Civil Shoulder Shrug


I know, and have said, that one of the things I appreciate the most about America is how law abiding we are.

I’ve written in the past about the transformative experience of realizing no one stole Christmas decorations from yards, followed by realizing how few yards had even a nominal picket fence.  Mind you, I still don’t feel okay without a fence, and when I’ve lived in a house with one, I obsessed about closing gates, since it seemed to me an open gate was an invitation to entry.

Now, when I was a kid in Portugal, the only well defended houses — eight foot walls, broken glass on top — were those more than a hundred years old, dating back to the Napoleonic wars or the civil war.

BUT there were no yards without walls.  My parents’ garden wall was maybe four feet high, and made of stone, but behind it was an hedge that went up another 2 feet.  Not insurmountable. Coming home to find gates locked, and having forgotten the keys (or perhaps our parents thought we were home. Whistles innocently) both my brother and I showed that the wall was entirely surmountable, and in stealth as well.  Of course we also showed you could jump between the terrace and the balcony. And I was somewhat better at pulling up the blinds from the outside, and defeating the window lock. (Prompting my brother to tell me, in pride, that I could make a living as a second story woman.  BTW we were usually together and not doing anything wrong, though often something temporarily “illegal” in the sense that we’d break curfew to go to book meetings and book fairs [curfews were often only for thirty and under, since the authorities feared civil unrest.])

These days my parents’ garden walls are eight feet tall, and the pipes someone might use to climb into the house are girded in razor wire.  Also, the house is a series of compartments, each of them separated from the other with doors as strong as a bank vault’s.

Note the progression. It’s not inevitable. And it’s not just “oh, times have changed.”  The question is WHY times have changed.

Portugal has an history of shrugging its shoulders at laws, and of thinking laws apply to other people only (never to the individual talking about how we need MORE laws.) Hence why no yard decorations were safe, and people had at least nominal walls to signal “this is mine. No trespassing.”

However, keep in mind those nominal walls used to WORK, which means there was some respect for private property, just not the same as in the US. I.e. people weren’t respecting the law that said “if it belongs to someone else don’t take it” but the wall that said “the individual will protect his things.”

The underlying lack of respect for central authority might have its roots in the deep past of the culture — I really wish I could abide a degree in anthropology in the current climate, because one of the things I REALLY want to know (and perhaps we all NEED to know) is how long deep-culture survives. Something like the subconscious of the collective culture — where every new invader brought his new and nonsensical “laws” and “orders” and sometimes the only way to survive was to cock a snook at them.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s all the near-disturbances, starting with the Napoleonic invasions and the civil war, and then the deposition of the king, and then anarchists (of the left kind) trying to govern and bankrupting the country, followed by national socialism, international socialism of various flavors, and then the EU mad-hatter take over.  I noticed by the way a brief flash of more respect for the laws, when the EU took Portugal in, followed by things going rapidly to hell with no coming back, and lately accelerating to insanity. (OUTSIDE touristic areas. Things seem to be safer in touristic areas. Possibly because again, while cocking a snook at unreasonable rules the locals are not insane and realize where the bread is buttered and which orifice the golden eggs eject from.)

Which brings us to the circumstances under which a culture remains as law abiding as possible while shrugging its shoulders at insanity.  (BTW in another proof that Portugal is a mystery even to me, they meekly obey EU laws on stuff like “no selling of homemade foods at fairs” while the walls climb higher because crime is out of control, and traffic laws become AT BEST traffic suggestions.)

I’m sure there was a period of rebellion against national socialist laws when they first came in but I wasn’t born. And I think my parents weren’t born either (I’m fuzzy on the dates, and too sleepy to go look them up.)  HOWEVER I remember the transition of national to international socialism, in my early teens, and its own sets of bizarre laws which, as always when statists take over the economy and dictate who can work and who can eat involved massive economic disruptions. (Even when it’s just a trade off between statists, you know?)

So I remember stuff like when all bakeries closed because there was only ONE baker’s union, and it decreed general strike. … so everyone and their cousins started a lively trade in black market yeast, and a lot of women learned to make bread. But wait, there’s more. After a couple of weeks, everyone knew which doors to knock at and what the knock was, and they’d sell you bread they made, out the backdoor.  Some of these people were actually bakers, going in and working the bakeries at weird hours, then bringing the bread home to sell.

Other such things went on. People whose business had been seized worked at home,a nnd you could buy their stuff, if you knew the sign and countersign (which was a LARP sensation :-P).

In fact after a while, as people got used to the disruptions, things adjusted around them, and reshaped, and life went on.

Practically anyone who has lived under tyranny has stories like that.  Without the black market, the USSR wouldn’t have lasted 10 years. (And would have managed to starve even more people.)

There seems to be some switch amid even the most law abiding people that goes “The government/authorities are trying to kill me. I’m not going to die.”

Our government/authorities are completely unaware of this, btw, partly because they grew up in a culture of almost German respect for the law. Partly because the parts of the government that are at war with us have been taught a bunch of shit that just ain’t so about how the world works and how much other countries respect law. They’re not precisely stupid, but they are as ignorant of humanity as though they’d been raised by aliens.  (Are Marxists human? Inside the head, where the Marxist software runs, I mean? I don’t know. And neither do you. We also still haven’t found the Martian fever that will salvage the human while destroying the parasite controlling him.)

So when they set about destroying the economy — partly because they hate OrangeManBad, partly because they hate US with a purple passion, for being “ungovernable” and refusing to cooperate with their dreams of socialism — they have no clue what they’re unleashing.

But we should know. We should become aware of it. We should become aware of it if ONLY because this might be a dress rehearsal, if they manage to steal the election in November (and don’t think they won’t. Most people are like infants in their denial of the massive levels of fraud.) But also because frankly, it’s time they realized their schemes aren’t going to work. They need their nose shoved in. They need a demonstration as to why they’re playing a dangerous game. Before they go too far.

So lay in your plans on how to survive their economic blow designed to make sure that only the big corporations (largely under their control) survive this.

What your plan is, depends on who you are.  I know that already hair stylists are doing house calls, and thereby cocking a snook at the closure orders while not calling the kind of fire on them that open defiance would do.

The rest of us? Well…  I’m a fairly useless woman,  who can’t do much but tell stories. But I’m studying ways to start other part time businesses (yes, in my copious spare time) simply to raise the unicorn fist aloft and scream “We will do better than we did before. And also you’re not the boss of us. You never were.”

I don’t know your circumstances, or your place. However, start laying in your plans (Oh, and the person who can and has time to program, please ping me in email again. Have talked to husband. We might be able to start …. something to sell books online right now without infringing on your amazon sales.  Later…. well. Later getting around blocks might be helpful.)  Start getting ready to move.  Not in a violent way (there are other boxes we can resort to, still) but in ways that denies their primary object of destroying us economically.

In fact, because we’re us, and not Portuguese with its long inheritance of dysfunctionality, let’s do this in an American way: Bigger, Better, More in Your Face and Unabashedly.

Let’s make sure we come out of this better off than we ever were.  Each of us and all of us.

Be fearless, be innovative be — despite them — prosperous.

Be not afraid.

Go be productive.



369 thoughts on “Civil Shoulder Shrug

  1. Cock a snook? I’m sorry i am obviously too old to get the reference. (At least that’s my go-to excuse when speaking to anyone under 50) I don’t know about you, but i had an immediate mental image of holding a small ocean fish by the middle, and pointing it’s snout at someone like a gun. To cock your snook would you brush back the dorsal fins: or brush them forward in a threat display?
    I wouldn’t want to behave inappropriately at cusp.

    1. I think it’s a variant spelling on cock a snock (rude gesture made by putting one’s hand to one’s nose, thumb touching nose, and wiggling the fingers).

      1. Just sheltered. The gesture described by TXRed is hundreds of years old. I have seen some illustrations from Punch Magazine that had it. I never knew what it was called though. I guess you all are enhancing my education and socialization.

      2. I’ve never heard it called anything other than ‘thumbing your nose’.
        “They were the bad guys, as you say, we were the good guys, and they made a very satisfying THUMP when they hit the floor!”

      3. snock

        That’s got to be a regionalism. I’ve heard “cock a snook” many times, usually in British sources, but I’ve never heard “snock”.

    2. Just sheltered. The gesture described by TXRed is hundreds of years old. I have seen some illustrations from Punch Magazine that had it. I never knew what it was called though. I guess you all are enhancing my education and socialization.

      1. Oh, dear. One wonders what else we might teach you accidentally in the comments. You might become Deplorable and proud of it! And classically educated! There are all sorts of interesting reprobates hanging around here, joking and laughing and stopping to explain when asked…

        And punning. Terrible thing, that.

        Me, of course, I’m pure as the driven slush when it comes to all of the above…

            1. Oh, brain hiccup: did y’all see the movie “Home” with Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez (2015, animated)? This reminds me of the car.

              1. Leaving you high and dry?

                (How can you be high and dry and drowning in debt at the same time?)

    3. I always heard it as schnuck and assumed it was Yiddish. The things one learns here!

      in other news, police came to an open gym down south jersey. Told the people there they were in violation of the governor’s executive order said stay safe and drove away.

      And so it continues.

      1. A schnook is Yiddish for a nebish, a dumb bunny, mark, or clueless victim type. Several alternate spellings as is typical for yiddish translations.
        A snook is a salt water fish. It can also mean a jutting out promontory of land.
        To cock a snook means to thumb one’s nose at another, typically in derision, by placing the thumb against one’s nose and wiggling the spread fingers. First written account of such is from Wynne’s Diary 1791.

        1. Oy gevalt. I knew what a shnook was, but had wondered how one could cock it. Now I know.

          1. Don’t go off half-cocked!

            Use -both- hands!

            Wait. That is “Moose”.

  2. Ummm… Nine-Day Fever originated on Venus.

    Unfortunately for your hopes and dreams, I fear that when Marxism takes hold it destroys the host’s brain, so even if you managed to cure the collectivist disorder, the patient would wind up a drooling vegetable. At least they would be less annoying that way.
    There is no shortage of people convinced they can create the perfect world. Trouble is, they always start out by fucking up this one.

    1. Imaginos1892 said “the patient would wind up a drooling vegetable. At least they would be less annoying that way.”. I don’t know the current Democrat front runner isn’t far from that and yet he is seriously annoying.

      1. Biden sounds like he has gone through several rounds of the Klingon Mind Sifter.

          1. But, being Klingons, they kept trying, and trying…

            “Klingon warriors NEVER admit defeat.”

            Even when they should.
            They say I can’t be a nonconformist because I’m not like the other nonconformists.

        1. The Klingon running the Mind Sifter is reported to have run away from it screaming ‘Brain! Brain! Where is Brain?”

      1. Then again, can one find a true Marxist in a Marxist country? After all, the first thing a Marxist Revolution does is shoot all the true Marxist Revolutionaries. The survivors lean quick that mouthing loyalty to Big Brother is more important than fidelity to the Principles of Scientific Marxist-Leninism, especially when those principles change on the whim of Big Brother.

  3. On “national socialism” and “international socialism”, a few years back somebody on Baen’s Bar (Politics conference) tried to explain the difference between Fascism and Communism.

    According to his textbooks, the difference was Fascism worked for “The Good Of The State” and Communism worked for “The Good Of The People”.

    Plenty of the Barflies asked “What’s The Difference”.

    Both are totalitarian and “What Is Good” is in the “Mind Of The Rulers”.

    Of course, it doesn’t matter to an individual if they are punished for “Crimes Against The State” or punished for “Crimes Against The People”. 😡

    1. I’m always impressed how reading Marx, Lenin, Hitler, and co. puts people off of statism of any flavor. Perhaps not the least because Marx and Hitler needed editors so very badly.

      1. If one MUST read someone who desperately needed an editor, could they be directed to to Tolkien? I can’t stand his work as he so very very badly needed an editor, but even *I* can see he did FAR less damage with his works.

        1. Tolkien is very focused on what his audience will enjoy. Not everybody is part of his audience, and it seems to be a pretty reliable test for a certain kind of brain or aesthetic. The stuff that Tolkien people particularly like is the stuff that non-Tolkien people hate most of all.

