We Live Profoundly Unnatural Lives

No, I’m not actually complaining. Most of the time natural means someone like me would have died in infancy if not before. And I don’t dislike wearing clothes, not having to kill my own meat and not being limited to eating what I can grow. (Particularly in Colorado, where I couldn’t grow much of anything, partly because I’m not the best gardener, partly because the soil was like cement.)

But it is important, sometimes, when reading/talking/writing about the past to realize that we live profoundly unnatural lives. Which need unnatural solutions or experiments sometimes. Or just reality check.

For instance, in reading historical books, I’m getting sick and tired of everyone in their twenties who is an orphan having parents who were killed “in a carriage accident.”

No, actually seriously. This is the go-to for all the young writers, who have absolutely no clue how many ways to die there still are, all over the world, much less in the past with no anti-biotics.

Seriously, I keep hearing people telling me that no, the life expectancy was about the same, if you survived childhood. Leaving aside the fact we don’t really have good enough records to claim that (other than for the very upper classes, where we do, but those were a different ball of wax, okay? and even they died younger and uglier than we do) it’s poppycock.

In pre-antibiotic world, you could die of a blister that infected. You could die of accidentally stabbing yourself with a needle. (One of the reasons my dad was obsessive about disinfecting my childhood cuts and scrapes.) You could die of a trifling cold. You could die of medical treatment (Okay, in that, you’re like moderns) and you definitely could die of child birth, hunting accidents, and just “an illness” that was never identified and that could be any of a dozen viruses we no longer even think about.

Sure, childhood — and old age — were particularly dangerous, but trust me, you arrived at sixty looking what we now think of as 80, because all the illnesses took a toll. (It’s still so in most of the world.)

But we live profoundly unnatural lives.

I remember being little and looking at people in their sixties, after the kids left home. They basically sat around waiting for death, with occasional outbreaks of grandkids visiting. It wasn’t like that for my parents, 20 years later. It’s not that way for us.

But that’s not normal or natural.

Which is why as older people we find ourselves fighting old age tooth and nail. That’s also not natural. But we must — so as not to be a burden on our kids, but also because some of us have things to do — create, produce and work, at much older ages than our ancestors did.

So we must take unnatural solutions to our unnatural problems: whether that’s specialized diets, or medicine, or simply strict regimes of exercise and health-monitoring.

And then people say “But that’s not natural. Our ancestors didn’t do any of that.”

No. Our ancestors died young. Often ridiculously young. And often lost years to illness.

Is that the natural way? Sure.

But I don’t really care. I don’t want to live forever (the idea is appalling.) But I have places to go, things to do, and things to work on.

If nature comes for me, it best be armed, because I’m not going without a fight.

332 thoughts on “We Live Profoundly Unnatural Lives

  1. I remember reading a lot of writers who seemed to espouse much of the eugenics philosophy of those days. The weak died early because – well, they were weak. They lacked the healthy vigor of the <> group. They were naturally subordinate to the stronger, the healthier. To use the word often ascribed to them, they were untermensch.Even RAH gave lip service to the idea, with Methusalah’s Children and a select few short stories. The concept was self-evident.
    And many of the weaknesses of that time were things we see as minor aberrations. Histamine levels that failed to protect from allergens. Eye sight not sharp enough to focus properly. A tendency to ear infections.
    We forget that childhood diseases commonly killed young children before they even began school. Nowadays, they are given an innoculation before they even finish teething, and the treat is ignored afterwards.
    For those working the land (most of humanity), even a scratch could be deadly. Even today, tetanus is widely prevalent. The shots are renewed regularly.
    And they don’t even take into account more esoteric disease vectors. I would have died 20 years ago with heart disease. Heck, I would have died as a child of 3-4 as a result of falling out of a moving vehicle. But a merciful transfusion by a kind stranger kept me alive.
    Someone once commented that the sign of advanced society was good plumbing. Very true. But equally true is the practice of preventative and corrective medicine.
    Yeah! Bring on an unnatural life!

    1. Yeah. Assuming tonsillitis didn’t kill me when I was 7 (I had myriad infections before they came out, and through all my school years, I tended to get serious crud early and often), the appendicitis at age 23 would have done the job.

      Then there’s the hearing restoration, the cataracts, moderate-to-severe myopia. Dad lived too early for fixes for his heart attacks, but medication is keeping me alive.

      I’ll go with unnatural!

    2. I remember reading a lot of writers who seemed to espouse much of the eugenics philosophy of those days. The weak died early because – well, they were weak. They lacked the healthy vigor of the group. They were naturally subordinate to the stronger, the healthier. To use the word often ascribed to them, they were untermensch.

      There was a mystery story I read called “The SS.” No, not that SS, but they might as well have been. They were the “Spartan Society,” and in accordance with the practices of Ancient Sparta, were killing “the unfit” before they could breed again. The main detective kept complaining about how modern medicine let sickly babies live. He insisted that OF COURSE he didn’t want these children to die and didn’t agree with the SS, he also kept talking about the indignities of disease, which he claimed Sparta never suffered, and going on and on about the Spartan men were just the greatest, strongest warriors ever, and the Spartan women were the most beautiful women in the world.

      Yeah, I certainly felt like chucking it across the room more than once, but it was in a collection with much better stories. It’s also a good reminder that at one point, attitudes like that weren’t confined to the fringe.

      1. This was normal in the twenties and thirties. Seriously. One thing even Agatha Christie falls into was “Your mom/dad whom you never met was crazy/a murderer, so you are too.”

        1. Dr. Marc C. Duquesne in the Skylark series is a committed eugenics. For that matter, so are the Osnomians. Written in the 20s, so yeah, another example.

          1. It was THE thing to do. Those conservatives who stuck by that oldfashioned Declaration of Independence and equality stuff were going to be trampled by history.

            Perhaps the reason time travelers aren’t allowed to kill Hitler is that he’s needed to give it a bad name before involuntary eugenic sterilizations set up the human race to be wiped out. (Too little genetic variation.)

              1. Yes and no. Yes, in that there was a breeding program to develop a species to defeat the Eddorians. (Although the very end of “Children of the Lens,” suggests Kinnison’s descendents may not have gone that route).
                OTOH, the society of Civilization seems to have been al, over the place – you get whatever government you want, or deserve, and all in all the “galactic government,” is usually hands-off.

                1. Yup. The Children of the Lens were a forced fast-eugenics program. Not a normal development.

                  But there’s another factor…Civilization was a healthy society, one in which older adults contrived meetings between compatible single people. A bit of steering, a nudge or two…and another solid marriage. It works a lot better than random encounters at a bar.

                2. The problem is when you present the whole idea of applying livestock breeding techniques where you breed for strength and cull for weakness to humans, everyone has their own ideas for defining “strength” and “weakness”. This is a door best left closed and triple locked.

                  1. Ah but the Arisians were All-Wise and knew the Proper Definitions of “Strengths” & “Weakness”. 😉

                    But the Arisians were fictional and weren’t human.

                  1. They also got Woodrow Wilson Smith and Andrew Jackson Libby so, not all bad. (Hey, the names weren’t THEIR fault!) It’s unclear whether Mary Sperling’s obsession was due to inbreeding or was just a ‘normal’ neurosis.

                    1. Well, it was noted that Woodrow Wilson Smith’s longevity was NOT a result of the Howard Families breeding process.

                      He was only part of the third generation of the program (his grandfather was one of the first generation) so he shouldn’t have lived so long.

                      Basically, his longevity was a “lucky accident” and of course plenty of the later Howard Families counted him as an ancestor.

                    2. How can you say his longevity was not a result of the breeding program? Not an expected result, more of a random ‘sport’, but his ancestry had to contribute something.

                    3. Quote from the Introduction (last paragraphs) of Time Enough For Love

                      INTRODUCTION of Time Enough For Love

                      But how did the Senior, himself only a third-generation member of Ira Howard’s breeding experiment, manage to live and stay young his first three hundred years without artificial rejuvenation?

                      A mutation, of course—which simply says that we don’t know. But in the course of his several rejuvenations we have learned a little about his physical makeup. He has an unusually large heart that beats very slowly. He has only twenty-eight teeth, no caries, and seems to be immune to infection. He has never had surgery other than for wounds or for rejuvenation procedures. His reflexes are extremely fast—but appear always to be reasoned, so one may question the correctness of the term “reflex.” His eyes have never needed correction either for distance or close work; his hearing range is abnormally high, abnormally low, and is unusually acute throughout his range. His color vision includes indigo. He was born without prepuce, without vermiform appendix,—and apparently without a conscience.

                      I am pleased that he is my ancestor.

                      End Quote

                      While it is possible some of his ancestry “caused” the mutation, we have the Word Of Heinlein that the Senior was a mutation.

        2. If you read the sequel to Daddy Long-Legs, Jean Webster is awful, talking about how some of the parents of the orphans in the orphanage ought never have reproduced, what with their bad blood and criminal tendencies. Meanwhile, the heroine of DLL, who is a proud socialist, is swanning around Europe and doing other rich-people things with her rich husband.

        3. I can think of five Christie books off the top of my head that fit that pattern, and I suspect that there are more that just aren’t coming to mind. Though to be fair to her, none of them play it quite straight. In three of the ones I’m thinking of, the murderer’s child/grandchild wasn’t the killer. In another one, one murder’s child was the killer, but the other murder’s son had it pointed out to him that there was more to his DNA than just a killer. The last one came close to playing it straight, but the fact that the killer was the one who said, “You can’t blame me for murdering someone. It’s not my fault. It’s just my blood” suggests to me that we aren’t supposed to take it totally seriously.

