The Ape Who Loves

Image by Günther Schneider from Pixabay

When I was fourteen I read Desmond Morris “The Killer Ape” [I’m reliably informed Morris wrote The Naked Ape, which if I remember also went on about how violent we were, though maybe not uniquely so. There was however a “The Killer Ape.” I just don’t remember the name of  the authors. It’s been 44 years, okay?] and because I was fourteen and virgin of any real history, anthropology and/or psychology, particularly animal psychology (to be fair, so are college graduates in those fields. In fact, college has become a way to cultivate and preserve ignorance and misconceptions, sort of a bell jar over the mind that lets no contrary facts in.)I thought it made a good point.

Since then I’ve read a lot of books about people who observed actual animals, and not only are we not the killer ape, but we have nothing on chimps, who flip on a dime from friendly to stone cold killers and will kill babies in their own pack.  In fact, our frenzies, our occasional mob behavior is probably a return to that part of the brain that comes from our deep ancestry.

And yet the idea is still out there that we’re humans because we’re the worst of the worst.  For the record, btw, every mammal goes to war.  Mostly territorial or subspecies war. I rather suspect some birds might too.  It is the way of the animal to defend and expand territory, and yep, mostly for those who are like them/close relations.

Yesterday I came across one of those pages that come up with “news” (if you intend to read only the crazier left, meaning this always annoys the heck out of me) when you bring up firefox.  I didn’t read the article, but right there, on top was an article about the ape and the mushroom, according to which we became humans because we ate a lot of magic mushrooms — man! Trippy! — and in my head canon I want you to know every sentence in that articles ends with a variation of “have you ever looked at your hand?”

Like the idea  that men were the killer ape, this seems, at best misguided.  Anyone who has lived with cats knows that every mammal tends to get stoned given a chance (Well, actually Greebo wasn’t fond of it.  Catnip seemed to have no effect on him besides a mild attractant. He loved the catnip rat a friend made for him, but I think because it was a toy his size.  The little catnip mice disintegrated under the onslaught of his claws. And Valeria completely ignores catnip.  And toys. She’s a little, broken cat. We won’t talk about Havey, though.)  We know that apes eat fermented fruit full of alcohol. I very much doubt they don’t eat other things that make them high. (Some of us hate being out of our minds which must serve as my excuse for not even liking to be drunk. Fortunately, genetically, I almost never am. OTOH I moderated my drinking considerably as aging seems to have made me more susceptible.)

So, magic mushrooms made us human, uh?  I wonder what the person who came up with that thesis was smoking.

But while I was thinking about it, I related it to the stuff above, and came up with a weird thought: We’re not the ape who kills. All apes do.  We’re not the ape who gets high, all apes do.  We’re the ape who loves.  We’re the ape who loves so much we take — and took, even when our life hung on a knife’s edge of need and scarcity — creatures of other species to our hearts and make them part of our band, our pack, our family.

If you look around, that’s pretty weird.  Sure, some species have symbiotic relationships, and sure, man and wolf/dog hunted together.

But if you think about it, that’s different form the mutually exploitative relationship of other symbiotic species.

Oh, we make use of our friends, but also as far back as we can remember or find evidence, there’s marks of affection.

And anyway, we’d never have started hunting together if we had eaten those wolf pups — tender meat — we found in a cave, instead of keeping them and training them and teaching them to ENJOY being around us, enjoy being petted, to defend us as if we were members of their pack, because we defend them like members of ours.

Cats, even stray cats we feed at the door, bring us kills, trying to support us as we support them.

What I’m trying to say is on both sides there’s a volational step to love those who are utterly different from us.

And that seems to be what made us human.

Sure you can say we’re horny apes.  You can presume that the traces of other human races all of us carry around are part of being horny and “humans will screw anything” and you can assume it was all rape.

It’s hard to tell, that far back in pre-history, before records, but I’m going to bet you it wasn’t all rape.  I’m going to bet you, because of course, if we can love cats and dogs (and bunnies, mice, snakes, fish, even monkeys) as children, we can surely love things that look more like us closer/better.

I bet you there were mixed couples. I bet you there were childless couples taking to their bosom orphans found in the forest. (There are enough legends about that, and those are sometimes the most reliable accounting of our ancestry.)  I BET you there was love.  Love is what made us what we are, a hybrid species that we find, more and more, carries genes of many others, and are better for it.

This is also, btw, no matter how much bigots on both sides of the isle howl, there is no such think as a pure race human. Yes, I know what gene analysis says, but bah, it’s early days yet.  I remember when the earliest gene analysis made us basically chimps. THP.

Humans love.  Humans love across species, across race, across what should be the unimaginable gulf of phillum and clade.

If we go to space and find aliens, I give you a couple hundred years, tops, before some human is trying to get a scientist to help him make a child with his smart octopus girlfriend.

How did that make us human?

Well, besides the obvious and improbable genetic mix with other human species some as yet unidentified (We’re in very early days of the field) and hybrid vigor, it forced us to develop empathy and imagination.

Cats, dogs and horses, our closest, most faithful companions, do not talk.  We had to bridge the gap.  We had to communicate with them, understand how they were communicating, and carry the relationship.

Which in turn made us more capable of understanding humans who weren’t like us, humans far away, humans in the past.

And, by giving us empathy, as a trained trait, (Perhaps a neo-natal trait that persisted because — as someone said in comments, tribes with cats kept more grain, and therefore raised more children.  My reading on the brain indicates mirror neuron and structures babies possess allow one to integrate and avoid being killed. I think our domesticating animals/being domesticated by them makes use of those.) they made it possible for us to live in cities, in large groupings, and thereby to develop civilization.

If we go to the stars someday (please) it is because some neolithic hunter didn’t kill a litter of wolves, but brought them home and made them his children/his brothers.  Because some hunter-gathering primitive didn’t strangle the kitten and put it in her sack, but fed it and petted it and made it part of her circle, raised with her children.

We are the ape who tames itself.  But our taming started with love across species barriers, across the gulf of misunderstanding, across the vast chasms of different self interest.  And that’s why we’re human.

Which might be worth — maybe — the occasional writer who gets all mired in grief at the death of her curmudgeonly, protective black cat.

Now I’m going to go help son put his doors back in and install floor transitions: me and my broken heart.

And I know the broken heart is the price for doors, for floors, for civilization.  And yes, for empathy and stories as well.




588 thoughts on “The Ape Who Loves

  1. Hasn’t there been tremendous twaddle in the Popular Press* about Koko, the Signing Gorilla, and her proclivity for adopting kittens? Don’t they go on about how this proves, proves human-like intelligence in that ape?

    So they’re admitting (when it serves their purpose of degrading humanity) that taking on pets is a human characteristic!

    Yeah, I know: expecting intellectual consistency from these folk is like expecting a pig to know which fork is for fish.

    *Popular in the sense that they pander to popular misconceptions and vanities of the general public, that is. Their era’s version of click-bait.

    1. Given how many videos there are out there of cross-species friendships there are…

      I note, however, that nearly all of those (at least that we know the happy ending thereof) have humans in some way involved, often because said critters are rescues and are on some kind of preserve. Or a human GAVE the critter the other critter that became its best friend. Or it’s a human’s pet that befriended a wild animal of some kind (there’s a rather adorable story of a cat and a crow out there…not to mention the dogs bringing home baby deer, probably much to the mama-deer’s dismay, heh.)

      And then, of course, there’s the instances out there of wild animals approaching a human for help (because tangled up, has offspring that is in peril, etc). Not a human deciding to help a wild animal (which happens a lot), but one straight up approaching the human. (or the instances of whales protecting humans–or other animals–from predators? They’re starting to find enough evidence to suggest it’s neither a freak occurrence nor unknowing on the whale’s part…)

      I think we’re beginning to see there’s a lot more to animals just as we KNOW (the not-idiot-lefties of us, anyway) that there is so much more to humans.

      I also wonder if it’s not a case of the animals learning from what humans have been doing for thousands of years…

      1. Humans are terrifying creatures indeed.
        But if the choice is slow death or humans, seek the humans help.
        You might get the help. Or at least not suffer long.

        1. Yeah, I’ve decided that we must be the fae to the animal kingdom: long lived, alien, have strange powers. And if you approach one for help, they might kill you. Or capture you. But they might help you, and that happens often enough that the animal is willing to risk it…

          (What I find super fascinating is…HOW? How do they know to overcome their instinct to flee/attack, and instead approach? Does word get around or something?)

          1. How do they know to overcome their instinct to flee/attack, and instead approach?

            We stink. They smell. We do NOT have “normal” stench.

            I think we seriously under appreciate the level to which animals perceive the world through scent, nor do we recognize how much information we routinely emit. They can scent low blood glucose, adrenaline jumps, disease-bearing and more factors than we can yet comprehend. Not only that, but we provide a “map” of our last few hours (days, weeks for some of us) telling them instantly vast amounts of information.

          2. When all the sane option have failed, try the insane option.
            Humans are OBVIOUSLY not of the usual Nature.
            Something about them… just ain’t right… and yet.. here they are. THRIVING. Maybe they Know Something.

      2. I wish I’d kept the meme I saw about that– basically, humans are elves to animals.

        So, basically, if you’re gonna die anyways… take a chance and maybe the human will help you, this time.

      3. I am fairly well convinced that domestic animals, pets especially, are evolving faster than anybody thinks. Even with feral cat colonies, there’s got to be an enormous amount of…positive evolutionary pressure? that favors friendly and engaging animals. Which to me at least implies that curiosity, bonding, and novelty-seeking are getting selected for at a high rate.

        And then there’s Mirror Kitty:

        1. Yeeeah, if that cat is doing what I think she is–and recognizing that that is HER (or him?) in the mirror, and NOT a strange cat or just ignoring it entirely…that is an incredibly intelligent cat.

          Elephants are showing that they recognize a reflection as themselves, and so bumped themselves waaaay up on the “may be almost as smart as humans” scale. There’s a great video out there of a young bull, and you can SEE the moment he realizes “Oh! That’s ME!” and immediately he begins preening, because he is a handsome fellow.

          And then, of course, there’s octopuses…

          1. Yeah, I am simultaneously tickled and creeped out by that video, because that is more cognition than a housecat should HAVE. She’s definitely not ignoring it, and that’s not “strange cat spotted” behavior.

            Dolphins recognize themselves too, but that was harder to find out…hard to do a mirror test when the paint washes off. 😀 Eventually researchers hit on the idea of painting the dolphins’ foreheads with zinc oxide, and the dolphins got *pissed*. Covering up the sonar-generating organ with layers of sticky goop was apparently not favorably received… (Zinc oxide went on the bellies instead. Dolphins were clearly aware that was THEM with the pointless white stripes on.)

            1. >> “that is more cognition than a housecat should HAVE.”

              I was about to make that same point myself as cats aren’t one of the species known for passing the mirror test. Now I’m wondering just how many can. I know Leslie Fish breeds cats for intelligence; can hers pass it? Did Greebo or Pixel ever figure it out?

              That cat is also as pretty as she is smart. I hope her owners are letting her breed.

              1. all of ours but Havey pass it. Havey MIGHT? I haven’t tried it on him.
                Greebo and Pixel got bored after the first turn this way and that to see how they looked..
                Miranda, OTOH…. she loved to pose and preen and got that look like “oh, I’m beautiful.”
                Oh, we had one reverse-mirror-test failure. Euclid, as he started to slip into dementia thought that Greebo outside the window was him in the mirror. He’d adjust his post to match Greebo’s. Then when Greebo moved without is moving, he panicked. I mean full on freak out.
                On strays and evolution: Papa Cat, Greebo’s dad who looked exactly like him, impregnated all the girl cats we suspect for MILES around.
                BUT here’s a weird thing: he babysat. When mama cat was out hunting or whatever, papa cat would sit with the kittens and let them climb all over him, and try to nurse without harming them.

                1. >> “all of ours but Havey pass it. Havey MIGHT?”

                  Hmm… Do you just have a knack for attracting unusually smart cats? Like I said, cats aren’t known for passing the mirror test. With the number of them that you’ve had over the years it seems odd that all (or nearly all) would succeed.

                  >> “On strays and evolution: Papa Cat, Greebo’s dad who looked exactly like him, impregnated all the girl cats we suspect for MILES around.”

                  Heh. Sounds like Greebo’s dad should have gotten the name. Or maybe you’re just lucky Greebo was fixed when you got him. 😉

                  BTW, I noticed you’re doing the night DJ routine at Instapundit again. It’s good to see you and your shocked face getting back in the saddle. Greebo would approve. 🙂

                    1. It is astonishing how how well high expectation yield great results.
                      That alone is reason to LOATHE the left’s “We ain’t gotta do nuthin’!” attitude.

                      That said, the schmuck who damn well knows something is impossible yet demands it anyway deserves the noose or worse. Let THAT schmuck drown in a cesspool with all the other shit.

              2. All our cats have been smart. When our first was first taken in, we had the brilliant idea of putting her toy “bizzy balls” in a ceramic stein on the top shelf of one of the bookcases so that it would be convenient to grab one and toss it out for her to play with…except it always seemed like there were more toys on the floor than we had put out for her. We finally found out the reason…she was climbing up on the book case by going up to the arm of the couch and then scrambling up it until she got to the top shelf, where she would reach into the stein, and pull up toys with her paw pushing it up the side until it rolled out over the top lift onto the bookcase shelf-where she proceeding to bat it off the shelf on to the floor so she could play with it. We “caught her in the act” one evening 🙂

          2. I know most of our cats KNOW it’s them in the mirror. I’ve never tested Havey, hence the “most.” Miranda-cat was beautiful and vain, and posing in front of the fireplace mirror was her favorite thing in the world

          3. Some years ago I ran into the assertion that, contrary to previous belief, housecats see in color…they just are hard to interest in the kind of experiments that had been used to see if they did.

            That’s SO ‘cat’.

        2. The deer. The deer are evolving. Are area is overrun with them, and part of it is because a lot of them have learned to look both ways before crossing the street. I’ve seen it.

          1. Have see photos of coyotes crossing appropriately at the lights.

            Neighborhood cat crosses at the school cross walk.

              1. That might be observation. They seek “packs” of other predators (i.e. people) safely crossing at those points, so they learn that it is a safe place to cross.

                1. True. Mimicking the people pack at the location. But these were timed lights. They were appropriately waiting for the correct signals at the crosswalks. Anymore a lot of crosswalk aids have chiming voices which they easily could have learned. A few where a button had to be pushed to trigger the signal to walk. Did that too. Not surprising at all. After all Service Animals are taught to do exactly that on their own initiative when the handler is unable.

                  I believe the documentary said this was happening in urban Colorado areas.

                  1. Some research says coyotes aren’t native to most of North America; they followed man from the southwest across the rest of the continent. Also, one population tested (believe this was in Texas) had on average 26% domestic dog DNA… from about 2000 years ago.

                2. And…barring those few a**holes who deliberately try to run animals of any stripe over…most humans are gonna politely slow to let them cross….

                3. Ravens have learned that cars make good nutcrackers and the best way to do it is to drop the nuts on the crosswalk, wait until the lights turn, and then saunter out with the humans to eat the nut meat.

            1. Oh yeah… hilarious pair of coyotes seen out in the desert:

              Young coyote came up to the highway, stopped, looked both ways, noted nearest traffic some ways off (that was me), casually trotted across the road.

              About the time I reached the spot, an old fat coyote burst out of the brush in a terrible fit of wait-for-meeeee, did not look any direction, and nearly got creamed…

              Okay, we know who’s the brains of that outfit, but I sure wonder how the dumb one got old enough to be grey-muzzled and fat.

            1. Grizzlies in Yellowstone & Tetons. Not the boars, but the mama’s are deliberately raising their COY by the road & tourist thermal networks VS back country. Mothers teach their offspring how to navigate roads & traffic the same way they teach them about other hazard navigation.

              Key is “not the boars”. Boars avoid the road & heavy tourist areas. The boars will kill COY to get mama ready to breed. There was speculation on why one of the watched ones showed up without her twins. Speculation on how she had to have lost them to traffic or tourist interference … nope. Lost them to the river teaching them how to navigate it. Lost last years to the river too. Still a young mother (4 or 5 years old). 50% of COY don’t make it to leave their mother. Don’t know what the attrition rate is after mother forcing them out on their own.

              Don’t know what the mama Black Bears are doing. Avoiding Grizzlies is one of their priorities.

          2. Huh. You know, it’s funny, but the deer around here (natural deer country)…they are SUPER canny about hunters, but still can’t seem to grok roads and cars.

            But hunting seasons…they not only know WHEN hunting seasons starts, they know that it is illegal to discharge firearms within our town limts* and so come the first day of hunting season the population of “town deer” triples….

            *This does not stop people from, for example, shooting at a bear that’s bouncing their garbage cans (in an attempt to get the lids off) on their porch. But I tell you what, the whole TOWN noticed it, made note of the time, and were discussing it on social media the next day (just in case there was a murder or something). Once the culprit popped in and said “Nah, it was a bear, I had to scare it off with my shotgun, it was getting pushy” everyone went “Oh. That makes sense” and forgot about it. Heh. On the other hand, we ever get a disaster that interrupts the food supply, the town deer are in for a VERY rude shock, local ordinances notwithstanding…

            1. But hunting seasons…they not only know WHEN hunting seasons starts, they know that it is illegal to discharge firearms within our town limts* and so come the first day of hunting season the population of “town deer” triples….

              The one fall season I worked USFS crew which covered both deer & elk hunting season you should have heard the locals grousing. No sign of deer all opening weekend and subsequent weekends but plenty of deer out browsing in among the 15 person crew while we ran timber cruises, and other activities, through the timber sell units. Not close enough to touch, but they sure weren’t hiding either. Hunting was rather frowned on during work hours, especially in active units.

              In fact then packing firearms was grounds for termination. Supervisors packed once that I knew of. Rattlesnake danger. No weapon discharge. Haven’t worked on a crew since ’78. But now, at least permanent USFS/BLM/NP employees who work in the woods/back country, we’ve heard, do pack, for safety. Rattlesnakes aren’t the problem, at least not the ones who really are snakes; VS the human ones that present as snakes.

              1. As far as I know, the only BLM person allowed to pack is our LEO. Everyone else is allowed bear spray (should they be up in those few bits of BLM mixed in with USFS in our field office), but heaven help you if you forget it in the truck. (It explodes if it gets warm enough. And then they have to total the truck…)

                You’re not allowed to pack in the building at all, and technically you couldn’t even keep a firearm in your car, because the parking lot is still considered federal property. Sigh.