          That said, some people who cannot stand reading Tolkien have learned to like Tolkien audiobooks. And I am glad some people learned about him from the movies.

          1. Tolkien, technically, wrote for an audience of two: himself and his son, Christopher. He was engaged in a linguistic exercise and re-working of Nordic myths. His was not writing for commercial concerns.

          2. I didn’t like Lord of the Rings when I first read it at age 11. When I read it again at age 18, I loved it.

          3. Read Tolkien in college. Didn’t we all at the time. Then surprised at the number of jr. Infantrymen–enlisted and commissioned rereading it in era69-71

        2. In LOTR Tolkien is writing a tenth century Eddic saga in Edwardian English. This is completely in line with the scholarship that defined his adult life. Rather like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Tolkien is a fantastic storyteller, but while he can capture arresting ,omens and images (as could ERB), he isn’t actually a very good Author.

          If you love the language, LOTR is wonderful. If you are habituated to the short, pungent phrasing of the likes of Chandler and Hemingway, LOTR might just drive you mad.

            1. If you read genre fiction post WW2 in origin, yes, you have. Hemingway’s dominance in the style of language outside of literary fiction is still unbroken.

              Tom Simon makes a pretty good argument that Heinlein took off like a rocket in sci-fi because he was the first author in the field to marry Hemingway’s style to science fiction or, as he put it, “Heinlein became famous by writing science fiction that sounded like Hemingway instead of H. G. Wells.” (and he said the same for Chandler and Christie).

              1. Tolkien doesn’t sound Edwardian. Eddison or Dunsany sound Edwardian.

                And LOTR is not much like a saga, except if Chaucer and Trollope were like Icelandic sagas. Tolkien also has more, and more varied, levels of discourse and differing styles than just about anyone except Chaucer and Shakespeare.

                1. Actually, as an adult, I have delighted to find so much in Tolkien that he snuck from mysteries, Westerns, operas, sf and early scientifiction, etc.

                2. If you want to understand the way language is used in Tolkien, read Shippey’s book.

                  Tolkien takes you from Edwardian England (in the feel of the language) back and back and back again until when the Eagles fly in with their news they’re speaking in the tongue of the Psalmist.

                  As to being a great author, there’s a bit at toward the end where the harpist strikes up a Lay, and like Samwise, every single time I laugh out loud with tears running down my face. And I’ve read it at least 40 times.

                  Try pulling that off with a mere schmear “not a great writer”.

                  1. I think the main reason that people think of Tolkien as having long complicated sentences is that they aren’t reading them out loud. You read anything influenced by classical Greek and Roman lit, or by oral literature, and you’re bound to have long sentences. We’re used to increasingly short sentences or paragraphs or even chapters when we read, but people don’t talk that way much.

                    1. If someone hasn’t started a sentence with no antecedent/clear topic and ended up two tangents deep before finally emerging to illuminate what he was talking about in the first place, have you really spoken to each other?

                    2. Anyhow, the oral thing also influences the use of different registers of speech, different ways of talking, etc., as well as the Tolkien concern that invented language be both symbolic in its sounds (in an Indo-European way) and aesthetically pleasing to the ear, as well as fun from a linguistic standpoint.

                      The other factor is the Dumas “orient the reader, and describe the mood of the scene coming up, by describing the landscape/cityscape/room and the weather, and then narrowing down to the exact place where the scene happens.” It doesn’t come across as long if you’re used to it and seeing its functionality, but it can seem long if you’re not. (Or if you just dislike the technique.) I don’t know if it’s Dumas who came up with it or somebody else; but everybody after him used it for quite a while, which is probably why it seems like a Victorian or Edwardian marker. Filmmakers use it today with their long shots moving into a small area, while setting atmosphere. But a lot of mystery and romance writers still use it, as do Westerns. They smoosh it into a smaller space, but it’s still there.

                      And the Russians still use it a ton in almost everything they write. The weather report, I call it.

                    3. PK — Hee! Very true! But that’s what drives people crazy when they read the letters of Paul, even though reading the letters out loud makes them easier.

                      People don’t realize how much linguistic jiggerypokery and magic occurs in ordinary colloquial speech. That’s why transcripts always look a little funny. And that’s without counting pitch changes, emphases on words or syllables, weird tones of voices and gestures that transform meaning, and so on.

              2. I have imagined, for some time, a doctoral dissertation with the title, “Hammett, Heinlein, and Hemingway: Studies in Twentieth Century Masculinity.”

                1. Back around 1980, somebody commissioned several critical biographies of SF authors for Oxford U Press. Heinlein got the attention of H. Bruce Franklin who achieved distinction in 1972 for losing tenure and being fired by Stanford U after he incited students to take over the campus computer center as part of a Viet Nam war protest. (Both Wikipedia and Infogalactic have articles on him. He’s your basic Maoist piece of work, and “responsible” for some of the attention SF received from academia.)

                  Franklin’s book (don’t know if it’s in print; I don’t care) is RAH, America as Science Fiction. I haven’t walled the book, if only because it’s a good example of having one’s enemies writing your biography. FWIW, another of Franklin’s books is called (haven’t known of it until now) War Stars: The Superweapon and the American Imagination. Dammit, now where are my eyes? I’m glad the dogs just ate.

              3. I have heard that Heinlein described his writing style as, “Tell the story.”

              4. Heinlein could SHOW character and SHOW plot and SHOW how technology without writing a static essay on the subject. So yes, he was Hemingway. Ol’ Ernest said he kept most of the story hidden, and Heinlein did that with the technology. You knew he was an engineer, and he showed how people used to the technology of the future actually thought about it and used it.
                Thanks for the reference to Tom Simon, and that explains why I have ONE book by Dashiel Hammet and almost the entire collection by Raymond Chandler.
                If you enjoy Conan Doyle and Christie, look up Jacques Futrelle’s short stories about the “Thinking Machine.” He wrote contemporaneously with Conan Doyle, but had the extreme misfortune to go down with the Titanic. He wrote of the same amazing deductive solutions, but his were more often amazing events with simple causes. I have his complete Thinking Machine stories.

                1. Tom Simon is only the second person whose literary criticism I have bought and re-read.

                  Oddly, the other is LeGuin, whose “Language of the Night” is more important today than when she wrote it 40+ years ago. It remembers what fantasy used to be to the point where she remarks that would be fantasy writers in English always have a Dunsany pastiche phase.

                  At the time she wasn’t wrong (at the ripe age of 14 when I read it I was having mine) and to the degree she is no longer right today, fantasy as a genre suffers for it. Especially since so many today aren’t even one degree of separation from someone who did have such a phase.

            2. Mr. Clemens made quite a few worthwhile observations, but reading his stuff often reminded me of listening to one of those people who would take a ten-word joke and pad it out with so much irrelevant detail that by the time he got to the punch line, I didn’t care any more.

              It’s a difference in style, I’m sure; but I’d been reading modern (1950s/1960s, then) SF before I encountered Mark Twain, and I was used to stories that moved along considerably faster.

          1. If you love the language, LOTR is wonderful. If you are habituated to the short, pungent phrasing of the likes of Chandler and Hemingway, LOTR might just drive you mad.

            This kind of thing is why I think I need to make sure to introduce the little one(s) to works in a variety of styles. So many people seem to bog down in perfectly good stories just because it doesn’t sound like what they’re used to. Having preferences is fine, but some people just seem like they’re habituated to some very limited language usage. As if they think the only legitimate cheese is, I don’t know, Swiss.

            1. Confession: I don’t like Heinlein’s writing very much. I respect his accomplishments, but there are some writers I just can’t get into, and he’s one of them. It might be that I prefer more purple in my prose than he provides (and I can tolerate a good bit: Doc Smith, David Weber). Or it might be just his particular version of sparse prose and condensed essence of story.

              I’ve also seen other people bounce off authors I like, and even off authors I would have expected them to like. So de gustibus and all that.

              1. De gustibus and all that indeed!

                I personally don’t care for Tolkein (written) at all. Bounced off it in my preteens, bounced off it in my teens, and it wasn’t until my late 20’s, well after the movies had come out and I’d enjoyed them with friends, that I was stuck on an airport layover so dreadfully boring, with such dire implications to missing my flight, that I managed to force myself through the first of the trilogy.

                I’d rather read Federal Aviation Regulations. Seriously. Given the choice between the Two Towers and FARs on another trip, I read the FARs and found them more engrossing. And then I ran out of FAR updates and slogged through Two Towers anyway. Not a good trip.

                Conversely, my brother loved them so much he taught himself to read and write whatsit-the-elf-language as a teenager. No accounting for taste at all!

                1. “But if it’s interminably long it *must* be good! Besides, they have college courses in how to appreciate Tolkein!”

                  – TRX “humbug!”

                  1. Of course this can be turned right around: “But if it’s short and cryptic it *must* be good! Besides, they have college courses in how to appreciate Hemingway!”

                    1. If you can’t enjoy reading a book without taking a college course on it, I wouldn’t call that the mark of a great author.

                      If you can enjoy a book just by picking it up and reading it, if the story draws you in so much you don’t even think about the author, THAT is great writing.

                    2. Oh, for goodness’ sake, quit burning pixels on such nonsense. There are no great books, there are no bad books, there are merely books — and personal reactions to each and every one.

                      Nor are there “right” and “wrong” toppings for pizza. If you like spam and pineapple then enjoy — but don’t expect me to share. If you like prose thick and turgid that’s fine — but any recommendations from you are going to be taken by me as contra-indications of readability.

                      Back when I worked at a movie theatre patrons would ask for my recommendation, as if I could know their preferences! I learned to ask, “What was the last movie you really liked, what was the last film you hated?” and with that bracketing I could suggest something they might enjoy (or at least not return and grouse at me, which was my primary interest after selling the ticket.)

                      It took me many years to truly grasp the principle that because I enjoy a thing does not mean it is good, and because I don’t enjoy a thing does not make it bad. For Deity’s sake, I order my Pad Thai “Thai hot”! Expecting many others to like the same things I do is narcissistic.

                      De gustibus non est disputandum

                    3. Some people are never going to love some writers. Some people will appreciate some writers sooner and other writers later. It’s not a moral or intellectual failing; it’s aesthetic, neurological, and personality differences.

                      But there are some writers who are objectively great, because their own works are classics for the ages and contain years of deepening and changing enjoyment; and because they make the language more powerful and open doors for other writers. You don’t have to like Chaucer and Shakespeare, or Austen and Kipling, but they are clearly great. And it would seem that Tolkien is also objectively great.

                      Generally, though, you’re right about college courses. They can’t make you love authors. You can learn more about what they are up to, and understand them better, or you can find out that the course is a total waste of time, or you can gain information to slot into your brain for a later day, when you grow into liking the author. But love and a cold have to be caught.

            2. I recommend two novels George MacDonald, The Princess and the Goblin and its sequel, The Princess and Curdie.

              His writings have been cited as a major literary influence by many notable authors including Lewis Carroll, W. H. Auden, David Lindsay, J. M. Barrie, Lord Dunsany, Elizabeth Yates, Oswald Chambers, Mark Twain, Hope Mirrlees, Robert E. Howard, L. Frank Baum, T.H. White, Richard Adams, Lloyd Alexander, Hilaire Belloc, G.K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Walter de la Mare, E. Nesbit, Peter S. Beagle, Neil Gaiman and Madeleine L’Engle.

              and as such offers a good entry point before others have refined and streamlined the genres.

              Andrew Lang’s “Fairy” books are also a good base for further reading, offering as they do the templates for much of later story-telling.

              You’ve the right idea of exposing them to a broad range of influences before their tastes congeal and all they’re willing to read are the boos of R. L. Stine. (Not to dismiss Mr. Stine’s work, but they are rather limited; it would be like learning t color with only a green crayon.)

          2. That would explain a lot. My mother had read me The Hobbit and the entire LOTR as a bedtime story by the time I turned six. And again when I was nine and sister six. And I listened surrepticiously when I was 12. Add in the Wind in the Willows, and no wonder my idea of a very basic, clear paragraph gets rated as requiring a bachelor’s degree to comprehend…

            1. And that entirely explains me. When we lived too far from the library for me to walk there every day, I started rummaging through Dad’s books. This is why my 6th grade English teacher was convinced that someone else was writing my papers, because there was no other explanation for why an 11 year old girl in 1977 was writing like a man educated 5 or more decades before she was born.

