Simple Rules For Life

Let me start by saying that none of us is safe. Or to put it in grandma’s and mom’s words — words I recently threw back at mom, btw, when she was panicking about Winnie the Flu, which is probably evil of me — “we all serve at pleasure.” At any minute our number could be up, and we might have no idea why or how. In fact, we might never know, though those left behind might figure it out.

I don’t think it’s likely for instance to be struck by a meteorite and meet your end that way, but it has in fact happened to a vanishingly small number of people. As has death by slipping in your own shower. Death by choking on a peanut, and other ways to die while engaged in activities that should theoretically be absolutely safe.

However, recently I was struck by how the means to be UNsafe are the same through the ages.

I am engaged in as much house repair/upgrade as I can stand before I can’t do anymore for the day. Unfortunately this means that my editing of Darkship Thieves to go back up (I would skip it, but I’ve found actual for real spelling mistakes somehow missed in the published edition, so–) and my finalizing of Bowl of Red (and others) have pretty much stopped. I’ll come and sit in front of the computer, but then just sit here going “derp.” and nothing happens.

For reasons known only to the psychiatrist I don’t have, yesterday, while in that state I fell into a Jack the Ripper rabbit hole.

Now, this might be a symptom of deeper depression, as “true crime reading” is about as low as I can get before having to pull myself up. But I don’t think so, because I don’t feel the slightest need to read about contemporary crimes. And I fell into it via “what new weird theories have cropped up?” (Van Gogh, really? Are all of them insane?)

One of the new things out, from a would-be intellectual source — which, like most of these are actually just posing-as-smart — related to the BBC is about the victims of the Ripper and how the true facts of their lives are nothing like we’d expect, and how it will blow your mind.

Do I need to tell you it won’t blow your mind, and they are precisely what we’d expect?

I didn’t buy/read the book because honestly, no. But I was less than impressed by the teaser-facts that the author gave that not all Victorians were prudish, and that people often entered in what we’d term common law marriages. This would only surprise the idiot left who thinks that no one before the 21st century ever had irregular relationships, and that they were all stuffy moralists. I mean, really. What are these people, 2? Humans are humans throughout the ages.

But this led me to reading about the Ripper’s victims, and life in Victorian tenements, and realizing a lot of what we knew of them is filtered through the lens of well-intentioned moralists who were trying to drum up charity, or airy-headed socialists like Dickens who were trying to drum up “paradise.”

That the Victorian tenements, lodging houses and slums (a continuum that was a big fuzzy in “person”) were less comfortable and savory than our present lodgings goes without saying. So were their mansions and palaces. Lest we forget, Queen Victoria’s husband died from typhus, a disease connected with bad drains and water contaminated with sewage.

However…. well, the description of them as hell on Earth seems about as accurate as the description of “dark satanic mills.” Yeah some — a lot — of these places were insalubrious but the only truly appalling ones were the province of what we’d today classify as “homeless”. People flocked from the country into tenements, because rickety and shoddy as they were they were probably better than picturesque cottages with vermin living in the thatch and gaps between the stones. I mean, people make their decisions for what’s best for them and more than a hundred years later, it’s impossible to figure it out for sure, from where we stand.

Except to say that yeah, it was very hard and we’re unimaginably rich by comparison. But then we’re unimaginably rich in comparison to rich people, too.

Having lived closer (though not too close) the middle class Victorian, trust me on this. The difference between them and the poor of their time was far smaller than the difference between them and us.)

But the bottom — well, the bottom is almost exactly the same as in our time. Which frankly was shocking and surprising.

I want to make it clear I’m not blaming these women for being the victims of the Ripper. Even if their lifestyles predisposed them to that type of end, it was still fairly rare even at that level and the guilt for the sin lies with the murderer alone.

But as I said, I read a lot of true crime novels. And while middle class people of decent living standards can and do often fall victim to killers for reasons ranging from “was related” to “lived next door” to “was in wrong place at the wrong time” I have to say, in terms of at least reading about real cases, that’s far rarer than “people lived a life that will predispose them to this sort of thing.”

In an age of rising crime (mostly because fargin idiots let criminals out of jail so the poor darlings wouldn’t die of Winnie the Flu) there are things that are important to remember:

One of the best ways of ending up the victim of a crime is to live in a criminal millieu or to be a criminal oneself. (And I’m not talking of fuzzy political crimes, here, but of things like murder, rape, larceny, etc.)

Another of the best ways is to be someone no one cares about. And by this I don’t mean living in an unhappy marriage, or whatever. I mean being homeless, having no connections to any other human being, living at the margins of society where no one GAF if you live or die.

This is honestly fairly rare and more difficult than it sounds like. It’s not a matter of simply “drifting down.” Humans are social animals and, by default, form connections. It’s almost impossible to go through life without someone caring if you life or die, and it usually involves active (if sometimes subtle) discouraging of connections ranging from “toxic personality” to “active malice towards others” to “addiction and other issues.” Or the popular all of the above.

Looking at the victims of the Ripper, and even taking in account that women had far fewer rights and choices than today, it is obvious that they were living at the bottom of society, yes, but that they both needed to continually choose to be there and reinforce that choice.

Most of them had started as fairly average middle class daughters or wives, before falling prey to addictions — alcohol or sex or whatever — which eventually forced their families to break with them. Now, was the family being judgemental? Sure. But if you’ve lived with an addict, you probably understand at some point it’s separate from them or go down with them.

The funny part is at least one the family didn’t kick her out and kept trying to get her back (I don’t remember if that was one of the known or one of the simply suspected additional victims.) But for whatever reason, she preferred to be where she was.

The other thing that became clear is that the women and men at that level of society were all much of the same cloth. Yes, they had had several “what we’d term common law marriages” and often there were kids abandoned with relatives in rural locations. But again, what also quickly becomes clear, even if you “just” read between the lines of the moralists and socialists accounts of the time is that a lot of these people made the choice to remain mired at the bottom daily.

One of the things people will tell you is “the only thing she had to sell was herself.” And that’s pretty much bullshit. The fact one of the presumed victim’s common-law-husband had given her money to buy “stock” (i.e. small things to sell) tell you it wasn’t the only thing. More importantly, as I said, I grew up closer to this, in a place and time where a woman needed a signed permission from her husband to get a job, and women left by their husbands, or women left destitute by the passing of their father or husband, still contrived to make a living — and sometimes to become very comfortable indeed — through buying, selling, making or hiring out as craftspeople, rather than selling themselves. The Victorian age was a time when a pair of hands and a mind were more valuable than now (as opposed to specialized training) if that’s what you were willing to do.

Most of the people using dossing houses seemed to be at the very least petty criminals, more often addicts and almost always people who had alienated anyone who even tried to care for them.

And they were subject to horrible lives, yes, even if not victims of a mass murderer.

But again and again in reading about them, one realizes they chose that life daily. At any time — and sometimes, much too rarely it happened – they could have picked themselves up, shaken up the dust and decided to live by the common rules of their time and place, and claimed for themselves the respectability and safety of at least lower middle class.

There were, if nothing else, charitable people standing by to help. But there was also much more flexibility in such things as starting a business, and selling things (one way they were superior to our own time.)

All it took was deciding to live by “middle class” rules: monogamy, sobriety, hard work. And above all responsibility for self.

Which arguably is the same today or thereabouts.

These people 100 years ago, much like the homeless of today choose not to. Particularly on the hard work and responsibility for self.

Yes, a lot of them are mentally ill, then as now, but that’s a different discussion.

Just like the moralists and socialists of the time blamed “society” for the terrible living conditions of these people at the bottom, so we now are turning society inside out and destroying what works in the name of helping those who either don’t want to be helped or are unable to take advantage of the opportunity.

And in the end destroying society does nothing. And destroying the “oppressive” rules (and while their rules were more oppressive than ours, the MINIMAL rules for decent living weren’t. Victorians it turns out were more tolerant than the left thinks. Though not preaching socialism at your neighbors is a good idea, then as now. People have limits.) does nothing but cast more people adrift who don’t even know what to do to raise themselves up out of purposelessness. Now most of these people won’t be wretched. I mean, we have a fund of both wealth and knowledge that makes them merely unhappy and aimless. But a few will fall all the way down and have nothing to seize hold of to raise themselves up.

Particularly since the echoing chamber of pudding heads insist if they’re not thriving it’s because they are victims and “the man” is holding them down. Most of the time that man (or woman) can be found in the mirror, but no one tells them that. No victim blaming. Even if they are self-victims.

And that is also a constant. A continuing current from the Victorian age till today. A worm gnawing at the foundations of decent living and society.

And seeking to bring down the best and most able, in order to show it’s really no one’s fault.

I’m tired of it, and wondering why people can read these accounts and not see it.

In the end your life and that of those closer to you is your responsibility. It might be better or worse depending on the times you life in. But it is always yours to waste or save until the end, which of course you have no control over most of the time.

Whether you live well or badly and are happy or wretched are ultimately a choice. Sometimes it takes more effort than others (and in totalitarian societies those might be relative) but there’s always something you can do not to be the most absolutely wretched in that society.

And the skills are the same throughout time.

Those who obscure this from the young and hapless are monsters too cowardly to commit active murder and destruction, but committing it every day by different means. No matter how much they scream they’re “helping” they aren’t and it is obvious they’re lying. It should be obvious to them too.

Be not afraid. And keep raising yourself up. Make your gut into a new heart and keep working.

405 thoughts on “Simple Rules For Life

  1. Mudbone (aka Richard Pryor) said it best. “We didn’t ask to be here, and we damn sure don’t know when we’re gonna go. So you better have a good time while you’re here. And get a little sunshine on your face.”

  2. Well, in fairness to some of the poor, if a community is unwilling or unable to drive off the thieving pieces of stuff, those thieving pieces of stuff will steal a lot of the readily accessible wealth. This discourages savings and investment, leading to habits of poverty. Some poverty could be caused by this.

      1. True.

        There’s always something you can secure, by hiding if nothing else, and always some incentive to have a reserve against the future.

  3. “Having lived closer (though not too close) the middle class Victorian, trust me on this. The difference between them and the poor of their time was far smaller than the difference between them and us.)”

    *vigorous nod*

    The divide between water you don’t have to boil to drink, machines that wash and dry clothes for you, streets that don’t turn to muddy swamps during the rainy season, indoor plumbing, and what we have today is *vast.* But, people being people, there were and are those that choose to do as little as possible and reap whatever earthly pleasures that drive them without restraint. And there always will be.

    It is not merely laziness. Trust me. I *am* lazy. If I let myself, I could spend every day reading books and only occasionally remembering to eat and sleep. There’s a self destructive bent to those who sink to the bottom and stay there. Some think, however conscious or unconsciously, that they deserve it. Others firmly believe there is no way out for them, despite all evidence- they will argue quite firmly that this is the case. Still more believe in their hearts that skimming along the bottom is the only right and rational way to be- striving and working for a living, in their minds, is for fools.

    People being people means also that there were, are, and like as not will always be those of a charitable bent that will see to it that those at the bottom have some basic needs met, and even an opportunity to climb out if they could but believe it, and strive. And sometimes both the ones that claw their way out of poverty and those that wallow come from the same source. One can, and must choose how they will react when the world craps on them.

    It takes guts. And character. And stubborn, mulish willpower to keep doing the right thing when your environment tends to reward apathy *now.* Even more when the people around you mock and belittle your efforts. Those who have made it out of such places tend to be more resilient and far less tolerant of the grifters and beggars they left behind.

    1. I remember listening to a Salvation Army major several years ago (I was a volunteer bell-ringer). He was explaining how much labor and effort some people put into not working. They’d be very comfortable if they put that effort into a job, but no, no, they focused on “getting things from others” instead of “working for an employer.” He admired their skill and focus, even as he decried that they chose that path.

      1. My grandfather appeared, unnamed, in Angela’s Ashes — he was a member of the Vincent de Paul Society. I asked my mother about this since even the “rich” people in Limerick were poor. If you want absolute destitution you could do worse than the Irishtown in Limerick during the depression and economic war. She pointed out that, as poor as the McCourts were, the mother always had enough money for cigarettes, for the consumption of which she was notorious throughout the town. My mother gave me the same answer she gave me when I asked how the money was found to privately educate everyone in her family, even the women which was unusual, and there was no money to speak of. She told me “people always find the money for what they value.”

        BTW, for anyone who remembers the books. While he gives a very good picture of life in Limerick at the time, Frank McCourt is not a reliable witness. My mother knew the family, both in Ireland and, particularly later in NYC. I have her annotated copy. I don’t remember my mother being funny, but her comments on the book are hilarious.

        1. There was another series of memoirs by a woman named Helen Forrester – her parents were middle-class but almost wholly inept and crushingly self-centered. They had alienated all of their blood relatives, and when their fortunes crashed in the Depression, they went to live in the very poorest part of Liverpool with their six children. The family lived in dire poverty – but Helen Forrester made the point in one of the memoirs that they shouldn’t have been. Their parents were working, and so were her older brothers. With a family of eight, half of whom had jobs, they could have gotten on in some comfort, but her parents couldn’t manage money, frivoled it away on things like cigarettes and flashy furniture on layaway at high interest … they could have scrounged coal and wood for fires, bought plain food. grown vegetables. They could have been comfortable on a modest level – but her parents just didn’t have the skills to deal with a severely reduced income level.
          The memoirs made rather painful reading, as Helen was kind of passive aggressive over how badly she was treated by her mother and sisters – long detailed accounts of how she was exploited … but she didn’t bear a grudge over such awful treatment, really. (Her mom comes across as a real piece of work.)

          1. The Clairvoyant Countess by Dorothy Gilman.

            It recounts the main character’s backstory: escaping the Russian Revolution, her family had spent all their money the only way they knew how — as if they were endlessly rich — and then crashed, hard.

        2. That’s a very cool inheritance/gift from your mother!

          To your point about always having money for cigarettes. I’ve noticed the same thing. That and tattoos. Tats are expensive! And, I know that there are cheap/free and highly unsanitary methods, but a lot of the ones that I see are fairly complex and have a lot of color. That’s not cheap. So, yeah, people will find money for things they really want and value.

          1. I live in a…tattoo-friendly area. (My husband and I were notorious at our church for being one of the un-tattooed 10-percent-maybe of the congregation.) When we first moved down here, two of the local tattoo parlors were having a Spat.

            Sign One: “$25 TATTOOS!!! GET YOUR INK NOW!!!” A mile down the road, very sedately, was Sign Two: “We Fix $25 Tattoos”.

            1. LOL! Perfect! My mom was a tech writer for a company that made medical lasers for removing tattoos. They had before and after pics of successful removals in their marketing stuff. Damn there were some BAD tats!

              1. My observations from the last time I went to a water park was a.) man, a lot more people than I expected had tattoos (this was 20 years ago, mind you) and b.) man, a lot of those tats really, really are terrible.

                A good tattoo can be an amazing work of art…but those tend to be expensive and rare. Like any art, heh.

            2. Oh, I am so, so thankful I never got tattoos. “It is one thing to be young and stupid. It is quite another to brand yourself with the stupid forever.”

              1. Guy I knew used to tell the story of a former girlfriend. First time they got intimate, she removed her shirt to reveal a Harley Davidson logo tattooed across her entire chest. Her comment was “Yeah, I was young and stupid.”

            3. Life coach Martha Beck did some work with (former) drug addicts. She was astonished to learn they had supported $180,000/year drug habits. They “needed,” the money, so they just went out and stole or prostituted themselves until they got it.

              1. A retired homicide detective who did a really excellent show (Joe Kenda, Homicide Hunter) had pretty much nothing good to say about drug addicts.* I’m sure he’d get accused of being insensitive, but he would have some very pointed things to say to people who told him THAT as well. On other shows either hosted by retired homicide detectives, or ones where they were interviewing one and the subject came up, it struck me that the attitude was pretty universal, at least amongst homicide detectives. (Namely, that an addict would murder their own mother–or child–if it might get them their next fix.)

                *But at the same time, he also ripped into any of his detectives that weren’t doing their all to solve a murder just because the victim was poor/a prostitute/a drug addict. One of his other forcefully expressed opinions is that NO ONE deserves to get murdered, and their killer should always be prevented from breathing free air.

          2. The cause of criminality among the white population of England is perfectly obvious to any reasonably observant person, though criminologists have yet to notice it. This cause is the tattooing of the skin.

            A slow-acting virus, like that of scrapie in sheep, is introduced into the human body via the tattooing needle and makes its way to the brain, where within a few years it causes the afflicted to steal cars, burgle houses, and assault people.

            I first formulated my viral theory of criminality when I noticed that at least nine out of ten white English prisoners are tattooed, more than three or four times the proportion in the general population. The statistical association of crime with tattooing is stronger, I feel certain, than between crime and any other single factor, with the possible exception of smoking. Virtually all English criminals are smokers, a fact that sociologists have also unaccountably overlooked.

            https://www.city-journal.org/html/it-hurts-therefore-i-am-12341.html

            1. I’ve heard people with numerous tats or piercings acknowledge that they’re addicted to the endorphin rush they get from getting a new tattoo or piercing. That alone was enough to tell me I didn’t want to do any such thing. (I do have pierced ears. But I never got an endorphin rush, I just found that temporary pain that went away was far better than what clip on earrings do to one’s ears after a couple of hours… :p )

          3. What confounds me is how many people choose to get *bad* tattoos. And lots of them, in random places. And the ones who get intricartely detailed blackwork, which generally turns to dark smudges over time. And the guy with what was once a gorgeous tiger backpiece, ruined by his decision to go for a dark tan… that backpiece would have cost him a chunk even in the Philippines or Thailand; Stateside… who knows. You don’t get work like that in one sitting, either.

            The last fad was apparently lines of illegible cursive along the bottom of the ribcage. The new one seems to be butterflies or Gothic capitals just below the throat.

        3. You should scan it and free-publish as the “Annotated Angela’s Ashes”. Your mother may not be Martin Gardener of “The Annotated Alice in Wonderland” fame, but don’t let her marginalia disappear!

          1. Grandma was always telling stories that she was told by her grandfather, who was a child emigrated on the Oregon Trail in 1843 with his parents, 11+ siblings (mom gave birth to a 13th child not long after arriving in Oregon). Two sets of Uncles with wives, and their (combined) 20, or so children (don’t remember the count of the one family), and a great-uncle. Not the first wagon train of families, but the second, and the first with livestock herd (beyond what hauled the wagons and the occasional milk cow). Then there were the stories of her growing up in rural Oregon, early 1900’s. Grandma eventually wrote down the stories, taking writing classes from LCC (senors can audit classes, just show up and sit in). After she died, her daughters took the stories of her growing up, a overview of the stories told by her grandfather, and used part of her estate to have them self-published. For awhile the book was used in a Southern Oregon college as one of their early 1900 Oregon history books.

