Knowledge and Culture


I had no idea what to call this post.  Calling it “if you go to the past take wipes” seemed a little over the top. Also didn’t fit on that line.

Mind you, I’d advise the same if you go traveling, even not in a time of Kung-flu. But that’s because I grew up elsewhere, and I’ve traveled.

In a previous post, I mentioned that when the American left started screaming that the right was accusing Chinese of the “stereotype” of being dirty, I was flabbergasted.  I often don’t get American stereotypes at all, often leading to really weird situations, where someone assumes I’m judging them by stereotype, while I have no clue what I’m talking about, not even a little bit.

I think certain stereotypes and taboos you have to be a toddler in the country to imbibe.  Or at least live with someone who isn’t a mathematician and whom — sometimes — you have to inform of the assumptions built into his own culture, because he was too busy daydreaming about numbers to notice something as silly as people.

But the dirty thing? We actually asked all our friends, and they all looked back at us wide-eyed and said something like “WHAT?”

Turns out, apparently, that yep, Chinese culture isn’t up there on the personal cleanliness scale. Which shocked me, since Japanese and Koreans are. (One of my closest friends as an exchange student was Japanese, and we had friends from Korea at one time.) And the Chinese family we knew very well when we lived in Manitou was as clean as anyone else.  Of course, they were from Hong Kong.

The insanity, on the part of the left, of course, is not that they “fight the stereotype” (see above, not all Chinese have issues with cleanliness and individuals should be judged as individuals) but that they demand we not speak about it, because it’s cultural. And if you say anything bad about a culture, you’re “racist.”

These later-day heirs of Hitler seem incapable of understanding that culture isn’t born with the person, it’s something acquired. Which means to change a culture you don’t need to kill everyone who carries the same genes, you just need to make enough impact on two or three generations.

I was going to say it was one of the mysteries of the left that they could believe this, while at the same insisting on social engineering to change us into the perfect, communist race. Then I realized, no. That belief has been bought into coherency.

You see, for four generations, they’ve controlled the education system, and more importantly the arts, entertainment and reporting system, and yet they haven’t managed to make us all into ardent communists, and their perfect subjects.  Which is why they hate us, with a burning a passion. And why they’ve gone on their deranged, racist campaign to eradicate “whiteness” which they blame for their defeat.

Dear Lord, in the 21st century, with history and anthropology proving this insane, these arrant idiots believe that cultural characteristics are inborn in people. Of course, they also believe that “capitalism” is kind of an evil curse that descended on civilization along with its twin “patriarchy” instead of getting that TRADING is natural in humans (maybe some apes, too. We’ve had indications) and that patriarchy is just what happens in the wild, when one sex is much larger than the other. Because someone has to protect the pregnant women and the children from the wild animals, and barring moral precepts to curb it, force is addictive.

If one of you invents a time machine, go back in the past and strangle Rousseau with his swaddling clothes.  But if you go, take wipes. Because the past is filthy. Not by their lights, but by ours.

Which brings us back to China, cleanliness, culture.  None of which have nothing to do with race, because I don’t care where your ancestors came from, the past is filthy.

You see, you can influence a culture, but usually not the way you mean to — hence the left’s increasingly enraged frustration at their ability to “engineer” society — and it takes a long time. The other thing it takes is the “benefits” of the change you’re trying to make showing up, and making the new generation SURE that something is worth it.

This is where the left has failed, btw. The erroneous model of society as a mechanism that the industrial age brought us, made them think that it was best to have a “central manager” and also that they could change the machine, replacing “pieces” at will. And elementary schools when they went universal (where I came from that was the forties. I think it was earlier here) gave them the illusion it could work.

There are certain things you can teach kids: ways of talking, of presenting themselves, of counting change, of memorizing train schedules (well, we DID. It was required to pass fourth grade. I invite you to imagine what kind of hell that was for the dyslexic kid who inverts numbers) that work, in the very short term for that person. They also give the kid a sense of superiority over his/her parents, those backward fools.  This is btw, how first-generation communist take overs get the very small kids to tattle-tale on their parents, those backwards enemies of the state.

But the thing is, those are small things, and mostly things you do in public, okay? And they pay off for the person immediately. It often, however, doesn’t pay in the long run, and when the kids grow up, if they see what they were taught was a lie, they will turn. Boy, will they turn. Which is how the left keeps losing generations.

Anyway, let’s suppose it’s something real you’re trying to teach the kids.  In my mom’s childhood, Portugal had undertaken a massive campaign to curb rampant TB.  So, people could get arrested for being barefoot in public.  This is because everyone SPIT in public. Just on the street.

It didn’t work, because like most laws it didn’t take in account that what it was legislating might be impossible. You see, most people couldn’t afford shoes. Not as often as they’d wear out from being worn anywhere. So workers would carry their shoes and put them on when they saw the police or — the more sophisticated — wear a shoe at a time, carry the other one, and claim the other one hurt their foot.

By the time mom told me these stories, they were weird, because in my generation everyone wore shoes.  You see, if you had money for shoes you wore them, because you’d seen the benefits, to wit: you got sick less.  Mind you, I think all of us lived in rubber flip flops in summer.  ( I spent a ton of time trying to fix ones that broke, too, and I wasn’t unusual.)

The change, a minor one, “wear shoes in public” (the North of Portugal has a climate reminiscent of London) took hold as long as there was a reason and it was feasible. It only took two generations.

Other changes had clearly taken/have taken longer. Look, Portugal is not cut off from mainstream Western knowledge. We knew the germ theory of illness. It’s just that it’s not something you can SEE. By definition, bacteria aren’t visible.

So when I was a kid, my family which took a bath once a week (look, we had no running hot water. It was an endeavor) and washed hands, face, neck, arms and undercarriage every day were considered freakishly clean.  The clothes we changed once a week (except for underthings that got changed every day) were considered “almost too clean to wash” by our washerwoman.  TRUST ME, by our standards here and now, they were filthy.

People there, now, as far as I can tell, have American-style hygiene.  And yes, I know what you’re going to say, we might be too clean, hence all the immune and auto-immune issues. And maybe. But that’s not the point.

The point is that Portugal had known how disease was transmitted since the late nineteenth century, but it took internalizing the change — repeated generations of seeing the benefit — and far more affluence than our ancestors ever had to penetrate.

Because culture is a hive-mind, composed of the docile, the stubborn, and the medium.  And because a hive-mind, resistant to change UNLESS IT SEES THE BENEFITS. If you think of it as an autistic 2 year old, who wants to do things exactly the same way everyday, you won’t be far wrong.

And honestly, if it sees NO benefits? It won’t do it. No way, no how.

Now, my mom’s childhood friends died in droves from TB, from typhus, from other epidemic and endemic diseases that can be solved with scrupulous hygiene. But where and when she lived, they didn’t have the means to change the way they lived, even if they wanted to. You can legislate economic facts, just like you can legislate rain. What you can’t do is make the laws of nature obey you.

So, they lived as they always had and attributed illness to other things because…. what are you going to do?

I suspect to an extent that’s what is going on in China, btw. They are much wealthier than they were, but like all communist societies wealth is unequally distributed. Most peasants might be better off than when they were starving under the lash of Mao’s deranged rule, but they’re still desperately poor by Western standards.

Grandmother used to say “you don’t have to be rich to be clean.” It pains me to say it, but she was wrong. You either have to have a modicum of wealth, or spend your whole day battling grime. For instance, our house is decently clean and I work at it far less than she did. Usually a day a week will do it, because I don’t have to do it with brooms and brushes, I have a vacuum, which means I have electricity to support it (I don’t think grandma’s house electrical system could have taken it.) And I’ve long since learned the equation: trade money for time.  As in, I can buy effective cleaners, and make the cleaning really quick, or I can use cheap stuff, or make my own, and take…. forever. Which eats my life.

But for many people in China the trade is simply not available. Period. They don’t have enough money to do that.

So they live in an environment that makes them more tolerant of every day dirt, which means they don’t notice it. That’s the part where dirt enters the culture.  And they’re vast enough, they don’t see that other countries are cleaner or the benefits from it “they live longer and healthier lives.”

I’ve seen all these at close quarters as my generation (and possibly only my circles for all I know) was the first where the dime dropped in Portugal. Even though they’d known of bacteria since the late nineteenth century.