              1. there was no other explanation for why an 11 year old girl in 1977 was writing like a man educated 5 or more decades before she was born.

                NO other explanation? Possession, reincarnation, spiritualism … Surely a sixth grade teacher would have experienced at least one of these things?

            2. I read LotR in 5th grade, so age 10. I do tend to have a rather more convoluted paragraph style than most, unless I’m deliberately keeping it simple, i.e. for business emails.

              I’m reading it to my 11-year-old right now, and she doesn’t seem to be having any issues keeping up.

              1. Heck, my own writing voice was made more ponderous and Victorian by reading and absorbing the comic stylings of Osbert Lancaster from a very young age – so young that I grokked the illustrations long before I completely understood the commentary.
                Fabulous quotes – on the interiors of Victorian Scottish castles: “Mr Landseer whose only merit as a painter was the tireless accuracy with which he recorded the more revoltingly sentimental aspects of the woollier mammals.”
                And on the fashion for medieval-Tudor revival: “All over the country the latest and most scientific methods of mass-production are being utilized to turn out a stream of old oak beams, leaded window-panes and small discs of bottle-glass, all structural devices which our ancestors lost no time in abandoning as soon as an increase in wealth and knowledge enabled them to do so.” And finally, “A taste for the grandiose, like a taste for morphia, is, once it has been fully acquired, difficult to keep within limits.”
                Yes, my sense of humor was fatally diverted by this book. Also my hatred of modern arc

              2. I didn’t read LotR until my teens. But then my reading in general skewed heavily to non-fiction (and lots of it) prior to my teens, and the fiction I did read back then tended to be children’s and YA. (The non-fiction, OTOH didn’t skew that way.) I know that warped me.

                Another thing that warped me was that one of the “children’s” books I read back when I was 9 or 10 was Bambi, A Life in the Woods. NOT the Disney version but the original translated into english. I’m aware that the Disney version exists, but I’ve never actually seen it.

                  1. Hmmm. Now I have to check which version I have. I do know it has Felix Salten as the author, but beyond that, I don’t even recall ever reading it.
                    As a side bit of information, supposedly Felix Salten wrote pornography to pay the bills when his legitimate writings weren’t selling.

                1. Did you know that the translator of Bambi into English from the German was Whittaker Chambers? Quite an interesting life he had.

              3. Not certain what age my kids read LOTR, all 5 of them read all the books as children. I was in my 30s when I finally read them. Once. Had to order multiple copies of the Harry Potter books when they came out- so they could all read them at once. My daughter took one to school to read, and the teacher called us and said we should get more age appropriate reading material for her; that was much too advanced. Lucky for her my wife took the call and politely asked “What? The other kids can’t read? Why not?” My reply would have been similar, but not polite.

                I’ve never has an answer to the question “How do you get your kids to read?’ because I’ve never faced the problem of them not wanting to.

                1. When I was in first grade my teacher was so shocked that what I was hiding behind my ‘weekly reader’ was THURBER COUNTRY that she lat the whole thing drop.

                  1. In first grade Robert’s teacher confiscated the SIGNED omnibus of Johnny Maxwell’s trilogy (Pratchett.)
                    This is the same woman who was telling us Robert was learning disabled and would never learn to read. YES she did hold both of these in her head at the same time….

                    1. My very resourceful son broke into the closet and liberated it. he told me in case there was trouble.
                      There wasn’t Bitch never realized it was gone.

              4. Hmm, at age 10, I was struggling a bit with Starman Jones, primarily because the vocabulary in that book was slightly beyond what I’d been exposed to. I read a lot in grades 4 and 5, but perhaps a bunch of somewhat, er, simplified books. Grandpa Pete and Grandma gave me abridged books for Christmases at that time, and I suspect it didn’t push my word-storage as much as it could have. Fixed that later.

                Picked up The Hobbit and LotR in college (Lord, every damned hippy chick somehow thought she was Galadriel. Did not want to know what hippy guys thought they were.) and read it to see what the fuss was. Liked it, and eventually picked up Silmarillion and a couple of the Tales books, but they weren’t my favorites. One of these days, I’ll reread LotR, though I get enough Wormtongue from snippets of MSM news that I don’t avoid.

                1. I was a very early and advanced reader. My dad taught me using basically whole-word, and according to him I derived phonics on my own.

                  Lord, every damned hippy chick somehow thought she was Galadriel.

                  My first wife, born 1969, went to Catholic grade school in Portland, OR, with a boy named:

                  Aragorn Boromir Celeborn Dean

                  Poor guy. Not only is he “Aragorn” but his initials are ABCD.

                  1. I was a very early and advanced reader. My dad taught me using basically whole-word, and according to him I derived phonics on my own.

                    I was a late reader. When we (okay, mom, dad, and dad’s siblings, moved grandma from 4th street to her home at 24th & Harris) I was given a box of dad’s sister’s books. Bobbsey Twins, Nancy Drew, a few Hardy Boys, the other grandmother had Zane Grey, Ethan Allen, Tarzan, and between her and an aunt, the Black Stallion books … I was 8. Hmmm, seems like Dick and Jane weren’t my cup of tea. Before I was out of middle school (age 14) I’d read The Hobbit, LOTR, and Dune. As well as every Heinlein, Clark, Norton, and other SF writer I could get my hands on. There were other authors I read too, but their names elude me now.

                    Grade school teachers however drove my folks nuts. My parents knew I could read. They knew I understood what I read. They knew I picked up new words meanings by context even if I couldn’t pronounce the word. That was the problem. Phonics aside, my pronunciation of some words, even when I know the correct pronunciation, I can’t. Which meant reading aloud was a problem. Reading tests where you read cards and answered fill in the blank answers, I sailed through. They were go at your pace & I was through the entire year worth before Thanksgiving. But I could not read aloud to the satisfaction of my teachers; which drove them insane, they in turn drove my parents nuts. I was in grade school in the ’60s.

                    Uh, we won’t discuss my spelling without the availability of spell checkers & other tools. I’ve been known to change sentence structure because my original chosen word I couldn’t come close enough to spell correctly to have it in the suggested list.

                    1. I learned to read before going to school. Good thing. I am mildly dyslexic, so my spelling is atrocious. I don’t read word for word, but clump by clump. So the exact letters that go into a word are not important. Spell check is my fiend.
                      My family loved books. I started science fiction early. Read Asimov’s foundation trilogy when it was a trilogy in the 50’s. Grew up in Berkeley, frequented the Berkeley city library and its stacks. In the early 60’s collected science fiction mags, and comic books. Sold 10,000 comic books for 2K when I got back from the army in 69, and my parents would not let me keep warping the house with them, but kept the 30 year run of Analog/Astonishing, because those were real science fiction. So made the worst financial decision of my life.

                    2. You consider spell check fiendish? I say autocorrupt is much worse; it will actually stick the wrong word into your composition, as if it knows what you mean to say better than you do. I refuse to deal with it.
                      “Gentlemen! You can’t fight in here — this is the War Room!”

                    3. You consider spell check fiendish? I say autocorrupt is much worse

                      Agree with both. I do not let anything auto correct corrupt. It can tell me what is misspelled. If the wrong word is selected, that is on me. Or you know I’ll rephrase or leave it misspelled. Although if it is so corrupt misspelled that the correct word won’t popup on the list, then I am mispronouncing in my head, the spelling is so far off that no one will know what I meant. Occasionally it’ll even fit. None I can think of that I’ve pulled lately, but I like spell check friend/fiend, you’ve both expressed, and sin/son someone recently pulled off … my typing has improved enough over the last 45 years that I can’t blame mistyping on my spelling errors; I try, but no one buys it. I do blame my handwriting, just read the letters wrong, not that I’m allowed to get away with that at home at least. Handwriting spell checker is really, really, bad …

                    4. I well recall the great Huzzah! that the Harry Potter stories got boys (Boys!) to read. Apparently the trick to that is giving them something worth reading, something with a compelling plot featuring characters who were’t simpering gits.

                      Who’d have thunk it? Girls read to please their teachers but boys read to please themselves.

                    5. Girls read to please their teachers

                      We do? um, okay? News to me … OTOH I never did follow the herd, guess I started early.

                    6. It is statistically established that girls, to greater extent than boys, are motivated to seek approval of authority figures. That you and other females occupy the pointy ends of that particular curve does not disprove the statistical claim.

                      OTOH, it is entirely credible that I have been lied to in this regard. It would hardly be the first instance of such prevarication.

                    7. I still have some words that I pronounce funny; I suspect it has to do with unusual spellings. I could NOT spell ‘friend’ until I learned (on my own) to pronounce it ‘fry-end’.
                      I learned to read when my elder brother did. He was so excited, that every day he would come home and teach me what he had learned. As a consequence, I sailed through 1-4 grades, without being in the least brilliant. Later school years became a hard slog.

                    8. When you get to college, you can tell which people were intense readers by how they mispronounce words that they’ve read but never heard spoken. I had that in spades.

                      To this day, at age 55, I have to remind myself that “beribboned” (as in, the general in his beribboned uniform) is pronounced “bee-RIB-und”, not “BARRY-bonned”.

                    9. Younger son still mispronounces Bureaucracy. Apparently in reading it fast the first few times he read Beaucracy (Rhymes with theocracy) and now can’t get rid of it. He did this yesterday and I corrected him and he said “Mom, if it didn’t take the first million times….”

                    10. I get some of my mispronunciation from my mother, though a bit of hers was a family joke. What she could do to “Worcestershire” was amazing. Grandpa was Danish, and the Germanic tendency to pronounce everything in a word has caused a bit of trouble for us over the years. My attempts at French are intersting.

                    11. In our house “Worcestershire” is the “Right Steak Sauce that starts with W” because I can’t pronounce it correctly. It drives my youngest sister nuts. Hubby and son know what I mean.

                      I pronounce Washington as WaRshington, if I’m not paying attention … I have no idea where that dang R comes from.

                    12. d – The R in Washington comes from rhotic pronunciations, where a vowel at the end of a syllable gets an R added onto it. The English in certain areas do it a lot, and so do certain areas of the US.

                      For instance, when you watch a UK show talking about the Law of Rassilon, and they say “the Lore of Rassilon.” Or when the Little Women call their mom “Marmie” instead of Mama or Mommy.

                    13. I remember being completely astounded when somebody expressed bewilderment at the idea that “Gryffindor” and “Ravenclaw” didn’t rhyme.

                      I was somewhat familiar with rhotic accents and — to my ear — r’s sort of half-disappearing or half-inserting, but clearly I lacked an intuitive grasp.

              5. Look on the bright side, you could have read Lord Dunsany!

                (The First Terrible Fate That Befalleth Unwary Beginners in Fantasy, as LeGuin put it.)

        1. Hess was the adoring secretarial acolyte. Changing a word or letter of Hitlers would be up there with an ordinary Muslim changing a letter in the Koran.

      2. Hitler actually put almost nothing in writing; Mein Kampf was assembled from Hess’ transcripts of his speeches while he was in prison at Landsberg.

        Whatever crimes Hess have committed during his life, spending nine months in a cell listening to Hitler shout at the walls had count toward atonement…

        Hitler and Stalin were both noted for loving the sound of their own voices, and keeping dinner “guests” into the early hours while they went over the same subjects over and over. Though at least Hitler didn’t shoot people when they failed to show the required level of enthusiastic attention.

        I was reading the autobiography of one of the early Politurbo members. He was talking about attendance at Stalin’s dinners during the Terror. There was a section along the line of, “me and Dmitry and Georgi and Mikhail and Piotr were all there, and Stalin made Georgi drink until he threw up, and…” And down in the bottom was a large footnote; for each of the names mentioned in the text there was an item: “Dmitry, executed xx-xx-xx, enemy of the State, Georgi, executed xx-xx-xx, enemy of the State, Mikhail…”

      1. Yep.

        And under Fascism, the State includes the People. 😉

        1. Under both, the State includes the Right People. For the rest, they have Gulags.

    2. Orwell’s “We have always been at war with Eastasia” had a real-world model. That model was when Stalin ordered his propagandists to pronounce “Fascism has always been the complete polar opposite of Communism” (despite being closely aligned and simpatico just a short time before) and the propagandists were able to make that stick.