          On the other hand, though, these things were there not just in the books she published in the twenties and thirties but also the ones that came out in the fifties. She kept holding onto the idea long after its welcome had been worn out.

    3. Yep. I’ll take unnatural any day. Would’ve died of a serious bone infection after an accident at six years old. Who knows how many minor infections and illnesses would have been major or deadly (strep throat, anyone?).

      Went through a very tricky brain surgery 15 years ago, without which I’d be physically crippled right now. Hospital acquired infection was, fortunately, cured in hospital. My type two diabetes was diagnosed at the same time—a bit of a double edged sword there, as 200 years ago I couldn’t have eaten well enough to trigger it in my 30s. But here I am, thanks to modern medicine, suffering no serious debilities from it. (I won’t say it hasn’t infringed on my life, because it has. Managing diabetes sucks ass. Watch your weight and your diet, people.)

      So as much as I love to think about how awesome various periods of the past were—regency England, classical Greece, the old west here in the USA—I’m not pining for a return in any way. Hell, I don’t even want to revisit the 80s and 90s (I was there, and they were pretty stupid). I’ll stick with modern times, even if they’re kind of stupid too.

    4. Yeah, my mother sometimes would mention her cousin who died of “lockjaw,” a.k.a., tetanus; and, of course, my paternal grandmother lost siblings to something in 1910s or ’20s—influenza, diphtheria or, we think, typhus.

      Let’s see what other avenues to meet one’s end I’ve heard of (some of which have not been *completely* closed off by Modern Medicine):
      • Encounters with large animal (fun fact: the insurance “reforms” of circa 2009 greatly multiplied the specificity the government demands the medical personnel give the reason for the patient being seen—like, eg, what exactly bit them; another reason the local “eye doctor” sold her practice).
      **getting thrown from a horse
      **getting bit by a hog
      **trampled or gored by a bull
      • Bee sting if you’re allergic; snake bite even if you’re not (or everyone is allergic to snake venom?)
      • I had a cousin get killed by a piece of farm equipment back in 1998, so that’s modern and wouldn’t count for the pre-modern period, but
      • falling down a well; falling down stairs (see “Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson for an attempt).
      • hunting accident (spears, crossbows, encounters with large animals plus stepping in stump holes and breaking a leg)

      Being born with hemophilia (among others), as mentioned already.

      And one of the other women “coded” when my wife was in labor with one of ours; I heard one the nurses say that she “knew” she was going to code. I think the lady recovered.

      1. It’s not an allergy to snake venom; it’s an allergy to the horse-serum based antivenoms used to treat snakebite that some people are allergic to.

    5. Apropos of the this piece, Calvin Coolidge’s younger son died of a blister that turned septic, incurred when he played tennis with his brother on the White House lawn, not wearing socks…

      1. Willie Lincoln. Died in the White House. Probably water born Typhoid. Mary Lincoln never fully recovered over his loss. This despite living during a period where mothers expect to lose multiple children before they reach adulthood. They’d already lost one at age 3.

      1. Yes. I’d die in childbirth in almost anywhere but here and now. (Low clotting factors, even for a redhead, and we have low clotting factors to begin with. Not treatable, just something to watch and be ready to deal with.)

        1. Childbirth is incredibly dangerous. I grew up with three sisters. I had a brother, Paul, but he died at five days old due to a botched delivery. The delivery had my mother in bed six months recovering. I remember being very worried about my mother, but was too young to know Paul died at the hospital.

          1. My sister almost died, 1958, umbilical chord around the neck. Lived, without any consequences. Pure luck.

            My son was taken by emergency c-section because the heart monitor, on his scalp, flat lined during the “push phase”; not pushing pulse okay. When they took him umbilical chord was not wrapped around his neck. They speculated the umbilical chord was being pinched between his head and my pelvis. But that they didn’t know for sure. Still dangerous for him. The baby we tried for for 10 years! Our one and only successful pregnancy. Never had an unsuccessful one afterwards either. 1989.

    1. Exactly. In my soon to be released book, the main character is a widower because his wife died in childbirth. And this was in the 1920’s

    2. Indeed, why there were MANY more young widowers than widows throughout pre 20th century. And not just childbirth itself, Mastitis was a scourge as was childbed fever.

        1. Last study I saw, men tended to die before marriage, women tended to die after.

          Broad strokes tendency, of course, but it was notable enough to be mentioned. I’ll see if I can find it again.

          1. Which fits what we saw; as I recall, they weren’t recruiting married men for such safe occupations as Pony Express rider…. 😎

            1. My husband had a thing on “chicks dig scars” that was a hilarious, but long, argument that guys do stupid stuff to get women’s attention.

              Bonus points, it explains why married guys live longer, and any future Crazy Stuff is clearly a habit from before he was married. 😀

              1. >> “My husband had a thing on “chicks dig scars” that was a hilarious, but long”

                Type it up. Could be worth a guest post. 🙂

                  1. >> “Can’t feel my hands ATM– pregnancy carpel tunnel.”

                    Sorry to hear. Hope that sort of thing doesn’t last long.

                    >> “And, sadly, my comedic skills are mostly of the foil type.”

                    I suppose you could ask HIM to write it up. I admit you’ve made me curious.

              2. Hmmm… A scar would be evidence that you did something dangerous (or stupid) (or BOTH) and survived. Something tried to kill you, and failed. Might mean you’re strong, or smart, or just lucky. Could be some survival value in that.

                Like the bias toward tall men. Short men weren’t necessarily malnourished as children, but tall ones definitely weren’t. Again, an appearance of greater fitness.

        2. Oh! I remembered where that was mentioned!

          Genetic studies for why most people have more female ancestors than male ancestors. (The part that people ignored when they were busy envisioning harems.)

        3. Perhaps, you’d have to have to compare death records and it would be hard to tell. Certainly there were more young widowers then than now though. I knew 2 ladies at a previous church who were maternity nurses, one from the 40s to early 60s, one from late 70’s to late 90’s. One evening the younger nurse came in to choir rehearsal and was obviously shaken. They’d lost a mother that day at a downtown Boston hospital. This hospital (like most city hospitals) got LOTS of high risk/no previous care pregnancies. Loss of the child was rare, but but this was only the second time she’d been present when they lost the mother in a 20 year career. The older nurse had apparently seen more (tried not to overhear too much) but still it was not common all the way back to WWII period. Wheras you look at genealogies from the 18th and 19th century and 2nd (and often 3rd) wives are not uncommon, heck there are at least a dozen cases of that in my own maternal tree going back to 1660 or so where I loose track of folks

    3. IIRC, when we did historical re-enactment of the 1850s, childbirth was #1 and right behind it was burning as women’s dresses were voluminous and fire places not well guarded.

    4. It can, however, be overstated. Remember that Jane Austen ridiculed fictional use of death by childbirth in Northanger Abbey

            1. It depends. There was a lot of natural selection for “women who can give birth easily to tons of kids, and be cheerful and active afterwards.” Nursing was more of a bottleneck than childbearing, for some people.

              Apparently St. Catherine of Siena was the only one of 25 kids whom her mom was able to nurse all the way to weaning time, because usually her mom Lapa got pregnant again pretty quickly after childbirth. Her dad Jacopo was a prosperous dyer, known for being exceptionally mildmannered and agreeable… but holy cow, they were definitely busy!

              1. Anyway, being prosperous, they hired a lot of nurses for the kiddos. But only 13 out of 25 lived, as far as anyone knows. Caterina was number 23 or 24, and her twin Giovanna died shortly after birth despite having a nurse to herself. So did number 25 (also a Giovanna). It was a rough life.

              2. There is also natural selection for “desirable baby traits” that increase the risk to the mother as a side effect. The result is a nasty-natural, lethally wasteful equilibrium – the estimates are for maternal deaths in ~1.5% of live births, absent “unnatural” modern medical intervention.

                (I haven’t found any estimates on how the maternal death rate skews to first births, but I believe “If the mother survives giving birth to her first child, she’s much more likely to survive subsequent pregnancies” was conventional wisdom.)

                1. Elaborating on the non-“natural” birth death things, to give the number some context.

                  Modern maternal deaths are so rare, that they have to include “was pregnant in the last year” to get a useable number, kind of like when they started counting “was drunk and walked into traffic” as alcohol related traffic deaths.

                  Primary cause, infamously, is the father of the child. That’s after things like vehicle accidents are removed, at which point the single most common cause of death is preexisting conditions like chronic hypertension. Then it’s pregnancy related things like pre-eclampsia….measured in the single digits per million live births…

                  All of those together bounce between 15 and 19 out of 100,000 live births, in contrast to one or two per hundred.

    5. Women were expected to make, which included embroider edges, of their burial shroud immediately after marriage, if not have it in their trousseau made before marriage. They were also expected to have burial shrouds made for the children they expected to bear and not survive to adults.

      While it wasn’t unheard of for a woman to survive 4 husbands (remarrying after prior one passed away), bearing 4 children and have only one survive. More likely it was the father who survived his bride who dies in childbirth, then taking another bride to care for his surviving children, only to lose another wife to childbirth, who gave him more children. How many of his children, regardless of wife who bore them, survive, depends.

      Specific examples are taken from fiction. Not unbelievable.

