A Shining City On the Hill


Throughout most of history, men who believe themselves superior or “elites” have believed that other men were born saddled and ready to be ridden.

The alpha male who rules over the band is, after all, a fixture of ape bands. It’s that “made on an ape frame” again.

I want to make this very clear: throughout most of history, whether king or high priest, whether Emperor or conqueror, whether nobility or oligarchy humans were subjected to someone, and to those that worked for that person/worked under the authority of that person or group of people. It was, you might consider, the “natural order of things.”  Truly the natural order, since it comes from nature.

And this is what’s important to know: Socialism (“democratic, purple, or pokadotted” — snort — ) and communism are not different. They follow the ultimate rule of humanity of an elite who considers itself superior ruling over everyone else.

It is no coincidence that in Europe the “sons and daughters of good families,” the remnants of nobility, (and in the States themselves, the old families and the blue bloods) are usually socialist, communist, and in support of an oligarchy of rulers over the mass of humanity.

Oh, the old excuses have changed. Humans are good at excuses (the problem, of course, was teaching the ape to talk. Not to vocalize, but to abstract. Abstractions and generalizations are slippery. Lies are not far behind.)

After the American revolution, and more so after the French, and after the toppling of kings and nobles that soaked Europe in blue blood, it was not ah…. advisable to talk of nobility of birth. It was not done.

Instead, the noblemen, the “good people” made themselves into a nobility of “service.”  They became “public servants”, following “the will of the people.” (For service in this case, you should understand what a bull does to a cow.)

You see, they weren’t stupid — yes, sure, some royal lines got so inbred they were almost as stupid as your average Woke college student — because stupid people don’t keep their hands on the reins and their spurs in the flank of the mass of their fellow men. And certainly not after the idea of the divine right of kings and nobility of birth tumbled to the dirt (if not before when Louis XVI’s head coughed in the basket. But you could argue it started with the black plague, which laid waste commoner and nobility alike and both destroyed some of the older and more cunning families, and the very idea that as long as you obeyed these people you’d be okay.  Ideas take time to percolate through cultures. You can draw a straight line from the Black Plague to the age of revolutions, but it’s a slow one.)

They realized — none better — that common property and common good don’t administer themselves. They also realized — again none better — that he who has the command of the property is the de-facto owner.  And so they installed themselves as administrators, as bureaucrats.  In Europe, where indicators of class in both clothing and manner remain, and where there is often an innate respect for those of “good birth” who can name their ancestors, and have pictures on their walls going back generations, they compose entire ruling classes, “elected” but both sides of the spectrum (all sides of the spectrum) really a nobility, a group of “elites” who trade power between them and who agree that the dear little people, the commoners, should never be given any real power.

I can see your lips start to curl, as you say it’s not so different here.  This is true, to an extent. (Not all extents. There is still a difference between the parties, and one at least might be reclaimable. You never get to choose between cake and death. Sometimes you choose the less lethal poison until you can pour it into the plant and get rid of the poisoners.)  We have for our sins, and partly because of the twentieth century idea that society was like a machine, that we could centralize power and control the economy and the people in social and economic engineering, and that would make everyone better off — and partly because of Soviet propaganda, the only thing they were ever good at. A Russian trait from time immemorial — created a vast bureaucratic class, credentialed and indoctrinated, and with both of those things sneeringly sure they’re better than the rest of humanity and the rest of humanity wants — needs — to be ruled.

You hear it in the sneering disdain of their voices when they talk of “populism” and in the whining of unelected bureaucrats affronted that the duly elected president differs from them.  You hear it in their disdain for “meritocracy.” (They prefer credentialism, mostly brought in under the pretense of eliminating “racism” but really to eliminate the possibility of the wrong people getting power; of the pushy sons of the bourgeoisie grabbing the reins as they did after the Black Plague and unseating the correctly anointed ones.) You see it in their slandering and destroying of any who oppose them. And most of them (not their willing and pathetic dupes who are merely moronic outcasts or envious “intellectuals”) are people of “pedigree.”  You explain to me, after listening for ten seconds to crazy Uncle Joe Bribem how else someone whose contact with reality is thread thin someone like that was elected or got power.  You explain to me how someone like (Malig)Nancy Pelosi, who is drunk 99% of the time, and not too bright the rest of it (I swear to you, though I can no longer find the video that the idiot crossed herself in a mosque in Syria when she visited to tell them that Bush was a meanie and the democrats lorrrrved them.) It’s just a class thing. They’ve established a ruling class. And though the present scions are often dumber than rocks, they have the cunning and the desire to rule us.

Here’s the thing: they never gave up on communism. They never admitted the horror it was, and honestly a failure at providing luxuries for the elites. Sure, the elites in the USSR lived worse than the middle class in the free world, but THAT’s not the point. The point is that they lived much better than those around them, and it provided them with a sense of their innate and invincible superiority. That’s meat and drink to them. That’s what they actually live for: their rightful place in the world.

In Europe, they’ve managed to convince the majority of people that they need socialism. That a heavy bureaucratic welfare state is in fact the ONLY way to live.  Which is why social-democrat is usually the most to the right that the spectrum goes. (To idiots reading that, no, it’s not democratic socialism. The “right wing” of Europe is a welfare state, with enough taxes taken to hold people captive and enough services given to have a serf class that will protest at the state being unseated or reduced.  So, in terms of “socialism” it is a pale pink. Call it bureaucratism and put it in as the percurse to socialism.) Note even at homeopathic doses, socialism kills. The European heavy tax, pervasive regulation and welfare state makes it impossible for people to actually reproduce. It makes it hopeless to try to move out of your socially assigned place.  Call it feudalism with contraception and without religion. It means that the populations of Europe are dying. The self-hatred induced by Soviet Propaganda doesn’t help. Europe is a vast old-age home. The imports… well, they reflect the socialist idea that people are interchangeable and cultures don’t matter. That’s for another time.

Here, though they have captured all media, all education, the news and entertainment and every branch of what you could call “the information industries” they haven’t fully managed to capture the people.  (In Europe, too, to be fair, there are signs of rebellion. But Europe is different.)  Oh, sure, we’ve been regulated and hemmed in, and told to stay in our lane, but we remember we once were free men.  And we have a constitution we can consult if needed, which tells us the measure of what we’ve lost, but also lets us dream of what could be regained.

This is quite different from the indoctrinated sleep walkers who have been lead to believe they are “elites” but who in fact are donning the saddles for their masters to ride to power — journalists and writers, grievance mongers and “scholars.” My only consolation is that should you achieve your aims — however briefly — you’ll be up against a wall before I am. Because your masters don’t trust you. Nor should day, you quisling traitors willing to turn in your freedom for lack of responsibility. The only ones of you I pity are those minorities — social, racial, intellectual and others — indoctrinated to think that the powerful socialist state will make people accept you. But even you, I do not forgive. You are — most of you — literate, and should be able to read the history of the regimes you wish for. Yes, I know, some of you believe that the welfare states of Europe are both “socialist” and “more accepting.” I enjoin you, for your own life, to learn the language and go over with no money,  and sit in bars and cheap restaurants listening to the people talk. It will be an education about those oh, so accepting Europeans. A cheap one, compared to turning in your birth right for a firing squad.