                1. We were hearing antidotes. Rumors. I-heard-that … PNW so the issue isn’t bears or wildlife so much as it is the, uh not-exactly-legal “farmers”. OTOH I think the way most people who actually have to patrol & work those areas that have been problematic are LEO’s. But like I said. Not directly involved for 42 years.

      4. My in-laws had a dog that heard rabbit kits mewling underground, dug them up and very carefully brought them to my bemused mother-in-law. When they relate the story, this utter darling of a doggie stared up at ‘Mummy’ with eyes that pleaded that she ‘help the crying baby things.’

        They had to call in the RSPCA and I don’t know what happened after that.

        1. Knowing most animal rescues, someone gamely took them on to bottle feed–and also knowing how people who volunteer for rescues are, it’s a decent chance at least several of the kits survived. 🙂

          (I’ve a coworker who is very popular with the local pet rescue, because she has such a good survival rate for bottle-fed kittens. Usually they don’t make it–but she does ALL the mama-cat things, including wiping their bums with a warm wet cloth to stimulate their system so they can pee/poop. I didn’t even know that, and I’m a lifelong cat-lover. But I never attempted to bottle feed kittens, either.)

    2. Koko wasn’t reliable with kittens.

      And honestly, she wasn’t reliable with anyone. Which probably wasn’t her fault, because it turns out the woman who raised her was doing typical Sixties “it’s not abusive or weird because my intentions are good” type of junk. Being a grad student assigned to help with Koko was not a happy experience, by all accounts.

      1. Further info anywhere? I’m fascinated by interspecies stuff and would like to dig deeper.

        (I also recommend “Becoming a Tiger” for discussions of animal minds. It doesn’t hurt that it has a hilarious dig or two at John Lilley, speaking of typical Sixties idiots.)

      2. I remember having a little light-bulb go on over my head when one of the books mentioned that a kitten sadly passed away and had to be replaced…. even then I could figure out it was really, really unlikely to go well, and also noticed there weren’t any pictures in the book or stories with Koko and the grown up cat.
        Contrast with stuff like “raise the horse with his companion goat” stuff.

        1. Note: this was WAY before the net was an option to look for information, so it was like a decade before I found out about the grammar issue– that is they’d leave a bunch of “give cat me” and “me give cat” and only show “give me cat.”

      3. PLEASE!!! We are not talking about the actual Koko! We are talking about Koko the celebrity, Koko the myth, Koko the concept!!!! Some favorable editing is always necessary to eliminate distracting facts.

    3. There’s remarkably little information about Koko out there other than press releases begging for money. A few years ago when I looked I couldn’t even find any references to published scientific material, even basic things like exactly which signs she knew and how she used them, which would have given a look into how gorillas might think.

      After looking through the publicly-available information, it appeared that Koko had a short temper as well as a short attention span, and her “signing” was basically random; her handlers would “interpret” them as needed for visitors.

      The temper and attention span problems, in my opinion, were mostly due to her being spoiled and indulged while growing up, and then it became a bad idea to disagree with a primate who could rip your arms off and beat you to death with them when piqued.

      Whatever the intelligence of the gorilla might be, we’re not going to find out much from Koko’s handlers.

      1. My skeptical nature makes me wonder if gorillas are smart enough to speak intelligently with human-taught sign language, why didn’t gorillas create sign language on their own for their own use? 😈

        My cynical nature makes me wonder just how intelligent Koko’s handlers are. 👿

        1. Personally, after that repulsive “interpretation” a while back where Koko allegedly talked about how silly and selfish humans were for despoiling the environment, my cynical side has taken over.

          1. There is a widespread Cult of idiots who think that animals are humans with fur. This is disrespectful of both humans AND animals. I have zero patience for it.

            As I told one shocked door-to-door ‘save the environment’ petition signature collector, I suspect that about half the ‘environmental problems’ of the Western World would vanish if we shot the board of directors of both PETA and The Sierra Club.

            1. Worse, they think animals are them with fur.

              Pointing out that their personal reactions are strange has no impact– it must be what the animals feel, and superior because it is non human, and the animals are not just people but BETTER people.


    4. There’s an interesting video of a baboon that’s found a spotted hyena cub and kept it as a ‘pet’ — not very well-treated, but evidently got it young enough that it doesn’t know anything else and so willingly follows along. (At the time it’s about 3 months old.)

      1. There are packs of baboons that have adopted dogs, or probably vice versa. If they don’t have couches to lay on and cars to get rides in, one great ape probably looks much like another from a dog’s POV.

        Cro-Magnons and dogs hooked up together; Sapiens co-evolved with dogs. They’re part of us.

        We make use of various animals, but dogs will go with us into the dark places where the bad things are.

      2. Anyone have any idea whether hyena cubs imprint?

        That wouldn’t explain the baboon’s acceptance of it, but does anything explain baboons?

        1. I’m still trying to explain wallabies. I’ll let you know when I figure that one out.

        2. I don’t know if hyenas imprint, but spotted hyenas are at least as smart as baboons and pretty social in their own way so there’s that.

  2. The broken heart heals after a time. Until then, all hail the mighty Greebo, conquering Heaven for his human so that when she joins him a long time from now everything will be ready for her.

  3. What’s that saying out there (usually in relation to the various Humans Are Space Orcs memes, which are also fun)–Humans will try to pack bond with anything?

    I mean, come ON. We’ll even develop affection/attachments to things that aren’t even alive, but have the semblance of it. And I’m not talking just cute stuffed animals. How many of us were a little sad at that last message from the little robot on Mars as its batteries died? How about the programmers of said robot (or is it one of the other ones on Mars?) that programmed it to sing Happy Birthday to itself?

    There’s a video game trilogy I am very fond off (Mass Effect) that, to me, anyway, makes it that the (human) protagonist is the only one capable of uniting the ENTIRE FREAKING GALAXY against an annihilation-level threat not because of any Chosen One nonsense (although they do have some odd wires crossed in their brain that lets them interact with a certain type of very ancient warning tech, and so actually get a warning left millenia before about the threat), but because if you, the player, play the game in a certain manner and make certain choices it’s because you, a human, are capable of bonding/loving/making deep and true friendships with intelligent species not your own (up to and including Actual Love Interest, and yes, with at least one of them there’s a brief discussion, if the player opts to go down that road, about how two parents with wildly incompatible dna/body chemistry might be able to have kids).

    I mean, sure, you can also play it on the “You terrify or ruthlessly force most of the galaxy to unite against this threat” but the *best* option (wherein even ancient enemies bury the hatchet, and even form a mutually beneficial symbiotic alliance going forward) is to do it all with love in some form or another. 😀

    (To date, that is the ONLY time a video game in any shape or form has ever made me cry, and more than once even. It has its flaws, but overall it’s *really* well written scifi.)

    1. I cried like a baby at the death of Mycroft a FICTIONAL COMPUTER.
      And my husband has a weird relationship to this cactus he raised from a tiny little fall to a three foot high cactus with a colony of babies.
      It almost died during lockdown and husband was FRANTIC. It and its friend have names. I’m not going to tell you the names, because they’re proof part of my husband is 13 years old. (Meh, part of my mind is a thirteen year old boy, too.)
      BUT he talks to them and reassures them (When we brought them home almost dead) and just brought home two columns so they can have a place of honor in the home office.
      He’s not unusual.

      1. Right??? We joke, frequently, in my family about giving a Viking funeral to various faithful appliances/tools/etc, but if those things actually WERE combustible we probably would have actually done it!

        People name their roombas. They name their cars (though I stopped doing that because almost every car I name dies in an accident…) We really will try to bond with ANYTHING, even if it’s entirely incapable of bonding back!

        (I still have my beloved stuffed dog from when I was 6 years old. He’s tucked away in my closet, because my living dog tried to eat him, but he’s still a beloved stuffed animal, even if I haven’t slept with him since I was a child.)

        1. Who needs stuffed critters? There are 3 cats flopped on the bed right now, watching me type. When they can be bothered to open their eyes, anyway.

          Why do we take in cats? Because we can!

          1. I was a big stuffed animal collector. That impulse left me once I was able to adopt cats of my own. I do still have one or two, and the kids’ Squishmallow toys are SUPER TEMPTING (because they are wonderfully soft and if you collect them, I really won’t judge), but it’s the kitties (and the kids) that I cuddle now.

            And a pillow. Because once you get to A Certain Age, you sometimes need odd supports so that your arms don’t fall asleep.

          2. Yeah, I vastly prefer the live ones. 😀 (Well, and my body pillow because as B. Durbin said, you just need the support after a certain age…)

              1. My favorite was the episode with the technomages where they sent the demon illusion at him but he held his ground.

                “You don’t scare easily”

                *shrugs* “I work for Ambassador Mollari. After a while, nothing much bothers you anymore.”

          1. Nice. 😀
            Ours is Gnome. For, I think, obvious reasons. I suspect his successor will be Brownie or something similar.

        2. … he’s still a beloved stuffed animal

          When Daughtorial Unit was wee she loved stuffed animals, but only once they’d been properly introduced. I (not Beloved Spouse) had to hold the animal up for her, improvise a voice and some sort of character before she would accept it — but once accepted she knew the animal forever.

          I admit I never understood the process, merely recognized its operation. It isn’t as if I were particularly clever or inventive but she was adamantly uninterested in any stuffed animal until I had introduced it to her.

      2. > I cried like a baby at the death of Mycroft a FICTIONAL COMPUTER.

        I finished re-reading TMIAHM a few days ago. I noticed Mannie never mentioned Wyoh trying to get Mike to talk. And he’d forked off a whole “Michelle” personality that Heinlein only mentioned in a couple of scenes early on. And “Adam Selene” was probably still backed up somewhere; Mike wasn’t short of storage space.

        And then the last two lines:
        > Since Boom started quite a few young cobbers have gone out to Asteroids. Hear about some nice places out there, not too crowded.
        My word, I’m not even a hundred yet.

        Uh… he’s a husband in the powerful David line marriage, with all of its political and economic clout, plus all the backdoors he put into the computer system that was formerly Mike, that probably still runs most of Luna… he’s going to dump it all and head off to the asteroids? I know the second-to-last line was a setup for the last one, but WTF? If he’s near a hundred, he’s been married for sixty or seventy years, and now… wanderlust? Finding himself? Some dramatic economic setback where family members are leaving Luna to earn money? Opening for a sequel?

        I’ll admit, I’ve read the book many times since… probably 1975 or so, and enjoyed it every time. But nowadays I notice things I used to slide right over.

        1. I assumed he was going to try to persuade the others to pick up and come with. Which wasn’t unheard of, with the more normal kinds of extended families, on the US frontier. A lot of people just kept moving out further and doing new Animal Crossing/Civ town or farm projects.

          1. Heh. Probably explains the modern-day popularity of such games, come to think of it…

            (And hey, less likely to kill you than the real-life version!)

        2. Always thought those ‘line marriages’ were a bit creepy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they lose people more often than the propaganda about them suggests.

          (The answer to Heinlein’s ‘we should ask questions about customs’ is going to be ‘no’ most of the time, just because human nature isn’t as rationally flexible as he liked to assume.)


            1. RAH was a pretty boy, play boy in New York during his training and in Los Angles. He played the field and the Women played back. Line marriage was laid back and normal. He did say that they were different because they let the MEN have a say in who was accepted into the marriage.

        3. From TMIAHM, Why would a highly married highly successful businessman, healthy 90 year old, successful revolutionary, abandon comfortable Lunar life for an asteroid frontier?


          Heinlein revisits this in Time Enough for Love, where the 2000+ year old Lazarus Long, clearly bored-weary of life, challenges his associates to find him something -new- to do.

          1. And WHAT do they find for HIM?? Raising twin girls that are clones of him! Sounds like enough to frighten the hell out of any sane man. But who said Long was sane, especially then?

        4. Being in the “powerful Davi[s] line marriage” likely holds little particular attraction; as Manny may well have had no interest in power except as necessary for protection of family and friends … who mostly no longer need his protection. Married sixty, seventy years also means having mourned many wives, husbands, children and friends.

          Mostly what I see is a man with the pioneer spirit seeing civilization closing in, seeing the freedom bequeathed Luna slowly eroded; why, they probably elect judges by now! And certify teachers!

          Being part of a line family grants the freedom of gallivanting, going to Earth for moths on end, engaging in revolution, going off to mine asteroids while knowing the family will remain secure and safe and awaiting his return.

          1. And certify teachers!

            Well, why not? A lot of today’s teachers are certifiable!
            Not everybody should go to college. Some folks, you send ’em to college and you just wind up with an educated idiot.

      3. I’m not certain that Mycroft was dead. But I certainly understood Manny’s desolation at losing him, however it happened. The poor guy took two heavy blows close together, Prof and Mike; he must have been a wreck.

            1. The book is about a revolution, but it’s really the story of Mike, as seen through Mannie’s eyes. This time around I paid a lot more attention to Prof, who is cultured, engaging, highly intelligent, well informed, and extremely persuasive… he enters the story, persuades both Mannie and Mike to help him overthrow the government, and then he’s always there, pulling strings like some happy Rasputin. The entire revolution is Prof’s doing, he’s the spider at the center of the web, and he’s not *quite* an ongoing deus ex machina, but enough that it kept tweaking the “oh, come now” response. And while they’re supposed to be equal partners, Prof and Mike team up and cut Mannie out of the information and command chains, “for the good of the Revolution”, and Mannie just passively goes along with it.

              Heinlein makes the revolution necessary by declaring that the water and mineral resources of the Moon are being stripped out and shipped down to Earth as wheat, and that there will be starvation and eventually cannibalism in just a few years when Luna is stripped of accessible resources. They have to force Earth to build its own catapult so they can send water and nitrates back to the Moon to close the loop. Except… whatever technology they’re using to farm in tunnels on the Moon, would certainly be cheaper and just as efficient on Earth. And… wheat? I’m pretty sure there are lots of plants with a higher calorie density per acre. I was bedazzled by the catapults and had never thought about the economics behind them.

              That’s the “conflict” part that drives the story; there had to be a reason for the revolution, and, hell, it took me *this* long to realize that it was BS. I’m not disparaging him for that; he did a damned good job of directing my attention elsewhere. And it was a *ridiculously* long book by 1965 standards, particularly for SF; he had to cut corners to cram the story in there. Even then, there are a number of things I wish he’d had time to develop a bit more.

              One other thing that kept bothering me was how isolated Luna was from Earth. He mentioned tourists many times, and one was a major part of the story, but even Mannie knew very little of Earthside cultures, and the Earthmen knew almost nothing of Lunar customs. Books, TV, mail? We have a multiple Moon colonies and nobody cares? Heinlein kept drawing parallels to Australia, but Australia was never as isolated as Luna, and they could *talk* to Luna with a 3-minute lag. Some of the isolation may have been so RAH could ride his “human customs are strange” hobbyhorse, but I still had a problem with the isolation thing.

              The fact that the F.N. had spacegoing troop transports and bombers, I had no problem with, even though Heinlein never mentioned any reason for them. 1965 was a hot spot in the Cold War; any government that could afford such things would have them, it would be silly to expect otherwise in 2076…

              1. … whatever technology they’re using to farm in tunnels on the Moon, would certainly be cheaper and just as efficient on Earth.”

                Luna farming was made possible by cheap abundant solar energy. While Earth might have been capable of developing competitive agriculture it would have been deterred by some of the same reasons we let China do so much of our production now. Luna Agriculture was developed as justification for liar prison colonies, thus would have been subsidized and Terran competition discouraged; having an entrenched market position would have protected Luna’s market position. Add in restrictive Terran environmental regulations/advocacy and the clear technician advantage enjoyed by Luna and the line of argument is visible.

                As for the isolation – Earth don’t want to know about Luna, any more than Progressives wanted to know about the T.E.A. Party or “White America” wants to know about the reality” of life in Black America. Much of Terran Establishment would have had a slightly guilty conscience about how Luna had been developed and followed the same out of sight. out of mind that applies to modern Nike and Apple production practices today.

                As for Luna-capable troop transports and bombers, those would have been an instance of readily available technology requiring only slight conversion before deployment. Terra clearly viewed Loonies as rabble and made the common Great Power mistakes about what quelling them would entail.

                As for Mannie … he weren’t no philosopher and trusted his compatriots implicitly and completely.

            2. > thee minute

              Three *second*. “Sorry about that, Chief!” And there’s RFC 4838, “Delay-Tolerant Networking Architecture” waiting for when we need to extend the internet to the Moon…

              1. Well, we know RFC 1149, IPoAC* wouldn’t work. The packet carriers require air as a medium, and the distance would introduce network latency on the order of 21 million seconds.

                * Internet Protocol over Avian Carriers, issued by the IETC on 1 April 1990.

      4. If we really are designed to tame the world and care for it and guard it, as per Genesis, I would assume that we would have a yen to have householding relationships with animals, plants, and even inanimate material objects. And we would also have a talent to get critters to love us back.

      5. Didn’t cry when Mycroft died, but was struck hard. I have tMiaHM next in the queue once I finish reading a couple more stories from a certain Author. 🙂

        Starship Troopers is after that, and I want to look for a Kindle copy of The Door Into Summer. Daniel Boone Davis was an inspiration to young RCPete.

    2. Years ago, I read a short SF story set in a universe where there were basically three types of Intelligent Aliens.

      The Predator Types, the Slave/Prey Types and the Mysterious “Others”. Oh, the “Others” were very powerful Aliens who stayed out of the Struggles for Supremacy going on in the Galaxy. (And none of the Predator Types wanted them to get involved.)

      Then there were Humans.

      The POV character was a member of one of the Predator Types and was discussing the Humans with another of his species.

      When the Humans came on the scene, they were seen as a Slave/Prey Type and one of the Predator species attempted to conquer them. The Humans fought back and conquered their attackers.

      While this would appear to mean that the Humans were a Predator Type, there were certain things that bothered the POV character about Humans.

      Among other things, they seemed to want their conquered enemies to see them as friends and apparently their attempts were working on their conquered enemies.

      All of which made the POV character (high in the councils of his species) very worried about this new player.

      Which came to a head when the Humans didn’t want to be part of a “Fellowship Of Predators” organization and stated while they’d be willing to accept peaceful trade with the Predator Species they didn’t see themselves as Predators and took the peaceful “Others” as a model.

