other hand, six best kids in the entire world, and I haven’t killed my husband yet . . . which is fair, because my husband feels the same way. Though I’m definitely the one with greater potential for deadliness here.

        1. It’s interesting because neither Dan nor I would give up on what we have. And with my having largely acculturated, since about year 20 the flash points are very rare (It gets better after 20, truly.)
          BUT we were joking about maybe younger son marrying a foreigner, and we both went “But it’s so difficult” at more or less the same time.
          I mean, if it were to happen sure and we’ll support him, but it is definitely more difficult than the average marriage.
          OTOH we’re still together and a lot of our friends in mono-culture relationships broke up more than a decade ago. So….

          1. You & Dan, in theory, knew you had cultural differences going into the relationship. The mono-culture pairs found out afterwards. I know we did. Who knew Christmas meant something different. Sure Christmas day dinner, with Santa & family. But who knew it didn’t last 2 or 3 days with family other than parents, siblings, & their kids only? VS Two or 3 days with not only parents & siblings, but grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, some of the in-laws parents & siblings, parents uncles, aunts, & cousins … I mean my side has paired down some as we’ve gotten older & our generation has added grandchildren flung wide & far. But initial Christmas was a shock and a half. We won’t discuss the remaining holidays, difference was just as different.

            Then there is his family idea of a funeral. I mean just a small immediate gathering at the funeral home, no internment participation, then immediate family only. I mean a couple hours max. Compared to dad’s family which is an all day process from the memorial, graveyard internment, to the wake, with every relative, acquaintance, & co-worker, in attendance. The only reason the process doesn’t start with digging the grave anymore is it isn’t legal anymore.

            1. Funerals. The “funny things happen at a civilian funeral” episode of JAG nearly got everyone lynched or fired in real life. Senses of humor and decorum did not mix….

              1. Depends on when the humor occurs. At the memorial, generally no, at the internment, generally no.

                OTOH apparently dad, his brothers, BIL, and a few cousins, got a bit, uh, ripped, while digging (my) great-uncles actual grave. They were telling stories. Apparently a long time practice. This practice has been stopped by TPTB, certified grave diggers associated with the chosen funeral pallor must do this now. Heard the stories at my dad’s ashes internment.

                Uncle did get a back hoe to dig the grave for dad’s ashes. That was allowed because no body.

                Dad’s internment was a combination internment of ashes & a pot luck at the family graveyard over the 4th of July weekend. Most funerals, the humor comes when sharing stories, at the wake.

      2. Even cultures within the US have pitfalls. Properly brought up Southern ladies and gentlemen were taught manners and customes that would be considered wildly inappropriate in more urban, Northern, or far West Coast locales these days.

    3. The Stranger within my gate,
      He may be true or kind,
      But he does not talk my talk–
      I cannot feel his mind.
      I see the face and the eyes and the mouth,
      But not the soul behind.

      The men of my own stock,
      They may do ill or well,
      But they tell the lies I am wanted to,
      They are used to the lies I tell;
      And we do not need interpreters
      When we go to buy or sell.

      The Stranger within my gates,
      He may be evil or good,
      But I cannot tell what powers control–
      What reasons sway his mood;
      Nor when the Gods of his far-off land
      Shall repossess his blood.

      The men of my own stock,
      Bitter bad they may be,
      But, at least, they hear the things I hear,
      And see the things I see;
      And whatever I think of them and their likes
      They think of the likes of me.

      This was my father’s belief
      And this is also mine:
      Let the corn be all one sheaf–
      And the grapes be all one vine,
      Ere our children’s teeth are set on edge
      By bitter bread and wine.

      1. A rather depressing view of the world. Time will tell if it’s true.

        I don’t believe the gods of the copybook headings have made a verdict on the subject, have they?

  16. Babies & Toddlers will react in fear to people they know when appearances change. Two incidents occurred with our son, one I’ve mentioned before, but will again.