ANY centralized and powerful state oppresses minorities of all kinds. To say that kings and church oppressed your kind and therefore you need socialism/communism, is like saying that you have a hang nail and to cure it, you’re going to cut off your head. And this information is not on the moon, that you can’t reach it. All it takes is stepping outside your comfort zone and your self-reinforcing bubble. Again, your life might depend on it.

The reason our land, our constitution our form of government is already half-lost (what on Earth do you think the compact against the electoral college is? It allows the vortexes of fraud, controlled by the left machine to control the entire country.) the reason one of the likely candidates for the presidency wants to shred our Constitution — the basis for our existence — and open the borders to the serfs and peasantry of every land in the world is because we are the obstacle in their pursuit of their ultimate dream.

One would laugh, if it weren’t so bitter, but the same “elites” who under another name caused WWI have convinced people that nationalism is a problem, and want to create a super-state encompassing the world.

This has nothing to do with lack of war. Trust me, in the middle ages, Christendom warred enough within itself, though technically under the sway of the same super entity.

No. This is because the larger the centralized entity, and the wealthier, the less accountability it has.

With stars in their eyes our “superiors” see the idea of ruling the world and having no one to control them. Of course half of those ‘betters’ are merely the shock troops of the old families, reaching for control once more.  The sleep walkers, moving towards their city of creams, without realizing nightmare waits them.

The new promises involve things like paying off student loans, and having “health-care” for free.  And these people must never have read fairy tales, because they never ask what the words mean, and what it costs.

Even some of my fellow libertarians have started mouthing things like “most people don’t want liberty.”  Oh, that’s not true. It’s that they’ve been told they can have liberty without responsibility. Ninety percent of the younger people who call themselves socialists don’t realize they’ll pay for it, or that their personal lives and choices will be interfered with.

They imagine that they will have endless leisure, to pursue their “dreams” and lack the self awareness to know that dreams that don’t have the spur of reality are just a way to get lost in meaninglessness. They also don’t seem to understand that if they are a charge, not a credit, to a vast, impersonal state, they will in the end be disposed and disposed of as the elite decides. They don’t realize this is just the long way back to a techno-feudalism worse than anything their ancestors endured because not mitigated by Christianity which assigns each individual value simply for existing. Marxism has no such value.

And so, they will tear down the last best thing on Earth, and hasten to put chains on themselves, convinced this will make them free.

At this point, I must trust in the turning point of technology, which despite the giants does give the individual power it hasn’t had since the age of agriculture, and also the ability to once more own his/her own means of production in at least a great measure. I must trust in the fact that our would be elites are in fact the end of a long non-meritocratic process, meaning that they misspell their own names three times out of four, and are also completely unable to cope with the changes in technology and society.

Arrayed against us are very old human instincts, the machinations of people who might not be good at anything but are very good at achieving power, the fears of indoctrinated fools who’ve been convinced every hand in a free society is against them, the hopes of even more pathetic fools who think that they’ll be the special and cherished pets of an all powerful and centralized state.

All we have is our Constitution, our history, and the certainty that free men, acting in their individual best interests have almost eliminated poverty and created — for all its flaws — the fairest and most accepting society Earth has ever seen.

All we have against the lies of old is our shining city upon a hill, which cannot be torn down, because even if occluded by the chains of totalitarianism (it’s come close before) it lives on in the hearts of free men and women everywhere.

It won’t be simple. It won’t be easy. And you and I who’ve rounded the corner of fifty will almost surely not see even the edge of victory on this, unless a miracle occurs.

But we must do what we can. So the future is not like the past. So our yet-unborn descendants taste freedom. It’s all we can do. And it’s a glorious destiny.

In the end we win, they lose, but the end is a long way off. Be not afraid.





160 thoughts on “A Shining City On the Hill

  1. The bit about Soviet elites having access to less than middle-class Americans puts me in mind of Milton’s famous line, delivered by Satan.

    “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heav’n.”

    That single line fits those elitests to a ‘T’.

      1. “Even the Politburo doesn’t have this choice. Not even Mr. Gorbachev,” Boris Yeltsin, then a new member of the Politburo, at a Randall’s Grocery near Houston TX, two months before the fall of the Berlin wall. Most previous Russian government officials, had assumed that any stores they were shown were fakes.

        1. The Chinese Communist Party has handled things more wisely, allowing its citizens access to a wide variety of goods. It probably helps that many of the “must-have” items these days are made in China. There are still issues, but they’re nowhere near as severe as in the old Eastern Bloc.

            1. This is true. Such goods are primarily only available to those in the major cities. The rural areas (which is most of the country) are still extremely poor. However, the fact that those items are available at all still puts the PRC head and shoulders above the USSR.

              1. Just a thought, I remember reading that the poor are not allowed to travel or find work in the cities–except for extreme circumstances (don’t know what they are). So basically if you are born in the country and poor, you stay that way. They still have an undeniable serf class. We don’t understand “freedom of travel” because we have always had it. They don’t have it.

            2. Most kings and queens and emperors, historically, were desperately poor by our lights. The propaganda machine keeps them in the dark to a certain degree about what they are missing.

            3. Not just the poor have trouble. One thing not mentioned much is the quality of public services provided by the Communist government.

              A relative who has been there for business mentioned that on the roof of every house in Beijing is a solar still and a big water tank. Not a filter, but a solar distillation unit. This is because the water is so bad mere carbon filters can’t manage the gunk in it. They distill it and then filter that. In the capital of China.

          1. Also I don’t believe that they have Hard Currency stores as the USSR had. Stores always full but where only foreign currencies could be used. I saw these in 1981. Had to piss off people. Ruble store had nothing, dollar stores had everything.

    1. It’s the black joke about the man who found a genie but was told that whatever he wished for, his neighbor would be given twice as much; if he wished for a billion dollars, his neighbor would be given two billion, etc.

      The man thought for a moment and said, “I wish to be beaten half to death.”

      It gets a laugh, but it’s the problematic mindset of those who want to be better than others more than they want to improve their own situation.

      1. That reminds me of the one about the Pole wishing for a Mongol invasion, because the Russians would get hit by the Mongols twice along the way.

        1. A favorite, which I happen to have ready to hand, as oft told by a friend:
          An old Pole finds a magic lamp. He rubs it, and out comes a djinn. The djinn says to him, “I will grant you three wishes, but then you must set me free. What is thy bidding?”

          The old Pole thinks for a moment, then says: “I wish for all the Cossacks in the world to come riding across the steppe, to loot, pillage, and burn Warsaw, the most beautiful city in the world.”

          The djinn looks at him funny, but a wish is a wish. And so all the Cossacks in the world came riding across the steppe, looting and pillaging and burning all the way, and have their way with Warsaw, which is now a smoking ruin. Then they ride back into the sunrise with their loot.

          “Excellent,” says the old Pole. “Now here is my second wish. I wish for all the Cossacks in the world to come riding across the steppe, to loot, pillage, and burn Warsaw, the most beautiful city in the world.”

