Men – and Women — of Iron A Blast From the Past from March 8 2016

*If you want to skip the part where I argue with myself you can. Frankly that reads nutty even to me. Then again I was mid the third of three interim moves when selling the last house, my life was in boxes, and I was quite ill, so…
In other news, I finally set up a newsletter, after a year or two of fighting with a service I thought would work but didn’t. I promise to write/post at least twice a week, and this will be strictly about my fiction. There will be occasional freebies, opportunities to purchase e-arcs and other benes. It’s free, though substack has the ability to charge. I might make the ones with “opportunity go buy earcs” premium posts and charge, because that’s a way to handle payment, right? Anyway, we shall see. For now, it’s just a newsletter which I’ll try to make fun and rewarding. Because right now we all, including me, need it. Link here, though the sidebar link to schrodinger’s path should now be live.)

Men – and Women — of Iron A Blast From the Past from March 8 2016

*This is where I admit that I have no clue where this post came from.  In my — mild — defense, I am running a low grade fever and have an upper respiratory thing going on.  Con crud, from a con with people from around the world.  And I was very tired when I wrote this last night, even though it wasn’t late.

None of which fully explains the post.

Do I expect conditions to revert to what my mother grew up under?  Frankly even if say Bernie won and we went Venezuela we have a lot of infrastructure that doesn’t disappear magically.  Even in the seventies, in Portugal, with infrastructure severely neglected, the worst we got were cholera epidemics in summer.  And I don’t think ANYONE died, just people got very sick and had to go to the hospital.

Antibiotics are not likely to go away, though they might become scarcer and are becoming less effective.

Do I believe we’re about to revert to a time when half the kids — or three in one — die?  No.

Sure we might get a small pox attack — I’m a bit surprised we haven’t yet given how Russians keep samples “safe — but I suspect it will be contained to an area or a region.  If it isn’t, it makes for an interesting SF novel, since I’m one of the youngest people to have immunity to it.  Maybe my kids have some partial immunity, since I actually had it.  But otherwise, it would be a world of old people and an interesting novel.  But a danger?  I’d rate it possible but unlikely.

There could be other pandemics, perhaps antibiotic resistant, but even those would be a one-shot not the kind of walking with death our ancestors did.

So I have no clue why I wrote this.  I haven’t even re-read the Black Tide novels recently and I haven’t read the anthology yet.

I have in the past written posts — and books — where I felt as though the push were coming from elsewhere.  But this one came from nowhere.  Perhaps the fever and tiredness just set my subconscious free.

I’m not going to remove the post, but I want it said for the record that my awake and slightly less feverish self disagrees with it.

And yes, now you’ve seen everything.*

While I was at TVIW Speaker looked it up for me, and I found that I did have small pox as a toddler, or at least it ravaged through the area at that time.  (I wasn’t sure because the common word for small pox and chicken pox is the same, in Portugal.  There is a name for small pox, but it’s a little odd and not normally used in speech.)  However, the mortality rate — it killed the majority of the kids under 6 (i.e. under vaccination) seemed to indicate small pox.

Weirdly, it occurred when I was two, not three, which means the vivid memories I have are either not real or I was forming clear memories earlier than I thought.

Anyway, it didn’t occur to me growing up because it was just part of the background.  I knew my aunt had lost a daughter my age, I knew the farmer across the street had lost her only daughter.  I have a vivid flash of memory of a funeral with a tiny coffin, carried by hand, and about a dozen relatively young people walking behind.  I have a vague memory I saw that from the window in grandma’s upper floor, as I was starting to recover.

But because I was so young, I had no memory of these children who died as ever being alive, and by the time I met these people they had lost their children long ago. Well, years ago, which when you’re five or six is a long time.

I was born in a time of antibiotics, and while we still had a couple of cholera epidemics when I was a teen, we didn’t experience the child mortality — or even the adult mortality — that were part of my mother’s and grandmother’s lives.

I don’t remember any stories of lost childhood friends from grandmother, but I did from my mom, because she grew up in what could be charitably called a slum.  Her stories of childhood would sometimes end with “he died” or “She died at ten.”  And one of her stories that has remained with me is how a friend of hers died while she was watching him, and she noticed because a fly landed on his open eye.

This came to mind yesterday when a student at a university in California was caught with a tiny pocket knife and, immediately, counseling was offered to those who witnessed it or heard of it and were “traumatized” by it.

Was my mother’s generation traumatized by it?  Was I traumatized by all those empty desks in my elementary school?