    First we walked in to my MIL room at the nursing home. Note, first we’d been going to see her, first every weekend, from the time he was 10 days old, for the first 4 months, then once a month until this incident, when he was just short of a year old. Walked into the room, like normal, she’d hold him maybe an half an hour while she & her son talked, son would get fussy, let him run around a bit longer while she watched, then we’d leave and we’d spend the rest of the day with my sister, BIL, & their daughter who was six months older. Not this time. Walked in as usual, kid screams bloody murder, I walked out. I refused to give into MIL demands that we force him to visit. So did dad, refuse. We tried it again before we left, & kid was better, but we didn’t push it. Boy did dad hear about it over the next week. FWIW, she was the one to insist to us (well her son) to not push his child into scary situations when kid was reluctant, that there was a right/wrong way to do so; her demands were the “wrong” way (age & deteriorating mental issues, not like we held her reversal against her, but kid first). Next visit went fine.

    Second incident a lot more comical. Dad was in the habit of growing a beard when he was laid off from work during the winter. No big deal when baby was 8 months old when dad shaved off his beard. Little of patting dad’s face, & everything was golden. At 18 months OTOH. The scream “Daddy broke his face” aught to speak volumes.

    Not like dad went into the bathroom & came out shaved. Nope. This was being done “right”. Son & dad went into bathroom so son could watch the transformation … Then suddenly a huge scream (I thought the kid had fallen off the counter where he was sitting to watch dad, not a small drop). It took a few minutes to figure out what kid was screaming. Not fair. I couldn’t laugh, not then & there. Not fair at all. Better off than dad was. Once I knew kid was safe. I could make the right sounds of assurance and beat feet to where I could collapse & laugh. Dad had to finish shaving with the kid watching. Took an hour or so, but they got it done.

  17. Yeah, and sometimes, you’ve got to let your inner sociopath out to bluff the predators because you can’t run away.

    Human predators, though, are NO different from animal ones. If the prey looks like they’ll be hard enough to take down that the predator gets hurt doing it, they’ll often move on. And for someone whose natural inclination is a very tightly leashed “be the predator,” it’s really easy to spot another one, and make sure they know they’ll come out hurt.

    1. The “I shall fear no evil because I am the meanest … in the Valley” solution. Works better for a brawny, mail combat-infantryman than for a petite female.

      1. It does…unless that petite female can do the dead eyes and imply that she’s got a weapon and isn’t afraid to use it. I’ve done that at least a half a dozen times when shopping alone and someone tries to herd me somewhere.

      2. I was taught from a young age by my mother–who was the survivor of an assault–to not walk like a victim, to make eye contact while out and about, and to generally project physical confidence. And to actually BE prepared to kick, scream, gouge eyes, or do whatever else it takes in the event someone does try something. So having the attitude DOES help. It’s not absolute proof, but even a small woman can project enough “I will be a MAJOR ATTENTION DRAWING PROBLEM if you touch me” that it can put off all but the craziest of predators.

        And while I am a woman who is just shy of six feet, rather brawny, and has a seriously scary case of resting bitch-face, none of that would matter if I scuttled around with my body language and everything else screaming “EASY VICTIM.” I’ve seen the attitude work for my much smaller (albeit still brawny) brain twin–though she is also actually a black belt. I’ve also seen it work for an actually-petite woman (also a black belt, as it happened). Sure, we’re still at a disadvantage in the face of a really determined–or insane–attacker, but the attitude at least filters out most of the other, more run of the mill types.

        In fact, the only times I’ve ever actually been groped were in passing–in a crowd, and so quickly I did not have time to react. The groper knew that. The one time one was stupid enough–and crazy enough–to grab not me, but my companion at the time, when we were stationary and standing in a line, I did in fact punch him and scream at him. She had done the fold up and hunch over and stay silent routine–which only invited him to come back. Then I spotted him, and made sure EVERYONE KNEW WHAT HE HAD DONE. (I did not punch him in the face, I punched him in the torso to shove him away from us.) He fled, because I’d drawn attention to him.

        So yeah. Attitude DOES help. It does mean you have to be ready to follow it up with action–you can’t FAKE it, not really. But it makes a difference.