Heck, even here, the dime hasn’t fully dropped.  Don’t believe me? Lurk in a public restroom for a few hours sometimes. Many people do not wash their hands after using the bathroom. And, mind you, they’ve been told this since what…. birth?

Culture changes slowly. It doesn’t mean it’s genetic. It just means that new habits/ideas/ways of behaving take time to percolate through society, one collective neuron at a time. And that benefits must be obvious for it too work.

Also that culture — like a recalcitrant toddler — sometimes learns what you don’t want it to.  Lie to it enough — by forcing it to say things that contradict its lying eyes, for instance — and you’re going to hit a point where they simply will not believe you. Nor, for a while, anyone else trying to command them.  Which might be the point western culture has reached, honestly. It’s ten seconds from starting to run around screaming “I’ll never go to bed again.”  And considering the bed the left has been trying to put it to bed with a shovel, that’s actually a good sign, I think.

But this means even “good” changes dictated from above will have a higher barrier to cultural penetration. Which sometimes isn’t good.

To what extent did Mao’s madness (and the not so sanity of his successors) make it so the Chinese people don’t really care if they hear that “hygiene is essential” or — knowing the style of the PCR — You must cause a thousand flowers of cleanliness to bloom?

As for our left: the very fact they assume cleanliness or lack thereof is RACIAL means they’re completely off whatever rocker they ever had. It also makes them repulsive and mad eugenicists.  And it makes us less likely to listen to them — as a culture — or really to anyone, should we need to in the future.

Which is of course a problem, because cultures aren’t the most rational things around.

How do you counter it?  I don’t know. Ignore the left. Wash your hands. And don’t panic.  If you follow the prescriptions of the left and ignore the different cultures, you’ll panic, because, well “the kung flu will kill us all.”

It won’t. Our herd immunity is way higher. The kung flu might make us sick as dogs and cost us productivity as we drag around with a fever for six to eight weeks.

But this too shall pass.  Including the crazy, anti-human and racist ideas of the left.

Because like a not completely insane toddler, the culture might run around eating dead bugs, but will stop if they make it sick. And if its nanny keeps instructing it to eat dead bugs, sooner or later its’ going to stop listening to the nanny.

And that too is a good thing.










239 thoughts on “Knowledge and Culture

  1. I often don’t get American stereotypes at all

    Nobody really does. They are largely created ad hoc for the purpose of damning political/cultural opponents. Like accusations of racism their purpose is the silencing of enemies.

  2. I almost wonder if the Japanese and South Korean cleanliness focus now is similar to the way the Victorians went all out at it once they had enough resources to do so.

    I.e. Their forbearers grew up in the dirt and the muck, and now their rich and know that the muck kills you, so they’re bound and determined to sterilize everything to within an inch of its life, because they remember the muck and hate it with a burning passion.

    1. Could be; the Koreans were poor as dirt in the 1950s and still using human waste as fertilizer on both sides of the 38th parallel. The Japanese were better off that the Koreans (their colonials / slaves they won in war from the Russians) until they thought they could start a way with America and then convince the Americans to quit while they were losing; oops, thirty years too early.

      1. Oh, I can verify from first-hand that the Japanese and Koreans are fanatical clean freaks, from having been assigned to both countries – one for four years, the other for a year, and spent a lot of that time there out and about. Japan had marvelous public bathhouses everywhere, and as for Koreans … I spent many a crowded commute on public transport in Seoul, and I will testify that soap, water, toothpaste, deodorant and pleasantly-scented aftershave and perfumes were available and in use. (Plus, the city Koreans were the snappiest dressers on the face of the earth, save for perhaps Italians. Practically every city worker who wore a western suit looked like he or she came off the cover of GQ or Vogue.)

          1. Koreans don’t need body odor. Korean cuisine takes care of any necessary odoriferousness.

            1. The wife of my Operations Officer once woke up in a panic as she thought a Korean had broken into their quarters and was crawling into bed with her. Nope. The DO had gone out for dinner and drinking celebrating the promotion of one of his ROK counterparts. The smell of his breath as she was waking up is what set her off.

          2. It was my understanding that body odor is a result of bacteria, feeding on the sweat residue. That is why we get riper the longer we go without showering. I don’t see how genetics enters into that.

            1. The gene is apparently called ABCC11, and controls two things: whether your earwax is “wet” (sticky) or “dry” (flaky), and whether your sweat includes various smelly substances. Those may be the substances that feed the bacteria you mentioned, or they may be smelly on their own; I didn’t pursue my Wiki walk far enough to find out that detail. But the “wet” earwax + smelly sweat gene is dominant, while the “dry” earwax + odorless sweat is recessive.

              BTW, the Wikipedia “body odor” page (not linked so this doesn’t go to moderation) mentions that of the Korean participants in the study, who came from the city of Daegu, 100% had the recessive gene (two copies). While only 1.2% of the white Americans had the recessive gene, and 98.8% had at least one copy of the dominant gene.

                  1. The same gene controls both, and it’s not so much “completely free of odor” as it is “much reduced odor”. And of the Filipino people in the study that Wikipedia cites, 23% had the recessive gene, 48% had one copy of the dominant gene, and 29% had two copies of the dominant gene. Australians were not listed in the table, but since both white Americans and white Australians came from British genetic stock, the proportions are probably similar. So your husband probably has two copies of the dominant gene, which would mean all your kids would have a one dominant, one recessive combination and express the dominant phenotype.

                    Incidentally, this is one of the few things in humans that is controlled by a single base variation (adenine vs guanine) in one specific location of one single gene, so that classic Mendelian inheritance patterns are easily traced. Most things in humans are controlled by multiple genes, but this is one of the rare simple ones. Which is probably why it’s been so extensively studied.

                    1. Thinking about it a bit, I don’t really recall my mom smelling ‘sweaty’; if she did, it meant that she’d been sweating very, very hard and working harder than usual physically. I guess I might be the same…?

                      Fascinating stuff, really.

        1. +1 on the Koreans. Stationed there in the Mid-80’s. Other than smoking like chimneys, the Koreans I worked with were pretty fastidious in cleaning.

          However, at the time, the infrastructure (water and sewer) didn’t make it easy to keep clean when out on the economy. Getting used to squatting over a glorified drain in a restroom is something I never managed to accomplish.

          And I learned to not drink anything without alcohol or with ice in it when downtown.

          1. Some idiot on Twitter was saying squat toilets were cleaner because you didn’t TOUCH anything.
            Apparently missing the fact that people CAN’T AIM. And that the hole has no flush or s-curve and SMELLS.
            Most public toilets in Portugal were squat through the mid seventies. I plain didn’t use them. I once peed myself on the doormat, on my way back from elementary (had been holding it in all day) and no one even said “why were you holding it in that much.”
            Because of this I had RAGING UTIs on a regular basis, and probably damaged my kidneys before 20.

            1. My knees (especially the one lacking about half of the connective tissue) tremble at the idea of squatting for any reason, much less doing it over an open sewage trench..

              1. I can squat. Standing back up again, however, is more problematic. My body essentially screams “you want to do what?!?!?!” Getting older isn’t for sissies. So no. Just no.

      2. Human waste as fertilizer isn’t the problem. Human waste with pathogens in it for fertilizer is the problem. Dry it, cook it, and powder it, and it works just fine. But it does require energy to do it quickly.

        1. Not so in the US or so I understand. A number of years ago a company started processing human waste from a major city into dry “organic” fertilizer. They were required to clearly mark their product as for landscape and ornamental growth only, not for use on any food plants. Seems the key was an unacceptable percentage of heavy metals present which were uneconomical to remove and subject to transfer into the plants they fertilized.

          1. In the ’60s, Milwaukee (Wisconsin, not that upstart in Oregon) was selling Milorganite, a fertilizer derived from the sewage sludge as you mentioned.

            According to Wiki, they’ve had (and dealt with, according to them) the issues you’ve mentioned. Other interesting bioconcentrated organics show up, too, though the EPA is generally not involved. I *think* my Dad used it, largely because it was considerably less expensive than the major name brands.

            1. Some city near Seattle gives their treated waste plant stuff away for free– the biggest problem is that you get a lot of volunteer tomato plants, because their seeds survive the baking process.

  3. The insanity, on the part of the left, of course, is not that they “fight the stereotype” … but that they demand we not speak about it, because it’s cultural.

