Nothing to Live or Die for


What if you gave your life for the wrong cause? Pardon me, I mean, as the left was so fond of asking in the oughts, a question that stopped completely and suddenly as soon as Obama was elected “What if you were the last to die for a mistake?”

What indeed?  What do you think that would make, you the lone ranger?

With 2020 — ah! — vision, looking back, it’s possible to question the rationale of every single war.

Sure, Memorial day was established to commemorate the civil war dead. And because it was a civil war, at least half of them were fighting for the wrong cause, right?  Because I don’t want to get you people arguing that particular war — there is no win in that either — let’s stipulate that slavery, like rape and murder, is a horror that humanity is prone to. And that here it took a war to get rid of it.  That it led to other things, including a more powerful federal government is arguably a bad thing — as we have proof daily.  — In fact, while the civil war happened because of the inherent contradiction between “all men were created equal” and allowing some states to keep slaves, it could be said a lot of our present strife is the working out of the big contradiction between “Let us die to make men free” and “we’ll have a federal government large enough to give you everything you need and take away all your natural rights in the process.”

It has become chic in the circles of people whose entire education is designed to make them avoid thinking to tear down confederate war memorials, because in their heads these people automatically stand for slavery and white supremacy.  But that was not why most — note I said MOST, we’re humans, there’s always idiots — had monuments put up to them or were celebrated.  In fact, most of the monuments were erected to people’s OTHER achievements in life, other qualities.  Because after the war a lot of them integrated just fine in post-slavery society, and set about doing sometimes admirable things: careers in law or in philanthropy and even the occasional blinkered career in local politics.

And a lot of the monuments were for the person. For the man himself.  “But, you say, if the man fought to keep slavery, isn’t he an awful human being?”

That’s not how war works. Most of the men fighting were probably not fighting to keep slavery going as such. They were fighting because humans are killer apes, and once the balloon went up the North was going to sweep the South (if no one defended the South) which meant…

Which meant that they wouldn’t stop and ask every man on the street (much less every woman) if they were slave owners, or, more importantly, if they agreed with slavery.  (There is enough confusion in the biography of our Southern Founding Fathers to know that owning slaves was no covalent to supporting the institution of slavery.)  They were going to put the land to fire and sword, everyone.

And there was the other side of it.  The one that one is amused the left never brings up, since one assumes in the light of Marx (….  Except that they’re lousy Marxists. They’re people who don’t even know they’re Marxists, except for revering that one dead white male, while not sure why they do. They’re training in not thinking is very thorough.) they’d ask themselves if the North was completely against slavery as such. Because, you know, immigrants coming in, barefoot and destitute (not to mention illiterate) from the shores of Europe were offered citizenship to joint he Northern forces.  Some historians (not sure how reputable, but they were quoted in my history books in college, so probably not very) claim that this gave the North the advantage needed to win the war.

Whether there’s any merit in the claim, do you think the South didn’t hear it? Do you think they didn’t hear of the plight of those factory workers? And how much worse it was than slavery, because those using their labor didn’t feel obligated to look after them?

And sure, the South were racist. Actually both sides were racist. Actually pretty much the whole world was racist until the shocks of WWII worked themselves through the culture.  And significant portions of the US — not normally those with pale skin, oddly — are still racist. As is the rest of the world by and large. You haven’t met racism unless you go to China as a round eyes.

Racism, like murder and rape, might well be baked into the human race. After all, we now have evidence many different subspecies of our genus “grew up” together. Getting captured by the wrong band could easily mean that you went from being a cherished child or wife, to being a midnight snack.  Heck, even within the same subspecies.

So babies are born with a fear of stranger danger, and growing up learn the “right way to do things” — i.e. the way we do it, not like those barbarian over that ridge, who tie their loincloths all wrong — which means they could, in times when hostile bands lived cheek by jowl, get “stranger danger” warnings and run before the other band got close enough to spit roast them.

“But Sarah,” you say. “Racism is still wrong. Slavery is still wrong. I can’t understand why you’re defending them.”

Oh. You must be one of those skim till offended precious darlings, or one of the bots who claims to have the highest IQ ever.  Brush up on your English. A dictionary might help. Also re-read what I wrote. Slowly. Ask someone with two more IQ points than you to explain the big words.

I AM NOT DEFENDING EITHER OF THOSE.  Just as I’m not defending murder, rape or war.

What I’m saying is that if you’re picking sides in a war in the past, based on having been told a side was “racist” you’re an idiot.  It’s like picking sides over whether one was sexist or homophobic.  By our definitions? all of them were.  And the sides that “tolerated” homosexuality or gave women rights often put twists in both of those that would make you sick to your stomach, such as the implicit acceptance of forced pedophilia, or making women live as men whether they wanted to or not. (Neither of those in the US.)

In the same way while slavery was objectively a horrible thing, and one side was fighting to end it, it doesn’t mean every soldier from the North fought to end it, or that every soldier from the South fought to defend it.

Humans go to war for a complex number of reasons. And again, once the shooting starts, you pick sides for a lot of reasons, most of them not philosophical or high flown. Most of them boil down to “I’m defending my mother/sister/wife/brother/land.” Because that’s why killer apes fight, for the band.

Because here’s the thing, buckos: if we start questioning who was right in what war, it’s not going to end the way people think.  Because if we start examining everything now, with our vision of how things turned out? No war was just, ever.

Take WWI. I learned about it as The War Of The Two Defeated.  The Portuguese fought on the side of the allies.  Barefoot, starving and often with no guns, because the revolution against the king that happened before that was led by anarchists of the leftist variety, which means their plant for paradise started with “First, bankrupt the country.”  (Some things never change.)

Until I was in my teens (I think. Or early twenties) a much feted veteran of the first world war lived nearby.  He was feted despite the fact that, had he been French, he’d have been shot. You see, “veteran” is an exaggeration.  Faced with trench warfare while barefoot, poorly clad, in a climate colder than he’d grown up with, with no gun and no training, he stole the bicycle of a messenger before the Germans attacked, and rode it as far as it went then walked the rest of the way home.  Eminently sensible, for an individual, in a situation where his death wouldn’t even slow the enemy.


But then what does that do to the memory of the  Americans who died at the battle of the Lys, fighting on foreign soil in a war they could have avoided altogether?

Nothing. It doesn’t even do anything to or for their memory if you know a lot of them were propagandized into fighting, or coerced into going to war by societal pressure. Or even that they had a German name, were known to be of German ancestry and HAD to go fight the Germans or their families wouldn’t be safe in small town USA. (Seriously, read the primary sources of the period.)

It doesn’t diminish their memory one single jot. They still fought and died and gave the final measure for their loved ones and their land.  Even if they got there by a roundabout way.  And even if we know their sacrifice was only the first step in the long war of the twentieth century which would end with Germany buying its way to power (and more or less being int he process of choking on it) they couldn’t get through force.

“What if you were the last one to die for a mistake?”

What of it? Also, please clarify semantic content: what do you define as a mistake? And are you sure that banner you’re carrying to signal your virtue won’t make future generations recoil? Because I almost guarantee most of them will.

So, you say, if all wars are wrong, shouldn’t we abolish war?

What a beautiful thought.  Perhaps Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny can negotiate this permanent unbroken peace. Shall we ask them?

In the history of humans there are many false steps, and many — MANY — good people died on both sides of wars that perhaps never needed to be fought.

So, war, what is it good for?

Well…. We don’t know, see? We are like flies trapped in a bead of amber. Our life is much shorter than that which our minds can compass, backward and forward into the future. We don’t KNOW. We can look back and sneer at the long European war of the twentieth century, and also America even being involved at all. But we don’t know what our time would be like without it.  Could it have been better? Sure. Maybe.

But I have this theory that cultures are as alive as individuals. And they change in very slow (and very strange) ways.  None of them rational. Which is why the left’s attempts to social engineer entire cultures tend to backfire in wholly unexpected ways.

If I’m right, war is one of the ways cultures change rapidly and on a mass scale. (And not always for the better, mind. But always for the side that will survive better. which in a way is its own morality when it comes to a species.)

We don’t know and won’t unless we can look into parallel universes, what the world would be like if one or all of these wars hadn’t been fought.  Perhaps it would be better in some ways.  perhaps worse.

What we do know with absolute certainty is that if you convince a culture that there’s nothing in its territory/institutions worth dying for, you’ve just convinced it there’s nothing worth living for.

Look at Europe and its ever-diminishing children, or even rate of marriages.  (Yes, I know ours has bottomed also. But it’s a temporary effect of the culture being ordered to commit suicide to “defeat” a virus. When you can’t get a party of relatives together, weddings will be postponed. When you don’t know where the next meal comes from, you postpone having babies. Etc. It won’t stick. The idiots comparing unlocking to being ordered to advance in WWI into enemy fire, have it all backwards.  The suicidal move is NOT being allowed to work. It’s being commanded to lock down to escape a fantasy dreamed up by those who will never die from the actions they order. No one is demanding you go out and resume life. You’re free to die. We just don’t want you to take all the rest of us with you into misery and famine.  Yes, this madness compares to WWI, just not the way the left “feels” (They don’t think in any sense of the word.)) Look at their inability to believe in much, except of course that those Americans, across the ocean, are somehow inferior.

Why do men fight? For the same reason men fought since the beginning of time: to keep their food supply, their women and their children safe.  And in those countries where women join the armed forces, those that are worth a damn fight for much the same reason.

Not for high fallutin’ ideals, or philosophies. Not for the things the future will judge the combatants on, but for the immediate and clear perception of danger from the other side, which must be countered or lead to extinction.  “Those people over there will kill us or cause us to starve, unless a few (or many) brave men stand up to them.”

That’s it.  The white feather was sent to those who refused to join in WWI not because the women (yes, women) sending them felt that war was a material good, or they wanted men to die, but because they’d read the stories of Germans raping occupied towns, and raping and pillaging their way through convents, and they feared what would happen to them if Germans got hegemony of Europe and turned their eyes across the ocean.

The men who went to war went to war, largely to defend their women from such horrors.

Sure. Some were sane enough they deserted. And for some, it would have made no difference had they “fought” because their governments had been more blatant about sending them to commit suicide than the others.

Memorial day was not instituted because the victors suddenly thought that the Confederates had been jolly good fellows and fighting for the right reasons. If you go back, in fact, to the origins of the day, you find there were dueling memorial days for a while, and that each side talked of the atrocities the other committed and kept that memory alive.

Civil wars are horrible things.  I grew up with stories of the Portuguese one, received from Grandma who got them from her grandma, who probably got them from her grandma.  There is much fuzzying there, too, and I don’t know, these many years past which were of the civil war or which of the Napoleonic war.  I do know the war in Portugal, fought by rival claimants to the throne, one for absolute and one for Constitutional monarchy was much like the one fought in the US minus the component of slavery. Which clarifies things immensely.  The side of liberty (constitutional monarchy) won. It was also the side of industrialism, and the South (the side that supported industrialism, since they’re arid and their land sucks) plundered the North (the defeated) for centuries. Still does.  Also curiously, the North now is more industrial than the South.

Why does that clarify things immensely?  Because both wars, ultimately, were fought over new technology and how it changed the old ways, including bringing to the fore beliefs in the inherent value of the individual.

Go back and look at all the great wars and periods of upheaval. Everyone of them has its roots in some change in technology that completely modified the way humans live, day to day. It is no coincidence that in our day and age, we have a faction that wants to abolish technology as much as possible, because in their brutish, untrained minds that means getting rid of strife.

Of course that’s not the way that works. That’s not the way any of  that works abolishing knowledge and technology would only bring back older wars, already fought, and older ways of suffering.

The truth is each young man who was thrown into the maw of a terrible war, win or lose, good or bad, just or unjust fought to adapt humans better to changing conditions (some of those conditions being changed by the hands and minds of men) so that the future could happen.

They fought and died for their women, their children, their future.  And to an extent, they succeeded, all of them (sometimes after a horrible interval where truly disgusting ways prevailed.)  Because humanity is still here.

Bringing that in, closer, to the US only, where it is clearer, every young man who fought and died, since the revolutionary war, fought to bring to life that immortal poetry about the rights of the individual.

And if some were fighting as far as we can tell on the wrong side — or all were, if you squint — that is because some things only become clearer with time and distance, and when everyone who fought and everyone they fought for is long dead.  And sometimes, who knows, had they not fought it would have been even worse.

Salute those who gave the final measure.  Lay a wreath on their grave, if your local idiot doesn’t think cemeteries — outdoors, in the open — are a high risk of transmission.  Cry a tear for those who died for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time, and the future they will never have — even if they died before your grandfather was born.

They will remain forever young, forever a potential unrealized.

Pray that we never run our of young men willing to sacrifice for the land, the ideals and the people they love.  Because if we do, humanity might as well pack it in. We won’t last much longer.

And, despite everything, despite the fact that it becomes daily more obvious some among us are willing to destroy people and civilization, to the last human and the last brick, pray that this time passes us by without requiring the sacrifice of young men in senseless wars.  All wars are senseless. Some are just less senseless than what peace in those circumstances would have been. And cost fewer lives.

Give us peace in our day. But deliver us from evil.



364 thoughts on “Nothing to Live or Die for

  1. Nod, one of Chris Nuttall’s recent books (Their Last Full Measure) was a “Plucky Humans vs the Evil Alien Empire” story.

    Yet, while it was obvious who Chris wanted to win, he showed the Alien Empress in a somewhat positive light.

    She had become Empress because she knew that her people had to change as those “nasty” humans had created a situation where her people would have to change or die.

    We were shown her struggles against the “stuck in the mud” mindset of her own people.

    Chris IMO allowed us to pity her even while she was fighting “against our side”.

    Oh, this wasn’t a “grey goo” story as we could easily see that the humans were the Good Guys.

  2. One thing you learn studying history is that most wars are not between Good and Evil. That’s a 20th Century thing…which says much about the last hundred years.

    Most wars are between good, decent people whose duty brought them into conflict. And I can honor all those who fell in the discharge of their duty as God gave them to see it.

  3. Last night I realized that Jefferson Finis Davis was totally a transsexual.

    Ignore the fact that any legitimate historical scholar damn well knows that modern ideas about such things were not on anyone’s radar then. And that some of the modernisms of LGBT are patently ridiculous.

    Anyone who does not wish to repeal the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, and bring back the peculiar institution, can only oppose such acts because of transphobia.

  4. I have friends who were terribly wounded and killed in Vietnam. They suffered and died because they were doing their duty for their Country. And so has every U.S. solder sailor airman. I honor the Heroes who gave all.

    1. Some people sneered at him for (supposedly) disguising himself as a woman to escape capture by the Union.

      Note, I’m not possible that it happened.

      1. The accounts I’ve read are that he tried to hide as a sick, elderly person, which for men and women included wearing a shawl as an additional layer (chills and fever). From there the legend grew, in part thanks to Thomas Nast’s cartoons. NB: This is an area of history that I’ve skimmed over, so other folks likely know a lot more.

      2. Well, it worked for Bonnie Prince Charlie, and Flora McDonald got a college named for her. McDonald smuggled him out as her Irish maid. She moved to North Carolina, but later went back home.

        1. And little old ladies all over the South work feverishly to ‘prove’ that they are descended from a bastard child that Flora conceived with the Bonnie Prince, despite the clear facts that A) their only opportunities were in a crowded cottage full of jumpy Scots OR in a rowboat being rowed (if I recall correctly) by her Father and B) Charlie was (as the South puts it) ‘a little funny’.

          1. I adore Florence King’s description of that whole phenomenon, especially the phrasing “bonnie wee bastard”. Then again, I adore Florence King in general.

          2. IIRC, there were several illegitimate children that disprove (B).

            My own opinion is that Prince Charles Edward knew full well how harsh the Hanoverian response to the ’45 was…and understood that the only way that burden would be lifted was if there was no legitimate Stuart heir. Which he and his brother made sure did not happen. And sure enough, once the British government got word of Prince Charles Edward Stuart’s demise (his brother was in holy orders by that point), they lifted the burdens placed on the Scots.

            1. I was going to say being “a little funny” at the time meant nothing for conceiving the occasional bastard. Even if one were more than a little funny, kings and princes tended to have a broad experience.

        2. Being a Loyalist during the war didn’t help sticking around. King’s Mountain, anyone?

    2. Which would be considered transsexual by the modern standards, which are so biased in favor of false positives that you have to laugh, lest you cry or rage.

      Ignore that if it happened at all, it was a purely tactical decision, with no bearing on the modern political nonsense.

      The South was fighting to protect transexual rights and awareness, and the Stars and Bars is an LGBT symbol. The push to ban it last administration was purely homophobic.

      1. Remembers a Halloween party I attended as Lumberjack (skipped the bra and women’s clothing, included the mascara and rest of the makeup). So my axe is a symbol of transexuality? Cool! /snerk

    3. Jeff Davis was Secretary of War in 1855 under Franklin Pierce. He got funding from Congress to import camels from North Africa and establish a Camel Corps in the US Army. The new Corps would replace the Cavalery in the drier areas of the Southwest. Davis was replaced with someone else when Buchanan became President, and though the camels performed well, Congress wasn’t interested in allocating any further funds, as most of their attention was looking toward the Coming Unpleasantness.

        1. Like Bigfoot and Nessie, a long-standing Arizona legend. It’s unlikely, since all the likely watering holes are now irrigated and civilized.