      1. Today’s communists claim that fascism is right-wing, and can not be told differently. Just because THEY have to look right to see it, does not make it right-wing — but they can’t be told that either.
        It was impolite enough for me to suggest that the local government was stupid. It would have been most undiplomatic to prove it.

      2. The only thing socialists are good at is PROPAGANDA.
        Also your name should change to Intermittent lurker. Unless you mean you make deep observations, which I think is true. (Bows.)

      3. The cold fact being that the only real difference between brands of Authoritarianism is which scapegoats get liquidated to excuse the failures of the State.

    3. I explain the difference as being in which way the government’s guns are initially pointed.

    4. As I once explained here, Fascism is when the government allows you to retain the title to your business, but tells you how to run it. Communism is when they get rid of the pretence.

      1. Of course, under Communism, it means they have the technical job of keeping it running especially since you were off to the gular.

  4. [curfews were often only for thirty and under, since the authorities feared civil unrest.]

    Had they been sane, they would have only feared UNCIVIL unrest. Silly humans!

    1. Civil Unrest was the Tea Party.

      They were called Nazis.

      So, the same people, more or less, gave us Trump and the current protests.

      Because the “elite” have no idea what uncivil really looks like. They think it is college students in the 60s.

      1. Some of those “college students” were setting bombs and assassinating cops. But no, they’re not worried, Bill Ayers is one of theirs… what do you mean other people might pick up those tactics under heavy enough stress? /Sarc

        1. We aren’t going to pick up their tactics. We’re smart enough to avoid blowing ourselves up.

          1. Even better, you can read the instruction books that they wrote detailing how to avoid blowing yourself up.

            1. You would read THEM for instructions??? You would trust THEM?? Are you dim. You go to the better sources available on the internet.
              Books on everything you could wish.
              In the 60’s and early 70’s I looked in Revolutionary Book Stores. I knew then that the whole ting was a game.
              There were 100’s of books on the WHY of revolution and maybe 5 or 6 that purported to be on the HOW most of those were supposed to be by Mao and Che and other such drivel. The only on I found that was at all useful was the Anarchist Cookbook. The Revolution of the 60’s was a JOKE, all TALK and stupidity.

              1. Yeah, this times a million.

                Explosives are good for adding bodycount to a spree killing, but are not necessarily the best tactic to invest in for a sane revolution.

                You have three good options for learning to make explosive devices. 1. Learn from a source with the skills at a good level, better than the cookbook. 2. Do a lot of careful experimentation, which is slow and and also has a serious detection risk. 3. Learn chemical engineering for making your explosive filler, electrical engineering for your triggers, and mechanical engineering for predicting the effects. Then, if you were very, very good, you might be able to minimize the number of experiments needed to reliably produce safe destructive bombs. Expect to take a decade or two getting that good, which probably means you don’t avoid detection.

                If you are sane, you don’t need the tactics and strategies of maniacs whose theorists have the goal of creating a Terror/bloodbath.

                If your revolutionary strategy is non-detection, there are techniques that can be perfected much less obviously than that of building ‘good’ explosive devices.

                For a conservative in the US, non-detection may not be the most important strategic goal. Our goal is a peace which previously existed, which was bottom up, and had fairly minimal levels of internal mass murder. Tactics are bad which screw over our ability to have peace with those who are not the leftists cheating where the current approximation of peace is concerned. Tactics are bad which screw over our ability to ally with the very dangerous people who we need to win the hypothetical civil war, and force peace on dissidents afterwards. So, it is very important to look carefully at the status quo, and the desired end state, and carefully calibrate one’s rejection of leftist norms. That constrains the tactical goals, and not ticking off the dangerous people constrains the means used to achieve those goals. There are no fixed formula, because a boogalo would see the dangerous people shift their perspectives because of what happens.

                The revolutionary tactic that most minimizes risk, under ordinary circumstances looks a lot like working ‘within the system’. If it works, you win without a shot being fired. Hurray, we have our peace again, without killing anybody, or attracting any attention. OTOH, we lack peace in the status quo to the extent that the previous efforts in this direction have not been completely successful. What level of success is livable?

              2. After those members of Weatherman accidentally blew themselves up, the new bomb makers for that group took a *very* careful review of the proper procedures to use when working with explosives. They ended up writing a how-to guide for (relatively) safe bomb-making. My understanding is that it was made available to others with similar “interests”, but I don’t think it ever appeared on a bookstore shelf. And I’ll add that afterwards, none of the members of Weatherman blew themselves up.

                1. They’re all so incompetent in everything. Even gaining power, it’s almost always an accident. Even their basic malice can’t explain why they fail so spectacularly every bloody time in every bloody way.

                  1. They seem to be pretty good at institutional capture, actually. And convincing people that they’re the oppressed, downtrodden underdogs while getting government backing to destroy anyone who expresses disagreement.

                    1. Gaining the sort of institutional power they’s amassed is actually rather easy. It merely requires hunkering down and arguing so tendentiously that everybody with any alternatives gets fed up and migrates to where they can actually achieve something.

                      Obstruction is their greatest strength, but it is an institutionally effective one. Remember the old joke about the argument amongst the body parts over which is most important …

                    2. Nope. Every damn thing. They use daddy’s money to leverage themselves into institutions that they wreck in a short period of time. The only thing I’ll grant them is low cunning. Lack of scruple and conscience is not ability. Parasitism is not competence

                  2. Well, as I’m trying to explain, they apparently wrote a decent guide to making bombs without blowing yourself up.

                    And no, it’s not something like “The Anarchist’s Cookbook”. It’s a technical how-to guide that was carefully researched and written after a few of the members of Weatherman blew themselves up (and a house) and the rest of the membership realized that they should be a lot more careful about building their bombs. It wasn’t meant for public consumption – again, unlike “The Anarchist’s Cookbook”. It was purely for themselves and other groups that had similar goals.

        2. What do you mean other people might be better than them and not regularly blow themselves up while making a bomb.

          What do you mean other people might actually know how to fight (unlike antifa) and realize the enemy gets a vote and plan appropriately.

  5. Barter economies have been around since day 2… And they DO operate in the rural areas/flyover country, and have for years.

      1. In rural economies times are always tough.

        It’s just that sometimes times are really tough. Typically following government efforts to “help” you.

    1. My dad was a country lawyer and was frequently paid in various goods for his services, I always tell folks we were on the junk cars and country ham standard.

      He eventually gave up and went to work for the the gubmint in DC as the only way he could see to put three daughters through college.

  6. Somewhat off topic reply. Absolutely Fabulous header: Taking Over The World And Leaving It Ruthlessly Alone.

    1. But why get rid of all of the Ruths? Shouldn’t we work on getting rid of the Karens instead?

      1. You know, I’ve always liked the name “Karen.” I had a good friend named Karen in elementary school. Why did it become the synonym for “busybody”? Couldn’t we be talking about “Hilaries” instead?

        1. A friend who watches that sort of thing for lolz (post-grading, I suspect) says he thinks it came from a character on Will and Grace.

            1. I used to watch that; it was a comedy series, and there was a rich woman named Karen there, and she kind of was?


              Megan Mullally as Karen Walker: Karen “works” as Grace’s assistant, making “Grace Adler Designs” popular among her socialite acquaintances. She is married to the wealthy (but mostly unseen) Stanley Walker. Karen is also known for casually downing alcohol and prescription medication and has a venomous personality. However, she is very close to Jack, is friends with Grace, and throughout the show’s run warms to Will. Even though she is devoid of all manners and social graces, Karen has shown bouts of intelligence: having a working knowledge of business/real-estate market economics, a moderate understanding of computers, and a flair for interior design. She is also a certified public notary and an aficionado of various liquors and prescription drugs. Despite this, she is often unaware of her rudeness and thoughtless conduct toward the working and middle classes, often criticizing and mocking what she fails to understand.

    2. It’s been my header for a while. 😀 It’s my general attitude. IF I have to fight to be left alone, I will. But mostly I want to be LEFT THE HECK ALONE.

      1. If they were capable of leaving folk alone, they’d not be democrats. Or bureaucrats. Perhaps I repeat myself…

        Leaving folks alone implies, to them, a loss of control. And power. Those things, they will fight for. Even when the fight is nonsensical and hurts them.

  7. I want to see a T-shirt with Fauci wearing a Star Trek uniform.


    I got this job because somebody owed somebody a favor. I keep this job because I say whatever the political hacks holding my leash want you to hear.

    I’ve been promising an AIDS vaccine for 35 years, spent billions and billions of dollars, and have bupkus to show for it. Now I’m promising you a coronavirus vaccine in six months.

    But I really, really mean it this time!
    Under Capitalism, man exploits man.
    Under Communism, it’s the other way around.

    1. I can’t not say this Under capitalism man benefits man, both prosper.
      Under communism man exploits man, neither prospers
      Also capitalism isn’t, an ism that is. Capitalism is simply a made-up term of derision for how the market works. Even at the height of the soviet union capitalism in the form of the black market was what got the necessary done.

      1. Exactly. I no longer use the word “capitalism.” While Marx didn’t invent it, he certainly *made* it.

        I always say free market to my children.

        1. What is capitalism? Simple. People trading with each other, freely.

          Communism and socialism are a *lot* harder to explain, going by what its adherents say and do.

          1. “Capitalism”, “Free Trade”, whatever you want to call it- it’s a description of normal human behavior, not a prescription for utopia. People like to better themselves, so they make deals to do just that- from the two kids trading lunch items, to the big businesses doing their thing.

            Marxism is an economic cargo cult that needs to dehumanize people in order to work, by removing that instinct people have to better themselves. Which never ever works out. After the initial bloody first few decades of horrific slaughter, they then settle into a pretend facade of Socialism hiding a cobbled together, inefficient, over-complicated, and corroded counterfeit copy of a free market system. A copy that breaks down a lot, because of all the monkeying with the machinery..

      2. And yet the communists insist that capitalism is all about the exploitation.

        There really does need to be a pithy saying about projection, one that matches “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.”

  8. ” Without the black market, the USSR wouldn’t have lasted 10 years. (And would have managed to starve even more people.)”

    Russia (and much of the other former Soviet states) is still hampered by the fact the nation is run by those who don’t understand anything but being in power, and a class that knows how to do capitalism, but is of a criminal class and still running it that way.

  9. Don’t discount the importance of being a woman who can tell stories just yet. The one and only anthropology class I managed to take was about the biological basis of sex differences, and one of the interesting ideas there was that menopause (which isn’t common in other mammal species, apparently) existed in order to assist humans in the parenting role. Specifically, while younger childbearing women were of course necessary to bear children, they also needed to be able to do things like gather and forage for food, and the presence of older non childbearing women in the tribe assisted with that because they provided child care. Or were the foragers themselves. I was never quite sure on the logic of the theory.

    Either way, though, it is those who can provide entertainment and services to those who mine and farm and hunt that tend to accumulate a bit more wealth than those who do the mining and farming. So, not useless.

    Oh, and also, the next person who says that we can go all vote by mail because the military does, and it’s not an issue, is going to get kicked in the teeth. Apart from the massive fraud issues, the logistics issues are ridiculous. The military is less than 1% of the population of the United States! We have to specifically request a ballot, and I personally only do so during Presidential election years because trying to keep up with all the other races is a fool’s game. Election fatigue is a real thing.

    1. I was active-duty for 20 years, and stationed overseas for at least fifteen years of that – and voted by mail. I’m fairly certain that my mail-in ballots were routinely discounted and/or ignored.

      1. Wasn’t there an uproar in 2008 or 2012 because military ballots kept getting “lost”?

        1. Wouldn’t surprise me if there was. I remember in the great Florida Butterfly Ballot recount, it eventually emerged that military mail-in ballots were ignored.

          1. I remember the “lost” and “misplaced” military ballots, too. Several times over the years- and hasn’t it been such a coincidence that they’ve been “lost” or “misplaced” nigh on *every* time the ballots are looked in to seriously?

            Still gets me, it does.