      Well the POV character was sure that the Humans were a very grave danger to “The Way Things Are” (especially considering how well they seemed to convert Predators into Friends).

      So he was strongly considering that his people had to act against those Humans in a permanent manner. IE Killing them all.

      Then he received a personal message from the “Others”. A very short message. IE “No”.

      The “Others” knew of his plans and Did Not Approve. 😀

      1. lol, suddenly I have an image of a rolled up newspaper thumping POV character on the nose, along with a stern “NO.” (“Bad dog.”)

        1. Found it.

          It’s by Gordon R. Dickson titled “3-Part Puzzle”.

          Oh, the three types were “Conquerors”, “Submissives” and “Invulnerables”.

          It’s in the collection titled “Human Edge”.

            1. Probably an issue with his estate. An appalling number of older authors’ works can’t be reissued in print or digital because:
              1. No heirs can be located to give the necessary permissions.
              2. Multiple heirs who can’t come to agreement, sometimes with one or more willing to “cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face.”
              3. Heirs are in agreement, but have unrealistic ideas about the work’s value in the current market, as opposed to its sentimental value to them.
              4. Other reasons, including heirs who disapprove of that kind of writing, or want to posthumously punish the writer for life choices they don’t approve of.

      2. I remember that one. The predator ambassador visited a kindergarten where the human kids were playing with prey-species and predator-species kids, and the attitude of the nice teacher lady confused the hell out of him.

        Pretty fun story. ~:D

        1. I really want to read it. I’m wondering whether the Invulnerables were just giving good advice … or if they were afraid for themselves.

          No spoilers, now!

        1. I’m in the middle of doing that one right now. They’ve gone and pissed off the Valkyries.

          What happens when you fire a weapon that delivers two megatons per second into a trans-dimensional gate? (That’s 8 gigajoules for the SI types. Per second.) Brunhilde keeps the fire lit for a little over three seconds…

          Do not annoy the monkeys. Such a very bad idea…

          1. Are you sure about that conversion? I think a megaton is way up in the terajoules; C-squared is 9 x 10^16.

            Sheridan: “What happens when you open a jump point inside a jump gate?”

            Ivanova: “Are you crazy? They call it the Bonehead Maneuver! Uh, no offense.”

            Lennier: “None taken.”

            1. And of course, let us not forget that Sheridan’s (unofficial, given to him by the actor, I think) nickname was John “Nuke’em” Sheridan…

              I mean, only ONE human commander ever managed to destroy a Minbari warship…Yeah. DO NOT piss off the humans. Even if they’re losing to you, they will make you sorry.

              1. I may have to start re-watching B5. Most of what passes for SF on TV these days is such doodoo.

                But, on the subject of only stealing from the best:

                “Is the weapon still a secret?” asked George.
                “It is,” said Nammu regretfully. “If I’m the only one who knows, it can’t leak out. They will figure it out soon enough, it won’t be long before I can tell you. I think you will approve, Monkey King.”
                “Oh, okay,” said George getting a grin of anticipation. “One of those. I can wait for the big reveal, Monkey Queen. Will I laugh like a hyena?”
                “Like a pack of them,” she assured him. “Will you be alright if they send a demon?”
                “Even if they send that flying squid,” vowed George. “The girls have been pestering Jimmy and Kim Park to invent scary shit, then building everything they say. I think Hamilton could stand off the whole Minbari fleet from Babylon Five.”
                “Excuse me, -Mister- McIntyre,” came Penelope’s mellifluous voice from a little way down the beach. She had arrived at the head of a crowd of Valkyries. “I could see that rabble off myself with just my main drive.”

                1. I like it! 😀

                  And to date, one of my all time favorite B5 scenes is “Only one human captain has ever survived battle with a Minbari Fleet. He is behind me. You are in front of me. If you value your lives BE SOMEWHERE ELSE.”

                  You do NOT screw with the Minbari, either. Especially a half human one… 😀

                2. > I may have to start re-watching B5.

                  G’Kar: “With luck, they may never find you, but if they do, you will know pain…”
                  Na’Toth: “…and you will know fear…”
                  G’Kar: “…and then you will die. Have a pleasant flight.”

                  That assassin really shouldn’t have interrupted G’Kar’s dinner…

                  1. You know, I almost felt a little bit–but only a LITTLE bit–sorry for that assassin by the end of it.

                    I was very sorry that Na’Toth disappeared from the show. Apparently, the actress (the last, best Na’Toth) had severe reactions to all the prosthetics and makeup, and just could NOT keep doing it so regularly. :/

                  2. Na’Toth: “Ambassador G’Kar?”

                    G’Kar: “This is Ambassador G’Kar’s quarters. This is Ambassador G’Kar’s table. This is Ambassador G’Kar’s dinner. What part of this progression escapes you?”
                    G’Kar: “How did this get into my bed?”

                    Na’Toth: “I do not care to speculate on how anything gets into your bed, Ambassador.”

                  3. “Are you Ambassador G’Kar?”

                    “These are Ambassador G’Kar’s quarters. This is Ambassador G’Kar’s table. This is Ambassador G’Kar’s dinner. What part of this progression escapes you?”

            2. A Megaton is 4.184E+15 J (so says the internet). This calculator
              does the e=mC^2 calculation for units of mass


              That yields ~43 Kilotons for a gram of antimatter (which I suspect is the yield of 2g
              one of antimatter annihilating one of matter). It seems low but it’s quite possible I messed
              up the calculations when I did them long ago. It takes ~25 g to yield a megaton.

              1. I spent some time with a lot of numbers a few years ago and got about 37 milligrams per kiloton. That would be 18.5 milligrams of antimatter plus 18.5 milligrams of normal matter. A megaton would be 37 grams total.
                Sheridan: “Give me everything you’ve got!”
                Lennier: “If I were holding anything back I would tell you.”

      3. I remember that. The Billy Goats Gruff featured. (The Predators understood it as a lesson in tactics, but the human reaction to it struck them as too strong.)

      4. That’s “Three-Part Puzzle” by Gordon Dickson. It opens with the POV character puzzling over the story of the Three Billy-Goats Gruff. To him it was a boring lesson in tactics, so why did humans find it so interesting? [Answer: Because the Good Guys won.]

        Another part of the puzzle was that the Others (called the “Invulnerables” in the story) ignored everyone else, and so the Predators ignored them back. But the Humans, for some incomprehensible reason, were really upset at being ignored.

        At the end the POV character concluded that Humans were insane; it was the character’s boss, who realized that Humans were incredibly dangerous, and decided that he needed to form a coalition of Predator species to wipe us out. That’s when the message from the Invulnerables arrived.

    3. There is a reason why even people who otherwise have nothing whatsoever good to say about Mass Effect 3 will still make exceptions for Tuchanka and Rannoch.

      And also, why the load of crap the starchild spews is such an insult: he is not only denying the best ending for Rannoch, but all of the premises of the series.

      1. There is a reason I cheerfully downloaded a mod someone had made that DAMN WELL FIXES that stupid ending. Namely, it fixes the ‘destroy’ one, so you don’t have to go with creepy-take-away-everyone’s-choices or super-extra-creepy-with-a-side-of-wtf-Shepard-you-are-not-the-Illusive-Man. (Also: Edi and the Geth would be an awesome band name.)

        Tuchanka and Rannoch both got me HARD. And yeah, whatever else Bioware might have messed up, they did a damned fine job with the storylines there. True, I’ve only ever gone for the ‘best’ options–the cure on Tuchanka and the peace on Rannoch, the ‘bad’ outcomes are truly heartwrenching, I gather. But the good options are still “pause the game until you stop crying.”

        (And now I can’t hear ANY variation of “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” without being briefly sad.)

      2. There was one line in ME3 that had such a perfectly human reply-

        “Hey, Shepard, when this is over, I want this part of Earth you call ‘Australia.'”-Wrex.

        Australian Mass Effect fans-

        “We welcome our new krogan neighbors, assuming they survive.”

    4. Yup. Love those games. Though arguably, you can also be Space Mom and save the galaxy by yelling at significant portions of it. 😀

      1. Oh yes. My Shepard tended to be both Paragon AND Renegade maxed (or as maxed as possible), and so there were some definite Space Mom moments when she ripped someone a new one for Not Playing Nice and Being a Jerk.

        (And, of course, Shepard was absolutely an ACTUAL space-mom/dad to Grunt, in my opinion, and nowhere is that clearer than in the Citadel DLC when Shepard has to deal with the, ahem, aftermath of Grunt’s birthday party with his squad…)

        And did you know, if you can resist punching that horrible journalist all the way to the third game…she actually does an about face and becomes a pretty good war asset? If Shepard resisted the urge to punch, she breaks down crying in the third game, in the middle of her usual “attack Shepard and imply they’re evil/racist/whatever” and begs for Shepard to give her some hope. So Shepard can choose to comfort her, tell her that they need her to do everything she can to give people hope and STOP fear-mongering. It’s…actually really touching. I thought it was a nice attention to detail on Bioware’s part…(That, and the Conrad Verner payoff, heh.) I mean, it’s still hard to resist the temptation to punch her, but…that was kinda cool.

        1. Operation Fire Cobra…um, Claw. Very important. And Bioware at their best is very good at stomping all over your emotions and making you like it. I really loved some of the War Asset stuff in 3, including Journalist Lady’s about-face.

          Also, if you’re at all into fan fiction, I will link you to one of my favorites (be sure to read the summary):

        2. Too many players (and later on the writers) failed to understand that Paragon / Renegade are not the same as Good / Evil.

          The best example being the hostage sidequest in ME1: Renegade says “We don’t negotiate with hostage takers”, Paragon tells them “You just screwed your own cause, if you surrender there might be a chance of not destroying it entirely”. Both of these are correct in different ways.

          Also when talking to Krogan “true paragon” is Renegade.

          “I like this Human! She Understands!”

          1. Yep. Shep’s gonna be a hero no matter what; Paragon/Renegade is more what KIND of hero you’re gonna play. I mostly go for Paragon unless Kaleesah Al-Jilani is involved.

            1. Yeah, it is sooooo hard not to punch Kaleesah. But…they sure give you quite the payoff if you resist! (Honestly, the little side stories–even ones in overheard conversations–are just the best. I think my favorite is the Turian security officer in the refugee area of the Citadel who keeps checking in with the human teenage girl to make sure she’s okay. I like to think they got out before the Reapers took the Citadel.)

          2. I just love the Krogan, so much. I laughed SO hard in ME2 after Grunt’s initiation into Clan Urdnot quest when you find out that not only did HE get several breeding requests, but so did Shepard! (Regardless of Shepard’s gender, and nevermind the fact that humans and krogan are emphatically not compatible, lol.)

          3. Yeah, headbutting that krogan is kind of obligatory. As is the longest renegade interrupt prompt from Mordin’s loyalty mission, even if you are mostly Paragon. 😀

  4. But but….

    I’m a Dragon!!!! 😉

    Seriously, good post. 😀

        1. A friend of mine posted his 2020 Haiku on Facebook:

          Bloody hell, what now?
          Oh. Of COURSE this happens now.
          We are all so tired.

          1. Hot water heater that serves RedQuarters’ bathrooms just died. Of COURSE it would be Friday afternoon.

            How 2020 of it.

  5. I give you a couple hundred years, tops, before some human is trying to get a scientist to help him make a child with his smart octopus girlfriend.

    Oh! That’s not right. Noooo.

    1. Of course, other than his reaction (understandable, and probably the same if it had been two humans suddenly having sex in front of him, lol) no one objects to the relationship 😀 Because, y’know, HUMANS, we love anything! 😀

      1. Well, if you have a material being with a rational soul, then by Aristotelian or Aquinas definition, that being is a human.

        So if she’s intelligent, it couldn’t be bestiality, from a medieval Christian theological POV. At worst it would be something like the incompatible parts sins; but one could probably argue for rishathra, if one had reasonable approximations of opposite sex couples and they got married first.

        Mind you, there would be some sticky wickets about people not descended from Eve and/or Adam. But then again, there were medieval theologians that assumed that any weird material critter with a rational soul would have to be descended from Adam and Eve somehow, and insert miracle here.

        1. Enable Beavis Mode:

          “Heh heh. Sticky Wicket. She said ‘Sticky Wicket’ Heh-heh-heh”

          Disable Beavis Mode:

          No, I never watched those cartoons but some things permeated the culture like a rotten egg.

        2. ‘Incompatible parts sins’? What is that?

          And thanks for that comment; I look for remarks like this on ‘How would early Christians have /really/ behaved towards sapient nonhumans’, and enjoy finding these answers.

          1. Trying to find a category that includes “Don’t have sex with kids” and “don’t have sex with same sex,” as well as “It’s not a good idea to try to form sexual pair bonds with inanimate objects, an you wouldn’t like it if somebody else was mindcontrolling you into doing it.” Presumably “don’t try to have sex with alien people who don’t actually have the parts to have sex with you, especially if it hurts them” would be in there, as well as “your starship drive is not your sex toy, and if you survive, it makes your engineer really unhappy with the cleanup.”

            I suppose that fetishes and sexual dysfunctions of certain kinds are the dark sides of humans needing to bond, and being able to adapt to bad circumstances, or train oneself/be trained by others into adaptable responses. If you have a healthy family with strong character, you would have a good model for channeling your bonding needs. But if you are lonely and don’t have help at critical times, or decide you need the bond more than anything else, or are trained into it by abuse of various kinds, you look outside normal human sexual bonds.

            I mean, how do we normally resolve cognitive dissonance? We grab onto one of the dissonant things, and decide that it is the warm fuzzy and that the other thing/s is/are wrong and the enemy. I suspect that a lot of kinds of human behavior are explained by trying to grab and bond somehow.

            1. There’s a lot of truth to the emotionally-healthy (or mostly healthy) humans generally don’t form inappropriate bonds.

              Sadly, there is a *reason* that pedophiles generally prey on kids from very poor or very dysfunctional homes. It’s a combination of “easier to get away with it because they aren’t watched as closely” and “easier to get the kid to go along with it and convince them to keep quiet.” 😦

              (You ever want to go blind with rage sometime, read up on Fox Island in Michigan.)

              1. Kids don’t know -whatever their parents do to them must be normal. A friend was telling me about one memorable evening at the dinner table when her newest foster sister, age 3, suddenly piped up with, “My Daddy f-******* me.” She said even the male foster kids, going to what used to be called, “reform school, ” suddenly lost their appetites.
                (She was an only child and her parents took in foster children to give her experience of siblings.)

                1. Oh, man. My dad had something similar happen when we had foster kids–the younger of the two sisters turned up with no clothes on, and he asked her why, and she said “I want you to like me.” He got physically ill, and then my mother had to prevent him from punching the social worker later when she said–upon being told of this incident–essentially that she automatically assumed he was capable of molesting a child just because he was a man.

                  (Which is probably the start of my loathing for social workers in general.)

                  1. Wait, wait, why would a social worker even let someone she saw as a potential child molester have a foster child in the first place? I’m not calling you a liar here. I’m just trying to get the logic of the social worker’s decision.

                    1. Her opinion was “all men are capable of it” and so just…didn’t care? I was only 7 at the time, so don’t know the logic behind that one. However, later experiences with social workers (4 of the 7 kids in my family are adopted) only bore out the opinion of “most social workers are horrible people.”

                      When my parents were looking to adopt three severely abused siblings, the eldest of the three was…well, it’s indescribable. It got so bad one night that my mother called the social worker to come and get him (they were still in the foster stage) because my parents couldn’t deal with him safely AND all the other kids. The social worker told her to “Just lock him in a closet, I’ll come get him in the morning.” When my mother, appalled, said “But that’s CHILD ABUSE!!” the social worker said “I’m tired and I don’t want to drive all the way out there.” Since it had gotten bad enough that night that we had a SHERIFF’S DEPUTY present, he got on the phone and chewed her out until she agreed to come get him.

                      Later, when adopted brother with SEVERE issues (the youngest of that trio mentioned above) had attempted, yet again, to kill himself and/or injure one of the other kids and we’d gotten him institutionalized, my parents then spent the next several years fighting the system tooth and nail because their mandate was “get the kid back in the home no matter what.” No matter that his psychologist told them, repeatedly “Look, this kid is not SAFE in a family setting, he needs to be institutionalized for his own health AND the safety of others.” No matter that he’d attempted to murder the baby (my youngest brother did not sleep alone for the first five years of his life–he slept with my parents). No matter that the poor kid was so suicidal (at the age of SIX!!!) that we had to make a habit of checking under the car before we went anywhere.

                      And even with all of that, when my mother was pleading with the latest social worker that we needed him out of the home in some way because he was such a threat to the other kids the worker looked her in the eye and said “Lady, I don’t CARE about the other kids.” Another one during that time said “Well, you should just go abandon him at the police station then” and when it was pointed out that doing so would result in a FELONY CHARGE, jail time, and having all the *other* kids in the house taken away the only response was a shrug and a “Well, not my problem.”

                      Another time they just had the hospital drug him to the point of drooling vacancy and brought him home and said “See? He’s fixed!” At which point my parents said “Hah, NO that is NOT fixed, and that is NOT healthy for him! That is NOT what his psychologist said to do!”

                      It wasn’t until he cornered and attempted to molest a social worker’s four year old (which she had brought to work for some reason) that they finally stopped trying to force him back into our home and got him out of the group home he’d been in (which his psychologist kept repeatedly pointing out was EVEN WORSE than a regular family setting for him and others) and put him in an institution. We also found out around that time that the social services in the previous state we’d lived in had been TOLD by his doctor to work with us to get him institutionalized, and even given a written statement to that effect they were supposed to give to my parents. They didn’t bother, because we were moving away and they could just ignore it. The letter surfaced when a new boss took over that department, found the letter, and felt really terrible that it hadn’t been sent, so she mailed it with an explanation of what had happened. That also helped us finally get him into an institution…

                      (And don’t get me wrong: it is NOT his fault he was that way. The abuse he endured before the age of four–which is when we got him–was indescribable. But the social services refused to get him any kind of psychological help while he was in foster care, because they’d have to disclose it and that “makes kids like that harder to place” and so he’d had a truly vicious combination of PTSD and reactive attachment disorder that was going untreated–worse, the respective treatment for each condition makes the OTHER condition worse–and placing him in a family with other kids only made things a million times worse. As we later found out. What it really boiled down to was the so-called child protective services couldn’t be bothered to do what was actually best for the CHILD they were supposed to be protecting, because not doing so made their jobs easier.)