Possibly.  My mother more than I.  As I said, I don’t remember any school friends dying.

The question is: are humans supposed to go through life untraumatized? Is there some ideal state of humanity where we never encounter anything unpleasant, are never frustrated, never hurt?

Evolution and history would seem to be screaming back a loud “NO.”  Throughout most of history the idea of someone being traumatized by knowing that someone near them had a really ineffective and small weapon in his pocket — which he’d never used to hurt anyone, or even considered using to hurt anyone — would draw a horse laugh.

ALL of us, even the most protected of the special snowflakes, are descended from war and disease, famine and strife, and an insane amount of work.  Because those were the conditions that led to survival in most of history, and we’re descended from the ones who survived, or at least from the ones who survived long enough to have children.

Unimaginably difficult conditions — for us — are very close.  Parents.  Grandparents.  usually not much further.  Someone went hungry more than two days, and not hungry int he sense that all they had was some ramen, but in the sense they had nothing.  Someone watched children die — their own children — and couldn’t do anything, couldn’t even hope to do anything but pray.

We’ve just been so incredibly wealthy, so incredibly blessed that we forgot the common lot of humanity.  Most of humanity still living today, let alone the humanity of the past, would translate to paradise.

So, are we happy and grateful, confident in our marvelous civilization, settling down to raise fat babies and praise our good fortune?

Oh, no.  We lost all confidence in the Western civilization that brought us this untold prosperity.  We are dissatisfied and complaining that things aren’t PERFECT.  Some whine they can’t buy everything they see on TV.  And a lot talk about the evils of capitalism and pursue some imaginary socialist paradise, because they blame capitalism for everything from the fact they don’t have a purpose in life, to the fact that they’re not as attractive as they wish they could be.

And I wonder.  I wonder if this radical experiment of raising kids without any traumas, any hardship is not the worst thing you could do to kids.

It used to be believed — and it was a popular theory in the sixties and seventies — that if you raised kids with absolutely no hardship they would be perfect; that if you raised kids with no violence they would be peaceful; that if you raised kids with self-esteem and praise, they would be confident and productive.

All of those seem to be wrong.  The girls raised to believe that they are as good as any man and actively lied to about things like upper body strength are not confident.  They grow into women who believe men have near supernatural powers over them.  They scream for safe rooms.  So do all the people raised with no violence and no hardship.  Instead of being able to endure minor shocks, they can’t endure any shock at all.

Those theories have existed a long time, and there was no way to test them.  Oh, sure, rich people didn’t endure the same things as poor people, but even rich people died of stupid things.  Even rich people lost babies and childhood playmates.

In the regency, in the very same social class Jane Austen wrote about, every woman who made her trousseau included two shrouds for infants.  Because they’d lose at least that many, and they had to be prepared in a time when everything, even a shroud, took time sew.

So it was easy to attribute the dysfunctions of upper class kids to “they weren’t perfect yet.”

But now, now that we’re all living better than rich people 50 years ago, we can see the result of people raised without any kind of hardship, any kind of trial, are not strong.

Raised in such an unnatural environment, they are weak and pliable, and afraid of the slightest hardship.

The good news — and good is qualified — is that our unnatural bubble of wealth and mollycoddling will shatter.  What can’t go on won’t and when most of the population can’t function as adults, the gods of the copybook headings are just around the corner.

The question is, can we be like those men and women of iron who survived things we can barely imagine to get us here?

Or are we going to scream for counseling sessions and safe rooms?

Now is the time to start prepping for what’s ahead, and I don’t mean putting cans in the room under the stairs.  I mean preparing yourself, mentally and emotionally.

Read biographies, read about other times and places not like ours, and work to be aware of what really was going on, what life was like back then.

Become aware that you are — even if you’ve struggled — softer and more pampered than most of the mass of humanity.  And that humans are, by nature, scavengers.  Scavengers adapt and survive anything except abundance and ease.  They’re not designed for it.

Prepare now, mentally.

If we get very lucky and we escape the crucible, then we’ll at least be more able to understand the past.

And if we don’t get lucky, we just might survive.

We might.

And we’ll have to be strong, because most of the world isn’t equipped to survive.  Soemone will have to be men and women of iron who carry others on their shoulders.

And that’s whoever is capable of doing so.

We’re the opposite of a hardened population.  Being strong is not just how you survive, it’s how your loved ones will survive.

Sursum corda.  We will survive this.