      Rare is it to have a family have 15 (?) children, only losing one, to drowning on the Columbia River, coming to Oregon. And his brothers had (at least) 12 children, each, with their wives, on the same wagon train. One of the nephews was lost with the son, and an Uncle, on the same raft on the Columbia. However subsequent generations weren’t so lucky. Still a wide swath of relatives, but not as many if each of the children had married, or only had a couple of surviving children before succumbing to “consumption” (tetanus?).

      1. ‘Consumption’ was another name for tuberculosis. Before antibiotics, a long slow way to die. Doc Holliday had it, moved out west for ‘the dry Western air’. Some people moved to high altitudes. Neither action helped much.

        1. Not all consumption was TB. Some was even harder to cure, but others were easier. Such as country living for overwork.

  2. Yeah. I would be sitting in my rocking chair like my grandfather without cataract lens replacements. Instead at almost 84, I am still working and very healthy, all things considered.

    1. Dad worked till 80 And when he did retire it was because of the hour and a half drive EACH WAY on narrow winding mountain roads. And then he picked up three hobbies, and is still going strong over ten years later.

  3. Cities were mass importers of labor that then killed them for centuries. There’s a reason why rich people that could got “a place in the country”.

    Lack of clue about basic hygiene and the importance of separating the drinking water from the sewers etc. meant that you risked your life every time you drank something that wasn’t alcoholic or (eventually) tea/coffee

    Then there’s all the problems of handling livestock and horses. While carriage accidents were rare-ish getting thrown from a horse, kicked by one (or a mule or an ox) or squashed by an ox deciding to lean on the side of the stall where you happen to be were all moderately common.

    And so on.

    Yep I’m glad I live a profoundly unnatural life too

    1. Manure in a cut. Congratulations, you now play the lottery – blood poisoning, general infection or tetanus?
      Thinking of Heinlein, one of the good moments in “Beyond This Horizon,” is when the 20th-century businessman listens to Monroe-Alpha’s romantic rhapsody on “the good old days,” and responds, “Have you ever had a mule step on your foot?” Then go’s o. To completely demolish poor Monroe-Alpha’s fantasy.

      1. Cows have stepped on my feet several times. Hurts like hell, even through heavy boots.

        I would NOT want to work around cows without modern boots. For a variety of reasons.

        Of course, one of the reasons I left the farm and became an electronics engineer was to not work around cows at all…
        Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks they called it witchcraft. Now they call it golf.

        1. I was milking one day when I was about 14, and put the machine on one of our Holsteins, and she hauled off and kicked me in the side of the head. I picked the machine up and put it on again, and she did it AGAIN. I didn’t know it, but she had a cut on her teat on the other side, where I couldn’t see it. This was when I learned that seeing stars is not just an expression. I told my dad I was going home, and I did – I left him and my uncle to finish up, and walked home. It’s amazing that didn’t put me in the hospital, or at least give me a serious concussion; I never went to the doc. My wife says that explains some things…

          1. There are also all the times a cow lifts her tail and then coughs or sneezes. Happens a lot more often than you’d think. Teaches alertness, and being quick on your feet. 😀

                1. Is there some reason helmets aren’t widely used for that already? If farming and ranching are really so dangerous then simple protective gear for some tasks seems like something those industries should have already thought of.

                  1. Most farming accidents are of the kind where it wouldn’t save you– for example, being kicked in the head and it’s not hard enough to snap your neck is even less common than being kicked in the head, and it can make it harder to see and avoid problems.

          2. I’d left a purse in my prior class (was not allowed to leave it in school locker). Age 12. I was still “tiny”. Was hurrying back to next class to beat the bell, when another student, also hurrying. We collided. He was a lot larger. He did help me back up after I went flying backward hitting my head on the pavement. Threw up after the next two classes, before getting on the bus for home. Threw up at home. Went to bed. Mom got me to tell her what happened. She called the clinic. Was woken up every 30 to 40 minutes for the next 24 hours (it was a long night for me AND my parents). Happened on a Saturday. I was lucky. Did I have a concussion? That IDK.

      2. I had a shire horse step on my foot – mostly toes – once, and even with riding shoes with a reinforced toe area it broke one toe and left one hell of a bruise and I limped for a few days. 😀

        Except for the pain I have to admit I found it pretty funny, as the horse stopped and looked down, seeming to wonder what it had stepped on and then kept on thinking about for a moment while I tried to make it move again so it would remove its damn hoof from the top of my foot. But when I think what that might have caused without those fairly expensive riding shoes – yikes!

    2. Lack of clue about basic hygiene and the importance of separating the drinking water from the sewers etc. meant that you risked your life every time you drank something that wasn’t alcoholic or (eventually) tea/coffee

      Hikers get seriously sick every year– but survive, thank you modern medicine!– from treating “fresh, natural” stream water like it’s tap water.

      1. Just a description of giardia when I was a kid was enough to warn me away from that fallacy. You can use stream water to wet a bandana when it’s hot, though.

        1. Folks used to pull water out of Jack Creek and a couple of creeks that fed into the North Umpqua river when I was a kid, when we camped. Don’t remember them filtering or boiling the drinking water. But I was a kid and didn’t pay attention.

          Used to take frozen water bottle to work (USFS). When it was empty would fill it up from creeks that we’d run across in units (eventually feeding into Jackson Creek and the South Umpqua). I was Lucky. Extremely so. Water quality, in forests, hasn’t degraded any in the last 45 years. Hiking we always filter. A spring we might trust depending where it bubbles out.

          1. By the mid 80s, the rangers were warning about contaminated water* in the lakes in Lassen. Not sure about all the lakes, but several were quite shallow, though not weedy.

            (*) Something about giardia getting endemic in the critters around the lakes.

            1. Yes. When I was working it those of us (most) risking refilling, were sourcing from running water, close-ish to spring source. Well away from roads and, if not game trails, people trails. Bigger creeks, like Jackson Creek and the South Umpqua River itself, were NOT sourced. In ’77 the crew members were each issued two, one liter bottles; refill not required. Don’t remember refilling when working at the Sweet Home RD, Willamette River drainage (’78). Probably because I was carrying, two one liter bottles. The creek sources the parents/grandparents used camping and hunting were also clear running water. Not like the water was sourced from North Umpqua or Eagle Creek themselves. The N. Umpqua campgrounds had portable water sources installed at least by the ’70s. The Jackson Creek camping spot on Eagle Creek wasn’t a formal campground ’50s – early ’70s. IDK about now, for all that I’ve read that people continue to use it. (It was Deer Camp and at least one week a summer for my extended family for at least 5 or 6 decades. I stopped going after summer before senor HS year; college, work, life, interfered. Although by ’80s or so, all drinking water was home sourced – RV’s.) Still. Knowing what I know now? Lucky is all I can say. Heck, my Dog gets a vaccination to prevent her getting sick from water borne negative effects in Wilderness areas. I pack water for her! Granted we aren’t doing the long all day hiking now. But she isn’t allowed to drink from most water sources.

        2. I used to backpack in Lassen NP (and elsewhere, but Lassen was a favorite) in the 70s and 80s. Drank from a creek once, with no ill effect. (This was early season, and the trails were obscured by snow. We managed to get lost and used melted snow for drinking the first night. Coming out, we hiked towards Lassen Peak until we saw the road. By that time, we were done with boiled water…)

          Another time, I was using a filter to get water from Snag Lake. Goofed and got some lake water in the filtered pot, and caught a very mild case of the crud. As I recall, the doc didn’t test for giardia (I was on the mend when I saw him), and can’t recall what treatment I got, if any. I boiled water thereafter. Not sure I ever used the halide tabs.

          My backpacking partner managed to get a solid case down at Devil’s Postpile. I wouldn’t go near the river, since it was in full flood to begin with.

    3. The entire premise of “Heidi,” is that cities are unhealthy and living in the country is good for you.

      1. Heidi was moving away from tuberculosis city, to a scrupulously clean Swiss dairy farm, where she got fed milk and cheese (and calcium and protein), along with lots of fresh greens.

      2. I’ll have to go check, but I’m given to understand until fairly recently cities had negative population growth. Poor sanitation and tight living conditions were plague factories.

        That’s also part of the reason there was no real American pox* to hit the Europeans. Conditions didn’t favor it.

        *I’m given to understand syphilis was a much less dangerous tropical skin infection that… migrated when it got transported to the dryer European conditions.

        1. I can’t see how you’d even be able to CALCULATE that.

          Until you get to industrial farming practices, you need 9 of 10 out working in agriculture type stuff– and one of the things people would do would be to have a kid head in to town and work, make money while the making is good, maybe even have a family while they’re working in the town and the rest of the family is keeping the place he was born working. Work where there’s good money until you have to take over for mom and dad.

          And that’s just for city-cities– how big does it have to be to be a city and not a town?

          1. I’ll have to dig up where I’d heard it. I’d expect you’d probably start by looking at birth/death records from major cities, and just see if more people are dying in them than are being born.

            City vs town size does change quite a lot. Places that would be considered small towns now would have been bustling metropolis’ in earlier days. For this I’d probably start from the degree of mingling of sewage, but it still feels like it could quickly turn into a what’s a river type of question.

            1. Having birth records brings it quite a bit forward– you’ve got Parish records, but a lot of those were destroyed by age, fire, or stupid, and I’m pretty sure the UK only got to REQUIRING births and deaths be recorded a bit over a century ago– and then that would run into the problem that cities are where there were poor houses or other centers that could and would take care of single or impoverished mothers, which obviously includes those who are unlikely to survive, period.