                    2. Now there you go, using ‘logic’ and ‘social worker’ in the same sentence. That just won’t do. The two concepts must be kept rigorously separate, or who knows what might happen? There might be an outbreak of rational thought! O the horror!
                      Count Vordarian: “What? You’re a Betan! You can’t do—“

                    3. sarathered: That is the government Comrade Joe Biden and the Leftoids want to take over ALL of our health care, ALL of our schools, ALL of our retirement options…hell, ALL of our lives. It’s like they read ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ and decided it didn’t go FAR ENOUGH!

                    4. Dear Imaginos,
                      Hillary Clinton on 1984. Does not disprove the hypothesis.

                    5. Given the increasing likelihood that the “child protective services” of various stripes seem to be hand-in-hand with child sex trafficking…ugh. While on the one hand I agree “Yes, we need a means to protect kids and get them out of abusive homes, etc” clearly the institutional rot in the social services has gotten too deep–or was there from the get go, sigh.

            2. Well, a category that doesn’t involve rebuilding folks’ philosophy from the ground up, with slight corrections for imprecision and many many much opportunities for those not interested in constructive discussion to make messes and piss folks off. 😉

              Gosh, it’s like humans are complicated or something! *grin*

      2. I saw one of those Humanity Fsck Yeah stories told from the POV of an alien hive queen arguing why it would be a VERY BAD IDEA to go to war against humans and their allies, specifically because humans had the capacity to fall in love and become lifemated to beings outside their species, which grosses the everliving HELL out of the rest of the hive queens, but drives home the understanding that their allies might be kin and would fight as vehemently as such. As they argue, she leaves and you find out that when she was young and ambitious and foolish she set out with her hive ship thing and the ship was destroyed in an attack, and she was rescued and nursed back to health by humans, and became friends with the human medic who showed her a bigger world than what she knew. The story ends with her lifting her eyes from a gold ring that sits on one of her clawed fingers, and retreating into happy memories.

        1. I really enjoy those stories. The biggest saga got unwieldy in all it’s various parts, so I still haven’t got all the way through it, but I do love those themes. 😀

            1. At least they’ve gathered the really, really big saga (that I know of) into one site (don’t have the link, though, lost it in the last hard drive crash and haven’t gone looking for it again yet)

  6. Desmond Morris. [spit] Yeah, that guy. Wadda maroon.

    This is how humans are, and why robots appreciate us:

    “Lounging on the new airplane?” said Kurio, with a sidelong glance over at Athena. “I like the sound of that.”

    “Jimmy, can I lounge with you and Beatrice?” asked Effie cheekily. “Those guys can’t be the only ones.”

    “Yes, you totally can,” said Jimmy absently, still admiring the shiny new machine. “But don’t you want to check out the airplane? She’s gorgeous.”

    “See, this is what I don’t understand about you boys,” said Effie, faintly confused. “It’s just a machine, it has no soul and therefore is much less interesting than a person. It has no life, why are you so fascinated with it?”

    “I don’t know,” said Jimmy honestly. “Maybe it’s just that I’m a little abnormal.”

    “No, it isn’t you,” said Effie frowning in thought. “You, Cook, George, Kim, you’re all the same. You look at that thing and your brainwaves go all funny like you’re in love or something.”

    “It’s true, you go the same way when we talk about Charlotte’s car or Alice’s truck,” said Gudrun.

    “Or my combat chassis,” chimed in Brunhilde. “George was stupid in love with me before I was even a person, or had a human body. He didn’t care I was a machine, he loved me that way.”

    “Ohhhh!” said Effie in sudden understanding. “The boys wish she was a person and not just an airplane! They want to give her life!” She turned and grabbed George around the neck, practically strangling him with the ferocity of her embrace. “George, you’re the best guy ever!”

    “Agh!” gasped George. “Thanks- chhh – air, please…”

    1. LOL.

      A fun Doctor Who episode (but also sad, because Doctor Who) has the TARDIS being placed into what is essentially a human body. (Because nefarious reasons, but even so.) It’s long been established that the Doctor’s ship IS living, and IS intelligent, but…it’s a ship. He can’t communicate directly with her. And suddenly, he can.

      The first thing one of his companions says, when she realizes what’s happened, is “Did you wish REALLLLLY hard??”

        1. Honestly, I think my all-time favorite line aside from “Did you wish REALLY hard?” was the one that was something like “Oh! Biting! It’s like kissing, but there’s a winner!” That just made me laugh really hard. That actress was frankly brilliant, and an absolute riot. And then she made me cry my eyes out, sigh.

      1. I remember seeing part of that one, and being disappointed that (as usual) they went to a dark place with it. So many possibilities to have so much fun, and they goofed it.

        Which is why I never watch Dr. Who. The disappointment. It -can- be good, and sometimes it is good. But so often not.

          1. I liked many of the Matt Smith/Karen Gillan ones. But it’s been TEN YEARS now, and getting worse the whole time [omg so much worse can’t look aiee!]

            1. Honestly, most of the Twelfth Doctor ones are really, really good. There’s a couple that made me go “Srsly?” but as with all things Who, that’s all on the writers. (The Robin Hood one, argh. The banter and snark was hilarious, but the plot was utterly dreadful and made NO sense.) Twelve was good enough he replaced Ten as my favorite Doctor. (And he wasn’t quite as huge a howling hypocrite as Ten was…)

              I really, REALLY want to like Thirteen…but the first season was just so…bland (other than “Rosa” which was fantastic). I’ve got her second season, but haven’t yet worked up a strong desire to watch it, because of the blah. Also I gather the current showrunner is crapping all over Who’s (admittedly a bit shaky) cannon, and that annoys me.

              1. You can mess with continuity all you want. After all, it is a challenge to be overcome, not a limitation. 🙂 But don’t mess with cannon. *bares small but sharp fangs*

                I thought 9 was OK, albeit dark. 10 – OK, but I didn’t like where it started going and didn’t finish the run. I have not seen the others .

                1. Looking back I don’t blame you for not finishing Ten’s run. Tennant is fantastic, but they wrote his Doctor as a freaking HYPOCRITE, and it irked me then and outright pisses me off now.

                  Eleven is fun, although season 6 is a hot mess of plotlines (but also has some of the best standalone Who episodes, including the Doctor’s Wife.)

                  I really loved Twelve. He gets a little dark sometimes, but he’s not the complete hypocrite Ten was. He’s grumpy, and silly, and kind and has wonderful attack eyebrows. Peter Capaldi really did an amazing job. (It helps that, like David Tennant, he has been a MASSIVE Who fan since childhood.) There is a particular two-parter that culminates in him giving a thundering speech about war that is simply brilliant. (Not 100% correct, as it still skips over the fact that sometimes you just HAVE to fight to protect what you love, but still a brilliant speech otherwise.)

                  1. And Capaldi and Michelle Rodriguez as Missy played off each other so well. I also really liked how they brought back the multi-part episodes.
                    I also liked Capaldi’s portrayal of twelves self-reflection and questioning of himself “Am I good man” from one of his early episodes (“Into the Dalek” if I recall correctly)

                2. I absolutely adored 9 and wish he’d stayed for more than a season. “Dalek” had me squeeing all over Eccleston’s acting.

                  1. Eccleston was amazing. I was glad to see that in recent years, he’s made more peace with his time on Who. He’s never given any details, but has said that he had issues with the way the production staff was behaving, and left it at that. (And even more recently, he said that he was still struggling with his own eating disorder at the time, and was NOT in a good place at that time, and he’s doing a lot better these days.)

          2. I loved Ace, and was annoyed that the Beeb was taking a flying dump over the show. One more special and one fewer series I’d have considered a thermonuclear implant in a resurrected K-9, just for the producers.

            1. I was also rather happy with Sylvester McCoy as the 8th Doctor. Might have been a minority opinion, but the BBC was so damned busy patting itself on the back with 25th anniversary shows that they forgot to spend time doing actual new content.

              After that, Dr. Who was dead to me. Haven’t seen any of the newer shows.

              1. Pedantic correction: McCoy was the 7th Doctor. Paul McGann was the Eighth. 😀

                (And Paul McGann got a chance to really shine in the Big Finish Doctor Who Audio plays, most of which are excellent. We also got a LOT more of the 5th, 6th–and he was entirely redeemed, too–and 7th Doctors. They’re even doing 9 now, albeit not with Eccleston, and Tennant has returned as 10 to do some. Even Tom Baker has returned as the 4th Doctor to do a number of them!)

                1. I stand sit corrected. Maybe I could blame it on Colin Baker, my least-favorite Doctor. His tenure lasted twice as long as I could stand… 🙂

                  1. Yeah, Colin Baker’s run is generally thought to be the beginning of the end for the original series–but poor guy, it wasn’t his fault–he fought against the crap stories at the time, and then it came out later that the showrunner was deliberately screwing him over–in multiple ways, because the showrunner was having an affair with Baker’s then-wife. And so the showrunner was mouthing off to fans, executives, everyone else that it was all Colin’s fault, he was “difficult” and so on and so forth, until the big bosses more or less fired him. He was SO THRILLED when they started doing the Big Finish audio productions and asked him to join, because he saw it as a chance to redeem something he really loved (because he *loved* Doctor Who)–and redeem it he did. He got to portray Six as NOT an a-hole, he got some really, really excellent stories, and several awesome companions (the not-quite-elderly history professor was my favorite, she was awesome). Also, they made a point, somewhere in the audios, of figuratively destroying that dreadful coat (it still comes up when it’s funny) and Six also wears a very nice red coat now. (Which hardly matters, in an audio medium, but even so.)

                    1. There were a lot of issues with the 6th Doctor, and quite a few of them could be laid at the feet of the BBC and a lot of the people in charge at the time. That we got any good episodes out of that run of Doctor Who was a miracle (I think that “Trial of a Time Lord”-under competent management and with a long enough run-would have been one of the defining series of the classic Dr. Who).

                      And, the 8th Doctor got shafted-just from the books and audiobooks, Paul McGann would have made for one of the more interesting Doctors around.

                  2. (Er….note I’m not trying to argue you into liking his tenure on TV–I can’t stand most of them, either. It’s just that whole story is quite the interesting bit of Who drama, heh. And the Big Finish stuff really did help me come to like Six a LOT better.)

                    1. Yeah, he got a seriously raw deal back then. But now he cheerfully does silly Doctor Who spoofs from time to time with McCoy and Davison (there was a HILARIOUS one they did around the time of the 50th anniversary special, with McCoy being a troll because he was off filming the Hobbit, and Tennant–who was in the special–playing an evil version of himself and being a jerk to Davison, who is his father in law, while his wife–who is Davison’s daughter, AND who played the Tenth Doctor’s daughter in an episode–was in labor in the hospital with their third or fourth kid, lol.)

      2. When Doctor Who was written well, it sparkled. And, it made such absolute perfect sense that Amy would have asked this Doctor that question and the timing of that question was just perfect.

        1. Matt Smith and Karen McGillan had *excellent* comic chemistry together. (And Matt Smith and Alex Kingston–aka River Song–would almost burn your tv down, heh. She even jokes that he was a bit put out when she got married, even though they weren’t actually romantically involved.)

          1. The great comedy timing made those scripts work so much better than any cold reading should have done. Whatever you can say about Matt Smith’s Doctor, he at least could play the roles well.

            (Mind you, I would love to see a David Tennant/Catherine Tate take on that scene, with Helena Bonham-Carter playing Idris. I thought Tenth was one of the best doctors of the Revival series and that Twelve/Peter Capaldi would have been a lot more fun with tighter writing and anyone but Clara as his Companion. He really needed two foils in that series.)

            1. I adored Ten and Donna, and I still have never forgiven Russel Davies for what he did to Donna. 😡

              I don’t know if you watched past Clara’s tenure (I liked Clara fine, but she wasn’t my favorite companion by a long stretch), to see Bill and Nardol as Twelve’s companions, but he *does* get two of them riding herd on him more than once. (Although Nardol was often, ahem, babysitting a sort-of-third companion that they had to ensure a.) didn’t escape, and b.) didn’t manage to kill anyone even if she *didn’t* manage to escape.) I found I liked Bill quite a lot–she was a really well-done example of how to do a “minority” character (in this case black and lesbian) whose defining characteristics were NOT that she was black or lesbian. While both subjects came up a few times (memorably, with the Doctor actually punching an early 19th century a-hole who said some extremely nasty things to Bill), they were not constantly harped on. Instead, her most important features were her bravery, her compassion, and her hunger to learn. And Bill was really, *really* good for the Doctor, because she became his friend while he was sort-of-exiled to a particular spot/time on Earth. She worked at the university he was teaching at–in the canteen–and attended his lectures on the sly. When he realized what a good brain she had, he started tutoring her and really pushing her to excel. They had a really, really excellent father/daughter dynamic that has been missing from the show for quite a long time (although really he was more often mistaken for her grandfather, which made him very indignant).

              So yeah, I’d also have *loved* to see that scene done with the Doctor, Bill, and Nardol. Dunno who would have been Idris, but the scene would have been *hilarious* (although more likely it would have been Nardol saying extra-snarky things, heh.)

              1. I was really burned out of the Doctor/Clara dynamic and I was not impressed by the quality of the scripts during the first part of Capaldi’s run. He shouldn’t be a yeller most of the time, he was really the sort that could do whisperboarding and make it truly terrifying.

                I tried, I really tried to make 13 work, but it was just bad. Bad casting, bad writing, bad plots, just bad everything.

                  1. It is rather amazing: they’ve got a concept that seems bulletproof, surviving major casting changes and providing a nearly infinite number of story options, refusing to succumb to mediocrity in all production elements — sets, costumes, lighting, FX, even lighting — yet periodically the BBC seems unable to resist a compulsion to destroy the series through gross mismanagement.

                    It’s as if they cannot stand its success. Whether this is reflective of some inherent component of British Character is beyond any reasonable scope of this discussion. Whether the same trait afflicts other segments of society is an interesting question.

                    1. It does seem very odd. The really tragic thing is that if the show fails NOW, the fact that it was a female Doctor will get the blame (when in fact, it was more “crappy, bland scripts and crapping all over established canon just because the writers want to be super-extra-woke” would be the reason).

                      I never objected to the idea of a female Doctor–I mean, all the way back with Romana it was established that, at the very least, the Doctor wouldn’t have had to remain even human-looking (although it’s also implied that the Doctor, unlike many Time Lords, never had good control over his regeneration process–possibly because unlike most of the others, he tended to “lose” his life rather violently). I mean, the Doctor is an alien capable of living for centuries and essentially shapeshifting, so why NOT be able to also swap genders?

                      It’s the going all wokey-mcwoke (worse than previously–it was always there a bit in the new series, alas) that will kill it, but it will be the “Oh, it’s because you had a FEMALE Doctor and it’s ALL the actress’s fault” when that really wasn’t why.

                    2. “Funny” how all of these big plans to push (CHOSEN VICTIM) end up failing, and then being “proof” that (CHOSEN VICTIM) is not getting a fair shake?

                    3. Very, in a not-funny-at-all sort of way.

                      And thing is, there was one truly wonderful episode in 13’s first season that PROVES, to my mind, that it’s the writers screwing crap up. “Rosa” was fantastic–I mean, they even managed to resist the urge to go over the top in portraying the racism of the 1960s American South. It was there, it was part of the plot (as the episode centers on Rosa Parks and the Doctor & crew trying to thwart a renegade time traveler from preventing Rosa Parks BEING Rosa Parks). They had to address it on the a character level, as two of the Doctor’s companions are a young black man and his very white step-granddad (making for some very sweet moments in the episode, since to that point both had been struggling with their kinship, the young man especially). It was overall a really, really well done episode, and since almost all the rest of the season was just bland, careful mush, it shone all the more for tackling tough issues with both humor and warmth, while not shying away from what it was like then (and probably toning it down).

                      I do want to rewatch that season–it wasn’t *bad*, not truly. It was just so, SO cautious as to approach bad very closely, and it had fewer of the standalone brilliant episodes that previous bad seasons had (eyes season 6 of the new series, which was mostly a dumpster fire, but also had some of the best episodes in the series) And I need to watch the latest season before I pass judgement–at the moment, I’m operating on the usual camps’ opinions: those who loved it, and thought it was perfect (because woke), and those who are convinced it was ruined beyond hope (because woke). Usually the truth is in the middle somewhere, albeit sometimes leaning more towards one side than the other, heh.

                    4. One of the sad aspects of virtue signalling is that it can make independent evaluation of a project’s effectiveness, its art nearly impossible. Because when the Art is subject to the messaging mission it can no longer be judged as art but only as a tool in delivering its message … yet when the message is so heavy-handed it becomes load no art can bear.

                    5. Yes – making the Doctor female is a symptom of the factors causing failure, it is not the cause of the failure.

                      This is highly self-destructive behaviour, wasting a highly valued asset and in a privately owned corporation would be cause for shareholder suit and changes in the governing borg.

                    6. You can’t separate the female Doctor from the woke aspects.

                      Me, what I would have done is have a woman walking through a landscape that, if you look carefully, shows scars of war, and then have the TARDIS appear. She looks at it. She walked up. She opens the door. She says, “Grandfather?”

                      Another woman walks out, perhaps followed by a leonine looking man. She explains that she is Romana, and the TARDIS picked her up as mysteriously.

                      The man, if there, explains that Romana did help free all the Tharils, and now they are working to replace the Time Lords to protect the time continuum. However, they have not gotten to the point where they can figure it out.

                      Figure out what the TARDIS wants, and what to do. Perhaps meet up with the Doctor and dispute with him because what they did was not what they would have done.

  7. Several years ago when my wife and I were looking for a church we could both attend without major complications we stopped by Fargo 1st Baptist (she’s a Baptist, I’m a Catholic). The sermon did not help me enhance my calm around blithering idiots. Part of it was how ‘man is the only creature to make war,’ to which I very nearly stood up and yelled at the imbecile. Good grief, back in one of my anthro courses we spent a couple of weeks on how chimps commit genocide, gorillas adopt pets and show empathy, several apes and monkeys have been seen teaching their offspring to season food and make simple tools, and how male dolphins love to masturbate against female divers. There’s very little to humans that’s truly unique.

    Humans that take on pets tend to look after themselves better than if completely alone. It apparently gives them a purpose to keep trying to survive.