105 thoughts on “Men – and Women — of Iron A Blast From the Past from March 8 2016

  1. Substack has a beautiful editor, doesn’t it? I’m using it for a review blog and it’s tempting to dump my entire Mailchimp list over there instead.

    (Honestly I probably should, Mailchimp went evil a long time ago.)

    1. Well, So many of my fans are upset with Amazon, and I get it, but I still have to be there to be discovered. I’m considering having “premium posts” at say $5 or $6 that give access to a download feed (I’m not doing well today, so I’m blanking on the name) to download earcs (for the desperate) or “early editions” in all formats, before I put it up on Amazon.
      Ah, book funnel?

      1. Yeah, Bookfunnel. Great company (so far no weirdness).

        That’s not a bad idea, in terms of giving fans another outlet. I wonder how taxes work on substack earning? That’s what’s stopped me from selling my ebooks direct in the past; it’s too hard to track state taxes. But if substack represents a single taxable income source, that would actually be a pretty brilliant way to distribute ebooks. o_o

        *looks admiring*

        1. Probably the same way it works for other indie earnings…..
          What you’re selling is access to the info, not the book itself. Which simplifies taxes.

    2. Totally and absolutely unrelated.

      But first thing I could find from you that wasn’t comment locked. 😀

      Just started reading Mindtouch, just a little into it– and though I’ve never been to college (military, instead) it hits quite solidly. So I suspect it’s very true to college experience, but it’s also accessible to Never Been.

      It FEELS like the stuff I read in the late 80s and early 90s, but based in the “now.” If that makes sense, which it probably doesn’t. 😀
      The only reason I noticed is that I got like a chapter and a half in and went “wow, this feels familiar”– and after poking at it enough, realized it ‘felt’ the same as old (some 50s, mostly late 60, and 70s, some 80s, very vague) scifi. These folks are ALIVE, these folks have HOPE, and oh by the way I adore how even body-language-blind me can pick up on the body language. 😀

      *waggles fox ears*

      Highly enjoyable, totally tossing at my bigger-geek mom. 😀

      1. I’m so glad you like it! And yes, my favorite fiction from the 80s had that vibe: hopeful, bright futurey, full of interesting colors and people. My other favorite thing is “brightness in the face of darkness”, because I love long redemption arcs and proofs that we can triumph over terrible circumstances. So most of my work swings between those poles. 🙂

        I hope your geeky mom enjoys it too. ❤

  2. Registered.

    The fact that so many writers have fled to Substack, including lefties like Glen Greenwald and Matt Tabibi, tells you how much the oligarchical left has worked to silence anyone who disagrees with them, no matter how minutely.

  3. Sarah, this post was perfect for today.

    I aspire to be iron. I shall pretend until I’m strong enough. 🙂

  4. Reminds me that I’ve been putting off getting a bulk water purifying system. Should do that, but need to get buy-in from the SO to bring most stuff into the house.

    I do tend to build a pile, that I don’t always use quickly.

  5. Speaking of emergencies and calamities…

    I’ve been listening to a book about the changing view on World War 2 in China. And something very curious is mentioned.

    In 1942, there was a huge famine in Henan Province that killed 3 million people. And yet when this famine was brought to the attention of a particular Chinese author in the ’90s (iirc), he’d never heard of it. This caused him to start researching the famine, but he had difficulty finding *any* sources about it. And when he asked people who’d been alive at the time – including his own grandmother – about 1942, the response was always a quizzical “Did something happen that year?”. Even people who had lived through the famine couldn’t seem to remember it.

    And yet we now it happened (in part because foreign journalists wrote about it).

    Some of the lack of information can likely be attributed to the Communists. The famine of 1959-1962 was much more catastrophic, and it may have occurred to Mao that people might compare that famine to the one in 1942. So it’s possible that part of the obscurity is a cover-up by the Communist authorities. But that doesn’t explain why the people who lived through it would have no recollection of it.

    The author ended up writing a book, and a best-selling (in China; Western critics panned it) movie was released about the famine. Unsurprisingly, people started to obliquely use the book and movie to refer to the famine under the Communists. And the book ‘Tombstone’, which is a well-researched Chinese-language book on the later famine, got a number of additional sales as a result.

      1. Random strangers and interview subjects, perhaps. But I wouldn’t expect that from his own grandmother.

        1. Old Chinese matriarch? Something that could potentially draw undue attention of a murderous tyrannical regime on her Grandson (who will probably be looking after her even if he isn’t already?). I’d be surprised if she DIDN’T lie.