            2. You are quite right. London, for instance, had death tolls much higher than the rest of England, but the same baptism rates.

            1. There was another one they figured out recently came from the Americas, but I can’t remember it, because it was a few months ago when I read the article, and I’ve slept since then. SIGH.

      3. Was it? It’s been a long time since I read the book, but my memory is that Heidi’s problems were mostly psychological; it wasn’t that living in Frankfort was bad per se, it was just that she missed the mountains so much that she was literally making herself sick.

        Although I guess an argument might be made that CLARA did a lot better once she started visiting Heidi in the country, but there again, my younger self thought of that as much more psychological: in the country, Clara was forced to do as much as she could to help out, and she found that “as much as she could” was a lot more than she thought.

        1. Yes, she was homesick, but also convinced Clara would be much better off out in the good mountain air. (Been a long time since I read it, too).
          I think the idea was Clara on the farm got lots of sunlight, plenty of calcium-rich dairy, and yes, had to move around more. Which all helped her condition.

    4. Quote from one of my great-granduncle’s death certificates in Dec 1932, a ranch hand: “Fell from wagon and wagon ran over him crushing in his cheat.” 77 years old, so a ripe old age. Ranching and farming is dangerous. To be honest, as familiar as I am with that family branch, I have no doubt alcohol was involved. AFAIK, never married, no children.

        1. Yep. I usually read over my comments before I hit post, but sadly I catch most typos and mistakes about five seconds after I hit the button. Sigh.

  4. When I was a child my mother once mentioned that children died of such dread things as ‘Summer Complaint’ Which covered everything from Tetanus to Polio. with I am sure loads of pathogens in between. I remember we once took some things to the daughter of a friend who had suffered
    Scarlet Fever and it had damaged her heart. I don’t recall ever seeing her again, and I think it didn’t end well. Me, Myself and I had a fever at two weeks, was hospitalized and had IV fluid through cut-downs in my legs. I of course, died and since then have had a career as a ghost writer. 😉

    1. I had scarlet fever when I was a child back in 1965 or so. We were in Ireland for the summer at the time and my mother wouldn’t pay the guinea (21 shillings) for the doctor. Their point of view was children lived or died and this was all part of childhood. My father, who was American born, arrived partway through for his vacation and went spare. Very shortly thereafter Antibiotics were provided and I was soon over it. They still talk about my fathers reaction.

      1. I had a friend whose step-son developed scarlet fever, and the resulting heart issues, because his bio mother (a nurse!) didn’t bother to get his strep treated. Step-mom was livid, but she had no legal say.

        1. Just remembered my neighbor from the ’80s who had to have a heart transplant in her twenties because a virus got to her heart; I remember stopping by the hospital to see her. The last I heard (years ago), she was a veterinarian in Canada.

      2. Scarlet Fever. Scarlatina. Both measles types. Chicken Pox. Mumps, Whooping Cough (at least twice). I don’t know how many times I had Strep Throat or a severe flu. ^Most everything listed in normal childhood illnesses for non-tropical location, except Small Pox, Polio, and Tetanus, as those had vaccinations. While there might not have been any treatments short of a hospital stay, I was still better off than children born even a decade, let alone decades and the century before. I remember humidifiers, honey/sugar water replacements, aspirin for children, better thermometers. I am very glad to be living in the modern age.

        * Might be a few on the list I’ve missed as having or not, as a child, before vaccinations available.

    2. GI distress was another “summer complaint.” Kids died of dehydration leading to electrolyte imbalance leading to cardiac arrest. (Medical historian in the family – you learn all the gross stuff, pun intended.)

  5. I probably would have died at age 5 from a kidney infection, were it not for our “unnatural medicine.” Or maybe in my teens from developing Crohn’s disease and not being able to treat it. Certainly by 26 when my small intestine ruptured. But I’m pushing 49 now….

    Assuming I died young, my 4 children wouldn’t have been born. Assuming 26, my 2 eldest kids would have been born, but the eldest would have died almost immediately after birth, and my son would have died of a rotovirus at age 2. But then the other 2 still wouldn’t have had a chance to even be conceived.

    So yeah, I’m very happy to live my unnatural life.

    1. And those medical advances aren’t all that old. Just old enough that most of the people in the U.S. today haven’t a clue about what things were like before. My mother died in 1976 at age 36 from the ravages of years of “ulcerative colitis”. Meaning they didn’t know what was wrong with her. Keep taking pieces out that are broke until there isn’t anything left. Nowadays it would be classified as Irritable Bowl Syndrome, or Crohn’s, treatable with medication or careful diet; and easily could have lived to twice that age.

  6. People are born into a world, and they accept the world as they find it. I have reminded some friends and family that 150 years ago people spent significant amounts of their day doing things like drawing water from a well and heating it, they went to the bathroom on a seat over a hole in the ground -if they were lucky. Food had to be salted or cured quickly or it rotted, and often people ate stuff that we wouldn’t touch today.
    Most of the F and F roll their eyes with that ‘Here he goes again’ expression. But true it is.

    1. I recall grandma telling of how if you wanted a hot bath, “There’s the wood, there’s the stove, there’s the well.” And she eventually, at least once, traveled by jet aircraft. I think she wasn’t too upset about ‘artificial’ living. But she did still keep warning us younger folks of pneumonia.

    2. “Our world is as we have made it.”
      “It is cramped and dull. It needs remaking.”

      — Jack Vance, Maske: Thaery

    3. I was born in 1950, in England. My elementary school had outdoor privies. With seats that, despite being scrubbed daily, still provided the occasional splinter to one’s nether regions.

      In the 1970s, after my dad died (lung cancer, he was a smoker) my mom bought a house, her next door neighbor, who was in her 80s, had no bath, an outside toilet, and cooked on a paraffin stove. She’d lived in that house since she married just before WWI.

            1. Sarah, back when we first got an influx of H1Bs, the building management where I was working actually put up signs with someone using a normal toilet that way and a NO symbol through it.

    4. My Grandmother was raised on on upstate New York farm with neither electricity or indoor plumbing. She told me that when they had a bathroom installed, everybody felt distinctly unconfortable doing “that” inside the house.

  7. For some reason I can no longer use facebook to post to this site. If I click the login the page just flashes and doesnt log in. I am using my wordpress account at the moment but is sucky.Anyone have this issue?

    1. I log into WordPress rather than trust Farcebook with any login information.

      Although I do love irritating Leftist FBers with links from Sarah’s posts.

  8. A good way to demonstrate the points Sarah made is to look at the situation in third world countries, especially in those countries as recently as a century or even half a century ago.

  9. Without synthetic levothyroxine, I probably would be dead right now, most likely of either a heart attack or a stupid accident because I’d be unable to concentrate or stay awake (came close on the latter a couple of times during the time I was working my way through the medical mouse maze to get treatment). That’s why I’ve been busily stockpiling ever since 2020, continuing to refill old prescriptions after being given a new one.

    And on the “people lived about as long then as today,” it’s the old lies, d*mn*d lies, and statistics problem. People are confusing maximum life expectancy with average life expectancy. Yes, there were people who lived about as long as people live today, but they were incredibly rare outliers, to the point of being noteworthy. A few years ago, Queen Elizabeth II quit writing letters of birthday greetings to Britons who made it to their hundredth birthday because there were so many of them that it was no longer remarkable. And now she’s approaching that milestone herself.

    1. Check out the obituaries for small towns these days, too.

      Last time I did, there were as many folks dying over the age of 100 as under the age of 60.

      It’s not exactly a random sample, but it made me take a step back and just be *awed* by it.

      1. Heck, walk tough the cemeteries. Early 20th century (and earlier, if legible), lots of rather small tombstones. As time progresses, those get ever more rare. And it’s NOT just Salk and Sabine, Flemming and Flory, and O. Hess (fetal heart monitor) and… well, a human Army of LIGHT looking at Death (and Disease) and saying, “You will win, but you’re gonna have to WORK for it, dadgummit!”

        1. My mom’s family took care of graveyards.
          Lots of families with several “Baby Smith” and a year. Some with “Mary Smith” and two years listed, the last one matching Baby Smith.
          (Newer stones, though, and not just for rich people– there was a fad for providing Real Markers for the poor family’s wooden ones at some point, I would guess– I think they were some form of concrete.)

        2. I visited a family plot in MIdwest State with a friend (his family’s plot). Four kids between him and his plder sibling – most lived 2-3 days to eight months. The last two were “Baby Girl [family name]” and “Baby Boy [Family name”]. They were all born in the late 1950s-mid 60s. Bad genetic luck, plus the lack of all the support care we now have.

          1. I had two sisters who were either stillborn or lived a day. Late 50s. My brother was due in November, arrived at the end of August and spent three months in the hospital.

        3. I did that, about ten years ago. Visited the Pioneer Catholic cemetery in Fredericksburg, Texas, which was in use for only about ten years, around the time of the Civil War. Fifty or sixty graves – all but ten or a dozen of children and babies. That really brought it home to me, about how perilous it would have been for children in the mid-19th century, and how heartbreaking for parents. Several of the graves were for children of various ages, with dates of death only days apart. There was a diphtheria epidemic towards the end of the Civil War. The one doctor, according to historical records, was having his wife drive him around in his carriage, so he could sleep between house visits.
          Only four of the graves, to judge by the headstones were for grownups who died of relatively ripe old age. Two of them recorded being murdered by Indians…
          As for myself – my mother would have had a very difficult birth with me, other than the mid-20th century. Would she or I have survived in any other era? I was plagued with ear and throat infections early on. Vaccines – the polio vaccine was developed just before I was born, but I remember seeing kids a little older than I with braces, or in wheelchairs, when I was in elementary school.