          The djinn is starting to think he’s seriously teched in the head, but a wish is a wish. And so all the Cossacks in the world came riding across the steppe, looting and pillaging and burning all the way, and… well, there’s not much left of Warsaw from the first time, but they salvage a few trinkets, rape a few old women, then ride back into the sunrise.

          “Even better!” says the old Pole. “Now here is my third wish. I wish for all the Cossacks in the world to come riding across the steppe, to loot, pillage, and burn Warsaw, the most beautiful city in the world.”

          By now the djinn is certain he’s mad, but a wish is a wish. And so all the Cossacks in the world came riding across the steppe, looting and pillaging and burning all the way, and… kick around the cold ashes, piss into the stinking mud, swear volubly, and ride back into the sunrise.

          “All right,” says the djinn, “now I’m free, as we agreed. But first — tell me. If Warsaw was the most beautiful city in the world, why did you wish the Cossacks to come loot, pillage, and burn it three times??”

          The old Pole smiles and says, “They had to cross Russia six times.”

    2. That one rang true for me, too. I recall the pictures I’ve seen of the execution of Ceausescu and his wife, and I am continually struck by how POOR they look. Like pictures of old babushkas from the 30s. That was the leader of a country? Even one as poor as Romania?

  2. “tho I am sure there was no man born marked of God above another, for none comes into the world with a saddle on his back, neither any booted and spurred to ride him.”

    –Richard Rumbold, Speech on the Scaffold

    1. A Man’s A Man For A’ That
      Robert Burns
      Is there for honest Poverty
      That hings his head, an’ a’ that;
      The coward slave-we pass him by,
      We dare be poor for a’ that!
      For a’ that, an’ a’ that.
      Our toils obscure an’ a’ that,
      The rank is but the guinea’s stamp,
      The Man’s the gowd for a’ that.
      What though on hamely fare we dine,
      Wear hoddin grey, an’ a that;
      Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
      A Man’s a Man for a’ that:
      For a’ that, and a’ that,
      Their tinsel show, an’ a’ that;
      The honest man, tho’ e’er sae poor,
      Is king o’ men for a’ that.
      Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
      Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
      Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
      He’s but a coof for a’ that:
      For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
      His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
      The man o’ independent mind
      He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.
      A prince can mak a belted knight,
      A marquis, duke, an’ a’ that;
      But an honest man’s abon his might,
      Gude faith, he maunna fa’ that!
      For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
      Their dignities an’ a’ that;
      The pith o’ sense, an’ pride o’ worth,
      Are higher rank than a’ that.
      Then let us pray that come it may,
      (As come it will for a’ that,)
      That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
      Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
      For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
      It’s coming yet for a’ that,
      That Man to Man, the world o’er,
      Shall brothers be for a’ that.

  3. The one bright spot is that the new nobility, having a few generations under their belt, is about as intelligent and unwilling to forego immediate gratification as the old nobility. They are thus easier to topple.

    The dark spot is that they may manage to hang on until the bitter end. Once Madame Guillotine begins her grisly chopping of ambulatory vegetables, it is very difficult to construct a free people from the remnants (cf France).

  4. There is no seeing the victory for any one, because it is a never ending fight. As long as someone wants to be truly free, someone will want to yoke them.

    1. “Rust never sleeps” and some think themselves the uppercRUST. But rust is rust is rust, lowerl, middle, or upper, it’s all defect all the same. (With the exception of OPTICAL rouge. That’s OPTICAL grade, NOT Khmer rouge!)

  5. “You cannot enslave a free man; all you can do is kill him.” And trust me that there will be plenty of servants in Valhalla, or Hades.

  6. “To say that kings and church oppressed your kind and therefore you need socialism/communism…”

    Here’s to the new boss, same as the old boss. ..

    1. I recall looking on in horror as a homosexual of my acquaintance being ecstatic that the government was going to grant him equality by officially registering his relationship.

      It’s apparently very exciting to volunteer as a scapegoat.

      1. The REAL problem is that they refuse to acknowledge that what the courts grant the courts can take away.
        All they had to do was accept Civil Unions and they would have had massive agreement and not alienated many who had supported up until then. Majority of people would have called them marriages any way.

        1. I still wish they’d allowed some sort of “household formation” that protected both sides of a party from obvious abuses, for those cases where kids aren’t going to be happening.

          Seen too many roommate situations get nasty.

  7. A city of cream is definitely problematic. A little is lovely, a whole city would be a big bellyache. 😉

  8. Build under, build around. Although, with the internet, perhaps build over as well, in the sense of just going over the gates rather than bothering to hammer at them. We can reach “our sort of people” without having as many obstacles as in the past. Especially the ones who don’t yet realize that they are part of a much, much larger tribe.

    1. That’s one reason why various Federal agencies and major “industry providers” have wanted some kind of “internet authentication system” since the 20th century. Tim Berners-Lee and Bruce Schneier have drunk the Kool-Aid and have a new startup going down that rabbit hole as well.

      The days of internet anonymity are basically gone already, but they want to screw it down until it works like a giant mainframe, with every user ID’d and authenticated.

      There are enough valid reasons for a good authentication system – e-commerce, banking, HIPAA, government agencies, and legally-liable stuff like insurance or law firm access – that the idea is hard to oppose. But inevitably, it’ll expand until doing *anything* will require authentication.

      The NSA can do that already, and so can Google, and probably Facebook, due to “partnering” with ISPs. But authentication would make it cheaper and easier for them, and whatever system the Fed finally adopts will certainly have provisions to make it simple for “authorized” entities to monitor your connections. Which will be secure and require due paperwork, except it won’t take the black hats long to compromise it, so not only your personal information, but your digital online “key” will be for sale on skeezy warez sites…

      1. This browser is viewing this page using HTTPS. I don’t see why that should be necessary.

        I concur.

        1. It guarantees that it is actually accordingtohoyt.com, not someone who has hijacked the DNS server or a router along the way.

  9. It’s been pointed out that the real reason America is not like Europe… is because during the settlement era, all the Europeans with ambition and courage decamped to the wilds and uncertainty of America, leaving Europe to those who preferred the predictability and safety of the status quo.

      1. Eh, there’s always new ones coming. The most vocal Trump supporter I know (and vocal hyper-conservative) was a boat person from Vietnam at the age of five.

        For some reason, the most vocal opponents of communism are those who’ve seen it firsthand, go figure.

    1. Similar Logic has been used for why the West was more freewheeling than the east. Unfortunately Washington, Oregon and all went nutty somewhere mid 20th Century. It isn’t clear to me what happened. And back here in the east there are still a whole lot of the old independent grumpy New Englanders though they’re dying out. Heck there’s a joke in “White Christmas” that they need to import something new to Vermont, Danny Kaye’s character suggests a Democrat but Bing Crosby’s charcter says no that won’t work they’d lynch him. 60+ years on Vermont has a Socialist/Communist sympathizing Senator and is basically loony tunes in its wealthy areas. The outlands are still pretty grumpy though…

      1. California’s the way that it is for a number of reasons. There’s the old joke about the nutcases moving west until they run into the Pacific Ocean and are forced to stop (and the mild climate means they don’t freeze to death in the winter). There’s the effects of concentrated progressivism from the centers of Berkely and San Francisco. There’s the loss of defense industry employees when the “peace dividend” led to the closure of the factories that supported the military. I could go on.