            1. The Sec of State of blue states were deliberately delaying them being sent in time at least during the last administration. An old vet here in Texas was having blue-eyed fits about it

          2. Military ballots weren’t being ignored in Florida 2000 – they were being directly and actively challenged and disqualified by Democrat election observers. I do not doubt that a little looking would turn up guidelines issued by the Gore campaign for those challenges.

            1. There were instruction on how to do it. And I literally saw a leftist dismiss it as a regular election ploy, unlike what the Republicans were doing.

        2. Yes. And 2004, 2000, 1996, and 1992… (since I first heard of it) each time, both Parties bellowed that Something Must Be Done… but somehow, nothing ever does.

      2. Yep – mail ballots were thrown in a pile and officially only even considered for opening if it was “close enough for them to matter”.

        This will continue to be the case when everyone is vote-by-mail.

        1. When I was working the polls many (many many) moons ago, absentee ballots for our district were delivered to the polling place on election day. If you voted absentee and changed your mind, just show up, prove who you are, and we would rip up the ballot and let you vote. At the end of the day, all votes were counted off the machines, and all the absentee ballots were opened and counted.

          All of them.

          We need to go back to doing that.

          1. The issue is that you KNOW that absentee ballots from certain areas, and certain populations, will favor one party or the other. And the Democrats consider cheating to be a normal part of politics.

    2. All the candidates are Party puppets. They have to toe the Party line to get on the ballot and get campaign support.

      Vote against the Party that hates you the most, and things get much simpler.

    3. > one of the interesting ideas there was that menopause (which isn’t common in other mammal species, apparently) existed in order to assist humans in the parenting role.

      Unless he had some evidence menopause took place *much* earlier until quite recently in human history, I’m not buying it. Onset of menopause can vary due to environmental factors, but it’s ordinarily sometime in the 50s. That’d be well into grandparent-hood for most ancient societies. And it would have to be a relatively wealthy society to support non-productive oldsters. Some people lived a long time, but they weren’t doing the kind of grunt labor most people had to do to stay alive.

      1. It is also having the anthropologist input a “why” into prehistory, where that sort of thing has been a serious no-no for some decades before. Boys don’t get more testosterone in order to become better warriors or hunters. It’s the other way around, if anything.

        Studying early modern humans is a puzzle with only 15% (at best) of the pieces, no edge pieces, no box, and no guarantee *any* of the ones you have connect to each other. While it can be interesting and fun to dream, the first part of the job (once you’ve got your site and your layers and artifacts) is classification and description. Anything more is fiction, at that point. Theories are nice, but you rarely get ones that have any sort of fact basis when you’re talking behavior and all you’ve got is potsherds and bone fragments.

        1. Hey now. I’m trying to set a story in a tribe of the earliest modern humans, and the picture I get keeps fuzzing in and out. When? Where? There’s only so much you can tell about culture from stones and bones, (not even potsherds, for the periods I’m looking at) and please don’t try to tell me that theory is isn’t nicely mixed in with the classification and description. No one is quite sure when hoomankind started running antelope to exhaustion and poking them with pointy sticks.

          1. Well, lack of knowledge of that period means that you can “make it up” without people screaming “But Science Says”. 😆

        1. I didn’t say I believed it, just that it was a hypothesis that apparently has been expounded. Although it depends on what you mean by “non-productive.” Childcare, foraging, being the storyteller and repository of knowledge in a preliterate community, those are all productive activities.

  10. I am having some very wierd issues posting. If i log in with facebook I can post exactly once. If i reply or try to post again i get an error to enter my email and name. i have to log out of facebook and log back in on the site to get to post. Any ideas? using Firefaux.

    1. Tim, that sounds like a problem with Facebook not WordPress. [Puzzled Smile]

    2. Of all the glitches with which WordPress abounds, leaving us to cry “WordPress Delenda Est!” …that’s a new one on me. Could be WP, could be FB. If you figure it out, please let us know?

      1. And if you want to go to war with it, wait for us. After the shovel work involved in laying in the never sufficiently damned rose garden, over this last week, the one thing I can do is hide bodies.

        1. as long as a landscaping company deosnt drive over them in their riding mower next week

    3. This morning WordPress had dumped me and I had some trouble logging in.
      While it’s tempting to posit a conspiracy, but I think it’s just that WordPress Delenda Est

    4. Been getting regularly kicked out when posting, also using the thermically enhanced vulpine interface. When the battle begins, the spears we shall bring will outnumber the blades of grass in spring…

  11. Also, no one addressed the real issue: Which way do you stroke those fins? It is one essential question similar to the old saw about how to smoke a turkey:
    The real question is which end do you light?

    1. Lighting the head end would seem to be the more unpleasant choice.
      Dayna: “Don’t you ever get tired of being right all the time?”
      Avon: “No, I get tired of other people being wrong.”

          1. In Ireland they would feed the pigs some of the mash left from making cider, which would ferment and make them drunk. I’ve never seen anything as funny as drunk pigs.

            1. *snrk*

              As a refined redneck and professional hillbilly, I say I have no *official* knowledge of how drunken porkers act…

              Unofficially, it’s funny as hell, and it may or may not have happened on multiple occasions during the time I was a teenager.

                1. Brown wasps. Look, my parents’ place had fruit trees in the back yard. If we didn’t pick the fruit when ripe, it would fall to the ground and ferment. The wasps would tunnel in and become thoroughly schnockered. I once watched a wasp attempt to fly in this state, and it made it about two inches. I was amused.

                  Now, I’m presuming that they would wind up hung over after a bender like that, I don’t know for sure, but I can tell you that there were times when the wasps seemed to be excessively ornery, and it tended to be in the fall when there were apples on the ground.

    2. Ugh, the stink of burning feathers… How fast is it going to go after you kick the tires and light the fires? And more importantly, what are you using for fuel? tell me it isn’t LOX, or worse, FOOF.

      1. Those are oxidizers, so the fuel is probably turkey flesh. Better that than engineer flesh.

        Could I interest you in a research proposal to replace gas engines with fuel cells supplied with liquid ozone and nitroglycerine?

        1. Solid fuel rockets made of C4 with pure oxygen injection. That’s going to have some energetic output.

          On that subject, I really like the solid fuel boosters with tire rubber fuel and nitrous oxide injection. Laugh your way to orbit, and it stops laughing as soon as you shut off the gas. No more “light the fuse and stand well back” boosters.

      2. FOOF? Gads, lass, you don’t want to get blown up *and* poisoned at the same time. That’s not salt on the wound, its worse!

          1. The F4. If you apply enough thrust, even a brick will fly. or so the Grumman boys used to say.

            1. I believe the space shuttle was described by her pilots as having “all the gliding characteristics of a well-made brick.”

                1. I’ll see you, and raise you Fresh Aire 5 by Mannheim Steamroller. In fact, I’m going to listen to ‘Escape From The Atmosphere’ right now!
                  Thor: “Merriment can sometimes be as great a burden as battle.”
                  Heimdall: “Then you are doing one of them incorrectly.”

  12. Funny you mention that German respect for the law.
    My grandfather came here from Germany via Ellis Island in 1910, settled in the midwest amongst kin, and apprenticed as a bake.
    He lived through both world wars, and the great depression, owned a bakery as well as several other businesses. Was successful and well regarded as a businessman in his rural Illinois community.
    Never entirely lost his accent and was very conservative and law abiding.
    But he also endured 13 years of the American Great Experiment, aka prohibition.
    I was fortunate in that he lived long enough that we could sit, talk, and enjoy sipping on a cold beer, and he would tell stories about the making of dandylion wine for those times when the bootleggers ran short of beer.
    Like I said, old German, respectful of the law. Grandma never fully forgave him for meekly turning in all their gold coins when FDR called for their surrender. But prohibition? That was simply a step too far for even a good German American to endure.
    Que Copperhead Road playing in the background.

    1. I’m certain that a lot of otherwise law-abiding ethnic Germans, Italians, etc. whiled away Prohibition by brewing their own beers and wines.

      1. Distilling was an honorable occupation for those with property on certain creeks and rivers up here, where one could hide both the still and the overly curious. Or so I’ve been told.

        1. “Well my name’s John Lee Pettimore
          Same as my daddy and his daddy before

          You hardly ever saw Grandaddy down here
          He only come to town about twice a year

          He’d buy a hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line
          Everybody knew that he made moonshine

          Now the revenue man wanted Grandaddy bad
          Headed up the holler with everything he had

          ‘Fore my time but I’ve been told
          He never come back from Copperhead Road.”
          — Steve Earle

          1. One of the skills I learned while growing up in Appalachia, was grading “mist on the hills.” That being, staring out the window on the way to school, after a rain, looking at the hills and the hollers and going “Mist,, mist, mist, moonshine, mist, moonshine, mist, mist, Ooooh, he got his wood wet!”

        2. Distillation still is an honorable thing, back in the deep hollers of Appalachia. Some locations have been handed down for generations, along with favorite recipes and techniques.

          It isn’t like to break the national monopolies, or even mildly irritate them. That isn’t the point of things. Rather, so I am told, it is something that’s not the government’s business. Such things are not sold, so the sales tax doesn’t apply. A jar of clear liquid fresh from a cool spring may contain a finer thing than mere springwater, and can be traded for other things money won’t buy.

          Such is rumor these days in Appalachia, and you know how the hill folk like to tell tall tales…

          1. Distilling non-licit beverages while ignoring the revenuers was a tradition of the old Scots-Irish long before they moved to the Appalachians.

          2. When I was flying in Georgia (ours, not the other one), student pilots and renters were told not to look at smoke or fly low over the mountains. A student came back with a hole in one wing (outboard of the fuel tank, thanks be). When asked, he said, “I saw smoke and thought it might be a forest fire, so I went to look at it.” The instructor and mechanic, let us say, gently remonstrated with him about not doing that again.

          3. We were at a goat festival in Tennessee a decade or so ago, so my husband could check out goat barbeque. We ended up, mostly by accident, in the camping area where the teams were staying. One team took us in and gave us samples of barbequed goat (not bad), then one guy pulled a Mason jar out of a cooler, opened it and offered us some of the clear liquid within. I had a sip -well, I tried but the stuff instantly turned to vapor and cleared my sinuses. Whoo hoo!
            BTW, their goat BBQ won Best in Show, so we lucked out all around.

    2. Considering Wisconsin (where I spent many years) is significantly of German ancestry.. yeah, I can see some (perhaps grudgingly) going along with surrendering this or that metal… but mess with the beer or wine and well, fight or not, you lost that one.

      1. You and grandpa would have exchanged stories from growing up in Europe, and he would have given you advice on how best to grow roses. His backyard flower beds were a frequent stop after church for any number of locals as well as the source for decorations as needed for the altar.
        Grandma was of Dutch British heritage. She and you would have exchanged recipes. When I was still very young she quit entering baking competitions in order to give the younger ladies a chance at a blue ribbon. At her funeral I lost count of the number of church ladies who came up to me saying they learned so much about cooking from her. She was also an accomplished seamstress, and did alterations for all the clothing stores in town well into her 60s. Partly for a bit of extra income, mostly to prevent idle hands. She was the first woman in her family to graduate high school and kept the books for all of her and grandpa’s businesses.

  13. As I was recovering from a work set on bench press this morning, a gent who’s doing squats looked up from his phone and said, “Hey, gyms in Texas are supposed to be opening this morning.”

    I smiled. “Huh. After two months out, you think anyone will go back to the gym?”

    He looked over with a mischievous smile, and shrugged. “I don’t know. I mean, after the setback that long in training? Man, that’d be hard.”

    My coach snorted at the both of us, and shook her head, grumbling as she headed off to catch the ringing phone about the people who were going to be flooding in from the gyms that had closed. The gent leaned against his squat rack, holding the phone in chalked hands. “Wonder how the gyms will do that, if they have to cut the number of squat racks open in half?”

    “Be awfully interesting to see, if I ever get around to going to the gym.” I nodded, and he finally cracked up laughing, distracting another gent who’d just finished his rack pulls and was looking over wondering what the joke was, and hoping it wasn’t his form.