          1. That might make sense, except…

            The big forbidden event of that time period – the Nationalists in World War 2 – was still quietly and privately talked about. The official histories had completely ignored the Nationalist contributions to the War, and claimed that only the Communist’s 8th Route Army and 4th New Army had contributed in any way to the War against Japan. And publicly, that’s all that you were allowed to talk about during the Mao years if discussion about the War came up. So people didn’t talk about what the Nationalists had contributed in public. But in private, it was apparently another matter. The same book that talks about the odd lack of recollection of the 1942 famine notes elsewhere that people still talked privately about their experiences during the War, including time spent as soldiers in the Nationalist army.

            But no one seems to have known *anything* about the 1942 famine, which killed three million people and caused another four million to become refugees. This is despite the fact that the stories of Nationalist soldiers from the World War 2 era had already started to come out and be popularized as part of the push that quickly led to the official recognition of the contributions of Chiang Kai-Shek and the Nationalists to the war against Japan (though still not as important as the Communists, of course!).

            So people at that time were publicly talking about a formerly forbidden topic of the exact same era. And yet no one – and I do mean *no one* – appears to have had even the slightest awareness of the famine. That suggests to me that it wasn’t a “we don’t talk about things that the authorities might overhear” problem.

    1. Perhaps nobody remembered it because it wasn’t memorable? Privation was common enough that people might have thought the famine – not knowing it’s scope – was just more of the same?

      This calls to mind New York columnist Jimmy Breslin, who, in writing about the Great Blackout of 1965 which cut power to over 30 million people, leaving 80,000 square miles without electricity for up to 13 hours, observed that for many ew York residents they never noticed, figuring that once again their failure to pay the electric bill had caught up with them.

  6. “Men & Women of Iron? Hasn’t that been declared hate speech during the intervening five years? What are you, tinphobic? Is it Zinc you revile, you metal discriminator?

    Actually, considering our opposition, it seems likely that you hate Brass, of which they have an abundance.

  7. Considering what part of the male anatomy is usually linked to brass, and how it’s used…

    I’m going to disagree with your suggestion that our opposition has an abundance of it.

    1. They claim to be gold, but seem rather more pyrite.
      Ah, but that’s iron you say? Ah, but with more than a whiff of brimstone.
      And thus is much explained.

  8. I see that you were thinking “pandemic” back in 2016. Very prescient.

    I often mention how safe everybody is these days. I suspect it has an impact on the types of stories that people want to consume. In general — this last year has been an exception, for obvious reasons — people seem to want stories in which the protagonist is in great danger, so they can get those adrenaline rushes. It’s one of the reasons some people don’t want to let go of the pandemic — their lives are so safe and boring that they need some other source of excitement or drama.

    I also suspect that having really really safe childhoods does *something* to people’s ability to tolerate risk as adults. Because the flood of “safetyism” we’re seeing in all of the colleges is not coincidental.

    1. want prescience? I give you… The Last Centurion

      Even though Covid is nowhere near the killer from the book, John accurately predicted the actions of certain authoritarians. Right down to doses of the vaccine gettign thrown out because they were improperly stored while politicians dickered over them…..

      1. He missed the part about the government actively preventing people from using effective treatments, though. There should be trials, and hangings. Ivermectin alone would have saved thousands.

        1. “Ivermectin alone would have saved thousands.” A thousand times THIS.

          Dr. Ryan Cole in Idaho said specifically the feds “have blood on their hands” because of this.

        2. And all of the state health departments that threatened to punish doctors that prescribed HCQ.

          1. It is a given that, these days, a famine is government induced. And when government declares a pandemic be confident a pandemic is going to occur.

            So wear three masks, stay six feet apart, do not gather together in groups of nine or more people and above all, remember your place.

      2. I reread TLC a few weeks ago, and yeah, the parallels are way too close to reality. Did Larry smuggle a time machine from one of the MHI pocket dimensions? Just what is in the lower levels of Yard Moose Mountain?

          1. I conflate TLC with Larry’s work occasionally. And I wasn’t even on “special” meds. Time to do penance and buy some more of John’s novels. 🙂 OTOH, it’s been a looooong week. Knee brace got set to a slightly higher range of motion than my knee is willing/able to do, and dental work got done (need a partial denture). A Gravity Spiker would be nice to know.

            I’ll take the alternate universe story. Maybe Tom Stranger would say something helpful. Hoooon!