        Given that it appears increasingly likely that Sanders will be the nominee, it’s possible that California might actually be in play. Unfortunately, that assumes that the Dems don’t try and cheat, and the state Republican Party is on the ball. Both are extremely unlikely here.

        1. Election here in CA on the 3rd. For the first time, voting computers instead of paper ballots. And a system that allows you to vote at any election center instead of an assigned one.

          Yeah, I’m troubled.

        2. And Trump waiting for it. I may be whistling past the graveyard, but I see two things affecting the 2020 election that a lot of people don’t seem to take into account.

          1) The Progressives are getting sloppy. They simply aren’t used to opposition, and strike me as depending on a lot of ‘the way things have always been’ that just isn’t so anymore.

          2) They are also getting desperate.

          These factors point to them taking a lot of risks. And Trump fights.

          They may steal the election. But I think there’s a real chance they’ll get CAUGHT stealing the election, which is an entirely different kettle of fish. And if fraud is provable, I think we can expect Trump to follow up. He has no collegial feelings for them whatsoever, and I don’t think they appreciate the risks they are running.

          Four years of the Progressive Elites putting out PR dumpster fires, and a lot of their leverage may be gone.

          We can hope.

    2. Always thought so … and the reason that the various Europeans among the Euro Ruling Class were so resentful about Americans is that they assumed that their outcasts and refugees would obligingly go and starve in a ditch in the Americas, somewhere – where they could be rightfully forgotten. And instead — thrived and prospered. It must REALLY chap their nuts that we thrived, prospered, overcame … and ruled a nice portion of the globe. (yes, I put this speech in the mouth of a German immigrant, unloading on his resentful relatives in the Old Country.)

      1. Worse than thrived. We SAVED them on more than one occasion.

        The elites can NEVER forgive us for doing that.

        1. Not only saved them, conquered them. With Mickey Mouse and Mickey D’s.

          Which is a bit embarrassing, if you think about it. Perhaps if we had used steak and potatoes…

          1. I think the cultural conquering they could live with. They’re still the ones calling the shots, even if the hoi polloi are eating Big Macs. But the fact that they know that they should be grateful to us rankles. The fact that we had to cross the vast Atlantic Ocean – TWICE! – to do what they could not and save the sorry hides of them and their ancestors eats away at them. The fact that even after saving them twice, we were still willing to expend vast quantities of our treasure to safeguard them against the Bear is another source of anger. They know that they should have been able to do it on their own. You see it every now and again with the announcements about forming joint European military groups. They know that they ought to be responsible for themselves. But they’re incapable of that. And it eats away at them, and makes them envious of American power and strength.

            1. I think there were/are those who felt that the Soviet system was superior (imagining that they would be with the Nomenklatura rather than up against the wall, mother…) and that the USA should spend treasure in Europe, but shouldn’t actually *do* anything.

            2. It’s high time we stopped embarrassing them like that, and left them to the mercies of the next conqueror to sweep through their lands.

              /sarc (or is it?)

              1. Have to? Nah. We could let them fight their European wars as Europeans. Keep the scale small, and all that.

                Do it anyway? Probably will, because we weren’t smart enough to dissolve NATO when the USSR collapsed.

          2. Related (sort of): Went to an A&W (root beer and burger stand) at the Okinawa airport this morning. Place was packed. I have never seen an “American” fast food place outside the US NOT packed (sometimes not as heavily, in Britain during off hours mostly).

            Friendship Day, when they open the base to visitors and sell American food? RIDICULOUS.
            We still get protestors at the gates, sometimes, too. Used to get them in Spain, as well. Never too many. The big protests you see? They’re rarely places where Americans actually congregate.

            1. Wow. There are still A&W stands around? I think I’ve seen exactly one, and that was decades ago. I wonder if it’s legitimate, or a “borrowed” name?

              Fortunately, A&W root beer has never been difficult to get elsewhere.

              1. Last one I knew of was in Mountanview CA, that was 1989/1990. They were never big on the East Coast. Decent Hamburgs although they put Mayonaise on them that doesn’t really suit me…

                1. I recall one in Naples (or was it Venice?) Florida in the late Sixties, but I gather the town has seen significant growth in the intervening decades and the franchise might have been dropped.

                  There was one in the town where I grew up came of age, Huntington W. Va., that was still there (and looked to have expanded at its 16th St. location) when I returned for internment of my parents’ remains almost four years ago. I recall their draft root beer being far superior to the bottled variety.

                  1. RES my mother in law lived in Naples in the 2000’s. I’m not sure if anything so declasse as mass market burger joint would be permitted in Naples, and even if it were its not the kind of place my mother in law would frequent so I have no clue if it remains.

                    1. I meant to insert an identifier there, so my apologies. Sarasota was the nearest major city, about a half hour or so off. Whichever city (apparently, Venice) I was in (memories suppressed as best I can) was notable for being winter home of Ringling Bros Barnum & Bailey … although my strongest memories are of discovering the town library had an excellent SF/F collection, boasting (presumably donated) numbered & signed first editions of Doc. Smith’s Lensmen books. I’ve often wondered what happened to those …

              2. Not common, but out there. It’s just another burger chain now, not like the ones I saw in California in the 1960s.

                [pauses] I keep having to remember that “the 1960s” is more than half a century ago, and things can change a lot…

            2. Now you have me missing the packs of preschoolers being walked to the park, where one would be “rude” enough to say good morning and the second an American responded, especially if they smiled and attempted Japanese– oh, it was ON.

              25-50 adorable little kids, usually in matching rain-coats, chirping various mangled versions of good morning and looking so proud and happy. ❤ ❤ ❤


              Sasebo usually had protesters out front for the anniversaries of the nuking– three to five folks at least a decade too old to have been the folks who protested when my uncles hit port during Vietnam, in folding chairs with very neatly printed protest signs, who would be polite when you walked past and didn't block the crosswalk or anything.

              We had ONE standard style protest, which was about half definitely-not-Japanese kids led through the base housing by a big Swedish gal in her late 20s and her tiny German boyfriend.
              As I remember, the grown-up Japanese protesters seemed really embarrassed and actually refused to protest that day, lest they be confused with this chanting mob…..

    3. It is worth remembering that a primary impetus of George Washington’s rebellion was his treatment as a colonial officer during the French & Indian War, in which he suffered the indignity of disdain by those he considered in no way his superiors.

      1. I’ve long suspected that Washington, who spent much of the war on staffs, was running intelligence efforts. Just the sort of dirty, nasty work they would fob off on the Colonial…a Colonial who would NOT be offered a commission in the King’s Army when the war was over.

        A Colonial who turned out to have mastered the arts of intelligence and counterintelligence when they next crossed swords.