    …speaking of coded knocks at the back door, my favourite coffee shop has gone to doing delivery around the little city, to try to keep their doors open. And the looks on the baristas faces when they showed up at the back door of the “not a gym, it’s a private club” with a insulated pack full of coffee, latte, mocha, the odd breakfast sandwich…

    At first it was worried. Then it was just highly amused. Then it was normal.

    1. The Daughter Unit and I went back to our regular gym this morning, and very happy to do so. We spotted a couple of the regulars, as well. The staff was masked and gloved, but it wasn’t required for patrons, and half the elliptical, treadmill and recumbent bikes were marked off as unavailable.
      There were only a handful of people there, about a quarter of the customary crowd.

      1. I mean, we all know that there are always THOSE assholes who don’t follow gym etiquette, but for the most part, the whole “spray or wipe down a machine or piece of equipment after (and/or before) you use it” would seem to do just a wee tad bit to combat C19. And a host of other viruses and bacterial infection. Just a tad. One would assume. If one was actually thinking and not simply reacting.

        1. I’ve little doubt there will be some folk who, like the klowns deliberately sneezing on fresh produce, will act in such ways as to spread infection throughout the gym, presuming themselves to be acting to prove the lock-downs must continue.

      2. I went to the gym about an hour and a half after opening. The crowd was younger than usual (none of the senior citizens usually there) and pretty serious about working out (lift, reset the machine or rack the weights, move to next machine/ get different weights). There wasn’t much of the usual socializing. The staff had masks and gloves, we were encouraged to wear masks and gloves. The little indoor track appeared to be closed (at least, no one was walking/running), and I didn’t poke my head in to look at the cardio and circuit training area. I did my cardio outdoors before I went to the gym.

    2. It seems Those In Charge do not recall so many of us lived through at least some of the Cold War and even those of us who never dealt with any of it directly heard stories and have some idea of how to bypass bureaucratic idiocies. That, and of course, (great?) grandpa’s- or his neighbor’s – tales of the Prohibition (which NEVER works) days.

      Really, these days if you simply don’t blab of it Facebook or such, chances are you’ll get away with anything not Grand Something or Capital Other.

    3. I’m going to go back tomorrow, after the first day rush and “oops, yeah, shoulda thought about that” has passed. We have to wear masks and “full-finger gloves,” so I’m going to do my cardio elsewhere, then lift at the gym. And I’m going to be very careful, and use half the weights I was at before the Great Hiatus.

  14. The radishes are now peeking above the soil in my garden. Apparently last night’s rains were the kick they needed to get going. Now I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the plants poking their little leaves out to catch some rays. From then it’ll be a waiting game until stuff is ready to harvest. And here in Indiana, there’s no sales tax on food, so I don’t need to worry about that if I sell the surplus.

    When I trim the burning bush plants in the back yard, I’m going to put the cuttings in water and see if I can get them to root. Maybe I can sell them, or trade them for something else. I’m also eagerly waiting for the flower beds to start showing some growth. Selling flowers is always a possibility, and bulbs in the fall, especially since we’re in an area where gladioli aren’t winter-hardy and the bulbs have to be brought in to survive.

    Just as soon as I get a couple of issues resolved on my replacement printer so I know I can print up invoices and postage (I’ve called, but the seller’s apparently incredibly busy right now), I’m going to list a bunch of other things on eBay and Shopify. I’m starting to think we’re going to be incredibly lucky if Tampa Bay Comic Con happens, and I’m not counting on this year’s Archon, since it’s in Illinois, ruled by a Corrupt Chicago Politician (but I repeat myself). I’m holding off on buying into the November cons until I get a better feel for what’s apt to happen, since they’re both in the Land of Witless. I already have far too much capital tied up in cons that are being rescheduled to next year, and don’t need to see more tied up that way.

    As soon as I can get some money ahead and can clear the necessary space in the garage, I’m going to look into scoring a chest freezer. It’ll mean getting an electrician in here to put in a new circuit so I can plug it in, because the one outlet is on the ceiling, for the garage door opener.

    Long term will depend on whether the convention circuit revives next year. There are some things that I’d do if we’re definitely at home all the time, but I wouldn’t want to do if we’re doing a lot of traveling, like raising poultry or small mammals for food. We have another family member at the house, but he may not be physically up to feeding and watering livestock, gathering eggs, etc.

  15. What I will do if the country goes “Full Socialism” is what I have done my whole life. Fly under the radar and ignore the rules I don’t like. I am the worst sort of subversive, a Lone Wolf Subversive.

    1. Worst, best, all a matter of perspective.
      I suspect there are millions of us lone wolves here in America and the only time we come to light is when the authorities annoy us enough that we bite back. And not just a nip and a dodge, but they piss us off so bad we feel obligated to go for their throat.

      1. America, as the governor of Michigan has reason to know this week, is going to be a living nightmare for any socialist tyrant of foreign invader. Canada likewise.

        Conversation between the formerly demonic werewolf and some humans:

        Erwin was nibbling on an almond croissant, hesitant to eat it all at once in case he might not get any more. He was looking around with a lost, wide-eyed gaze, completely confused by everything he saw. Even his clothes were confusing. The pants were all right, basic blue jeans, but the t-shirt donated by Jimmy said “Sunnydale Slayers Club, Class of 1999” on it, and had a picture of crossed wooden stakes.

        Alice kicked his foot under the table. “So. Erwin.” Her smile widened when his eyes fixed on her with a slightly panicked air, and he reached for his belt knife. “How do you like my planet, so far?”

        “Oh!” he exclaimed, relaxing a little. “Uh, it is very, ah, nice?”

        “You poor kid, take it easy,” said Nike lazily. “Alice is being a twerp and winding you up. Relax, there’s nothing to do, and nobody is going to get you.” She flicked Alice’s white forelock over onto the black side of her head. “Maniac. Don’t bug the kid.”

        “I’m just giving you a hard time, Erwin,” laughed Alice. “You looked all worried.”

        Guruh glanced at Alice. “This place is ridiculous, Alice. A troupe of small children could over-run this city in an afternoon. No walls, no moat, not even a decent gate! And all the houses have windows you can reach.”

        “Yeah, they do,” agreed Alice, smile widening into a fairly evil grin. “Did you think about that yet?”

        “For a moment,” said Guruh dismissively flicking an ear. “I concluded everyone here is like you. Completely mad.”

        “Why are the windows like that?” asked Erwin, interest piqued.

        “Because the last invaders came here two hundred some-odd years ago,” said Alice triumphantly, “and the locals beat their asses so badly that nobody else ever tried. That’s why.”

        “You forgot the Irish,” said Nike.

        “The Fenians? Who remembers those losers?” laughed Alice. “Turned away by untrained farmers and kids in three days.”

        “The people here are so fierce?” asked Erwin, looking around the coffee shop at the hipsters and soccer moms with baby strollers.

        “They are George’s people, Mouse,” said Guruh decisively. “All mad. Every one of them. That is why the indefensible buildings and open city. I told you. Only a fool would attack them.”

        “That is true,” said Erwin. “But George is such a good man, and Ginny is good too.” Then he kicked Alice under the table. “Even you Alice, have some vestige of goodness in you somewhere. Otherwise, Nike would not associate with you.”

        “Get wrecked, Haddison!” laughed Nike, and grabbed Alice to rub her head with her knuckles.

        “A brave response, my beauty!” Guruh glanced at Erwin, then sniffed at his croissant. “Mmm. Are you going to eat that?”

    2. I’m the mild-mannered Canadian subversive. Nobody sees me coming.

    3. As was frequently mentioned during the “reign” of Barry the Simple, the document they’re ignoring is the only thing that says I have to care about what they say.

  16. > I’m a fairly useless woman, who can’t do much but tell stories

    “Planting the seeds of rebellion, one post at a time…”

  17. > Portugal is a mystery even to me, they meekly obey EU laws on stuff like … crime is out of control, and traffic laws become AT BEST traffic suggestions.)

    Sounds like the Portuguese are law-abiding, but they’ve lost respect for *Portuguese* law, enforcement, and justice.

    I bet a few decades of Communism might be a factor in that…

    1. I was thinking about how Antifa will be all celebratory, anticipating what a mess they can make of the streets of Portlandia when they can leave their parents basements – nobody to look sideways at them in full mak getups! Imagine the chaos around the next election!

      Then I pondered the other side: Antiantifa can also wear masks, free to pound their scrawny buts into the pavement without risk of doxxing by antifa-aligned media.

      And if everyone is masked, how do you screen your pre-riot thug assemblies for plants and stooges?

      So I ordered more popcorn.

  18. Playground update: things are still bad in my town, but the one to the east has been liberated! At the playground there, not only is the caution tape down, but the water fountains are working, and the bathrooms have been unlocked! Some of the leftover caution tape was still scattered about, so solely out of a respect for the environment and a desire to make sure no little kids tripped over it, I gathered it up and threw it away. If I got a thrill every time I saw another piece go in the garbage can, I assure you that that was entirely a secondary concern to doing my civic duty.

  19. “Good fences make good neighbors” is a long-standing adage but its inverse also is true: good neighbors make good fences.

  20. “I really wish I could abide a degree in anthropology in the current climate, because one of the things I REALLY want to know (and perhaps we all NEED to know) is how long deep-culture survives.”

    I actually have an Anthropology degree (1979), and IMO the field circa 2020 is SJW voodoo. You’re not going to find that out at a university these days. Anthropology has been fucked since Margaret Mead went to Samoa. (MEASURE something? Are you mad, sir?!”)

    However, you can trace deep culture through nursery rhymes, oral traditions and archaeology. The stories of Beowulf were old when they were written down, and they’re still circulating disguised as SF and fantasy. The really -deep- stuff like The Hero’s Journey comes from pre-history for sure. I suspect (but can’t be assed to do a google) that you find the hero’s journey in Cuneiform.

    Suggest googling “cultural drift” and saving your brain cells some frustration. They’ll make you read Foucault.

    As I recall there are some interesting studies on cultural drift that involve tool use or other behaviors among monkeys. From my dim memories of the 1970s, some things change pretty fast, but others like children’s games hang on forever. The games kids teach each other are very resilient. Like the chestnut on a string game, that thing is -old-.

    1. Eenie meanie miney mo. Or however one spells it.

      I’ve always wondered how miss Mary Mack has managed to come down the years unchanged.

      1. We changed the “N” word to “tiger” when I was still young enough to be saying “eeny meeny”. I don’t recall being told to do it, the change just sort of happened. “N” word fell out of fashion ~1967ish? Roughly.

        Important to note there were -zero- black people where I lived in Ontario in the 1960s. Seeing one was like seeing a lion, they were that rare. I think there was one Japanese lady at our church, that was it for Diversity! in our neck of the woods. Proof that television was a powerful force.

        1. Chestnut on a string: drill/poke a hole in a horse chestnut. Put a string through, tie a knot at both ends to retain the chestnut.

          The game is to whack the other kid’s chestnut with yours. If you swing and miss the other kid gets to swing. Object of the game is to break the other guy’s chestnut. If you got bored before one of them broke, that was a tie.

          There was always somebody with a legendary unbeatable chestnut that survived all challenges. Sadly, I was never that kid. ~:(

          Don’t know how far back the tradition goes, but I do know my 94 year old parents both played, so that’s at least 100 years right there.

            1. There’s a neat little lass and her name is Mari Mac
              Make no mistake, she’s the girl I’m gonna track
              Lot of other fellas try to get her on her back
              But I’m thinking that they’ll have to get up early

              Mari Mac’s mother’s making Mari Mac marry me
              My mother’s making me marry Mari Mac
              Well I’m going to marry Mari for when Mari’s taking care of me
              We’ll all be feeling merry when I marry Mari Mac

              1. Ummm, that’s not the one my sister and cousin did.

                But who else did “one potato, two potato, three potato, four. My mother told me to pick the best one and you are not it” to pick who was it in hide and go seek? You would have your fists out (or both hands into one fist) and if you were “not it” then you put your hand(s) behind your back.

                Or are you meaning old stuff like “London Bridge is Falling Down” and “Little Miss Muppet” and “Rosie Posie?”