        4. THIS. I marched through a lot of old cemeteries in the 1990s, jotting down names & dates. Tiny little stones everywhere. I also found via records that some infants/children had no stone at all, but were buried next to deceased parents or grandparents. My 3GAunt Laura died at 11 here in 1850 rather than in Germany, but we didn’t know it until the City of Chicago moved Old St. John’s cemetery to make room for runway expansion at O’Hare Field. Her remains were found beside her parents’. No stone at all.

    2. My 3rd great-grandmother’s gravestone has a poem inscribed in it, which has the line “Our mother’s life was long …” She was 70 years old. My mother died at 74 and we were all shocked at how young … Times and expectations sure have changed.

      1. When Neil Armstrong died, I remember a lot of comments of “82 isn’t *that* old.”

        My dad turns 83 this year, and while he’s slowed down some and takes more care with some tasks (only goes up in the attic when one of us kids are there to go up with him, etc), he’s still enjoying a reasonably vigorous retirement.

        1. And Neil Armstrong’s death wasn’t from natural causes but medical mistakes made at the hospital just a few miles down the road. Suffice it to say, I have no intentions of ever going to that hospital.

    3. Also I have a photo of my great-grandmother, who was holding her youngest child’s first child … she couldn’t have been more than about 60-ish, but looked 85 by today’s standards. She was a quilter who made up her own patterns — real patterns, not crazy quilting. I wish I could have known her, she must have been a tough (farm-wife) cookie.

    4. And on the “people lived about as long then as today,” it’s the old lies, d*mn*d lies, and statistics problem. People are confusing maximum life expectancy with average life expectancy. Yes, there were people who lived about as long as people live today, but they were incredibly rare outliers, to the point of being noteworthy.

      I suspect it’s that twice over. As in, to pick a number out of a hat, say Person A was told in a given time period, the average life expectancy was 33. First, they mix things up one direction and imagine everyone dying of old age at 33. Then Person B tries to explain what “average” means and the skewing effect of child mortality and that some people still got old and managed to raise kids all the way to adulthood, and Person A latches onto this and overcorrects to thinking of the maximum as more or less normal, or at least of infancy as the one aberrant period.

      1. Colonial Period: How many parents did it take to raise a child from birth to 16 year old adulthood?

        Probably 3.56

        Same period: How many kids made it to 16 year old adulthood?

        About half.

  10. You could die of medical treatment (Okay, in that, you’re like moderns) and you definitely could die of child birth, hunting accidents, and just “an illness” that was never identified and that could be any of a dozen viruses we no longer even think about.

    Food is reliably safe.

    WATER is reliably safe.

    Random violence in the *worst* areas is still not on par with good areas– for heaven’s sake, people can actually survive with the delusion that a woman isn’t vulnerable, or a lone man with no weapons won’t lose to J Random Three Thugs.

    1. Aye, for most (1st world!) folks today “food poisoning” is G-I distress for a day or three, feeling weak for a while, and LIVING.

      Perhaps THE sign of Genuine Civilization: You can go out at night… and expect to come back.

      1. Genuine Civilization:Trying out new food, and outside of serious outliers, the worst is several days of intestinal distress and staring at your bathroom ceiling, asking if you need to try a different color of paint on it.

        1. Just as a side note, they sell activated charcoal tablets for gas and bloating. Once you stop throwing everything up, you can start taking a few of those, and they help settle everything lower down much more quickly.

  11. I wouldn’t have even been born. My mother was a reversed blood type against her mother, and my father had a punctured lung before he and she got married.

    And for today’s humor, I was originally going to ask this as an off topic question, but turns out its closer to topic than I was expecting: Does anyone have any good references or suggested reads for how masters and servants were supposed to and typically did interacte with each other during the 1800’s?

    Just realized I’m writing a section that orbits around that and trying to get a basis for how it worked in theory and practice. Kind of need to understand what I’m feeding a collection of comedic wrenches into…

    1. Also, starting in the early 1920’s, a number of servants wrote their memoirs. That’s late for what you’re looking for but might still provide some interesting insights.

      1. Thank you. I’ll have to dig those up. It’s not really a specific date, more a society that would have similar dynamics, so 1920 memoirs should work nicely.

        I’ll also have to dig up those Punch cartoons. I expect even the most dutiful servant has point where they just want to shake their head at whatever the boss is up to today…

    2. You might look at Inside the Victorian Home by Judith Flanders. Has at least one first-hand account of a servant during that time describing her work schedule and responsibilities during her years serving. She later got married and left that life, although her husband apparently took some pictures of her performing her old servant-type duties in typical garb. A lot of the book does have to be taken with a few grains of salt, however, because the way the author of the book writes it, I don’t know how anyone in England survived the Victorian era. Middle class parents didn’t care about their children, middle class mothers were proud of not knowing anything about childcare, etc.

          1. Americans write — not rich, precisely, sorry. UPPER CLASSES badly. To the point of parody.
            Class difference is really difficult. Heck I have issues with it (and always did, in a way.)
            Reading servants bios really helps.

            1. That makes sense. The rich Americans I’ve met lived essentially middle-class lives. They might have nicer cars, live in larger houses, and take more expensive vacations more often, but they mostly worked and drove themselves. None had live-in servants, though a few had day help like nannies and most had a cleaning lady coming in once or twice a week.

              1. I hit post too soon. My point is that except for those who inherit extreme wealth, or earn it and then desire to retire, and a few outliers, most American rich are living much the same as middle class. At least since the Civil War ended. From more limited observations, the European rich try to live more like a separate class, like the old nobility.

                1. Aw. Heck. Modern middle class and I have servants and abilities even the rich, even in the early 1900’s didn’t have, some only the rich had, before late 1800s (ball park). Besides plumbing, whether it goes to septic or sewer, baths every day. My servant names are: Kenmore (dishwasher), Samsung (Fridge, Freezer, Stove, Microwave), GE (washer and dryer). Cleaning, don’t tell me a vacuum cleaner doesn’t make things easier. Heck our flooring options make cleaning easier. Dusting, well that option still requires manual labor, as does washing windows, and weeding. The super rich might have had the ability to bathe anytime they wished. But even the upper middle classes and lower didn’t. Everyone had the nightmare of washing and drying clothing. FYI. I have no intention of taking up the “new environmentally nuclear drying system”, also sometimes called a “solar line”.

                    1. “this doesn’t help you write cultures with human live-in servants”

                      I know. Not that anyone would consider me a writer. A reader, yes. A writer, no.

                      Meant more tongue-in-cheek response to those who state how much poor we all are compared to any class in the past. Not that readers of this blog need to be told this. (Or most of us anyway.)

                1. What’s that old line about all Americans considering themselves temporarily embarrassed millionaires?

    3. Take a look at web sites for the historical mansions in Newport Rhode Island. At least one of them (can’t remember which Rosecliff? Breakers?) Had a tour of the servants quarters and the “downstairs” and a whole bunch of info on servants lives from both the servants and employers letters and diaries. Being a ladies maid or a gentlemans servant sucked, but not half as bad as factory work, although good luck trying to have a family life.

        1. I could believe that. Particularly in the US. In Britain there was some social cachet to being “in service” you were “higher class”. Many of the lower level folks (cleaning, cooking) not directly attached to a particular person were imported from all over europe, Irish, some Italian, and other spots. the 16+ hour days and the sheer drudgery of thos tasks probably were far worse than even early factory work

                1. Wasn’t there more opportunity to get nice stuff (which you could pass on to your family for use or sale) if you were a direct-servant, rather than house-servant?

                  I vaguely remember there being some records of the formal “these guys get this, these guys get that, these guys get handed a third thing” type order of operations.

  12. I have had this argument and versions thereof with a great many people over the years.
    My fav was when I was raising big cats and people told me how those cats would ‘prefer to be free’ and not live in a cage.
    ‘But you live in a cage’ I’d tell them.
    ‘No I don’t!’
    ‘oh? You spend most of your life in your house, and when you’re not in your house you’re in an office. Here, let’s free you. We’re going to strip you naked, drop you in the middle of nowhere, with nothing, and we’re going to inject you with a couple of diseases and parasites first. Just like ALL the other animals out there. I’m sure you’ll prefer it.’
    Some folks got the point.

  13. Sure, childhood — and old age — were particularly dangerous, but trust me, you arrived at sixty looking what we now think of as 80, because all the illnesses took a toll. (It’s still so in most of the world.)

    For people who do not understand statistics (I can’t say that I understand them, but I can sort of hum the tune), that some peole lived to what we would consider a ripe old age means that it was the norm instead of a five sigma outlier. While there seems to be a pretty hard limit (at present anyway) somewhere around 120, more people in the developed world are getting closer to that than ever before. The peak of the distribution has shifted upward with a shorter “tail” on the high side (that hard imit).

    I’m 61. People who meet me tend to be flabbergasted to learn that. I, apparently, don’t look it. When my mother was 61 she was in a nursing home having had a stroke that had her paralyzed on the left side. My maternal grandparents were doing well at 61 but my paternal grandparents were dead.

    So three cheers for modern medicine, sanitation, safe water and food and most vaccines. (Not you, Fouci. You can die in a fire.)

    1. Almost all of my friends are in their seventies, which surprised me when I learned it. I would have guessed no older than late fifties for most of them.