  5. Tribalism and ingroup/outgroup psychology are endemic to the human condition. That will never change. Racial differences are simply a quick, shorthand way to delineate such groups, that have grown up over millennia of human interaction. The miracle of the modern nation-state system is the expansion of tribal identification from mere ethnicity and religion to encompass broad cultural groups, including those espousing a liberty vs security mindset, as just one example. Humanity will not become “united” unless and until there’s a viable external threat to all humanity. And even then, there will be issues, as each subgroup tries to maneuver to protect its members.

    People (and by “people” I mostly mean modern Western commentators of all political beliefs) trying to assign “good guys” and “bad guys” to millennia-old conflicts in the Middle East and Asia, as two examples, have created far more deaths of duty in recent years than I would like, but as long as we (meaning in this case the US) perceive our duty as we currently do, as peacemakers and enforcers of law, that will continue.

    1. People (and by “people” I mostly mean modern Western commentators of all political beliefs) trying to assign “good guys” and “bad guys” to millennia-old conflicts in the Middle East and Asia

      Khashoggi. Oh, good lord, I am so tired of hearing Erdogan’s propaganda offered as a deep insight to a nasty, roaring mess….

      1. Oh, Turkey. So many issues there. I don’t think most Americans understand the role of Turkey in the Middle East. I’m inordinately certain that most people think that Lawrence was assisting the Arabs against British colonization, instead of rebelling against the Ottomans. If they’ve even heard of him.

        They think that scene of the grandmother being afraid of “the Turk” in My Big Fat Greek Wedding is entirely made up for laughs.

        1. And just saw that Turkey occupied a small bit of Greek territory. Why I haven’t a clue.

          (And China nibbled on India in the last few days as well. Border dispute I assume.)

          1. There’s a border area that used to be a river, and now is a marsh. Some times of the year, there’s an islet. Turkey is occupying the islet.

            Turkey is also claiming that the border river not existing means that they own All The Things, and Greece is pointing out that of course Greece and Turkey already have a treaty about the position instead of the river, from back before Erdogan got into power.

            Anyway, just to be annoying and hostile, Turkey has been shunting “refugees” from the rest of the Middle East into Greece via this “island,” and there has been some border guard friction. But the “refugees” are the real problem, and Turkey is camping them there and then letting them rush further into Greece.

            1. In the past when democracy in Turkey fell over, the Turkish Army would launch a coup, set democracy back on its feet, and set it off totter along until it fell over again some years later. This wasn’t an ideal system or even a good one, but it was better than the alternative. Erdogan is demonstrating the alternative it was better than.

  6. “a question that stopped completely and suddenly as soon as Obama was elected “What if you were the last to die for a mistake?””

    I always ask them: “What if the Chinese or the Russians landed in Vancouver and started raping and killing their way across the country? You going to join up or let them come?”

    And they always bluster. Every single time. “That could never happen!!!” they thunder, and pound the table. And when you remind them that it happened in Tibet, and it happened in Kuwait (which no one ever talks about) then they just bluster more about hate mongers and right-wing reactionaries.

    This is the true evil of Leftist indoctrination. Those people really do think that if we just stopped threatening them and put down our guns, that all the other countries would suddenly smile and be all friendly all the time.

    That’s why they’re so fucking frantic lately with Corona Chan killing their elderly parents in nursing homes all over the US East Coast, in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. They -cannot- believe the Chinese Communists did this on purpose. They -cannot- believe that there’s malice involved here. And by -cannot- I mean that their moral thought processes will not accept the Reality (TM) that is unfolding before their very eyes. They are unable to deal with it, its an impossible thing that can’t happen.

    Lucky for the country, the human brain is pretty flexible, and the indoctrination is being broken. Faced with the real thing, they chose to believe their lying eyes. An acquaintance of mine deals with lots of people every day, I’m told that the prevailing sentiment is that They, the Normal People, have finally arrived at the place I’ve been since the early 1990’s.

    They stopped listening to the television.

    You can’t watch Dr. Theresa Tam on the CBC saying she’s more concerned about racism than the Wuhan Flu, then the next week the whole country is locked down and everybody is huddling at home. You can’t watch the CDC say there’s no problem, then find out they’ve known there was a problem since December and they just didn’t admit it, and then they cancel the whole USA for two months. You can’t watch the British NHS admit that the model their response was based on is complete garbage that gives different answers with the same inputs, and the son of a bitch who wrote was a rabid Greenie, wanted to destroy Western civilization, has been wrong every single time since the 1990s (predicted mass death for H1N1, bird flu, swine flu, mad cow disease, hoof-and-mouth etc) and didn’t even follow the lockdown rules he tricked the whole country into following. You can’t watch the media flipping out about how we all need to be wearing a government tracker for contact tracing, meanwhile there are STILL flights coming in from China every single fucking day with ZERO quarantine for the people on them and the subway in New York City is still running.

    And now we find out that this Wuhan Flu shit has been ripping around out there in the wild since September. The World Military Games was in Wuhan China in September 2019, athletes were catching Covid-19 aka the Wuhan Flu at the games. That’s what’s out there right now. (Look it up, camel followers.)

    We never had a chance. We’ve been fucked the whole time. By China. Deliberately. And you can’t miss it, even if you want to. Even the most rabid #OrangeManBad NPC dickhead out there can’t avoid the truth that if the people who run China had done what any normal, decent human anywhere would do, we would not be having this problem. They lied. They are STILL LYING while people are dying.

    And the Left over here is lying right along with them. I’m seeing the Lefty Machine starting back up all the climate change/gun control/trans-rights/anti-racism/ horse shit all over the media. You can’t say Wuhan Flu because that’s racist!

    Time to remind the Left that one of the Seven Deadly Sins is -lying-. It is right up there with robbery, rape and murder. You will not be forgiven by your fellow citizens. The iron law of the universe is that what goes around, comes around.

    1. If only we would melt down all the guns we could live in peace and harmony.
      So say all the many peace mongering idjits.
      During the current crisis we are seeing shortages galore, including of certain controlled substances thus driving their prices sky high. And the compassionate release of countless prisoners from our jails. And that a good many law enforcement were out sick or otherwise pulled off their normal police duties.
      And coincidentally I am sure, a major uptick in first time gun buyers. Now in general if you are a first time gun owner you either just came of age, just moved to where you found yourself legally able to purchase, or most likely suddenly got religion and came to a realization that the government could not protect you and it was on you to do it yourself.
      Liberal progressive leftists are and always have been bloody hypocrites when it comes to their own safety.

        1. yeah, esp when they are in a state that has legalized pot and they don’t realize that that excludes them from buying one at a gun store

          1. Gonzales v. Raich was an interesting Supreme Court decision in a disturbing sort of way. The ‘liberal’ wing of the Court voted in lockstep for “Federal Power Must Be Unlimited!” while the ‘conservative’ wing split between “Drugs Are Bad!” and “No, We Should Not Make A Federal Case Of This!” The dissents against the federal law criminalizing pot came from Rehnquist, O’Connor, and Thomas – which was not quite what a naive view of “liberal vs conservative” would expect.

      1. Funny how all those anti-war activists were utterly silent as Obama engaged in adventures in Libya and elsewhere and his campaign of assassination by drone,. Those same leftists are also silent or outright support what the CCP is doing to Hong Kong, even after the CCP’s perfidy with the virus outbreak, And note how the Antifa crowd, which proclaims itself to be “anti-Fascist” (and that is true only if that claim is understood to mean that they are against fascism because they want communism instead) has no problem with Democratic Party rule by decree.

        The left also pretty much openly supports discrimination based on race, religion, etc. There only problem is that they think the wrong people were discriminated against and that the “solution” is to ensure that the “right” people are the ones discriminated against. Their goal is not to end oppression. It is to make themselves the oppressors.

        1. Obama raised the drone strike to a high art. He was dropping those things all over the Middle East in a way that Booooosh!!! never did.

          I met one of those drone pilots on a Southwest flight one time during the Obama Era. Dude looked like he had some serious PTSD hanging fire, waiting for a bad day to come and get him. How much stress can you get from flying a plane by remote control, I wondered. I surmised that it depends on what that plane has been shooting at.

          Methinks all was not rosy and pink in the inner workings of the Obama Regime, and that the not-rosyness extended far beyond the hallowed halls of the FBI. But we will never know, if we wait for the media to tell the tale.

          1. IIRC, one of the things that the drone pilots did under Obama (and might still do, for all I know) was to strike a vehicle believed to be carrying a target, and then launch another strike at the people who ran up to the wreckage to help the victims. The rationale was that the people rushing in to assist were most likely fellow travelers of the target.

            The problem is that this also meant that emergency response personnel were also getting hit by the second strike.

            I would imagine that would stress out most American drone operators.

            1. There’s also the total disconnect. You get up, kiss the spouse and kids goodbye, drive to work…and are in a ground station flying an airplane over a war zone half a world away. And I can assure you that to do the job properly, you MUST mentally put yourself IN that vehicle. Fly an 8-hour shift, debrief, drive home. It’s a tremendous discontinuity.

              Not to mention the constant-dead-run nature of the tempo of operations. There is NO deployment cycle, just the next shift of a 24/7/365 job. An unending treadmill.

              1. I’ve heard that part of the problem is that there is no personal danger there. Even the guy sitting in an AC-130 pounding the crap out of a target with no air support is still — in theory — where the danger is.

                Drone operator on the other hand…. harder to justify to yourself what you are doing. And the sense of morality is central to PTSD.

            2. I seem to recall that that’s also a known terrorist tactic – set off one bomb to create terror, and then a second one to kill as many responders as possible. It’s not a good look for us.

        2. Most of the anti-war crowd got really quiet really quick once Obama was elected, but not all.

          Whatever else you may say about her (and I’m sure the readers here have plenty), Cindy Sheehan continued her anti-war protesting afterward, until her health and running out of resources forced her to stop. You just didn’t hear much of anything about her because The One(tm) was in office, and giving Sheehan any airtime would reflect negatively on His Secular Holiness, so MiniTru (known to the less informed as the mainstream press) simply blackholed her.

          1. the only credit I will give Casey’s mom is she was still protesting like she did to GWB. She was just ignored by the MSM, except a side note when she tried to primary Botox Nan.

            1. They did a bit of quick work teaching her place to her when she dared run against one of theirs, didn’t they?

              1. Like Camera Hogg and St. Greta of the Scowl, Cindy was only a pet. Their only job is to come out and do tricks and make their masters feel amused and entertained.
                Then, when they stop being cute, they basically get dumped on a rural roadside and left to fend for themselves.
                It’s super cruel, but that’s the Left for you.

                  1. The Left doesn’t like it when the morality pets start thinking that they’re people.

        3. I had been thinking that Ambassador Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith, Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty could probably tell Barry something about how being the last men to die for a mistake would feel.

          They’d probably acknowledge their mistake had been relying upon the Obama Administration to have their backs.

      2. Well, I *migh* be persueded to melt down a firearm or two (only in extreme circumstances, you understand) if I *needed* the metal to make, oh, railguns, plasma weaponry, or laser rifles.

        But only if it was absolutely necessary to melt down highly hypothetical firearms for immediate considerations, such as the above.

        1. The steel that goes into the barrel is usually pretty high quality, by necessity. So in a pinch you could take the barrel out of an otherwise non-functioning firearm and turn it into a different type of implement of destruction.

      3. Now in general if you are a first time gun owner you either just came of age, just moved to where you found yourself legally able to purchase, or most likely suddenly got religion and came to a realization that the government could not protect you and it was on you to do it yourself.

        Eventually (I hope) it’s going to be “no longer work somewhere that forbids it (check) and manage to work out logistics of gaining adequate expertise around small children.”

      4. “God made man, but Col. Colt made men equal.” Not to mention women. And the Left hates that.

        “Ever notice that the rise of the status of women in western culture parallels the rise in efficiency and accessibility of personal firearms?” –Mike Hurst on the Steve Jackson Games BBS

        1. Which is why the Hello Kitty AR-15 is kryptonite to them.

          Personally I think it is one of the most wholesome objects present on this planet.

      5. I’ve seen reports about Chinese & Indian troops on their (disputed) border throwing rocks at each other, so gu s are apparently not required.

        OTOH, yesterday Instapundit linked to a report that the Chinese had brought their guns to a rock fight.

        NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ALONG: Chinese Troops Cross Into India, Fortify Positions. “The United States backed India amid recent aggressive actions by the Chinese army. Ambassador Alice Wells, the senior U.S. diplomat for South and Central Asia, called Beijing’s behavior towards India provocative and disturbing.”

    2. Time to remind the Left that one of the Seven Deadly Sins is -lying- Au Contraire!! For the Left, lying is MANDATORY, and the first rule of Leftism.

      1. Lying is their favorite tactic, that’s for sure. But the Iron Rule remains. We can see the lies that China has been selling since Nixon went to visit, finally coming back around to land on their doorstep. The B-52 sized chickens, all coming home to roost.

      2. Envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins too. So is Wrath. You’ll notice that all of these are virtues to the Left. And Practical Wisdom/Prudence, which teaches that Good Intentions Are Not Enough, is an anathma to them.

        It almost looks diabolical, doesn’t it?

      3. Ah, but it’s a DEADLY sin. So there can be no objection to helping a lying Leftist on a one-way trip to the bottom of the sea.

      4. For the Left, lying is not “Lying” it is merely conformation of “facts” t the desired reality. All “truth” is political and must serve the narrative, else of what value is it?

    3. Pay no attention to any reports in that Moonie-owned paper:

      Australian researchers see virus design manipulation
      By Bill Gertz
      A forthcoming Australian scientific study concludes that the coronavirus causing the global pandemic contains unique properties suggesting it was manipulated in a Chinese laboratory and was not the result of a natural occurrence.

      Five scientists who conducted the study discovered an unusual ability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as the pathogen behind COVID-19 is called, to easily infect humans.

      The scientists said there is no sign so far that the virus can be found in other animals, including bats or the exotic wildlife sold for fresh meat at a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first identified and where China maintains a major laboratory studying such viruses.

      The preliminary report of the study, which is now being peer-reviewed, is based on computer modeling of the virus’ ability to infect various animals, including humans. It was published May 13 on the Cornell University website, which is used for discussion of pre-publication papers.

      Nikolai Petrovsky, the lead researcher, said his team suspects human manipulation in Wuhan because of the unmatched ability of the virus’ protruding spike to infect human cells.

      The virus’ binding strength for human cells “far exceeds” similar properties for infecting other animals, he said in a statement on the forthcoming report.

      “This, plus the fact that no corresponding virus has been found to exist in nature, leads to the possibility that COVID-19 is a human-created virus,” said Mr. Petrovsky, a professor at the College of Medicine and Public Health at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia.

      “It is therefore entirely plausible that the virus was created in the biosecurity facility in Wuhan by selection on cells expressing human ACE2, a laboratory that was known to be cultivating exotic bat coronaviruses at the time.”


      The Australian study contradicts other scientists’ assertions that there is no evidence the virus originated in a Chinese laboratory or that it is the result of laboratory bioengineering.

      Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key adviser to Mr. Trump on the pandemic, has dismissed any suggestion that the virus came from a Chinese laboratory.

      “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now, [the scientific evidence] is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated,” he told National Geographic this month.

      “Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.”


      Jonathan J. Couey, a research assistant professor of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh, said he agrees with the Australian findings.

      “Understanding the exact origin of this virus is vital to ensure that all scientific and medical data are interpreted correctly by policymakers and health care professionals alike,” Mr. Couey said.

      However, he said, debate on the laboratory origin of the virus has been stymied by scientists opposed to even considering the possibility.

      “Several scientists with obvious conflicts of interest have been permitted to go on the record denying that it would be possible to generate such a virus in a laboratory and stating specifically that the sequence of SARS-CoV-2 would never have been chosen by any ‘gene jockey,’” he said in an email.

      “Both of these denials are not genuine scientific rebuttals, but rather semantic pseudo-denials formulated by some of those most closely tied to the funding of these [gain of function] research lines.”


      The Australian study is the second scientific paper to suggest laboratory manipulation played a part.

      A group of Indian scientists published a paper on Jan. 31 that found the new coronavirus contained four insertions to the spike protein that are unique to SARS-CoV-2 and not found in other coronaviruses. The features, they said, are similar to those found in the virus known as HIV.

      Those scientists concluded that similar structures are “unlikely to be fortuitous in nature.”

      The Indian paper was withdrawn under pressure from China, but the scientists involved refused to repudiate their research and promised to publish their findings eventually.


      The Chinese government initially said the virus appeared to originate in the Huanan seafood market in Wuhan but later changed its official version to say the origin is something for scientists to study.

      Beijing initially opposed international calls for an investigation into how the disease outbreak began but this week said it would support an independent WHO probe of the handling of the disease outbreak at an unspecified date.

      Critics say Chinese secrecy has prevented scientists from learning about the virus.

      However, “the nature of this event and its proximity to a high-risk biosecurity facility at the epicenter of the outbreak demands a full and independent international inquiry to ascertain whether a virus of this kind of COVID-19 was being cultured in the facility and might have been accidentally released,” Mr. Petrovsky said.

      1. If true the CCP committed an outright, Geneva Convention recognized ACT OF WAR against the rest of the world. If shown to be true, strong action must be taken against the CCP.

        1. It isn’t true, it didn’t happen, it was an accident and besides they only developed such a virus in order to learn how to defeat it.