      2. A big chunk of the British officer corps essentially did a sit-down strike in the middle of WWII, over a New Zealand officer being put in charge of British troops. Oh HELL no! It got pretty acrimonious.

        The Sandhurst crowd were more interested in protecting their “Sandhurst privilege” than actually, you know, fighting a freaking war…

          1. There’s a reason why the first British general in the chain of command was under both Eisenhower and Marshall.

      3. in which he suffered the indignity of disdain by those he considered in no way his superiors.

        Sounds like a certain party that Trump attended years ago…

    4. Having a huge number of of people with those qualities wiped out during WWI certainly didn’t help.

  10. Sadly, the Progressives apparently think the city’s shine is due to Shinola and they don’t know from Shinola.

  11. I might have gotten it wrong because lately I’ve been so brainfoggy that I don’t know if I have a good idea or not. (Yes, I learned that I go off-track when I am in this brain mode easily.) Anyway, I wonder if the coronavirus is our Black Plague. I wonder about it because of the anxiety I feel about it… yep feelz. I didn’t have the same warning feelings about SARS.

    Still if it is a plague I wonder how many of the “elites” will dodge the Virus bullet. If they didn’t , would it change our country? Too many ifs here.

    1. It isn’t that feelz are wrong, it is that they are in themselves generally insufficient basis for action. They are a cause for investigation and prod to analysis except when circumstances (see: dark alleys of the night) demand immediate response.

      1. Thanks. And yes, a bout the dark alleys of the night— have had feelings there and dodged a bullet. Heard later that a rapist liked that particular alley.

    2. I have to wonder also.
      There’s hells bells at the back of my head. It’s either plague or the boog. But locusts are also running mad in Asia and Africa, so….

      1. I’ve been suspicious of my “feels” for the last couple of years (with good reason, I might add). But there’s been a number of odd things (that I – for the most part – haven’t instigated) coming together “just right” over the last few months. That’s not to say that my personal situation has noticeably improved. Most of the things that have happened are unrelated to that. But if weirdness breaks out this year, I wouldn’t be totally surprised.

      2. I think it was Insty who recommended stocking up on garlic and butter for when the frogs came…

        We’re reviewing food stocks and are planning/purchasing some useful items. Note to self, get some more rifle ammunition. .30-30 as well as .30-’06.

          1. As they tend to age out and (I gather) become rather rambunctious, might I suggest draining the blood from one and storing it in the freezer for later use?

            1. RES I don’t know if that counts… Or there are chemicals used to prevent/limit coagulation though Exodus is silent on this :-). Hopefully we won’t be quite as stupid/stubborn as the Egyptians. Anyone know if a plethora of Bloomberg adds counts as a plague? Even with New Hampshire primaries over the darn things are still here. I wonder if its because Massachusetts and Maine are in Super Tuesday? Mans clearly got more money than brains.

          2. I had someone who understands the law explain it to me, and weirdly, there are no first borns in this family.
            Only counts normal vaginal delivery 😀 Our first born was caeserean. Dan and I are third and second children repeatedly.
            So…. that helps. 😀

  12. “All we have is our Constitution, our history, and the certainty that free men, acting in their individual best interests have almost eliminated poverty and created — for all its flaws — the fairest and most accepting society Earth has ever seen.

    All we have against the lies of old is our shining city upon a hill, which cannot be torn down, because even if occluded by the chains of totalitarianism (it’s come close before) it lives on in the hearts of free men and women everywhere.”

    That, and a wheelbarrow. Why, I almost feel sorry for those bastards. Almost.

  13. Those ‘elites’ would purely hate a world in which everybody is rich. A world in which there is truly enough ‘stuff’ for all, without needing anybody to control what gets doled out to who.

    That’s why they’re trying to cripple industry and demonize capitalism, because that is the combination which has made middle-class Americans richer than medieval royalty.
    Ma Lemming: “If all your friends jumped off a cliff into the sea would you…oh…um…nevermind.”

  14. they never gave up on communism.

    It’s feudalism they never gave up on; communism is merely the step-stool they need to regain their proper place in the saddle. Once they’re there you can be sure the functionality will be feudalism no matter what label they stamp on it. It will be their kids processing through the “better” schools and their grandkids getting the proper connections for the better appointments.

    If only they could do something to stem all this damned social mobility resulting from a dynamic economy!

  15. This ties into an RPG setting-design-meta thingie I’m trying to nail down. I want to be able to talk about the tendency for people who manage to succeed (particularly those who do so by cheating in some way) to form a noble class to preserve their families’ (or clans, or tribes, or what-have-you) privileges over the common masses. Because while the path changes, the end result of an unaccountable hereditary elite doesn’t change.

    (For example: Privileged elites in the US securing Ivy League entry for their children via alumni status, where they can network with other offspring of the elite class. Likewise how damned difficult it is to fire federal bureaucrats, thanks to the traitors who passed the Pendleton Act and got _that_ ball rolling.)

    I don’t want to use ‘noble’ as the term, because this obviously encompasses far more than medieval European feudalism. Nor do I want to use ‘elite’, because adventurers who succeed at the perilous ventures that the RPG is supposed to focus on will become larger than life and thus rather more elite-in-truth than the privileged class.

    Doing a synonym search led me to ‘swank’ as the best alternative that I’ve been able to find. It’s derogatory, easily employed as a noun, and nods to the conspicuous consumption that privileged classes almost universally engage in. I’m not entirely comfortable with it, but I haven’t found a word that better grasps the essential hollowness and facade of members of privileged classes.

    Plus, I can use it for meta discussions without encouraging the thought that _this_ particular version of the privileged classes are bad, but that _other_ version would do it ‘right’.

    Does anyone know a word that works better?


    1. How about clerisy? I know a few online commentators who use it as a more accurate term for the self-styled elites.

    2. Perhaps the “Quality” I was reminded of that usage by a Craig Alanson audiobook last week.

  16. With stars in their eyes our “superiors” see the idea of ruling the world and having no one to control them.

    Which is why Harvey Weinstein is the embodiment of the ruling class, letting fall tidbits from their dining tables confident those they deem dogs will fight over their droppings rather than their proper place at the table.

  17. It’s worth remembering that the upper levels of the Federal Government are reserved for Those With The Right Connections. Mostly Ivy League types.

    One thing I’d be doing were I President…I will NOT nominate any Ivy League graduate to an office requiring Senate confirmation. Time for a New Nomenklatura…the current crop is incompetent.

    1. More than 50 years ago, Peter Drucker…himself born and educated in Europe…warned Americana about the danger of setting up a few “elite” universities as filters for important positions:

      “One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…”

      “It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the strength of American higher education lies in this absence of schools for leaders and schools for followers. It is almost impossible to explain to a European that the engineer with a degree from North Idaho A. and M. is an engineer and not a draftsman. Yet this is the flexibility Europe needs in order to overcome the brain drain and to close the technology gap.”

      In the half century since Drucker wrote the above, American society has come lot closer to accepting Harvard Law School (for example) as a Grande Ecole and accepting that its graduates should have a preferential position over others.