    Heh. Back in the Reagan Years there was an Indy comic book company whose editor, Cat Yronwode, was a stereotypical Liberal (yes, I recognize the irony of denying use of stereotypes while “denouncing” someone as a stereotypical Lib. You’d have to have read her responses on the letters pages to fully appreciate this.)

    In one issue she listed all the racist words she’d taught her kid to never use. I was amazed! here was I, a hard-core Reagan supporting conservative and thus preemptively racist and I didn’t recognize two-thirds of the list, and half the ones I did recognize were of the “Oh, I guess I’ve seen that used, maybe.” class. I considered copying out the list to have handy fr future use but decided it would be too much effort for a purpose I wouldn’t likely ever use.

    I concluded that most of the Left’s stereotype charges were of the dog whistle type — words that only they knew and attitudes which they projected onto their opponents.

    1. You forgot about their presumption of nastiness on our part. That’s what informs the “it’s OK if we do it!” attitude among them, and the inability to recognize their rampant hypocrisy.

      1. Presumption of our nastiness, presumption of their superiority — two faces of one coin.

        You want to enrage a Liberal just challenge their assumed virtuousness.

        1. Even worse to them, laugh at their assumed virtuousness. Challenging it accords it some possibility of being valid; laughing at it refuses it that possibility.

    2. I run through all the former cultural/ethnic epithets in class. The kids boggle. The idea that calling someone a ‘ski was once a fighting word . . . Or that “wop” is an insult? Totally off the wall to them.

      Times change.

      1. The fun one, imo, is explaining to people why the usual abbreviation for Japan is anti-semitic.

        1. Yeah, well, I don’t give a [squat]. I much prefer to personalize insults over categorical defamation. I love words and avidly collect them, but terms of group insult seem wholly worthless, so I delete them as expeditiously as possible.

          1. I find the ones that refer to ancient extinct peop!es of deplorable national character amusing, but YMMV.

            Thumbs up on the word collection. I live in dress of the da y the SJWs discover the O.E.D. And decide to make it DIE.

        2. *ponders* … oh “Jewish American Princess”?

          I think that one must be highly regional. I’ve only ever seen it in a magazine once.

            1. There are a whole series of jokes based on a stereotype, such as “How does a Jewish-American Princess prepare diner?” “She picks up the phone.”

              I vaguely recall one about how she says during sex, with a punch-line along the nature of “Don’t mess up my hair.”

              1. Foreplay for a man married to one; “please, please, please!!!!”

                Got lots of those jokes stored in my head. Also a fan of Joke books by Milton Berle and the like….

              2. What’s the most common thought going through the mind of a Jewish-American Princess while in the heat of passion in bed?
                Beige, I think we’ll paint the ceiling beige.

              3. I had a very dear friend in my first tour (she was my coach in childbirth) who was a self-described Jewish American Princess. She had a full collection of jokes on this vein – Like “What does a Jewish American Princess make for supper?” “Reservations!” “How many Jewish American Princesses does it take to change a light-bulb?” “What, and ruin my nails?!!”
                Marsh was to life, the title character in Private Benjamin. She wound up in the Army because when she went looking for employment with an interest in broadcasting — the military recruiter was the only one who didn’t suggest that the way to such employment involved a turn on the casting couch…

              4. I’ve heard that the stereotype may come from plastic surgery on noses, because mid-20th century techniques usually removed a cluster of receptors that were later discovered to be important for subconsciously recognizing the presence of trusted individuals. I.E. a woman who’d had the stereotypical ‘Jewish’ nose reshaped might not be able to benefit from a subconscious cue that she was around a man she trusted.

                IIRC, it was John Ringo who mentioned it on Baen’s Bar, talking about the kind of New York girl that you had to approach with diamonds _or else_ . . .


          1. Yeah, I think more of an east coast thing, and thus never in common use during my lifetime in the SF Bay Area.

            On the other hand the original abbreviation for Japanese was still in wide use by WWII vets, some very emphatic, during my school years (Note if you ever want to accidentally churn up heart-wrenchingly painful memories in a Pacific WWII US Army vet, bring up the liberation of Saipan. I’ve got karma points to work off for bringing up a subject that made a 90 year old guy cry.).

            As an expression of disdain for Japanese cars either fully explicated or with the acronym JSB, it was in active use until Japanese cars became universally better than the crap coming from Detroit.

            1. What’s funny to me on that is everyone talking about how much better the Japanese are at ‘designing’ cars.

              Technically? They are better at *engineering* cars. The design work for their cars is largely done in Southern CA nowadays, probably why they are more sized for ‘mericans now to(as a note: BMW Designworks has half their office in L.A., too…. a lot of this can be attributed to Art Center in Pasadena.

            2. Sadly, WWII vets of either theater are thin on the ground and fading fast.
              And any serious student of war crimes of that era will tell you that the Nazis were pikers in comparison to the evils perpetrated by the Japanese military against both enemy combatants and civilians.
              I’ve always been taken with the inside joke in the movie Back to the Future about the switch somewhere in the 80s when “Made in Japan” transitioned from a term of disparagement to one recognizing quality, first in the field of electronics, followed later by the auto industry and other areas of consumer goods.

              1. I recall some in the 1970’s referring to “Japanese junk” (and hearing tails of toy cars that when the fresher paint wore off, the beer can labelling showed) and “cheap plastic.” Sometime in the 1980’s $RELATIVE said, “Remember how it was ‘Japanese junk’ and now Japanese cars are considered some of the best? Watch (South) Korea, they’re about to do that, too.”

            3. I once purposely referred to a Scot as an Englishman.

              After waiting through the wall of invective, I told him to remember that next time he said “you Yanks…”

          2. It’s an older one. My understanding is that it was originally a term coined by the Jewish communities themselves as a positive term for their daughters, but was twisted by anti-semites.

          3. The first and almost only time I’ve heard it used was by Jewish guys from Chicagoland on my college dorm floor.

    3. Just lately, “OK”, “Asian”, and “Oriental” seem to have become hate-trigger-words.

      1. It never seems to occur to them that the hate being triggered is already within them. As Clint Eastwwod demonstrated in Gran Torino, friends can employ the same words as evidence of their love.

      2. The OK hand signal being a bad thing started out as a prank by 4chan. The progs fell for it, and then tried to justify it by caliming that white supremecists had started using it because they’d been fooled by 4chan. I hadn’t heard about the spoken version being a problem.

        Oriental is out because Asian is the accepted term. I’m not sure why Asian would be a problem, unless the progs have started to realize that people on the right are mocking them for treating Asians as a monolithic bloc.

      3. I’ll bet ‘Asian’ is verboten because of all the ‘Asian’ (i.e. Muslim and apparently usually Pakistani Muslim) grooming gangs being revealed over in Europe.


    4. Add in the ‘fact’ that many words are coded substitutions for slurs and it’s a wonder that anyone ever says anything. And maybe that’s the point . . .

  4. culture isn’t born with the person, it’s something acquired.

    Imbibed with Mothers’ Milk, as we were wont to say.

  5. in the 21st century, with history and anthropology proving this insane, these arrant idiots believe that cultural characteristics are inborn in people.

    How else to explain the failure of their propaganda?

    Like doomsday cultists, when their projected Ragnarok fails to arrive they double-down on their creed.

  6. All the brouhaha about “racist” is to try to try to get DEMOgraphic (DEMOcrat – why the same beginning?) to think they are victims of the racist republican patriarchy. Victim-hood is their unifying dogma.
    To your point about needing three generation to impact new arrivals, that’s been short-circuited by discouraging from assimilation. Is the LEFT THAT SMARTLY DEVIOUS, or is it just an accident of their evolution (with their disparate victim groups, they seem to be out-doing the platypus in diversity; I wonder how long they can remain viable as an organism.)
    Thanx for the post.

  7. I’m having to force myself to wash my hands when I’m away from home because, frankly, the vast majority of janitorial supply hand soaps stink. They have aggressive fragrances that are meant to be, but aren’t, floral. Smelling most of them makes me queasy. This is not conducive to regular hand washing.


    Then there are the soaps that have fragrances that are not, in themselves, objectionable, but are aimed at the female of the species. And mark me down as a grouch, but I don’t WANT to smell like an upper class Parisian house of negotiable affection.

    I like Pears Soap. Failing that, any soap that smells like soap will do. And there are some dishwashing liquids that aren’t too bad, mostly ‘Lemon’ (for certain values of lemon).