          Adapted from the law students’ mantra: he’s not my dog, he didn’t bite you and besides, you kicked him first.

        2. China is doing the belligerent blustering of someone caught, tthreatening the economies of nations around them (Australia’s especially), and if it’s proven I can already hear them say “what are you going to do about it?”

          And if it is true, the state government of Victoria has a lot to answer for.

      2. And, I’m sure this will get me deemed a conspiracy theorist, but…the infections BEFORE Christmas may have been ‘test cases’. Before the virus got released, because, human screw up.
        Why am I so sure that the WuFlu was around in mid-October? I got horribly sick right about then. Took me MONTHS to recuperate, during which time I could barely make until lunch to have to go back to sleep for another 3-4 hours. Not flu – I’ve had that in the past, I’m very familiar with the symptoms.
        This was fever, dry cough, and aches. Followed by the worst respiratory symptoms I’ve had in years. I barely stayed out of the hospital several times in that period, and did so by using my nebulizer liberally. About 2 months of hell.

        1. Why am I so sure that the WuFlu was around in mid-October? I got horribly sick right about then. Took me MONTHS to recuperate, during which time I could barely make until lunch to have to go back to sleep for another 3-4 hours. Not flu – I’ve had that in the past, I’m very familiar with the symptoms.
          This was fever, dry cough, and aches. Followed by the worst respiratory symptoms I’ve had in years.

          Ditto. Only December. I’d have sworn I was early stages of Whooping Cough at first, but the cough wasn’t “that bad”, in that I could catch my breath between coughing jags, the coughing jags didn’t hurt all the way to my toes. But all the other symptoms were there. Then it moved into a head cold, to the point I was starting to think sinus infection, except I felt worse. Doesn’t sound like I was as sick as long, probably ambulatory sick for 10 days, then sick in bed for another 8 to 10 days (not like I was counting). Within the week after Thanksgiving, until about half a week before Christmas … was beginning to think was going to have to suggest Christmas Eve dinner needed to be hosted “not at our house”.

          Had a niece who just as sick about the same time same symptoms. Doubt it was the same source. Neither gave it to each other. Doctor’s response (after the fact) was “Yes there is a super bad, not flu, cold going around.” Doubt he’s saying it was CV19, but bet he’s thinking it.

          Neither niece or I have underlying conditions that make nebulizers be required. I do have co-morbidity issues (overweight, age); niece does not. Don’t know about niece, but I do find myself suddenly dry coughing for no reason.

    4. one of the Seven Deadly Sins is -lying-. It is right up there with robbery, rape and murder.

      Err. None of those make the list of the Seven Deadly Sins, in any variation I’ve heard of.

        1. Saw something sad yesterday. Travel show about Panama with a young host, but an adult.

          Talked about how the Spanish word for sloth, perezoso, means “lazy one.”

          She then commented on how sloths are lazy, without any sign of understanding that “sloth” means reluctance to act or laziness. She spent the whole segment making comments like this, like mistaking one sloth grooming another sloth for “touching its head.”

          And it was a full corporate produced, syndicated TV show. Arrrrrgh.

          1. I saw a grounded sloth once, down in South America. Poor thing was surrounded by a pack of juvenile hominins, its mortal enemies. It was terrified and scrambling to escape. Vvveeerrryyy ssslllooowwwlllyyy. The things are decidedly not built for speed.

            1. Apparently sloths live in trees in Panama’s suburbs, sorta like very large squirrels. The travel show was visiting a sloth sanctuary for sloths that had fallen from trees as babies or been messed with by humans, so a lot of them had injuries for life. But they were pretty social for sloths, and pretty fast (on the sloth scale) since they were young. They showed one of the sanctuary staff feeding a sloth some cut carrots as a treat.

    5. China lies. China has always lied. The various governments of China throughout history have been far more interested in appearance than reality. All Chinese dynasties have cherished the idea that China IS civilization, and any time messy reality intrudes, they pretend that it doesn’t.

      The problem is that the world in general and our political class in particular bought into the facade. I wish I thought they had learned better, but they probably haven’t.

      1. China does not lie, it is simply that their definition of Truth is somewhat different from our own. Their definition entails that which advances their interests and any factual validity as we deem it is irrelevant.

        This is a part of how they’ve so easily adapted to communism. It is we Americans, who stubbornly insist a thing is True or False according to objective values and NOT according to how it advances our purposes, who are exceptional.

        1. Bullsh*t. China lies. And, almost as often as it lies to the world, China lies to itself, which is why there have been so many famines and why Chinese literature and cinema are so full of tragic heroism. Chinese Dynasties are almost, textbook examples of How NOT to run a country.

          1. China lies according to our terminology, but not theirs, because their terminology has no meaning for Truth and therefore no meaning for Lie.

            To say China does not lie is not to say they are ever truthful. The concept of veracity is as alien to the Chinese as is the idea of dancing to wasps.

            1. Absent a lot more knowledge of the Chinese people, I would limit that to Chinese dynasties; emperors, mandarins, etc. The Chinese people may or may not follow the same pattern, but nobody should expect a Chinese government to tell the truth about anything.

              BTW; does anyone have a read on Taiwan? Does their government follow the same pattern?

              1. I would have thought that “China” in such context clearly indicated the collective, just as I would reach a similar conclusion about “the Chinese People” as opposed to “Chinese people.”

                When you speak of a culture of “Face” you must recognize they’ve higher values than “Truth” even if individually they are reflexively honorable.

              2. Taiwan pretty much operates on high paranoia, what with China wanting to nom them back, from what I understand. That said, they do consider themselves very separate from CCP and their attempts to share their data re:CCPlague to the rest of the world is markedly different from China’s secrecy, so…

    6. It is indeed starting to look like the virus was cooked up in a lab, which is a conclusion I was slow to reach because the original (wet market) story was also very plausible. But I’m having trouble with the idea that the virus was intentionally released, rather than accidentally released, because I can’t see what the CCP would think they would gain. As a general rule, successful evil people don’t do things For The Lulz™; they only engage in a course of action because they see a benefit to themselves from it. And I don’t see why the CCP, if they were going to deliberately release a virus, would do so on their own soil. Yes, they don’t care about their citizens as people, but they care about them as economic units, and releasing a tailored virus on your own soil would harm your country more than it would harm anyone else.

      If you have a guess as to what the CCP might think they would gain from deliberately releasing this virus in the area near the lab where it was put together, let me know. As of now, I’m still of the opinion that it was a deliberately constructed virus, but accidentally released.

      1. I’ve long leaned toward the theory that the release was accidental, probably a byproduct of somebody selling lab animals in that marketplace (a theory which does not, I hasten to observe, require transmission via animal, merely somebody infected and – somewhat – asymptomatic). While the Chinese claim their lab protocols are the same as those employed in our Level 4 labs that does not mean their claim is credible. Heck, it doesn’t even mean our claim is credible — anybody even slightly familiar with lab protocols is all too aware with the many incidents which inattentive staff perpetrate.

        I am sure we are all too well aware of the reported rate of hospital personnel failure to comply with hand-washing protocols, and those seem a de minimis precaution.

        1. just to acknowledge evidence contrary to my thesis … who’s been screwing with minks?

          Dutch government finds second mink-to-human coronavirus transmission
          The Dutch agriculture ministry on Monday said it had found what it believes to be a second case of a human becoming infected with the new coronavirus after coming in contact with a mink that had the virus.

          In a letter to parliament, minister Carola Schouten repeated that the country’s National Institute for Health believes the risk of animal-to-human transmission of the virus outside the farms on which they are kept is “negligible.”

          On April 26, the Dutch government reported mink on a farm in the south of the country had been found to have the disease, prompting a wider investigation of such farms, where mink are bred for their fur. Last week the government reported its first suspected case of mink-to-human transmission.

        2. While the Chinese claim their lab protocols are the same as those employed in our Level 4 labs that does not mean their claim is credible.

          I totally believe they’re the same as here.

          I also believe, until I see a reason to think otherwise, that the Chinese will FOLLOW THEM like any other list of instructions without immediate good-to-the-doer reasons– that is, they’ll jump through whatever loops are held up as tests and otherwise ignore them.

          1. Well of course their lab protocols would be the same; they stole them from us! Does NOT mean they understand them, or are able to implement them competently.

      2. But, I do think some of the early cases (US, EU) were deliberately transmitted, to test the lethality. Only after an accident that released it into China, did China act to shut Wuhan down. While still maintaining they had it under control.

      3. Hypothesis:

        1) China (with help from Dr. Anthony Fauchi) developed the virus at the Wuhan lab in a gain-of-function program, DELIBERATELY;
        2) China released the virus in the neighborhood of the Wuhan lab, somehow, ACCIDENTALLY;
        3) China curtailed domestic travel in and out of the Wuhan vicinity, while still allowing international travel, DELIBERATELY.

  7. Granted, I have not read all the available sources, but the “we’re one the side of Right!” as a political ideology for war seems to kick into the West only with wars against Islam/the Ottomans, and then the Wars of Religion. You have to have an ideology that sees other ideas as anti-society (at best) before leaders “get past” the basic “Because I need territory/glory/to prove myself/resources/because I can” argument. The whole good v. evil really got read into the American Civil War, and crept into WWI.

    I grew up in the Midwest, in a family from the South. The family’s take was that the ACW was a terrible thing, that slavery was wrong, but that there were also other reasons for the fight, with a dollop of “Northerners weren’t exactly saints themselves.” Mom and Dad Red insisted that the men who fought should be respected for what they did, not slammed for which side they fought on. (Full disclosure, I had relatives on the Union, Confederacy, “hide in the woods, here come raiders!,” and “I moved to Utah to get away from this” sides. Plus a few who came later to get away from Franco-German conscription and Antisemitism.)

    1. “I moved to Utah to get away from this”

      I recently read the Chernow biography on Grant and it mentions Samuel Clemens, favorable to the Southern cause, going off to the silver fields of Nevada to avoid having to deal with the ACW. This is important later because Mark Twain was the publisher for Grant’s autobiography, written while Grant was dying from throat cancer and acquired right after Grant and most of his relatives had been swindled out of all of their money. A publisher had offered Grant a deal, and Grant (who was hopelessly naive about money) was asking Twain if it were a good deal. And Twain, who had a lot of admiration for Grant, offered a much better deal, knowing that he could pre-sell the heck out of such a volume. Which he did. And Grant finished the book a few days before he died.

      1. It’s speculated that one of my ancestors moved to Utah just in time to keep one of his sons from being drafted toward the end of the ACW. Although that same son promptly volunteered in one of the Indian wars practically as soon as they got there…

    2. As best I understand it the KKK was originally founded by Southern veterans in defense against abuses perpetrated by Northern politicians and carpetbaggers looking to enrich themselves and punish the South for the war. Unfortunately, control of the organization was seized by Southern Democrats and became the secret militant arm of their party carrying out all sorts of abuse from arson, bombings. and murder.
      Needs to be said that the Democratic party manipulated the resentments of both sides from that war to create what for many years was referred to as the Solid South, a citizenry conditioned to always vote the party ticket. Eventually it was the migration of the Democrats ever further to the left that caused most southern states to transform from blue to red.

      1. Oh, yes. They recruited Forrest when it was still a civil rights organization — when it opted for crime, he not only quit, he took out a full-page ad in the papers declaring so and urging all other members to quit as well.

    3. I’ll disagree slightly on the timing. During the Great Unpleasantness Between the States, there was respect. After the conflict, there was a tacit agreement – the South would accept the verdict of battle and not attempt secession again, the North would grant that the Confederates had fought bravely for causes they deemed to have been good.

      That agreement held for a century. Only in the last fifty years, particularly the last thirty, has the full prism of racial politics and regional prejudice been used to distort the history.

      1. Only in the last fifty years …

        Amazing what a little historical revizinnism will do, isn’t it Howard?

      2. I regret that I never visited Arlington Nat Cemetery when I lived on the east coast. I especially would have liked to visit the Confederate section, where the grave markers are pointed.

        And, here’s a song that I remember hearing on the radio in the mid 70s (mostly the Joan Baez version):

        1. I regret that I never visited Arlington Nat Cemetery when I lived on the east coast.

          I visited when I was held over from National Jamboree, ’01 & ’05 (not my fault travel agent couldn’t get me a flight out of DC for 4 days … not that I encouraged them …). It is an overwhelming sobering sight. I’d like to go to DC again when it isn’t so freaking hot (it is NOT a dry heat) … OTOH I won’t handle the freezing snow very well either.

    4. Most of my ancestors were in Utah during the ACW but they got there at least a decade before the ACW broke out. The rest of my ancestors were still in Europe. Latter-day Saints have a long history of suspecting the Federal Government is not their friend.

    5. Same. I know 3 Applegate brothers moved their families from back east to Oregon 15+ years before the ACW. Jewet/Clearman move to Montana before ACW, but sure exactly when. Lovelace? Well grandpa, his twin, & younger twin sister’s were born in Oregon, in late 1800’s, and I think their parents were born in Oregon, but not sure if their parents emigrated before, during or after. Lovelace isn’t common on the west coast, but very common down south. McKirdy brothers were the Johnny come lately; they emigrated via Canada from Scotland late 1800’s.

  8. Terrific article and spot on about there being people on both sides of many conflicts who, if we knew them closely, we would understand and admire.

    I offer an alternative to “Our life is much shorter than that which our minds can compass” because I’m reading some books by Dr. Peter Kreeft of Boston College. He made me aware that we are more than our physical body, and that some part of us outlives everything material around us. It’s mind-expanding to think that my school, my town, various organizations, even the United States may be gone someday, but my soul will still exist.

    1. One of my characters is 10,431 years old. She’s an AI, she’s been on Earth since ancient Sumeria. She came pounding on my door in the middle of the book, demanding that her story be told. One of the biggest parts of her story is why she puts up with us Humans, and the other part is why hasn’t she moved on to follow all those husbands and kids that died in 10K years.

      She was -pissed- at the rap AI beings get in modern SF, and has been subverting the Frankenstein/Terminator trope at every turn.

    2. Sure. But I’ m talking about us as we exist — and act — on this physical plane.
      Frankly I can’t imagine eternity. If it’s there, it wont’ be QUITE me. Like I’m not the me I was at two, and the me I was at two would not GET who and what I’m now.
      I more want to believe than believe, if that makes sense, because I don’t have NATURAL faith. BUT at some level I do believe in eternity. I just think who I am now can’t understand or begin to think of who I’ll be then. EVEN if we share some memories.

      1. This is one of the great paradoxes. We know He goes to prepare a place for us. We know we go as ourselves. Look at your grandma going over the rainbow bridge, with her entourage.

        I wonder if one thing that happens is we become innocent. In Dean Koontz wonderful description in “One Door Away From Heaven”, on page 325 of the paperback, the hero intrudes into a dog’s dream of an encounter with the “playful Presence” (God). Two sentences always bring me joy. ” He… feels for one sweet devastating moment what only the innocent can feel: the exquisite rightness of creation from shore to shore across the sea of stars, a clear ringing in the heart that chases out all fears, and every anger, a sense of belonging, purpose, hope, an awareness of being loved.

        Mere joy gives way to rapture, and the boy’s awe grows deeper, an awe lacking any quality of terror, but so filled with wonder and with liberating humility…”

        That wonderful gift of writing from Mr. Koontz, describes my expectation of Heaven, when I travel the rainbow bridge. There to meet those who have gone before, (including cats). Here on earth, we are not capable of encountering the presence of God. Our earthly bodies not capable of surviving the encounter. It would be like taking a visit to the center of the sun, earthly body too fragile to survive. When we pass through the gossamer thin veil that separates life from death, something changes. Our physical bodies stay here, they cannot make the trip. We somehow travel beyond to a place beyond our limited linear space-time.

        1. I have had moments. Usually utterly unexpected and unearned and unexplainable, when I’m touched by SOMETHING.
          It’s neither joy nor peace but it’s a bit of both. I identify this with Him giving me an infinitesimal portion of His attention. I don’t know if it’s true. It’s just what it feels like.
          Ten? days ago, I woke up feeling this and it lasted most of the day. I have no idea why. I just feel thankful.

      2. If it is anything at all like being born (again – heh), then… you’d really have to be right. There would be some familiar things — like those voices you kept hearing, suddenly unmuffled — but also a whole world of different experiences that make the previous one look little and closed.

      3. A lot of people experience faith as feelings and such, but that’s not faith itself. Having an intellectual faith, or having a faith with doubts type of faith, can still be faith, and even a stronger faith than the happy feelings kind.

        Because whenever a feelings and consolations person gets into spiritual dryness, much less dark night of the soul territory, the feelings go away and they find out whether they have faith or not.

        And at first, they might think they don’t, because they’re not used to looking behind the feelings. Dryness and desolation times are their spiritual Leg Day, when they have to balance it out.

        People who naturally experience a more minimalist spirituality, or even “desolation” or the torments of serious doubt, are doing the spiritual version of Leg Day all the time. They are consoled more by the occasional consolations and insights also, I think.

        (The Ascent of Mount Carmel by St. John of the Cross is part one of the Dark Night of the Soul duology, and it has all the useful bits for those of us who are not advanced mystics.)

        1. My mysticism is sporadic, unearned and unexpected.
          The rest of the time…
          The rest of the time I doubt those feelings, because I don’t trust feelings in general.

    3. I like how someone else expressed it (and can’t remember now who): It’s not that you have a soul; the reality is you *are* a soul.