      1. Right I in my early 60’s look like my dad in his late 40’s/early 50’s. Maternal Grandfather looked more like a modern 80-90 year old when he died at 70. I have similar problems to my parents, but the issues I see look like what they had at 40-45, in many case because there has been aggressive treatment (and I followed it) the side effects have not developed. And of course I wouldn’t have made it out of childhood. As it was 1960’s asthma medications were sufficiently lame that I was VERY sick at times though never was in deep trouble. I doubt I would have survived even if I had been born in say 1921 instead of 40 years later, even 1941 would have been a coin toss.

    2. My Nana was old in her 60s. Three teeth left, I think, hunched, hair completely white. This is from pictures of her. She died in her mid-70s, from not taking care of her health and from smoking.

      My mom (her adopted daughter, so picture evidence isn’t quite as good) is older than Nana was when she died, and doesn’t look as old as she did despite being 15-20 years older than the pictures I’m thinking of. And she has all of her teeth.

      By picture comparison, I look a lot like my mom at comparable ages, so we’ll see how old I look when I get up there. Bet it’s likely to look younger.

  14. Modern medicine probably saved my life on more than one occasion before I hit 30, let alone 40.

    It’s amazing how many people that are advocating a more “natural” lifestyle have the wealth to avoid the worst consequences of these choices, isn’t it?

  15. Unnatural times yep, many ways far better but t’ain’t all good.

    Far better, easier, safer, for workers and producers in 2022 than in 1922 or 1622 but 2022 absolutely idyllic for the tenured drones, the bums living on the streets, the Karens, the Chucks, criminal aliens, the triple masked.

    Folks getting dumber. Average IQ, 100, has been adjusted down at least twice in my lifetime.

    Carriage accidents. Suspect far more, on the average today than anytime back then, as I see how many step out into traffic looking neither left nor right but only down at their phone.

    Having said that, heck yes I am glad to be here in 2022 rather than 1622 the good far outweighs the bad. However if I could choose twix 2022 and, say, back in the world I lived in, in the 1950s, I’d have to at least give it some careful thought. I’d be comfortable with slide rules, books from trees, cameras with film, but can I take a word processor with spellcheck back wiht me? 😉

      1. Just saw a video yesterday of a driver who struck a crossing guard who was helping a child cross the street. Fortunately, driver was not going too fast, although the crossing guard may still have suffered serious injury, hard to tell from the video. Crossing guard pushed the young child out of the way, which was laudable. This is, though, why I always told my daughters to make eye contact with the driver of a car before they do something like cross the street.

        1. That doesn’t always help. I was looking at an elderly lady. I was in the crosswalk. She had the stop sign. She stopped. I crossed. We made eye contact. She still bumped me, and jumped when I slapped the top of her hood. She looked, but didn’t SEE me. *Sigh*

    1. Second thoughts on taking back a word processor with spellcheck; The1950’s voice to text system was far superior; “Sally, would you come in here please, bring your shorthand notebook and take a letter?”

  16. I am *pleased* to be living an unnatural life. I’d have died in very early childhood (horrid asthma that I grew out of), then in my teens (repeated uti), then my *son* would have died shortly after birth (8 weeks early preemie), then I’d have died *again* of *heart failure* when my thyroid gave out.

    And that leaves aside the commonness of good, high quality protein (without which, I’d be dying again). Oh, and spices. I love spices.

    And we mentioned sanitation, earlier, right? Flush toilets, separating contaminated water from uncontaminated?

    Anyone who wants to live a “natural life” needs to be shipped to a third-world nation, and left on their own for a year–not like Peace Corps, where they’re supported. Just…dropped in the clothes on their back, and left for a year. THEN they can come home. If they survive living a “natural life.”

    1. Some need more time than that, but they’re thick skulled and we likely won’t get them back if we waited long enough (and that would be a good thing)

    1. The Universe is constantly trying to kill you, and one day it will succeed.

      Which is one more reason I can’t abide all the whining about ‘microaggressions’. You feel bad. Waaaah. Your ancestors had to face hungry wolves and leopards. If they were lucky, they might have a stick to defend themselves. Personally, I’d prefer a gun. Along with all the technology that makes guns cheap, reliable and simple enough for any idiot to use.
      “What’s your secret for living to a hundred?”
      100-year-old man: “Don’t die.”

      1. Then my response is live as unnaturally as possible, just to piss off the universe.

        And, if I can’t succeed there…I’d like to restore myself from a backup copy in a new body. Maybe something in a high-end Heinlein female protagonist chassis?

          1. And, I have some pretty demanding specs for a new body! At the very least, I want to cause traffic accidents and people running into things because they’re looking at me. Oh, and a full set of all the concealed combat augmentations I can pack, just because I want to make it clear to anyone that tries to harm me that it is a fool’s game.

                1. Had a friend who was banned from walking on the flight-line of [redacted] airport wearing a certain white dress. Her distracting presence almost caused several millions of dollars of damage. Yeah, she was beautiful, with a better endowment than the University of Texas. Sweet gal, wonderful soul, just didn’t think about young guys and the effect she might have.

                2. But-but male gaze, patriarchy, toxic masculinity something something! Egads, you *don’t* want purple hair, mastectomy, an extra 80lbs, piercings, tattoos, and poor hygiene? This is unpossible!

                    1. Eh. Send ’em to lovely Greenland to live out their fantasy land, maybe? Out of sight, out of mind is good enough for me. Burnt hair, roasting pork, ashes and smoke is a smell I could go my entire life without smelling again. I’d leave impalement for the punishment for rapists. Punishment should fit the crime.

                    2. Up to a point, yeah. Already got enough nightmares, me. But I am a big believer in redemption.

                      That redemption by all rights ought to be bloody *hard.* I am not being merciful in this. Death, even by stake and flamethrower- at least it is relatively quick.

                      Forcing them to live out what they want to force on us? Maybe there will be a few honest changes of heart. If they can elucidate what they were wrong about clearly and are willing to live their lives in testament of Never Again? Sure. Let ’em live.

                      Killing them *is* expedient. But I’m wary of such expedience. There’s a slippery slope there. Once you start that, it becomes very hard to stop.

                      Stop a clear and lethal threat to self or others? No hesitation. But for the clueless nutjobs and the deluded? I’d like the *world* to see in clear detail what happens when they get their way- as far away from us as possible. Set up cameras around Moonbat Island, and let the world watch when they don’t have sheepdogs to defend the light of civilization from barbarism.

                      I’m tired of their crap, too, believe me. I think women got the worst of it, but the whole situation affects us all. They’re abusing *kids* for Bob’s sake, that should be something that enrages every parent and every child everywhere! The masks, the perversion, the indoctrination, that’s nightmare stuff all its own.

                      I just don’t want to see fall into a messy civil war. I’m willing to work the problem- so long as working the problem actually works. Trump was a good sign. Youngkin, Sears, and Miyares were good signs. DeSantis was a good sign. The Canadian Truckers (Honk Honk!) are a good sign. I want to see more of those, more people waking up from the lefty delusion they’ve been suffering under.

                      If we can get it without civil war, that’ll be great. Himself looks out for drunkards, fools, and the United States of America, you know? No stakes and flamethrowers, yet. If we can discredit them, great (already happen, that one). Get the Establishment out of office, both the quislings on our side and the vile ones on the other.

                      I believe we’ve a chance to get through this without much further bloodshed. But keep your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark, and avoid crowds. Because things are bound to get rough in places before we see this through.

                    3. I would prefer to live through this time with as little blood shed as possible. None, if we can get away with it.

                      But, the tragic thing is that there are far too many people that will think that because you do not desire bloodshed, you are weak and contemptible. I think we are not that-we just know what the consequences are of shedding a lake’s worth of blood.

                      Which I would do in an instant-regretfully so-if the only other option was to drown in an ocean of blood.

            1. I’ve got a character like that. She’s an elite super-soldier from a civilization thousands of years more advanced than ours.

              Only, she doesn’t know that yet. Her memories are gone. ALL of them. She learned enough English in a very short time to communicate effectively. She uses her super-science weapons by reflex when attacked, then realizes, “Oh, I’ve got one of those.” Then she has to figure out what it is and how to activate it intentionally.

              So far, I’ve spent 16 chapters getting her through her first two days.
              “They took cover behind that police car, shot at you, and you chopped it in two. From here. Bet that got their attention!”

              She just looked more embarrassed.

              “That might complicate things.” He chuckled. “I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

              She grimaced. “No idea, no think, just do. Good, not.”

            2. I’ll start with the classic David model.
              Hmm, make the lips more like this. Yeah. Move the cheekbones a bit. Now tweak the jawline. Great. Can I have black hair? Excellent. And silver-colored eyes.
              6 foot, six inches. 220 lbs.
              I’ll take the basic Atlas modes. Add energy projection, telepathy, telekinesis, instant healing (can I get that with the ability to heal others too?) Fantastic! What? I can’t have immortality with that? Oh, 10,000 year LE only? Well, okay, I guess.
              One more thing. I want to be able to make every woman happy, and every man who sees me jealous.
              What do you mean you can’t do the impossible?

              1. I actually don’t want to look stunning. I’d like a mild metabolism adjustment to drop some excess weight, and a whole lot of health boosts.

                Much nicer to take folk by surprise.