      1. If I understand what I’ve been reading, soap is definitely the way to go; sanitizer kills bacteria but not viruses, apparently. Carry a congenial unscented hand lotion/moisturizer so that your hands don’t suffer exacerbated dryness.

        Listening to the radio I am hearing multiple stories of the outbreak, particularly here in Carolina we are commencing Basketball Tournament Season which usually runs five to six weeks and involves religious gatherings of fifteen to twenty thousand people crowded tightly into confined areas with limited bathroom facilities. The government reassures us that they intend to deploy extra hand sanitizing stations to protect public faith in [governmental efficacy].

        1. I just read a paper detailing that basically they are not really sure what the precise bug-killing mechanism is for all the various heavily-used medical sanitizers like chlorhexidine, and are not even really certain of the exact sanitizing mechanism for alcohol – they think ethanol in a solution that has enough soapiness to breaks surface tension extracts enough moisture to blow open cell walls. Apparently the actions are complimentary, with the latest for medical use a combination of ethanol and chlorhexidine

          Soap they know the most about, as it grabs the lipids out of the cell structures thus blowing them up, and almost everything uses lipid based structures.

        2. That sanitizer is ust antibacterial not antiviral is bull. Its effective against both, however it is not as effective as soap, hot water, and abrasion.

      2. Ivory soap is suppose to be non-fragrance. Especially the laundry soap. Not that I can tell. Granted it has been almost 31 years since I tried the stuff, but whatever is in it gives me an almost immediate migraine. We even tried having my husband doing the wash & I didn’t touch clothing until the soap had been rinsed out, moving cloths to dryer to washer. Nope.

        1. “Supposed to be” is not the same as “is.” My MiL got us some laundry detergent that was supposed to be low allergen with “clean linen scent.” Nope. (In a side note, she apparently has lost about 70% of her sense of smell. Not a sudden thing, so not a risk factor, but she doesn’t smell things very well, which explains a lot, like the time she lavender-bombed our laundry and I had to wash it again before I could stand to be in the same room as it.)

          1. Might reverse. But I’ve gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. More scent sensitive. Use to be as long as I wasn’t wearing it, I could handle most scents unless someone bathed in them. Now? Not so much. Even a subtle amount can trigger a faint headache to a full blown migraine.

            1. Note. I’m no where near as bad as someone who can’t tolerate scents at all. But, bad enough that I have a lot of empathy.

              1. We have determined there are *no* brands of trash bag sold in our area that aren’t steeped in perfume. We had to throw some of them away (oh, the irony!) and others we have to open and leave outside a few days to take some of the whiff off.

                Anyone else remember the scented “blow-in” cars in magazines in the ’80s? Magazines would arrive that made my eyes water when I opened them.

        1. Ivory Soap, IIRC, is actually soap, whereas most “soaps” today are really detergents of some sort. It dries out the skin, a lot.

          I use “Pure and Natural” from The Dollar Tree. Corpsmen and doctors spent months trying to figure out my, ummm, crotch rot. Scraped and tested for fungus, gave me all kinds of lotions and ointments, and it stubbornly stayed, Finally, the Corpsman asked me “What soap do you use?” Dial Gold- since I was kid. “Try something else.” Picked up a bar of Irish Spring, and in a day, was suffering worse than before. Went back to the store, found “Pure and Natural”, no additives, no dyes, no perfumes. In 2 days, I was “cured”.

          We use detergents with no dyes or perfumes to do our laundry because one, just one of our five, children gets rashes from regular laundry detergent. We also set the washer to double rinse…

          1. I recall Dove Soap being advised for sensitive skin, but individual skin sensitivity may vary.

            Some people find The Vermont Country Store [} a good source of products, natural and otherwise, outside the general provisions of American commerce. If nothing else, getting on their catalog list ensures plenty of leisure reading in the [john].

          2. I’ve got an uncle who has to use glycerin soap– so you have this tall, thin central-casting farmer who if his first words were “aw, shucks” you wouldn’t be startled at all… who has to have his fancy soap. (I find it adorable.)

            1. I have to have fancy as heck shampoo. I joke with a friend who uses bespoke products except for shampoo that we were switched at birth.
              I use frigging expensive shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, and cheapo everything else.
              The weird thing? Ponds skin product’s, often written entirely in Spanish and dirt cheap at Amazon are the best for my skin.
              I think in that like a bunch of other medications, I react “Spanish.”

              1. I use liquid soap, although I do check ingredients for certain yucky perfumes. But in the shower, I tend to scrub my back with one of those zinc-containing Head and Shoulders clones. Very good and a lot like diaper cream in gentleness. Can’t bring myself to use it on sensitive areas, though.

          3. Sort of soap. Kind of. There is apparently more to it, because when I said I was allergic my doctor said “Yeah, a lot of people are. That pure and natural thing is…. yeah.”

            1. *points at essential oils* A LOT of folks find out that they’re allergic to the “pure, natural” stuff.

              Plants put in a lot more things than chemists.

          4. “We use detergents with no dyes or perfumes to do our laundry because one, just one of our five, children gets rashes from regular laundry detergent. We also set the washer to double rinse…

            Both the kid & I get rashes if I use the wrong soap … I have two brands that I use. I won’t try anything else, unless both brands disappear off shelves. Ditto on the extra water when rising & triggering the double rinse.

            I was hesitant about the laundry pods, because I always used less detergent. But those have worked great.

            When we travel I always pack detergent pods from home.

      3. I use Softsoap liquid at home, unless the grease and grime factor is bad. Then it’s either Dawn or the Gojo Natural(hah!) Orangee with pumice (or both). I’ll use the latter rarely; replaced a bottle a few years back, and the previous one predated Y2K. Doesn’t help that the orange smell is medium unpleasant..

        The stuff from the dispensers in town is inoffensive, but it’s hard to get a decent hand-wash. The motion-detector faucets are way too stingy, though it’s nice not to have to muck with the handle.

        1. The faucetbot problem is that they’re passive IR – put hands under, sensor picks up IR, opens valve. Then COLD water comes out and cools the hands so the IR sensor doesn’t ‘see’ anything and the flow ceases… until fresh un-cooled skin is detected, or the delay allows some warming up. Cycle repeats.

        2. I really like “Mrs Meyer’s Clean Day” liquid soaps/cleaners for dishes and general cleaning.

          They work quite well, and have a variety of inoffensive scents. The lavender is my favorite

          And they aren’t brightly colored.

    1. Solution from the allergic to additive: carry those alcohol wipes in your purse/backpack.

      Or you can go old school and carry your own bar soap with you in a plastic box.

      1. I wonder whether there are any liquid soaps sold in tubes, like hand lotion? That would seems a convenient & practical method of carrying. I suppose one could buy tubes (likely in the travel size containers aisle) for the purpose and fill them, but it’s not anything I’ve attended to ere this.

    2. I like the Avon Skin So Soft action for hands; don’t like the fact that it leaves you smelling like hothouse orchids. I told an Avon lady that if they’d bring out a line of SSS products that smelled of used motor oil and campfire smoke they might double their sales. She chuckled and said she’d pass my suggestion along.

      1. Have you looked into “mahogany” or “teak” scented stuff?

        Both labels are on stuff that smells a bit like Old Spice.

        1. My Dad used Old Spice aftershave. I still remember (with some hilarity) my utter confusion when I hugged my husband, smelled that scent, and did a double-take because he had a beard… which is when I found out that they also make antiperspirant.

      2. I was just told yesterday that Skin So Soft is an excellent tick repellent. And in our area, (we had a mild winter) this is Very Useful Information.
        Passin’ the word along…

  8. The change, a minor one, “wear shoes in public” (the North of Portugal has a climate reminiscent of London) took hold as long as there was a reason and it was feasible. It only took two generations.

    Hmmmm … the King* of England’s order that His subjects refrain from recreation on Sunday — with the sole exception of archery practice — may be an example of effective cultural change through boredom.

    *Yeah, I forget which one. One of the Henrys or perhaps a Richard or a William.

      1. without delving in I think you might be right. iirc Bowls was cutting into practice at the butts, so he tossed out the decree Sunday was for Archery only.
        Now break out that 80-180# long bow and get with it!