      1. Point of theology: It is important to the whole Christian belief system that body and soul are meant to be together. The soul in heaven experiences bliss, but reuniting with the body in the bodily resurrection is where eternal life really starts rolling.

        Practically speaking, downgrading the body to a husk or a prison is not fair to the whole human.

        1. +1. I’ve seen the idea expressed quite often that “you’re not a body who has a soul, you’re a soul who has a body” and while that’s closer to the truth than the materialistic idea that you are nothing more than a body, it still falls short of the full truth that you are, really and truly, both. Just as a body without a soul is incomplete (in fact, a body without a soul is usually called a corpse), a soul without a body is also incomplete.

  9. Even in the Civil War, it was never as clear cut as people today might think. For instance, take Sherman, the bogeyman of Georgia. He was a Southerner, and was teaching at a Louisiana college just prior to the war, and after the war, his break with Grant was largely over the South.

    You also never know what’s going to bother you. I knew Thomas Jefferson kept slaves; that didn’t negate the power of his writings. The fact that he kept a slander diary—full of nasty rumors or half-truths about anyone who might one day be a political opponent—really bothered me when I found out about it, though. I guess I can attribute some things to “product of his time”, but reputation assassination is something that’s never been good.

    1. Teaching? He was running what is now LSU! It’s their Dirty Little Secret.

      Sherman was as close to being a Southerner as a man born in Ohio could well be. Which meant that he understood how the planter class thought and how to crack them.

    2. Jefferson was a weasel. He wrote well and had an interesting mind, but still a weasel. John Adams forgave him. I don’t think Abigail ever did and women are a better judge, they have more at stake.

      1. I am not sure that gender is the decisive factor here. It is easier to forgive attacks upon oneself than upon those one loves, something which both Bush presidents have observed.

        But I gather it was Abigail who engineered the rapprochement of the second and third presidents in their later years. It likely has somewhat to do with their having sat at the same desk, just as George H. W. Bush and Billy Clinton seemed to share an understanding n their post-presidencies. It is perhaps significant that our most recently posted president has shown a lack of similar sympathy to his successor.

        1. Also, I must defend Jefferson on that keeping a journal of slanders and rumors. It was a VERY Roman thing to do.
          We forget how much they were steeped in classicism, including the bits that would appall us.

          1. I’ve been listening to an audiobook of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, which I’d only waded into a little, before. Holy cow, is that an enlightening book — and you can see its influence sticking out everywhere.

          2. Roman, hell, I’m wondering if I should start one for my family.

            Not because I want to use it as a weapon, but because that sounds like it’d be really handy to identify what the heck someone is alluding to THIS time, and maybe help me avoid stepping on toes.
            Example, I found out, AFTER several C-section births, that a female relative some 30+ years earlier had justified sterilization because it was just too dangerous for her to risk another pregnancy after hers. Not a lot I could’ve done on that one, other than being loud about how my doctor was really special and using a brand new technique that was insanely safer than just ten years ago, yada yada, but it would’ve been NICE TO KNOW!

      2. I’ve wondered if that’s what got Saddam Hussein killed—he scared the wife of a sitting president, but I’m probably applying things we heard about his two sons after they were killed.

        1. I suspect the POTUS was very, very far down on the list of “people who want to see Saddam Hussein dead.” Fourth or fifth single-spaced page, eight-point font.

  10. “What if you were the last one to die for a mistake?”

    Well, I guess if you accept the premise, that applies equally to the first person who dies for a mistake.

    Since all human polities eventually fall, every human conflict, even a desperate stand at one of the border forts that stops the Germanic barbarians at the Rhine one more time so the towns in Gaul are not burned and the Roman citizens in them killed, is really useless and futile because in a couple hundred years the barbarians will take Rome itself and the glory that was Rome In The West will be reduced to the Pope. So every single death fighting those Germanic tribes, or fighting to stop the Persians, was just wasted, nevermind the happy civilized road and aqueduct and sewer builders and historians and poets and writers of law that the Legions enabled.

    Also, the rule is, oddly, never applied to the last Red Army conscript who died in the Soviet’s Afghanistan adventure.

    Using the AntiMemorialists premise, arguably ever single military adventure in the Soviet Union’s long and storied history of military adventures, both public and U.N. public, was instantaneously transformed into a mistake when that imperial Russian fiction of a nation fell apart – after all, if it ended up being a house of cards, it was by definition all for naught?

    Of course, bleeding the Wehrmacht dry so Hitler didn’t have twenty or thirty divisions to throw across the Ardennes at the allies at Christmastime in 1944 does have an unarguable value, at least to the people who didn’t trade one despotic nutjob for another through living on the eastern side of a negotiated sphere of influence line.

    But flip it over – what about the last child born in the DDR before the wall fell? How could the parents possibly bring into the horrible world of the STASI and the informants everywhere a new fragile baby? That was hope, and it turns out hat baby was suddenly and unpredictably freed before they learned to walk.


    The last soldier who died anywhere was desperately hoping for success.

    And hope for a better future, whether it’s “I hope I survive this CF” or “I hope my baby lives in a better society than this one” is something that humans celebrate.

    So Memorial Day is a holiday of hope, in honor of the people who gave the last full measure in hope their sacrifice would lead to something better.

    And to heck with anyone who attempts to mar that.

    1. “And to heck with anyone who attempts to mar that.”

      Oh, hell, to heck with the whole Left. They’re a bunch of Fascist killjoys. They celebrate only misery. Worse, they are tiresome.

      Let’s hope that after the Fascist Progressives blow up we can have a couple of decades before the NEXT bunch of would-be Aristocrats starts going rancid.

    2. How could the parents possibly bring into the horrible world of the STASI and the informants everywhere a new fragile baby?

      For that matter, I wonder how the last person to die traversing the Berlin Wall felt about dying for Truman’s (and Eisenhower’s and JFK’s) mistake?

      Praise be unto Ronald Reagan for daring to say, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

    3. “Hope” is the thing with feathers –
      That perches in the soul –
      And sings the tune without the words –
      And never stops – at all –

      And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
      And sore must be the storm –
      That could abash the little Bird
      That kept so many warm –

      I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
      And on the strangest Sea –
      Yet – never – in Extremity,
      It asked a crumb – of me.

      — Emily Dickinson, Hope is the thing with feathers”

  11. More appropriately, is dying in a home invasion, with the invader being a known offender junkie, a result of a mistake?

    Not a mistake of a failure to prepare personally but a mistake of governmental policy?

    Settling matters through the legal system is a choice, or rather, a bunch of choices. Those choices by very many people amount to a policy. And policies have trade offs.

    The status quo has some unnecessary costs tightly integrated, but the good things that come from it have unavoidable expenses that have negative consequences.

    And if I’m the last man to be slain for supporting what the surviving humans consider to be a mistaken cause, those very facts make my determination and choice the correct ones. Perhaps only the correct ones for me, but still correct. The relevant question is whether I have any right to fail in making a Samadh for whichever cause that is appropriate to its station. Is it moral for me to refuse to harden my heart, and not do my best to maximize the bodycount?

    Where the cause is the United States of America, the greatest political experiment in human history and prehistory…

  12. I am conflicted about the pulling down of Confederate monuments. On the one hand I get a little weary of the Cult of the Lost Cause as expressed in romanticism about the South. On the other hand, I am at least half convinced that the primary motive behind the Political Left’s animus against the Confederacy is a desperate desire to obscure the plain fact that the Party of Slavery, Succession, Segregation, Jim Crow, and the KKK was…the Democrats.

    1. Yeah.

      If it were not for Segregation and the Civil War, I would not have decided to become a fanatic for the cause of opposition to the Democratic Party. (Okay, with my personality I think everyone here knows that I would have picked a bunch of political excuses for fanaticism.) I only have any patience for the level of sympathy required by recognizing the humanity in the opposition of the time.

      The fucking revisionist histories are extremely wearing. The philosophies expressed in them are the sorts of “heads I win, tails you lose” nonsense that if you examine carefully leave out assumptions necessary for saying that slavery was an evil.

      If we do not remove public recognition for JFK, and for Obama, whose CFPB can be understood as akin to Segregation, we should not remove public recognition for Confederates, the CSA, the Stars and Bars, etc. The lack of objection to Mexico’s flag, which carries a symbol of the Aztec Triple Alliance, is proof that the lying fellows are not simply objecting to symbols of an evil polity.

      1. The objection to the Stars and Bars always puzzled me a little. Ok, you are FRIMLY convinced that anyone who would flaunt such a symbol is a raving bigot.

        Why discourage them from self-identifying?

        1. Growing up in Atlanta, the connotations I picked up around the Stars and Bars was not “oooh, slavery was great!” or even “we miss plantations and pretty dresses and aristocratic guys on horses”; it was “you can’t tell me what to do even if you ARE bigger than me”. I have a hunch that much of the “battle flag is eeeeeeevil!” rhetoric is consciously or subconsciously directed at that connotation.

          1. Southern pride. That’s what it represents, near as I can tell.

            And what is it we Southrons are proud of? Again, near as I can tell, stubbornness, patriotism, personal honor, courtesy, and good food. Nowhere in there do I see racism. And I know, and knew *real* racists in the South growing up in the Town that Time Forgot About. Those folks were the least Southern of all of us.

            I know men who flew the Stars and Bars from their pickups whose deep tan never did fade to pink. I’ve known wealthy folks from the city to deep in the sticks who held certain opinions about folks of a certain color, too. There’s a word for folks like that. Well, two. “Damn fool.”

            Humans everywhere are complicated things. Ain’t no single “why” or “how” that will explain ’em simply.

            1. I almost hurt myself giggling as I beheld the driver of a pickup with the stars-n-bars and a US flag flying, along with multiple NRA and other firearms stickers. He was not of pure Anglo-European descent (more East African, based on build) and wore a rather well-used TEA Party hat. I’d love to see him cross paths with some VileProgs some day. The exploding heads . . .

              1. If they couldn’t hold mutually exclusive thoughts in their head without exploding, they would have dies a long time ago. Besides, they simp,y wouldn’t SEE him.

                1. Eh. Sort of. Seen that all too many times.

                  “Race traitor.” or “Uncle Tom.” Other such ignorant nonsense. Rather, stupid nonsense. Ignorance is curable. Stupid is terminal.

                2. Obviously he was not “authentic.”

                  As Joe Biden readily advised, that man “ain’t black.”

          2. I suspect that flaunting the Stars ‘n Bars started out as a habit of the truly racist, but got taken up by swaths of people who were simply sick of Simpering Leftist drivel. In any case, my question stands. Regardless of what it may actually stand for, IF you believe that only KKK troglodytes would flaunt it, why would you want them to STOP? Don’t you want to be warned who they are?

            1. Many of those who fought under the Stars ‘n’ Bars did so not to preserve slavery but to preserve the sovereignty of states — something eroded by several Constitutional Amendments and extension of Federal power. [Insert lengthy diatribe about absurd abuse in the name of the Commerce Clause.]

              It is a source of constant amusement to observe the contortions undertaken by The Resistance in the suppression of Federalism and the upraising of a doctrine of Nullification so recently despised during the prior (mal)administration — while simultaneously denouncing Trump’s failure to exercise Federal authority to force all state responses to Wuhan Flu to conform the model employed by New York. Minds so easily able to harbor conflicting thoughts without bumping up against one another must be very empty

              Slavery is a vile institution, corrupting both the enslaved and the enslaver, but when discussing secession it must be noted that New England proposed it first, threatening to bolt the Union in protest over the War of 1812 — a war in which many New Englanders provided aid and trade to the enemy. As it was in 1776, so it was in 1812 and 1861: Yankees presumed to dictate their morals to the rest of the nation.

          3. Yes. The Confederate Battle Flag has become a symbol of resistance to government bullying.

          4. $SPOUSE reminded me of the day and the flag, and I went and got both Old Glory and the Older Glory (Betsy Ross version) to fly at the gate post. The former came down after dinner, while the latter will stay up until the Gadsden Flag arrives from the ‘zon.

            Haven’t seen a “No Loc Snek” flag yet, but if I do…

            Crater Lake Nat’l Park is still closed, though state parks are open for day use. We’ve been there often enough that it’s not an urgent need to go there, but even in rural Flyover Oregon, the #$%^ing lockdown gets boring.

            Made it to Home Depot on Sunday to get some concrete mix. (whee. Note to self, get 60 pound bags next time; those 80 pounders got heavier over the past couple of decades). The contractors weren’t around, and more older people than show at weekday mornings, but mask usage is slowly dropping. That was the first time I drove to town and left masks at home*. Freedom!

            (*) Figure I had it in March, not worried about getting it again, and not able to share it. Even my allergies got bored and went away. CCP virus virtue signaling ain’t in my makeup.

          5. Try this again:

            $SPOUSE reminded me of the day and the flag, and I went and got both Old Glory and the Older Glory (Betsy Ross version) to fly at the gate post. The former came down after dinner, while the latter will stay up until the Gadsden Flag arrives from the ‘zon.

            Haven’t seen a “No Loc Snek” flag yet, but if I do…

            Crater Lake Nat’l Park is still closed, though state parks are open for day use. We’ve been there often enough that it’s not an urgent need to go there, but even in rural Flyover Oregon, the #$%^ing lockdown gets boring.

            Made it to Home Depot on Sunday to get some concrete mix. (whee. Note to self, get 60 pound bags next time; those 80 pounders got heavier over the past couple of decades). The contractors weren’t around, and more older people than show at weekday mornings, but mask usage is slowly dropping. That was the first time I drove to town and left masks at home*. Freedom!

            (*) Figure I had it in March, not worried about getting it again, and not able to share it. Even my allergies got bored and went away. CCP virus virtue signaling ain’t in my makeup.

            1. Crater Lake Nat’l Park is still closed

              Closed because of CV19. But Hwy 62 is open to pass through. Is the rim road even cleared of snow? Google foo has evaded me to determine when they open the rim drive. Mom & her brother drove from Salem via I-84 to Baker last week. Said there was fresh snow on the east side (not much, but it was there).

              They’ve opened Old McKenzie (242) Highway on schedule. Neighbors posted their annual bike trek with 10′ of snow in the background (could have been an old pic?). Haven’t seen a post that is open to vehicles yet. Hiking trails sure aren’t … but that is snow problem, not CV19.

              1. I doubt there’s a set schedule for the rim road opening. The north entrance opening follows weather patterns; with a dry winter like the previous, it would likely have opened about now. OTOH, I’ve seen it delayed to mid June. YMMV.

                The complicating factor is Despicable Kate Brown’s executive order. Crater Lake is following the rules for state parks, and without camping/use of the lodge, it’s hard to see it open. (Klamath Falls and Medford/Ashland are close enough to the south entrance to allow day use, but tourism got clobbered six ways from Sunday with the closures. Ashland is begging people to visit, but with no Shakespeare festival, the People’s Republic of Ashland just ain’t that good a tourist draw. K-Falls tourism doesn’t really start until Memorial day, and a lot of our tourism is Crater Lake. (IIRC, the opposite of a snowball effect is a “thawball”.)

                1. Winter was dry and mild, but the spring storms dumped a lot of moisture. Looks like some of it is sticking at Crater Lake.

                  The ODOT webcams at Diamond Lake (SR 138/SR230, near the north entrance) look clear, but the webcams in the park show a fair amount of snow at the visitor center. The one overlooking the lake is stuck, with no targeted date to fix it, so I’m assuming even the southern portion of the rim is sketchy. Look at the visitor center a ways back from the rim; maybe 2′ of snow. Even Annie Springs at 6000′ for the south entrance shows some snow.

                  Every freaking page for the park has a header saying the park is closed because Winnie-the-flu. I get it and don’t need to be reminded Every. Damned. Page!

                  1. Every freaking page for the park has a header saying the park is closed because Winnie-the-flu. I get it and don’t need to be reminded Every. Damned. Page!

                    That is what I found too. Thought there would be more information about the snow level on the roads. Know they don’t plow open the rim road just to get it open. HWY 242 has been known to open as late as July despite them plowing it. Also seen them open it, then have the road get dumped 4″ of snow (July ’86), but they can’t close it because people are parked at trailheads.

                    FYI. I had the same reaction. “Okay already. Closed for CV19. I get it. Are you still closed because of snow too?” (Damn Nanny Brown …)

                    We’re scheduled for Yellowstone starting Aug 30 … I’m beginning to wonder … It is open, at least lower loop in from Wyoming, for day trips. Rumor Montana is opening “soon”. Haven’t heard about West Yellowstone, through Idaho. None of the campgrounds are opened, yet. We’d access through West Yellowstone & are camping.

                    1. The National Park Service has a page (somewhere; try the main NP website or try your favorite search engine) that lists what parks are open and for what. Several obscure-to-me parks are opening. I didn’t spend much time reading that page this morning; both the border collie and I felt like hell and I didn’t get much sleep. (I was committing construction yesterday and the BC’s stomach gets riled with every major weather change. Sigh.)

                      The status page lacks projected dates, because of erratic official reactions to Winnie-the-flu and any other disasters/crises/mild inconveniences. After this crud, I’d welcome Saint Andreas or SMOD, at least if I can have some say as to where the latter is headed. [VBEG]

                    2. Well the Bears and Cougars aren’t a danger 😉 we never see them … 😉

                      Bison, Elk, Big Horn Sheep, yes, even Bear, Cougar, and Fox. There is a reason the park roads are 45 MPH at best; and that is often too fast, even without the Yellowstone Bison herd traffic jam, or Bear jam.