      1. Oh, I saw a bit of the Grande Ecole from those who went to certain engineering schools (*cough* MIT & Stanford *cough*). On occasion, the reputation was warranted, but not always…

  18. “Even some of my fellow libertarians have started mouthing things like “most people don’t want liberty.” Oh, that’s not true. It’s that they’ve been told they can have liberty without responsibility.”

    Over the past several years I have, without any attempt at originality, expressed a similar thought this way:

    Responsibility and accountability are two absolute requirements for freedom. They are also two things that produce an unacceptable level of psychological discomfort for many people. And yet, people still like the idea of freedom. This leads me to two conclusions. First, to avoid the psychological discomfort of responsibility and accountability, many people will do anything they can to avoid being free. Second, if you can convince a man he is free when he is not, he will allow you to do anything you wish to him.

    1. Freedom and responsibility are two sides of the same coin. Can’t really have one without the other. When you try to separate them, chaos ensues. Always, far as I can tell.

      Freedom is a difficult thing to have hold of. If you’ve got it, I mean really got it, there’s no lying to yourself. Actions taken freely you are responsible for. And anything you take responsibility for is an action freely taken. But the word itself has been abused mightily over the years.

      “Free” things that are no such thing. Healthcare. College. Sometimes referred to as “rights” as well. Its pure foolishness. Rights are a different animal. They’re not given by government- government *recognizes* their existence, they don’t conjure them from the ether like Athena from Zeus’s forehead. Were you dropped nekkid into a virgin forest, you’d still have the right to defend yourself. The right to pursue happiness. That sort of thing. Not the right to another man’s labors- for that would be slavery.

      Freedom and “free” things are nigh on to polar opposites. There is no freedom in free health care. One is free to buy insurance or not (or bloody well ought to be), but the responsiblity remains either way. And accepting responsibility in general is another way to say becoming an adult.

      Accepting responsibility also involves accepting *consequences.* Slightly different, but very close to the same idea. Consequence can be very bad, if you chose poorly (choice is in its essence freedom), or good if your preparations were adequate.

      Given the response to the last presidential election, I’d say that its clear what I think of the general reaction of the media and the democrats, to what extent there is any distinction between the two these days. Should they decide to grow up any time soon it will be evident in their actions- and reactions, more like.

      Being free, accepting responsibility can be addicting, too. Is it any wonder teenagers act out? They want freedom, but rightly fear responsibility. Often enough they fear failure simply because they’ve never been allowed to “fail” at anything. They’ve been robbed of the opportunity to learn and grow from it when it would do them the most good. I pity them for that.

      But for grown *ssed men and women, no longer the children they act like sometimes, my sympathies are nonexistant unless and until I see evidence they are willing to not just learn from their mistakes, but even admit they exist in the first place.

      One can deny that responsibility and freedom exist in a given situation, but that is all too often false. They don’t want the responsibility, as you said, so the freedom has to go with it. Is it any wonder they flee to the beautiful fiction confections of socialism? I can understand the desire, but not excuse it.

      1. I’ve been watching the back episodes of Krypton, and counted no less than six times a character, confronted with their blatant betrayals, claimed “I had no choice”

        That excuse is BULLSHIT!! Everybody always has choices. Everything you do, or fail to do, is a choice. No matter how much some of the alternatives may suck, the choice is always yours, as is all responsibility (or guilt) for the consequences.

        Leftists do everything they can to evade acknowledging choice and responsibility.
        No matter how much it sucks, you can’t fire the government.

    2. “Free Agency” is an important idea in LDS theology – i.e. that God has given everyone on Earth free will. At church, when the topic comes up, I’ve often expressed the opinion that Free Agency is quite literally the right to suffer the consequences for screwing up. That’s perhaps a bit flippant given how much has and can be said on the topic. But it gets to an important element of freedom, imo. You make your choices, but you also suffer the consequences of your actions (unless someone else voluntarily mitigates those consequences for you *cough*).

  19. you and I who’ve rounded the corner of fifty will almost surely not see even the edge of victory on this

    Try hardly seeing that corner in the rear view… Went past six decades a bit after 4 AM this morning.

    I find that I get LESS patient with age…

    1. Happiest of birthdays and commiserations ‘pon the occasion. I think the less patience is more a feature than a bug. I’m already good and tired of the same sad, discredited leftist arguments being trotted out like soiled children’s clothes on a Sunday morning.

    2. Happy Birth Anniversary!

      As I approach my 6th decade I more and more understand why old men can be so dangerous:

      They don’t care about what you think about them, they hurt and ache on a daily basis so a little extra pain isn’t a huge threat, they know all of the dirty tricks. They don’t have time for nonsense, so they won’t fight you, they’ll just kill you and move on.

      1. You got that right. And we have learned the sweet savor of outliving fools and bs artists.

      2. Also they NEVER fight FAIR. They learned long ago the THEIR enemies don’t deserve FAIR, not even close.

  20. This is something I’ve said for a long time-at some point, people want what is kind-of-offered in a Feudal systems. There’s a clear chain of authority and responsibility and it all works perfect so that even if there’s in the middle or at the bottom, they know that the People Above are doing their part.

    The problem is, absolute human perfection is rarer than a five leaf clover (without genetic engineering) and apes are always going to push limits. And push them badly.

    So, your system has to deal with the fact that occasionally hairless apes are going to hairless ape badly and you need to get rid of the bad hairless ape without the whole blood and fire and mass death thing.

    The hairless apes on top, for the most part, don’t want this, because if they have to respect limits, they can’t break the limits badly and not get away with it. Which is bad for hairless apes.

    That is where the comedy comes in.

  21. This is because the larger the centralized entity, and the wealthier, the less accountability it has.

    Thus Brexit, and the resultant meltdown with the Labour party in Britain. I am still enjoying the salt. Hoping that this will bleed over to Australia.

  22. “The alpha male who rules over the band is, after all, a fixture of ape bands. It’s that “made on an ape frame” again.”

    And, for that matter, a staple of animal social structures… in captivity. From what I’ve seen, modern research suggests that the designation of “alpha”, “beta” etc. for animal specimens or couples seems to only apply to animals in captivity, primarily zoos. That is, artificial environments, with the key feature that the animal packs aren’t responsible for their own well-being. In a zoo, and some reservations, there are no external threats for the “alpha” to defend the pack against, nor a particular need for natural hunting and food gathering abilities. Their “alpha” nature only makes them strong enough to fight for the best bites… that their human handlers have provided.

    To contrast, in the wild, most animal packs are comprised of extended families, with the leader the patriarch (or matriarch, for elephants, hyenas etc.), where the overt aggression ascribed to “alpha” behavior is more often useless and counter-productive. Any scuffle outside mating rituals is best avoided, lest it result in nasty and quickly infected wounds that can end the career of any aspiring “alpha”, who believes that brute force can substitute actual survival and management skill.