        1. And thus the cross bow comes about, which (like the rifle or the carbine centuries later compared to the pistol) didn’t require hours of practice every day to master and hours every week to stay good. Also, not so much muscle was required that your spine distorted.

    1. And everyone was an Henery, she wouldn’t have a willy or a tom — no toms! — I’m her eighth old man, I’m Henery. I’m Henery the eighth I am, I am.

        1. Just Boy Scout camp?

          Also, Girl Scout camp, and Campfire. Probably 4-H camp too, but wasn’t involved with that one.

        2. Try “the 60s,” I think. I may have sung it at Girl Scout camp, but the Monkees stuck it on the radio when my folks were kids.

            1. Huh. Okay then.
              And at once point I knew it wasn’t the Monkees. Must have started memory-holing these old music trivia.

              1. Monkees? See Herman’s Hermit’s performance, linked above courtesy of Confutus.

                I would know, I vas dere, Chollie!

  9. “Lie to it enough — by forcing it to say things that contradict its lying eyes, for instance — and you’re going to hit a point where they simply will not believe you.”

    I see this more and more on social media.

  10. You either have to have a modicum of wealth, or spend your whole day battling grime.

    Ever read an article describing the life of a employee worker in a Chinese factory? They’ve not time nor energy for cleanliness.

    Kind of makes early Industrial Revolutionary Britain look a paragon of employer beneficence.

    1. And as I understand it, most of the Chinese farm workers would kill to trade places with the factory folk…

      1. For much the same reason people fled the farms to the “dark Satanic mills” of Victorian cities.

      2. As far as I can tell, if you’re set to inherit a farm, it can be pretty good money, albeit for a whole lot of hard work. But if you’re just a hired hand, with no hope of owning your own farm, it’s still all the hard work but without any hope or prospects for the future.

        I’m strongly contemplating a ‘Malthus’ stat for domain tracking, to help determine _how_ cheap life is for those who don’t have an established place, how vulnerable regions are to famine if food production is a little short, etc. (Of course in pre-industrial RPGs, the lands lost to monsters are a great way to absorb hungry mouths, but I’m assuming that a lot of people would consider trying to clear and hold frontier land the choice of desperation.)


    2. Just saying to the family today that the ecological disaster predicted to be created by free market, Christian, European countries came completely true in just one place: Communist, atheist, China.

  11. As for our left: the very fact they assume cleanliness or lack thereof is RACIAL …

    If they did, their response to the filth of homeless camps and protest sites (Occupy This, MoFo) would be entirely different. As previously noted, they employ such accusations for political purpose.

    1. …or their flagship cities, where they promote defecating in public.

      “Yes, tell me all about your standards of cleanliness… ‘ware the lump by your left foot, and pay no attention to that odor, you’ll get used to it eventually.”

      1. Humans are relatively well equipped to identify and avoid piles of poop, though disease carrying fe a matter washing around ones feet on a rainy day in teh Financial District and then tracked back home is a recipe for “Oh, Look, A Typhus Outbreak Among Hoi Polloi Babies”.

        It’s the used needles that are to my POV the larger issue in SF – and it should be noted the vast majority of those needles are given out free by the City and County of SF from the “needle exchange” programs, which oddly can be accessed without actually exchanging any needles.

        1. My state started passing out “free needles” to druggies back in the ’90s. That’s when I was taking allergy shots, and had to show ID to buy my own hypodermics. More than once I thought about just going to the county clinic for some “free” ones, but it wasn’t worth the $10 or so per bag to do it.

          Mostly, I resented that criminals – which is what my state law defines them as – were getting a “welfare benfit” of MY money, to assist them in breaking the law.

      2. And yes, The same Democrats proclaiming Trump is doing nothing about coronavirus are the same ones STILL demanding completely open borders and allowing people to use the streets as bathrooms. It’s as if they don’t care about individual people and only care about their own power as they want to rule not govern….oh wait….

  12. There has long bee a different standard of personal cleanliness between Americans and Europeons, one which has given rise to many an invidious comment about certain “smelly” societies in the Old World, and no doubt complementary snark about Americans over there. We Americans hear lots of anecdotage about certain cultures’ practice of group bathing, mostly among the Japanese and Scandinavians. What we don’t hear about is the frequency of such gatherings, nor the cultural roots thereof (I notice that such spas seem most common in areas where volcanic springs abound.)

    Meanwhile, here in the States there is a movement against frequent (insert your definition here) bathing as a “White” thing, with paeans praising the natural oils of one’s epidermis.

    The thing is, if you do not routinely bathe, washing is not pleasant and removing the outer layer of dirt exposes skin to all sorts of intrusions. This is not a defense of not bathing, merely acknowledgement of certain facts.

    1. The snark is even within Europe for other European cultures. I once heard a Frenchman define an “Italian shower” as two swipes of a deodorant stick.

        1. And the French linked bombs to the chain pull in the public toilets because they knew no Frenchman would flush and Germans always did.

    2. If any ever tells me that (about frequent bathing), I am very tempted to tell them I am just emulating the ancient Samurai and am trying to avoid being a uncivilized filthy gai-jin 🙂

  13. RE: Coronavirus anti-asian hysteria –

    I live in an area that has a fairly high percentage of asians -primarily Chinese. I was at the mall last Saturday. The place was packed, as usual. I saw a smattering of masks, and I’m inclined to think that most of the people wearing them did so due to the Coronavirus. And every last person wearing a mask was asian.

    1. Several states have laws against wearing masks in public. Things could get interesting if people start doing it anyway…

      1. Most of the laws have specific exceptions for medical masks, or even state that it has to be identity concealing and/or there has to be Menacing.

        Came up when some folks were arrested “just for wearing motorcycle helmets.” No, they were wearing motorcycle helmets while forming a mob and being very, very obviously threatening, and frankly their targets would’ve been justified in ventilating several of the.

          1. From what I can tell, they all have their roots in “we had a nasty problem with people covering their faces and doing violence” situations.

          2. That’s my understanding about plenty of the “anti-mask Laws”.

        1. Thanks! Bookmarked.

          Looks like Antifa gets a free pass on the “for commission of a crime” clauses.

          “One law for us, another for you.”

      2. They already ran into a similar situation in VA. Young woman was one of the 2A protesters and got into a contentious discussion with a cop who arrested her for pulling her scarf over her face by claiming it was a mask.

        Unfortunately for him, it was below freezing and the VA law has a specific exception for wearing a face covering in cold weather.

        However, as we saw in Charlottesville, that law won’t be applied equally. Antifa was masked all day. So if you’re wearing a F*ck Trump T-shirt, you’ll be good; a MAGA hat and a surgical mask will be “a light in your eyes and then a guy says On the car longhair!!”

  14. Three generations is about right. Not only to change the culture, but, as noted, have the capability to change the culture.

    I need only consider my grandmother, as she ran her household a bare century ago. She still had habits from that time that were not “up to snuff” for the Sixties and Seventies when I was growing up.

  15. Cultural assimilation can be a strange thing. Over the years I’ve heard many who try to blend in described in deogatory terms. But if you fall in a group that is expected NOT to assimilate but you do, you often (alas, not always) get a completely different reception. I shall never forget the expression on my usual driver’s face when I had my wife with me to Tanzania and actually untroduced him to her. Not ‘look after my wife or i’ll make trouble’ but ‘this is Nkomo who usually drives me, and he’s a very helpful man so be kind to him’. The word must have got around, because all the staff treated her like a princess after that.

  16. In a book I read about how Slavery started in America, it was strange that the Old Black Stereotype seems to have been created then. At first Blacks were Indentured Servants NOT Slaves just like Whites. A few Blacks became successful farmers when their indentured servitude ended but almost all reverted to their African Culture. Only work if you must, Women were responsible for children, there is no private property (crops, chickens, etc. were up for grabs), and the rest of the well known stereotype.
    The problem the Hard Working Good People saw was these people acting like CHILDREN and they were unable to get Blacks to change. Now there is only so much of this behavior that the Hard Working Good People of the community could take. SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE! They looked for a solution. They had TRIED to change the people, to get them to act RIGHT. Some Blacks had never had a problem. They were Hard Working Farmers Good People raising their families, making the community a better place. So changing the Blacks would not work. The Blacks were Grown Children that needed someone to look after them. Then they had the IDEA that would solve their problem, SLAVERY. Instead of Indentured Servants the Blacks would be Slaves. Their new owners would be responsible for them. Slavery had been around always, every culture had them, even the Bible had them and NOBODY at that TIME really had anything against Slavery. So their problem was solved.