        1. Yeah. I don’t fake it, either. I have no issue bringing the violence if I must. And that comes through very clearly in my body language, despite being under 5′ tall.

        2. Downside:
          Walking like you’re prepared will also trigger some folks, mostly females, but some non-predator guys.

          Hell if I know why, I just notice folks acting funny.

          And that’s when I’m not following the infamous advice about “stand tall, wear comfortable shoes, and walk like you’ve been sent to kill Captain America.” (Bucky body language)

          1. Yeah, regarding those folks…sorry, but they’ll have to deal with it their own selves. And if anyone ever asked me to walk like a victim to make THEM comfortable, they might get smacked too.

            Though a more amusing version of it did happen while I was on my mission (the one wherein I punched the guy for grabbing my companion’s butt): One of the elders (that’s the male missionaries) asked me once why I walked like a gangster. I stared at him, baffled, for a long moment, then realized what he was talking about. He then got explained to him the differences experience by a man walking down the street versus a woman walking down the street. He looked flabbergasted (bless ’em, many do, because they’ve never realized HOW different it can be when it comes to street-level harassment), but then went “Ohhhhh. That makes sense.” My companion at the time was nodding in furious agreement. She got more than her share of harassment because she had the misfortune of being not only tiny, but also BLONDE. Which in some European countries brings out all the cat callers and grabbers, sigh.

            (I did point out, when one of the mission president’s assistants asked me about punching a guy, that unlike that other sister a while back, I did NOT hit him with a frying pan. Though that was only because I wasn’t carrying one at the time… 😀 )

            1. Easy to say, but as we both know it sometimes bites to deal with them.

              “I expect you to behave this way, you’re not, that is a personal affront and you are a total jackass not just for doing this but for suggesting that the way I think it should be is not a law of nature.”

            2. Yeah, and I’m sure they think we’re equally unreasonable.

              I can have some sympathy for someone who is triggered because of past trauma…but I will still move/behave in ways that will keep me and mine safe even if it upsets them.

    2. I can only assume that I managed to internalize this somewhere along the way, because despite having often (foolishly) put myself in situations where I was walking around predators with no weapons and no backup, I’ve not really had problems. I’ve driven to Anacostia MD after midnight for gas*; I’ve walked around city downtowns and under overpasses where homeless camped. Without making a conscious effort, I guess I manage to project a “too much trouble” image.

      *Granted, it was Thanksgiving which was why nothing else was open, and I figured even gangbangers might be lying low that night so it wasn’t as risky as it would normally have been. But boy did I get a lot of bemused “What the hell is that white bougie woman doing here?!” looks.

  18. SOME of this might be genetic. For example, if you smell the odor of spices that your people don’t consume, this triggers a “watch out” response. People who eat that food thereby single that they are foreigners.
    For that matter, dislike of certain spices might relate to a genetic inability to digest, or lack of an enzyme that makes them taste good. I react STRONGLY against ginger, licorice, and a few other spices. Don’t just ‘eat, but don’t like’ – I can’t stand to be in the same room with them. Even a tiny bit ruins my meal.
    I’m the same way about purple or yellow rice – I HATE it. Don’t bother to tell me that it tastes the same – it does NOT!
    It’s not unreasonable to fear the possibly dangerous stranger. I’m convinced that one reason women have the reputation of being eerily aware of danger, is because we notice our personal environment in a different way than men. We’re always on the lookout for those people whose intentions might threaten ourselves or our family. That’s what kept the savvy cavewoman alive, when she was without protection by a hunter partner.

    1. Men started out as the hunters — the predators. “If something wants to attack me, I kill it, then we eat!”

      Women had to protect themselves, the children, and the camp. Tended to be much more conservative about threats, and more aware.
      Sue: [very nervously] “Is it…poisonous?”
      Crocodile Dundee: “Huh? Oh, yeah. Deadly! Not bad eatin’, but they always give me gas.”

    2. Weirdly I now don’t mind cumin. Not my favorite spice, but I don’t mind it, and like some Mexican food. No idea why. Seems to be a post-menopause thing, though.