    1. Back in the ‘80’s, I stumbled on a book published in the ‘70’s about myths about animals, and number one was ‘Man is the only animal who commits murder’. The author had stats that showed that Lions on the Serengeti Plain had a murder rate nineteen times that of humans living in New York City (which was going through a bad patch at the time).

      This feeds into my contempt for the EcoFascist buzzword ‘natural’. Arsenic is natural. Botulism is natural. For social apes, it is natural to be sitting on a tree branch, picking parasites off of a relative and eating them, while plotting to murder the Alpha Male and all his minor children, and rape his wives.

      Natural. You can keep it.

        1. “The only moral reason to kill a man is to eat him.” — Paaluan chief, in ‘The Fallible Fiend’

          1. Big cats and social primates frequently kill for mating rights. And kill all the minor offspring so the females will come into season.

      1. Heh. I always have a chuckle at the “All Natural!” labels on products. My internal response is usually “As opposed to…summoned from a dark other reality??” I mean, even ‘synthetic’ stuff is STILL made out of “natural” materials…

        1. My Father’s riff was that there were only a handful of ‘artificial’ ingredients, and they are largely on fines to physics laboratories at institutions like Harvard and MIT.

          1. Yup. Loathe that.

            And since my Lady has a raft of dietary issues, I get to see it all the time. I will say that ‘health food’ has gotten miles better in the last few decades. It used to be the dietary equivalent of a hair shirt. Now there are whole lines of ‘gluten free’ and ‘dairy free’ (my Lady needs both) that are quite edible.

            When we had to go ‘gluten free’, a lot of the ‘pasta’ was instructed you to cook it until it was so limp you could have drunk it through a straw. Now all I have to do is be on the lookout for ‘oats’ in the ingredients, since my Lady is sensitive to those, too.

            Though, for some damn reason, most gluten free cakes and cookies use at least TWICE as much sweetener as necessary or desirable.

            1. My first exposure to GF bread from Trader Joes was in 2014, and the bread was almost unusable for sandwiches. Haven’t bought bread from them lately, but the TJ’s bagels are quite good. A regional bakery (Franz, in Oregon) has a good line of gluten free products, and GF bagels are back in the store.

              $SPOUSE has celiac disease, but can eat oats as long as they are gluten-free. I’m not that sensitive, but we keep separate stashes. Our preference for GF oats is Trader Joes, and I’ll get some as necessary when I go over the Cascades, but Bob’s Red Mill also sells them, though they’re hard to find and generally expensive.

              We did a little direct order from Bob’s several years ago, until GF became trendy, when the restaurant supply started carrying the 25 pound and up bags. Still no GF oats, but we can get our other flours and exotic starches there.

              Yeah, premade GF treats are way too sweet. Doc took me off Metformin (yay!), but I have to avoid such except as rare items.

            1. We’re all contaminated, and the withdrawal’s killed everybody who tried to get off it.

          1. I love the “Gluten Free!” labels I’ve seen on, oh, salt or sugar…

            Also “organic” on salt containers. Um, no, actually, salt is in fact NOT organic, it’s not carbon based…

            1. ALSO on hairbrushes. Older son almost got us chased out of a whole foods by doing a comedy riff on glutten free hairbrushes and then demanding the blood coffee, non cruelty free.
              He was in a strange mood that day.

              1. I keep telling the (very patient) people at my local Health Food place that if they REALLY want to impress me, they need to show me an inorganic banana.

                  1. Only if it’s ceramic fruit. If they’re made out of plastic, they’re still organic!

                    1. Silicone plastic isn’t organic. But since they’d likely be cheap petrochemical plastic, I’ll give you your point anyway. [grin]

            2. I’m going to be a little pedantic about the ‘gluten free’ labeling thing – when you see it on a product that has no reason to contain gluten it’s an assertion that it was produced in a manner that it has been determined to be free of contaminants. Those contaminants are an issue as we’ve had experience with products that shouldn’t have had gluten in them, but were obviously contaminated based on what happened the next day.

              So yeah, I love those labels too, because that way I know I won’t be poisoning my significant other.

              1. Okay, fair enough. Although…it does seem like it would be common sense to know that a bag of salt and a bag of flour (or baked goods made from flour) aren’t going to be produced in the same facility.

                But otherwise, yeah, okay, it’s on the same level as the warning labels that say “This was made in a facility that also makes products made with nuts/tree nuts/etc) I can get behind that.

                (But I am still gonna die laughing at the whole “Organic Salt!” nonsense. :D)

                1. “Carbon-free Sugar”

                  I have seen it. They MEAN they squandered funds on phoney-baloney ‘carbon offset credits’.

                  Carbon-free sugar is WATER.

                  1. Concentrated sulfuric acid can remove the carbon from sugar, as demonstrated by my high-school chemistry teacher.

                    Couldn’t do that today, I’m sure.

                  1. *Nod* I have problems with both milk proteins and lactose. Hard cheeses like cheddar, no problem. Ricotta, or lactose-free milk? Aiyeee. Even frozen yogurt may not be cultured enough. Is frustrating!

                1. Ah, I hadn’t considered that one either. I wonder if it’s like how they keep putting freaking SUGAR into things where sugar has no business being? Grrr.

                2. I had to give up on the delicious sauces at the taqueria. Each cook does them slightly differently, and one of them will use a little bit of flour as a thickener. So, any sauce has to come from a bottle to be safe. Cholula for the win burn!

              2. Going to guess you’ve learned not to trust the ones that are slapped on at the store, though….

                *shudder* DEFINITELY not “certified not to be contaminated” there.

              3. I personally suspect that the issues with gluten is mostly due to the fact that most bread-makers use a really high-gluten flour because people expect it for that “bread-like” texture. And, gluten-based fillers are used in quite a few things that you wouldn’t suspect. We get so much of it, some people’s bodies get sensitized to it, and then we have gluten allergies.

                  1. Not disagreeing with you. I think people are “catching” things because they’re being exposed to things they never would have 20-30 years ago.

                    1. Ah. Possible.
                      I don’t think I have any weird reactions, and that’s the funny thing about genes. Sometimes they don’t bring about the condition. They’re not full on. They’re thwarted. Whatever.
                      OTOH no one has ever been sure what sets off my autoimmune. Mom thought it was dairy and believed it with such fervor that when I had dairy behind her back, I stressed. well, stress DOES start the auto-immune going. So, hypothesis confirmed.
                      Then I came to the US and had milk every day. No problems. Went back, told her she was wrong, had milk, cheese and yogurt (Still a great part of my diet, as she forbid them to me till 18, so…) No problems.
                      The problems didn’t seem to be connected to anything I could pinpoint.
                      Then around 40 — probably because of stress, and also because the house we lived in caused me low-level allergy at all times, autoimmune got so bad, I started tracking it.
                      SEEMS to be carbs. As in, I can get it from overly sweet fruit, for instance (thereby barring me from bananas. Sigh.) Also sugar. But even bread or popcorn will do it. Or rice. Or — sighs — potatoes. However, I can pig out on corn chips with no bad effects except weight gain. Go figure.

                    2. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. The lady that I know that has bad gluten allergies also had a long history of abuse (parental by the father, physical and sexual). And, we still don’t quite understand the connection between the brain and the body just yet.

                      (One of the theories of my biofeedback coach about Wuhan Flu is that it’s primarily an inflammation disease that is setting everything else off. He’s got a lot of secondary sourcing for it.)

                    3. Yeah, I saw the WuFlu inflammation thing. The exciting bit was the study that seems to show melatonin helping calm cytokine storms in the body, which would have _all kinds_ of helpful implications.

                      And again, a lot of young people don’t get enough sleep and don’t eat well, so they wouldn’t have a lot of melatonin.

                1. High Gluten (hard) flour also absorbs more water so you need less wheat per loaf and water is much cheaper than wheat.

                  Soft wheat tastes better, but hard wheat gives a better crumb. the French baguette is all about making the best of a very soft flour.

                2. I read an article on such several years ago, and it postulated that the then-sudden increase in gluten intolerance corresponded to the use of high-gluten flours for the artisanal breads. Blame the fancy bakerys, I say!

                  My issues came out of eating far too much wheat-bearing products over the years. I managed to increase my sensitivity, partly because it took a hell of a long time to figure out what was causing the problems. (In my case, my reactions usually occur 24-30 hours after ingestion. What fun.)

                  1. In my case, my reactions usually occur 24-30 hours after ingestion. What fun.

                    How many times and places would’ve had people not having enough issues that this would get lost in the noise?

                    And if it shortens your life, too– again, how could you tell?

                    1. It me about 15 years to figure it out. Diet had been steady with no problems, until Mom sent diabetic Christmas treats one year. My wife skipped (Mom might not have been aware of her issues, or it was one of *those* years) and I had the treats. Explosive results, really good clue-by-four.

                      Over the years, timing remains the same, as sensitivity has gotten worse. Small doses give me the heartburn from hell, and that’s been the limit for 10-12 years now. Not sure how many violent reactions I had before that. More than I care to remember, including one hospital stay the first time it happened. (Undiagnosed, with a SWAG of “food poisoning”. Close enough.)

              4. Contamination is why I stopped going to a Chinese/Asian buffet. My last time, I discovered half a noodle in my hot & sour soup. Ate there dozens of time with no issues, but the aftermath of the wheat noodle turned it to nope.

                It’s still closed for Wuhan Virus, and my guess is that it won’t reopen. It had been giving off “we’re close to going under” vibes for quite a while, and a change in management didn’t come with the fixes to the myriad minor problems the place had. Pity, they had good sushi, and until the last time, I enjoyed the hot & sour soup.

            3. At the height of the last Atkins craze, I saw and endcap display of honey jars. “A Sugar Free Food!”

                    1. There’s also some kind of vegan thing about vegan sugar, because allegedly some sugars are filtered using bone char. I’m kinda dubious about this, because one would think this would cause kosher and vegetarian issues, and we would have heard about it a long time ago.

                    2. A common trick is to offer certification that it doesn’t use X or Y things.

                      Basically, “pay us and we’ll check, then you can put a sticker on to say that we say you’re definitely not doing whatever.”

                      A lot of “organic” stuff actually does more chemical spraying, etc, but they follow the rules and pay to have it checked.

                      This costs a lot, which tends to spur pushes to require their competition to label their stuff as NOT whatever-they-are-paying-to-certify.

                    3. cspschofield I suspect it’s more a food processing thing. You can ship cane syrup around in tanker cars/trucks. Actual sugar tends to end up in 50lb bags. The Cane syrup you just pipe in to whatever your making with valves and pumps things chemical engineers understand well, Granulated sugar takes more work (AND you have to add water)

                    4. Some people seem to be unable to understand that C6H1206 is the same thing no matter what the source.

                    5. So is C2-H5-OH but we have a seemingly endless variety of ways to ingest the stuff… 😀

              1. A FAT free food, perhaps.

                Then, ponder a ‘snack’ of only 15 calories. No ADDED sweetener. No artificial colors. No artificial ingredients. No added preservatives. No cholesterol. No fat. Sounds good? It’s a sugar cube. Oops.

                    1. High exertion levels (not hard to do out here in the boondocks) do it too. I was told that It’s A Bad Idea for non-diabetics to use glucose tabs, but with my Type II, it can be important to have in the toolset.

                    2. Reactive Hypoglycemia. I’ve had it recommended to keep glucose tabs on hand by others with same condition who swear by it. I can’t. May need a hit of sugar when I drop too low, but experience tells me that my system it just triggers a high/low feedback loop that is dang hard to stop. Essentially went too low. Add sugar, only my system says “Sugar! Herrrreees your insulin!!!” Crash. And Repeat.

                    3. I’ve found that protein works MUCH better for me to bring my sugar levels up during a crash (hypoglycemia) than sugar does. Sugar works, but I feel like crap immediately after (aside from just “food coma” that happens no matter what), and I’m more likely to crash again soon after. A big glass of chocolate milk seems to be the right balance of protein/sugar for a basic crash.

                    4. protein works MUCH better for me to bring my sugar levels up during a crash (hypoglycemia) than sugar does. Sugar works, but I feel like crap immediately after (aside from just “food coma” that happens no matter what), and I’m more likely to crash again soon after.

                      Yes. Sugar = Crap. Stupid food comma no matter what. Protein works best on a low, eventually.

                    5. Most of the time, I’ll use something that $SPOUSE has made. Usually with sucralose or no-sugar-added applesauce, but there are times when I need the glucose hit. Before I was diabetic, I would get hypoglycemic after eating sugars, but now I’m more wary of what I eat. “Slow” carbs work better, usually.

            4. In my last hospital stay, the food service was handing out packets of “low Sodium” sugar, and “sugar free” salt and pepper. I wasn’t sure whether this information was for the benefit of the patients or the staff…

        2. My internal response is that feces is organic, all natural and artisanally produced in small batches.

          Doesn’t mean I want to eat it.

      2. Of you look at it sideways, it’s close to accurate. We’re the only species that knows what unlawful acts are, like murder and rape, and acts on that knowledge.

        1. That really needs to be said more often.

          I have run into so much stuff angsting about human’s place in nature that could be cleared up by simply recognizing that we see good, and evil, and act on that.

          1. and yet chimps have been observed hiding erections when around alphas, and several of my dogs have gotten really, really sheepish after doing something they know they aren’t supposed to. Actually, one dog, the one that was killed first that my grandpa told me about, used to come get us to tattle on the other dogs if they went someplace or did something they weren’t supposed to.

            1. Think of it like the difference between a guilt culture, and a shame culture.

              I don’t have a political bumper sticker because I see it as inherently wrong, I don’t do it because the probable cost in annoyance alone (nevermind risk of vandalism) outweighs the advantage.

            2. I’VE SEEN THIS.

              With cats.

              One of the cats we lost this year would sometimes jump another cat that had been caught doing something wrong. Of course he would do that too, but he never jumped himself.

              This was the same cat that when he was younger and having box difficulties would greet us at the door and lead us to the box and show us where he went so he could get his treat.

              1. cats we lost this year would sometimes jump another cat that had been caught doing something wrong.

                First cat we hand raised was that way. OTOH she wasn’t a cat or dog or person. She was a princess and don’t you forget it!!!! Or cat of all cats but don’t tell her that. Lost her 25 years ago now. Second cat we hand raised was all cat, he knew it.

      3. My brother in law was complaining that in one of his classes another student would loudly chomp on almonds during class, and if anyone complained would retort something about them being all natural. I told him to bring in a handful and state he found them growing in the wild so he should like them. Unfortunately BiL didn’t quite get it.

    2. Animals generally spend most of the time eating and fighting. Birds particularly fight each other incessantly. Just watch the robins for half an hour, they’re merciless. To each other, and to any other bird species that happens by. They stop eating to go and fight.

      You want to see something scary, watch cows for a while. Everything will be peaceful, and then one of them will start it with another one…

      Humans fight the -least- of any mammal species. Making Desmond Morris the poopyhead that he is.

      1. There’s the well-known instances of what happens when one chicken is different from the others.

        It doesn’t end well for the different chicken.

        1. Very, very tangentially, I recently found myself contemplating whether The Little Red Hen and Chicken Little know each other. I suspect they exasperate one another.

          1. Of course! The Little Red Hen was a conservative, and Chicken Little was a left-winger.

              1. *sadly* I do not like the cobra chicken.

                Kinda want to try eating one sometime though.

                    1. Goose was Christmas meat of my childhood. I always found it bit gamey but always luscious. Grandmother loved to eat it but hated to cook it. It is VERY greasy/messy and my fastidious maternal grandmother then needed to clean the oven. I never heard her use obscenity or profanity but cleaning the stove after the goose was probably the closest she ever came to not taking the Lords name in vain :-).

                    1. I’ve always wanted to get my Christmas Carol on and have one for, well, Christmas. (The big one, at the corner butchers.)

      2. The robins down here . . . well, for a few years, they’d work together and form a stalking line at the park near RedQuarters. They’d start on one side of the park and march across it. Others would be waiting ahead of the line, catching what the line flushed. The robins in the line also ate what flushed from the grass. I think they learned it from the grackles, maybe? It was pretty interesting, and a little Odd.

        I have not seen that behavior this year, but I’ve also not seen as many birds at the park. There are also lots, heaps, loads more bird feeders in the area this year. I’m sure the lack of birds is pure coincidence . . . 😉

            1. In our first apartment together we had to call animal control because of a drunk raccoon in the stairwell. I don’t know if all raccoons get drunk this way, but this particular one was of the “last’s you and me fight’ type.

          1. My father was a boy during Prohibition. They had a neighbor farmer who brewed and sold hooch, they used to help him convey the stuff to a local hotel-slash-speakeasy (they got to know all the local politicos and police). Nice source of income for them when they needed it.

            Anyway he told me that the farmer got rid of the alcohol-soaked mash from the still by dumping it out for the animals to eat. He had chickens, pigs, some sheep and goats, a few cows, and a horse, and they spent most of the Prohibition years constantly drunk. Indeed when the farmer had ti cut back on production to avoid the attention of Prohibition agents, he was forced to start back up because the animals kicked up a fuss over losing their supply.

            1. The Irish National Stud, and a lot of other horse folks in Ireland, routinely gave their horses a pint of Guinness every day. Granted, a pint of Guinness won’t get a one ton animal anywhere near drunk, but horses do like liquid grain.

          2. Ripe juniper berries have led to some interesting drunk-bird encounters. Had one passed out on our front porch. When I picked it up, it woke and flew off, unsteadily. The police might have prosecuted it for FUII. 🙂

      3. Oh, birds can be savage.

        You know those “bluebird houses” that you can buy in lots of stores or make yourself? Just the right size for bluebirds to nest in. Well, they’re also just the right size for house sparrows (ugh) to nest in. Did you know that house sparrows will attack bluebird nests and destroy the eggs and nestlings, just because bluebirds compete with house sparrows for resources?

        Hummingbirds will take over a feeder and guard it jealously against other hummers. Cuckoo nestlings will push the host bird’s own eggs and nestlings out of the nest to die, so that the baby cuckoo gets all the adult’s attention and feeding. In raptor and egret nests, if there are more babies than the adult(s) can feed, the stronger ones will gang up on the weakest and kill it. And so on, and on, and on…

        Perhaps the most shocking example of “animal crime” I ever heard of was in wild mustangs in the American West. I don’t know if it’s true, but this source claimed that when a new mustang stallion takes over a band, he will force intercourse with pregnant mares in order to trigger a miscarriage — so that he can then impregnate the mares himself, and have them carrying and raising his kids instead of ones by the previous stallion.