    You can thank the Hard Working Good People and their Culture for Slavery because they could NOT Take the African Culture next to them. A Culture Clash caused Slavery AND created a Stereotype and a bigger long term problem.

    1. I don’t think that history is right. The first person to sue to make his indentured worker “permanent” was a free black guy. I think that’s bunkum and assumes that the US “invented” slavery or that it was aimed specifically at blacks.
      I also don’t believe most of them STARTED indentured. They were BOUGHT. From Black and Arab traders. In Africa.
      So, no.
      Also the stereotypes for black people were completely different early 20th century.
      So, again, no.
      BTW poor whites behaved exactly like that too at that time. It was a poor thing, not a black thing.

      1. Think about the guys on “Hee Haw” who always did that skit where two of them are literally laying around exchanging witticisms. Plus, the Southern stereotypes (as on “Hee Haw”) of lazy “poor white trash” has been explained as Celtic roots—don’t sweat trying to grow crops, just turn the hogs loose to root up their own acorns (I read it somewhere, I promise; maybe even in a book).

        1. This has a great deal of truth, and in fact letting hogs roam loose to feed was a viable farming strategy in many areas… until the chestnut blight hit. (Most hogs – and indeed most wild turkeys, bears, and deer – were feeding mostly on chestnut mast, not acorns.) A lot of the “dirt-poor Appalachian backwoods” stereotypes in the news media came from people going in and taking photos of the desperation afterwards. The basis for making sure your family was fed in an emergency crashed, and it’s never come back.

          There’s also a second factor. Malaria. Up until the widespread use of DDT, it was endemic just about everywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line. And if you have malaria, working too hard can indeed kill you. Because you’ll set off a fever and anemia from the stress, and you may or may not come out of it. Especially if you’re a woman. Even more so if you’re pregnant.

          1. What’s a chestnut? Never seen one. So, I don’t know if they ever existed east of Hickory / Greensboro / Raleigh.

            We do, however, have a rhododendron growing on the north side of the house.

            And, years ago, my father was surprised to see some unexpected trees growing alongside the Cape Fear River miles and miles above its mouth (there were locks there) but I can’t remember what. Hickory?

            1. The American Chestnut was a bountiful tree, providing rich mulch, strong, durable, lovely wood and a rich harvest for all and sundry. Its chestnuts were suitable animal fodder and nutritious for man, whether roasted or ground as meal. Its loss to blight in the early Twentieth Century was an environmental disaster, not least because lumbermen hastened to clear cut the trees to rescue what they could ahead of the blight, leaving clear-cut slopes which became a lasting image of the Appalachians.

              Under a spreading chestnut-tree
              The village smithy stands;
              The smith, a mighty man is he,
              With large and sinewy hands;
              And the muscles of his brawny arms
              Are strong as iron bands.

              His hair is crisp, and black, and long,
              His face is like the tan;
              His brow is wet with honest sweat,
              He earns whate’er he can,
              And looks the whole world in the face,
              For he owes not any man.

              Week in, week out, from morn till night,
              You can hear his bellows blow;
              You can hear him swing his heavy sledge,
              With measured beat and slow,
              Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
              When the evening sun is low.

              And children coming home from school
              Look in at the open door;
              They love to see the flaming forge,
              And hear the bellows roar,
              And catch the burning sparks that fly
              Like chaff from a threshing-floor.

              He goes on Sunday to the church,
              And sits among his boys;
              He hears the parson pray and preach,
              He hears his daughter’s voice,
              Singing in the village choir,
              And it makes his heart rejoice.

              It sounds to him like her mother’s voice,
              Singing in Paradise!
              He needs must think of her once more,
              How in the grave she lies;
              And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
              A tear out of his eyes.

              Onward through life he goes;
              Each morning sees some task begin,
              Each evening sees it close
              Something attempted, something done,
              Has earned a night’s repose.

              Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
              For the lesson thou hast taught!
              Thus at the flaming forge of life
              Our fortunes must be wrought;
              Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
              Each burning deed and thought.

          2. Oh yeah; Washington, D.C. was a hardship post for foreign diplomats up to (at least) the 19th century. We are “ate up” with mosquitoes, but I don’t know of any old stories of malaria hereabouts; but just about everything else—typhoid, dysentery, lockjaw, influenza, alcohol, but no malaria that I know of.

            1. You can find a literary mention in Little House on the Prairie – the whole family was down with it, and nearly didn’t survive. If one of them hadn’t been able to crawl out of bed and bring back some water, that’d have been it – they wouldn’t have lasted long enough for someone to find them.

              1. The water was for the older sister, from the bucket across the room. It’s true that they almost didn’t make it. The dog saved them by getting a passing doctor to come in. The dog hated strangers, he was a guard dog after all, but knew enough to get help. (Heh, the dog treed the neighbor on the wood pile when he came to help out while Mr. Ingalls was gone to town.)

              2. There’s a book that I think is called, “Seven Alone” (I went and looked – it’s published under at least four different titles and at least three author names. Titles I found are: The Stout-Hearted Seven: Orphaned on the Oregon Trail , Seven Alone, On to Oregon!, and Across the Plains in 1884 (should be 1844).

                The story, which is based on a real family, is of seven children orphaned when fever takes their parents, and it details their other trials and travails, which include finding one couple they had thought died of dysentery, but it turned out one of the couple was able to struggle out and build a fire and make broth often enough to keep them alive.

            2. There is a reason that the founding fathers made DC the capitol. They weren’t stupid. Subtle, but not stupid.
              Silent Spring was bull, but damn DDT for making Washington safe.

          3. Looks like they might have a genetically-engineered strain that can survive the blight, something that uses a wheat gene to give the trees an enzyme common to many food crops that fights the fungus by breaking down the acid it produces. Could see them start to make a comeback if the last five years of testing have gone well enough.


            1. But… That would make them EEEEVUL GMO’s! They’re Franken-Trees! Burn them, burn the forests where they’ve been planted, burn down the laboratories, lynch the scientists…

              Never mind that we’ve been Genetically Modifying plants and animals for 15,000 years, that Doctor Malthus would have been proven right a century ago if we hadn’t gotten really good at it, that if we stopped using those EEEEVUL GMO’s tomorrow half the world would starve to death…

  17. I often don’t get American stereotypes at all, often leading to really weird situations, where someone assumes I’m judging them by stereotype, while I have no clue what I’m talking about, not even a little bit.

    I think certain stereotypes and taboos you have to be a toddler in the country to imbibe.

    Meh, I’m American raised by American Americans in America, and a lot of the supposed stereotypes I not only don’t have I’ve never heard of them– I think they’re rich-city-people-fever-dream stereotypes.

    1. All the characters in Seinfeld were stereotypes. I grew up (mostly) in North Jersey. I knew every one of them at one time or another…..

      I’m surprised that anyone outside or the NY metropolitan area actually watched the show.

      I never met anyone like the characters in “Friends”. Thy seem to me to be wholly fictional and not stereotypes.

        1. I tried to watch Seinfeld a couple of times, just couldn’t get it. Just couldn’t get into Friends, either. Possibly I am a west-coast or Texas misanthrope.

      1. I’ve watched, maybe, 1/2 hour of Seinfeld altogether. Never understood what the attraction was.

      2. Somehow, I read the comment on “Friends” as something like “not someone you’d want to meet;” I didn’t watch the show (as evidenced by having no clue of names) but even just occasionally running into the dang thing, I got tired of the decent guy being a punching bag.

  18. This was a big one! As I finished reading I thought of your last blog post on sizes and wondered if this counted as a novel. 🙂

      1. Somewhere I saw a quote about an individual who apologized about not having time to write a shorter letter. 😉

        1. For those not clicking through– it’s a bit of wit from Pascal, and it’s been attributed to anybody known for wit, brevity, or being long winded.

        2. In modern times I read somewhere (on a military blog, mayhap) “I’m sorry this a 100 slide power point, but I didn’t have time to make it shorter.”

          1. Darwin on Darwin Catholic blog recently did a presentation that was mostly one simple slide, with more elaborate talking about what it showed.

            Everybody complimented him for such a great way of helping them understand the topic…..

  19. > I think certain stereotypes and taboos you have to be a toddler in the country to imbibe.