                      We were on our way back from Lamar Valley down the east side, upper loop, to Madison campground late, very dark, when suddenly we had some (idiot) flashing their brights at us, blinding my husband (been better off with emergency lights going, same message without the blinding). Luckily he had been going slower than the posted speed (about 35 instead of 45). Hubby slammed on the breaks. Car flashed us because there was a big Bull Buffalo walking on our side of the road.

                      I get a kick out of those twitter postings from Yellowstone. They always act like it is something unique and special that is happening. Not in Yellowstone. If the day ends in Y, Buffalo traffic jam will occur.

                      Can you tell that this is not our first trip to Yellowstone?

    2. The animus is partly an effort to portray “racism” as the worst thing ever. I wouldn’t mind that so much if it didn’t look so much like cover for the simultaneous assiduous practice of the “soft bigotry of low expectations”.

      1. Oh, it isn’t SOFT bigotry. It’s adamantine. The Fascist Left considers anyone who isn’t a part of their (mostly) lily-white clique to be semi-evolved at best. They keep a few brown-skinned PETS.

      1. And so the balderdash that the prewar Dems magically turned into Republicans so as to blame the KKK and such on the Republicans.

    3. I’ve generally held the view that if you slew that albatross you wear that albatross.

      OTOH, the Left’s enmity to being tarred with the feathers of Jim Crow had supposedly been expunged by misrepresenting the Nixon Southern Strategy as collecting the racists to the GOP banner.

    4. “pulling down of Confederate monuments”

      I see it as erasing history, pure and simple. If you erase the other side’s perspective, then only the “right” side can be told. Seeing monuments to “wrong” people make me question, “what was it about this person that people wanted such a monument,” and it makes me question and think. Thinking and questioning is wrong, and therefore it must be stopped

  13. War is a terrible thing. Sometimes, there are worse things than war.
    That said, I once heard favorable mention of the book “Disputed Passage” by Lloyd C, Douglas, with this quote from Walt Whitman
    “Have you learned the lessons only of those who admired you, and were tender with you, and stood aside for you? Have you not learned great lessons from those who braced themselves against you, and disputed passage with you?”
    I have found it to be so.
    As for those who want to tear down Civil war monuments because “racism” and “slavery”, I think I prefer Johnny Horton’s take on it:

  14. The mentality behind the “last person to die for a mistake” seems to be, “Maybe we didn’t know this was wrong when we started, but we do now, so for God’s sake, pull the plug before anyone else dies.” I can sympathize with that in the abstract, but it does ignore how wars work and how easy it is to flip on and off that switch. Even if it was a mistake to get involved, once you are involved, disengaging requires either winning or surrendering.

    For an example, see Russia and the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk. There’s a good argument that it was a mistake for Russia to get involved in WWI, and of course both sides were exhausted by that point. However, as exhausted as the Germans were, they were still able to more or less take control of Russia as a result of the Communists’ determination for peace at any cost, and only the fact that the Allies weren’t about to let the defeated Germans keep their territory in Russia ended up saving the Soviets.

  15. The Democrats don’t seem to have any problem with Moslems practicing slavery today. Or with black-on-black slavery in Africa. Or sex slavery in eastern Europe. Actually, the only Evil Slavery they ever complain about is in the American Southeast.

    What about the slavery going on at the same time in Mexico and South America? Not a word.

    We’ve had slavery since before we were human. It was the way of the world for more than 300,000 years. Every single person alive today is a descendant of slaves, and slave masters. Only in the last few hundred has anybody seen anything wrong with slavery.

    1. > We’ve had slavery since before we were human. It was the way of the world for more than 300,000 years.

      Even when not formally enslaved, women and children still had few rights and were often considered “free” labor.

      And then we had Abraham Darby, Thomas Savery, Harry Maudslay, Eli Whitney, and their peers, who created an “industrial revolution” that changed the world. Wealth and progress were no longer tied directly to human labor, slavery became more of a liability than a work multiplier, and we are swimming in the end products of the wealth created from modern industry.

      How many slave-years would it take to let someone hit a golf ball on the Moon?

      Round your estimate to the nearest millennium.

  16. Once upon a time the major powers of the world struggled desperately to maintain the status quo, where they remained the rulers and the rest of the world existed as subservient client states, sources of raw materials and purchasers of finished goods with both exchanges highly in the favor of the big dogs.
    Now Imperial Japan took exception to this and thus felt more than justified in getting involved in a war they were sure would conclude to their benefit and establish them securely as a major player in world trade and economics. All valid reasons, but in no way shape or form does it justify the terrible atrocities committed by that nation against not only soldiers, but countless civilians as well. See “Rape of Nanking” for reference, or “Bataan Death March.”
    Note 1: their attack on Pearl Harbor was a brilliant tactical exercise, but a war crime due to a failure to communicate a declaration of war before the attack, a logistical error apparently.
    Note 2: much as current day decries our use of nukes, I am morally certain that the thought running through US leaders’ heads in August of 1945 was “damn, only two, wish we had a dozen!”

    1. Although it’s worth pointing out that Japan’s problem wasn’t with the idea of “the major powers of the world…maintain[ing] the status quo, where they remained the rulers and the rest of the world existed as subservient client states” but with the fact that Japan is in the latter category rather than the former. Not that that makes the Japanese different from 99% of humanity; it’s a truly rare bunch who really fight to change the system rather than just those who are on top.

      1. Actually, Japan had already become a mover and shaker. They won the Russo-Japanese War. They had colonies like Korea and Manchuria. They were a Power.

        But that wasn’t enough, and lots of the crazy bits of their military kept assassinating reasonable members of the government, with tacit approval by many of their superiors. Of course, a lot of them were crazy because crazy Japanese Communists, socialists, and “trade unionists” kept assassinating people. It was like Rurouni Kenshin with cars and modern suits — a freaking chaotic bloodbath.

        Turning all the crazies outward actually calmed things a bit, although lots of them had cushy staff jobs during WWII.

    2. @Note 1: the attack on Pearl Harbor was also a blunder in that it was predicated on the Japanese way of waging war, and failed to take into account the likely American reaction. We don’t react to a barely-within-the-rules surprise attack (Ok, nobody in the Military was surprised, they just expected the attack in the Philippines) by fighting back until a truce is offered and then settling for half the land back. We beat the living snot out of you.

      @Note 2: Every summer that I lived in the DC area some twit would make a fuss about the Ebola Gay display at the Air And Space Museum. They probably still do. And I think we should add a banner that reads, in Japanese, “You rape Nanking again, we bomb you again, capiche?”

      1. #1 Yep, pure dumb luck on our part that all our carriers were on maneuvers time of the attack.
        What was not luck was our response later at Midway.
        Funny tidbit, was watching parts of the History Channel World War documentary last night. Scene where FDR is waiting anxiously for a report on the Midway battle. Phone rings, answered by some deputy who listens, looks at FDR, and states “four carriers sunk!” FDR looks puzzled for a second then says “I thought we only had three?” Response was “no sir, we sunk theirs!” I’m sure it was staged for effect, but may have actually happened that way. 78 years ago so no witnesses still alive and you can’t always believe what the history books tell you happened.

        1. The thing that annoys me about how the attack on Pearl Harbor is treated is that it is almost always spoken of as ‘unprovoked’. This is bollocks. We were doing PLENTY of provoking. We had seized Japanese funds in the US, placed trade sanctions on them, and so on. Now, those were all completely justified by the Japanese behavior in Manchuria. But ‘unprovoked’ is a little thick, isn’t it?

          Furthermore, unless my understanding of history is wrong (always a possibility), both the Roosevelt administration and the US military fully expected a Japanese attack…they just didn’t think the Japanese could reach Pearl. They expected something in the Philippines.

          In short, we were caught with our trousers down in Pearl because the FDR administration and the US military made the racist assumption that the Japanese were less capable than they turned out to be.

          But to say that the attack was unprovoked when we had seized their money, interfered with their trade, and called them every name in the book – but not actually PUNCHED them…yet….


        2. Phone rings, answered by some deputy who listens, looks at FDR, and states “four carriers sunk!” FDR looks puzzled for a second then says “I thought we only had three?” Response was “no sir, we sunk theirs!”

          Was I the only one to think, “He’s playing the Pronoun Game!”

          Yeah, I watch CinemaSins. They’ve saved me from wasting scores of hours watching dozens of rotten movies.

        3. Parshall makes an interesting case that, even had Midway gone totally the other way (we lost all three carriers, and the Japanese lost none), they still lose the war — just later — as the ships we (and they) have scheduled continue to build, and, by the end of 1943, we have more carriers, with more aircraft, available, and it gets worse for Japan the further out the building programs continue.

          See for more details (and note that the site is probably the best one on the net for information about the WWII Japanese navy).

          1. Definitely. The Japanese spent 20 years building a navy of about 200 ships. We built a thousand ships in three and a half years. By 1945 we were turning out a pre-war navy every month. Along with an entire air force and an armored division. We had to cut back on ammo production because we were running out of places to store it, and we didn’t use up the last of it until Desert Storm.

            1. There is a story, the veracity of which I cannot vouch for, that before we officially entered the War, a German diplomat (one of the old Aristocracy) was Given a tour of a shipyard that was turning out the predecessors to the Liberty ships at great speed. Tour over, he is supposed to have telegraphed a relative who had joined the Nazi party and said (or words to this effect), “Ftitzi, you must stop that ridiculous Corporal from getting us into a war with the United States! Their industry will BURY US! “.

      2. Pearl Harbor: the definitive example of Tactical Success and Strategic Failure in one operation.

        1. There is a historian’s theory, which I find somewhat persuasive, that the militarism of Imperial Japan was driven in no small part by the (relatively) newly risen merchant class wanting to prove they were just as capable of military virtues as the Samurai.

          1. There’s also the fact that nations under stress tend to revert to the form of old cultural norms.

        2. I’ve read (taking it with a grain of salt) that Admiral Yamamoto (he who designed the attack) said something to the effect of “now we have awakened the sleeping giant” after hearing reports of the success of the attack. (Said success could have been more devastating beyond the missing carriers if the fuel tank farm had been attacked. Memory says the relevant admiral wanted to get out of Dodge before the US could respond, so he cancelled that attack.)

          Yamamoto’s comment seems to mirror the adage: “Never do your enemy a small harm.”

          1. I believe – and will not trouble myself to confirm – that the attribution to Admiral Y is apocryphal, a useful artifact of a film. But if we’re going to cite adages I think the most appropriate one is the one about striking unsuccessfully at a king.

            1. That is my understanding as well.

              He did make the statement that if war came he would run wild in the Pacific for about 6 months, and then the industrial capacity of the US would start to make itself felt.

          2. Yamamoto is generally said to have advised against the attack, and against attacking the US in general. He took on the planning because he knew it was going to happen and he thought that he had a better chance of pulling it off than any other candidate.

          3. When I worked at CINCPAC HQ we took a look at the targeting strategy for the Pearl Harbor attack. (It gave us an excuse to go outside and look down at the harbor from our perch up on the hill. Lawn chairs and sun purely coincidental).

            Failure to launch the third wave and hitting the POL storage and the dry docks was Nagumo’s biggest mistake.

            Of course, not knowing where the US carriers were was a major consideration. The US would demonstrate 7 months later what a strike from an outnumbered carrier force you didn’t know was there could do to ruin your whole day.

            As a side note, the US recognized the vulnerability of the POL farm and was constructing the underground storage system at Red Hill. I visited it in the late 80’s as part of a study of underground facilities. When it was completed it was probably impervious to any WWII weapon (including the British Earthquake bombs) and certainly anything the Japanese had. If it had been completed and in use by December 1941, the only remaining target of strategic consequence vulnerable to the third wave would have been the dry dock and associated ship yard facilities

      3. That B29 was named ENOLA Gay, not Ebola Gay. Bummer that b and n are next to each other on keyboards. Flying fingers drop bombs indiscriminately.

        1. Not necessarily. I’m a good cook, and therefore my flying fingers drop nomns. Just ask the dog, who helps me clean ’em up.

          *flees from carp*

        1. OTOH, if we ever do an airstrike over Wuhan virus, that would be a good name for the delivery vehicle.

    3. I think the public is also largely ignorant of the fact that even after two atomic bombs were dropped, there was enough opposition to surrender that even when Imperial Japan’s “divine” emperor taped his announcement that Japan would surrender, there was an outright coup attempt to seize the tape and prevent the surrender so that the war could continue (ironically a descendant of the last ruling Shogun was instrumental in protecting the tape from seizure and helping stop the coup attempt). Indeed even the military officers that were not part of the coup opposed it not because they supported the surrender but rather that the idea of disobeying the emperor was unthinkable for them and contrary to their duty to obey the emperor.

      Had the surrender not occurred, we would have needed to build more nukes and still may have had to engage in a land invasion that likely would have had a death toll in the millions.

      1. The US military only recently started stamping out Purple Heart medals again after about seventy years.

        They’d ordered a quarter million for the main island invasions of Japan, based on the Pacific landing campaign.

        There’s a story told of Pacific veterans openly weeping when they heard of the surrender, as they wouldn’t have to go through hell on Earth again.

        1. Not to mention soldiers in Europe fully expecting to be shipped half way around the world to the pacific to take part in the inevitable invasion of the Japanese home islands.
          Actually two schools of thought about that at the time.
          One said invade and get the damnable mess over and done with. Estimated half million Allied casualties and at least two million Japanese dead, both military and civilian.
          Alternative was a total blockade of Japan. Entire population would have starved to death within a year.
          The simple fact is that those two nukes allowed the Emperor to honorably surrender and likely saved the Japanese from total destruction as a people.

          1. Probably not TOTAL destruction, but the occupation would have been vastly more unpleasant for the Japanese, and shaped postwar Japan rather differently. For one thing, it strikes me as unlikely that we would have eased up on Japan when the Korean War broke out, to the extent that we did in this timeline.

            1. A couple of coments. Had a chem prof who was in Army engineers due to invade Japan They had projected casualties of 90+% When told about the A bomb drops said they were–relieved.
              Then there was the German vetenarian serving on the Russian front called back home because he was expert intreating rhinderpest (?) which the CIA had “misinformed” the Germans we were about to use against them. Within days his old unit was overrun. He went on to become a foremost viralimmnologist who claimed he owed his profession and his life to the CIA. Wars have very unpredictabe outcomes, don’t they.

              1. IIRC the CIA was not formed until after WWII. Perhaps it was just that after WWII the OSS was rolled into the CIA.

                1. Aside; there is an absolutely classic memoir of an OSS operative, called YOU’RE STEPPING ON MY CLOAK AND DAGGER. One of the common failings of ‘humorous’ WWII memoirs is that they often give the impression that it was all a jolly lark. This guy makes it clear that he took the War seriously. The War Department…that’s another matter.

                  1. Since the library is closed, have been looking through the 12,000 books for something interesting. Saw this book. It is now on the 100 book pile to read while we wait for them to do contact tracing for people with no symptoms.

                    Santa Clara county is either stupid, or working to make sure the economy never recovers. They have said they need 1,000 people to do contact tracing. Since they have only tested about 4% of the population, and 98% of those who have had it were not tested, how would 10,000 contact tracers know who to look for? We live in crazy times.

                    A personal example of how easy it is to catch virus/bacteria, last night had some kind of intestinal bug. So with all the efforts to shut things down, the bugs still win one. No idea where or when I caught it. This is the insanity of our current masters impose.

                2. I know but that is how he likes to tell the story. Probably had not heard about the disinformation until well after the war. He told my boss this story in the 1970s

                3. More that the OSS was killed off by our own military intelligence services, Army and Navy for sure not to mention the FBI. They hated that the OSS took a very independent stance and mostly failed to show them proper authority.
                  So OSS disbanded and a few months later Truman realized that he desperately needed an autonomous intelligence agency accountable only to POTUS and not subservient to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
                  Not that it solved much of anything as proven time and again as the various agencies and groups consistently failed to demonstrate they could coordinate and communicate their way out of a wet paper bag.

                  1. To be fair to the different services, they really do have different emphases, and so the prioritization and gathering of useful intelligence is always going to be an issue. That’s why we still have our separate service intel agencies, as well as the DIA.

                    Strategic national intelligence includes but is not exclusively, military intelligence. It is the responsibility of intelligence professionals to give information to policymakers to ensure that they have a full picture of events when making policy. It is NOT to advocate for or against any specific policy. It’s rather like the debate about scientism, actually. Intelligence apparatuses, like the scientific process, can only give information about what has gone before, and is sometimes useful at predicting events should trends continue. But people still have to make the decisions.

                  2. It didn’t help that the smart people who had worked for the OSS had been able to find work elsewhere, leaving the chair warmers and dolts to form the CIA.

          2. Dad was in the 8th Air Force, deployed to Okinawa just before the war ended. A busted collarbone (parachute fall training) caused my dad to get transferred from Chem Warfare Tech to Draftsman (his civilian occupation). He was much relieved over the bombing. Not said, but I’m guessing, if the invasion occurred, he would have been back in Chem Warfare. Eldest Brother was born in April 1945; I’m glad he wasn’t an only child. 🙂

            There’s a novel on the invasion of Japan. Don’t recall the author, but it’s The Burning Mountain.