            1. Or have the Darhel “help,” us.
              I really wish Ringo would wrap some threads up.

            2. I think I’ll go for something nice and calm, and start into the Black Tide Rising series. 🙂

    2. If you take away kids’ ability to calculate risk in a safe environment (such as a playground), they’ll be worse at calculating risk in a not-safe environment, such as the kid who 7-10 years ago decided to try and shoot the gap in between a truck and a 5th-wheel trailer on his bike at the nearest major intersection to my house.

      I know his name because of the memorial plaque his family put up there.

      1. Yup. Better you should do stupid things when you are only three feet from the ground, and weigh less than fifty pounds, rather than waiting until you’re six feet tall and not made of rubber, like a little kid. Some slightly dangerous playground games teach the physics of gravity and the likelihood of failure.

        1. I slipped on some monkey bars when I was in fourth or fifth grade and slammed on my neck. The teacher excused me from talking the rest of the day—though to be honest, it looked and sounded much worse than it felt. Within half an hour it felt fine, though I was still croaking.

          If I did something like that at my current weight, I’d be at risk of breaking my neck. More likely just epic and nasty bruising, though.

        2. My kids are all insane.


          They are rubber enough to deal with the stuff I can’t stop, and not strong enough to do stuff to each other that I can’t.

      2. Yes. There’s been a lot of social pressure on parents to not allow children sufficient autonomy to learn about risk. Passing Karens will report you to the “authorities” for not “supervising” your children enough. When I was young we wandered around the neighborhood and were expected to return for lunch and dinner. My three year old brother did get misplaced a couple of times…

        100% supervision by adults until the age of 18 is not going to produce independent risk-aware young adults.

        1. Doesn’t produce adults at all, but whiny babies that feel all ‘unsafe’ and ‘triggered’ at the slightest disturbance in their little bubble world.

          They need to learn, thar ain’t no ‘safe space’ — the universe is always trying to kill you, and one day it will succeed. If you don’t learn to deal with being ‘unsafe’, that day will come much sooner than it has to.

          1. They need to learn, thar ain’t no ‘safe space’

            Whattya mean, no safe space?

            I gotcha safe space right here, bud!

            Of course, I’m just using it until I get my Skylark 8 completed.

        2. When I was young we wandered around the neighborhood …

          Hah When I was young we rode our bicycles in the street and nobody wore a helmet, much less knee or elbow pads. In seventh grade I rode my bicycle two mile to school and four miles home again. (In the part of West Virginia where I lived the trip to school was downhill all the way, so naturally going home necessitated some tacking up the hills.)

          1. Bike helmet laws have discouraged bicycling to such an extent that the damage from lack of exercise may be less than that prevented by helmets.

  9. And just watching what’s unfolding in the news, it’s hard to imagine that we can get our working systems back, after folks are done with them. So many seem to be so all in on the presumption of guilt, denial of representation and silence at all costs, I don’t see how we get those back.

    How does one unscramble the egg.

  10. Perfect for then and now. Then, 3/8/16 we were facing the “certainty” of 8 years of Hillary after the 8 of Obama. And now we have the Biden-bunch attempting to ram all the lost 8 years of Clinton into the first months of Biden. It gets scary when tyrants get in a hurry.

    1. Proglodytes are prone to sloppiness under the best of conditions, but when they get hasty the area in front of the fan gets truly messy.

  11. I think this post is spot on. Our society has become weak willed. I can understand why people want to avoid hardship, but we’ve been coddling ourselves so much that any sort of adversity is now considered vile and unreasonable, regardless of intensity.

    With my own recent health struggles my wife has expressed an amazement that I’m not more depressed and anxious over things. But I look back on when I was really young and remember my dad with his shattered ankles he never seemed depressed about the possibility that he’d never walk again. He was determined to make the best of it. The surgeon that did the reconstructions did a great job and he’s been walking ever since. It was a set back, not an ending. I’m trying to look at it the same way. This is a set back, but even though my odds aren’t great I intend to carry on for a long time. I don’t see this as an end. Adversity helps define us as people. Everyone can get through the good times, but it takes character and determination to make it through the hardships.

    1. Well said. And optimism helps one’s physical health as well as one’s mind, so you might as well fight back with laughter and cheer, as well as determination.

    2. Every so often I wonder if I should be having more stress-related problems than I am currently having. And then I start running a check list from my past. None of those events are going on, and most are not likely to happen in the near future. (Assault, serious illness of close family member, that sort of thing.) So no, my stress level is appropriate for current conditions, thank you!

    3. This is an area that bugs. Most of my coworkers talk about how I’m crazy to do some things I do and how in the zombie apocalypse they’re coming to my place. I’m the prepared and determined one on things like survival in our office.