    Don’t feel left out; a lot of that is regional/social/class specific, and I got left out of a lot of it too.

  20. > And honestly, if it sees NO benefits? It won’t do it. No way, no how.

    …unless it’s presented as “style”, and then people will do the most utterly ridiculous things. If the goddam-noisy-box told them the latest in fashion was to wear a dripping-fresh cow patty on their head for a hat, there’d be people lined up to buy them. (because only patties of the right brand could be chic, even if they came from the same field shortly before)

    1. What that is selling is status, which is extremely precious in affluent societies.

      Remember those Fifties “nacelle” brassieres? Think ay woman enjoys underwire digging into her pectorals?

      “I wear only Guernsey-Holstein patties, from alfalfa-fed cows; anything else is tres gauche.”

        1. I was when I was young. Most bras were profoundly uncomfortable.
          I used to joke I had a body made for the eighties. My boobs were naturally bullet, and my shoulders don’t need padding. 😀

    2. Oh, let’s go simpler. The pants hanging down past your crotch that you have to hold up with a hand if you want to walk or run anywhere. There’s a style that I could see die in a fire.

      I still say that if you got a room full of teenaged boys in a room and talked about the history of fashion, including codpieces (with pictures and examples), and then talked about how showing off your underwear is precisely the same impulse, you’d probably get a lot of them suddenly deciding maybe it wasn’t so cool after all.

  21. Going through Navy boot camp in 1973, my best buddy in boot camp owned his first toothbrush when the Navy issued him one. 18 years old, and the first time he brushed his teeth was in boot camp. I remember in high school Proxmire giving a Golden Fleece Award to the DoD for producing a film for adults on how to brush their teeth, and not knowing what I later discovered, I agreed with award. Afterwards, I realized that it was, like most Democrat things, BS.

    I told my kids about that. The two oldest went through Army boot camp in 2000 and 2002. And in both their recruit companies there were brand new soldiers who were brushing their teeth for the first time in boot camp… more than 20 years later.

    Parts of the U.S. aren’t still quite up with the times. In my small little town I know of (I don’t think I’ve met them) one set of brothers who live together and work the occasional odd job for locals. One acquaintance of mine got them a job at a local distributor, regular employment. And they discovered they were expected to be at work EVERY day. Couldn’t take off just because it was a good day for fishing or opening day of bow season, or whatever. They didn’t last a full week I was told.

    Their “house” is heated by wood. There’s plenty of it around. No electricity, hence, no electricity bills. No phone, no phone bills. And a hand pump to get the well water up. No hot water… or running water. I’m told another relative of theirs pays the property taxes. I suspect the assessor doesn’t even know the “house” is in the middle of the property.

    I have to wonder how many others live like that in rural communities. My experiences in life have taught me that if you know of one example of something, there’s usually more.

    It’s like discussions we’re had here before of the poor in rental units. No interior doors. Most middle class today have never actually been in a housing unit with no interior doors, yet there are hundreds of thousands of Americans living without them…

    1. I’ve seen rental properties with no interior doors. I’d always assumed they’d been stolen by previous tenants.

    2. What is considered cleanliness is in the eye of the beholder. I am sure that the house I grew up on the farm some 80 years ago in Idaho would not be considered clean by today’s standard. When I was very young there was no running water in the house and the outhouse was situated over a stream. We could only play in the spring upstream of the outhouse. Laundry was done with a wringer washer, so we wore clothes until, as we would say, they would stand by themselves. Then we put in a hydraulic ram, which used water pressure from the spring to pump water to the barn and houses. It was finicky thing and always had to be adjusted.

      Since we had a small dairy, this meant cleaning the barn everyday and mucking out the manure. Not a pleasant job, but really bad when it was below zero and the cows were kept in the barn at night. Then we would have to wade through manure up to your knees to reach the feed trough. That’s why I seldom watch Dirty Jobs – been there done that. Despite that, we maintained a certain level sanitation and for the most part were healthy. I am sure that we did not necessarily always smell too good to the town kids where went to school, even though we would wash up good and change clothes.

      Southern Idaho is high semi desert and the wind blows all the time, so it is hard to keep out the dust. A few years back when I visited my parents before they died, their house had all of the modern amenities and was clean by farm house standards. It is really difficult to keep dust and dirt out when living on a farm, even today. And then there are those that choose to live off the grid. Having lived in villages in the Peace Corps and lived and worked in many countries in the Middle East and Asia, there are still a lot of people that live “off the grid”, but not by choice. My wife is from Albania and can relate to Sarah’s experience in Portugal, only more so since Enver Hohxa, declared that Albania was the only true socialist country in the world – it was illegal to even own a chicken at the time. Yet walking through a mountain village early in the morning, the people are out sweeping the streets, opening the windows to shake the dust out of the carpets and washing there clothes in the stream or wash tubs and hanging them out to dry – doing the amount of cleanliness that their resources allow.

      1. But did y’all allow grass to grow in the front yard? My maternal grandmother (and her sister-in-law) didn’t; they made brooms out of dogwood branches (or saplings, not sure except dogwoods are rare around home now) and swept the yard.

        1. I gather that sweeping the yard free of anything growing is practiced in areas where there is concern over snakes.

    3. Army Basic Training, Fort Lost in the Woods in the State of Misery, 1980 there were young men in my platoon who broke down in tears at uniform issue – the combat boots they received were the first brand-new footwear they’d ever owned.

      1. I do know that there were women enlistees during my time who had to be sent off to the BX to purchase bras and underpants. (This was when the Air Force expected you to show up for basic training with both, as they didn’t issue such items. These girls reported in for training, never having worn either. May have changed since then, I don’t know.)
        My first uniform issue though, was the largest quantity of manufactured outer clothing I had ever gotten at one time. Most of my clothes up until then were home-sewed. I did have ready-made clothing items, but they had been purchased one at a time, usually.

  22. “past was filthy.”

    I’ve been reading biographies of Beethoven and Nietzsche, and those guys were sick ALL THE TIME.

    Living in filth? You think?

  23. There were pre-modern cultures that made a big thing of cleanliness. Usually there were ritual reasons (Shinto is big on purity and cleanliness being pleasing to the gods) or because it is nigh-religious in importance. (The Miami tribe was regarded as particularly big on having nice clean houses, by Europeans and other tribes alike.)

    1. And the middle ages were clean BY THEIR IDEA OF CLEAN. Since I grew up with it, I kind of empathize.
      A wound festering? Throw holy water on it.
      Not their fault. THey didn’t know about germs.
      And though my people did, old habits die hard.

      1. Besides the supernatural content, old-school holy water was full of blessed salt. And salt water does clean wounds and resist infection, albeit not as well as other stuff we have.

  24. Chinese culture, just from my “been stuck looking at quite a bit of it for work” perspective, is very much a culture where if you can appear to be clean and prosperous, you are clean and prosperous. There’s a reason why the stereotype of “cheap knockoffs in Chinatown” exists. If you look like you’re wearing prosperous items, you have to be prosperous. I know at least two Chinese girls that did sex work so they could make the down payments on a new Lexus, because they needed the status symbol. Despite the fact that I could have gotten them a deal on a decent used Toyota for a quarter of the cost.

    The thing is…the appearance and maintaining the appearance is more important than what the appearance is supposed to be itself. I’ve been in Chinese company offices that if you get out of the public area…some vacuuming, carpet shampooing, washing and repainting the walls, and quite a bit of napalm would work wonders. And even the public areas tend to have dirt and dust shoved into concealing corners.

    (And, Chinese people smoke. A lot. Two packs a day, easily, and almost always fairly low quality cigarettes-men will do it anywhere at any time, women where nobody else can see them.)

    I’m not surprised that Communism and oligarchy works in China (as much as it ever works)-appearance trumps reality.

    1. Which btw meshes with Dave Freer’s instinctive description of China’s prosperity and stability: China is a beautiful lacquered vase. This hides the fact that it’s an old piece of junk, which broke and has been glued together.
      And look, I sympathize, I grew up in a “face” culture. No matter if things went completely wrong, you smile and tell everyone how great you’re doing. And you never mention anything bad or any set backs. Your entire life is writing those stupid Christmas Newsletters, where all you do is brag. (Though weirdly, more of luck than your accomplishments.)
      What annoys me is that America always ALWAYS takes these things at face value. ALWAYS.