                1. I don’t think I’d want to look all that different either. Able to do a few more squats, lift about 15lb more max? Maybe get my stamina back up to where it was when I was 17?
                  Sure, that’d be great. But I’m not attractive and quite frankly a bit glad I’m not. Attractive people deal with different social pressures. All too often that warps a personality, increasing the likelihood of being manipulative, cynical, entitled, and a certain flavor of arrogant. I’ve got faults enough to deal with, thank you.

          1. Friday is probably the last good Heinlein novel. It was before his last-gasp book To Sail Beyond The Sunset and it was after he had his arterial blockage removed. Still, if “natural” is what most people call envy, then I shall be immensely unnatural.

  17. It wasn’t all that long ago. Antibiotics were developed, when, WW1 or shortly after?

    I’ve never understood people, particularly some modern preppers, that seem to romanticize having to live via subsistence farming.

    1. I grew up with grandmas that grew a lot of the veggies my mom & dad fed me. I know what kind of hard work that was…with a huge gas rear-tine tiller, and a smaller cultivating tiller (fit between the plants). Or the dairy that my grandpa ran…growing sorghum for his spoiled cows because he couldn’t find a source to buy it, and they gave better milk when he mixed that in the feed. And rolled his tractor more than once in the process (could have killed him if he’d been slower jumping free).

      Don’t even ask me about the one grandma’s chickens…or the other grandma’s sheep. You don’t want to hear/read the language I’d use, or the stories I’d tell.

      No, I don’t wanna subsistence-farm. I grew up doing a little bit of exactly that.

      1. A man in his 50s here just rolled his tractor and broke his neck jumping off. Still alive, but almost totally paralyzed and on and off a ventilator. His family is devastated.

    2. They’ve never done it, and they believe all the sf/fantasy tv shows that portray a “natural” life as consisting of a single village abundantly filled with all varieties of fruits, vegetables and meat, not to mention the wealth of textiles…

      I have been told that all white people in the South were rich because, you know, they owned their own land so they could just grow whatever they needed. I would dearly love to send those idiots to spend a day picking cotton with my grandparents.

      1. Or talking to my mom before the dementia set in. She was utterly bound and determined to live a middle-class suburban life with NO desire to return to the. “good old days.”

        1. The Monkes had a song “Pleasant Valley Sunday” which was supposed to be a protest/criticism song about ssuburban lifestyle. Maybe that’s what it was supposed to be but, frankly, that sounded like a pretty good life to me.

          1. When that song came out, written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, I lived in that suburban town (Cherry Hill, NJ). It was a status-driven lifestyle that I found distasteful and was thrilled to move to a small fishing village in northern Palm Beach County where it seemed almost everyone of my age were accepted by others. I found the lyrics of PVS to be stupid in their criticism. Having grown up on Long Island, vast areas had “rows of houses that are all the same”.

    3. Sulfa (though not know for it at the time… of course) was sought out after WWI. A research attempt was made to find SOMETHING that might have helped all those who “should not have died” in recovery. They looked at dyes (coal tar derivatives) and thought they found one. Side effect was, it was dye. Patient turned PINK. But PINK is better than DEAD. And then they looked into it.. and it wasn’t the dye, it was an additive to stabilize the day or a mordant to help it set. An additive readily made, mass produced, and ALL patents long expired. Not so great for the business – but wonderful for medicine.

      Penicillin was discovered later, pre or very early WWII. And a lot of research went into taking it from being only tiny lab specimens to Mass Production. And after the War, the antibiotic Revolution really got going.

      1. This was why my maternal grandfather wasn’t allowed to fight in WWII. He developed antibiotics. He was worth far more to the war effort in his lab.

        He’s still referenced in modern research papers, and he’s been dead fifteen years and retired at least twenty-five before that.

        1. One of my uncles worked in a brewery for a while during WWII. Making penicillin. Breweries had the equipment to grow yeast in large batches. Yeast was used to make penicillin. And American ingenuity put the two together.

        2. Thanks to him I am alive! Thanks to your family! I had pneumonia at 3.5 years old.(1968 or so.) As I was recovering I went downstairs for some water late at night. My Dad caught me and came unglued. “You are very sick, you are barefoot, don’t you dare come downstairs like this again! “. I had no idea i was so sick (although I was a sickly child, asthma undiagnosed, allergies to all growing things ditto.) . He grew up in a household that averaged 16. Two of his Uncles died of pneumonia when Dad was a lil tike and grandma took half of the kids each time. He scoffed at ” good old days”. Dad knew. He made sure we did too.
          Thanks again!

      2. I’m REALLY indebted to modern medicine…because I’m allergic to both penicillin AND sulfa drugs. Thankfully I can take tetracycline, erythromycin, and the cephalosporins…

    4. I don’t consider people who want to live like they did 200 years ago to be true “preppers.”

      A real prepper is ready to live off the grid for a year or more, while retaining the highest possible level of comfort and technology possible.

      1. Agreed. Prepping doesn’t mean intentionally disregarding existing solutions. It means preparing for temporary interruption of normal, every day life. Preserved food for when the grocery store isn’t stocked. Generator for when the electricity is out. Plenty of extra essentials from toilet paper to beans to your favorite bang stick’s favorite cartridges.

        Off grid living is life without the convenience of the electrical grid and sewer/water system. Even then, you use existing technology to remain relatively comfortable, with geothermal, or gas wells, or the like providing heat and power.

        Primitive living is where the nutjobs go into the woods naked and build a house out of what they find there, eat what’s to be had locally (even if its bugs), and generally live out away from *every* bloody thing. I can understand it to an extent. Lived pretty close to the bone growing up. But *voluntarily* going back to that? Yeesh. Apocalypse would have to be pretty severe from me to even consider it.

    5. Penicillin came into general use during WWII. It might have been invented before the war, but it was not much used before then. Aspirin dates back to around WWI — IIRC

  18. ” Do not go gentle into that good night, rage, rage, against the dying of the light.”

    Yeah, I got shite to do also, I have two grandkids and I need to stay alive so I can play whatever small part I can shepherding us past this insanity to the other side.

  19. “In pre-antibiotic world, you could die of a blister that infected.”
    1924, Cal Coolidge jr. died of a blister on his toe. So still less than 100 years ago.
    I had Gastroenteritis in late 2004 that would likely have killed me otherwise.
    Or the infection I got when bitten by a cat, 2001 or so.

  20. “In pre-antibiotic world, you could die of a blister that [became] infected.”
    This is how Calvin Coolidge’s son died. One of the most powerful men in the world, and his son died from getting a blister while playing tennis.

    1. A niece of Tsarina Alexandra, while staying with her aunt, which aunt lived an incredible life of comfort and unbelievable wealth, died of typhoid at the age of eight. Unfortunately, it seems like part of the problem was that the princess’ illness was brushed off at first. Maybe her family was like BGE’s above, kids got sick and they lived or they died.

  21. Sarah, the Reader has a question. Why is anything that springs from the human mind that improves the human condition ‘unnatural’? The Reader refuses to cede that ground to the subhuman crazies on the left.

      1. I knew a woman who was into “natural stuff” and didn’t drink coffee because of the caffeine.

        Apparently, she didn’t realize that the “caffeine” was Natural. 😆

    1. “Why is a beaver dam, made by beavers to change the environment for their benefit considered ‘natural’, while a stone dam made by humans to change the environment for their benefit is ‘unnatural’?

      Like I said yesterday, gangrene is natural. Disinfectants are unnatural.

    2. Oooh, there’s an AWESOME bit of flash-fic from the Humanity, F Yeah type tumblers, that argues that Humanity’s specialization is in adaptation.
      We live in every environment on earth, including vacations on active volcanoes and having towns in exposed-hair-snaps-off cold, etc.

      1. Paraphrasing from memory….

        “Your poles were explored by your people, not bots or drones? But, those areas are so much colder than just-frozen water. Didn’t the explorers die?”

        “The first ones did.”

        “And you sent more?!”

        (NOT said in that but should have been): “They volunteered.”

        1. Likely apocryphal, but the quote below is an ad “said to have been placed by Shackleton during the planning of his Nimrod expedition.” – he is said to have gotten more than 5000 responses.

          “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”


  22. My grandfather died at 53, his father died at 31. An uncle died at 50, my brother at 37. I had a leg broken bad enough that U.S. doctors are amazed that the Israeli surgeon saved it instead of amputating. I’ve gone through treatment for throat and tongue cancer (losing me 1/3 of my tongue and my teeth), plus other chronic conditions that leave me with an entire handful of pills every day. I’ve even had a cough from pneumonia bad enough to crack a rib. And these people talk to me about “unnatural” life.

  23. I’ve dodged a few life-threatening maladies and incidents. I had measles as an infant before a vaccine was developed. In 5th grade I had appendicitis and an operation to remove it and antibiotics to control the infection. I survived a few automobile accidents which could have been worse. I needed back surgery at 38 or I’d be living in pain which made tying my own shoelaces an ordeal, along with any other movement requiring bending or twisting. How long would I survive being unable to perform even the lightest chores? My blood pressure ran away at age 48 (230/130) requiring medication. Nobody knows why that happened, but my mom had B.P. issues beginning at 44 (she made it to 82).

    I’m lucky to live now and I know it. I could have died at age 10. The blood pressure issue could have killed me. My quality of life could have been severely impaired a number of times. Now I’m 63 and still in reasonably good health. And happy to be here.

    1. Fist bump.
      Measles. Check.
      Appendicitis. (with rupture!) Check.
      No back surgery. Mine prefers to spasm the muscles for a week at a time; last time for TRYING to tie my shoes.
      BP. Check. Thank goodness for Lisinopril.
      63 (Jan 14). Check.
      Have a beer and help yourself to the chips and dip.