            Cover: Grandma at 23. Group: Grandma and Verona (SIL), Sally (older sister), Denise (oldest daughter), Jackie (DIL & my mom), Leta (youngest daughter) and Bill (youngest child/son). Location in front of (at onetime family home) the old girls dorm for the old HS “Normal” school. Picture taken late summer ’55 or so, based on Mom being in the picture, and Bill’s age. (Book doesn’t say what year picture was taken.) FYI. Besides Grandma and Mom. The list (for me) is Great Aunt Verona, Great Aunt Sally, Aunt Denise, Aunt Leta, and Uncle Bill.

          2. An old friend of mine from Limerick wrote an answer to it. It was all a huge scandal in Ireland at the time. They asked him on TV if he were going to write a sequel like McCourt’s Tis. He said he would and was going to call it Tis and me arse, which is a nice bit of a Irish vernacular for those who like that sort of thing.

            For ourselves, my cousin collated all the different responses to the book. Whether it ever sees the light of day is unknown. She was asked to wait until they were all safely dead.

            I think my mother was offended about how ungrateful he was and she was very sensitive to how the Irish were seen — there was a run-in with the local DAR crowd here in NY who didn’t want Irish in the club and she never really got over that. As for the McCourts, lots of people tried to help them, the Vincent de Paul society among others, but they wouldn’t be helped. For the details, I put a lot of it down to his memories being hazy. McCourt talks about being turned away from the Christian Brothers because he couldn’t pay. That’s not the way it worked, in fact the whole point of the Christian Brothers is that that’s not how it worked. You took a test.

            I knew MCCourt vaguely through the emigrant organizations. His brother Malachy was a legendary drinker who had the Irish music show in Fordham University radio (WFUV). Malachy used to walk around in a kilt, which the Irish never really wore, and ran for mayor on the Socialist Workers Party ticket. A real piece of work.

            1. My family is at the far end of the country– thank God!– but I can totally feel the whole “ingratitude” response.

              Especially if your mother, like my mom’s family, didn’t take the help that other folks had, in roughly similar situations, and made good from it.

              But the “problem” is there wasn’t more given to those who are now complaining about how hard they had it.

              She, and I, and probably you– know it has to do with assuming the best of those you love…but it still stings.

              1. I think ingratitude is a common response, but the notion some put out about that it’s the people who offer help are those who should be grateful that the poor accept their help is ridiculous. I do think that some poor people are unfortunate but I also believe a lot of poor people are poor because of the choices they make, certainly in America.

                My mother had a real thing about being treated like a bog trotter. She was gentry and don’t you forget it. Poor, very poor, but common, never. The DAR thing got up her nose. I mean the DAR were descendants of common soldiers, my mother was the descendent of officers. British ones mostly to be sure, but one was an officer in Clare’s Regiment in the French service at Savanah.

      2. I’ve encountered a couple of people in the workplace who had a similar mindset. They put so much effort into maligning their colleagues (“I couldn’t do X because so-and-so never got back to me with the data I needed,”), creating a flurry of meetings to create the illusion that X was being done, or simply stealing the work of others that I wanted to ask, “Wouldn’t it be easier all round just to do your job?”

        1. I’ve met those as well. They put MORE effort into avoiding doing their job than doing their actual job would require, and I just do not get it.

      3. >> “He admired their skill and focus, even as he decried that they chose that path.”

        Scott Adams claims that Wally (from Dilbert) is based on a former coworker who impressed him in a similar way..

  4. I listen to/read/watch a lot of true crime (because I am a werido, I know, but it’s a family thing 😀 ) and I am always faintly depressed by how many victims are what is termed “high risk.” They’re addicts. Or they are dating an addict. Or they like to party in ways that involve bringing total strangers into their home and mixing drugs/alcohol into the mix. It’s super sad, but predators know those are the best places to find victims.

    I saw something recently on Jack the Ripper that was claiming that ‘ackshually’ some of the canonical five weren’t REALLY prostitutes. I didn’t read it, because I knew it was going to make me want to slap some idiot, and maybe it was the same thing you spotted. But. I mean, honestly. The gyrations of those sorts, who simultaneously want to ‘destigmatize’ sex work while also bending themselves into unlikely knots to claim that some folks–like some of Jack’s victims–weren’t really actually prostitutes so really we should, what? Feel more sorry for them? Hard to do that. Maybe they feel that way, but in my book, not even the lowest, craziest, most homeless addict deserves to be butchered and a good cop should work just as hard to find their killer (if nothing else, because predators like that DO prey more on that population, and getting them behind bars *will* save lives on that front, at least). Anyone who has ever glimpsed a photo of the Mary Kelley crime scene isn’t going to care if she was a sex worker or not–if they have even a shred of human feeling, they’re only going to feel pity and horror for what was done to her, and wish that the bastard had been caught.

    On that note, there are a couple of scientists who claim that they were able to use DNA from one of the crime scenes (blood and semen from a shawl) to finally prove which of the Ripper suspects it most likely was (ie, Kosminski, the Polish one). Naturally, there isn’t any way to be sure more than a hundred and thirty some years out, but it works for me. (He always was one of the stronger suspects, they just couldn’t PROVE it with what they had then.)

    Link:
    https://www.lsureveille.com/entertainment/new-dna-evidence-leads-scientists-to-believe-jack-the-ripper-s-identity-is-finally-revealed/article_39f91726-19ac-11eb-8f5f-f79c50ba1bc6.html

    1. I still remember a writer frothing at the moment about how Jack the Ripper’s victims were seen only in light of being his victims, and not as full people — and I noticed how she was trying to humanize them and not any of the other gin whores of the era.

      1. And entirely failing to realize that it’s really HARD to find the intimate details of an ordinary poor person’s life if you go back in time far enough (and late 19th century is definitely far enough). My parents, who both love doing geneaology, always joked that you’d better hope you tie into a noble line at some point after a couple of centuries, because THEY kept records (and were all related to each other in some fashion), whereas the ordinary decent folk or outright poor folk…good luck. You might get parish records and that’s *it.* Sometimes, you’re lucky to even find a ballpark birth/death date. And there are times you don’t even know more than a first name, or a “Mrs. Somebody” because no one ever actually wrote down her full name or her maiden name. Or it was an infant who died shortly after birth, and they may or may not have recorded a name.

        And the only reason we know as much as we do about the Ripper’s victims’ lives is BECAUSE the newspapers at the time glommed onto the sensational horror, and so took the trouble to find out and write about it.

        There was a woman who was a victim of a very similar murder in New York City in the 1890s (similar enough that one of the theories is she might actually BE a Jack the Ripper victim) who otherwise would not have her name (Carrie Brown, nicknamed “Shakespeare” because she liked to recite his stuff) remembered at all, because she was…a poor, alcohol addicted sex worker. And even then, like the others, what is known is almost all about her last night alive, not where she actually was from or what her childhood was really like (she herself told varying stories). Yeah, it is sad that the only reason she’s remembered was because she was horribly killed. And I do respect the true crime podcasters, etc out there who make the effort (especially in unsolved cases) to make sure it’s more about getting justice for the victim than dwelling ghoulishly on the killer. (And the things that armchair detectives have accomplished in the last several years for victims–and especially those vicitms without names–is AMAZING and awesome.)

        1. But victimology is important.. and it’s pretty obvious that “don’t do crime and don’t be around criminals,” “don’t get drunk/high on dates,” and “nothing good happens after midnight” are basic ways to improve one’s survival. (“Don’t get undressed without drawing the curtains” and “lock the door if you’re running an errand to the laundry room” seem to be fairly important too.)

          I mean, it would be _nice_ if everybody in the criminal world was just a misunderstood rogue who wouldn’t hurt a fly, but that’s not how it works.

          And if you choose to be a “sex worker,” you’re telling people that you don’t really care about who you sleep with, as long as there’s money; and you’re also saying that you’re okay being vulnerable around someone you don’t know, and who might not care if you live or die. There’s ways that people have managed to do this stuff safely; but it involves high security and a lot of control over customers. (And then you have to maintain control over the security, too. While still saying with part of your actions that it’s okay not to care if you live or die.) “Get the money and get out within a few years” might work; but a lot of people seem to get addicted to not caring about themselves. They go back, and eventually they meet the wrong customer; or they can’t find any more customers, but they still can’t go back to normal life.

          And this is what woke people want to promote as a really wonderful kind of job. They complain about the indignity of hamburger jobs, but they’re totally okay with a job filled with johns and pimps.

          1. It is kind of boggling. Especially when they turn around and have an attitude towards sex workers that is ten times worse than anything you’ll see from many conservatives. (Kind of like the fact that they’re utterly racist, while shrieking that everyone else is. It’s all about the projection, baby.)

        2. I remember a relative being stunned at a genealogy program. It had three births and three deaths, and we had to explain that your information might not be unambiguous.

          1. And if you get back far enough, things get *really* unreliable. Mom managed to get one line back to about 6 A.D., some German barbarian king/chieftain–but I think all we’ve got is a name and general time. So likely not terribly reliable without seeing some more documentation. And the one that somehow tied into the ‘begats’ in the Bible she generally assumes to be outright made up, lol.

    1. According to the CDC blurb in the search engine, typhus is spread by fleas, lice and chiggers. (The last of which we get most summers. OTOH, it’s too frickin’ dry for a lot of small critters this year.

  5. It seemed to me that it would work. It would have to work. It was “Root, hog, or die.”

    -To Sail Beyond the Sunset.

  6. The natural order of the world includes slavery there were always a lot of smart slaves but the bulk of slaves were the very stupid. Salt mine stupid. Jordan Peterson says that 10-15% of a population cannot function without extensive support. It ought to be the family and then the church. But we have systematically hollowed out the family and weakened the church.

    But stupid people will rarely make smart choices without a lot of support. So her we are.

    1. Oh, piffle. The ones that end up on that level are RARELY stupid.
      And I beg leave to doubt Dr. Peterson if he actually said that. IT’s socialist indoc from Canada speaking. I think the number is more 1 or 2 percent and it’s actually defectives.

      1. From what I recall (and correct me if I’m wrong), he was originally talking about how the US military could not take people with IQs lower than 85, because they could not function properly as soldiers without aid. The ASVAB isn’t *precisely* an IQ test, but it’ll do in a pinch, I think. I believe the tenth percentile is about equivalent to an IQ of 85 (<a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-considered-a-low-iq-2795282"source here).

        So he’s likely extrapolating here- that bottom 10% of people that take the ASVAB and using them as a representative for the whole population. That’s a mistake, in my opinion. Those who are eligible and who apply to join the military (took the ASVAB, and are thus included in the data) represent a subset of the population that is not wholly representative.

        From a link at the same source, intellectual disability “affects approximately 0.05% to 1.55% of all people.” That sounds a lot more plausible.

        1. Mensa will take ASVAB scores. And frankly, I think the ASVAB is a much better “intelligence” test than the Stanford-Benet or Weschler.

            1. Ah, well there goes that theory. *chuckle* And yes, considering mensa weirdness and the military nerds that probably scored in the 98th percentile at the least, well… I’d just like to be a fly on the wall at one of those guy’s first meetings. *grin*

          1. Huh. That, I did not know. It does make sense, though. For a “general cognitive ability” test, there was less bullcrap on the ASVAB from what I can recall.

            1. Given what I’ve heard about Mensa in the past decade or two…the bullcrap on the more ‘prestigious’ exams is probably a feature, not a bug. The ASVAB is just too practical/pragmatic.

              (And my sister, bless her heart, managed to flunk it when we were 18. I refused to take it–although I did take her to the Army recruiting office so she could take it. I had a feeling that if I took it, the recruiters would never leave me alone, and I was pretty sure I wasn’t suited for the military personality-wise.)

              1. Eh. My main complaint with the recruiter’s office at the time was the pressure to register as Native American. Technically possible, though I’d have had to do some work with the tribal council to get things straight. My relatives at the time when they were making the official records had some misgivings about the whole thing, and scarpered back home to Appalachia. The military has ways of sorting out personalities, though, so if had been something you wanted to do, I’m sure it would have worked out. *chuckle*

                Mensa though… It’s full of the kind of person I’d have been if I never set foot outside my little bubble for ten years after I turned 20. Beyond socially inept, full of fragile arrogance, and completely oblivious to my own shortcomings. Technically smart folks, sure. But my goodness do those boys need a hefty dose of real life to get them back in touch with the world. A clue-by-four ain’t gonna cut it. Needs an ICBCM, more like.

                1. Heh. I had a recruiter chasing me around when I was 24-25. I suspect because somehow it had got to the gov’s ears that I was fluent in a not-very-common language. I pointedly asked him finally “I’d still have to basic training, though, right?” “Well, yeah, everyone does…” And I told him sorry, I only run when chased and you can’t pay me enough to do pushups, and it just wasn’t for me, and he eventually gave up.

                  Of course, I found out many (many, many) years later that the different branches have varying, ahem, difficulties on the basic training front, and so if I’d gone the Air Force or Navy route, for example, it might not have been so bad for someone who hates most forms of exercise… 😀 Ah, well. If I’d been really smart (or could go back in time and smack younger self), I’d have just apprenticed myself to an electrician or a welder and skipped college altogether.

                  1. Monterey is very nice (Defense Language Institute), but pretty much everyone who goes there gets exposed to Valley fever. And apparently my family is _very_ susceptible to Valley fever, because everyone who even goes near California gets a bad case of it.

                    I’m gonna stay away from anywhere with more vicious fungi than that.

                    1. I lived in California (San Jose area) with my dearest friend for about 11 months after I graduated college. That was quite enough for me. Lots of wonderful, wonderful people I met, but not the state for me. And I think I’d say that even if the government there weren’t totally bonkers and the taxes/cost of living utterly insane. Just…too many people.

                    2. Heck sometimes the internet has too many people for me. I’ve been to urban areas before. I get out as fast as I can!

                    3. Went to DC about 8 years ago during the Sakura Festival to see friends that lived in the area. Did NOT see more than a tiny bit of the Smithsonian, because it was literally wall to wall people and I couldn’t take it. Got a glimpse of the Hope Diamond, but that was about it.

                    4. I’d still like to see the Smithsonian someday. Even with all the woke crap that’s going on, I still like museums and history.

                      I can’t imagine seeing it where it was so packed with people you couldn’t see the exhibits, though. Museums are supposed to be quiet places! At least that’s what my subconscious says, despite all evidence.

                      My only trip to DC I visited Arlington National Cemetery and the Lincoln memorial, about twenty years or so ago (sometime during Bush the Younger’s term. It was in early winter I think because it was quite cold and I’d lent out my jacket). Arlington was quiet. Not many people around. By the time I got to the memorial, it was late, so similarly quiet. It was nice seeing things like that, with fewer people around. Probably not likely to happen these days, though.

                    5. I’ve been to DC twice. In August … 2001 and 2005. Not my fault the travel agency couldn’t get me a flight out with all the troops flying home from National Jamboree. Heck the regional contingent didn’t get a flight out for 48 hours either (they went to a water park and few out for home two mornings later). I needed 3 nights, which gave me 2 1/2 days in DC.

                      First time I was there I spent very little time in the hotel. I hit the memorial mall immediately after I got checked in, and showered. Then the next two days Arlington and the Zoo, and the museums. Don’t remember museums being “packed” except around the Hope Diamond. Busy. But not packed. Second time, I got checked into the hotel. Did laundry. Showered. Went and got dinner. Crashed. I did wander parts of the memorial mall, but was pickier with the museums, saw the new Native one. Resaw a couple of others. Notice lack of doing laundry first time? Yes, I unpacked at home Outside!!!

                      2005 National Jamboree was as bad as mentioned. Way worse than 2001. Not that this Oregonian is used to humidity. I had to ask what the heck was “Heat Index” meant. We have humidity in Oregon … We call it Rain!!!!

          1. Yeah. I have family that fall into that range, on my mother’s side. The men tend towards either the higher end or the low- not much middle. On the low end, it takes, well, training, like you said. Got to be taught.

            To be fair, the smart ones take some training, too. I briefly thought I was smart for a little while when I was about six. Then my grandmother started teaching me to cook, because she said I’d never get a wife if my face got stuck that way… *chuckle*

              1. The story that inspired it is even funnier. I’ve got to share it with the D&D players here one of these days.

                Anyway, you’re still welcome to use that sign for the blog if you wish.

    2. Slavery is a default human condition. We’ve managed to forget that, because our “slaves” are now machines. Need lots of brute, repetitive lifting/breaking? Machine. Need your clothes or your dishes washed? Machine. You don’t have to pay a servant to cook for you now, when you can get prepackaged meals out of your (machine) freezer, cook them in your (machine) microwave, or even cook from (machine) canned ingredients.

      People have forgotten how much drudgery there is to merely staying alive, and it’s because we figured out how to outsource that drudgery. (Unless you like doing something—some folk enjoy cleaning, for example.)

      1. Slave culture was pretty smart, given the wide variety of complicated, long songs and stories that were involved, as well as a lot of memorization of Bible verses, as well as all the skilled trades like blacksmithing, as well as all the slaves who picked up reading fairly quickly, even when forbidden to learn….

        These were people with a variety of African languages, none of them with a similar grammatical structure to English, none of them inside the Indo-European family, and yet they learned to not just speak English, but to make it do tricks.

        Now, obviously if somebody had gotten chunked over the head several times, or received other cognitively destructive punishments, or had gone crazy but not crazy enough to be useless… then he’d be stupid.

  7. “Having lived closer (though not too close) the middle class Victorian, trust me on this. The difference between them and the poor of their time was far smaller than the difference between them and us.)”


    Heck, Todd Lincoln, President Lincoln’s son, died of Typhus or Typhoid (water borne, anyway), while living in the White House.

    I’ve seen the house my grandparents lived in, a *”cabin” in Montana, on the upper side of the road to the mine (in the middle of a forest, at least when we saw it 55 years ago). Lived there with a newborn, and 3 year old (mom). Log cabin, with a wood stove for heat and cooking. Room for the parents bed, a trundle for the 3 year old, a box on the floor that was the baby’s bed, a small table/side board. Water? The creek down the hill across the road. Didn’t see it, but bathroom had to have been an outhouse … in an area of Montana that sees, not just cold weather, but multiple feet of snow, in the winter. Which meant breaking ice on the creek to get water, daily. (* I’ve seen emergency/ski wilderness shelters here in the Cascades that are bigger.) Heck, I was better off when bouncing from tent backyard surfing to (condemned) seasonal dorm until someone offered a room, the summer I couldn’t find seasonal housing one summer I worked at on USFS district.

    Then the other grandmother lost a childhood friend to probably cholera because she drank bad water (not well, no one is sure where she got it) when they were 5 or 6. This would have been 1913 or 1914.