    The same rules apply in politics. Socialist and late-stage-aristocratic systems rely on the notion that the elite don’t actually need to provide resources themselves. Even indirectly, in the form of company management. And yet, instead, that they have the right to unilaterally determine how these resources are spent, invariably by force – whether physical or social. Conversely, and sadly, a lot of people downstairs also seem to gravitate toward this ideal, preferring the illusion of certainty provided by a nanny state, rather than the risks and rewards of a free market. (In animals, I guess that attitude matches what’s called neoteny, exhibited by housepets – animals specifically bred for traits such as obedience and dependence on their owner.)

    All in all, socialism is a system that can only survive by draining the resources provided by other systems. (And as the Iron Lady once said, eventually you just run out of other people’s money.) And it collapses not so much by external pressure, as merely if, and when, it has to provide for itself… So yeah, kinda like your average liberal arts post-grad, who’s only means of opposing capitalists is undercooking their fries.

    1. There’s plenty of ape dominance behavior in the wild. Biologists have found bands where you can reliably predict the order in which the females get pregnant — strictly status. Captivity exaggerates it.

      (Now, wolves, it appears that the “alpha” in reality means “mommy and daddy” — a normal pack has only them and juvenile wolves that leave when they grow up — so the zoos force them into unnatural configurations by caging adults together.)

      1. Now, wolves, it appears that the “alpha” in reality means “mommy and daddy” — a normal pack has only them and juvenile wolves that leave when they grow up — so the zoos force them into unnatural configurations by caging adults together.)

        The ones in Washington are still hanging out mostly together– countering that example, we’re not supposed to know that they’re released wolves, but they were definitely kept in captivity for a while, and possibly raised there.
        On the other other side, it may have to do with what size prey they’ve got to deal with, and how hard it is to get; during the summer they spread out, and in winter tend to pack up.

        Although there are some solo ones that scare the piss out of me, like the one that left a paw print the size of my hand at my folks’ back door. Might be a half-wolf, at that, the only dogs folks can leave out in Okanogan these days are the big ones.

        1. “Now, wolves, it appears that the “alpha” in reality means “mommy and daddy” — a normal pack has only them and juvenile wolves that leave when they grow up — so the zoos force them into unnatural configurations by caging adults together.)

          The ones in Washington are still hanging out mostly together– countering that example, we’re not supposed to know that they’re released wolves, but they were definitely kept in captivity for a while, and possibly raised there.”

          Yellowstone. Wolf pack were brought down from Canada. A version of the Gray Wolf who knew how to cooperate to bring down large prey. They’d hunted Elk & Moose. Shared environments with both Black Bears, Grizzlies, Cougars, & the other smaller cats. Confined for a period to “acclimate” to the back country & new territory provide, then allowed to spread. Supposedly that is where the Washington, Idaho, Oregon, wolves are coming from. Along with Canadian wolves have been spreading south & commingling with dispersing packs. Heck even the famous wolf who made his way into N. CA, & back to southern Oregon Cascades found a mate in that area. Question is, where did she come from? Is it possible that someone has been quietly moving wild wolves into other areas? Probably. Is the observed behavior different because of the size of the prey, the more abundance of the larger prey, or is it brace the power of and .

          As the wolves are dispersing, their packs are differing. For example the Southern Oregon pack has been mostly mom & dad with the adolescent prior year surviving pups & new pups. Wolf version of kids not moving away from home as soon as possible. OTOH Yellowstone the packs are made up multiple pairs of mom & dad banding together to protect & feed multiple litters produced. Banding together to protect against the other large predators. Banding together to take down the large prey, elk, moose, and bison (which then grizzlies have been know to take away, despite the larger pack sizes). Bands don’t stay consistent. There are regular disbursements & recombining of non-mated members of packs. There are also adverse conflicts between the packs, but you’d be surprised how often it involves dysfunctional family conflict. Hunting outside of the park has an adverse effect on the packs social structure, at least for a time, when better experienced wolves are harvested.

          I don’t follow the Yellowstone wolves close enough to cite specific examples, just generalities. I do read what comes available, regularly.

          1. With the Okanogan pack, you can follow the reports of missing dogs, calves, sheep, goats, even a few cows, starting in the spring after they finished a very hush-hush study about if the Okanogan Valley was good for wolves.

            How do I know it’s hush-hush? Because try as we might, nobody I know can find any information on it.

            How do I know it happened? Because my mom will talk to a fencepost if you put a hat on it, and they visited with the nice lady biologist who was doing part of it when they’d ride through her camp, and more than once met up with the Forest Service visiting her.

            1. I know Okanogan valley is surrounded by mountains. I’m surprised they’d relocate a pack in the valley. Surrounding mountains, along the border, yes; but not the actual valley.

              Surprised they haven’t suggested Willamette Valley, or at least the Cascades to the East & Coastal National Forests. There is the pack in southern Cascades, & NE corner in Willowa Whitman/Blue Mountain Ranges, which are dispersed from the Yellowstone & Idaho relocated packs.

              Locally, outside the direct urban areas, small animals aren’t as safe, nor are sheep & calves. Coyotes & cougars are the local predators. With the Eagle & larger Owls being known to take small dogs & cats. If you live near the rivers, Eagles are a problem for smaller pets too. Although the ducks, geese, nutria, feral domestic rabbits, & turkeys, are readily available & plentiful. I have cousins who employ multiple livestock guardian dogs. Other farmers are known to employ Llamas with the guardian dogs in their sheep flocks.

              1. The tourist-promotion Okanogan valley (the specific crack in the mountain where the USA cities of Okanogan and Omak are) isn’t the same as what the forest maps show as the Okanogan valley– no idea which one has a better claim on authenticity– if you open up something like Bing maps and switch to air view, you can see the brownish area that shades into green before it hits the Okanogan National Forest.

                I THINK the first one is the one they currently call the Loup Loup Pack; that set of turns is basically directly west of Okanogan on a map.

                Currently five packs, they claim right now; I don’t know if they got rid of that one that treed the poor college kid… last year? Year before?


              2. Coyotes & cougars are the local predators. With the Eagle & larger Owls being known to take small dogs & cats. If you live near the rivers, Eagles are a problem for smaller pets too.

                It was abrupt and extremely dramatic. Like 35-50 pound dogs vanishing, all of the cats being wiped out, and we went from it being a big deal if we lost one calf to it appearing to be an organized rustling ring.

                And most of the coyotes either moved into town or died; there’s one or two little groups left, but they act like the coyotes that other folks here have talked about– as bad as feral dogs.

        2. Is it possible that someone has been quietly moving wild wolves into other areas?

          It’s also possible that the wolves were never as completely eradicated as Fish&Game and the environmentalists claimed.

          But it used to be that they had to be sneakier, in order to not get dead.

          1. In some areas, yes; in others…well, folks noticed that every single wolf is collared.

            You put a radio collar on a wolf that was caught killing animals or stalking humans.

            1. They kept it really quiet. I do read what is available. I also think there is something to some populations hiding out, so to speak. But it is going to be in areas where the packs can absolutely hide. A farming valley where suddenly it is obvious there is predatory activity? Where there has been no recent activity? Uh, no. Something has upset the dynamics. Easiest bet to lay is reintroduction.