  19. The post has got me thinking how destructive to a society it could be if women’s instincts could be somehow inverted: to have fear and aversion to what is harmless while welcoming what is dangerous. Fortunately that could never happen.

    On an unrelated note, I’ll just leave this here.

    (can’t seem to copy/past links, but picture women with ‘refugees welcome’ signs, and other pictures of protesters with pussy hats and handmaid’s tale costumes)

  20. “Xenophobic!” is just a fancy mode of saying “Chicken!”

    It is an argument for eight-year-olds and indicates the person hurling the charge is not prone to reason.

    You don’t argue with children. You smack their fat little bottoms and send them to bed without their college tuition.

  21. I remember the “Stranger Danger” campaign as a child. Now if you are reserved with others, you are xenophobic or racist. Damn. I still stay reserved that I don’t make friends easily. (Maybe other factors involved, of course.)

  22. The Feminists teach the young women to view the World as it SHOULD be, NOT as it is.
    Best example.
    Young women going to a FRAT or other party and getting DRUNK.
    There is NOT ONE WOMAN that doesn’t know that this is an incredibly STUPID thing to do.
    There have been many movies, TV shows, Books, etc. showing what a BAD idea this is.
    Yet year in, year out, young women go to these parties and get DRUNK.
    Then they blame the guys who are often just as drunk when something happens.
    Because according to Feminists one a woman has 1 drink anything that happens is NEVER HER fault. She has ZERO responsibility for anything that happens while the man has 100% of the responsibility no matter what.
    Next Best.
    What a woman is wearing has nothing to do with how she is treated. It should not but NOBODY believes that it doesn’t. Just like a man flashing a handful of $100s in a low life bar “should” have no affect on the possibility of him being mugged when he leaves.
    Best example of Multicultural problems.
    If you are a woman talking to a Muslim from a Mid-Eastern country (Saudi Arabia, etc.) unless he is VERY familiar with the Western Culture and even then. YOU ARE A WHORE!!! No ifs ands or buts. Why?? Because YOU ARE TALKING TO HIM! No GOOD woman would EVER do that. Also how you dress, your drinking, being out alone or with only girl friends, and many other social cues, MARK YOU as one. Also Islam tells him it is good to rape you.
    Other nationalities can be just as different. People ARE NOT the SAME.

  23. Sarah, I’ve told before of how distressed I am that even tiny women show no fear getting into an elevator with me, alone, in a not-well-lighted parking garage. In one sense, sure, it’s kind of a hit to my self-image – am I really that harmless looking? But there’s also the question: “Is it that, or are all these women so clueless that they don’t have any situational awareness?” Because I worry – what if it was not me, but someone else they were getting into an elevator with, alone?

    1. I’d lean toward “clueless.”

      A number of states have gotten some form of open carry in the last few years. People there who opted for the comfort and convenience of carrying that way have often commented that they almost never get any reaction from people. They’re either oblivious, or so wrapped up in their phone they only perceive other people as ambulatory obstacles, and fountains, curbs, and walls not at all…

  24. There’s been some research on this subject. Subjects were shown a bunch of apparently random mugshots, and were asked to ID the violent criminals

    Turns out we can peg that just by looking at faces about 80% of the time. And while there were some false negatives, there were very few false positives.

    So yes. Trust your instincts. They’ve been honed by a million years of ancestors who =survived= being at the wrong end of a pointed stick.

  25. I’ve had that feeling a few times. Most memorable was when Mom, Dad, Little Brother, and I were taking a road trip up the California coast. We were in LA, walking up the Venice Beach boardwalk (sidewalk? it was paved and at ground level). The crowds and the storefronts seemed to be getting sketchier as we went along, and I started to get this overwhelming feeling of dread combined with absolute certainty that something BAD was about to happen, as in Badness Was Imminent And Upon Us!, and refused to go any further and insisted that we all turn around and go back to the rental car right the heck now! Mom and Dad were NOT pleased and chastised me for making a scene, but ultimately relented.