        1. Do not know if true, but it would not surprise me. I have heard that for all that humans do to horses, horses are still better treated by human than by horses.

          1. Boy does that information give me some horrible ideas about what ‘My Little Pony’ would look like if done for older audiences. Or at least if it was less sapheaded ‘oh but even evil people just need to be shown love and kindness’ (well, most of them).

            1. Not all wild stallions play that game, but it can happen. Generally a stallion doesn’t “take over a herd.” He tries to attract a few young low status mares that are just coming in season, and then runs away with them. If they are happy enough with him to stick around, he might try it again somewhere else. And he gets away with it, other young stallions might also get away with it. If he doesn’t get away with it, he might try again somewhere else, or he might keep coming back because he’s sure the herd stallion is weaker than him.

              Full scale battle for the band doesn’t happen very often, unless the herd stallion weakens very suddenly and the young stallion is very confident of winning.

              MLP is a world of monogamous ponies and single-horse herds. Although if there are bachelor bands roaming the world gaining strength to attract mares, that would explain where most of the single adult male ponies are.

              1. “MLP is a world of monogamous ponies and single-horse herds. Although if there are bachelor bands roaming the world gaining strength to attract mares, that would explain where most of the single adult male ponies are.”

                That latter theory has been kicked around in fan works by quite a few people. Some have also suggested that stallions can have herds of mares, but usually avoid it. After all, when you consider what the mane six characters are like, the prospect of being married to all six of them would reduce any poor stallion to lunacy in short time.

                I am also getting an odd story idea where a human male is forced into a fight with the member of a race that has the same sort of family situation as the mustangs mentioned above, or maybe like big cats — I’ve read that among them if a new male ousts or kills the old ‘husband’, he swiftly kills any kittens sired by him to force the females to go into heat so he can impregnate them. Anyway, the human kills the guy in self-defense and is then approached by the widows, who tell him that he’s their new husband before asking, “Are you going to kill our children now?” Upon refusing they then have to deal with the fallout as the rest of their species react to this.

                Sorry for rambling there.

                1. I have read that a RL stallion let into a field of mares is *initially* in Heaven… and a week later has eyes that plead, “Save ME!”

                2. >> “After all, when you consider what the mane six characters are like, the prospect of being married to all six of them would reduce any poor stallion to lunacy in short time.”

                  Never watched MLP myself, but from what I saw in Death Battle being married to Pinkie Pie alone would reduce any poor stallion to lunacy in short time

            2. MLP is obviously as related to wild horses as we are to gorilla. Starting with the obvious fact that they, also, have the diminutive jaw that shows they are accustomed to eating cooked food.

      4. The sounds of animals in the forest is beautiful…

        Up until you realize that it is all various variations on “FUCK ME!” “NO, FUCK ME!” “I’M GONNA EAT YOU AND FUCK HER!” “NO, I’M GOING TO EAT HER AND FUCK HIM!” that it gets discouraging.

        Or at least needing a good disco beat.

    3. I watched a nature documentary that was aptly styled as a murder mystery, with rangers trying to find out who had been apparently thrill-killing these porpoises whose horribly bludgeoned corpses kept washing up on the Irish (?) coast. They eventually discovered that the responsible party was a group of adolescent male dolphins. Worse, that the porpoises were similar in size and proportion to baby dolphins of the adolescents’ species.

        1. I don’t, but now my curiosity is piqued and I’m looking. It was mid-2000s and I think a PBS-type thing, but that’s all I remember at the moment.

          I will give David Brin props for not shying away from “dolphins can be assholes”. The book I’m working on right now has several dolphins as secondary characters, and it’s…challenging. I love the intelligence, but it’s hard to properly convey the less pleasant aspects, especially since I try and stay within YA bounds. (The orca character is far more fun, being basically a cross between a ferret and a Klingon.)

          1. Documentaries where Gray Whales & Orcas interact show calves & adolescent grays being drowned by Orca pods.

            It is now known that Great Whites are afraid of Orcas.

            Orcas are Dolphins …

  8. We KNOW there were mixed couples. Most Europeans have 2% – 3% Neanderthal DNA. Most Asians have a few percent Denisovan DNA. It wasn’t only war, 200,000 years ago.

    1. Overlay a map of percentage of Neanderthal DNA with a map of the origins of the Industrial Revolution.

      I wouldn’t be all that surprised if Neanderthal starships showed up in orbit, demanding to know WTF happened while they were away…

      1. It’s not quite that. One of the disturbing things we’re finding is that ANYONE really creative has a high percentage of Neanderthal. I have a friend who is a researcher and who is really REALLY disturbed by this. Even scientists who push boundaries are high-Neanderthal.
        It btw also seems to come with weight problems, which explains a lot….

        1. Even scientists who push boundaries are high-Neanderthal.

          Uh-huh, including the ones pushing the “How much Neanderthal?” research?

          It’s all a plot by Big Neanderthal.

        2. My eldest has Neanderthal, as does my husband, but I apparently don’t. I would think that it has a high correlation with Odd, though.

        3. Flip side, there are populations of 100% Homo Sapiens Sapiens, with no detectable Neanderthal DNA. And they’re all… not notably successful, other than still being alive in the world reshaped by the hybrids.

          “Are we men?
          No, we are Devo.
          Are we men?
          We are Devo!
          We are Neanderthal!”

              1. [checks map of history slave ports in Africa] Likely so; it looks like the majority of people would have been from northwest and central-west Africa. Neanderthal DNA is most common in north Africa, and practically nonexistent in sub-Saharan Africa other than obvious colonial admixtures.

                Last time I looked the thinking was that early hominids originated in central Africa, migrated to the Continent, and the Neanderthal mutation happened somewhere near the middle of Europe. The Neanderthals ventured mostly east, and some migrated back to north Africa before they went extinct.

                DNA-based archeology has been rocketing along the last few years, so current thinking might be different.

                The big problem with DNA is that we don’t know what most of it does. Some of it is *very* important, some the geneticists characterize as “junk DNA.” Famously, a human and a chimp have a 97% DNA correlation, so obviously that 3% makes a big difference. But a human and a cat are 90% similar…

                1. Newer theory is that Very Early Humans migrated out of Africa between 500,000 and 300,000 years ago. Some wandered west into Europe and became Neanderthals, some wandered east into China and Mongolia and became Denisovans. Both still the same species, with small differentiations from adapting to different environments.

                  Less Early Humans migrated out of Africa between 200,000 and 150,000 years ago, encountered and interacted with their earlier relatives in both areas. All were variants of the same species, as demonstrated by successful interbreeding.

                  They have found that a human and an earthworm are about 90% similar in DNA.

                  Life on this planet spent 3 billion years evolving as single cells, so most our DNA is about making cells work. It was only about 500 million years ago that cells started joining together, specializing and forming larger organisms.

                2. The big problem with DNA is that we don’t know what most of it does. Some of it is *very* important, some the geneticists characterize as “junk DNA.” Famously, a human and a chimp have a 97% DNA correlation, so obviously that 3% makes a big difference. But a human and a cat are 90% similar…

                  Turns out that was one of those morphed factoids; actual was more like “97% of the genes we recognize in both of these are the same.” And they’re not in order, either.

                3. 97% of our CODING genes are the same. The junk diverges a lot more. And appears to be more significant than thought.

        4. >> “One of the disturbing things we’re finding is that ANYONE really creative has a high percentage of Neanderthal.”

          Is there a good list of traits associated with Neanderthal DNA vs. the alternatives according to modern research? A quick search leads to suggestions that Neanderthals were dumb brutes. That matches the stereotype I remember from when I was younger but it doesn’t seem to fit with what I’m hearing lately.

          1. no. they keep finding new ones. I just know creativity is one of those.
            All those sites with sculpture and stuff we thought were homo-sap? Turns out not so much.

            1. Okay, but I feel like I’m missing something here. What’s so disturbing about high creativity being a Neanderthal genetic trait? Is it the idea of creativity being a nature-instead-of-nurture thing?

              1. *looks back about one century*

                You really need to ask?

                There’s a long history of trying to boil human traits down to genetics/ancestry/race/whatever.

                The best examples were mostly harmless…..

                It’s really hard to define traits, much less measure them. But we can say “this genetic chunk means XYZ,” and if there can be any association made, humans will tend to want to cling to it because it’s something MEASURABLE. Even if it’s wrong, if it’s less wrong than absolute random– or if we can hit it until it conforms to less wrong than completely random– we’ll tend to do so.

                This is a very, very bad idea.

                For example, see “creative people are liberal!”

                  1. It’s not so much the raw “highly associated with,” it’s when they make the jump to “associated thus caused by.”

                    Kind of like when folks look at arrest rates in cities and get pissed that those who identify as black are arrested out of proportion to their part of the population…but if you look at stuff like “broken family,” it lines up extremely well across race lines, and “socio-economic group” slightly less well but more accurately than race, and stuff like “broken family with high rate of crime in household members” is incredibly accurate for predicting likelihood of being arrested.


                    FWIW, I think the correlation has more to do with culture. Super simplified to follow. The populations most likely to be pushed to the edge of the map are those under stress; populations under stress are more likely to have survivors that can deal with that stress; thus, remains of those populations that were under stress are more likely to be found in cultures that were recovering from stress.


                    I’d be extremely interested in finding out if anybody has looked at the DNA of ancient Hebrews vs what-we-call-normal-human populations, and there’s so much possible story FUN in, oh, maybe these other groups were something biblical, etc.
                    Sure, it’d be bible fanfic, but why not?

        5. Why is it disturbing? Neanderthals seem to have been rubbish at talking, but they put ocher and flowers on the dead, and buried them, and so on. They made tools and weapons. So obviously they were human.

          And they’re a good chunk of the redheads, so….

          1. This will sound awful, but the comment about the Neanderthals being responsible for the redheads (or the redhead gene, or what have you) reminds me of DeCamp’s story ‘The Gnarly Man’. In it an immortal Neanderthal claims hes probably the ancestor of most of the Irish. When asked what proof he has, he just says, “Look at me. Then go look at a crowd of Irishmen sometime.”

            1. Well, Clarence says he’s probably the ancestor of one subgroup of the Irish.

              1. Ah! Thanks for the correction. I think it’s been literally a decade since I read that story.

              2. Yeah, I haven’t seen my copy of ‘The Wheels Of If’ in about 30 years. It’s probably in a box in the attic.

            2. Yeah, that’s been said many times. Mostly by my physical anthropology teacher who was Irish in heritage. “Look at my pumpkin head! Look at my brow ridge! I am a robust Neanderthal walking the earth!” (And so on….)

          2. > Neanderthals seem to have been rubbish at talking

            …according to the same experts who claimed they were ape-men who walked hunched over. That went by the wayside a while back, and now their physique would fall within normal range for modern humans. Unless they’ve changed it again.

            One of the problems with archeology (and that’s not the only field!) is that someone will make a proclamation that something was so, based on no evidence whatsoever, and then it’ll get picked up and become part of What We Know. And when people start asking, “wait, where did that come from?” they get dogpiled as people who learned it by rote circle the wagons and go defensive.

            1. Everybody was rubbish at talking until the FOXP2 gene mutated around 125,000 years ago. People with two defective copies of FOXP2 tend to have severe impairment of language and fine motor skills.
              Count Piotr: “Woman! Where have you been?”
              Cordelia: “Shopping. Want to see what I bought?”

  9. God is Love, and we were made to be in His image, which of course our chimp chassis rebels against.

    I like the imagery C.S. Lewis used in his books, to try to describe some of how that might work.


  10. I’m reminded of a scene in David Brin’s ‘Earth’ (which is an odd book). One of the characters has been assigned as the care-taker for a group of primates (baboons, iirc). He starts getting entreated by a female in the group, and comes to realize that the other baboons are about to murder this female and her infant.

    He ends up intervening, holding off the group long enough for help to arrive, and he and the female baboon essentially end up adopting each other.

    1. I like Brin, but a lot of his stuff is very odd indeed…(I only ever made it all the way through one of his books–the Postman, and at the end it was all “WTF WAS THAT”. One of the few instances where I ended up liking the movie better, heh. It didn’t get so exceedingly bizarre at the end…)

      1. I loved Brin’s earlier work, but haven’t been able to get into the later ones…he lost me somewhere around “Glory Season”, though not for political reasons. Most of his really good doorstoppers consist of one hard science idea, one soft science idea, and one howlingly awful pun. 🙂

        1. “Sundiver” was by far his best. “Kil’n People” wasn’t bad. “The Practice Effect” was okay. The rest are mostly “I paid for this therefore I will finish it, though slamming my naughty bits in the desk drawer would be more fun.”

          1. Sundiver was one of the more original ones. I hit “Startide Rising” at the peak of my marine-biology mania in high school, and I liked “Earth” on the whole. It’s fun to watch a big huge enormous imagination at play, until the possessor of said imagination decides that means their opinions should be given more weight than those of the next schlub over. (Steven King, I’m looking at YOU.)

      2. I have a theory of writer fascinations. These aren’t themes, per se, but you’ll see a writer return to them again and again. H. Beam Piper, for instance, was fascinated by the legal process—the need for laws to be written a certain way, the legalities of space travel, and so on.

        Brin’s fascination seems to be with the Human Singularity, attaining a new level of consciousness through various means. It shows up in one form or another in most of his books. (The Uplift Saga is the same idea from the other side, humans uplifting animal intelligence.)

        1. I think for me the big issue was more that Postman was the FIRST Brin book I read…and it went from a pretty good post-apoc novel to suddenly “WTF Scifi weirdness”, and I didn’t like it. And the others were weird enough that I couldn’t get over that initial whiplash, heh.

          1. IIRC “The Postman” had its genesis as two separate novellas for one of the better sci-fi magazines. You can see the duct tape in places. 🙂

          2. I liked Postman right up until the “hippie augments”. That pretty much came out of nowhere, iirc, and was a “what the heck?” moment.

            ‘Glory Season’ was an adventure story of sorts, set on a matriarchal world where humanity had been bio-engineered into a situation in which women were dominant. And yet there were women who *STILL* weren’t happy with the amount of power that men had. I doubt he’d be able to get it published these days.

            1. Stagnant society of meat-bots, each type so defined by nature and nurture that they were completely predictable. Uuugly. Just going round and round on their hamster wheel until their sun goes out, I guess.

              The Sweet Meteor of Doom would have been a blessing.

              1. Wasn’t the male population originally supposed to guard against stagnation? But Glory Season could never be published today on account of how the 99% female world is neither a utopia nor presented as such.

                1. Yup. The males were the random variable. Which is why pregnancies when the men were in heat were genetically a mix of both parents, while pregnancies during the rest of the year were clones of the mother.

        2. Yeah. Loved the early Clarke harder stuff, the he went on an ‘Earth develops hive mind’ kick and he kind of lost me.

        3. I think H. Beam Piper was interested in the nature and function of government, not just law. Space Viking shows ‘good’ constitutional monarchies going very bad in a couple of ways, while the ‘traitor’ Trask tries to bring back civilization with the help of the barbarian Space Vikings. Lord Kalvan Of Otherwhen overthrows an evil theocracy and is made Great King for his trouble. (And gets the girl!)

          I wonder what he’d make of today’s Anti-American Leftoids, and the fascist Antifa?

          There have been a few fixations, haven’t there? Philip Jose Farmer and artificial souls. Jack Vance and worlds without metals. Jack Chalker and computers-as-god, plus some fairly bizarre sexual aberrations. Stephen R. Donaldson…well, ’nuff said. As for James Blish — after you destroy the universe, what do you do for an encore?

          Doesn’t necessarily make the stories bad, just…Odd.
          G’Kar: “Isn’t the universe a wonderful place? I wouldn’t live anywhere else.”

          1. Jack Chalker would have been at home in some of the more bizarre corners of internet fiction, whose existence I only acknowledge because I used to have a really boring job and would look for stuff to read ANYWHERE. That said, I’ve always been tickled by Mike Resnick’s rundown of the book he wrote with Chalker and David Gerrold: “I did the hard stuff – you know, the nouns and verbs – and David did the easy stuff like the adjectives and adverbs. We gave Jack the pronouns because he kept changing them anyway.”

  11. One of the most striking theories I’ve run into is that modern human is actually a domestic animal. Basically, relative to our ancestors, we’ve gone through many of the same morphologocal and behavioral changes that other species have when we domesticated them. We just seem to have done it to ourselves.

    Sort of explains why were the only animal to make peace, in a way.

    1. I cannot claim it was us – too slow, too stubborn – though that MIGHT be a feature for domesticating humans.
      I suspect the dogs and horses had a paw/hoof in it.
      Dogs are quick, and horses… really, their patience is amazing.
      Also, dogs, and horses to some degree, are forgiving.
      Oxen? Did I mention stubborn? Slow, but no forget, and forgive is mighty rare.

          1. Heh. Babylon 5 has come up a lot in these threads, and here it is again: there’s one episode where the Minbari ambassador comments that humanity’s great strength is their ability to build communities–and NOT only with their own kind. Specifically NOT with their own kind. She adds that the concept of the Babylon stations would never have even occurred to any of the other races–they’d have kept such a thing for themselves, but the humans built it from the START with the intent of sharing it with other races.

            Okay, I think it’s time to rewatch B5…

  12. And this, past all the politics, past the eco-religion, is why people are agree with the PETA philosophy of “better dead than contaminated by human contact” are simply evil.

    1. Ugh, PETA needs to be burned to the ground. “Ethical Treatment” my ass.

      (I like the mocking bumper sticker that says “People Eating Tasty Animals” though. Although I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a meat eater that kind of has to have the meat already killed by someone not me first–I’m too soft hearted, and it’s only gotten worse the older I get…)

      1. I may or may not know anything about putting a Texas Cattle Feeders Association sticker on a PETA member’s vehicle *coughcough* decades ago.

        1. Every electric car ought to be required by law to have an I Love Nuclear Power and an I Love Coal sticker on it. Not to speak of The I support Chinese Rare Metal Miner Slaves sticker.

          1. I am amused by the “How do you like my coal powered car?” sticker on Tesla.

            And if I ever have have an electric car, I think it would cool to be near a reactor and claim it is a nuclear-powered vehicle.