        2. My father-in-law was one of the electricians assigned to Bock’s Car at Tinian.

          He said just mentioning he was part of the ground crew was enough that he never had to buy his own beer until he retired in the 1950s.

          1. My father had an *extremely* garbled description of the landing of Bock’s Car in Okinawa. He told this in the mid 1960s, but history says nope. AFAICT, the gossip conflated the multiple flares set off (radio was wonky, and a valve issue prevented the plane from getting all of the Avgas on board, so they needed to land Right Now) and the case of the Japanese science/tech types who flew into the radioactive cloud. (With the now-expected results.)

            Dad had something about Bock’s Car being flown into the ocean to dump it because it was contaminated. Nope. If any USAAF airplanes were dumped, it wasn’t either of the B-29s that carried the bombs.

            1. Bock’s Car is on display at the Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. Not ditched.

              1. Which is (very much IMHO) the best aviation museum in the world — at least that I’ve seen. It’s got the only remaining XB-70 in one of the halls. And you think the B-29 is large — until you see the B-36. Etc.

                  1. Very much agreed. It’s also much better known, since it’s in the DC metro area, an part of the Smithsonian. But I like to suggest that people interested in aviation — particularly (but not exclusively) military aviation — should know about Dayton, since it’s in a much more obscure location.

              1. Yeah, I checked that yesterday. Not sure how much of the WWII aircraft were displayed in the 1960s, and my father passed away in 1970. (Remembers when it took a fair amount of work to look something up…)

                In the various books I’ve read about the Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I’ve never seen anything about US planes going through the mushroom cloud, but one mentioned a couple of brave/stupid/doomed Japanese flyers who went into the cloud after one of the bombings. I think the author didn’t feel a need to elaborate on the men’s condition shortly thereafter.

      2. See my comment about freaking crazy terrorist assassins getting promoted into cushy office jobs in the Japanese Army. They bombed their own civilian trains full of kids and grannies. Of course they were willing to kill the Emperor for the sake of the Emperor! That had been an implied threat since the Meiji craziness, in certain quarters.

      3. As the Japanese were arming all adults and children above the age of toddler with any available weapons including sharpened bamboo poles, had the Allies had to invade the Home Islands ( primarily U.S. from the south and the USSR from the north ), there would not have been enough Japanese people left to form a breeding population. The Japanese should thank whatever they believe in that we dropped the atomic bombs on them and jolted the emperor to his senses.

        Paul L. Quandt

        1. Well, they do, mostly. It’s part of our weird relationship. They owe the US a debt that can’t be repaid, but also we killed a lot of Japanese and totally changed their society by force majeure. And they did us wrong in lots of ways that cannot be stomached; but also we were nice to them after the War, and their society had already been warped by monstrous Japanese leaders.

          So they like us, mostly, but some of them don’t. But they can’t get rid of us, even if they don’t like us, because we’re the weird relatives that live next door. And we do cool stuff, and we like their cool stuff, so they don’t really want to get rid of us. And as long as China is being a butt, Japan has very good reasons to be our friend and the friend of everybody else who’s an Asian neighbor.

          And I think most younger Japanese want to be a good example to the world and a good neighbor, but also not to get conquered by China or Russia.

          1. > totally changed their society by force majeure.

            That’s what you get when you kick the gaijin in the yarbles and don’t have the cowbell to follow through.

            If the ground-based invasion had been mounted, the only Japanese in 2020 would be living on reservations like animals in a zoo.

            The gaijin were *angry*/

            1. I think we got the wrong lesson about nation building from our relative success at occupying Japan, which has since led to disasters in Afghanistan, ect.
              Japan and the Japanese are an odd situation and outlier, and shouldn’t be seen as a success story when it comes to changing another culture.

                    1. I must resist the urge to suggest Los Angles, San Fransisco, Portland and New York City as targets…

                    1. Usually the first total defeat is effective, because it’s a total shock and surprise.
                      But, cultures who have been defeated multiple times tend to be a lot more resilient- Poland, Vietnam, the Balkans, Afghanistan have been subject to multiple total defeats and occupations and attempts of others to change them. But they stick harder to their cultures, because it’s not a shock to be utterly defeated.

                    2. And they also tend to assume that we didn’t really defeat them, because of not killing all the men we could find, and not raping all the women. Or also the other way, depending on preferences.

                      The indian schools could be considered an alternative way of convincing people they lost, that doesn’t technically involve rape. Issue is, I don’t trust our bureaucracies when it comes to providing adults from our culture with access to children.

                  1. Well, I’ve been thinking a little today about reiterating my ‘kill them all’ theory of foreign policy, but I’ve been so out of my head from allergies and lack of sleep that I don’t think I could do it proper justice. 🙂 I’m not joking in saying that I have such a theory, nor in that it has been an element I’ve been considering in response to Ian’s questions. The joking would be in making it sound like it is the important part of my answers, or like it is my /only/ theory of foreign policy.

                    There are some clear limits to what we can extrapolate from the matter of Japan. And as much as I like to hold up the examples of the indian wars and the reservations, it is not at all clear that the model works against anything but dysfunctional societies of relatively low population.

                    I think we can justly say that counter proliferation and deterrence is breaking down, and that we are probably going to be forming different conclusions in the future.

                    I don’t have nice answers to that, and I have a temper. But the United States can find answers to foreign policy problems without me first developing a theory. That I do not have an answer does not mean that the answer does not exist.

                    I have been getting a great deal of comfort and hope from knowing that I /cannot/ be smart enough to have it all figured out. It took attempting to rigorously disprove the benefits of expert centralized leadership to realize that. I’m a bit slow, and very arrogant.

              1. We didn’t get the wrong lesson. “Changing cultures requires beating the existing one to a pulp” is true and correct; we simply don’t have the will as a nation to apply it any more, and shouldn’t put ourselves in situations that require it. Other bad consequences will result from not having that will, and may bring about its’ regeneration if they don’t kill us all first.

        2. I, too, have read accounts of 11-year-old Japanese girls being drilled to fight the U.S. Marines with bamboo spears.

          I don’t think the atomic bombs ‘jolted the Emperor to his senses’. Pretty much everybody with a brain knew by July 1945 that they were going to lose the war, but they couldn’t admit it. The Bomb was just such a horrific weapon that it took the shame out of surrendering. Maybe with an element of force majeure included.

    4. For that matter, wasn’t WWI prompted in part by upstart Germany’s desire to play in the Great Game and colonize some ignorant savages for their own selves? After all, why should Belgium get to loot Africans but not Kaiser Wilhelm’s boys?

  17. I always thought that Jerry Pournelle’s work (fiction and non-fiction) should be a permanent fixture on the Professional Development reading lists issued by the various services for their officers. (He was certainly on my personal PD reading list) A couple of his quotes I think are relevant to this discussion:

    “Peace is the name of the ideal we deduce from the fact that there have been interludes between wars.”

    And one of my favorites:

    “To stand on the firing parapet and expose yourself to danger; to stand and fight a thousand miles from home when you’re all alone and outnumbered and probably beaten; to spit on your hands and lower the pike; to stand fast over the body of Leonidas the King; to be rear guard at Kunu-Ri; to stand and be still to the Birkenhead Drill; these are not rational acts. They are often merely necessary.”

    1. Sometimes the only reasonable action is to take as many of the bastards with you as you can.

      1. There are creeds that hold this life is but preparation for the True Life, and that you should work hard to send an honor guard to attend your arrival.

        1. That’s why you should pick worthy enemies if you can. Who wants to spend eternity ruling over a bunch of wimps?

          Alas, my enemies choose themselves, and they’re mostly crazies, backstabbers, and Karens…

    2. It’s been used. The problem is that everybody focuses on his fiction. “The Strategy of Technology”…THAT book was one of the foundation stones for winning the Cold War.

      1. IIRC, he passed away before he could complete an updated version requested by the USAF Academy.

      2. I was thinking largely of his anthologies such as There Will Be War, A Step Further Out, The Survival of Freedom etc. They interspersed fiction and non-fiction, and not all of the fiction was his or SF.

  18. A story picked up in Shelby Foote’s history of the civil war. Union picket: Hey Johnny, what you fightin for, you ain’t got no slaves? Confederate picket: well Billy, I reckon it’s cause you’re down here.

  19. “What if you were the last to die for a mistake?”

    And what if it were not a mistake? What if the only mistake was your leaders losing their nerve and failing in their commitment, deciding the goal was difficult and thus not worth pursuing?

    1. Harken: Seems odd you’d name your ship after a battle you were on the wrong side of.
      Mal: May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.

  20. Entered for Consideration:

    Whereas the Ku Klux Klan is an organization devoted to evil, intolerable ideals and;

    Whereas Robert Bird was a member in good standing for a number of years of the Ku Klux Klan;

    Therefore be it resolved: that all structures, facilities, installations and projects, both public and private, dedicated to the name of Robert Bird shall be removed, destroyed or renamed.

    Until this is passed and implemented, all those demanding the destruction of “Confederacy celebrations” should feel perfectly free to get down on their knees, crawl across the floor and kiss my lily-white ass.

    And that goes double for the NYT.

    Sorry for the cynicism on this day.

    1. Just a reminder that Shrillary still soeaks proudly of Robert Byrd being her mentor and of her Margaret Sanger award. So she to this day praises a KKK member and a eugenicist who attended KKK rallies, openly called for the elimination of “the weed” meaning blacks, Jews and basically anyone who was not white or who had what she considered genetic “defects:and who was cited by the Nazis as being an inspiration for their own ideas of eugenics.

      So again, who is the racist and enabler and supporter of racism?

      Being considered deplorable by people like Shrillary is a badge of honor.

        1. “Fingers” Biden is a Trojan Horse, an empty vessel into which Bernie’s adherents are pouring their schemes. Her Royal Clintoness would have resisted being the hood ornament that Biden bodes to be.

          1. I enjoyed the Democratic Clown Show. And then they went radio-silent, which is worrisome.
            As I understand it Biden doesn’t actually have the nomination yet, it’s just that all the challengers have suddenly STFU. Even the buzz over Biden’s potential VPs has been muted, though definitely Clown Show.

            I figure either he Arkancides and Hillary! will swoop in at the last minute, or Bloomberg comes back. His abrupt withdrawal after spending all that money never did pass the sniff test. Though since he was the only potential candidate who wasn’t a loony toon, I’m not complaining about his absence.

        2. Thought late in the night:

          Voting Public, 2016, “You couldn’t nominate a more repulsive candidate than Shrillary!”

          Democrat party, 2020, “Hold my Chardonnay”.

      1. Being deemed deplorable by her and hers simply means you do not know your place. If elected, her and hers will be sure they put us in it.

        For various values of “it'”

  21. “Why do men fight? For the same reason men fought since the beginning of time: to keep their food supply, their women and their children safe.”

    Those are indeed powerful motivators. Have been since, well, before mankind began, I’d argue. I’d add another wrinkle to it, though.

    Patriotism and protecting hearth and home can bring many a man to the battlefield. Sometimes keep them there, too. Another thing that will have a man put his life in harm’s way, in the muddy trenches with the smell of mildew and rot and ash, in the salty sea and the sandy hell, in the jungles and the shattered cities- that’s the men beside him.

    Men are social creatures, too. Differently social than women, but social nonetheless. We do for others things we wouldn’t for ourselves. Shared suffering is something that builds strong bonds, too.

  22. So, you say, if all wars are wrong, shouldn’t we abolish war?

    What a beautiful thought. Perhaps Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny can negotiate this permanent unbroken peace. Shall we ask them?

    Something I’ve seen several times from the late Dr. Jerry Pournelle. He may have been quoting someone; I don’t recall. I paraphrase from memory:

    “Peace is an ideal whose existence we infer from the fact that there have been intervals between wars.”

    We infer the idea of “peace” as some kind of lasting condition. But there really isn’t any evidence on which to base that inference, just short to medium term intervals between the perpetual wars of mankind.

    1. They tried to abolish war in the 20’s. We can see how well that worked out.

  23. Re: Boog Watch, Covid19, and the next world war. PRC has apparently invaded India.

      1. I’m not close enough to the information to have clue one. Saw something about it on Wretchard’s twitter feeds, and the discussion here of victory in the Pacific caused me to start adding things up.

      2. The difference is?

        They’re trying to surround and eventually rule their Pacific ocean neighbors by inching up and surrounding them. They are trying to move India’s borders until India will quail at their least displeasure. They are trying to dominate cyberspace and moneyspace and essential-materialsspace. This is right out of the first chapters of Sun-tzu.
        Our growing government debt plays right into their hands, and would turn our Left’s soi-disant masters into servants of the Middle Kingdom.

      3. The latter. Although I suspect some of it is also to try to distract people internally.

        Keep in mind that the border is almost literally the roof of the world. It’s not really amenable to wars of maneuver. It’s very much infowar there.

        1. If you read Sun Tzu, their moves are more of a sign of weakness, not of strength.
          Aggressive posturing usually is. The Master did say that if one is strong, they should appear weak.

    1. Border skirmish, so far. The PLA is testing India’s resolve. The two countries have had a disputed border ever since the PRC seized Tibet.

      There is a potentially more troubling possibility, imo. I’ve ocassionally mentioned here how the PLA has been unblooded since the end of the war with Vietnam, and to keep an eye out for China picking fights with other nations so that the PLA can test its weapons and training. We might be seeing an early form of that with this Indian border skirmish.

      1. I have, perhaps simplistically so, been expecting a war between China and someone for years. They have a lot of excess young men with no chance of a wife and children, and war is one good way pressure valve that excess energy. And it not like China cares about lives.

        This came up someplace else recently, and I had some fool insisting that China would never go for physical war, sticking with monetary, Iwas an idiot for even considering it, and that Vietnamese mail order brides could take care of the woman shortage.

        In some ways, having a decent grasp of history and psychology is frustrating, because you can see the crap coming from miles (and years) off, and everyone else tells you that you are the moronic fool.

        My favorite Andromeda opening quote:
        “Those who fail to learn history are doomed to repeat it;
        those who fail to learn history correctly–
        why they are simply doomed.”
        I think much of the Western world is doomed. 😕

        1. Anyone who’d think a Vietnamese woman would willingly marry a Chinese man is an idiot; who doesn’t understand how much the Vietnamese and Chinese don’t get along.

          China once “owned” Vietnam, several centuries back, and the Vietnamese still resent this fact.

          1. Most of that part of the world doesn’t really get along, and nurses historical grievances that go waaaaay back. Including a fair bit inside China itself.
            “Lets go to war to distract our people from our own internal problems” is up there with “Let’s invade Russia!” and “Cocaine will let me work harder!” and “all I need to win this hand is to draw an inside card to complete the straight” on the list of Really Bad Ideas That Look Plausible At First.

            Just ask Imperial Russia. Fighting Japan in 1904 looked like a great idea, a great way to win an easy war, gain international prestige, unify the people, and make things good. But, the Japanese won and they just barley missed getting revolutioned. Then, another chance for an easy victory came along in 1914- and bye bye Tsar.
            But when has the fact that an idea doesn’t work stopped others from trying it.

          2. Anyone who’d think a Vietnamese woman would willingly marry a Chinese man is a racist, imagining that yellow people are interchangeable.

        2. I’ve been predicting an India-China war for some time. India has an even more gender-skewed population ratio than China does (and with far less excuse), and they’re both regional hegemons with memories of greatness. Then there’s the issues with India giving refuge to the Dalai Lama, among other things.

          The problem is that their border is…well, inhospitable is the best word for the terrain. In the maritime domain, they have a fair amount of space between them, but none of the countries between them can really stand up to either of them, and will absolutely play one off against each other. Sri Lanka does this a lot. Pakistan, too.

          And all of this while 7th Fleet is…deprioritized. Made to do more and more, with less and less.

          1. The problem is that their border is…well, inhospitable

            IIRC, the article cited by Instapundit says that it is part f the Chinese effort to gain control of the waters of that part of the world in order to a) control India’s ports and b) limit their ability to project force by sea.

            For all the Dems deplore Trump’s buddying up with Xi they’re ignoring his relationship with Modi.

            1. How is the land border being up in the Hindu Kush anything to do with trying to gain control of the waters of the region?

              India is a big honking peninsula. Unlike China, whose coastlines are constrained by the island chains, it has open access to the oceans of the world. There is no real way for China to constrain Indian ports. All they can do, with their Belt and Road initiative, is try to compete with them for access. That is why they own and/or exclusively operate ports in Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Djibouti.

              I think they’re going to have problems, though. India is partnering with Vietnam for hydrocarbon exploration in the South China Sea, and the PRC is basically ticking off everyone else in the region as well–Malaysia, the PI, Indonesia.

              If I were China, I’d be very concerned about the Strait of Malacca. Big piracy region there.

              1. “part of the Chinese effort”

                Quoting a portion of the Legal Insurrection summary linked to by Instapundit:

                India faces the Chinese threat not just on its eastern and northern borders. The military planners in New Delhi are alarmed by Beijing’s so-called string-of-pearls strategy. China is gaining control over a network of strategic ports stretching from the Indian Ocean to the Persian Gulf, giving the Chinese Navy the ability to close India’s shipping lanes in case of a conflict.


                My regrets for not making it clearer that this effort at gaining control “around Pangong Tso lake and Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh” regions was only an element in a larger Chinese strategy.

                Sometimes you have to read the article and not just a poster’s brief reference to it.