    Looking back, I don’t remember any obvious predators lurking about like in Sarah’s memory, and part of me still wonders if I was being paranoid (my TV diet was pretty much exclusively Law & Order, SVU, CSI, and Mythbusters back then), but I’m still glad I listened to my gut. Because what if I had been wrong?

    Oddly, Mom & Dad let the matter drop after we were very obviously almost mugged on Hollywood Boulevard either later that day or the next (can’t remember if we did both places in the same day or not).

  26. I wish I could remember the exact expression, but it went something like, “don’t believe in stereotypes unquestioningly, because that’s lazy thinking. Do pay attention to them, because they have this uncomfortable core of truth to them.”

    Group of boys? Not a problem.
    Group of boys in very similar clothing (track suits, sports gear, etc, etc, etc)? Start paying attention.
    Group of boys in very similar clothing making aggressive motions? Pay attention, and check your gear.

    And, yea, skin color and perceived “race” is an aspect of it. Somewhere, there was a photographer that did two photos of models-one in “street” and one in “office” gear. Changed not a single thing but what they wore and they looked like two different kinds of people. One of the most dramatic was a black man who looked like he was complete thug in Raiders shirt and sweats…and he looked both more and a different kind of dangerous in a fully fitted three piece suit than in his thug life gear. But…safer, somehow.

    You have to pay attention to those little hints and little clues. But, don’t let those hints and clues override your thoughts.

    1. Heh, more than once I’ve triggered folks’ “shoplifter!” instincts on accident– baggy clothing, it’s cold so I have my hood up, I usually park well away from other vehicles, I browse, I’ll pick stuff up and put it down (although I make a point to put it back where it GOES, not at random, and I’ll even pick up stuff other folks left and put it down) the whole nine yards.

      I’ve started taking a basket and hanging it on my arm then walking with my hands VERY OBVIOSLY inside of my hoody pouch, then when I pick stuff up I physically put the basket down, use both hands, obviously put it in, and then put the basket on my arm again before putting my hands inside of the pouch again.

      Sure, it’s kabuki, but they’ve got a legit worry.

  27. I highly recommend Gavin de Becker’s book. I gave it my daughter; she’s given the book to friends. It really helps to counteract the nonsense of everyday opinion pieces, to have a security specialist point out that evil people exist.

    He actually recommends that everyone respect “The Gift of Fear;” as I recall, he thinks that women are better at listening to their gut than men, likely because they aren’t socialized not to show fear. As I recall as well, your brain is constantly picking up cues that might indicate danger. Feelings usually have a basis in fact. Interesting fact is that humor is a defense mechanism. It can be a signal that your brain has noticed something odd about a situation, and is trying to get your attention. (There is an example of a businessman who left his coworker’s office just before a package sent by the unibomber went off.)

    The book’s example of the elevator stayed with me. He pointed out that you will never see the person in the elevator again. There’s a large downside if you suppress your misgivings and get on the elevator with the wrong person.

    The author is a specialist in security. He’s Jeff Bezos’ security person, according to the media. His most recent book, “Just 2 Seconds,” covers assassinations. I think it would be essential reading for any author who wants to include such scenes in their works.

    1. [Men] aren’t socialized not to show fear. ,/I>”

      Men are socialized to overcome fear, because large carnivorous animals, while delicious, often share that same view of humans, and fear reactions are often the difference between eating and being eaten. It is also unfortunately species beneficial for men to be willing to sacrifice themselves for women/children when sensible recognition of fear would motivate sacrificing them instead of oneself.

  28. Hey, 1984 wasn’t about SOCIALISM, man! It was about NIXON, man, and Reagan and Bush and, and Bush again! It wasn’t about LBJ who gave us the [insitutionalized poverty of] the Great Society, I mean, they CALLED it great, even, or Carter trying to save us from the oil companies, or Clinton trying to save us from loose women [by using them all up] and loose money {by burning it in the dot-com mania]. It was TOTALLY about Obama man, who saved us from working in those jobs that were never coming back [he SAID so] or having to pay for medical care we wouldn’t get. It wasn’t about ANY of that stuff. It was all abut getting Mom’s credit card for everyone, forever!

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