      I look around and think, “If I’d the one ready to face hardship, we’re really screwed.”

      1. … in the zombie apocalypse they’re coming to my place.

        Funny how so many folk think the people who failed to prepare will be welcomed by those who did.

        1. Well, the grasshoppers took the ants’ charity for granted.
          I admit the ants’, “You sang all summer, now you can dance all winter,” response seemed cruel. But, “we all share until we all starve,” isn’t the way to go, either.

          People who rhapsodize about the early Church practicing “socialism,” never seem to notice that by the time of Paul, he’s routinely fundraising among his churches for offerings to support the saints in Jerusalem.
          “He who does not work does not eat,” has much to commend it.

        2. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t give out our physical address very often.

          (Ham radio modes frequently make use of the Maidenhead Grid location system. One thing I like about it is that it defines locations as a series of grid squares. A 4 character grid ID is comfortably large. 6 gets a bit too closely defined. 12 differentiates between where the room is and elsewhere in the back yard. Yikes. And yes, my call sign links to my address. More precisely, my *mailing* address.)

    4. The surgeon that did the reconstructions did a great job and he’s been walking ever since.

      Your dad probably recognized that, had the same injury happened to his dad, the best result the surgeon could have offered was amputation and hope gangrene didn’t set in.

      I am currently listening to a podcast series about baseball fifty years ago and an underlying theme is the occurrence of career ending injuries that would be handled by a simple procedure these days. We take a great deal for granted these days.

      1. Yes. My gallbladder is scheduled to come out Monday (I’m convinced the trouble is stress-related). Four little incisions, done as an outpatient procedure. Problem found in January, surgery in April. You betcha I’m not taking this for granted.

        1. Dorothy, be careful. I had that procedure done in 2008, and those tiny slits meant that they dropped a gallstone without realizing it. about 3 months later, I found it…… when I went to my GI doctor for “nausea” and they realized that it had blocked my pancreatic duct.

          One month in the hospital and 25% of my pancreas gone later…..

      2. I shudder to think of what life would be like if the surgeon hadn’t reconnected my quadriceps tendon. Getting Range of Motion is pretty much my job, but it’s nice to be able to do a straight leg lift and do better than the 1/4″ pre-op level.

      3. 45+ years ago such surgeries were really new, or didn’t even exist. Today people get surgery and back within the season for something that would have been career ending. Even 20 years ago Bo Jackson’s injury would have kept him from ever playing anything again, but was able to come back and play baseball for a little while, though not at the high level he had been at before. People talking about Tiger Woods’ horrific injuries possibly ending his career I think are maybe being a little overly dramatic. I’m not up on just how bad his injuries are, but golf doesn’t involve a whole lot of running and quick direction changes. I think he’ll come back if he wants.

    5. I know I say it a lot– but we live in The Future.

      My aunt had legit reasons to not have more kids, after two C-sections.

      My radically different C-sections are nothing like as scary.

      the relative my name came from died of breast cancer like two months after they found it. My mom was diagnosed while I was in boot camp– and some twenty years later, she’s going strong and getting annoyed with folks who WANT her to believe she’s a freak, not the norm.

      1. When I was a child, experts would solemnly declare that you never recovered from cancer. No matter how long it had been, you were a cancer patient with cancer in remission.

        1. That’s still true for many cancers, if not all: pancreas and prostate are two I’m familiar with. The cancer kills you; it lets another illness push you to the other side.

        2. Oh, they still do.

          Just not around my mom. At least not twice….

          She uses the same arguments to prove that there is no such thing as someone who does not have cancer, just those who have not yet been diagnosed.

          1. If I understand the mechanism, more right than you know.
            Our bodies develops several cancers all the time, it’s just your immune system gets rid of it. I know this, because it’s why I’m at higher risk.

            1. Pretty much– there’s even a really nice Cells at Work episode about it– which is part of why it’s an effective counter to the folks who want someone who had a problem to stay a mental victim forever.

              1. grandma had stomach cancer in the 30s in Portugal. It was excised. They gave her almost no chance of surviving. She survived. (Of note, she had the same level of autoimmune I have.)
                The autoimmune is why she didn’t NOTICE when it came back, when she was 88. She had cold symptoms for three or four months. (I know someone else in whom cancer presented that way.) “Just so tired all the time and like a cold I can’t kick. MUST be autoimmune” (right?) I mean I understand this on a visceral level, because I lost entire years that way. Particularly when stressed.
                By the time they suspected something was wrong and x-rayed (!) there were masses everywhere. The result of her biopsy arrived two weeks after her death.
                So, the cancer DID come back, but seriously? The first time she didn’t even have radiation. They just didn’t do that at the time. And she lived another fifty many years.
                I am not even sure the second was a return. Might have been another growth.