    Both grandparents grew up during the time where the difference between classmates were whether they rode their own horse to school, had someone from the ranch/farm bring them in with a horse and, buggy or buckboard working farm wagon, or walked. One grandmother had her own horse. The other walked to the main road (taking off shoes and walked on side of road barefoot to keep shoes “clean”) and caught the neighbor’s buckboard.

    Both grandmothers learned how to clean cloths using a washboard and basin. I’ve always had access to washing machines and dryers, even if it was a laundromat when transient (18 to 22, college era). First thing we bought with first paychecks after graduation, was washing machines. I mean the worst I’ve complained about is when said home machines die and I have to either go to a laundromat or juggle going to sister’s or mom’s to use their machines; I mean 2 whole weeks, the pain, I tell you, the pain (dramatic sigh). Yes, we are very much better off than either grandparent just by advancements. But our economic status isn’t any different than either were growing up if one compares to relative times.

    Now, when it comes to how each fared throughout life, that comes down to choices. On the surface looks similar. Each lived in their long term older home, internal plumbing, washer/dryers, etc. But the differences end there. One left the estate in debt, creditors getting $.10/$1, if they were lucky. One estate left about $175k estate ($25k in savings and paid off home). Difference? How each spent money, or didn’t (saved for JIC). Both grew up same time period, both married during the depression and had their first two children then. One lost her husband at age 48 with 4 under 18 (1959). The other died within two weeks of her husband, at 93 (2006). One received an inheritance from a relative. Guess which one didn’t live in **poverty? (Both were hoarders, but one most everything went to the dump, or was burned, the other most everything, with a few exceptions, went to donation.)

    ** Yes. Family tried to intervene before they died. Guess how well that worked out. No, not a problem with addiction of any kind. Nor really was dementia, not really. Didn’t help matters once it started to set in, but the core problems were well cemented by then.

    Even today. If I compare the differences between all my cousins, both sides, there are those that are poorer and richer, not based on each growing up home life. I can point to 3 siblings where one can tell (well okay all 3 did to an extent, just to what level) that counted on mom and dad bailing out any shortfalls with their estate. That didn’t work out so well (a HUGE estate, just mom and dad weren’t stupid, it is being doled out safely to provide something for the great- and great-great-grands). The rest of us cousins aren’t counting on anything from our parents’ estates (not that there won’t be anything, just not counting on it).

    These are just examples that I can personally discuss. While we don’t have anyone on the street (now, it was a close call), nor in absolute poverty, we do have a wide variety of current day economic levels. All based on personal choices.

    1. Heck another president’s son (Coolidge? Harding? Forget which) died from badly stubbing his toe (or rather, the infection that occurred after) and that was in the 1920s.

      We forget how HUGE an impact antibiotics really had on our survival.

      1. The first proof that penicillin worked was in treating an infection caused by shaving. Of course, the guy got sicker and died when they ran out before a full course could be run, but the infection was retreating.

      2. It was Coolidge’s son. He got a blister playing lawn tennis at the White House. July 7th was the 97th anniversary of his death. So much we take for granted.

      3. One of the older docs I trained with told a story of the first pneumonia patient he treated with penicillin. The child was dying, and all knew it, when they tried this new “miracle drug” and the next day he was up and running around. The entire staff knelt down and prayed because of the miracle they saw. We’ve forgotten what infectious disease looked like.

        1. Which, in cases where it isn’t deliberate malice, explains the pants-on-head shrieking over COVID. (Though logic is also notably absent–why aren’t they hollering every flu season…?)

        2. Cellulitis. Sounds so dismissive. Today, yes. But I’ve had my foot or ankle swollen, to 1/3 or double, the size because of Cellulitis … because of a bleeping insect bite! Granted I waited until it got hot and swollen.

          What we didn’t wait on was when our infant was showing the same type of reaction to insect bites (mosquitoes, and biting flies, not spiders, although he reacts to those too, FYI). A red hot spot the size of an large adult’s hand, with red stripes emerging. The first time was the worst as we weren’t expecting the reaction. Once we knew, we did not wait, first sign of a bite, we are at an urgent clinic. His primary has never seen it directly because we’re never in home territory when it happens (pictures, but not the same). Neither of us have ever “outgrown” this reaction. But a red hot spot that big on an infant/toddler is way different than on an adult. Never anaphylactic, just an mild to severe infection. Add in the fussy/screaming “I hurt” aspect, it was not fun. Prescription every time was OTC anti-inflammatory (which we kept on hand) and antibiotics (which no one would prescribe so we’d have it on hand JIC).

          I’m sure that blister started as a simple case of cellulitis!

          1. Oh man, in 2019 I got a case of cellulitis OF THE EYEBALL, almost certainly from an accidentally-contaminated contact lens. And yes, it was as gross and scary as it sounds. That eye still ain’t quite right, but yay antibiotics.

        3. My dad almost died of bronchitis when he was a boy, pre-penicillin. He pretty much survived because my grandmother sat over him for a day and a half shaking him and yelling “BREATHE!”

          Now whenever I get bronchitis I drag myself to the doctor for a Z-pack and I’m fine in a couple days.

  8. There’s always a push and a pull when people move, especially when large swaths of the population relocate. The enclosure of farmland, which began under the Tudors, was a push. The terrible living conditions on most farms, and the mistreatment of tenants and peasants by some of the nobility were pushes. The prospect of a much better life, of improving things for your kids, of being able to put a roof over your head and then a better roof . . . Very strong pulls. The Romantics had a few valid points, as did later reformers, but I always think about the story of aniline dyes and coal tar.

    Coal tar was a nasty waste product that no one wanted. So they dumped it, and it contaminated the land and water and caused all sorts of problems. So two what we now would call industrial chemists said, “Hey, there’s this gunk people are begging to give away. What can we do with it?” And after much tinkering, coal tar turned into a valuable precursor to dyes and medicines and other stuff. Which cleaned up the place and created jobs, and pulled more people into the cities . . . and so on. Just so the people who looked at their close-to-the-bone lives in the countryside, and took those skills and determination to the cities. Or to the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, or wherever. They made resources – skills and ideas and businesses where none had been before.

    1. They made resources – skills and ideas and businesses where none had been before.

      I have a serious hot-button for apparent inability of some folks to tell the difference between “I do not want to use this option” (move to city, work screwing with the coal-tar, cutting your own hair, using the self-checkout) and their desire to demand “and so you can’t do it, either.”

      The tendency make a lot of noise about how it’s not THEIR preference, it’s for those pooooooor little people who are now ‘out of work’ is a giant smack in the face of the last uppty-watzit times that people were freed up to do something else because of an increase in efficiency, and they did it. Which raised all the boats, because there are always folks who do want the kind of work someone who is seriously not able to learn better will do (when they’re allowed to hire for a reasonable price). Some people like living off the grid. Some people like Heritage Raised produce or meat. Some people like having the bagger do their groceries.
      Me? Given half a chance, I grin at the kid bagging my groceries and say “I got this, if you want to go help the lady over there?” and EVERYONE is happier, because I get to chatter with the checkout lady, the other three or four lines aren’t short a bagger, and my items get where I want them in the house with minimum fuss. (Our baggers are well trained, I haven’t gotten smashed eggs in years.)

      1. This is a small thing, but I must mention that the people who bag groceries around here (Ontario) are excellent. Something I never think of, but they do it really well. While I, two degrees and etc. can’t bag to save my life. Can’t bag my own crap worth a damn, certainly wouldn’t want to be doing somebody elses.

        1. I had a summer job working for the NYC Department of Highways when I was in HS — my father was a great believer in work. It was mostly sweeping the road shoulders. I learned that there was a way to sweep and that some people couldn’t learn it. Some did it on purpose I suppose but some couldn’t learn to sweep. it doesn’t get much simpler than sweeping.

          1. My older sister, who flunked the ASVAB (which is nigh-impossible to actually flunk), would be one of those, I think…But even so, she’s done okay, for a given value of ‘okay.’

            1. Taking tests is a skill. I really wish they’d just teach it to kids early on, because it’s so simple and makes such a big difference. (And honestly, clearing out the “I’m afraid of tests” or “I don’t understand how the questions work” noise would make more obvious what knowledge needs to be reviewed.)

              1. Agreed, although in her case…well, it wasn’t test taking anxiety. But at least she was a somewhat better mom than her own birth mother had been (my family adopted her when she was 15).

        2. This is a small thing, but I must mention that the people who bag groceries around here (Ontario) are excellent.

          In support–
          if I say “our grocery baggers guys do their job,” that is hella high praise.

          Because “They do not destroy what I just bought” is a big thing.

          FWIW, HyVee does that, even if they are slow.

            1. The local Wal-Mart has a simple system: every item goes into its own bag.

              Well, maybe not literally, but they’ll use ten bags when three will do. I’m pretty sure it’s store policy; they’ve done it ever since paper bags went away. Could be a leftover from the early kind of plastic bags they used, which would hold one apple, but the bottom was likely to rip out with two. (not exaggerating that; double and triple bagging was necessary for heavier items.)

              The early-style bags were so weak when you picked them up, there was a good chance your groceries would stay on the counter. And there was no convenient way to tie them shut, so they self-unpacked when you put them in the cart or the car. The new bags don’t do that, but I hate them anyway.

        3. Other than Costco, we really don’t have anyone to explicitly bag groceries, other than the checkers. Note, Costco doesn’t have people box groceries just to box, they are there to insure everything gets scanned, and to make runs for the checker. Since I’m picky, I use the self checkouts, and bag the way I want, with my own bags. Generally even at Costco because I do not want to wait in line, or the lines goes faster.

    2. Not just coal tar, but oil was a nuisance and blight that made land unusable for farming until the geniuses in the 19th century turned it into one of the most useful resources on the planet. And now these ignoramuses are complaining that using it is polluting the planet and Doooooming Us All. Turn trash into something to make everyone’s life better, get condemned for it and told you’re evil. Arrogant, ignorant, illiterates!

      1. Frank, the papermills in my state got a huge financial incentive to change from burning their by-product for fuel and switch to “cleaner” fuel. It was the dumbest thing ever, as it meant the waste-product was being kept in holding tanks and in more danger of getting into the water-supply. But it was too good a deal to pass up.

      2. “Petroleum jelly” was industrial waste left over from oil refineries until someone figured he could sell it as a quack nostrum. It actually turned out to have legitimate uses in the end.

        1. Heh. Indeed. I use the plain stuff to extract hairballs from the cats when they’re freaking me out by making Horrible Ominous Noises but not actually following through. 😀

          And Vicks is great. Saved my life the last few years during the height of fire season–some days, several months into a long season, you’d really just rather smell mentholatum than smoke.

  9. “But for whatever reason, she preferred to be where she was.”

    Schizophrenia. Amazingly common in the homeless population. Add some jolly good drug addiction and alcoholism, not to mention heavy metal poisoning and vitamin deficiencies, you get the common Victorian homeless person.

    Almost impossible to rescue, short of kidnapping them and sticking them on an island.

    Difference between then and now, the drugs are a lot cheaper and a lot more destructive. Synthetics like fentanyl, carfentanyl, meth and the ever-growing variety of synthetic canabinoids which make good old hard-core opium look like cough syrup.

    The life expectancy of a Victorian era opium addict was roughly two years if I remember right. In the days of my youth I knew of young guy who went from roughly normal hippie dude to toothless junkie street freak in about 6 months. Heroin. I can only imagine how fast they crash and burn now. Weeks?

    New York City used to be famous for this crap. 1890s, the tenements were horrendous. Rescued and civilized by the devoted priests of the Roman Catholic Church as it happens. Took them a long time, but they did it. London likewise was rescued by the WCTU, the Salvation Army, the Anglican Church, and a million mean old ladies named Karen.

    The same will happen to the USA. Again. The socialists will be deposed, either by ballot or bullet, and the poor homeless bastards will be cleaned up and fixed up as well as can be managed.

    Just goes to show, even Karen can be a force for good as long as you hand her a problem that mean stubborn pigheadedness can make progress with. Keep her away from the nuclear weapons and we’ll be okay.

    1. My wife’s family is from the South Bronx when it was Irish. My MIL used to talk about how the best families in France sent their daughters to teach Irish slum kids in NYC. Paddy the laborer and Biddy the maid was an actual thing and Biddy saw that there were better ways to,live than what they were living. Over the years, the priests, the Christian Brothers, the nuns, and the mothers civilized us.

      Next thing was that all the now civilized Irish moved out of the Bronx and up into Rockland county, where they promptly started voting Republican. The Democrat politicians saw this and have been making damn sure that wasn’t going to happen again. Keep them poor, keep them stupid, and keep them voting for democrats.

    2. With fentanyl, first time.

      It’s literally not possible to eyeball “get high” vs “dead.”

      If the guy dusting his product is careful and has a clue, he can sometimes get a much stronger high out of even bad product.

      That’s a LOT of qualifications.

      1. A couple of years ago one of our upstairs neighbors OD’d and died from a heroin/fentanyl mix. He was a pharmacist, good paying job. But, just couldn’t/wouldn’t get any help. Also had an enabling girlfriend and enabling mother (we met them the night he died).

        1. The sad part is that the war on prescription opioids is going to lead to A LOT more self-help by people with a genuine medical need for painkillers, and this is going to result in A LOT more overdoses.

          1. Just to clarify, the general societal “sad part”, obviously the neighbor’s overdoes is very sad.

        2. I worked at a commercial pharmacy for a while. That’s the kind that has contracts with hospitals and nursing homes. They had a dozen drivers and delivered 24/7.

          In the year I was there four drivers and two pharmacists were fired for stealing narcotics. Then one of the drivers was fired for that… except she was off the day that supposedly happened, and had hotel and credit card receipts from out of state when she and her family had gone to Six Flags. Corporate got involved, and then the main manager failed a drug test, which she was ordinarily exempt from, and finally confessed to long-term addiction and theft of narcotics from inventory.

          The manager got a company-paid trip to “rehab”, kept her job, and even collected her normal salary while at rehab. Corporate had no interest in the employees she had fired to cover her activities. That’d be six people with “fired for stealing narcotics” in their state employment records, two of whom would never be employable in their chosen field again.

          “One set of rules for you, another for us.”

          1. If you still have details like company name, manager, timeline, you might want to forward that information to your local DEA Diversions team– if they were controlled substances being stolen, and they covered for the manager, that sounds like some of the nastier big-organization groups and like the company was covering up the thefts.

            The categories are trash, but just pick one that’s closest and explain the situation:
            deadiversion DOT usdoj DOT gov/tips_online DOT htm

            Worst case, one of their guys will go over it and roll his eyes because there’s nothing there they can do anything about; best case either they can act on it, or they’ll forward it to the folks who can.

            Or you can go find that area’s local and just drop an email:
            https://apps2.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/contactDea/spring/fullSearch

              1. Especially since the company’s judgement should not have been involved in any way.
                Drug diversion is a crime. A really serious one.
                If they fired these guys and put that htey’d been stealing drugs for the reason, and didn’t report it properly (which, if the person responsible for doing so was the one that was actually stealing would make sense) then their behavior would be actively protecting known drug diversion, which could get their licenses for handling controlled substances pulled, or at the very least flagged for future funny business.

                Think of all those old folks who went in pain so that some thus and such to get money and/or high on their drugs.

                1. At least 6 lives ruined. Not uncountable ones who either missed out on their prescribed treatment or more likely were shortchanged what they should have had available. Not sure how one would find the latter, except through complaintsmaybe. But the 6 who were fired for cause, for misappropriating narcotics? That is easy.

            1. That was in 2008. I doubt anyone would be interested now. I know one of the pharmacists filed suit with the Labor Board when he found out what had happened, but I never heard how that was resolved.

              1. That’s not that long ago– it’s entirely possible that they are still doing it.

                Worst case, you lose like ten minutes doing an email and some fedy spends another ten minutes looking up names and either says “oh, they aren’t even in business anymore” or “gee, would’ve been nice if someone had told us before the Labor Board did….”

                1. Always remember “statute of limitations”.

                  It can cut several ways — see this for how the DOJ used it to avoid going after Hildebeeste — but if it hasn’t run then it adds options.

                  https://www.nationalreview.com/2017/10/uranium-one-deal-obama-administration-doj-hillary-clinton-racketeering/

                  “Why then? This is not rocket science. In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea. Putin also began massing forces on the Ukrainian border, coordinating and conducting attacks, ultimately taking control of territory. Clearly, the pie-in-the-sky Obama reset was dead. Furthermore, the prosecution of Mikerin’s racketeering scheme had been so delayed that the Justice Department risked losing the ability to charge the 2009 felonies because of the five-year statute of limitations on most federal crimes.

                  Still, a lid needed to be kept on the case. It would have made for an epic Obama administration scandal, and a body blow to Hillary Clinton’s presidential hopes, if in the midst of Russia’s 2014 aggression, public attention had been drawn to the failure, four years earlier, to prosecute a national-security case in order to protect Russia’s takeover of U.S. nuclear assets.”

                  1. Always remember “statute of limitations”.

                    If they’re still in business, and still doing it, the complaint can get folks to find out— and stop the harm being done to those folks who are having their meds stolen.

      2. In the Toronto area there are lots of cases of kids turning up deceased from smoking “weed” that some retard sprayed with a little too much fentanyl. Their hearts stop beating and they quietly keel over dead as a door nail.

        There are also increasing numbers of cases where the grass clippings were sprayed with “something else” that includes seizures and frothing at the mouth etc. before they die. Not as bad as the Florida Man syndrome where they rip off all their clothing and try to eat passers-by, but still not what Torontonians are accustomed to.

        This in a nation where weed (actual weed) is legal, very tightly regulated for quality, and you can buy it at the weed store as much as you want. Or have it delivered from the Internet! Even during the deepest darkest pandemic when you couldn’t buy a pizza, you could buy weed at the weed store. (Not even kidding. Grocery stores, the LCBO and the Brewers Retail AND the weed stores were declared Essential Services. Because imagine what might happen if all the alkies couldn’t get a drink…)

        Some might call that a failure of public policy. Government minions doing what’s easy instead of doing what works. Seeing a lot of that lately.

        1. In the Toronto area there are lots of cases of kids turning up deceased from smoking “weed” that some retard sprayed with a little too much fentanyl.

          US, too.

          I suspect that looking at “weed is legal” counties would give “bad” results.

          1. There exists that theory that if you make a thing legal, all the problems associated with it will go away.

            Some do, but the basic problem is not the thing itself. It is the a-holes selling it illegally. You make one thing legal, and they all immediately switch to something worse.

            Weed is legal and regulated, suddenly? That means an opening in the synthetic opioid market just opened up, because legal weed is for old ladies and the Kool Kids want the -hard- stuff.