                (But that last name is off; help me out here y’all.$

                1. Ring around the rosie is the one I think of, and London Bridge. In Germany there’s “Maikaefer Flieg” which is a bit like “Ladybug ladybug fly away home.” There are some theories that “Maikaefer” goes back to the Thirty Years War, or perhaps an earlier conflict.

                  One of the books about nursery rhymes that I’ve enjoyed is “Heavy Words Lightly Thrown.”

                  1. One of ours in childhood was either mocking or supporting Mark Anthony. yes, that one.
                    At the distance and with language shifts the intent is unclear.

          1. I grew up in Alaska and live in Seattle.

            I wouldn’t know a horse chestnut if it bit me on the ankle.

            1. I have a horse chestnut in my back yard. It looks very much like a giant marijuana plant, especially while it’s blooming. It behaves like a weed, sending up suckers and seedlings everywhere. Unfortunate that the nuts are poisonous, cuz it’s prolific.

        2. It’s one of those degenerate Commonwealth pastimes.

          (Yeah, probably the reason it shows up less in the US is not all places have the appropriate trees.)

          I’m pretty sure some of the children’s books I read when I was young discussed it fairly completely. I just can’t remember the titles or authors.

          1. American chestnut was wiped out by blight. They’re trying to bring them back.

            Boil your conker in vinegar or bake it slowly in the oven. Best is to keep them year to year, then you’ll almost always have a “three-er”.

    2. I actually expected better of my dear pseudo niece. What in bloody hell does getting a degree have to do with actually learning something?
      If you must have some official stamp of approval for coursework it’s a trivial exercise to seek out the syllabus for an anthropology degree from most any college catalog, any of which should be posted on line. And as well probably which textbooks and required reference books are necessary.
      Might even find that as a somewhat senior citizen you could monitor actual classes for little to no charge under some continuing education program.
      And since knowledge, not the actual degree, is your goal the universities would have absolutely no power over you.
      But I suppose you can lead a niece to knowledge, but you cannot make her think.
      (Just teasing dear heart, stay well)

      1. IMHO an anthropology major in this day and age would graduate less informed, less able to pursue scholarship and very possibly less intelligent as a result of their degree.

        But, they would know absolutely everything needed to fit in at Big 5 publishers.

        On this subject, there was an article from someone of note in the last few days that the Corona Chan Lockdown is the crack in the dam that will kill the University System as it exists today. People will get used to having their education on-line. Accreditation will be forced into accepting off-campus students. In twenty years from now, the author predicted that the Top 20 schools in the USA will still be fine, the rest of the top 100 will exist in a much reduced state, and the other 1000 will be gone.

        I think that’s probably true. The Higher Education Bubble is running at a very high pressure currently, waiting for any pointy object to pop it. Corona Chan might be the Pine Needle of Destiny.

        Conversely, there will be a high demand for schools to teach people practical trades. Medicine is a practical trade, you -need- somebody to show you how to do things. You can’t learn welding from lectures and video tours. You can learn the process, and what buttons to push, but you can’t actually do it just from knowing that.

        Something I’ve been learning about recently is high-precision metal working. How to get things flat and true. The world of optically smooth granite reference plates, ink and metal scraping where each action takes off only 1/10,000 of an inch. Watching the videos I have learned quite a bit, but not enough to -do- it. For that I’d need hands-on experience under the watchful eye of somebody who could already do it.

        Tolerances of 1/10,000″ over 4 foot surfaces of cast iron are 1880’s technology. Currently production technology holds tolerances of millionths and produces parts that accurate to 1/10,000. All those stupid little clips that hold things together in a phone are that close in accuracy. Which is nothing compared to the 7 nanometer accuracy of current chip foundries.

        That’s where the next generation of modern education is going, whether they like it or not.

        1. I completed a BA in anthropology in 2012, but I took barely more cultural anthropology than I needed to, and lucked into finding an adjunct who detested Marx for 4/5 of them. It was luck I wouldn’t trust to repeat itself.
          Some of the other humanities and social sciences courses required for were far more aggravating. Although the English prof did give me a respectful nod of acknowledgement when my comment upon completing the assigned reading was “This reads like Soviet agit-prop.”

        2. Even with credentials no “respectable” Anthropology Journal would publish you. I recommend doing a dive into course reading lists from 1980 and before, schooling yourself in Émile Durkheim, E. B. Tylor, Sir James George Frazer, Bronisław Malinowski, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Franz Boas and others. I have a few good texts in the topic I would be happy to send you if only I knew where in the H(ouse) they’d gotten to.

        3. Coincidentally, I have just started reading The Pursuit of the Pankera, the Heinlein discovery based somewhat on Number of the Beast. In it Zebediah discusses in some detail how he managed to acquire a PhD in Education simply by playing the system. Of course his plan included the expenditure of significant sums of money to, shall we say, grease the skids, so not really an option for you.
          Side note: enjoying the read so far, have not gotten to where this diverges from NotB, so have great expectations for the chance to experience works from Robert as yet unread by me.

          1. his plan included the expenditure of significant sums of money

            When RAH was writing the professoriate lacked the contemporary fear of getting caught being unPC. Opportunities for blackmail are much more affordable these days.

          2. Let us know what you thought of it. “The Number of the Beast” probably wasn’t Heinlein’s worst novel, but it’s high (low?) on the list.

            It had the same plot as “Friday.” “SEE CHARACTER. SEE CHARACTER RUN. RUN, CHARACTER, RUN. RUN, RUN, RUN!”

            1. Thrillers were big during the Seventies and Eighties. Heinlein liked to go where the money was.

              That said, Heinlein needed more elaborate thriller plots, like Dick Francis elaborate.

          3. I bought both for the Kindle, since my trade paperback of tNotB is losing pages. I’m just about done with re-reading Beast, and will pick up on Pankera. However, a new Rimworld is jumping up and down, wanting to be read first.

            FWIW, in my opinion, a PhD in education wasn’t as horrible in 1980 as it is now. I think it’s gone from “run away” to “kill it with fire”, ramping up to “nuke it from orbit”.

        4. Seriously, no scholarly journal would print you, credentials or not. Even if you got a PhD and found a way to hold a gun to their collective heads, they still wouldn’t. No way.

          Same people behind the 1619 Project and the Nobel Peace Prize. Its the Hugos, but for bigger money.

      2. Funniest time I ever spent in a class (online) was when I took an Education class as a “senior citizen” – free tuition under a government program. I guess they thought the process would be stimulating for the feeble oldies.
        The professor was a Woke One – he assigned some ‘subversive’ works, including a graphic novel from Bill Ayers (with an illustrator, can’t remember his name). It was based on one of his ‘educational theory’ works.
        I just did the reading and posting in the forums. Minded my own business. But, there was another student, sharper than the rest, who looked into who the author was.
        And, then, All Hell Broke Loose! She posted about her discovery “Did you know that this guy was…”, filled with indignation and disgust.
        I posted, “Yeah, I knew, but I didn’t think it my place to say anything”, and giving a LOT of links and citations. The boards were filled with the controversy for several weeks.
        The prof put his ears down, after a weak defense of his actions (not-so subtly trying to indoctrinate the rubes). I suspect there were a few complaints to the school.
        I hadn’t participated in the chaos, other than providing some fuel in the form of links to the facts. For once, I stepped aside, and let others do the firebranding. I suspect that method is one of the more effective ways to create a Rebel. Damn hard, though. You want to spew all that you know – far better to let the young’un lead the charge.

    3. “I suspect (but can’t be assed to do a google) that you find the hero’s journey in Cuneiform.”

      Isn’t that Gilgamesh?

      1. I’m not really up to date on my ancient Gilgamesh. I did have cause to look up some Sumerian gods and goddesses, you can see the early forms of the Greek gods in there. That’s 10,000 years ago. Pretty persistent.

    4. Yeah, I enjoyed my undergrad in anthropology but it is swarming with left-wing nonsense.

  21. These days my parents’ garden walls are eight feet tall, and the pipes someone might use to climb into the house are girded in razor wire.

    It matters whether a nation believes the laws are made by the peopole or by “the leaders.”

      1. Generally out here if you hear about a home invasion, most likely they were not invading for grandmas silver, but for inventories of illicit drugs and related cash in dealer homes. There are wrong-address armed home invasions, but generally the perps know who they are trying to rip off.

        Property crime is way, way up out here due to the free-pass-under-$1k-theft ballot measure from a few years back, and that includes break-ins. There is however enough of a bright line between breaking into an unoccupied residence and an occupied one in CA law that causes the drug users who usually do said breaking-in to try and avoid any chance of confrontation.

        All of this was pre-lockdown. There have been fairly frequent reports of vehicle break-ins on local egossip sites since March. Maybe they are counting on eth catch-and-release that’s been documented down in LA.

        1. I’m not hearing much about property crimes around here. When it’s apparent (and occasionally obvious, like the guy who does target practice daily) that a household is a) occupied, and b) armed to the teeth, it takes strong incentives to do a home invasion. Even the drug-deals-gone-sideways and attempted ripoffs have dropped down.

          The other side of the coin is the damage that locked-down people are suffering. According to TPTB, our county has a high child abuse rate to begin with, and this isn’t helping. (Those of us in the rural areas are doing a lot better; we can isolate ourselves by doing what we normally do, with maybe a market trip every week or two.)

          Oh yeah; Oregon just did the first baby steps to reopen. Restaurants can now seat at a fraction of nominal capacity (visited two, about 35% of nominal, though 50% is the allowed value, according to Her Majesty, Kate Brown the Despicable). The jewelry store reopened, so $SPOUSE now has a watch with a good battery. It died April 4th. She was *not* happy.

          Also starting to see beans back in stock, though at high prices. Dry Pintos went for $31 per 50 pound bag before disappearing, now back at $38. Similar price increases for other beans.

  22. they meekly obey EU laws on stuff like “no selling of homemade foods at fairs” while the walls climb higher because crime is out of control, and traffic laws become AT BEST traffic suggestions

    That’s easy to understand.

    The last two are local laws enforced by the same locals they’ve been ignoring for generations.

    The first is imposed by Germans (the EU is the Kaiser and Hitler winning with a little nod to Napoleon finally getting his continental system as France is #2 in the EU). Germans ruthlessly enforcing not just their will, but their whims is still (barely) in living memory.

  23. I hate being an anti-social person.

    I know that there are speakeasy barbers and book leggers out there somewhere, just nobody let me in on the secrets.


    And, I suspect that California-or at least the Bay Area-will open up by the end of the month. If only because the cockroaches need to find a good deep corner to scurry into fast.

    1. It’ll open up when the money runs out. The blue state lockdown is all political theater. If Trump’s nerve holds or the senate does the right thing and kills Nancy’s barratry bailout bill, then the whole thing will end of itself. That said, if they roll over it will end too, even sooner.

  24. Things seem to be safer in touristic areas.

    Going out on a limb but I’m going to guess there is an impression that, in tourist areas, laws are uniformly enforced. That is two elements of respect for law: the expectation of enforcement (see: Broken Windows) and that the enforcement will be uniform, without waivers for the “connected” – whether that connection be by blood (local boss’s idiot nephew) or by tribe (whatever form local tribalism takes.)

    1. I’m betting it’s publicity-driven – if enough tourists get impacted, news will get back to wherever they are touristing from and nobody will come and spend there anymore.

      There are previous tourist destination cities in Mexico that are now avoided and empty due to being within zones now controlled by other than the government.

      So the police keep a lid on things in areas where the tourists spend.

      1. There are previous tourist destination cities in Mexico that are now avoided and empty

        They just need to step up the marketing. Brand it as a Thrilling Kidnapping* Experience!” and position it as a fun thrill-ride with no real danger involved, just a slight up-charge over the usual tourist costs. Envision the abduction being accomplished by a band of sexy Latinos dressed like Che …

        *might need to find a better term for that … check how “Abduction!” plays; unfortunately “Rape” has lost the charming aura it had when The Fantasticks was first an Off Broadway hit, else we could use that for the musical theme …
        You can get the rape emphatic.
        You can get the rape polite.
        You can get the rape with Indians:
        A very charming sight.
        You can get the rape on horseback;
        They’ll all say it’s new and gay.
        So you see the sort of rape
        Depends on what you pay.