      1. “When the fox gnaws — smile!” — Lazarus Long

        Maybe because we’re no different? We’re taught from childhood to persevere through misfortune — or at least I was.

        1. Yes and No.

          We are allowed to publicly acknowledge misfortune and personal mistakes while we persevere.

          “Face Societies” have major problems with publicly acknowledging misfortune and personal mistakes especially if the person/group is in a position of authority.

          In the past (before tort lawyers got so active), people approved of people in authority acknowledging that they goofed up and generally speaking judged them by how they corrected the problem.

          In “Face Societies”, public acknowledgement of mistakes most often leads to the society looking down on the people acknowledging their mistakes. Of course, if the people are in authority, acknowledging mistakes will lead to loss of said authority.

          Oh, the Heinlein quote refers to a story about a Spartan youth who had stole a fox and had to hide it in his clothing from those who would punish the youth for the theft. The story was that the fox started biting the youth and the youth had to act as if nothing was wrong.

          A little different thing than acknowledging misfortune and continuing to persevere. 😉

          1. In Sparta youths in training were required to steal to live but were severely punished for being caught.
            The bites were easier then the punishment would have been.

            1. Frankly, this nation could stand a little more Face and a bit less Victimization Competition.

              Suck it up, Sweetheart, things could be far worse, used to be a common attitude. Most tales of victimization were in the “When I was your age I had to walk five miles to school, uphill, through snow and cattle stampedes, then chop firewood and stoke a stove to heat our little one-room schoolhouse” genre.

              1. ” “When I was your age I had to walk five miles to school, uphill, through snow and cattle stampedes, then chop firewood and stoke a stove to heat our little one-room schoolhouse” genre.”

                Sigh. Your forgot some of it: ““When I was your age I had to, before school I had to do chores had to walk five miles to school, uphill, through snow and cattle stampedes, then chop firewood and stoke a stove to heat our little one-room schoolhouse. Then after school, I had to walk five miles from school to home, uphill, through snow and cattle stampedes, then do more chores.” Genre.

                  1. “…and we wrapped barbed wire around our feet for traction.”

                    Oops. Left off “tunneled through the snow …”

                    I mean it was Montana …

                    Or my grandmother from the Hayhurst Valley. “Took off my shoes to walk in the mud, to school …” because heaven forbid she’d get her shoes dirty.

                    1. I mean it was Montana …

                      One of those houses with a front door on the second floor, for when the first floor was completely buried in snow?

                    2. … maybe … I mean I was only told of it …

                      Although I have seen the cabin maternal grandmother had when she had a 3 year old & a newborn infant when grandpa worked at the mines. We only got to peer into through the dirty windows, into the dark cabin, as it was locked up. Room for a double bed, trundle at the foot for the toddler & a box/crib for the newborn next to it. Not sure where, if any, dresser. Then a table, with a wood stove in one corner. Was a hand water pump in the other … which grandma was clear to point out was “newly” added since they left just before WWII. She had to walk down to the road, cross it, to pull water from the creek on the other side to get water to use. Grandpa used to break the ice before leaving for the mine in the morning …

                      I mean it made their current house a country estate, and our house a palace … Their “country estate” was maybe 1000 sq ft. Our “palace” 1300 sq feet …

        2. NOT persevere, Steve. This has nothing to do with persevere. This has to do with constructing an entire false facade. Which prevents you from realizing there’s a problem to deal with.

          1. The false facade is why they tend to be why “face” cultures are so bad when doing pure science or engineering development work.

            The world doesn’t care about your theories or how you think things should work. And, head-butting against the world tends to get people hurt. Or cause nuclear reactors to melt down.

          2. But isn’t smiling while the fox gnaws ALSO a false facade?

            The problem isn’t the false facade for others. The problem is when you buy the facade yourself rather than strangling the damn fox.

            1. No. It’s not. It’s different. It’s a matter of pride in your strength.
              False facade for others means you starve your kids but wear the most fashionable clothes.

      2. Most Americans have never dealt with or had to work with a “face” culture before. There’s an inherent honesty that Americans expect in most circumstances. It’s not always there or even reciprocated, but there is that inherent honesty and integrity that is more of an American/Western European thing.

  25. Speaking of Cultural Appropriators:

    Obama’s Homeland Security IG Indicted On Fraud, Theft Charges
    Former Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Charles Edwards and his former aide Murali Yamazula Venkata were indicted Friday on charges of stealing government property to defraud the U.S. government. Yamazula was also charged with destroying records.

    The indictments handed down by the Justice Department allege that Edwards and Venkata were working with others within the inspector general’s office to orchestrate a scheme to steal confidential and proprietary software that includes sensitive information on government employees. Prosecutors say Edwards was attempting to resell a revamped package of the software as a product of his firm, Delta Business Solutions to the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


    More at link.

  26. I used to think it was somewhat silly to wash my hands in the bathroom. My hands have been out and about all day and are FAR dirtier than the part of my body I’m touching in the bathroom.

    Then someone pointed out that that was the point. One doesn’t wash one’s hands in the bathroom because one touched one’s naughty bits. One washes one’s hands in the bathroom because hands are _always_ dirty and there is a conveniently available sink.

    I hate “obvious in retrospect” things like that.

      1. So what did everyone put in the bathrooms? Big blowers to deposit a fine e. coli mist over it. Of course, part of that is that people aren’t washing their hands long enough.

        1. I thought it was to save the trouble of changing towels. Once upon a time there were towels in the bathroom. Either paper or fabric on a roll.

          1. I think the advertised reason was to reduce paper (or, I guess, fabric) waste. I doubt spreading germs was an actual motive for most of the people involved.

          2. Gee, thanks — I too well recall washing hands and discovering the cloth towel was at the end of its roll, and had been for several users.


      2. There was a website call “The Straight Dope” that I recall, primarily because they had a column on why people should wash their hands after using the restroom because of the contamination concern. They really laid it on heavy to imply you would practically perish if you didn’t. Then a week or two later someone wrote in to ask if the Puritans were right in forbidding oral sex based on that reasoning. You seldom see anyone backtrack that fast.

        1. Oral sex is a well-recognized (if little reported) source for HPV transmission and a leading cause of cancer of the privates.

          Of course, the more you learn of the epidemiology the more repulsed you are by the thought of any type of intercourse.

    1. In my job there are times I wash my hands BEFORE and after I do my business. Ain’t no way I’m pulling out private parts with what’s on the hands…..

      1. Yeahhhh, I don’t necessarily bother when I’ve just been on the keyboard at home, but if you work with chemicals, dirt… heck, for girl parts, sugar. :shudder:

        That reminds me that I should hunt down resources on HPV transmission that I can be confident aren’t just people insisting it’s Not Solely An STD because they want to downplay the advantages of responsible sexual behavior.

          1. …I don’t think I believe 20 seconds would be enough for that scenario, but then, I might have left the building when they broke out the peppers.

            1. My mom breaks out the plastic gloves when it comes time to do peppers.

              Hm, there’s a way to train folks in how to use those gloves properly….

              (if you clean them, do a light scrape, and then fill with sweet sausage, wrap in bacon adn bake it, they’re very good. Similar flavor to the tamed habaneros you can get sliced)

              1. It’s not that I don’t believe they are pleasing to anybody. But I am personally repulsed by the vegetable-pepper flavor and aroma of bell pepper (I have had one or two dishes that were good enough to eat anyway, but somehow I couldn’t face the leftovers) and pained by capsaicin, so mostly I just… avoid the whole kaboodle.

                1. My mom has a cousin that swears pigs are smarter than people, because they won’t eat peppers, either. You’re in good company.

                  (at least effectively enough that pig farms won’t buy veggie scraps with too much bell pepper)

                  1. Deer do, though. DIL was growing special little black peppers for son who loves hot stuff.
                    A deer ate almost all of them.
                    He was lucky it was too hot to hang the meat. DIL had a powerful hankering to find out whether the meat was seasoned…

      2. When I was in High School and doing things like running Track (2-mile) and Swim Team (100-meter Flounder) they had this stuff called Atomic Balm which one rubbed into one’s legs to warm up the muscles. I never found it did much for my hamstrings but somehow. after applying it. I would inevitably discover a need to rub my eyes or scratch my privates.

        Frankly, I think that stuff was only there as a practical joke on the new kids.

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