            Finding those a-holes and calling the thunderbolts of Jove down upon them is the correct way to proceed. Nobody ever does that though, except losers and squares like Rudy Giuliani. One might almost suspect that death and disruption was the point of those policies…

            1. Yes, and no.

              In the US, the various locales that have made pot legal have *also* decided that it’s a cash commodity that they need to tax like there’s no tomorrow. The end result is that there’s still plenty of incentive for any black market seller that feels like not paying a hefty portion of the sales profits to the state government.

              1. Exact same thing can be seen with cigarette sales. It’s not just legality that drives black markets. High taxes on legal products can and will do the same thing.

        2. Not as bad as the Florida Man syndrome where they rip off all their clothing and try to eat passers-by


          Aren’t you mixing that up with ‘Under A Graveyard Sky’?

          1. No, they were doing some kind of Salts (Bath Salts) that were technically legal. Caused madness and they had some that ate other people, their faces and such.

            1. Ringo mentions that in ” Under a Graveyard Sky.”
              BTW, does anyone here have a reference for that phrase? I tried Google and got nothing.

              1. Well, here’s what it says in the book:

                The clouds were high, thin and rippled in a regular humped pattern, and the sun shone through them weak and gray. There was a name for that type of cloud formation, but Steve couldn’t quite recall it.

                But he remembered the day he’d asked his Grandfather Smith about them. Gran had been a veteran of WWII starting from his days as a militia man in New Guinea and always knew everything.

                Gran had looked up, said it was called “a graveyard sky,” then walked back in the house and had gotten very drunk.


                The description sounds to me like cirrostratus, but coarser than what you’d call a ‘mackerel sky’.

                1. Clearly the generic “you”. I wouldn’t call anything a “mackerel sky” – even if mackerels were falling out of it and hitting me in the head. I have no idea what one looks like. (I do now – presumably the unsmoked ones are a lighter color.)

                  1. Mackerel sky _IN THE UNITED STATES_ is a cloud formation that looks like bumpy scales.

                    (I think the idea of “graveyard sky” is that it looks like rows of tombstones. But that’s nothing I actually know.)

                    _IN THE UNITED KINGDOM_ the term “mackerel sky” is used to describe a sky that looks totally different, and I don’t know what the heck they are smoking over there.

                    https://www.bbc.co.uk/weatherwatchers/article/48368170/the-beauty-of-a-mackerel-sky/

                    The third one is the only one that looks a little bit right for “mackerel sky” from a US perspective. (But of course your dialect may vary.)

              1. Ooh. I had not heard that. (I know, shocking that they did not disseminate the information more widely) so until about thirty seconds ago, I still thought it was bath salts…

    3. And the people in the NY tenements didn’t plan to stay there. They saved money, built a reputation, and moved up and out. New people came in. A lot of the do-gooders didn’t see that, or didn’t want to see that. They saw housing that wasn’t as good as theirs, and people living cheek-by-jowl, and said, “It’s not perfect, get rid of it.” I remember steaming as I read an excerpt from a report by a do-gooder from the g-g-g ancestor of Child Protective Services (late 1880s, IIRC). The matron talked about how well a widow (probably from what is now Slovinia) was doing to care for her four children, and how clean she managed to keep the place even while working, but the city needed to take the kids away anyway “for their own benefit” and teach the woman how to live like a middle-class native-born person.Gggrrrrrrrrrrrrr. . . .

      1. The worst monsters are the ones who do something to others “for their own good.” The stratospheric levels of arrogance and condescension required for that are amazing.

        1. I can’t agree.

          The monsters who don’t *care* that the other is another do a lot of quite horrible things. (DO NOT CLICK ON THIS BLOG unless you are willing to accept reporting, sometimes with pictures, of Nazi-grade atrocities done on an individual vendor scale. They’re usually more inspired by the Aztecs, but more people are familiar with Nazi atrocities.)

          Those who do things to others “for their own good,” when on examination you can reasonably judge that they are not respecting the individual’s moral worth, are harder to stop— in a civilized nation they may in gross do more damage than the more obvious monsters, especially if one counts a nation ‘civilized’ in that it allows self defense.

          1. C.S. Lewis had a nice quote about how, in short, he’d take a morally-void robber baron any day of the week over someone who was being a tyrant for “the good of others.” The robber baron might get tired/bored/wander off, but someone who is on a “Moral!!eleventy! Crusade!!” almost never gets tired and never gives up.

                  1. Frenemies? I dunno, I’d say straight up Bash Brothers. They liked to dress up as Vikings together, for cryin’ out loud 😀 (And oh, to be a fly on the wall when they’d go to movies together and get in trouble for mocking whatever was on screen. Apparently, Tolkien had a definite hate-on for Disney, because he was so appalled at the seven dwarfs.)

                    Actually, they both sound like they’d have been a right hoot just to spend a weekend with. (Although getting into a car with Tolkien if he was driving, from what little I read, was very much an act of courage, lol.)

                    Had they both lived in the last few decades, I strongly suspect they’d have been great friends with Pratchett. He seemed cut from the same cloth, although with distinctly less use for academia 😀

                    1. Well, true, the arguing was undoubtedly the basis of their friendship 😀 And I’m not sure Tolkien ever got over the fact that while he successfully converted atheist-Lewis to Christianity, Lewis promptly went and became an Anglican instead of a Catholic. I’m sure they argued about that as well, lol.

                    2. Tolkien was known to have said, when Lewis published “The Pilgrim’s Regress”: “Lewis would regress, going back to his childhood faith.” — Humphrey Carpenter’s biography.

                      Yeah, bickering probably involved….

                    3. Dwarfs.

                      Disney had dwarfs, Tolkien invented (or at least popularized) the word “dwarves”. And had to really fight his publishing company to keep them from “correcting” him.

                    4. Yes. That was one of the things that annoyed him 😀 (Which is why I spelled it that way, because that’s how Disney did it. I’m on Tolkien’s side: it’s DWARVES, dangit!)

                    5. You may find Moe Lane’s work amusing: Frozen Dreams and Tales from the Fermi Resolution

              1. Thanks for that Foxfier. A very valuable essay full of clear thinking. As Lewis says, “Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful.” I’ve been working on an essay to explain justice and the misuse and abuse of the word by turning it into an oxymoron when terms like “social” are prepended to it.

                  1. Well, both of them were dealing with the ur-socialisms, Fascism and Communism. Neither one’s fundamentals were any different from today.

                1. It’s a bit of a joke in my church that C.S. Lewis is quoted more than any other actually-LDS author 😀 He was a clear-eyed man who really saw to the heart of things.

                  1. This has appeared to be true in my Catholic Church too. I joke that C. S. Lewis is the greatest Catholic Theologian of the the 20th Century. Because he is quoted so often.

                    Although I now have discovered Chesterton.

                    1. An awful lot of Lewis is either rephrasing Chesterton for another generation, or extending it. It wasn’t hidden to his generation, that had grown up on Chesterton; but it’s kind of fun to discover Lewis and Tolkien’s favorite bits of Chesterton.

      2. I think this is true up to a point. certainly most people who came here came to better themselves but the Irish who came here had it so bad back home that a NY dumbbell apartment was paradise. They needed to learn there was better and they needed institutions that were interested in their learning, not strangers, their own. The fights between the Protestant dogooders and the Catholics are the history of NYC up to WWII.

        Hence, The NY Irish are long gone out of the ghetto. My wife’s family was among the last. Funny though, there is still an Irish ghetto in Boston. The institutions there never encouraged them to leave and the idiots voted for the Kennedy’s no matter what they did. The church was in bed with the Kennedy’s.

        What institution is actually interested in having the poor do better now? Too much power and money ride on keeping the ghetto stupid, angry, and intact.

        1. I am glad to say that, by and large, my church’s charity services are designed to get people back on their feet, not support them indefinitely. (Although it isn’t perfect–nothing is, but also our charity is mostly left to the discretion of local bishops or branch presidents, and of course they vary wildly as well. But most of the ones I’ve known learn early on to spot the scammers and they learn to say “NO.”)

          I suspect there are still a lot of good religious charities out there, but the best ones do need to be mostly on a local level. The bigger they are, it’s too easy to lose sight of the fact that charity is best done on a case-by-case, individual basis.

          1. Top-down centralized authority does not scale well. The upper limit seems to be around the size of a small town. Bigger than that, corruption and empire-building sets in, destroying the original purpose of the organization.

            It’s a control theory problem. The bigger and more complex a system is, the bigger and more complex a control mechanism it requires. When both the system (society) and the control mechanism (government) are comprised of people, complexity scales to unmanageable levels very quickly because the government is ALSO a complex system which must be controlled.

            I would put the scaling factor at something between exponential and factorial. Top-down centralized control CAN NOT be imposed on a society of 330 million diverse, independent, ornery free citizens. That goal can only be achieved by imposing an absolute totalitarian dictatorship, enforced by a KGB, Stasi or Gestapo. Individual rights just get in the government’s way.

            As the Democrats know all too well.
            ———————————
            Those who do not remember the lessons of history are doomed to repeat the mistakes. Those who do remember are doomed to watch everybody else repeat them.

        2. As I’ve seed before, “There’s a lot of money to be made in poverty.”

          Though technically, it would be “managing poverty.” Hundreds of millions of dollars just in San Francisco and Chicago, for example, which went for new city employees, consultants, and contractors, and did bukpis to help the people the money was theoretically spent for. “But a larger appropriation will fix that!”

      3. Sometimes first after saving up money to send back to the Old Country for tickets. Irish fearing another famine, Russian Jews fearing another pogroms. . . but I have literally seen someone arguing that if they were forcibly evicted from substandard housing they were better off.

    4. There is a proven connection between adolescent intake (in more than just casual quantities) of marijuana and development of schizophrenia in adulthood. All the emergency room personnel in large cities know it. No one’s allowed to say it publicly, just ask Alex Berenson.

      1. Impossible! If this were true, we would see many psychotic breaks among those politicians who were stoners in their youth.

        /sarcasm

        Yeah, I’m certainly suspicious of the weed.

      2. It’s worth posting a link: https://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/schizophrenia-marijuana-link

        There is a correlation strong enough that physicians routinely warn against people under 25 using cannabis. It’s just not a good idea. People with mental health issues are likewise warned things may turn out badly. At best smoking a bunch of weed is going to make you dumber.

        Personally I don’t even drink beer anymore and I never smoked weed after university. I need all my remaining brain cells functioning, thanks very much. Not to mention, the weed hangovers are ruinous. Yep. Hangover. Better believe it.

        But again, cannabis is the least of what’s going on in homeless camps around major US cities. Synthetics sprayed on lawn clippings is what passes for “weed” these days, and it’s fabulously, amazingly harmful. Full brain-fry from one dose.

        1. I’ve never done any drugs. When my wife responded to the question asked by her high school students as to whether she’d ever done drugs, she replied, “Of course not, I’m a chemist.” One student responded, “You mean you’ve gone through your whole life totally aware?” She was dumbfounded and sad. Lots of kids are trapped in bad situations as she had been with a violent, alcoholic father and a psychotic mother. One student she knew was in a bad home situation. He had already signed up for the Marine Corps to leave as soon as he graduated. He earned an F in her class, but she gave him a C, so he could graduate and get out, and told him, “Just remember this when you’re confronted with a similar situation.”

          I never knew anybody who had bad trips, but after seeing enough people high on weed in college, I concluded that they had noticed that mentally retarded people were always happy and decided the way to happiness was to become mentally retarded. I did have a friend in high school–a genius who got a perfect 800 on the chemistry SAT. He ended up frying his brain in college and went to work at the quarry where his dad worked.

              1. I do not understand the attraction of drugs. The only thing I’ve ever had was 2-3 glasses of alcohol per year. New Years and Christmas Eve and possibly Thanksgiving or my Church’s Seder Meal (one glass nursed, not four).

                1. I do drink on occasion. Maybe three beers a year? same for glasses of wine. Maybe four Port Wine glasses?
                  And sometimes, very occasionally, I like a peaty whiskey.
                  But it has almost no effect on me (Portuguese blood.) So when I have it it’s for the taste.

            1. Me neither, other than alcohol. Pot makes you dumb, and I don’t smoke anything if I can help it, and coke just scares the hell out of me, much less any of the opiates (none of which when taken by prescription have ever made me high anyway).

              I’ve had lots of invitations to do acid and shrooms and whatnot, mostly on the grounds of “wow, you’re so smart, it would be amazing to see what really opening your mind would be like”. And I’ve always been like, “oh hell no, my reality tunnel suits me just fine the way it is.”

              1. Ditto on the drugs. No. Few times I’ve had prescriptions for dental procedure and my C-section, the drugs ended up expired unused, and turned in to prescription turn in. At worst, like alcohol, it makes me dizzy, I remember everything, and puts me to sleep. I was afraid to take whatever they gave me for the C-section because I was nursing … so was just very, very, careful.

                1. I don’t know what they gave me when I had surgery on my feet when I was 22 or so, but it made me loopier than heck coming up from under the anesthesia. I was babbling like a loon. It was pretty funny, but boy was I glad I’ve never encountered anything like that again.

                2. THIS.
                  Dan still laughs that when we left NC we were broke “WITH A FORTUNE IN MORPHINE THAT WE TURNED IN, LIKE IDIOTS” Because I was sent home with two weeks of morphine tabs. I took one tablet first day, because the pain was making me cry. After that, I managed it.

                  1. Heh. I found out recently that my grandparents paid for their (shoddy) driveway cement job at their house (now my house) in part with oxycodone pills…The rather shady dudes spotted it, and said “hey, give us what’s left in that bottle and 400 bucks and we’ll call it good.”

                    ::facepalm::

                    Well, at least they did do the job (even if it sucks) and did not come back and rob and/or murder my grandparents later on the off chance they had more drugs. But…oy.

                  2. Under the current regime, you NEVER turn in painkillers, because you might not get more.

                    Because I’ve had a fusion in my spine (C3 to T1) I have chronic pain. Usually 600mg of ibuprofen at bedtime lets me sleep, but in bad weather I need a 50 mg Tramadol. My spine doctor has basically told me that no one else can prescribe me painkillers or else they won’t prescribe any and I will go on a registry that will ensure no one else will either.

                    Two years ago, I had to wait out Memorial Day weekend with a broken tooth and my dentist couldn’t prescribe me anything until I got clearance from them. I keep anything I have an authorized prescription for.

                    (PS: RCPete, this isn’t being required by the government; it’s being enforced by the malpractice insurance providers. Want coverage? these are the rules. Think liability insurers can’t get mask mandates enforced the same way? Just watch them.)

                    1. Treatment is more hazardous than leaving it untreated?

                      Of course, it’s harder to sue them over something they didn’t do than something they did.
                      ———————————
                      “Weep for the future, Na’Toth. Weep for us all.”

                    2. Tramadol is great stuff–and best of all it’s not an opioid!

                      So naturally, the damn gov regulates it like it is one. 😡 You have my sympathies.

                    3. I think there’s going to be more pushback on insurer-driven mask mandates. IIRC, there was a lot of panic-porn about painkillers and over-prescription thereof. I thought some of this was driven by fed policies, though I’ve not looked into it much.

                      Had a major oops in 2007 requiring 30ish stitches on my face. Got an Rx for 60 Vicoden. (Yeah, I considered it excessive, and knew people who were too free with their stash. ) Used one pill, maybe, and the rest went into the dog-poop can. Cornea and Bunion procedures in the late teens, used one pill each time, then went non-narcotic. (Was prescribed Ambien for the cornea. Stayed the hell away from that one.) Knee surgery this year, maybe 30 Norco. Used a few–still have the rest. Was offered a fresh prescription after getting 4(!) lower incisors extracted–passed, and didn’t need. Repeat for the molar that went bad and had to go.

                      My personal painkiller regime is to combine one 250mg Ibuprofen with a 500mg Acetaminophen. It’s considered safe, and for me, it works. (Surgeon didn’t want me taking Ibuprofen postop for the knee for a while. Was also off warfarin preop.)

                      In the 70s, I did minor amounts of cannabis; actually bought an ounce in college. I dislike opiates, though in extremis, I’ll take them. Had the GI issues with Norco this time, but Colace got things moving again. Alcohol is contraindicated for my meds, so I’m living as clear-headed as possible.

            1. ^ This. Fiction. It’s also why I took to video (well, computer nowadays) games. I did learn that an addictive personality meant I had to be careful even with those, though.

              But otherwise, yep, totally aware my entire life. Even prescription opiates are really, really hit-or-miss for me. They only ‘work as advertised’ about a third of the time…and the other side effects weren’t worth it. I took them to deal with the aftermath of major surgery, but never asked for a refill.

              1. This is my experience with opiates as well. All of the side effects, none of the relief at least half the time (if not more). Occasionally work for migraines. Just not worth it on the balance.

              2. Yeah, I’ve had problems with games, fiction, and even raving at people on the internet.

            2. I think that depends on the fiction. 😛

              And the drugs.

              I’ve seen some Fan Fiction that would make you WANT to take drugs.

                1. Ugh, AOOO. And I’ve got 3 stories there.

                  It’s not just that there’s so much porn, it’s SOOOOO BAAAAAAD!! It’s like they don’t know what a sentence is! Words out of place, subjects and objects mixed up, semi-random tense shifts…

                  And even the lousiest porn gets 10-100 times more reads and ‘kudos’ than well-written normal stories. It’s depressing.

                  One of my stories is a little racy, but there’s reasons. Anyway, it’s in a nearly-dead fandom and doesn’t get much attention.

                  1. I have found that TV tropes is a good place to go for fanfic recommendations for given fandoms. They are not all great fics, but I have found some really, REALLY excellent fanfics that way. (Including a Harry Potter/Lord of the Rings crossover that is…well, there’s no words to describe how impressively well done it is. But it is awesome.)

                  1. Archive of Our Own (3 O’s, so AO3). It’s not fully displaced good ol fanfiction-dot-net, but it is pretty much the biggest repository of fanfiction out there. Nice site design, I must say–easy search functions (although you still have to wade through so much crap fic), and if you find something you like, it’s a one-button click to download it in the e-reader format of your choice.

                    Although I haven’t written anything in ages, I did go ahead and post my finished fics on AO3 in addition to fanfic-dot-net, because it’s the best place to go to find new readers. 🙂

                    1. And I’d add that the search functions include both positive *and* negative searches. Meaning you can say “Give me everything that includes the Harry Potter fandom and the Lord of the Rings fandom” (positive searches) “but omit anything that pairs Hermione with Draco” (negative searches). And then when you get your search results and there are still 10,000 fics, you can filter even further by adding more positive or negative search terms, until you’re down to a couple hundred. Then sort by word count or kudos, and start scrolling until you see a blurb that sounds interesting.

                  1. K, this year they’re filling two spots, there’s four people, and only one is a flaming bigot whack-a-do! The rest read like geeks! SCORE!