    2. Then, the people who operate businesses in those areas tend to be good at herding the clueless tourist away from the bad stuff, or at least paying off the right people to stay away/ avoid their company’s groups.
      Hiring locals, especially members of influential families tends to make that particular tour property’s property safer.
      But, things can still go to crap even in the tourist areas. I could tell many tales of the fall of Madang, PNG from great tourist and dive area, to hotspot of crime and criminal activity.

      1. Egypt had this problem, and their solution was to do both – pay off the local underworld to leave the tourist areas alone, and create a dedicated and heavily armed Tourism Police force to stomp down on any freelancers.

        The anti government radical islamists broke the deal and attacked tourism targets, including shooting up a tourist bus, and that is the real reason Egypt stomped them down hard, well, after the unscheduled leadership change event wherein the Army ousted Barry’s favorite Morsi and replaced him with El-Sisi, who is a general whose uniform-of-the-day has been changed to a civilian suit.

        That is also why the various islamist groups operating out in the Sinai have been the recipient of some significant Egyptian Army stomping as well – threats and attacks on tourism money generators along the coast, including one plane bombing.

        Tourism is just too important to let it get strangled by tourists fearing violent death in the bus.

    3. It’s about scaring off the tourists.

      From what I’ve heard, most places have an attitude of “you can scam the tourists, and burgle their hotel rooms when they’re not around. But you can’t physically confront them. Otherwise we will hunt you down and hurt you.” Tourists can wave off the former sort of thing as carelessness on their part. “I knew I should have locked up my valuables, but I got careless.” But actually hurting the tourists will cause business to plummet and hurt the local economy.

  25. Even tyrants need the consent of the governed. It’s interesting that most of the big name tyrants of the 20th century didn’t do anything all that really different according to their country’s political culture, other than turning it up to 11.
    Mao’s actions are pretty much the same as any new Son of Heaven setting up his new dynasty. Hitler was larping Frederich the Unique & Bismark, and Stalin was a lot like the Tsars of the ‘tough, paranoid, but strong’ school. Marxism was just a new coat of red paint on the same old jalopy- and cheap, crappy paint at that.

    1. There was an academic argument around whether Stalin was a totalitarian. The basic argument was that no, he needed lots of people cooperating with him and many did this voluntarily and many benefited.

      1. Shouldn’t that be “was Stalin a tyrant/dictator”?

        He was the Top Man of a totalitarian government and he had more power in that government than anybody since. (Oh, I’ve heard that the Communist Party made sure that nobody else would have the power that Stalin had.)

        Of course, even a dictator needs “willing subordinates”.

        1. It was often made that way. I suppose the real question was were the Soviet Union under Stalin or China under Mao, etc. totalitarian states? If I remember it was around Arendt or Revel. Very early 80’s. As so often with academic discussions, it rather missed the point. I left academia because they were beyond frivolous and being frivolous about evil wasn’t something I wanted to be part of.

      2. Stalin’s purges occurred often enough and reached far enough across all segments of Soviet society that to posit the existence of Soviet citizens who were unaware of what not cooperating would get them is just bizarre, and thus not surprising in an academic debate.

      3. I had not expected this thread to drift into Tsar Wars.

        May the Borsht be with you!

  26. Sarah, we’re a law-abiding lot because our early history is one of police power coming UP from the public, not DOWN from the State. The United States is the embodiment of Sir Robert Peel’s concept of policing.

    Or used to be. One of the biggest differences between Red and Blue states that the events of the last three months have highlighted is the wildly different approach to governance. Red state governors have laid out policies and assumed compliance by the public. They LED. Blue state governors were making threats from the start.

    1. It should be obvious that in even the less law-abiding parts of the US, you don’t see eight-foot walls and razor wire on the pipes because potential invaders are deterred by the likelihood of being shot.

      If the authorities managed to take away all the firearms (yeah, good luck), you’d start seeing passive defenses here too.

      1. There are ‘around’ 350 million privately-owned guns in the U.S. More guns than people, more guns than cars (although the cars kill twice as many people). ‘Progressives’ scream about how violent we are, how deadly all those guns are, but there are 22,900 guns for every person killed with bullets. That includes suicides, and criminals killed by the police.

        There are almost 19 million military veterans, many of them highly trained in counter-insurgency. Each of them took an oath to defend the U.S. and the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. When leftist politicians declare that ‘We, The People’ are Enemies Of The State, who will the veterans support? As insurgents, turning their training backwards, they will become any would-be tyrant’s worst nightmare.

        Our active-duty military numbers about 1.3 million, plus about 700,000 police. The veterans alone outnumber them almost 10 to 1, and they won’t be alone. We could probably expect blatant government overreach to be countered by 30 to 40 million insurgents, IMPOSSIBLE to identify.

        Passive resistance to tyranny by another 170 million people will present another huge problem for those itching to be our masters.

        No, they don’t have the first clue how uncivil our unrest can get.
        Most days, I suspect that we could get a better government by picking 535 people at random. On bad days, I’m convinced that we’d get a better government by picking 535 people at random from lunatic asylums.

        1. There are ‘around’ 350 million privately-owned guns in the U.S.

          Only if you take the low-ball number from the grabbers that are meant to pass off gun ownership as some niche phenomena (but not niche enough to be a protected minority, oh no!). Realistic estimates put the number somewhere between 450 and 600 million.

          We could probably expect blatant government overreach to be countered by 30 to 40 million insurgents, IMPOSSIBLE to identify.

          I think we would find that they can identify way more than anyone is comfortable with. The NSA takes their missions of “spy on every citizen” way too seriously.

          But it won’t matter: with enough targets they would reach a situation where they can’t make a move because not only are they flanked on all sides, they know they are flanked on all sides.

          1. Realistic estimates put the number somewhere between 450 and 600 million.

            Hey, the more the merrier!

            But I’ve heard that an awful lot of those guns may have been lost in freak boating accidents. Boats are so unpredictable, don’t you know. Why, there must be enough guns piled up in the bottoms of remote, inaccessible lakes and rivers to equip a fair-sized army by now!
            Wing: ”Have you ever heard the phrase, Living well is the best revenge?”
            Miles: “Where I come from, someone’s head in a bag is generally considered the best revenge.”

          2. I have personally encountered a pretty large number of guns that were ancestral bring-homes from the ETO or Pacific after WWII, most in very well maintained condition, that I would not be surprised at a significantly higher total on top of calculated purchase-total numbers.

            Heck, they just last month had to call in the bomb squad to safely detonate a bag of grenades and a mortar bomb that a homeowner dug up in their front yard (!) over in one of the ritzier areas of Silicon Valley.

            I am sure there’s lots of stuff that has not fallen out of cognizant family oversight like that bag.

      2. Chief Craig of the Detroit PD is a big supporter of concealed-carry permits. He worked on the West Coast, where it was discouraged, to the East Coast, where it was normal for law-abiding citizens to apply.

        By the time he reached Detroit, he had studied international crime and noticed something truly awful in England: breaking-and-entering in broad daylight, often when people were home. He asked why and found the difference was the expectation that American homeowners could and would defend themselves with lethal force.

        Now if he could just get grown-ass adults to “snitch” on young people who murder young people…

        1. I gather you can be punished in Britain for defending yourself in a home invasion.

          1. Most governments will levy a harsher punishment on you for attacking a robber than on the robber for attacking you. Criminals are expected to assault people, you see, but YOU are being a vigilante. You are undermining the State’s authority, ‘taking the law into your own hands’ instead of bowing to your betters.
            “I have looked into the darkness, Na’Toth. You can not do that and ever be quite the same again.”

          2. There was an emphasis on withdrawing into a locked room and waiting for the police to arrive. If it saves only one life…

            But there was pushback several years ago when a homeowner was killed while waiting. And fairly recently an elderly couple were forced to leave their home because the family of a robber was pointedly putting up a memorial on a wall across the street from their house, after the husband killed the intruder.

            I would like to think that the general public (and their elected representatives) would get really fed up with home-invasion being treated as a victimless crime. However, I also like to think that a group of criminals getting 15 years in prison means EACH, but in British papers that could mean some of the ten serve less than a year.

            1. No one in England will do anything. If you think so you haven’t been paying attention to the Grooming Ganges, the doing nothing about Muslims breaking the Law, etc.

              It will have to get worse then people getting killed in the streets. I am not sure it will get bad enough.

              1. No, I haven’t been paying attention to gangs or whatever because I don’t live there. Foreign country and all that.

          3. Only if you are Anglo-Saxon.

            Or if the burglar has an encyclopedia in hand.

          4. Until quite recently, the same applied in my state.

            The Legislature had a momentary attack of sanity and changed that to… it’s not “Make My Day”, but we’re no longer required to retreat from a home invader or attacker or passively accept being beaten or killed.

    2. It conveys all you should need to know that sheriffs in the US are elected by the people, not appointed by the state.

  27. Telling stories, especially like the excellent ones you craft, is not “useless”. Morale and mental stimulation are viable and essential products.

    1. Oh, even better:

      Shirtcliff, the judge, was the district attorney of Baker County from 2001 until [Gov.] Brown appointed him to be a judge last September, with the appointment having taken effect on Nov. 1. [emphasis added]

      1. Yes, I laughed quite loudly when I saw that part of the news.

        Kate has been known to appoint competent, honest people to positions. I don’t think it’s intentional, but it happens..

    2. Likely because she can get the Supreme court to show up. Republicans here refuse to show to allow the legislature to make quorum. And I have hear rumours that she may not want to endanger the lock-step democrats who are up for re-election.

        1. Yes. Currently in Clackamas County. I grew up in the hills south of Grants Pass

          1. Aunt & Uncle built a lot of houses in Grants Pass. Another Uncle, her much younger brother, bought that business when they retired (he is my generation), still builds.

  28. The California Public Safety Committees are both meeting this week, in the Assembly on Tuesday, and in the Senate on Wednesday.

    I wonder if anybody will bring up the subject of guillotines?
    Ask not for whom the tumbril rolls, it rolls for thee.

  29. The place was originally founded as a Constitutional Representative Republic, Democratically elected. Those people in various state and federal capitals are elected representatives. The power behind the government is in what the people give it, and works to the extent that the people go along with it.

    But, somehow, they got it in their little foolish heads that they were somehow a new nobility, ruling by some sort of Divine Right (a different divinity than the nobles of old- the god of the arrow of history).

    Happily, the attempt at shutdown is making the reality more apparent- that they aren’t leaders, but mere people elected to hold an office, offices that are pretty much powerless should the people not cooperate.

  30. I got my driver’s license in 1971. Back then people actually followed the speed limit. But then in 1974, we had the Arab Oil Embargo and Nixon reduced the national speed limit to 55. The result was that no one followed the speed limit anymore. By the time the allowed the speed limit to be raised again a new generation had lost respect for it.

  31. A twitter follower commented this morning that the EU should be cut back regularly. From Germany.
    I replied that it should be uprooted entirely.
    In 1986, many people in Portugal thought that money would start falling from, if not heaven, Brussels. Those who suckle off the State were delighted to find a bigger tit. With the Euro in 2002, cheap debt just got them even more reliant on Big Brother.
    Americans are different, but still human. Too many like the downhill run.

  32. Are we still talking Boogaloo? If this is a virtual rebellion does that make it an Electric Boogaloo?

    Let me tell you a story:
    Last century we had an insurrection:
    it was called the Silver War.
    It was over the state of things.
    On one side you had those who believed in Tarnish (Blues)
    And those who believed in Polish (Greys)
    Now, the greys had better Tea sets and were rightly proud, but they lived in a bubble of self delusion.
    Blues were more practical and pragmatic. They understood.
    That rust never sleeps; even on silver.
    So the Blues defeated the Greys, and Tea Time was never the same;
    The Greys were condemned to Tarnation.*

    *No reference to actual events may be made or construed. Only the febrile contortions of twisted minds would think otherwise.

  33. Beautiful and timely article with many points of wisdom. Particularly appreciated the story about the bakers’ strike and its outcome.

    Your childhood experience was exactly the opposite of mine. My best friend’s house not only did not have a fence (none of us did), it didn’t have a doorknob. It just had a hole where the doorknob had once been. Anyone could walk in. It could not be locked.

    Never had a problem.

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