            1. The backyard rack (on hiatus this year; way too dusty because global dustening) is our thermonuclear clothes dryer.

              FWIW, one of the local highways has litter pickup funded by the Beef for Dinner Group.

            2. Locally electric vehicles, unless you have personal solar panels and/or wind method, it is Hydroelectrically + Timber Waste Burn Steam created (well scrubbed emissions, but that is exactly what the Seneca Burner is – an old fashioned wood wigwam burner) powered vehicle 🙂 We’re on EWEB. There is an option to use commercially produced power from solar and wind farms, but you pay extra for the privilege. Not quite sure how they manage that as electricity on the grid is electricity. But hey, no pay, no get told. Since we won’t pay extra, don’t know, don’t care. EWEB definitely has hydro-dams and Seneca required EWEB, EPUD, & SPUD, to buy in on buying the extra power, over what the mill requires, to connect it to the grid.

      2. I used to live in Virginia, where we called them People Embarassing the Tidewater Area.

    2. I have a young cousin who subscribes to this PETA nonsense, a progressive school in NYC ruined her. Her mother hasn’t spoken to me since I pointed out that an end to meat eating, never mind that vegan crap, would lead to the largest animal extinction event since the K-T event. It didn’t go down well.

      Her father, my cousin, blamed me. I told him he should have bought the girl a puppy when she was young and sent her to parochial school like the rest of us.

  13. Nice post; it was a good read. The view that human nature, especially primitive human nature, is characterized by some manner of mindless savagery is shockingly common. While we do have our lapses, we tend to give ourselves far too little credit for our virtues, our deeds, and our unique faculty of thought. Your piece here is a nice corrective to that unfortunate tendency.

  14. My gamemaster for Call of Cthulhu doesn’t eat cephalopods, and C and I have decided to follow her example. And that’s quite a wide gap . . .

  15. For the fun of ticking off any vegans I’d like to point out we really can’t be the humans we are without eating meat, particularly cooked, and stopping that intake of an essential protein makes one less smart (explaining much of their stupid behavior)
    that’s mt story and I’m sticking it to them (~_^)
    “We should all be vegans!”
    “Go tell that to the Inuit”

      1. “I’m vegan. I suppose your going to ask about protein now.”
        “No. In an industrialized world, travel allows importation of enough different sorts of plant matter to supply sufficient protein, if you can afford it. I do wonder about something else.”

    1. I love meat. As I said above though, I think I’d have a very hard time straight up killing the meat (unless it was that or die, perhaps), and so I am grateful for capitalism, which allows me to pay someone else to kill the meat (or, in the case of my father hunting wild game, I help clean it after). I would like the meat to have been killed swiftly and as kindly as possible, but at this point I just don’t enquire to closely.

      (I mean, I *could* kill a food animal. I’d just probably cry doing it, because I *like* animals over and above eating them. However, even if I were starving to death, I don’t think I could eat a pet. I’d rather starve, because to eat them would make me feel like I betrayed my duty of care to them.)

    2. I’ve gotten some cheers in the grocery store because my preschooler has no volume control, and part of my training them is asking them to “help” while shopping.
      “This one, mommy?”
      “No, honey, the red one.”
      “Why not the pretty blue?!?”
      “Because you need whole milk. Your brain needs the fat to grow correctly.”

      *two different groups on the far end of the aisle*
      “Preach it!”

      It is nice living near agriculture. 😀

        1. I know they were doing a plate at one point– it was like half a serving of meat, a serving of fruit, a serving of carbs and two or three colors of veggies or some crazy thing.

          Oh, and no meal should be more than 300 calories.


          Heck with that. Especially for growing kids.

            1. I think it assumed two snacks a day or something, I quit listening when the meal plan Washington State mailed me talked about how my pre-schooler needed to drink 1% milk.

              1. I have heard of people being super weird about milk, but that just seems extra nosy. Granted, I grew up on skim myself and my husband and I usually compromise on 2%….

                My little one does not seem to have much interest in drinking milk other than human, which means none currently. (She misses nursing though. 😦 So do I, but while I know the logistical complications can be managed and I wouldn’t have insisted if her brother had been on the way maybe even last year… well, I’m not sure she was even still getting anything.) Fortunately, nobody’s nagging me about it. Though maybe I should see if she likes whole better. Or goat.

                1. I couldn’t ever stand the stuff, be it blue water or whole– to the point I’d only have a splash on breakfast cereal– but the theory the food thing is going on is that kids are drinking too much milk fat and that is why their BMI is higher than (mumble mumble) before the BMI was changed….

                  And it totally has nothing to do with stress, hormones or eight hours at school with maybe a half hour of not in a chair.


                  That said, you should probably try to keep her able to drink milk, just in case you don’t have the mutation that makes it possible even if you quit for a year or so, plus they put D in it with the calcium so that works nicely. Randomly having, ah, stomach issues from food made with too much milk would suck.

                  I keep a half-sized jug of Nesquik mixed with whole milk, it’s popular. Not pretty, but popular, and there’s enough vitamins that it’s a good justification.

                  1. Mm. Not confined to sitting but I do need to run her (and myself) around more (Idon’twanttobeoutsideinthisweather).

                    That’s a good point about maintaining the ability to digest it. She did have some kind of cow’s milk probably-protein sensitivity early on — I cut it out for some months — but it turned out to be the kind she could grow out of as her digestive tract matured, apparently. She does eat cheese and ice cream with no observable issues. (And onion. Which also temporarily caused problems in my diet when nursing.) Nesquik might go over well, thanks for the suggestion.

                    1. Ice cream is the #1 reason I fuss at folks to try to keep their kids able to eat milk. Because that would just bite to get sick every time you had an ice cream cone.

                    2. A Hawaiian (Japanese ancestry) coworker used to drink some acidophilus milk before having any ice cream. Worked for him.

                    1. I’m allergic to milk And eggs and so are my boys. Being allergic to ice cream does, in fact, suck.

                    1. My theory is that the correlation isn’t actually how much milk they drink, it’s that parents who go in for that are also likely to include a wife that dieted while she was pregnant, which teaches the kid’s system they’re starving.

                      But it is a theory.

                    2. Cream. I was raised on full fat milk, but something about drinking heavy whipping cream really helps me feel better and lose weight – probably the fat and Vitamin K, as previously mentioned. I wish I’d discovered that before this year.

                      (Full disclosure: I am descended from at least one ancient cattle culture. Your genes may vary.)

                  2. Hormones. If possible get milk from cattle not pumped full of hormones.
                    Look, I’m not miss “All natural” but our friend gave her kids nonn-hormone for no reason cow mil for the first three. The fourth she bought nnormal grocery store milk. Fourth (and fifth) have weight issues. Others, never.

                    1. All milk contains hormones– and rBST milk is actually quite rare in the US. The cheap whole milk will usually even note that it’s certified rBST-free. I literally just got up to double-check, it’s TINY print. Like, hilariously tiny print, and then there’s even smaller print that disclaims that there’s been no evidence of difference in the milk that’s rBST vs stuff that isn’t.

                      Canada banned it not because it might hurt humans, but for the cow’s health.
                      (It’s broken down before it’d hit the cow’s lactic system, and even if you were injected with it, it doesn’t work that way on humans.)

                      My bet is that for the first several kids, her doctor never did the “thoughtful frown, you should only gain X pounds, for the health of the child” thing, but did for the last two. They tend to get fussier after you’ve had a few kids, especially if mom is older, and…well, as my mom jokes, she’ll lose the baby weight she got from me at some point. 😉

                      Seriously, they weigh a woman in her first trimester, fully clothed, wearing boots and all, and if she’s BMI “obese” she’s told that she MUST gain no more than ten pounds.
                      (Actual guideline is slightly more sane, but argh.)
                      If you’re not an obnoxious elephant child, chances are you won’t even get that much of an explanation– just that horrible concerned frown of “your weight gain was a bit higher than expected, are you eating correctly?”

                      …has any pregnant woman ever been positive that she’s eating “correctly”?

                    2. My obgyn practice includes a recommended weight gain chart in their little book on pregnancy (also available as a PDF on the website — tangentially, this is actually what sold me on the practice: the decision to straight-up stick a whole book on their website detailing their approach, policies, advice, etc., made me feel like we would work well together, since the content was mostly reasonable) but they have never really… emphasized it. Didn’t hassle me over either my starting weight/BMI or the ensuing changes.

                      (So far fairly similar — small drop early on which I think was at least partly illusory due to early bloat, now gaining — although I do hope to skip the GD this time. Might adopt the smaller, more frequent meal schedule regardless, especially since it feels like the current occupant is already starting to crowd the organs above him. He’s as lively as his sister. I appreciate the reassurance. Almost every time.)

                    3. Um…. okay, my knowledge is from 30 years ago, but here in town there was only ONE brand where the cows weren’t treated with hormone to help them produce more. That brand was a small family farm that delivered. A LITTLE more expensive, but…
                      I don’t think Becky EVER dieted. She had a teen’s metabolism until it crashed at 55.
                      Of course my kids had the good milk and Robert was overweight. Then again, he was a pre-eclampsia baby, so….

                    4. my knowledge is from 30 years ago

                      Ah, that explains the difference!

                      There was a patch right when it came out when it was Going To Print Money, so especially in stressed regions they’d have at least one cow in the herd that was being treated. Dairy isn’t as bad as beef for fads, but there are a decent number of “I will do this and get rich!” boom and busts, even with the price smoothing.

                      By the mid 90s or so, most of those folks had either realized that the treatments cost money, or that the cows still ate more to make the milk, and people were a little iffy about the idea of roid rage cows. Plus, sex sorting semen became a thing, so you could replace your older cows and select for much better producers much more easily.
                      (no, it probably doesn’t work that way, but I share the “eeeeee….I’ll pass….” response, hard core!)

                      And now I’m jealous of Becky. I kept my teen metabolism, it just sucked then, too. 😀

                      Oh! Thought of another source of stuff that is human bio-active and mimics hormones (can’t remember the word for that) — soy.
                      Late 80s and early 90s they were starting to put soy protein in a LOT of stuff, trying to avoid milk-fat problems and increase protein. (cheaply)

                      It’s also during the “a girl hit puberty, get her on the Pill” push, which triggered a minor anti-hormone backlash.
                      Not sure if that one is still going on, in either form. From the sales push on the basal thermometers I would guess it is, but not sure.

                  3. Wait a minute. “Keep able to drink milk”?

                    I thought the lactose tolerance gene was something people either had or didn’t?

                    1. Apparently, many or most people who have the gene will still stop expressing it if they don’t use it for long enough.

                    2. IIRC Infants can drink most any type of milk, the lactose intolerance is something that “kicks in” later on.

                    3. That was the old theory– I was just claimed by the toddler, so I can’t do the research right now, but the short version went something like:

                      We looked at the people who can’t drink milk, and they have X gene different. It’s mostly an Asian, especially Japanese, thing.

                      Decades pass. Someone notices that Japanese who are raised drinking milk can drink milk as adults, and eat ice cream, no problem. Then they notice some of the groups they assumed had the can-deal-with-milk mutation didn’t, or it was fairly rare, and the folks who didn’t have it still could drink milk unless they quit for years.

                      Last time I checked, the theory was that you have gut bacteria that help when you’re a kid, and if you don’t let them starve you KEEP that ability.

                2. She’ll probably like whole better.
                  If you haven’t been conditioned to skim or even 2% it’s pretty vile.
                  And I’m the person who LOVES all milk.

                3. I can’t drink skim milk. My Mom tried to switch us over to it when I was a teenager. But it tastes so disgusting that I literally can’t swallow it unless it’s with something (for instance, on top of cereal is fine, but only if it’s a tiny amount of milk with lots of cereal).

                  I don’t like whole milk, but I can drink it
                  I can’t drink 0% or even 1% milk.

            2. Honestly, the conspiracy theorist in me is going: “Oh. The socialists are trying to train kids into thinking the starvation diet is natural.” :/

          1. well, as a teen I ate once a day.
            all day
            I wasn’t the 6,000 calorie meal level a cyclist needs while racing, but I was keeping the parents on their toes trying to keep me fed (not to mention the 3 sisters needs as well)

            1. I believe that’s called “teen boy.”

              My husband’s family’s food bill literally dropped 50% when he moved away from home, and all that changed was the amount of food.

              1. I am trying not to be TOO nervous about growing one of those. 😉 (OK, OK, it’s mostly not about the food, it’s “what if I don’t do it right” and “what if they do this thing I remember from when I was little” and “what if I don’t do it right,” again, I got one kid who’s easier to deal with than I could ever have deserved and I still lost my temper with her about shredding a biscuit all over herself. Augh.)

                Even with a four-year-old girl, I have noticed that leftovers she likes don’t last. I am assuming by the time her brother hits twelve, they just won’t be a thing that happens without a special effort.

                1. Our son was a picky eater, until age 14. He went with his dad, 3 other adults, and 8 scouts ages 16 to 18, to Philmont. 80 mile trek of 10 days, including a 12k pass. I don’t tolerate the backpacking food myself. When dad called to check in I asked how the trek went, how he was, how’d the kid do … how was the food … Dad replies: “It was horrible. Almost everyone lost weight. Not enough extra food to trade when meeting other groups”, that is part of the trek, extra food was provided for swapping. Their group never had left over food for swapping because one 14 year old switched over to the see food diet. He was the only one to gain weight, despite the high calorie diet. He also grew 4 inches. I swear they didn’t hike, the put him on a stretching rack. Finally went off the see food diet about age 25 or so. Which was too bad. I finally could order a regular meal and not throw away half or have to take it home. Definitely got our money’s worth out of the all you can eat locations; and we never got asked to leave either. Hubby’s family did when he and his brother were with his folks one summer day. He was 13, his bother was 19. Mom said she wasn’t fixing dinner, just the late lunch they were getting at the diner.

                  1. I need to come up with an appropriate nickname… daughter has her preferences but is currently a less picky eater than her mother so what can I say? *cough*

                    1. *snickers* All my suggestions are MMO or PVP based, because my brain keeps interpreting your ‘nym as Player Kill.
                      Ever watch Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online?

                    2. Does anyone know whether a “persnickety” eater is more or less fussy than a picky eater?

              2. I must say, cost of food not withstanding, I do miss the body I had at 16/17 before I broke my leg. Hell even the slower 18-20 year old body . . . Arthur Itiss and what start giving issue after that, but I didn’t fatten until about 30 when I went route salesman sitting on my arse, driving 2500 miles a week in Cajun Country

                1. I’d *really* like my 18-20 year old body (21-22 wouldn’t be bad either) with the sole exception of the feet. I had congenital bunions, and so by 18 had the feet of a 65 year old woman. But the rest of the body I’d really like back. For one thing, I’d know a few things to watch out for…

                  (I’m still in reasonably good shape at 40. It’s just…I could do without the back issues, or some of the internal issues–I’d have started on a particular medication a LOT sooner, and maybe could have avoided both the back issues AND a couple of surgeries, heh.)

                  1. weight begat my back issues (upper, though, not lower)
                    I was far stronger for size, especially the legs before breaking the left, just at the femur growth plate/knee joint and though left side dominant the recovery made changes. I was still strong, but slower, and gained some muscle mass where by 20 I was buying pants a bit large to get them over my thighs, and was a bit more bound, being less flexible over all. Working bicycle shops helped that but when I started driving for deliveries of autoparts all over NOLA, Houma, Thibodaux, Morgan City etc. the weight picked up then doing sales for those same routes for the most part added the fat in short order. I still had the 17 year old’s appetite. I was well north of 250 and likely closer to 300 buy then.
                    I seem stuck at 225 at best now. Still way (weigh?) too much.

                  2. My back issues (lower) stem in minor part from my height–I’m very tall for a woman, and I have a long back, and so if I don’t pay enough attention to the core muscles (which I don’t, because exercise is boring, and I still have the lingering remnants of my insane teenage metabolism which means I don’t absolutely *have* to yet), it tends to be a bit weak. But the real issue was a cyst in that area that exploded, knocked me off my feet when it did (I felt like someone had shot me in the back with an arrow) and either the fall or the cyst blowing up herniated a disk on the way down. (I couldn’t walk for several days after, which was really very scary.) I’ve had intermittent problems with low-grade pain with it since, and one of these days I may bite the bullet and look into the laser surgery, which supposedly has a very high success rate (unlike the previous forms of it, which were 50/50, and if it failed, you’d be *worse*)

                  1. I recall thinking mine was not all that great, then found a pic from the cast wearing period of the leg break. Just me in shorts, right leg looking like a beast’s.
                    Who was that guy with 6 pack abs?

            2. SIGH. I’ve been fighting not to be too heavy since I was 10. The only time I was at my ideal weight was college and two years following. Now? I’m losing weight again, despite everything, in part because I’ve gained so much muscle mass. But I’m built for North Sea Survival, not svelt.

          1. always baffles me when some leftoid maronie says “You can’t trust any politician.” and then follows it with “Only the gov’t should have guns” or I want the gov’t to handle healthcare.”

            1. Isn’t it obvious? They don’t want a government controlled by politicians; they want a government controlled by bureaucrats.

              1. they tend not to like bureaucrats, like the DMV etc, either
                Then again My uncle was fool enough to want Gov’t healthcare because he hated dealing with the VA and his wife because she hated dealing with the State run free clinic system. ***headdesk***

            2. New York mayor Bill de Blasio explained that the other day:

              “There’s an underlying truth in the fact that my focus has not been on the business community and the elite,” de Blasio said. “I am tempted to borrow a quote from Karl Marx here…”

              “They’ll love that on Wall Street,” [host Brian]Lehrer interjects.

              “Yes they will,” de Blasio laughs. “There’s a famous quote that ‘the state is the executive committee of the bourgeoisie,’ and I use that openly to say no, I read that as a young person and thought, well, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”

              In their intended state, the state will be the executive committee of the intelligentsia — i.e., them.

    3. A late friend would taunt the PETA activists by asking them how the plants feel as they are being forcibly removed from the ground, screaming (if one speaks Carrot) in agony. I *think* he got one into anorexia after that discussion.

      1. There was a Bloom County cartoon way back when that took PETA’s arguments to their logical extreme. Just before the group finally caved in and stopped their extremism, everyone was hanging upside down from a tree (so they wouldn’t accidentally crush bugs) and wearing masks (to avoid breathing in -and killing – bacteria).

      2. That wonderful smell of fresh-mowed grass — it’s the grass screaming to other grass plants that a herbivore is munching on it. Help! I’m being Eaten!