          1. I have never even tried a cigarette (mostly because I was afraid my parents would kill me). I did have an interesting conversation with a instructor in medical school during my adolescent med rotation. I was presenting a case with a young patient that listed multiple drugs of abuse. I was shocked by how many (I was young then). The instructor told me that was “normal” and when I said I had never tried anything, she told me that I was the abnormal one. This attitude in the instructors is a large part of the problem. Nowadays I would flame her, but then, well, I was young.

            1. I encounter shock that I’ve never tried alcohol or smoked a cigarette, or done any kind of drug as well. Even now (or is that ‘especially now’?)

              For me, it was as much lack of curiosity as anything else. Mom and Dad were honest and open about their experiences when they drank alcohol in college (and Mom about the fact that, thanks to family genetics, grandpa was a recovering alcoholic and she’d come dangerously close to it before realizing), and so killed any mystique that might have hovered about it. And cigarettes always aggravated my allergies and grossed me out (and having a grandfather who chewed tobacco for a time *really* put me off the idea entirely. That is a really disgusting habit.)

              1. Booze makes me very sick, and tobacco costs money. Lots of it. I never had in interest in drugs, although I can sympathize with people who find that a little alcohol on occasion helps them deal with situations.

                1. Never smoked. Dad did. I’m a rabid anti smoke person. I physically can’t tolerate secondhand smoke or it’s residue. To the point where a “non-smoking room” means not even close to a smoking location. Luckily most hotels, have 100% no smoking rooms these days. But when I had to travel occasionally for work that wasn’t true. Lord help me if I was put into a room that someone had smoked in. How do you think I learned? It happened exactly once, never again, never ever.

                  Alcohol I have no tolerance for. I’ve gotten sick pretending to drink (for 3 days)! I got really good making plants drunk, or just carrying around the same beer/drink forever (I don’t like beer, period). Wine flips (little wine with a lot of 7up) made me sick. Now (probably because of my weight) I can have a glass of wine or a margarita with a large dinner, but I am not driving, and I’m very likely going to go curl up and go take a nap for an hour or two. Not no effect, but at least I’m not getting sick.

                  1. Alcohol is something I can literally take or leave alone. If you like the taste and can learn to appreciate a variety of drinks, that’s nice. If you’re drinking it for an effect instead of for a taste, you’re already doing it wrong. And even if you’re not an alcoholic, why drink to get drunk?

                    It’s like… if people were chaindrinking Icees to get an ice cream headache, on purpose.

                    1. I liked “Mikes Hard Lemonade” but can’t get them locally; or at least I can’t find them. Can live without them. I can only tolerate one, once in awhile. Great if I was keyed up and not getting enough sleep. Because I can guaranty one helps me go to sleep, kind of.

                      I’ve never drank to get drunk, not once, not ever. I’ve been drunk twice. The amount of alcohol it didn’t take to get that sick, left an impression. This was over 45 years ago and 41 years ago. I remember every minute. My mind gets clearer on alcohol, at least until I get where I can take a nap; even then I’m semi conscious. Both times sick for 3 days. First time I could swear I actually didn’t drink a drop. Second time, about 1/4 cup of wine. (Note first time I was damn lucky. Second time I was with my new husband.)

                      You’ll appreciate this. When we bought the Longview house, the prior owners left the alcohol because they were putting their stuff in storage for awhile. Then hubby won a gallon of whiskey (don’t ask what kind IDK). We finally figured out how to get rid of it all. When invited to certain New Year, etc., parties? Take the alcohol, and forget to bring it home. 🙂

                    2. Well although wife and I never did drugs or smoked (Yuck!), we have been known to drink–mostly on vacations. We would always come back with wine that went into the cupboard and was never consumed. I did go through several years 21-24 or thereabouts) when I would get drunk on an occasional weekend. I waited until 21 to drink at all (legal age at the time although there was plenty around in college), and it wasn’t a good life choice to try alcohol when I was on my own and losing my future wife–long story.

              2. I always thought smoking was for old wrinkled people, my father’s parents were both chain smokers. My grandfather quit cold turkey, and kept a jar to put the money he used to buy cigarettes in. In one year, he saved enough for a fishing boat.

                So the impression this gave me for smoking is that it was for old wrinkled people, and it was almost like rolling up dollar bills and burning them.

      3. The last time I was on jury duty, the case involved marijuana (iirc, a home converted into a covert hot house pre-legalization in California). And, unsurprisingly, the defense attorneys made sure to ask each and every potential member of the jury what their thoughts were on whether or not marijuana should be legalized. I noted with some interest that *every* *single* person in that jury pool who worked in the medical profession was against legalization.

        I’m guessing that they’d all seen too much while on the job.

  10. The only nit I have to pick with they could pick themselves up by their own boot straps is I suspect that many didn’t know that was even a possibility.

    Today, 24/7, “YOU”RE A VICTIM!”, “WHITE PRIVILEGE!”, “RACIST!”, hear it often enough, some folks, many folks, “Know” it’s not their fault, know that they’re not lazy, know that they’re not ignorant, it’s just that due to their color, creed, class, whatever, they never had a chance.

    Victorian England, very class conscious. Respect your betters. Don’t put on airs above your station. Perhaps some nobles may be a wee bit eccentric, however most of the riffraff are simply plain crazy!

    Personally I don’t fault Victorian body sellers, as long as it’s their own body, not standing in their shoes nor their era … Why yes, many other routes to at least one meal a day, but many saw real or imaginary closed and bolted doors twix them and that meal.

    Not much we can do today nor, in my opinion, society could do back then except phrase those that break free, hope their actions lead others to follow and pity those that don’t.

  11. “Unfortunately this means that my editing of Darkship Thieves to go back up (I would skip it, but I’ve found actual for real spelling mistakes somehow missed in the published edition, so–)”
    Sweetie, you have people for that.
    And even back then Baen was cheeping out on editors and other ancillary support.

  12. Particularly since the echoing chamber of pudding heads insist if they’re not thriving it’s because they are victims and “the man” is holding them down. Most of the time that man (or woman) can be found in the mirror, but no one tells them that. No victim blaming. Even if they are self-victims.

    Reminds me of one of my favorite exchanges:
    Wu [Entering the room with Katara.] Who’s next?
    Sokka [Rising.] Okay, let’s get this over with.
    Wu [Dryly.] Your future is full of struggle and anguish. Most of it, self-inflicted.
    Sokka [Holding up his hands in protest.] But you didn’t read my palms or anything!
    Wu I don’t need to. It’s written all over your face.

    A:tLA, episode 14, The Fortune Teller.
    (I think someone read a bit of Terry Pratchett….)

  13. I have a co-worker who as a teenager lived alone in a car (his mom’s car) while she was in jail for 6 months for DUI. He slept nights wherever he could, couch-crashing and so on. He said that CPS was aware, but he didn’t want to become part of the system, knowing the results of the system.

    1. There’s an episode of “That Seventies Show” where the Formans take in Hyde because Hyde’s mother is an alcoholic and Kitty Forman discovers that he hasn’t really eaten in a couple of days. So, she creates a bedroom in the basement and moves Hyde in. Yeah, if Kitty Forman hadn’t been a good person that wouldn’t have happened. But I saw that happen a couple of times in real life while I was growing up in the 70s. There were plenty of parents who kept an eye on *that one* of their kid’s friends. And yeah, a couple of kids did end up living with their friends. State never got involved, school was never officially told. It just happened. Other times it never got to the moving in stage, but some kids consistently ate dinner at their friends’ houses. Or were always driven home from after-school activities by other parents. Those kids and those extra parents made the choice to leave bad circumstances. I’m not sure they’d be *allowed* to do that today.

      1. I had an acquaintance in the military who fell into that exact situation. His birth parents were abusive, improvident, alcoholic … and he just naturally fell into the orbit of his best friends’ family, who lived next door. He was a guy who felt no particular affection or emotion any way for his birth parents. He considered his true parents to be the parents of the family who lived next door. They had a large family, and he just essentially moved in. Ate meals there, they supervised his homework, interacted with the school … came to his swearing-in when he enlisted. They were on his SGLI policy as beneficiaries. As far as he was concerned, the people next door were his parents.
        It was in the military that I really realized how very fortunate I had been, with my family.

        1. At my mom’s family reunion, there’s a whole pack of folks who are not blood-kin.

          I tell this story as much as I can because I think it’s awesome– my great grandmother ran a stage coach stop. She married a guy who turned out to be a freaking coach robber, and married her for that reason. Some place out around Kansas.

          She figured it out, and left. I believe she filed for divorce in the first place it was legal, just to make sure it stuck.

          Landed in a good Catholic parish, and was adopted by a HUGE family. Several years later, my grandfather came home from school to find a note that said his mom had gotten an offer of a job if she could leave right then, and she’d left money with the neighbor family. It was several years before he saw her again, and yes they took good care of him, and yes mom sent money back.

          They called him Jack, if anybody wants to steal the story.

          1. Yes, this is the same family with the kid about Jack’s age that was called “lefty,” because his right arm was withered from birth. He’d roll a cig while talking to you with just the one off hand, from a bag of tobacco.

            Same guy who was in a proto-biker-gang with grandfather, they drove around on WWI surplus motorcycles doing odd jobs until they ran out of money, and eventually Lefty fell for a lady in a town in Oregon. Married her a whole two weeks after he met her. (It would, of course, never last– they only made it well past the century mark.)

            Jack took it slow and spent a whole couple of months courting the lady he married.

            Who many years later was utterly fussed at HER daughter for marrying some dang cow-hand that she’d only met six months earlier, because it would never last…. (heading strong for over 40 years)

        2. What’s funny is that I heard a very similar story about someone from his wife, because the “Dad” (best friend’s dad) had just died. She said she was very confused when they were dating and he talked approvingly of his mom and dad, because she knew his bio-parents were basically absent.

          (He’s also AF, but I think maybe a decade or two later than the one you knew.)

          1. My younger Uncles had their mom, but their dad died when they were preteens (8 and 10). Instead they had 3 dad’s. BIL, older brother (dad), an couple of uncles, and mom’s dad (her younger brother is the younger boys age). When asked if I have brothers, the answer is, “well No, but … I have 3 uncles that are a close to brothers as I’ll ever have”. It gets more confusing when people realize all 3, while older than my husband by a year or so, all three are younger than hubby’s siblings. Cue hubby’s nieces “Wait! You are our new Aunt, but your Uncles are (a lot) younger than mom. Your grandparents are our grandparents age!” This isn’t something I thought about. It just was. My best friend in JHS Uncle was our younger siblings age, almost 2 years younger.

      2. Decade to two later than the TV show, but my husband’s mom is That Mom.

        He has one biological sister, and at least a dozen who are sisters/first cousins that somehow neglected a blood connection. (It took me MONTHS to figure out that I was being checked out by his sisters and that pack when he brought me home one Christmas; thankfully they recognized “oh. It’s a girl version of Half-Elf. Carry on….” instead of going on the offense.)

        But holy COW most of his school stories are “and then I kept not-a-sister from doing something stupid, by the power of looming and/or being sober.”

        Because all of the not-a-sisters spent at least one until-bed-time at his house a week, eating with them, getting homework help, having intact parents that were THERE. Some of them were Issues, some just were gone because they had careers. (They were doing their best, even if I think they got bad advice.)

        When those ladies grew up and had babies? The babies went to “grandma”– not THEIR mother, but Elf’s.

        1. Grandma, was Grandma Annie to more than just her grandchildren. When grandpa died, 1959, grandma was 48, with 4 of 6 children still at home under 18; youngest 8. Before she married, she’d worked as a teacher, but never transitioned into the teaching certificate, credentials, stage. So she migrated into baby sitting, childcare. But she never called it the latter. Specializing in the hard to find 24/7 variety, or for the night workers.

          We tried to be “that” house where all the children congregated. Bolstered by the nearness of the grade school. Plus we had a Rainbow System play ground in back, and a pool table (which has been *sold*, just not paid for or removed, yet). Didn’t quite work out that way. Instead we were one of 4 houses that were that way, so the kids rotated among them. Not quite close enough that the kids would be regularly running in and out of all 4 houses daily (like my childhood), but rotated which house was chosen. All 4 families, both parents worked.

          1. My mother raised Hungarian Kuvasz (nobody’s ever heard of ’em; think skinnier, smarter Great Pyrenees) and had a friend who had That House. Not because of HER, but because of the playground and the dog. 90-pound female livestock guardian who decided that all the children belonged to *her*, and they *would* play nice or she would carefully lie down atop them, and they *would not* go home with anybody but their parents, or she would take Anybody’s arm off. She scared the pee out of several home-from-college siblings before word got around.

            1. Heh. Our giant male Pyrenees when I was a kid used to do that to Younger Brother. When he’d get tired of brother using him as a jungle gym, and so very carefully nudge him to the ground, plant a huge paw on his chest, and then doggy-grin happily while brother flailed and complained until Mom came and took him back inside.

              1. This is what I love about LGDs; they *think*. We had a two-year-old bonk one of ours *hard* on the nose once, and he just looked at me with this longsuffering “Puppies…” expression. Same dog took exception to a phone repairman hitting on my mom, and just kind of took a hold of his wrist. With jaws approximately twice the width of said wrist. No bite, no growl, just…communication. 🙂

            2. A friend had a machine shop out in the county, and his Dad moved in on the adjacent property, bringing his fully-grown Pyrenees with him. The dog ran free in the cleared area; he never seemed to be interested in the woods or the road.

              I pulled up and got out of the car, and this pony-sized dog charged from around an outbuilding and galloped my way. If I hadn’t been able to brace against the car I would have been knocked over. I knuckled-rubbed his head and slapped him on the side a couple of times, and we were Buddies for Life. The dog thought he was part cat and part Pomeranian. When I walked he would try to thread between my feet like a cat, which doesn’t work well when the dog is taller than your inseam. I had to make giant steps over his back, which everyone thought was hilarious. And if I sat down, he would try to climb into my lap, and when discouraged, would flop down on my feet.

              After that, every time I came over, he’d be at the end of the driveway waiting for me. Kenney said he could tell because the odd-fire V6 had a unique exhaust note. Satan eventually died of old age. I felt like I’d lost a friend, and he wasn’t even my dog.

              1. I adore Pyrenees. Having one right now isn’t really practical, what with the fur and the endless drool, and having a teeny house and a not very big yard…but man. I still want one. (And eventually, my dog will need a buddy.)

                But yes. If a Pyrenees decides that you belong to them (are part of their herd/flock), you will never meet a more loyal, gentle, and protective dog. When I was a teenager and had to go check on the animals after dark (or if my mom or my sister did), I’d have these two huge fluffy white dogs flanking me, following me around to make sure that I was safe. And if anyone or anything had ever threatened me, they’d have torn it to pieces in an instant. Our male was, we are fairly sure, murdered by our neighbor (who was all kinds of horrible), and when we moved away the summer I graduated high school, we had to rehome the female, Belle (who was my dog in a lot of ways) because I was leaving for college and the rest of the family was moving to postage-stamp-yard suburbia. I was *heartbroken.* I hope the family my parents found for her loved her.

                1. I adore Pyrenees, just not quite as much as Kuvasz. Pyrenees give you uncritical adoration if they love you. Kuvasz give you critical adoration. 😀 But we had a Pyrenees/Shepherd cross until very recently, and he was absolutely the sweetest thing on four paws. He would charge up the steps of delivery trucks, tail furiously awag, because NEW PEOPLE I MUST LOVE THEM!

                  Our current Kuvasz has proven his guardy bona-fides by running a creep off of me in the middle of downtown, with nothing more than a gimlet glare and the very tiniest show of teeth. 🙂

                  1. There was a short story by… it might have been Eric Frank Russell. Aliens had wiped out a human colony, except for a “Hungarian war dog.” Who was slightly uplifted, though still a dog. The dog was amusing, they left her alone.

                    She was pregnant. And soon she would give birth, and she would teach her children about revenge…

              2. Haven’t meet cousins Pyrenees. They may have new ones now, as the big dogs are not long lived. They run stock. Dogs live with the stock.

                Regarding Pyrenees that think like a lap dog. Not the same but just as cute. I have a lap Pyrenees, okay she’s 1/8th Pyrenees 🙂 Had the dog’s DNA done. She’s on the larger size for a PomChi cross. Especially she is really a ChiPom by DNA. DNA came back: 1/2 Chihuahua, 3/8 Pomeranian, and 1/8 Pyrenees … Wait! What? She’s 20% overweight at 20#s.

                1. It’s like the labrador retriever/chihuahua puppies someone (not in my state) was advertising a few years back. That…was a hell of an oops. Also pretty sure it was daddy who was the chihuahua, and either he was very very clever, or he had help, heh. (And either way, I suspect was immensely pleased with himself.)

                  Sometimes you just go “How did that even happen…?”

                  I mean, if my dog had had her way, she’d have had puppies with the neighbor’s mastiff (and even for the size difference–she’s a 30lb spaniel–she was far, far too young).(Because of COURSE she went into heat the same week I’d scheduled her to be spayed. And then stayed in heat, until I gave up and just paid the extra money to have the surgery done anyway. Because she’s a clever doggo, and was figuring out how the door handles worked…

                  1. Yes. Major oops.

                    Every indication daddy was the Chihuahua. I guess mom Pyrenees can get very accommodating when it is time. In fact explicitly stated a mamma Chihuahua wouldn’t have survived the process, let alone the pregnancy.

                    1. No, no definitely not. Which is why assume father was chihuahua as well. I’m not sure a female that small would survive the impregnation process, let alone giving birth. :/

                      (Dammit, this is why I’m big on getting your pets neutered/spayed. They live longer, and you don’t have to worry about “oopses.” Not that I don’t half-wish I could see the kittens my giant cat would produce, but…he was neutered when I picked him up from the shelter as a kitten, so it was never on the table. A chihuahua/lab or pyrenees mix, I’m sure, produces quite the interesting offspring, but.)

                    2. Exactly. We’ve had beautiful, adorable, intelligent, cats. ALL were neutered/spayed at 6 months (personal rescues, not through shelters, etc.). We’ve always started with kittens, only 6 of 14, 8 to 12 weeks old. The rest from < 1 week to 5 weeks. All of which were on KRM even if they wouldn't take a bottle. Two bottle raised, and two who shouldn't have been weaned but wouldn't take a bottle.

                      Only one of the three dogs we have had, would had made a wonderful mother. She adored babies.

                      I am not breeding. We don't buy. Unless you count paying a rescue fee. Taylor's fee was minimal (through veterinarian). While Pepper wasn't inexpensive … her liter was very popular and paid for a lot of medical expenses for other animals.