            2. Related is why whales don’t die of cancer: they get cancer, and then the tumors (already selected for pathological cells) grow big enough to get cancer themselves.

  12. Yes, well said. I think about my dad and my uncle. Dad died from a heart attack brought on by the stress of taking care of my mother and the added stress of a sociopathic niece. But, that was sudden and catastrophic. Otherwise, he was optimistic and forward-looking. My uncle, his brother, is the same way. I strive to do that as well. I’ve watched friends and colleagues collapse over what I consider to be less-than-earth-shattering setbacks. They’re convinced that there’s no way around the obstacle. So, yeah, for them it’s the end. For me, I’m determined to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  13. I think part of like the line from the folk song“There is scarcely a man alive that remembers the Sloop …” there is scarcely anyone that remembers World War II. I was 8 years old when it ended. Life at that time in Idaho was not easy, like the winter storms of 1948 when we were snowed in for weeks and could only get to town with a surplus army canvas topped Jeep.

    Later in life when I was working in the Philippines with the Ministry of Agriculture, we went to one of the villages they that was in the survey for rice production on the Island of Samar. It took us 2 days to get there. It started with a short flight to the provincial capital, then across the Island, which took 6 hours in a 4 wheel drive vehicle through mountains, jungle and rice paddies. We then crossed by ferry to a smaller island where we stayed the night. The next day we got on a motor boat that held maybe 10 persons to go up the river. After about 6 hours we reached the district town. After meeting with the interviewers, we later in the evening went to a village a couple of hours walk where they were having a festival. Even thou the leader had a light, mostly we walked in the dark through rice paddies and shuttered villages. I remember how dark it was with no lights anywhere. Yet when we got to this village, they had a generator and it was lit up and there was dancing and plenty of the local palm spirits.

    My wife, who, is from Albania, remembers well having, as a student. to go out and work in fields harvesting corn and drinking dirty water from the irrigation ditch. Later she had to go to a mountain town to teach math and physics. Of course the party members and well connected did not have to go.

    There are very few people here on the banks of the Potomac that have any concept of how difficult life can be, except those that have been the military in far of place.

    1. I have on my desk a birthday card which I will send in the next few days. It will go to a WWII vet (who talks about his experiences almost not at all, even now). When I was younger, relatives gave us their ‘obsolete’ set of encyclopedias dated 1950, which was quite a window to WWII and the times immediately after. While I never had it truly as rough as so many, I am at least vaguely aware of how things could be. And I know, at least a bit, just how fortunate I am in that.

      It annoys me to see to many not realizing that they are doing their damnedest to destroy The Age of Common Miracles. Oh? Not common? Flip that light switch a couple times. Now put a small generator on a stationary bike. Connect it to a (filament type) bulb. Make it make useful light for 20 minutes. Now… realizing how much work that was… oh, and then figure out to collect the materials to do make the equivalent amount of light from oil, or wax. Oh, the filament bulb was a cheat? Alright, tell me how you *make* a light-emitting diode. Start with what, exactly, must be mined. Today’s “I, Pencil” could be “I, Lightbulb.” And that’s JUST a ‘simple’ light bulb. Smartphone? Age of Common Miracles.

  14. since I’m one of the youngest people to have immunity to it

    Just a for what it’s worth, the Navy was still testing for small pox and administering the vaccine if you showed no antibodies in the mid-80s when I was a boot. I believe they briefly stopped post Cold War but were back to doing it no later than 9/11. I suspect other services are the same.

    So we should a have a good sized, mostly male, immune population. Yes, it’s still a small fraction of the total US population, but it isn’t insignificant. Looks like 3% of male adults under 35 and 8% of those 35-54. Women look at be about 3/4ths of a percent and 1.5% for those groups.

    1. My mother couldn’t remember whether I had gotten the vaccination. Older sister yes, younger no, me maybe — until one day I pointed out something on my arm — that’s a smallpox vaccination scar, isn’t it?

      1. Yes, more noticeable after a shower, perhaps. As to whether that old vaccination still confers resistance, let alone immunity, is at best uncertain. But it’s better than nothing. The questions, by how much? Might be “not much” and might be more.