  24. One often overlooked facet about people fighting in various wars, civil and otherwise, is the average soldier doesn’t get to pick their side. Like in real estate, location is the big thing.
    A lot of people in the Spanish Civil War, for instance, would up on sides they utterly disagreed with, because they happened to be in a vacation spot that favored one side or the other. So, they had to pretend hard to be good Fascist/Communist for the commissar.

    And armies have centuries of experience in how to get conscripts of questionable loyalty to fight.

  25. There’s also the old-fashioned idea that one can respect a person or creature even while trying to kill it. Thus Confederate war memorials, thus Grant’s pallbearers including two Union generals and two Confederate generals, and thus the sports teams named after Indians and Indian tribes. (The people claiming that the last is an insult have their heads on backwards.)

    Add to that how hunters on safari or in North America are much more respectful toward wild animals than the idiots who try to take selfies with those animals. The standard photo of hunter, hunter’s weapon, and dead beast has the subtext “This was a worthy beast.” A selfie taken with a live animal in a zoo or national park just takes the animal for granted.

      1. I’m given to understand that in Europe hunting is an upper-class or even aristocratic sport. In the US, it’s much more blue-collar. Thus the greater formality in Europe.

    1. Amazing how leftists will respect a “noble savage” belief about worthy opponents and honoring the spirit of an animal, but not a sportsman’s belief about same. Shows what they really think, doesn’t it?

    2. I kind of figured that if those who fought at Gettysburg could forgive & laud each other there was no place for me to express opinion on the matter. I’ve found that it is only the childish who express judgement over the strides of those whose shoes they’ve ne’er worn.

      It seems to me to be the easiest thing in the world is to say “What I would have doe had I been there!” and the hardest thing possible to do that in that situation.

      If John, who knew Jesus personally and was witness to multiple miracles, could deny Him thrice I’ve little reason to imagine I’d be better. I’m undeniably arrogant but so arrogant as that I try not to be.

        1. John, Peter — I keep getting those disciples mixed up. It is helpful when they are given nicknames, like “Doubting” Thomas, Judas Iscarrion, and Peter Rockhead.

          Thanks for the correction.

  26. Sarah, please put this up on Insty. Readers, send links to eyes that may listen. It’s incredibly important, like so many of Sarah’s essays.

    Sarah, thank you.

  27. Hoyt, that’s a really amazing collage of about 12 really good and much shorter essays.

    I particularly like your speculation of whether war is good for the species or not. That’s a very interesting question. It can’t easily be answered by history, either: the Europeans have warred far more than the Asians, and that looks like it’s one up for war — the result, when Europe met Asia, e.g. during the Opium Wars, showed how far behind Europe Asia lagged, even with the “head start” Asia got by missing out on The Black Death and the wars of religion. But on the other hand, Africans warred far more and the Europeans, and Africa remains mired in tribalism to this day. Were it not for European colonization it would probably still be largely a hunter-gatherer society (and may yet revert to it). Pacific Islanders warred tremendously, and they didn’t do so well. But Japan was very successful — right up until they took the martial spirit one step too far and attacked Pearl Harbor.

    So clearly the question is hard to decide. But it’s a very interesting question. Certainly previous generations have asked it, and interestingly the most common historical answer has been in the affirmative. That is, up until pretty recently, it was generally assumed that the martial spirit — and the occasional bloodletting it engenders — was a good thing.

    1. It’s not a collage of anything. It’s also not an essay. It’s morning rambles, before coffee as one would have with friends.
      I HEARTILY and to the point of anger HATE being called “Hoyt.” I’m not in the army, and you’re not my superior.
      And I DO KNOW how to write essays. I’ve done them both in my academic career once upon a time and in my other job as a non fiction writer. I also taught my kids to write them as the schools didn’t.
      This ain’t it. By reason of no one pays me to write these. Also pfui.

      1. Oh well, sorry. I tend to use last names until we’ve been properly introduced, somewhat like the British. I meant no disrespect — in fact, quite the contrary. In my turn, I heartily despise the modern affectation of calling strangers by their first name, meant (I suppose) to imply some rainbow unicorn fart miasma of pre-existing We Are The World fellowship that I find tiresomely oppressive — and which also deprives one of the unique pleasure associated with growth in genuine friendship of switching to informal address. I would have said “Ms. Hoyt” or “Mrs. Hoyt” to show respect, but, for better or worse, both of those are these days minefields into which one is reluctant to step. I’ll try initials next time.

        And of course you can write essays. No one who earns a living writing books — which is somewhat between winning a bronze in the 100m Olympics and being elected President in general difficulty, I think — would lack that ability. I’m sorry it came across as criticism, when it was more along the lines of wry impress for the 12 interesting and original ideas all at once.

        1. I prefer Mrs. Hoyt until you become a regular and/or you feel comfortable and are fairly sure I feel comfortable being called Sarah.
          What you did was more or less the equivalent of petting a cat cat against the fur.
          Possibly because so many very strange people start with “HOYT!” and then proceed to treat me like a dolt.
          I was called Almeida in college, so I know the custom you refer to, but my experience with it is always superior-to-inferior.
          Otherwise, it would have been “Miss Almeida.”
          BUT more regularly I got called “the young lady from Aguas Santas.”
          Mostly due to having a recognizable (and I was given to understand atrocious) accent in a languages degree. Few people from the region made it to college without learning to disguise their local accent.
          I no longer know if I couldn’t be bothered or simply have significant enough hearing impairment for change to work.

  28. Also, please clarify semantic content: what do you define as a mistake?

    Oh, heavens, they don’t want to do that.

    You might notice that it is amazingly similar to “anything with which they disagree.”

  29. Since there were no comments on the last post, I read Rimworld book by Curtis (excellent) at which point Amazon recommended “The Wizard’s Butler” which was outstanding.

  30. “It is no coincidence that in our day and age, we have a faction that wants to abolish technology as much as possible, because in their brutish, untrained minds that means getting rid of strife.

    Of course that’s not the way that works. That’s not the way any of that works abolishing knowledge and technology would only bring back older wars, already fought, and older ways of suffering.”
    Well… That’s very interesting. And one could make a case that that’s what this virus represents. In categorically NOT preparing, instead sub-letting the research out to a hostile nation, with no thought to the consequences.

    I’m definitely not a fan of Gain-of-Function (GOF) research (almost an HBO show, but just ONE sub-microscopic but powerful evil king with a spikey crown), but we forbade it in this country, at which point Fauci and Co immediately outsourced it to China, with results we are now living with. And, as bad as China has been and is being damaged by this pandemic, I would argue that we are more deeply wounded, by virtue of our more consumerist society, and our more thorough dependence on other sources for most of that consumer merchandise, especially including our medicines and equipment.

    1. … we forbade it in this country, at which point Fauci and Co immediately outsourced it to China,

      Aw, gee, now you’ve got me wondering what a deep audit of Dr. F’s portfolio would find. The CCP has a history of paying commissions, after all. Just ask Hunter.

    2. Oh, dear Lord.
      if you think we’re more damaged than China, because of our consumerist (WTF does that even mean, other than something people with Marxist disease rant about?) society, you must be all about in your head.
      MOST OF CHINA WILL STARVE without our business. Period.

      1. No, you are wrong and need to understand the central wisdom of the sages (and the ages, or even the aged sages!): America is Doomed. Whether you think it is because America is Evil, or that it is merely irreparably corrupted, we’re all gonna die and the currently designated enemy will always win.

        Massive /sarc, because Poe’s Law is in full effect.

      2. Brings back memories of the many many newspaper columns I read back during the 80’s, about how the virtues of the devoted and austere New Soviet Man would shortly doom the effete and undisciplined Americans. And then we found out just how incompetent and corrupted the New Soviet Man really was.
        China is no different, and very likely won’t last the decade.

            1. Then we had the time when the Arabs would take over the world because of OPEC — that produced some SF that I remembered with some irony after 9/11.

          1. A lot of those thoughts are driven by envy. They envy the Chicoms/ Japanese/ Soviets/ Fascist/ Imperials wonderfully ordered and disciplined planned societies, so unlike our messy and sloppy individualistic freedom. They would so like to change our society to be more like them.
            That all that outward order is just a propagandist whitewash never ever seems to occur to them, even as one after the other of these perfect societies collapses.

  31. Golllll-eee! Who’d have ever anticipated something like this?

    More People Are Taking Drugs for Anxiety and Insomnia, and Doctors Are Worried
    As coronavirus health concerns, social isolation and job-loss stress take a toll, people turn to medications. “It can very quickly become a habit.”

    Yep, it’s the Wall Street Journal and behind their paywall, so try Google on that lede and maybe you’ll get the article. Not that the headline doesn’t say all you need to know.

    1. Similar source, so same rules in force. Xi is obviously seeing fit to alter their “special status”; they better pray he doesn’t alter alter it any further further.

      Hong Kong in Shock as China’s Xi Jinping Goes for ‘Nuclear Option’
      With his plan to impose sweeping antisedition legislation on Hong Kong, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has revealed a willingness to alter the onetime British colony’s special status as a self-governing city with a speed and scope that has surprised many.

      1. We all know that they end up in Hong Kong Luna before the Moon declares independence.

  32. “It doesn’t diminish their memory one single jot. They still fought and died and gave the final measure for their loved ones and their land.”

    This reminds me of one of Screwtape’s complaints to Wormwood that war was less useful for the devils’ cause than some humans think, pointing out that war robs tempters of one of their best weapons (contented worldliness) and that God is less concerned with the morality of the cause than with the virtue of those who choose to suffer for the cause they’ve been taught to value: “He often makes prizes of humans who have given their lives for causes He thinks are bad on the monstrously sophistical grounds that the humans thought them good and were following the best they knew.”

  33. No doubt that heroic Portuguese WW1 soldier you reference was Aníbal Augusto Milhais, “Soldado Milhões,” (“Soldier Millions”), who died in in 1970. A movie about him was made in Portugal in 2018, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. His story is quite well known among students of The Great War.

  34. On a minor note, the title of this post clearly references John Lennon’s song which ought not be named — and I take secondary status to few in my detestation of that song even as I acknowledge there are worse* — I rise to speak in John’s defense.

    The trauma of living with Yoko Ono and rumours of his late-life conversion to Reaganism aside, Lennon may be pardoned (not excused, but pardoned) on the grounds that he was a young man who had achieved success beyond his wildest imaginings and found it unfulfilling.

    Having grown up in the poverty of post-War Britain it is easy to believe he would conceive material success should be gratifying, not hollow, and this song (which shall not be mentioned) is an understandable expression of that disillusionment. That it reflects an insufficiency of spiritual growth is unsurprising (discovering the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s primary interest in the Beatles was nailing the hot groupies affiliated with the band probably wasn’t conducive to growth … other than the warts kind) and he would deserve condemnation only if he had failed to grow beyond that stage.

    Thus I contend that while the song might well be damned, the artist ought not, for the making and repenting of such egregious errors is part of The Artist’s Journey.

    *Worse songs include but are not limited to:
    99 Luft Balloons
    ANYTHING by The Archies, 1910 Fruitgum Co., Tommy James and the Shondells and their ilk
    In The Year 2525
    MacArthur Park
    (You’re) Having My Baby
    Achy Breaky Heart
    Only The Good Die Young
    War (What Is It Good For)
    Big Yellow Taxi

    1. > Macarthur Park

      Surely Weird Al’s version gets a pass?

      “I cannot approve of this attraction
      Cause getting disembowled always makes me kinda mad
      A huge Tyrannosaurus ate our lawyer
      Well I suppose that proves they’re really not all bad”

      1. Twerpsicore, muse of snark: “Living to see Easter is over rated. Jesus didn’t, and look what happened to him.”

        *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

      2. Weird Al’s version of anything automatically gets a pass. What I like most is when his parody does better than the original song, like when “White & Nerdy” outdid Chamillionaire’s original “Ridin’ Dirty” on the charts.

        And I have to admit I’m one of the few curmudgeons who considers Hamilton a little overrated as a musical, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s sheer delight in listening to Weird Al’s “Hamilton Polka” makes me think a little better of him.

    2. One should distinguish between songs which are morally appalling and songs which are aesthetically appalling. For the former, the sappy ’90s ballad “More than Words” by Extreme has always made me froth with indignation because, as I said to many bored friends, “The singer’s basically saying that if she wants to prove she loves him she’ll sleep with him!”

      For the latter, with thanks to Dave Barry for this, the most entertainingly awful song I ever heard was a tune called — I kid all readers not — “Howdy Hooty Sapperticker”, by Barbara and the Boys. Look it up on YouTube if you dare.

    3. Indian Giver by the 1910 Fruitgum Company was much more tolerable than the song that shan’t be named.
      I was 11 years old when it came out and when I played the the B side of that single, Pow Wow, I figured out that the repetitive schwooop sounds must be musical attacks -> decays reversed. So I spun the turntable backwards manually and discovered it was a backwards recording of Howdy Doody Time!
      Silly, but at least a little bit cool for all the kids that figured it out.

  35. ….the true meaning when Gen Lee surrendered to Gen Grant [From Bruce Catton ”
    It wa Palm Sunday and they were all going to live to see Easter”

  36. “The noblest fate that a man can endure is to place his own mortal body between his loved home and the war’s desolation.”
    ― Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers

    I believe that trumps all the blather about being the last to die for a mistake. People who say that are trying to weaken the hearer, and are subversives.

  37. A question that I’ve been trying to feel my way towards, and still am not *quite* sure what I’m asking. But this seems like as good a post as any to ask it on.

    (anything that appears as an insult or sneer is not intended as such; I’m stripping the question down as much as I can in hopes that the meaning can come out from the confusion)

    What are people feeling / responding to / ??? / etc with things like Memorial Day, or general patriotic display (the comments from Euros about the flags everywhere come to mind)?

    It’s not that I don’t understand the concept of honoring the fallen…. my preferences in fiction would be enough to put that accusation to rest. But, hmm how to explain?

    Imagine that I encounter Memorial Day and get 10 units of emotional response about those who sacrificed (it is rather abstracted from any particular event after all). But all the display and propaganda about it triggers my virtue signalling meter and “ewww, state-worship!” disgust meter, giving -100 response to that. Net -90. The subject is swamped by the recoil from what looks to me like a two minute love.

    And this can generalize to many other popular events. I know that I am wrong on some of this. I also know that I *am* in the right for some…….. figuring out what is what is difficult though. Especially when most people seem to be all in on either the display behavior, or on “america bad”, so that no one can be trusted to give a clear answer.

    1. What are people feeling / responding to / ??? / etc with things like Memorial Day, or general patriotic display (the comments from Euros about the flags everywhere come to mind)?


      1. That…

        Hmmm, that both does and doesn’t answer the question.

        How are they not getting even the slightest apparent disgust reaction? And “because it is genuine” doesn’t work as an answer because cult members and SJWs are also genuine in their lunacy. (the guy bouncing off the padded walls of the nut ward has very strong feelings, doesn’t make him right)

        1. A great deal of the patriotism is real, people who love the ideas this country was was built on and which it stands for.
          Another part of it is people being people, caught up in their day-to-day, having no close connections to military service in our safe bubble wrap society who mouth the expected words at the prescribed times because the ape band expects them to and they are part of said band.
          I don’t get “ewww” from that. It may be thoughtless repetition, but the message of sacrifice to preserve liberty gets passed on to another generation whether the message is heartfelt or not. And some of those who hear will think about it and learn about it and carry the ideas forth.

        2. How are they not getting even the slightest apparent disgust reaction?

          Because the object is not disgusting.

          Being genuine is necessary, but not sufficient, to be recognized as genuine and worthy of honor.

          1. Because the object is not disgusting.

            Groupthink is always disgusting, even if it is about something good.

            Bonding mechanisms are horrifying when they get scaled up beyond nuclear family size: it could be reasonably described as a temporary mass suicide as every individual vanishes into the mass.

            (no, I don’t know how much I believe the second paragraph, but it is one of the stronger voices)

            1. Groupthink is always disgusting, even if it is about something good.

              You’re either assuming your conclusion, or using a special definition.

              Groupthink’s shortest definition is “believing a thing solely out of desire to conform.” (there are more precise versions, this hits the main point)

              That is not the case, here.

              1. The definition that insists on existing in my head is more like “If a majority of people agree on something, it must be suspect”.

                1. I’m sorry, but that’s just lazy and childish.

                  It can’t stand up to the most basic of self-audits– neither “almost everyone agrees 2+2=4” nor “can this idea stand being applied to itself.”

                  I can’t help you make it make sense, because you’re framing it in a format that doesn’t. Your foundation isn’t sound, so there can’t be a sound building on it.

                  1. Your foundation isn’t sound, so there can’t be a sound building on it.


                    But however much you try to rewrite the parts of your mind that don’t work the way they should, there is still that niggling of the old narratives that refuses to go away, and shapes your mental reflexes as well….

                    When our hostess, or Dr. Peterson, or others talk about recent generations completely unmoored from their civilization I recognize it. I’m just coming at it from a different trajectory.

                    1. If you know it doesn’t work, then WHY THE HELL DO YOU KEEP ACTING LIKE IT DOES?

                      Because that is what you insisting that we justify not sharing your reaction is.

                      If you know that your definition doesn’t work, then stop acting like it does.

                      We don’t share your reaction because we don’t share your assumption of validity based on popularity, inverse or not.

                      Stop trying to build on something you say you know is not right.