                    3. Heh. I think my giant orange tabby and mom’s giant calico (seriously, at 14 pounds–and not much of that is chub, though a little of it is–she’s the ‘small’ kitty. Or was until the latest 2 kittens of the house.) would have had epic babies–but. Calcio queen HATES (or hated) kittens. She hated my cat and his brother (who at slim and athletic and amazing magpie-murderer was FIFTEEN POUNDS, we grow big cats apparently) on sight when I brought them home, lol. I don’t think she would have made a good mama–and when she started going into heat, but before finances allowed getting her spayed, she was *so* miserable. And very, very loud about it. So overall, the regret over spaying her is small, heh.

                      She’s…tolerating the two new kittens. It helps that she mostly lives on top of the fridge and freezers (even has a cozy basket up there) and they can’t get up there…yet. We’ll see how long the tolerance lasts when they get big enough to make that jump :p

                    4. Right now Bits is the only one who gets to go out. Only because she goes out for about 10 minutes, maybe, and comes back in. She is not going to be happy when the yearlings are allowed out too (when it snows or really rains hard, finally) … This outside stuff is a fight I can not win. Not long term.

                      Bits is really strange. She is the only one of our 14 who never cuddled with a kitten, male or female, unless they were extremely old and couldn’t physically tolerate kitten antics pouncing and biting. We’ve only had two liter mates come into the house together, and that is the current yearlings. Another set of brothers, but they were trapped about 10 days apart. We figured with Bits, although Silver tried (she was 15 when we adopted Bits), and Emerald was failing (he was 18 when Bits was adopted). So when Bits was 18 months old and we found the tiny 3 week kitten, she’d be thrilled, as she was still very much a kitten. Nope, not even close. So we weren’t surprised when she didn’t take to the current pair. Although we were hoping for more of a mutual leave me alone society. But that is not happening. To be fair neither did Thump. TJ and Amber never met Thump but I think they’ve been in contact with his spirit. TJ not only looks like Thump, only bigger, but he sure goes out of his way to torment Bits. We’ll hear Bits squalling and hissing, hubby will yell at the dog (also guilty of trying unsuccessfully to get Bits to play), and the dog will come from close by, not anywhere near Bits, with the expression “What did I do?” Or a legit “Not Me!”

                  2. When I was tiny and wee, we had an Italian greyhound. Who had a tryst with the Pekinese down the street. I’m told my parents had a “draw the puppies” contest. “First prize, one puppy! Second prize, two puppies…”

                  3. Having a friend who’s a dog trainer can provide clues: Owner of golden retriever (female) watched from the kitchen window as the next door Chihuahua jumped up on the picnic bench (what’s he doing?) and then mama BACKED UP so he could climb aboard…. Mama was pedigreed so they hadn’t spayed her yet.

                    “She’s gotta have it….”

      3. I can’t answer NOW. But 20 years ago … both Scouts.

        * Scout starts showing up to meetings with less than clean clothing, both scout uniform and other. Was showering at school using gym facilities. Already on the school breakfast and lunch program. What happened is mom broke up with significant other, who moved out. Mom took youngest two to brother’s home, and left, leaving the oldest (scout) to fend for himself. Troop leadership got involved. Found out where uncle was with the two younger boys. Took scout there, got him settled, then Uncle called CPS, and former significant other, on mom. Former friend had no legal rights, but did work with Uncle to stay in the life of the 3 boys, least last we heard (tried to keep him in the troop but that meant a 90 minute commute commitment to get him to meetings and activities, not sustainable for the 3 families, 4 drivers, who had the resources, and time, usually, to pull this off).

        ** Again scouts, before boys crossed over, and joined troop. One boy, single mother dies, family of his best friend takes him in as foster, then adopts. Additional tragedy occurs a few years later. Immediately after troop 2010 high adventure trip to Yosemite, family goes on vacation to Hawaii. Where mom dies in freak drowning *accident. So two children lose their mom, the third loses his mom, a second time. (* They were never sure if she was drowning and had a heart attack or had a heart attack and drowned. She was snorkeling with youngest when it occurred.)

      4. One of my sister’s high school friends had her parents killed by a speeding drunk driver (who was never prosecuted – family connections). She was left with very little. Her aunt didn’t really want her – would probably have taken her if the alternative was CPS but not happily.
        She lived with us until she went off to college.

        That sort of thing is outside “the rules” but it still happens all the time. People take care of their friends.

      5. It was always my parents’ rule that if we had a friend in need of a place to crash, our house was it—and I intend to have the same policy for my kids. Only one of my siblings had a friend take them up on it due to abuse; the other friend who came over from time to time basically had an adversarial relationship with his father and needed a place to cool off every once in a while.

    2. I don’t know if that was “the right thing”, whatever that might be… but I can’t fault his decision to stay out of the meat grinder. And extra points for sticking it out instead of giving up during the hard spots.

  14. None of us need be destitute in America. Many choose that. Sounds hard-hearted; but I have had addicts in my family. They choose that life.

  15. On a completely unrelated note: Happy Space Day! Will the wokerati Karens condemn Neal and Buzz because they left litter on the moon? Asking for a friend.

  16. This idea is why I call my clients who experience domestic violence “survivors” instead of victims. While we spend time processing pain, I also gear it towards “lessons learned” and empower them to take control of their lives. This latter part especially can be transformational, and I’ve seen some crazy success stories as people moved from dependency to masters of their own destiny.

    1. THIS. I’m a survivor, not a victim. My experiences don’t define me, although they did shape a lot of how I see the world to this day.

  17. I can’t remember who once said that “Socialism couldn’t really take hold in the US because poor people tended to consider themselves temporarily inconvenienced millionaires; they knew there were ways to do better and would do it.

    As Jiminalaska noted above, there’s a horrifying number of people who- because they’ve been told it for a couple of generations or more- buy into the ‘The Man won’t let me do better’ crap. Man, the socialists have really screwed a lot of people, I wonder if they care about the ones destroyed by it?

    Which reminds me of someone I used to know who really got herself screwed up. And decided that one person(no, it wasn’t me) was responsible for it all. The fact that she went horribly into debt, and then frequently violated three of the four stupids(which led to the big problem), and never seemed able to either acknowledge how she’d screwed up or at least stop blaming that one person for it all…

    1. Firehand said: “As Jiminalaska noted above, there’s a horrifying number of people who- because they’ve been told it for a couple of generations or more- buy into the ‘The Man won’t let me do better’ crap.”

      The worst part is when people who are doing quite well buy into it and push the woe-is-me narrative.

      I know someone with this attitude. When we were young, I pitied him and gave him a lot of encouragement. The last time I spoke to him, he was griping about his physical limitations (partially brought on by treating his body like a loaner car) and comparing his lifestyle to his siblings’. And the inherent problems of Working for The Man.

      At that point, I had the impression he was a lowly software engineer at a start-up. Then his own brother mocked him by saying, “You work for Google! You ARE The Man!”

      Six figures. Vacations in Europe and Asia a few times a year. And a “dinky” waterfront house on 20+ acres in one of the most expensive zip codes in our state.

      But “The Man”…

      1. A few years back, there were some protests at (IIRC) a Michigan college and one of the spokesmen was a black student from a very well-to-do family “whining” about how oppressed he was. 😈

        1. Yep. Any student attending a US college or university (even community college) is more “privileged” and less oppressed than probably 90% of the humans alive now. Maybe even 99%. But so many are just too young and inexperienced to realize how good they have it.

        2. When I was in grad school, Shelby Steele gave a talk at one of the neighboring undergrad colleges (the Claremont Colleges if you know them, pretty exclusive) and several black students told him they were disadvantaged. He asked them where they went to college (there), then he proceeded to tell them how privileged they were. They didn’t really like that.

          1. I was accepted at Harvey Mudd. Didn’t go there—the tuition is ruinous, and probably just as well since I did not end up in engineering. One of my nieces is going to Pitzer, and I know someone who is working at one of the other colleges (can’t remember which one.)

            Yes, exclusive. But unlike, say, the Ivies, you have a good shot at a decent education if you make even half an effort to get one there.

            1. I graduated from Pomona and CGU. The saying was that Pomona was the Harvard of the west. We liked to say that Harvard is the Pomona of the east…

            2. >> “I was accepted at Harvey Mudd.”

              Wait. There’s a college named for that two-bit crook from the original Star Trek?!

      2. A rhyming point, does anybody else read those “how to save money” articles?

        Headline is usually something like “cut thousands from your budget each year!”

        The ones that have suggestions like “make your coffee at home,” and then calculate $5 a day for your Candy Coffee.

        Or “eat out no more than four times a week.”

        0.0

        Back at our high end of eating out, it was take and bake pizza, every other week. So, .5 times a week, and at ten bucks a pizza it was only a little more than making at home, especially with left overs on the stuffed pizzas. (take two pizzas. Curl the crust of the bottom one over the crust of the top. Bake. *heaven!*)

        Now, yes, we do have some lifestyle choices that SERIOUSLY lower our costs– most folks with kids have to look for a good school district, and then look for a safe location. We homeschool, so there *is* no first restriction there. Husband has a rollerskate commuter car where the splurge was an extra $200 for a Special color. I’m a housewife, so I can actually *shop* instead of going and buying stuff in the 30 minutes a few times a week sprees– and I’m actually good enough at that, that husband was put in charge of the work geedunk because I can go and buy the stuff everybody drinks when it’s on sale and folks get their sugar/caffeine fix for a quarter (or less) of the vending machine price, and it *still* covers “losses.” (less theft and more “oh, heck, man– grab a soda from the fridge” and sometimes folks forget to pay for the visitor they told to do that…which we built into the pricing structure.)

        1. Oh, man, I KNOW.

          Especially frustrating for folk who are already doing all of those things and are still in fiscal distress. I mean, it’s hard to cut down your drink costs when you’re already drinking tap water.

          You know, I still have vague twinges of dismay when buying stuff that I actually need for myself? Fiscal stress was 15-20 years ago, and I still feel it. And yet there are folk out there who have never learned budgeting, or “making do,” and it’s weird…

        2. At OUR high end, Dan had traveling job and made stupid money and I sometimes needed to go out and see people, plus we ate out when Dan was home, because we only had two days together a week…. we ate out 4 times a week. And it slayed me.
          And mind you, mostly diners and cheap chinese take out.

        3. Several years ago, a bunch of Dem congresscritters decided that they were going to show how difficult it was to live on a certain amount of money each week (can’t remember how much exactly off the top of my head). In order to do so, they cut back on their meal expenditures, and started taking pictures of their receipts in order to show how much their basic food expenditures still were.

          But cutting back on their meal expenditures didn’t mean things like brownbagging their lunch. Instead, they were buying “inexpensive” lunches that probably cost about the same individually as an entire loaf of bread, and enough filling (of their choice) to make sandwiches for two weeks. You know, as opposed to the more expensive “normal” meals that these everyday citizens of our country ordinarily purchased on a daily basis.

          1. Well, with the $174,000 of our money they pay themselves, plus all the additional money they spend on their offices, staff, transportation and other expenses, plus what they get from lobbyists, $50 for lunch every day doesn’t make that big a dent.
            ———————————
            If you tried to run a business the way they run the government, you would be in jail or the poor-house within six months.

        4. Meanwhile, I discovered that at SoCalEdison rates, it was cheaper to have Costco bake the pizza than to pay for the electricity to run the oven on high for half an hour.

          1. Hmmm. In all my “make or buy” comparisons, I’ve never taken the price of electricity into account. The one thing I consistently make is bread. It’s so much cheaper and it’s easy (now – I did make a lot of bricks while learning). I’m looking forward to doing it 2,000 feet lower – in less than a month, now!!

            1. SoCalEdison rates


              I had to quit whining about EWEB rates. To be fair, before we bought, we were renting a house with EPUD rates. Huge difference in electric and water charges (septic so sewer was not an issue then). Before that it was Cowlitz PUD, which was even less than EPUD (especially since CPUD included sewer charges); and the Longview house had baseboard inefficient heaters. (EPUD is somewhat lower than EWEB. CPUD is way lower than EWEB. Or at least were, it has been 36 and 33 years since last compared.)

              I had to quit complaining because the last job I worked at, one of the County modules was Utilities. Where the county did the billing for Power, Water, and Sewer. Note, all testing is done with real data. Not live current data, but real data uploaded from client’s servers (if we were tracking down a particular problem for a given billing period, we had that data). My first change was changing the custom form layout. It was a major layout change, and coding change that affected how the charges were summarized. No collection change, just how summarized on the form. The numbers I got were ridiculously high. I could not figure out where I’d messed up. Either in coding or in setting up the tests. I hadn’t mess up. Talking a magnitude of 3 to 4 times our highest monthly charges, and at the time, we had ceiling heat!!! Our high monthly charges now run $360/month max (about 70% of what it was before switch to NW Gas forced air heat furnace). Which is summer, inefficiently running floor air conditioners, and watering 15 minutes 2x/day.

              1. Roughly 3k square foot house, central air, HUGE amount of electronics use, and over an acre of land to add to the laundry and showers, and we still have summer costs of like $275. (Winter we have propane, so that helps.)

                1. The test runs were putting out bills of $600 to $1000 per month …

                  $275 for summer power and water bill isn’t bad from my perspective.

                  Our bill drops to < $300 during the winter. Central heat, but natural gas. Would go down more if hot water heater was natural gas too. Somewhat better if we had a natural gas cook top too. But no way to vent up (at least 14 years ago that was important, when the furnace went in). I will not have a gas washer or dryer … No way am I having open flame near dryer lint. Nope. No. Not. (Dryer lint is a fire starter suggestion in scouts.)

                  1. Man, I am glad I have Bonneville power.

                    I have a leaks-like-a-sieve 1270 sf house (with another 720 sf unfinished basement). My base load is about a kilowatt, with gas for heat and cooktop (oven is electric but I don’t use it that much). My electric bill averages about $40/month [yes, you read that right] and my gas bill varies from ~$115 in January to ~$10 in August.

                    Of course, Seattle wants to prohibit gas hookups in new houses, and I expect if that succeeds it’ll only be a matter of time before they prohibit gas usage at all. Because “indoor air pollution”, doncha know. (I guess somebody managed to show them that heating/cooking gas is a teeny tiny fraction of CO2 emissions, because for some reason they’re not using that angle.) They already mandate huge cfm numbers for range hoods, so it’s not like particulates would be a problem except for stupid people.

                    1. Yes. $40/month power, water, and sewer, from CPUD sounds about right (this was 20 years ago now). Everything was power in the house, no gas. Baseboard heat. Leaky windows. No A/C (wasn’t needed). House build early 60’s, I think.

                    1. San Diego area. Her power bill is more than our mortgage….


                      I wonder why that might be? Someone in the men’s club where hubby golfs, worked for EPUD. He was furloughed out as a crew supervisor for IDK reasons (hubby knows, but he half listened, and I half listened to him, but mostly underlining reasons, it was a clean out to purge high wage top tier, just looked like age discrimination, but not quite, BS). Guy was then headhunted for the power company in San Diego County. First off his compensation: $250k Salary-non-exempt (which means OT, etc, is paid), Paid for the apartment (no limit) and utilities, paid for one round trip airline ticket anywhere in US per month (which could be delayed, his wife used them more than he did), at least 6 weeks paid vacation, sick leave, and the normal insurance/pension/401(k), etc. That was his compensation. Then there was the job site. Besides the crew and him as a supervisor onsite, daily, there was the following individuals also present at the construction site: Environmentalist, Geologist, and Archeologist. Couldn’t have the specialists come out when or if something was found or changed. Nope. They had to be there when the job was in progress. This is on top of the expenses expended for the environmental assessment, easements, etc. Let alone the actual construction material and machines.

                      Yep. Half listening until hubby started relating to all the above.

                      Note, the guy in question is a bit of a braggart, and tends to exaggerate, a lot (in fact he never shuts up). His compensation package was probably spot on. But whether the extra people were there “just standing around waiting all the time” might be an exaggeration?

                      Guy has now officially retired at 62. So those stories are now history. But …

        5. Yeah, those dang ‘money saving’ articles never work. I don’t drink coffee, I almost never eat out…

          I finally concluded my real issue is buying books…and I just can’t give that habit up 😀

        6. My wife and I read those and laugh, as they recommend “cutting” things that are primo luxuries for us. We make a good living, but four kids and home schooling means we can’t indulge in Fivebucks or eating out much at all. And forget cable, gym memberships and the like.

        7. > most folks with kids have to look for a good school district

          I still find that to be an amusingly alien concept.

          In my area, the State implemented “busing” in the 1970s, in the name of “racial integration.” In practice, this seemed to involve busing all the children from black neighborhoods to schools in white neighborhoods and vice versa, so they wound up just as un-integrated as before. But that seemed to be their definition of “integration.”

          Back in those pre-internet days, it was difficult to find out what school might be associated with what neighborhood, and even if you found out, the School Board kept changing things. You’d have to move a lot to stay in the same school.

          Even now, the buses start running at 0600, and they’re still on the road at 1700, even though “school” is much shorter than that. I used to joke that they could just dispense with the buildings and put blackboards in the buses, which isn’t so funny any more.

          1. *shrugs* I never lived in a place with more than one school district, but all my relatives that do are utterly fixated on the “good” school district.

            1. There is only one district, but it contains most of the schools in a sizeable county, so a kid could theoretically go to a school 20+ miles away from home. A couple of towns had their own school districts, but you still didn’t get to go to the closest school other than some fluke.

          2. You mean other cities have multiple school districts? We have two, well 3 if you count Springfield. But iEugene had two, 4J and Bethel. Didn’t start out as two. Bethel originally was all the outlying farm/ranches, that asked to join in with 4J way back when. City of Eugene and 4J merrily said No, loud, clear, and sharp. Fast forward a few decades, Eugene has grown, some areas of Bethel are now incorporated into city boundaries, some are still just in urban growth area, but not incorporated, others will never be. NOW Eugene has been muttering how the two need to merge. Bethel is having nothing to do with this. Why the switch? As usual, it comes down to M O N E Y.

            Within the school districts there are designated HS neighborhoods. Bethel is easy, two HS, the main one and the alternative HS. Gets a little murkier when it comes the middle school and grade schools, because they can go from neighborhoods that are very poor, with a lot of homeless, to very rich, demographics. Our grade school started out with a mixture, but has morphed into mixed poverty to higher level middle income averages, without the homeless. We’re Bethel BTW.

            4J definitely has more difference between poorer neighborhoods and the ultra wealthy. HS can be chosen if there are spots available, or use the lottery, but you loose your busing options (which there aren’t any anyway, they use the county bus system). In general North (4J) and Willamette (Bethel) are considered lower to lower middle class economically, on average; essentially, North to North West Eugene and outer areas, until it meets the Junction City urban growth boundaries. The two school district boundaries do not change, but the grade school districts do, which generally do not affect the middle school they are attached (thus don’t touch the HS boundaries) to unless a grade school is the newer k – 8 variety.