        1. …While the rest of the grass is thinking “And we’re supposed to do what, exactly?”

  16. Yes, I know what gene analysis says, but bah, it’s early days yet. I remember when the earliest gene analysis made us basically chimps. THP.

    Works the same way, too.

    “We are looking at the stuff that is most common in X area.”
    “Gosh, this has all the stuff that is most common in X area! It us pure X!”
    Where X, of course, is supposed to be a statement on something besides how common it is.

    The “98% chimp” thing was based off of the (roughly 2% of) genes where we know what they do. And wasn’t in order….

  17. I’ve had a nebulous notion for years that love across species is part of what makes us “in the image of God”. I know I cribbed it partially from C.S. Lewis’ phrase in The Great Divorce about man’s capability to ennoble the animals, but if God’s love can uplift us to demigods from clever animals, and human love can uplift animals to family members…well, the parallels cheer me up on bad days.

    1. If you’re gonna crib, I can think of far worse writers from which to do it.

      Prize-winning authors. Few of whom found in print nearly sixty years after their deaths.

  18. For war among the animals Barry Longyear pointed something out:

    Want to see a violent, brutal, unforgiving war over territory?

    Watch a time lapse film of two coral colonies meeting.

    And Sarah, I know the brave ball of fluff seemed small, but to paraphrase a good old country saying:

    It’s not the size of the cat in the world, it’s the size of the world in the cat.

  19. The Killer Ape hypothesis was Raymond Dart, Morris was The Naked Ape.

    The Naked Killer Ape would be Edgar Rice Burroughs. Or maybe William S.

        1. Mr. Chupik? I just wanted to confirm your order.

          One serving carp,
          Trebuchet delivery.

          It’s on the way.

  20. I get the impression — possibly mistaken, but I doubt it — that those who loudly proclaim “Xxx will screw anything.” is actually saying “That bastard will screw anything but ME.”

  21. One of the few reasons why I still look at reddit is that they still have stories that can be summed up as-

    “Humans as Space Orcs”
    “Humans as the weird ones.”
    “Humans as the ones you do not piss off.”

    We practice war on ourselves, because nobody else can really play in our league. For every human that breaks on the rocks of despair, two more step up-to help carry the broken one away to clear the firing line for another human to take up the watch.

    We’ll try to bring home the “cute friend we found,” and I swear that if you could figure out how to housebreak a xenomorph, someone would take care of them.

    Bunch of dogmatic aliens came to the Grand Library with their battle fleets, intent upon destroying the source of heresy and anathema to their faith. The entire human military deployed and made it very clear to the dogmatic aliens that there wasn’t going to be book burning by anyone on their watch.

    And, when Hollywood was spot on for it’s writing-

    “The humans, I think, knew they were doomed. But where another race would surrender to despair, the humans fought back with even greater strength. They made the Minbari fight for every inch of space. In my life, I have never seen anything like it. They would weep, they would pray, they would say goodbye to their loved ones and then throw themselves without fear or hesitation at the very face of death itself. Never surrendering. No one who saw them fighting against the inevitable could help but be moved to tears by their courage…their stubborn nobility. When they ran out of ships, they used guns. When they ran out of guns, they used knives and sticks and bare hands. They were magnificent. I only hope, that when it is my time, I may die with half as much dignity as I saw in their eyes at the end. They did this for two years. They never ran out of courage. But in the end…they ran out of time.”

    1. Don’t give Hollywood any credit; they fought against Babylon 5 from beginning to end. The suits almost killed the show three times, and came so close that J. Michael had to cram Season 5 into Season 4, just in case.

      If you get the chance, read his autobiography ‘Becoming Superman’. It will leave you with NO sympathy for the losers that whine about how unfair life was to them. NOBODY could have a worse childhood than Straczynski and SURVIVE it.
      “They were the bad guys, as you say, we were the good guys, and they made a very satisfying THUMP when they hit the floor!”

      1. They did produce it in the end, so I take that it’s possible to have a perfect rose bloom in Hell.

        Or just Iron Man. $145 million budget (in 2008 dollars-it’s about $180 million in 2020 dollars), “C”-list Marvel character, RDJ was on a bit of a rebound but hadn’t gotten there yet, and the filming was described as “a $200 million student film project”. But…it knocks the cover off the ball and starts the entire MCU.

        Yes, I want to see LA and Hollywood burn. But, I won’t forget that they can make wonders if people that have a soul are allowed to make them.

        1. It’s the Gatekeeper Problem again: writers had to deal with tradpub, and scriptwriters had to deal with Hollywood.

          Indy let writers go around the gate. And modern video equipment and software is cheap enough for individuals to buy now. There are indy movies out there that are as good as anything Hollywood ever did as far as production quality.

          Tradpub and Hollywood should be scrabbling for a business model that doesn’t involve bookstores or theaters, but they’re not willing to let go of their sinking ships.

          1. I talk about this with my sons when they complain about Star Wars or other films that have been ruined. there are two kinds of people in Hollywood those with talent and those without. those with talent act, direct, design, build, and write stuff. Those with no talent become management. When management directs, designs, builds, or writes, you get the recent Star Wars films. it’s all about exploiting the IP.

            1. The only talent that counts in Hollywood is the talent for making money. Movies are just one of the ways that gets done.

              Movie money doesn’t just come from theater seats, or things would be much different. Investors, contracts, options, merchandising, video rights… “the better for Hollywood Accounting. my dear!” A little gets raked off every time it moves, and in the end it barely matters whether the film makes a profit. That’s why they could afford to shelve the last three episodes of Firefly without airing them, or make movies that were never released, or scrapped halfway through.

              1. ‘The Producers’.

                Leo Bloom: “Well, if we assume you’re a dishonest person—“

                Max Bialystock: “Assume, assume!”

                Leo: “Well, it seems to me, if you raised way too much money, you could make more from a flop than a hit.”
                Max: “We had the wrong script, the wrong director, the wrong actors…where did we go RIGHT?

        2. The ‘C-list’ character thing is because that’s who Marvel’s film division could still use. The popular characters had been licensed away. But superheroes movies were making money (or at least some of them were). And it was inexcusable that Marvel wasn’t on that gravy train. So they had to use a ‘C-list’ character. And RDJ’s life up to that point was such that he may very well have been born to play that character.

          Fortunately, the ‘C-list’ characters included some of the most important Avengers. And the rest was history.

      2. Holy cow just reading the BLURB of his autobiography made me think that here is an exceptional man and survivor. (And I note, he’s NOT working in Hollywood anymore, last I knew he’d moved to comics–but I’m not sure he’s gonna stay there, either, or at least not at Marvel…)

        1. And if you look up his recent interviews, he’s gone full SJW and TDS. Sad, really.

          1. I’ll be sure to avoid them, in that case. (Also, I avoid most of his comics–he was partially responsible for that APPALLING Spider-Man run wherein Peter makes a deal with Mephistopheles to save Aunt May’s life–she got shot by someone aiming for Peter–and the price is…he and MJ never meet/get married. IT WAS SO STUPID.)

            Actually, I think the only JMS interview I’ve actually watched was the bit where he talked about what really happened with Michael O’Hare. I knew the story, but the interview still made me teary.

            1. If I recall, JMS didn’t know that was where “One More Day” was going to go, and when he found out-he demanded to left out and his name taken off the comic book.

    2. “We’ll try to bring home the “cute friend we found,” and I swear that if you could figure out how to housebreak a xenomorph, someone would take care of them.”

      I have been ‘toddler-glomped’ at cons. (I expect that for Legend, him being a unicorn and all.)
      And I knew a fellow who spotted for a guy with a really good Krampus outfit. Claimed it did NOT matter where they went, there would ALWAYS be be That One Kid (usually a little girl) who glomp Krampus, tug him over, and ask mommy, “Can I keep him?”

      1. Yeah, there’s always that kid that LOVES the “scary” monsters…That was honestly one of the most delightful things about Ant-Man’s (the younger one’s) daughter: he gives her a toy that 100% nightmare fuel and SHE LOVES IT.

        (And so no one is surprised when she keeps the accidentally-enlarged ant as a pet later on. One gets the impression that her mom and step-dad just roll with it.)

      2. …now, there’s a story in there. Almost as good as the demon accidentally summoned by some old lady and she thinks that the demon is one of her grandchildren coming by the visit.

    3. Well, as it was more J. Michael Straczynski who wrote that than Hollywood…yes. That was an AMAZING monologue from Londo about the Human-Minbari war.

      And…you know…given the circumstances around his death, he did the best he could in that situation to make sure he died like that. (Or rather, G’Kar helped ensure it.)

    4. Sometimes Hollywood gets it right, if only because nobody important was paying attention …

      Maj. Prinz: [speaking German; subtitled] We learned at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood that these Americans are unpredictable. They don’t retreat when they’re supposed to.

      Gen. von Sybel: [in German] How inconsiderate of them, Major.
      The Lost Battalion (2001 TV Movie)
      Broadcast back when A&E wanted Americans watching.

    5. Heh. One caveat on the “we practice war on ourselves because nobody else is in our league.”

      Except emus. Emus, apparently, are in our league and capable of winning. 😀

          1. Me too, I need to work this into a line somewhere.

            “You said the elves were more artisanal in their warfare style.”
            “And, they live six, seven times as long as we do, minimum. That’s a lot of practice at fighting and looking good while they do it.”

  22. So, the aliens we should be worried about are the ones who don’t have pets?

    1. I vaguely remember a story, possibly by Saberhagen, about humans who were stranded on a planet that ate all their tech, and then got rescued/captured by passing aliens. The humans tried to convince the aliens that they were sapient, and got nowhere – until they caught a mouse or some similar small beastie and kept it as a pet. At that point the aliens became all apologetic, explaining (once communication was established) that only sapients keep pets. (Whereas everything else the humans had tried to do to show sapience had been dismissed by the aliens as being “instinctive behavior.”)

  23. I also remember the books by Andre Norton. Many of them had Humans and animals working together. Those were a favorite of mine.
    The military was working on breading dogs for intelligence at one time. I wonder if they are still doing it. It seems natural to try and uplift Dogs.

    1. The Beastmaster books, at least the first three (have not read the others). I really, really liked those. There was never a Beastmaster movie.

      1. Oh, come on, the scene where the rich girl bails him out of jail, her household staff serve them fancy rich-people snacks, and Dar gives her that look, and that perfectly deadpan “Is this to eat, or to look upon?”

        THAT was priceless.

      2. Andre Norton would agree.

        (I heard a rumor that she made sure her name wasn’t associated with that non-existent movie.)

      3. I like the movie, but only because it is the epitome of 80s fantasy cheese.

        I never in any way thought it had ANYTHING to do with the Andre Norton novels, however.

        1. I like the movie, but only because it is the epitome of 80s fantasy cheese.
          I never in any way thought it had ANYTHING to do with the Andre Norton novels, however.


          There were at least 2 written after Norton passed. “Beast Master Quest” is one. Don’t remember the name of the second.

      4. Exactly. The two…movies with ‘Beastmaster’ in their titles were quite enjoyable, in a so-bad-they’re-good way.

        So was ‘Killer Klowns From Outer Space’.

        1. I think I actually loved the second Beastmaster as a kid (also possibly because that’s the only one my parents would let me watch–if I remember right, the original one was R rated at the time, for nudity…)

          But yes, definitely ‘so bad they’re good’–and, more to the point, in a WATCHABLE manner. Some of the ‘bad 80s fantasy’ movies I’ve attempted are just bad, full stop, heh.

          1. Although it’s amazing how some of the worst bad movies of previous generations seem like genius cinema, when compared to some of Hollywood’s modern projects. Ewgh.

            Rekieta Law has been having movie nights for the guys on Twitch/Amazon Prime, and these young men are saying elsewhere that they are non-ironically amazed at the writing and cinematic qualities of ultra-low budget R-rated sex comedies from the 1980’s. I mean, granted, a bunch of college and post-college men on Twitch are pretty close to the intended demographic, but come on!

            And yet, I’m sure they’re not wrong. If you have a simple movie that sets up entertainment expectations and fulfills them, that movie is light years ahead of some of this newer Hollywood drek.

      5. I will go a step further and assert that there was never a Beastmaster TV series, in spite of IMDb’s claim that it ran sixty-six episodes over three seasons.

        It was a nefarious Canadian disinformation campaign to undermine American moral structure.

  24. The last page of A.C. Clarke’s “Rescue Party”; What is the measure of Man.

    …The picture on the vision screen was the familiar one of endless star fields, sun beyond sun to the very limits of the Universe. Near the center of the screen a distant nebula made a patch of haze that was difficult for the eye to grasp.

    Rugon increased the magnification. The stars flowed out of the field; the little nebula expanded until it filled the screen and then—it was a nebula no longer. A simultaneous gasp of amazement came from all the company at the sight that lay before them.

    Lying across league after league of space, ranged in a vast three-dimensional array of rows and columns with the precision of a marching army, were thousands of tiny pencils of light. They were moving swiftly; the whole immense lattice holding its shape as a single unit. Even as Alveron and his comrades watched, the formation began to drift off the screen and Rugon had to recenter the controls.

    After a long pause, Rugon started to speak.

    “This is the race,” he said softly, “that has known radio for only two centuries—the race that we believed had crept to die in the heart of its planet. I have examined those images under the highest possible magnification.

    “That is the greatest fleet of which there has ever been a record. Each of those points of light represents a ship larger than our own. Of course, they are very primitive—what you see on the screen are the jets of their rockets. Yes, they dared to use rockets to bridge interstellar space! You realize what that means. It would take them centuries to reach the nearest star. The whole race must have embarked on this journey in the hope that its descendants would complete it, generations later.

    “To measure the extent of their accomplishment, think of the ages it took us to conquer space, and the longer ages still before we attempted to reach the stars. Even if we were threatened with annihilation, could we have done so much in so short a time? Remember, this is the youngest civilization in the Universe. Four hundred thousand years ago it did not even exist. What will it be a million years from now?”

    An hour later, Orostron left the crippled mother ship to make contact with the great fleet ahead. As the little torpedo disappeared among the stars, Alveron turned to his friend and made a remark that Rugon was often to remember in the years ahead.

    “I wonder what they’ll be like?” he mused. “Will they be nothing but wonderful engineers, with no art or philosophy? They’re going to have such a surprise when Orostron reaches them—I expect it will be rather a blow to their pride. It’s funny how all isolated races think they’re the only people in the Universe. But they should be grateful to us; we’re going to save them a good many hundred years of travel.”

    Alveron glanced at the Milky Way, lying like a veil of silver mist across the vision screen. He waved toward it with a sweep of a tentacle that embraced the whole circle of the galaxy, from the Central Planets to the lonely suns of the Rim.

    “You know,” he said to Rugon, “I feel rather afraid of these people. Suppose they don’t like our little Federation?” He waved once more toward the star-clouds that lay massed across the screen, glowing with the light of their countless suns.

    “Something tells me they’ll be very determined people,” he added. “We had better be polite to them. After all, we only outnumber them about a thousand million to one.”

    Rugon laughed at his captain’s little joke.

    Twenty years afterward, the remark didn’t seem funny.

  25. One “funny” thing about the “Killer Ape” idea.

    There was this cave structure in Africa where people found plenty of humanoid bodies with punctures in the skulls.

    The “Killer Ape” proponents claimed that this was “proof” of their idea. IE Those humanoids were murdered by their fellow humanoids.

    Well somebody noticed that the cave had a “hole in its roof” and it was just the right place for bodies to be dropped into the cave. The “crack” apparently had trees growing by it.

    Then they noticed that the punctures were very similar to punctures left by (IIRC) leopards and leopards often ate their prey in trees then dropping the remains to the ground once they were finished eating.

    The humanoids were just the right size to be prey for leopards.

    So there was an “Oh Sh*t” moment when people realized that the bodies were the result of leopards killing them for food, not a case of “Killer Apes Killing Their Own Kind”. 😈

  26. One of many reasons I adore my husband–
    I was in a very bad post-baby funk, and dear Elf flopped down on the couch with his head on my lap, pointed at the baby snuggled against my shoulder, and informed me that clearly I was designed for comfort.

      1. And here I thought you just went around telling people you’re built for comfort at random. 😛

    1. He’s in Minnesota; a very noisy part of their population also has cultural norms in regards to where guilt lies in cases of rape which are not compatible with civilized cultures. It is in his best interests to avoid conflict with those populations by making very loud noises about how when you dial 911 after a rape, the person that shows up is not selected for being able to kill the guy who did it.

    2. Well, we know he beats up his girlfriend for s**ts and giggles, so it would not surprise me one bit if he didn’t include sexual assault in that repertoire.

  27. In Vietnam my friends had 2 8′ black bears as pets. (Maybe the Russians abandoned them.) The bears lived in a cinder block and iron bar 2 room house, where I enjoyed visiting them. The male would scrutinize me. making clicking sounds — I thought I detected love in his little humanoid eyes, so one day I moved right up to the bars. My Vietnamese friend was horrified, “VERY DANGEROUS!” she shouted, when a long pink tongue shot out of the bear’s snout aimed for my face!

  28. This is possibly (probably?) a very human-centric viewpoint. But…

    Wouldn’t one of the main qualities a collaborative interstellar, interspecies collective — anything — look for, in a prospective new member species, be “they have made friends” already — not just one-on-one, but as whole species?

    As in, basically, they already play well with others, they don’t have to learn or be taught that — especially at the deep, full-on co-evolution level discussed here, where they (we) are and have been part of an inter-species collective.

    (Of course, imagine even in the purely human sphere what the above might look like, to someone from a “divine right of kings” background not a “certain unalienable rights” background — these things can get very slippery indeed.)

    1. As long as they’re not like the Centauri and the Xon.

      Londo: “Do you know what the last Xon said, just before he died?” [clutches chest] “AAAGGHKKH!!

  29. They had an interesting comment in the EWTN Mass’ homily today. There was a sister from Northern Ireland who died back in 2016 in Ecuador, during an earthquake, trying to protect some kids. Ulster spirituality for both Catholic and Protestant has been criticized as being too stern and narrow.

    But Sister Clare Crockett’s devotion every morning was to write Jesus a symbolic blank check. And she was a very happy sister, even when bad things occurred. The point was that obviously we can’t pay back Jesus for all He did and does for us, but we can practice being loving and generous right back.

    There’s a sainthood cause with a website,, which also includes the other people who died with her. It’s pretty touching.

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