                1. Most the article is what I remember for Yellowstone/Teton ecology introduction of wolves, with the exception of the bit about other canines, bears, & smaller predators. In Yellowstone the official line is coyotes are the only species negatively impacted by the reintroduction. Essentially “Coyotes are no longer the top dog.” But fox, bobcats, lynx, bears, even cougars, are benefiting from the leftovers that remain behind from wolf kills or are “stolen” from wolves.

              1. I think we’re in violent agreement to the basic tune of “importing a bunch of big predators was a really dumb idea that probably screwed things up”?

                1. Yes. We are in agreement. Difference is I get to see it from further afar.

                  I never have agreed with importing. OTOH recolonization should have been allowed from the smaller variety that have hidden in the harder to reach mountain ranges straddling the western reaches of the Canadian/US border. The Canadian variety imported, are bigger, due to the ranges they were imported from.

                  1. Yep.

                    The natives were causing so little trouble that the officials insisted they didn’t exist, clearly they were doing something right.

      2. My reference was indeed to studies of wolves rather than apes, so I reckon some wiggle room between species is to be expected. I’m most interested in the various levels of discrepancy between survival/hunting/foraging skills, and social dominance for its own sake. For that matter, apparently, an “alpha” can be still ostracised and even killed by his former underlings, as seen in the “Foudouko” case in Senegal.

        The bottom line, as I guess is in the IBM case below, is that when the social hierarchy in a system is not based on actual provision of resources, but on social dominance as a skill in itself, the whole system invariably descends into infighting, with the “elites” being merely the last parties left scrambling over a shrinking pie. Or, alternatively, when the “commoners” realize they find neither use nor threat in the face of the elites altogether… as a certain fledgling nation demonstrated some two hundred and fifty years ago.

    2. Interesting comment. re “socialist and late-stage-aristocratic systems”…when Lou Gerstner took over IBM in 1993, he was struck by the degree to which people were far more emotionally involved in conflicts with other people in the same company than they were in battles against external competitors.

      Now, there is some of this in every organization. But Gerstner was a very experienced executive, and evidently what he was seeing was of a whole different level from what he had seen in other companies.

      1. IBM was a company with a notably tightly rigorous behavioural code. It is not hard to anticipate battles over small differences would dominate — particularly in the face of a (perceived) absence of serious external competitors.

    3. *Waggles hand*

      100% true for the mythological “alpha” so beloved of the internet and pop psychology to enable bad behavior.

      But the wild animals do display the original Alpha behavior– and they are definitely brutal, but it’s in an animal way. The classic “knock the weakest chick out of the nest so the rest survive” stuff.

      Zoos are a high stress environment, though, and the alphas aren’t doing the previous be-effective-hunters thing that they do in the wild. (Pumped up version of mommy dragging the kill home to her kittens.)
      Animals under stress tend to turn it up to 11, so…..

    4. Any scuffle outside mating rituals is best avoided, lest it result in nasty and quickly infected wounds that can end the career of any aspiring “alpha”

      Unless one assumes that victors in such conflicts routinely emerge unscathed, those wounds can cost the “collective” (pack, herd, coven, whatev) the services of two of its strongest members. That seems an evolutionarily contrary consequence. It is a noticeable component of most such interdependent collective groups that rituals exist for dominance and submission games that avoid actual extended combat, e.g., “showing the belly.”

      Even animals as solitary as bears have their tree-marking games to avoid needless combat. While size is not necessarily determinant of victory (speed and agility certainly confer some benefits, although I’m now stuck with a Far Side cartoon of two boxing bears, the smaller standing victorious and declaring, “I blinded him with science.”) size is assuredly the way to bet.

      1. “…rituals exist for dominance and submission games that avoid actual extended combat…”

        Exactly. In the wild, any real fight may result in harmful consequences for either or both parties, regardless of the winner. Hence, overt aggression is avoided in favor of ritualized scuffles and displays of dominance and submission. To contrast, in captivity, both food and medical care are usually readily available, meaning inter-group aggression is all but encouraged. It’s basically prison culture in a nutshell… Which is also an apt description of socialist states, them being the only countries in history to build walls to keep people in, rather than out.

        That said, something does bug me about the modern socialist spiel, compared to the one in my own Balkan experience. Something doesn’t add up here. In what I might call Eastern socialist rhetoric, there was an all but abject veneration of the rural blue-collar working class, of the police and military as honorable organizations serving the public, of heavy industry as the means to raise the living standard of the masses To contrast, modern lefties have nothing but contempt for anyone doing manual labor, believe that cops and soldiers are all but inherently oppressive, and show a fanatical hatred of heavy manufacturing companies.

        Now, I’m pretty sure the reason for this is that, in the former case, the socialist government already had full control of the groups it lionized. But still, I don’t think modern liberals can ever hope to gain control without showing some deference, some modicum of respect for the economic staples of society. Instead, all these groups are predominantly conservative in the Western world.

        In short, from where I stand, the groups most critical for enacting socialism right now, are also the groups least likely to embrace it, and most despised by the people calling themselves socialists. Why that is, I don’t presume to say. Something smells foul, to be sure, but perhaps the better question is where that smell comes from…

        1. Long story short?

          They’re idiots. Essentially, they think that the fact that there hasn’t been a coup d’etat launched against them means that when they eventually order the soldiers and cops to oppress their friends and neighbors that the former will do so.

        2. “Elites” all the want to be Socialist are from the “Elites”. They are so ignorant that they never knew where the Socialist TROOPS came from, the lowest level cannon fodder for the Socialist Revolution. The “Elites” see themselves as getting Socialism handed to them in the voting booth, then all the tools of authority falling under THEIR control and willingly doing whatever they are ordered. When they WIN the VOTE, they can do what they want without any real resistance. After all the Republicans, gun-nuts, etc. have NEVER been violent therefore they will never be violent.

          The “Elites” don’t believe that they need the lower classes. The lower classes will fall in line and the current police and military will follow orders. After all the police and military are just unthinking brutes doing what they are ordered. Why else would they be in such jobs if they could do ANYTHING else.

        3. The attitude toward law enforcement and the military is normal among socialists and communists. Said attitude depends entirely on who is wielding the whip. If law enforcement is controlled by a non-communist government, then it’s the enemy. Once the communists seize power, law enforcement is essentially a puppet of the State (and any members who object are dealt with). The military is fed a steady diet of propaganda (often by political officers), hopefully guaranteeing its loyalty to the State (since states with a disloyal military don’t last long), meaning that it can now be safely honored by the true believers.

      2. “Even animals as solitary as bears have their tree-marking games to avoid needless combat. While size is not necessarily determinant of victory (speed and agility certainly confer some benefits, although I’m now stuck with a Far Side cartoon of two boxing bears, the smaller standing victorious and declaring, “I blinded him with science.”) size is assuredly the way to bet.”

        Interestingly enough there was one trail cam that caught the “interchange” between a big boar & a smaller one. The big boar had reached up & marked a tree. Smaller bear came along later, climbed up above where the larger bear had marked, marked the tree there. Larger bear came back, couldn’t mark above where the smaller bear had climbed, larger bear beat feet to find new territory.

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