            I was initially not happy when I realized we were in Bethel. Prejudice from growing up in the area. But in the end, Willamette HS offered more options, and other reasons. Both AP (which 4J HS’s have) and the science based shop (optional class), where the HS build electric carts, from scratch every year (carts are dismantled 100% unless purchased by parent or teacher, and kept intact), and raced them as part of the curriculum (which 4J HS’s Do Not have) VS club sport (some 4J HS’s do have, and the clubs are not building from scratch, only maintaining them year to year). Technically we are so close to the boundary that we could have chosen either school district (walking distance between Irving, Bethel, and Spring Creek, 4J, but we can see Irving from the house). We figured we had 5+ years to decide (I was barely pregnant when we bought) and no decision if history repeated itself (history of miscarriage). By the time the decision was required, we went Bethel.

            Most recent M O N E Y grab from 4J attempt was to suggest “swap” areas of the district, our area (which does make sense in a lot of ways) for one of 4J’s areas. But Bethel would be stupid idiots (I know, right?) to do so. Naturally what 4J is proposing is swapping higher average economic area for a much more poorer average economic area; like DUH. If that happens, Irving Elementary is toast, leveled and property sold. Other than property taxes (4J taxes are higher than Bethel) we have no skin in the decision (no kids or grandchildren in the system).

    2. “Man, the socialists have really screwed a lot of people, I wonder if they care about the ones destroyed by it?

      They do not. So long as they end up with the power/money/etc the destruction is a feature, not a bug. It means they continue to be “needed” and “important.”

      There is a reason that all those do-gooder twerps in the early part of the 20th century were freaking socialists. They might–maybe–have meant well, but I think for the majority of them (just as it is for a LOT of social workers today) it’s more about the power over other people’s lives.

      Why, yes, I have a very jaded view of social workers. How could you tell? 😀

        1. My parents had one tell them to their face, in regards to an adopted sibling who was a serious danger to the others (and himself) that she didn’t CARE about the other kids in their home. She only cared about the one whose psychiatrist was howling that he needed institutionalized–but the social services didn’t like that solution. That was too much trouble. My parents were also told to ‘just abandon him at a police station if you can’t handle him’ as a solution. (This particular sibling tried on more than one occasion to murder the others. Baby brother did not sleep alone for the first five years of his life, and mom and dad slept in shifts. The only saving grace was that the messed-up sib was too small and too damaged to get far–but it was still a long, horrifying several years. It’s not his fault he turned out like that, but.) And when my parents pointed out that doing so constituted FELONY ABANDONMENT and that all the other kids in the home would get yanked out and put in foster care, the social workers just shrugged.

          Of course, this was also in Douglas County, CO, which I many years late find appears to have a horrifyingly high incidence-rate of social services essentially kidnapping kids from non-abusive homes and forcing them into foster care. (And, more to the point, kids that don’t actually have any issues. I suspect trafficking.)

            1. yeah. I had…very mixed feelings regarding adoption for many years (four of the seven in my family are adopted, five of eight if you count the unofficial (and awesome) older brother). And I still don’t have a lot of use for most social “services.”

              I am considering becoming a foster mom…but I don’t know how much I could stand dealing with social workers again. On the other hand, I could offer a place where the kids definitely *wouldn’t* be trafficked, ever.

              1. I have worked with the foster system before (counselor, not foster) and will tell you there are 3 categories of DCS workers.
                1- Don’t care. They may have at one point, but now they just don’t. This worker wants the easy way out, so they inevitably dump a kid at a placement and ignore them except for their mandatory monthly meetings, which they inevitably do on the 27th of one month then the 3rd of the next month so they can avoid their kid for the next 55 days. Child is about to disrupt? Try to maintain placement at least one more month to kick the can down the road. Parents are clamoring for more visitation, but its supervised? Deny it because arranging more supervised visits is to much work. This makes up 80% of DCS workers.

                2- Friendly liar. This type tells kids they will get them home, and get them a new PS5 and a pony. I think they are new and don’t want to disappoint the children they work with, but regardless they lie to their kids. Hard thing is, the kids initially love their worker as they promise them the moon. A while later they HATE this worker as they realize they are liar. This makes up 15% of DCS workers.

                3- I don’t have time for your BS. This type will sit down with their kid and tell them “cut the crap out. You want to get out of residential/go home/get more privileges from your foster parents? Well then act like you deserve it. These people care, but you are sabotaging it.” Fun thing is, these workers mean it, and won’t put up with anyone’s bull crap. If a therapist is being a moron in a meeting, they’ll call them on it. If mom is pissing and moaning excuses, they’ll call them on it. That said, when the kid does well, they’ll turn around a fight for their kid because they’ve earned that trust. “Foster dad, you said once he got his grades up you’d put him in football. Well, his grades are up, when does he start?” This makes up MAYBE 5% of DCS workers, though interestingly makes up >50% of contract organization workers.

                I created that model after 4 years working a therapist a case manager for a residential facility. It’s held up for me, and the percentages seem fairly consistent, with some variation on a county by county basis.

                All that to say, if you decide to go into fostering definitely go through a contract organization rather than direct licensing by the state. You’ll almost always have a better experience. unfortunately the kid’s worker in most states is always a state one, so that’ll suck.

                1. Thanks!! I’ll have to see if my state has a contract org. We’re the lowest populated state in the union (barely 600k, heh, well, it’s Wyoming) so I don’t know if I’ve got that option, but I didn’t even know it was something to LOOK for, and now I do!

                  And your model seems sensible. Alas, I don’t think we ever met any of type 3. Pretty much all type 1, with a smattering of 2-transitioning-into-1.

                2. Okay, that’s a little more nuanced than my model of “CPS (or equivalent) == American Gestapo”.

                  My first wife became a middle school teacher while we were married, and her experience with Washington CPS was uniformly negative. Y’know all those Victor Davis Hanson articles where he talks about how California law enforcement finds it oh so difficult to actually do something about all the criminals but are happy to come down like a ton of bricks on the law-abiding middle class for picayune reasons?

                  Yeah, CPS was like that. We were informally fostering a girl in one of her classes who had the usual litany of addicted mother and abusive grandmother. CPS couldn’t be bothered, nor could they be bothered to do anything about the girl’s best friend who we knew was being molested by her stepfather. But CPS was perfectly happy to take kids away from their well-meaning parents for stupid crap like, well, complaining about unwarranted CPS interference.

                  1. Ooooh yeah. Family we knew in Colorado lost their infant daughter for the better part of 18 months because, after she rolled off the couch (at that age) when someone took their eyes off her for TWO SECONDS and got a fairly severe head injury, a doctor who hadn’t seen anything but the chart commented “This is abuse” and CPS descended without any sort of real investigation, and ignored the baby’s actual doctor who was saying “NO, it’s not abuse, it’s an accident” loudly.

          1. …or Child Services had a budget big enough to deal with “X” clients per fiscal year, and not having enough genuine problems to deal with, kept their appropriations up by yanking other kids into the system.

            Even if someone suspected malfeasance, they generally have no oversight. They make the determinations, they make the decisions, they write the reports, what could possibly go wrong? Even in the areas where a judge has to approve things, it’s some Family Court functionary with a rubber stamp.

  18. The Gay Black Son I Never Had (his own self-identifier) could have easily fallen into the trap of being a double victim (gay and black). But he’s always worked, never quit a job without having another one to go to, has lasted through some crap jobs until he can get to a better one, takes care of his (adoptive) mother, and knows he will improve his situation. He’s one of the hardest working people I know. He has chosen not to be a statistic. My Not-Son is amazing.

  19. Foxfier, I crack up at those articles, too. One of my college roommates used to send me links to them; I always thanked her, but I wasn’t the one going to Starbucks and day-spas. In fact, she saved me thousands by giving me bags of unwanted clothes over the years. (She marvels that I’ve had her old Vera Wang jacket for more than a decade now; it’s still a go-to for work.)

    1. ::boggles at the idea that someone who could afford Vera Wang wouldn’t want it:: (And I am not a big clothes-designer person–but her stuff is NICE.)

      But isn’t that just how it works?

      1. We’re both part of a culture of better-for-you-than-me. She had the jacket on; I complimented her; she had me try it on. Then she said, “I wore it only because my other jackets are at the cleaners; it looks better on you, so take it.” A couple of weeks ago, another friend gave me surplus beans and bags of raisins from those her family receives from a food bank; she knows I eat them and no one in her family will. We both reason that it’s better that I take them than she throws them out (and re-donating them to the food bank is a no-no).

        1. We have an elderly neighbor who also gifts us with items from the elder-center food bank. Stuff she can’t eat, doesn’t like. She shares it out with others of her friends. (In return we walk her dog, and sometimes have eggs to spare. And milk. The Daughter Unit has WIC, which offers more milk than either of us can consume in a month.) Sometimes useful, sometimes … I’m still wondering what on earth I can do with the nasty off-brand Velveeta cheese.
          The government surplus cheddar cheese that we used to get for a song at the military commissaries was the bomb, but this stuff is just nasty.

          1. … I’m still wondering what on earth I can do with the nasty off-brand Velveeta cheese.

            Foodbank or various give-away spots.

            Some folks LIKE that stuff.

            I can’t do the Velveeta texture.

            1. My mom’s recipe for man-n-cheese with Velveeta (which involves making a rue, and mixing the velveeta in, etc) is great. But off brand stuff is oily and nasty, and I’ve never found a use for actual velveeta OTHER than that mac-n-cheese recipe.

              (Well. It’s decent mixed with salsa. But I purely hate melting the stuff–on glass, once it cools, it turns into freaking CONCRETE.)

              1. *shudders*
                Hey, better you than me.

                I like cream of cheese soup based salsa stuff, I just can’t manage velveeta type stuff.

                ********

                K, when I met my husband’s grandparents/ folks who were his parents for the first 5 ish years while dad was deployed, this book was on the table:

                I picked it up, because book. And flipped through.
                And because there is rather little filter between brain and mouth, went:
                “OH! So ‘roux’s‘ French for a gravy base, yeah, Mrs. Wilson taught us that, in the not-in-driver’s-ed class. This stuff is so cool— she taught us color theory and basic English table setting stuff, too. It’s kind of a pain from the start with like milk, but if you know the theory it makes it really easy to make box mac taste *good* and you can not waste all those wonderful drippings.”

                She still thinks I can cook, rather than that I’m just a good basic plugger. I’ll take it, Tom approved. 😀

                1. I bought that one years ago simply for the title knowing that I didn’t actually like spicy food. Now, I’m Catholic and know how to make a roux, but my Mama couldn’t boil water so I can’t be Cajun. Too bad for me.

                    1. 😀.

                      I’m not joking, she was hopeless. The old Italian ladies in the neighborhood tried to teach her, they liked my father and “the Irish? They can’t cook.” She never really learned. Luckily, my father liked boiled things. I grew up in a household where salt was the only spice, pepper was viewed with suspicion, and black crunchy bits a food group. Just to give perspective, I learned to cook in the Boy Scouts, which was a huge improvement over how it had been.

                      I did, in fact buy the book for the title. It was irresistible, I saw it on some cooking show on PBS years ago.

                    2. I mean, I come from 2 parents who are both very good cooks (and both learned to cook in self defense, as their mothers were horrifyingly bad cooks)…but I gotta say that burnt crunchy bits–at least in gravy!–are AWESOME. 😀

                2. argh, yes, just realized I misspelled roux. Sigh. 😀

                  And knowing how to do the basics anymore IS the basis of being a good cook. Astonishingly few people know how. I tell people I bake bread, and most of the time they act like that’s a miraculous feat—but it’s *easy*.

              2. Velveeta can be used (with homemade bread) to make a decent Welsh rarebit. Otherwise I avoid the stuff.

          2. My Nana (who lived with us) got government cheese. (Note: “government cheese” was a standard go-to in the improv group I was with, so I have very strange associations with the term.) She couldn’t eat it, so it went to us in exchange for food she *could* eat. (Which she would not allow my parents to buy for her outright. I’m sure they fudged the receipts.)

        2. We both reason that it’s better that I take them than she throws them out (and re-donating them to the food bank is a no-no).

          ::nervous chuckle:: My sister’s buddy, many years ago, got a ton of baby food…. “we” (my family, it was kinda a group project) gave the lady one of those silly food processor things that’s supposed to be used for making like drinks and smoothy-type meals, so she could feed her kids what they were eating. It’s what my mom did, with a food processor, when we were kids– and the family is really awesome.
          So she gave me BAGS of baby food, ever time I visited my sister.

          For months, our food pantry had a surplus of baby food, because my kids almost never ate canned baby food.

          1. Some of the food is garbage – not because it’s processed but because it’s made to be given to food pantries. Things like rice-and-beans-with-spices packets that have no salt in them and not enough spice to give it flavor. Cans of jellied cranberries – low sugar version. Tasteless cereal.

            On the other hand, the amount of fresh vegetables and fruits is amazing. She made apple sauce flavored with Bing cherries.

            1. *laughs outloud*
              Oh my gosh I buy that stuff on sale TO USE. (K, not cranberries, most of the “lo sugar” stuff has artificial stuff that doesn’t do well with our family. But low salt, I can do.)

              Because I have a spice rack and I will so totally use it! Even our popcorn is “buy the cheap stuff, sprinkle 2c worth of garlic salt on it.”

              It’s not just aimed at food pantries, the whole “healthy” stuff makes food taste HORRIBLE if you have even basic level electrolyte intake.

              My dad could have died from being put on a “low sodium” diet– and when he by sheer luck from God collapsed in a way that he *didn’t* die, they tried to give him pills instead of just “stop doing low sodium diet.”
              Mom lost her temper and went back to putting the salt shaker on the table during dinner. If it tastes bland, *you need salt*.

              (Although the fake salt her dad used– many heart attacks– was potassium, and she always had THAT for leg cramps.)

                  1. Indeed.
                    The TRULY hilarious part was seeing the … nurse? who came to do the discharge look at the recommendation to “eat more salt” and go “Oh, this is wrong. They mean less salt” And have the doctor still in the room yell “NO. More salt.” The look on the poor woman’s face….

                    1. “Salt: the evil white stuff that’s not cocaine or heroin.”

                      When they want to sound scientific, they just blame “sodium.”

                    2. The nurse coming around after surgery and then switching arms to doublecheck that my blood pressure was that low.

                      I left with orders to not restart my blood pressure medicine.

              1. Also, a lot of off-brand is just made cheap. A spice rack is a great idea.
                BTW, our food bank started getting canned goods labeled “made in China.” Veggies like carrots. What the heck?

                1. A lot of that “Made in China” processed/canned food is just American food (often sold at discount prices), processed in China, and marked up for American markets.
                  No thanks. I don’t trust Chinese processing – Truth in Packaging is one of those concepts that didn’t travel well.

              2. I’m always faintly astonished at how many people I know who are intimidated by or otherwise shy of experimenting with the spice rack.

                My family, you add at *least* garlic, salt, and pepper to anything that isn’t dessert! 😀

                1. What’s wrong with the rest of the ingredients, that needs to be covered up?

                  (My grandfather found spaghetti sauce too rich. He ate his spaghetti with butter.)

                  1. We just really like garlic and thyme and so on. 😀 Herbs and spices are fun!

                    And my maternal grandmother made spaghetti sauce with…Campbell’s condensed cream of tomato soup. ::shudders::

                    1. My maternal grandmother did the same. My mother learned to make spaghetti sauce because a college friend looked at the bridegroom’s last name and gave her an Italian cookbook for a wedding present.

                    2. I swear those years between about 1950 to 1975 or so, the ‘popular magazine’ recipes you can find are…horrifying. And that’s likely the kind of stuff grandma would attempt (she would), but also she basically can’t boil water without burning it. She was a child during the Depression, yeah, but her family actually did fairly well. (Grandpa’s, not so much, which meant he’d eat pretty much anything you put in front of him, no matter how awful.)

                      I’ll take the Fanny Farmer cookbook before most anything else on the ‘classic cookbook’ front 😀

                    3. I’m pretty sure Em has told me hers used ketchup…..

                      I think a lot of people hesitate because a) they don’t have time to fix mistakes, and b) don’t want to do something they’ll have to throw out.

                    4. And it’s not taught. Even when I was a kid, a LOT of my friends’ parents didn’t cook, because for whatever reason THEIR parents didn’t cook much. Mine did, but as I said, they’d learned in self defense.

                      Most people around my age or younger that I’ve talked to who don’t cook outright admit they think it’s intimidating–but will happily spend way more money on those meal subscriptions and so on. I suspect because a lot of those actually DO start teaching the subscriber how to prep something–you get all the ingredients, you get clear instructions how to do it, and boom, tasty food. I suspect at least some of them will realize “Hey, this isn’t so hard!” and start venturing out for themselves.

                      That’s also why I love Good Eats. He took the kind of stuff most people in the States will have in their pantry and teaches you any number of simple, tasty things to do with them, and also tells you WHY things in cooking work the way they do. I learned to cook as a kid, but I still love that show because it is SO broad in scope and really makes cooking nearly anything accessible 😀

                    5. both my boys cook and are pretty creative with it, but both of them hung out in the kitchen, watching from toddlerhood, and then started taking sous chef tasks for big parties as soon as they could handle it.
                      “Hon, I don’t have four hand, could you fold these ingredients into these, gently. Tell me when it’s uniform.” “Hey, careful with your fingers, but chop up these onions. Oh, look, put them in that pan with two tablespoons of olive oil and stir till lightly browned but still mushy.”
                      I think they learned to cook like they learned to read. Neither of them remembers not being able to do it, and they think they always knew.

                    6. Kay, our Demon Child of six years of age, has decided the Best Food On EArth is a snack tray.

                      ….so for most of the last week, she’s begged to be allowed to make lunch.

                      Yes, I do most of it, but she drafted Eldest Sister to cut apples, and…she’s learning. She KNOWS and she has no fear of the kitchen.

                    7. Oh. Overachieving elder by 6 was heavily into souffles and the frou frou est of French cookery.
                      the kitchen after he made Sunday dinner looked like a tornado hit it. He’d help clean it, but really it wasn’t unusual for him to use every single pot and pan in the house….
                      And he took things so seriously….
                      Younger son is more like me. He plays flavors in his mind to figure it out, rather than study recipes.

                    8. *eyeballs*

                      Maaaay be Italian blood, Elf’s whole family goes “I cooked, I used every single plate in the kitchen… you clean it.”

                      …me goes: no.

                      Cook is clean as you go, and then you clean the mess after, and THEN you are free on days that are not-your-cooking other than plates you actually used.