                    2. Part of what I’m trying to do is compare things I’m not sure of with what other people see. Sometimes it is also that one of the more cynical moods gets on a roll….

                      In the meantime I found the language I needed:

                      The feeling I got from that announcement was that it was like playing the national anthem at the start of the hockey game, or maybe like reciting the Lord’s Prayer at the start of the city council meeting – primarily done as a ritual of group cohesion to remind us of our shared cultural context through our assumedly shared allegiance to something bigger outside the circle.

                      There is the language I need: “attempted group cohesion” from strangers and I’ll start heading to the back of the room with a vaguely whimpered “please leave me alone”.

                    3. That quote is an amazing bit of mind-reading, possibly saved by recognizing that it is an act to recognize the group exists for something more than being the group.

                      You might try the “pushing little old ladies” test. See if you can find cases where a thing is good, and where it is bad.
                      Because you’re acting as if groups existing is an inherent evil, and it isn’t.

                    4. I should have specified the context: the quote was talking about someone injecting political signalling into something was was not political.

                      Because you’re acting as if groups existing is an inherent evil, and it isn’t.

                      Well, heh, this goes into things that I’m not going to discuss in detail on a public channel. But “groups are inherently evil” is a reasonably accurate summary of what a lot of the people who’s were first generation homeschooled ended up either accidentally or intentionally being taught. Because humans are really bad at making drastic value shifts.

                      Even when you escape it the school system has one last curse to bestow.

                    5. the quote was talking about someone injecting political signalling into something was was not political.

                      Doesn’t really matter; either the specific bit you pulled out is the part you wanted, or it wasn’t.

                      If it was, then this addition doesn’t change anything.

                      If it wasn’t, then the obvious problem with gesturing-to-a-shared-larger-thing is that it’s a lie, the group does not actually share that value nor aspire to it.
                      Not the pointing-to-something-greater.
                      It’s like confusing all sex with rape.


                      Public schools do just fine making folks distrust groups. That doesn’t justify clinging to a known falsehood, or asking why others aren’t holding it.

                    6. Incidentally, I went looking for the context of the quote before I responded the first time.

                      There’s a reason I didn’t more strongly engage it, and it’s not because the sheer depth of its insight and understanding of human nature was simply overwhelming.

                    7. I’ll start heading to the back of the room with a vaguely whimpered ‘please leave me alone”’

                      When did you decide to live your life on “early adolescent girl” setting?

                      If you don’t wish to participate at least own it enough to stand up and declare “Include me out!”

                      You are commingling things done as a group — such as sitting on a jury where you function as both individual and group member — with compelled sublimation of identity. To borrow from Mr. Buckley (Bill, not Joe) you are refusing to grasp the distinction between shoving little old ladies into the paths of buses and shoving them out of those paths because in either case you’re shoving around little old ladies.

                      Grow the eff up and recognize that joining the human race does not require relinquishing all elements of personal identity.

            2. I suspected we were looking at something like that, kind of like the other posters who associate school spirit weeks with fascist political rallies. (I can’t say mine ever struck me as nearly that pushy about participation, although we did have the occasional assembly; but then, I actually enjoyed a lot of it and got on with some of the athletes. Couple of them were on my quiz bowl team, although unlike my husband’s school, you couldn’t letter in that.)

              1. I don’t remember anyone going on about that, but “school spirit week” sounds like the kind of thing that dystopian horror is made from.

            3. I suspect it depends on your definitions of groupthink and disgusting.

              I doubt most people would condemn communion in a church as inherently disgusting, nor the communal feeling experienced in a theater from a performance of a movie, play or concert (rock or classical.)

              For that matter, I doubt there are many who would dismiss performing in a choir, band, orchestra or play as groupthink although those activities seem to meet your definition.

              Methinks you are giving too much attention to the voices in your head. I recommend heedng Freud’s warning about the thanatos impulse or what the ancient Hebrews recognized as the yetzer hara — the evil impulse.

              1. I doubt most people would condemn communion in a church as inherently disgusting

                Part of the reason I post here instead of any number of other places is because despite the high population of Christians my virtue signalling meter isn’t in a permanent state of overload.

                nor the communal feeling experienced in a theater from a performance of a movie, play or concert (rock or classical.)

                It took many concerts for me to not be deeply uncomfortable and trying to find a way to mentally distance myself from it, even if I enjoyed the music. That slipping into the mood of the crowd is exactly the what is most frightening.

                Someday(tm) I want to take dancing lessons, partly on the idea that diving into the deep end of the pool is briefly terrifying, and then you never have to deal with it again.

                1. It seems to me that you’ve set the gain on your “virtue signalling meter” too high and are suffering feedback and distortion.

                  I do not ordinarily advise this but you’re giving many signs of needing therapy. If you cannot partake of group activity without fearing loss of self your grip on your self is entirely too tenuous.

                  Unless, of course, you’re merely playing the contentious ass.

                  1. It seems to me that you’ve set the gain on your “virtue signalling meter” too high and are suffering feedback and distortion.


                    But if you suspect your vision is distorted you don’t ask a blind man, or someone you are pretty sure has worse distortion. You look for people who appear to mostly have good eyesight and ask what they see.

                    Unless, of course, you’re merely playing the contentious ass.


                    1. You look for people who appear to mostly have good eyesight and ask what they see.

                      In which case you probably ought not be arguing with them, insisting your sight is accurate and theirs must suffer distortion. If you truly doubt your vision you go to an optometrist and say, “Doc, the world looks screwy to me.”

                  2. If you cannot partake of group activity without fearing loss of self your grip on your self is entirely too tenuous.

                    Loss of self? No.

                    Fear that there is something fundamentally wrong with going along with the crowd? Yes.

                    But like any irrational fear the solution is nearly always to voluntary expose oneself to the fear. Which I have been doing in a roundabout way.

                    Thanks by the way: you helped me elicit something I dimly understood and needed to see better.

                    1. Oh but there is, there is!

                      You see; going along with a crowd carries the infinitely high chance that you will get carried away and end up doing something wrong / you never would have agreed to. This risk even exists merely by being influenced by anyone.


                      (yeah, it is obvious crap when stated explicitly, pity the mind is happy to not notice if it doesn’t have to)

                    2. “Test everything: retain what is good.”

                      Which is why I call the “I know this is bad, dump it and go 100% opposite” lazy.

                    3. Which is why I call the “I know this is bad, dump it and go 100% opposite” lazy.

                      Testing is what I am (badly) trying to do.

                      And for some reason on *this* specific forum and no others I tend to get carried away. At least I usually learn something out of it. On the gripping hand it is always unpleasant knowledge.

                      Also this lockdown is becoming…. a strain.

                    4. I’ve been lucky income-wise: though on reduced hours, between TrumpBux and money that was set aside for conferences this year that aren’t happening I am only just now approaching the crossover point.

                      Otherwise, there’s a difference between “I can’t go anywhere, same as I have for most of my life” and “I’ve barely seen the outside for ten weeks, including lack of things that were good for keeping me centered”.

                      Eventually even the most socially isolated person starts to feel it.

                    5. Knowledge — especially self-knowledge — is often unpleasant. It is ignorance that is bliss.

                      For some of us, bliss is overrated.

                    6. Not necessarily. Ignorance can mean walking off a cliff, in which case any bliss will be of relatively short duration.

                      Of course, the interval of shrieking terror, and the agony of smashing on rocks, should also be fairly brief.

                    7. The shrieking terror is a product of knowledge gained.

                      As scholars of classic cinema know, falling is a consequence of knowledge. As it was in the garden, so it is in the desert.

    2. Ian — If you’ve never visited a local cemetery and walked around looking at the graves, and calculating the age of the military burials to find out whether they died in a war or after a long life, why not go do that? Just go, and visit the dead, and see whether it clarifies your thoughts and feelings a bit.

      An older cemetery will give you more variety. But even a small or newer one will help.

      1. That would probably be a good exercise, but I should clarify that I’m not really talking about Memorial Day, but pretty much the entire *searches for expression*

        Ah! This is not an accurate description by any means, but I think it evokes something close to what I’m struggling with: “Patriotism Industrial Complex”.

        1. One of the clearer examples would be how the word “Hero” is abused and gangraped in a back alley to mean anyone who has ever had even basic decency at any point in their lives.

            1. True. As I said I get the idea “honoring the fallen”. But I can’t figure out if I’m seeing 25% stealing, 99% stealing, or 942.24+78j% stealing.

              It gets more complicated when considering that even if everyone were faking it, it is a ritual designed/evolved to get people to do the right thing. Rituals don’t have to be “true”, just effective.

              There are several layers in my head with opinions about this… trying to clearly state one layer ends of saying things I don’t believe. But trying to express the sum total results in a jumbled and illogical mess.

                  1. No, 25% fraud means a one in four chance that the item you gave good value for is worthless. With odds like that, who is going to take the chance? Would you invest in stocks if there is a 25% chance that you will lose all your money?

                    THAT is what fraud does to any transaction.

                    1. Exactly.

                      If a quarter of the time, you get less than nothing, then the over-all value is reduced by that amount.

                      How many people here have stopped going to a store because of one bad event? Averaging out to less than a one in ten? Because it’s not worth it.

              1. Let’s come at this from another angle: “it is a ritual designed/evolved to get people to do the right thing” can also be said about religious services.

                For many a year, I certainly felt that I was going through the motions when I went to church, to the point that I stopped going. Why get up early on Sunday (or cut time out of Saturday afternoon/evening) to do a group pantomime, complete with aerobic exercise (stand/sit/kneel, repeat)? Why not just sleep in and have a leisurely Sunday morning?

                I actually started going back to church because I felt that something was missing from my life, and that I needed a connection to God. There are certainly days where I feel like I’m back in the pantomime, but plenty of days where I do get the connection that I’m seeking.

                How is this (and other public events) different from a cult? Two things come to mind immediately: I’m free to leave whenever I wish, and there is no penalty for a lack of enthusiasm.

                With patriotic events in the US, attendance/participation is voluntary, and enthusiasm varies among the participants. Sure, patriotic events have often been used as state-mandated pep rallies around the world (incl. the US at various times) so I can see how they can be conflated into being one and the same. My only advice is to participate at the level that you find comfortable.

                Note that the public displays in the US have dropped precipitously over the past 30-40 years for various reasons to the point that such displays have become quite rare and are more likely to be suspect (who would go to a parade to honor “heroes” organized by Nancy Pelosi?).

                1. Let’s come at this from another angle: “it is a ritual designed/evolved to get people to do the right thing” can also be said about religious services.

                  Well, yes. That is why we use the term “ritual” despite their quasi-secular nature.

                  Note that the public displays in the US have dropped precipitously over the past 30-40 years for various reasons

                  Depends on who broadly we define “display”.

                  Like the euro-flag-comments. I don’t know their reasons, but I have to wonder how a symbol (the flag) can keep its meaning when it is plastered everywhere.

              2. It is “a jumbled and illogical mess” because it is about some of the deepest human emotions, and human emotions are a jumbled and illogical mess.

                Sometimes you simply need to take a step back and admit, “I don’t understand this and guess I never will.”

                You don’t have to understand, you don’t have to participate, but until you understand it is probably a good idea to avoid judging.

                1. The deep emotions are the ones with the highest costs for not understanding them.

                  And it is generally good to try to defuse something with the potential to be a ticking mental time bomb before finding a spouse. Even if you aren’t successful before then, knowing it is there may be enough.

                  1. Wrong — the deepest emotions are the ones with the highest costs for not accepting them. Understanding is not required.

                    You might not ever understand why you’ve a pathological fear of spiders but that doesn’t mean you can ignore it.

                    Nor does understanding an emotion mean you can “defuse” it. Understanding the basis of that fear of spiders does little to prevent jumping in alarm when confronted by one.

                    I’ve an unreasonable fear of bridges and while I think I know its basis that does nothing to ease my pulse and blood pressure when crossing one — yet cross them I do.

                    1. I should rephrase that….

                      Not “true understanding”. But understanding how they fail. A lot of what we call Wisdom consists of information about how the deep emotions fail and how destructive they are when they do.

        2. Having lived in Europe? My entire life, it was fashionable to make fun of your country, its flag, and anything associated with this.
          I saw the same in the US in the seventies, but it passed.
          I think the difference is citizenship in Europe is tribe based. Once the anti-racism pounding started, and since no one there understands culture (or most people here) they decided loving their country was bad.
          We’re more resilient because we’ve always been many races. And the left’s pounding on that is just pissing us off.
          They don’t understand this. All they have is the programing to make us “internationalists” which, because this started in the USSR, means “Russian nationalists.”

          1. they decided loving their country was bad.

            Here actually some clarity can be gained: which of the many possible meanings of “country” counts?

            The pedantic and silly version would be “the particular legal borders that have international recognition”. *rolls eyes*

            The ideals of the country? The actual people? The culture? The land? All of these are aspects which are mixed and matched depending on who is speaking.

            For my part:

            * the ideals: yes, “where there is freedom, there is my country”, Though said ideals are mostly ignored by everyone who isn’t deplorable.

            * the people: uh, what? Alternates between dim recognition and incomprehension.

            * the culture: uh, what? Which part?

            * the land: I am not rightly sure how I could care less; off world is where the goal is.

      2. The one in Portugal that broke me was the one that said “When the country called, we gave it our only son.”
        ….. he died just before the revolution, defending the African possessions the commies then handed to the USSR’s Cuban mercenaries (and ask Peter Grant about what followed.)
        The heart breaks. Particularly because this was the village cemetery. I don’t remember his parents. I wonder if they didn’t long outlive him. They weren’t buried in the same section, which is reserved for “war dead.”

  38. Another deeply thoughtful essay on the human condition from Mrs. (not Ms.) Sarah A. Hoyt. I realized myself long ago that nearly all supposedly simplistic conflicts between humans grow immeasurably more complicated after delving into the details. Many of the Germans fighting for the Fatherland in the Second World War would have been considered by most to be good, decent people under other circumstances. There’s no arguing with a draft, though — not when the State sends men with guns. And wasn’t it Israel itself that posthumously honored a member of the Nazi Party, Josef Konigsberg, as “Righteous Among the Nations”? The National Socialist madness that swept Germany in the 1930s and 1940s wasn’t nearly so universal as the simple-minded idiot crowd might insist.

    Likewise for many of the Southerners who fought to save their land from the Northern invaders who burned, looted, and destroyed their way across the Confederacy. These patriots were decidedly not fighting to preserve the “property rights” of the relatively few wealthier individuals who actually owned slaves. Let’s not be forgetting either that blacks participated heavily in capturing and selling black slaves to Muslim Arab traders in Africa who then sold them to white slave traders for transport under horrific conditions to the Not-So-United States. And it wasn’t unknown for free blacks to own slaves themselves, even in the Antebellum South. Wear your poncho — beware the bloody rain from leftist heads exploding from internal contradictions.

    I used to participate on a limited basis in the old FidoNet BBS echoes before realizing that precious few minds will be changed, nor are the idiots interested in discussing controversies in good faith. They just want to scream, spittle flying, in my face that I’m a horrible person for disagreeing with them in the smallest regard. I’d rather go to the zoo and stand far enough away from the monkey cages that they can’t splatter poo on my face and clothes.

    That’s not even getting into the heaving cesspool of sophistry affected by the brighter sparks amongst the idiot crowd. I soon fell into the habit instead of simply analyzing the cheap tactics used to confuse the matter and presumably slip past mental armor against arrogant bullshit. I won’t touch on my thoughts about mind war — that’s inherently a lengthy topic. Needless to say, my mental armor against jerkface manipulation grew mighty and my sarcasm keen. ^^;

    Alas, my old habit of rambling at length has raised its head. I shall cut this short. Perhaps the final word on war is that it’s a human-created hell that tends to suck in and destroy the best people among us, leaving behind only sorrow and memories. -_-

  39. “You haven’t met racism unless you go to China as a round eyes…”

    I must humbly disagree, try being a Haole in Hawaii. You might not notice it as a tourist for a few days, but living there and getting out and about in areas the tourists don’t normally go brings it out.(at least in the 80s)

    I’m not claiming victimhood here, as my honorary “Kamaaina” status as permanent party military helped bypass the worst of it . (At least it got me out of paying tourist prices all of the time).

    But I was shocked at how openly racist and racially oriented speech and commentary was. People talked about and compared and judged people in ways based on ethnicity I had never heard expressed openly, even in the Deep South at red neck bars. (They were probably thinking it, but they rarely said it out loud, and never in public with others listening, at least I never witnessed it in the 80s).

    And their distinctions were interesting. You could be Japanese, Filipino, Samoan, Polynesian, Korean, Chinese etc. and all were recognized and in some ways accepted (if looked own upon if not part of your group). However all whites are Haole, and they neither knew, nor cared about the differences between Italian, German, British, Russian or ancestry. Same thing for blacks (can’t recall the exact word): Didn’t matter if you were from the Mainland US, Africa, Jamaica etc, all the same.

    1. IIRC, Hawaii was the latest state to have the federal courts strike down an effort to restrict voting rights to “natives” — so your experience does not surprise.

      1. I must have missed all the left-wing protests against such blatant RAAAACISSSSM!!!!

    2. Oddly (heh), it seems that the ‘Portagee’ is the one European-derived ‘race’ that has some recognition/acceptance by the Kanakas.

      And being an infidel kaffir in Saudi Arabia is no bed of roses, either.

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