        1. There are lab tests that say they will test for how much is left. Now, how much faith you have in either the tests or the interpretation of the results…..

          1. Aye. While even untampered ‘samples’ that might be lurking in old buildings or almost unexplored sites could be a Nasty Problem, anything that was… enhanced (even possibly without that intent) and gets out (or is sent out…) is potentially a Really Really Nasty Problem.

        2. Much more noticable when you’re looking for it as opposed to never noticing because it’s literally been there since before you remember.

  15. We are dissatisfied and complaining that things aren’t PERFECT.

    This ought not need explanation.

    Almost Perfect – Shel Silverstein

    “Almost perfect… but not quite.”
    Those were the words of Mary Hume
    At her seventh birthday party,
    Looking ’round the ribboned room.
    “This tablecloth is pink not white–
    Almost perfect… but not quite.”

    “Almost perfect… but not quite.”
    Those were the words of grown-up Mary
    Talking about her handsome beau,
    The one she wasn’t gonna marry.
    “Squeezes me a bit too tight–
    Almost perfect… but not quite.”

    “Almost perfect… but not quite.”
    Those were the words of ol’ Miss Hume
    Teaching in the seventh grade,
    Grading papers in the gloom
    Late at night up in her room.
    “They never cross their t’s just right–
    Almost perfect… but not quite.”

    Ninety-eight the day she died
    Complainin’ ’bout the spotless floor.
    People shook their heads and sighed,
    “Guess that she’ll like heaven more.”
    Up went her soul on feathered wings,
    Out the door, up out of sight.
    Another voice from heaven came–
    “Almost perfect… but not quite.”

  16. Read biographies, read about other times and places not like ours, and work to be aware of what really was going on, what life was like back then.

    Took that advice. We’ve always been a country swept by moral reforms. Anglo-protestant-City-onna-Hill idealists gonna Anglo-protestant-City-onna-Hill. And that’s fine. You do not get the dream of the U.S.A. without it. And a leaven of German Lutheran kirke-kinder-kuche and Celtic Catholic monarchism, mediated by Christ our brother softened the crazy edges. Yet sometime around the turn of the 20th century, something happened.

    Maybe, as Mrs. Hoyt opines in her essay, we got too rich. Maybe something else. Something that had the ability to make secular paradise, Marxism, and the like *stick* started in the 1920s

    Here’s a fun quote: “children would be good if only they were happy” ~ Nesbit

    1. Nesbit never met a sadistic child, did he? I did. He killed creatures I loved in front of me, because he could.

      1. And probably grew up to be a serial killer. That’s how most of them get started.

      2. I wish I knew. He was his family’s darling.

        That’s common, too. The family refuses to see their precious boy for the budding monster he is, ‘protect’ the little shit from having to deal with the consequences of his actions, reinforce the belief that he’s the only important person in the universe…

        …and then are ‘Shocked, Shocked!’ when the police dig up seven dead girls in his back yard.

  17. I’ve been fully aware for the last 18 years that I am living a second life. In any other country and any other time, I would have died of this autoimmune disease when I was 41. I had an itch from an early age that I needed to go full bore because I would die young. I thought I was going to die in my 30s. So I am grateful for the time– without the last 18 years I wouldn’t have written books. These last two decades have been less active than the first part of my life. Also I wonder if I hadn’t had such a tough time in childhood, if I would have just given up when I was 41.

    A friend told me once about the phenomenon of men getting shot for the first time in the arm and just dying from the pain. It was because these men had never experienced much pain in their lives. So this guy was teaching this too men in the police, fire, and emergency services– because talking about it actually stopped these kinds of deaths. I was astounded to hear that people could die from shock from superficial wounds if they are not prepared for the pain and prepared to fight to stay. Will is forged in hard times.

    1. I had a very large ovarian cyst removed when I was 20. I was taking fencing at the time in college. If one of my opponents had poked me too hard….
      Well, I guess I’m on my second life, too.

  18. Here’s a question: if no one ever suffered, no physical or emotional pain, would there be any concept of empathy, sympathy or compassion? What sort of people would we be?

    1. Unfeeling at best. Utterly evil at worst.
      And… alas, bet toward the worse end of that spectrum.

      There is idea of reducing emotion and winding up as purely logical Star Trek Vulcans. But it seems when that path is attempted, one gets not Vulcans but Demons.

    2. I think that is a very good point. There is an idea that emotions are developed and identified. If not — we reset to basic emotions like anger or fear. (fight or flight)

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