                    9. Yeah, I also clean as I go, mostly because mom didn’t, and I took to cleaning during parties, in order to hide in the kitchen. (What can I say. Introvert. Also not willing to answer questions about my love life from relatives and friends of all ages.)
                      Having faced unspeakable messes after mom had cooked all day (my least favorite: she has no disposal, but would throw organic trash in the sink with plates and stuff on top and …. ew.) I clean as I cook. Sons now do too. As a six year old…. not so much. I didn’t mind drafting him to help clean (He wasn’t organized enough to do it quickly enough at that age. But it took FOREVER.)

                    10. Ran into that in Scouts. Where the process is supposedly cook and clean-up crew are separate pairs or groups. We put a stop to that for awhile. Still had to groups. But the cooking crew had to clean up their cooking gear, stove, and surfaces. Put a stop, quickly, to deliberately making as big of a mess as they could for the clean up crew to deal with. Which triggered retaliation … Not everyone was involved but, AHHHHH.

                      As far as adults? I don’t care to cook. Don’t mind help cleaning up. But after the above, word went out to adults that there had better be SOME clean up while cooking in progress (like wiping down surfaces and putting pots they were done with to soak, at minimum) there was some cleaning up that needed to be done to set a good example.

                    11. My mother’s rule was the cook had to clean. Also if you were making lunch anyone else could insist that you make enough for them,

                    12. Heh. Yeah, that’s my father’s approach “I cooked (and dirtied everything), you clean up.” And so far as we can tell, he hasn’t got a drop of Italian blood :p

                      (I really hate it when he bakes. He usually does four or five things, and REALLY manages to not only dirty every single pan/dish, but also get flour everywhere. Sigh.)

                    13. That’s the way to do it. I can’t point to a specific date/age I learned to cook either–I just sort of picked it up from hanging out in the kitchen with Mom. Dad is an excellent cook, yes, but he’s also one of those men who likes to dirty every freakin’ dish in the kitchen, and doesn’t clean up as he goes, so I found Mom’s methods less aggravating, considering I was the primary dish-doer from 9 or 10 on, heh.

                    14. “Herbs and spices are fun!”

                      Not cilantro, though. That stuff tastes like soap!

                      Garlic- some folks say 1 clove per serving. I tend to prefer about six cloves or more, if it is pasta. Needs a bit of parsley, bit of red pepper and salt, bit of oregano and basil (easy on the basil, else the sweet basil overpowers the rest). Olive oil, too. Bit of cheese and chicken in with the sauce. And crusty toasty bread with butter/olive oil and garlic soaked in. Heavenly stuff!

                      I tend to buy spices in bulk when I know it’s good stuff. Proper cooking requires experimenting sometimes, and occasionally those experiments (or accidents) turn out good. That’s how the mutated Korean chicken/rice/egg + stir fry vegetables dish came about. I need to make more of that…

                    15. When a recipe says “1 clove of garlic” I just assume it was a misprint and they really meant four.

                      Hot tip: if you grow your own garlic and then dry it in the sun so you can braid it, don’t then hang the braids in a sunny window or the garlic will cook in the peel and be unusable. I wish somebody had told me that.

                    16. It wasn’t until Alton Brown did a show on garlic that I realized that “a clove of garlic” wasn’t the name for the entire root….

                    17. Right?
                      I KNOW I just tend to forget when I’m cooking. And if I don’t forget, my kids do. I once sent one for the grocery store for one fat head of garlic, “because I need forty eight cloves.” He brought me back…. forty eight heads…. I figured it was fate.
                      NO VAMPIRE ATTACKS HERE.

                  2. It’s not because we don’t use sauce, but I get a TON of miles out of making two or three pounds of noodle-pasta and coating it with 1/4-1/2 a cup of butter, with some garlic salt.

                    Makes it reheat much better, awesome snack, and honestly it just tastes good.

                    1. Butter garlic noodles was baby brother’s favorite snack when he was acquiring cooking skills and Mom let him do stuff unsupervised in the kitchen. 😀

                      They are tasty!

        3. Oh, I fully agree! And it’s great that she is doing that rather than throwing things away!!

          And granted, even if I *had* the money, I doubt I’d spend it on Vera Want–why, when there are so many books I still want? 😀

          1. I was talking to Foxfier about this. Even if we manage to move/pay off house with proceeds from this one, I doubt I’ll stop dressing from thrift stores or getting used furniture. There’s so many other things one can do with the money, like take courses, learn things, improve the house, etc.

            1. While we splurge on more than we used to, I’m wearing a 10-year-old t-shirt I bought off the $5 shelf in a tourist trap as I type. Actually ,more like 12 years. Why would I throw anything out that doesn’t have holes in it?

              1. right? My husband was going “let’s leave the bedside tables behind, they’re beyond rehabilitation” and buy NEW not used.” So I showed him discount bedside tables for 265. And he was “um. Okay, you can fix. We’ll take them.”

                1. LOL. We’re having that discussion almost daily, right now. I’m the one lobbying for “let’s get new ones”. It’s shockingly expensive (and mostly crappy). Sure, we _could_ spend the money, but think of what you could get instead! Who cares about the bedside tables? The old furniture will hold out for a while, yet (but that sprayed-with-faux-something dresser simply MUST DIE!).

                  The splurge is the “free” hot tub we’re getting for moving via U-Haul instead of a semi-truck and moving company.

                  1. I don’t want a hot tub. But I want a kitchen remodel. Oh, I figure I can write one in a year, but….
                    Look, the bedside tables suck and they’re fake wood. but give them a coat of white paint and htey’ll serve another twenty.

                    1. Remember S&H Green Stamps? Or are you that much younger? We have a pair of end tables, press particle board with fake wood something wrapped. They have held out for 40 years and counting!!! Not stained, not scratched, not taped or glued from being broken. Still look nice. Yes, we did use stamp books to get each of them. S&H stamps went away before we could get the matching coffee table. Never did get a coffee table of any kind.

                    2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%26H_Green_Stamps

                      Sure if a value could be put on the Green Stamp Books, items purchased with them weren’t necessarily inexpensive. BUT, the point was the Stamps and Books were free through vendors, in particular, gas stations. With a little work, technically the items purchased with the books were “Free”.

                    3. My maternal grandmother collected S&H Green Stamps, and several other types where she shopped and traded filled books of them for the goods in the local S&H Green Stamp store. She saved up the blocks and strings of stamps for my brother and I to full the books when we came for a visit. Just about every luxury good in her house came from redeeming trading stamps.

                    4. I grew up with S&H Green Stamps. Hubby and I only had two short years, when S&H stopped in 1980. We’d already gotten one end table. Hadn’t quite enough books for the second one. Got leftover books from both parents and his siblings, to “almost” get the second. When S&H quit, if the item was available, and you were short, there was a conversion factor for cash for the item. That is what we did for the second end table. The coffee table piece wasn’t available.

                    5. If you haven’t discovered what happens to demolished houses (the material)… Well, around here they sell the scrap for cheap. You can make bedside tables from reclaimed wood that are beautiful. And cheap. The’re not particularly hard, and if the drawer runners survive, you can add drawers. Or cabinet doors. Sand, paint/stain and done. I’ve made a lot of stuff from scrap wood because the dimensions of my century old house are… unique, let’s say.

                      I’m keeping my Kraft cabinets though. Mass produced, sure, but they’re still solid. Just need to set up a proper pot rack and soup can area, add some more shelving, maybe a small cleaning supply armoire…

                2. Yeah. I do product descriptions part time for a major resale outlet, and the price of furniture never ceases to amaze me.

                  1. When I needed bookshelves, I went to one of the nice furniture places here in town to see what they had (not much). The one thing I drooled over was an inlaid table with the six flags of Texas on it, with the name and dates inlaid as well. Man, if I’d had space and a few dollars more . . . I ended up finding a solid wood bookcase on clearance, then DadRed and I made one that almost matched it (plainer molding). I suspect the table was a special order that fell through, or things changed at the last minute, because I’ve never seen anything like it.

            2. Aside from can’t bring myself to pay new prices for such stuff… too much neat stuff in thrift store. Especially in our $2-for-all-you-can-stuff-into-a-bag shop…

              One day I found a rather strange long blue cotton vest, with a hood in the collar (wtf?) and a fanny pocket (WTF??). Wait, didn’t I just see this somewhere? [digs out video, peers closely] Yep, it’s identical to the one “Mickey Kostmayer” sometimes wore in The Equalizer. In fact, the crease marks =match=.

              1. *raises paw* I had that, I think it came from LLBean or Travlesmith. I wore it out, because it didn’t scream “Hi. I’m a tourist with pockets!” when I was hiking and stuff. Never used the hood, though. (And yes, you can wear out a vest.)

                1. I’ve worn out several vests. I wear them in the workshop in the winter, because sleeves and machine tools exceed even my lax ideas of safety. After a few years they get pretty raggedy. They wear mostly where they rub against my apron.

                  The price of not-plastic-fiber vests (weld spatter damages those worse than cloth) has gone *way* up. To the point where I’m seriously considering just buying a coat and hacking the sleeves off. If it starts coming unraveled, that’s what hot-melt glue is for…

            3. I love that you and so many of your readers are fix-its. Besides saving money, there’s something deeply satisfying about refurbishing or repairing. (Like gardening, without the mosquitos and moles! Ha ha) My writing table is an old vanity, sans mirror, which was stored in a leaky shed. It took a lot of wood-fill to patch the fallen-in knothole and elbow grease, but it’s better than anything I could have bought on credit.

            4. Truthfully, the major reason I don’t do much shopping from thrift stores is simply the lack of things I can wear. I’m too tall for most of it, alas.

              That being said, I have managed to find a few VERY nice clothes at thrift stores, which are beloved parts of my wardrobe 😀

              I actually ought to make time to go to a Plato’s Closet again. Fort Collins has a very nice one, and while Colorado is still full of the crazy, it’s not *as* crazy and I might actually be able to go shopping there again…

      2. My ex, pre-child when she was still wearing heels and dressing fashionably for her bank job, once found a pair of Manolo Blahniks* at the thrift store priced at $5.00. She said to the clerk, “You know what these are, right?” and the clerk just shrugged and said the company didn’t even bother looking at brands.

        * (Very expensive shoes. Like Sex and the City shoes.)

        1. Quite often the thrift stores are completely innocent of brands and what they could ask for some goods. I scored an enamel Chantal pasta pot, with glass lid and insert – completely new and unused – at a thrift store, for $15. New, it was in the neighborhood of $100-150, possibly more. (They don’t even offer them any more, which is a pity. Does pasta up a treat, too.)

    2. *laughs* Oh, gads, YES– hand me downs are awesome!

      I’ve got a Members Only jacket that was in style when it was new, when I was in single digits.

      It’s my favorite, because it FITS and it has POCKETS and I can stuff it into a tiny little space if I need to pack.

      1. I hate new clothes. My wife despairs. I still wear my father’s old horsehide cordovan brogues he had made after the war and both my father and I wore my grandfather’s old topcoat from well before, number two son has it now. I have an old wax jacket that I had a shoemaker put leather bands around the cuffs because it was so worn and I do have old, patched tweeds and flannel trousers that have had the entire crotch remade — I fit in well with the young fogeys when I was at university. I’ve worn the same raincoat for 28 years, I can get at least ten years out of a suit, a lifetime out of a tie, and at least five years out of a shirt before I put it into the informal rotation, even though I wear a suit to work everyday, WuFlu being the exception.

        Terry Pratchett was entirely right about the Ramkin’s and about boots, my dad used essentially the same story about his cordovan brogues.

        1. When I was a kid, well-off white-collar types had a summer suit and a winter suit. I remember going with my dad to get a new suit, and how that was a big deal. Apparently this was Formative, as I’m still croggled by the notion that anyone owns more than two suits.

          1. It’s the uniform. I have summer weight suits (poplin) for when it’s putrid out and winter weight suits (mostly British and mostly inherited) but I also have middle weight suits that I can wear all year round. When it’s your uniform, you really need six suits, at least 10-12 shirts — more is better, and a good assortment of ties. if you get the suits with two pairs of trousers they’ll last a good long while.

            Funny thing, I pay a lot for my suits, but I pay less than if I bought poor quality ones. Same with everything else. I’m willing to pay for quality — you can pay a lot for poor quality if you’re not careful but I find it’s worth paying a premium for really top quality. Sam Vimes was right about boots.

            1. I have three blazers – one navy, one camel hair, one tweed. The navy and camel hair are both over 20 years old and look like new. They were very well made, and I took/take care of them. The tweed is a heavy Scottish tweed so it only gets worn in the depths of winter. The slacks that went with the solid blazers still looked very good when I passed them on to someone who needed them more than I did at that time. Vimes’ boots indeed!

            2. Was that the one about “It’s actually cheaper to buy the $50.00 boots that last, than the $10.00 boots that fall apart in less than a year”?

              1. It was certainly cheaper for me to purchase a plain black leather Coach shoulder bag to carry as my every-day purse when in uniform (and post service for about a decade) for (IIRC) $250+/-, than to pay $20 every year for the approved uniform handbag. The Coach bag lasted a full 25 years, and was eventually replaced by the Coach company with a new bag of similar design when it was too battered to repair, while the cheap handbag from uniform sales would barely last a year.

              2. It was certainly cheaper for me to buy $350 (in 1993) Dehner riding boots from the cop’s uniform store than to buy multiple cheap ones off Amazon. I wear them to go out dancing (remember: goth), and my first pair lasted ten years of once or twice a week. My second pair has lasted longer, but I don’t go out as much.

                1. Oooh, I hadn’t considered police uniform shops for decent boots!

                  I have a devil of a time getting boots since I left the Navy– what I WANT is flight deck boots, but that would work.

          2. The Sixties were instrumental in getting men’s fashion to be as fickle as women’s. They were so not materialistic….

            The man in the gray flannel suit wore it for years.

            1. I have one blue suit, all the rest are grey, flannel mostly. I am fond of pink shirts though, the color and the brand.

              Before the regency, men dressed colorfully, like peacocks. It was Beau Brummell who put gentlemen into black and white. The rest of us wore grey, … but though on homely fare we dine wear hidden grey and all that. Give fools their silks and knaves their wine, a man’s a man for all that.

              Good clothes are a lifetime investment, though they don’t really help me. Most people wear bad clothes badly, it’s easy to wear good clothes well, a few people can wear bad clothes well, I manage to wear very good clothes badly. My usual state is schlumpy. As I said at the beginning, my wife despairs.

            2. Sean Connery talked about the suit he wore for his first James Bond movie, and how the tailor told him he should sleep in it just to get used to wearing it.

      2. Either pockets are somehow a significant cost, or clothing manufacturers hate them on principle.

        I *likes* pocketses…

        1. There have been a number of dresses and skirts over the years that I loved but didn’t buy, even on sale or deep clearance discount, because of the lack of pockets.

          1. It is apparently a rule that whenever a woman is complimented on a skirt or dress, assuming the statement is true she must exclaim “and it has pockets!”

            1. It really is a thing. Because we so rarely get pockets–and often when we do, they are measly undersized things.

              I get that it can be hard to do a skirt-pocket right, but there is NO excuse for making women’s jeans pockets half-sized.

          2. I would think pockets would be easy on a skirt; just sew them to the inside of the waistband.

            On the other hand, some men’s pants during the disco era had pockets (because men’s pants had pockets) but they were sewn shut (so you wouldn’t put something in there to “disturb the drape of the fabric.”)

            1. No, alas. Because of how the waistbands and gathers (or elastic) are sewn in most garments, pockets in women’s skirts and dresses have to be in the seam, or patch pockets. A kilted skirt or one that bias-cut is a nightmare to design with pockets. Many designers just assume that women have a handbag at all times and skip the pockets.

  20. Long ago, when I was placing (mostly black) kids in foster or adoptive homes, I met the brother of one of the kids I had placed in a good foster home…He had gotten out of the military, and was determined to rescue his young brother and move them both out of the ‘hood to a safer place…and he said he was working 2 jobs to save the money to accomplish that…16 hours a day…I said just call me when you’re ready, and he was able to accomplish it within a year or so….Pure gumption at work, and a happy ending.

  21. I knew that picture looked familiar… Great history lesson and commentary, both from you and everyone else here. I wish I had something witty and insightful to add but right now all I can do is just say thanks for all of this, especially now that I’m finally starting to make progress through my own problems. I wish I’d known this stuff (and the Huns and Hoydens, here and on MeWe) 10-20 years ago, though. Guess all I can do is just make the most of now being the time it ended up happening, though, huh?

    1. Some days one is tired after getting important stuff done.

      Sometimes one’s one current troubles mean that one /cannot/ think new thoughts.

      If you can take in advice, that is better than not having the spoons to take in advice.

      I’m hoping to catch up on sleep tonight, and see where tomorrow takes me. 🙂

      Good night all!

  22. This is, at the same time, brilliantly insightful and entirely mundane. It is revealing of our current societal impasse that the thoughts and sentiments expressed seem startlingly novel. It’s as if we forgot everything Solomon wrote down in Proverbs three thousand years ago and Sarah just now rediscovered it. We owe her a debt of gratitude.

  23. A couple of years back I read David Hackett Fischer’s The Long Wave, a history of the purchasing power of currency, based not on economic theories but on factual evidence. He found that periods when money mostly kept its value alternated with periods when it depreciated steadily. One thing that was associated with monetary stability was low rates of illegitimacy. For example, he found that for much of the 19th century, the proportion of births that resulted from nonmarital concepts was around 5%, accompanying stable currency. (Though I suspect that that includes births to married couples that result from pregnancies of unmarried women . . .) But notice that he gives one completed pregnancy in twenty starting outside of marriage as a LOW rate. It seems that a fair number of young women were following the example of Lydia Bennett! In a lot of circles, pretty much everyone must have known one young woman who was violating the official rules.

    1. As my extremely practical mother was known to remark “It’s all well and good to teach abstinence as the only way to 100% avoid pregnancy/stds, but…teenagers are idiots, and many of them are going to do stupid stuff. Best to be sure they’re at least informed about their options for being somewhat safe.” 😀

      But. There is a LOT to say that a stable two-parent household does more to lift people out of poverty, etc than almost anything else.

    2. Looking at the CDC stats, they have it at under 4% for births-to-unwed-mothers in the 40s and 50s; the 5% estimate I have seen before– it was based off of when they did blood tests and counted those who ‘couldn’t possibly’ be the offspring of their father.
      (Problem being, turns out that the “couldn’t possibly” assumptions were incorrect, basically an advanced version of the “baby has red hair, parents don’t, clearly a bastard” thing. Part of it was the inaccuracy of the tests as actually done, part of it is that the inheritance-of-blood-types thing works that way in most cases.)

  24. > I mean, really. What are these people, 2?

    With a public school “education” and media indoctrination, what other concept of the Victorian era would they have?

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