  24. It’s like some people have never heard of entropy.

    Of course the natural state of things in this current universe is toward decay. Including you.

    It’s SCIENCE!

  25. If we still lived “natural” lives, I wouldn’t have survived Mama Raptor giving birth to me (she went into labor with me REALLY early and had to be put on meds to stop the contractions) and Little Brother, if he’d survived childbirth (same deal as before), he would’ve been dead in less than 2 months (severe case if RSV at 6-8 weeks IIRC).

    Given my current convictions, I’m fairly certain that most of the folks promoting the “Natural Way of Life” are extremely disappointed that I made to term (okay, nearly to term: I was still born 3-4 weeks early).

  26. Mr. BTEG and I would very likely both be dead without our unnatural lives. Mr. BTEG has Crohn’s, Hashimoto’s, psoriasis, family history of heart issues, reflux that the gastroenterologists can’t figure out. He takes about 30 pills a day and medication shots several times a month. I would have killed myself, very possibly, without modern meds.

  27. I can probably be forgiven for speculating that without modern medicine, I’d be the only one here.


    I’ve three ghosts in what I’ve written. The one where I’ve explicitly stated the cause of death was a rural peasant who had her leg crushed by a cart. A second had her feet bound, which got infected. She doesn’t like wearing anything on her feet, and likes to run around barefoot. Since she’s a ghost, the cold doesn’t affect her when she does it in the middle of winter. Outdoors. In Montana. The third died of an as yet unspecified illness, though that’s not set in stone.

      1. In some ways. There’d be no blog here, for one thing! And fewer good books to read…

        On the other hand, Glenn Reynolds often likes to point how just how unwell many of those on the progressive left are. So the political opposition would be reduced to the likes of AOC (everyone older than her would be dead, or stuck in a hospital bed for the rest of their life), guaranteeing hours of free comedy entertainment via her more frequent political speeches.


        1. Err, excuse me. WHERE did you get your definition of “comedy”? or “entertainment”?

          Cue Inigo Montoya…….

    1. I might be. If I had a good enough midwife with the first kid. Doc did an injection, but hard enough uterine massage could have also worked.

      First probably would’ve died of asthma a couple days after his fourth birthday (yes, the ballet dancer has asthma, for those who’ve been subjected to videos of him). Second probably would have died of pneumonia before his second birthday. Third would be fine. Fourth would have depended on how infected an injury got. Fifth would be fine. Sixth would be, too, because she in fact didn’t give herself a brain bleed, but if she had given herself a brain bleed, that MRI would’ve saved her baby life.

      (Sixth has a higher risk of developing brain cancer because of said MRI than she does of dying of Covid if she catches it. Boggles.)

      I think I begin to see why my family line has so many ancestors over the century mark . . .

    2. The mind boggles. I was really starting to think I was the only one here who might live out my normal lifespan (knock on wood) without medication or surgical interference.

      This is so bizarre. How can everybody be so sick? Here I thought good health was normal, and illness an aberration.

      1. Don’t know if it’ll help any, but a *lot* of people have trouble grasping how miraculous modern medicine is. I know it, but I don’t know know it, on a gut level– I can just mostly grasp how blankin’ much of the “I just came back from third-world country, and there weren’t all these fat, ugly people around!” is because those people are dead.

        Think about it– know any breast cancer survivors? When my mom was in college, that was nearly unheard of, and they sure didn’t have normal lives. Now, you may not even know if they don’t tell you.

        The stuff associated with pregnancy that not only can we keep folks from dying from, but they don’t even take injury from, is mindboggling. Rh factor mismatch, gestational diabetes, eclampsia, various development issues, stuff I haven’t even thought of.


        Heck, dental infections.

        Organ failure.


        1. Dad broke one of the big bones in his foot this weekend (combination of probably stepping wrong on one of the trails and damned bad luck). Not that long ago, he’d probably be crippled for life or on crutches for the rest of his life, because it would never heal properly.

          Six months of recovery, but so far so good. What the big issues are is that we had to get him a knee scooter because crutches are aggravating his shoulders (one of which has major issues that the doctor more-or-less duct-taped over ten years ago), and he’s been the Energetic One in the house. Which means I have to take over a lot of that and that eats into my writing between school, internship, and chores…

          I am grateful, mind you, for that my father will walk normally (odds are pretty good, the X-ray shows that the bone was fractured but not broken). I just wished we had the tools so that we could get him back on his feet in less than six months-and not have it happen again.

      2. Until I read the full thread, I thought of myself as NOT having had “modern medical intervention”.
        But, although I didn’t realize it, I did:
        – Polio vaccines – both Salk and Sabin
        – Antibiotics for a nasty blood infection, from a cut on my foot
        – Hysterectomy for a large fibroid tumor – benign, but, if continuing to grow, would have had major impact on life
        – Asthma. I have a mild case, so don’t think of the inhalers as a major factor, but they are.
        Don’t underestimate the value of good home nursing – then, and even now. Proper attention to clean sheets and clothing, reducing fevers, making patient get up and move around, “clapping” their backs to loosen mucus (don’t belittle this – in many of the patients dying in the early days of the epidemic, this wasn’t done – and, they left patients lying on their backs, which made the fluid buildup worse), hydratiion.

        1. making patient get up and move around

          Those blanky-blanking STUPID and OBNOXIOUS but very effective “make the bead hover between this point and this point for as long as you can” machines at hospitals.

          Half the nurses don’t even know/remember what it’s for– it’s pneumonia prevention. Breath deep and slow, and hold it, at least once every few hours.
          (took me asking six people to get an answer 😀 )

        2. FWIW, I think that the way that we can not even notice it is one of the biggest, most impressive things about modern medical.

          You’re HEALTHY, to the point of “well, there’s nothing really wrong with me, I’m just normal. Not one of those folks who are incredibly healthy, just normal.” Variety of things that could’ve been serious health issues, but you’re healthy.

          That is just… wonderful, and amazing, and good how they’re stuff that just gets rolled over like it’s normal, because it *is* normal, not the end of your life and health.

        3. asthma, tb and small pox, though not sure how that one was treated.
          The first two WERE treated.
          Extremely premature wasn’t treated, just “too stubborn to die.”
          Oh, and hysterectomy. And caeserean with #1 son.

  28. Fyi, there are rumors that the genie has been let loose in Yemen. IF true, the Great Reset had begun and all the young are doomed. Yeah… 3+ possible cases of Smallpox in Yemen. So far none of the sources are what I’d call reputable, but… It bears looking into.

    1. I don’t know why ‘medical authorities’ keep claiming that smallpox has been eradicated. I heard about some Canadian laborers back in the 50’s? 60’s? catching smallpox when they accidentally dug up some smallpox patients buried 200 years earlier.

      So, smallpox can survive in dead bodies for at least 200 years in a cold climate. Where is every single smallpox-contaminated body that’s been buried in the last 200 years? Just one would be enough to start an outbreak.

          1. Post 9/11 military and First Responders got it, at least some of us!

            Before that, I was wondering why my mom looked at a scene where Major Kira has short sleeves and went “wow, she doesn’t look anything like that old.”
            (Nina Visitor is only two years younger than my mom– this is when DS9 was in first showing, and mom thought she was AT LEAST fifteen years younger than that.)

      1. Why some of us who think of such thinks we should still be vaccinating against it. There are smallpox graves all over the world. Terrorists all over the world. And some have that same information. And some are students in bio-labs…

        You wouldn’t need a lab with modern equipment a a grant from Dr. Fraudci to cultivate smallpox- it already exists. You need all that stuff to create something new.

          1. Probably not, but general good health and higher medical standards mean that they are more likely to die because the doctors *KNOW* that it *CAN’T POSSIBLY* be smallpox. If I remember right, the last person in the West to die of smallpox (the lady at the college) basically died because Everybody Knew that it couldn’t be smallpox. Her mother survived because they figured it out.

            1. She was a photographer found something at a university (Manchester??)in the UK in the late 70’s. The University was doing research on smallpox. How she caught it was never determined. She died. After that, supposedly all stocks were sent to BSL4’S in the US and Russia. However at least 2x in the last 15 yrs or so, two separate stocks of it were found in non secure medical freezers here in the US. No telling what has happened with the Russian stuff.

              1. I think it started with a B? I know I linked it a few days ago, but I am just horrible with names.

                Ooof, and I just realized… photographer, it’s *possible* she did something like the exposed-to-bodies-in-grave folks, that would explain why they couldn’t find a link between the lab and her.

          2. Sarah, there are titer tests you can get for various diseases to determine if you need revaccination. I don’t know if there’s one for smallpox; it wasn’t mentioned when my doctor did a panel of them a few years back (which I probably need redone).

        1. Aw, geez, freaking smallpox. That modern biography of George Washington practically gave me nightmares, just elaborating on all the horrible cruddy symptoms and effects.

          Just what we need. An actual serious disease running around. Yuck.

  29. Yep, and younger folk with no immunity.
    And the angry part of me wonders how these, “Covid is the Return of the Black Death!” types would handle a real, “Three of every 10 patients are ‘goners, at least, and a lot of the rest will be disfigured for life,” plague.

    1. I had students challenge me when I said the coof is not as bad as the Black Death. So I sent them numbers. They were shocked that 30% of the US hadn’t died of the WuFlu.

    1. Thus my comment a few days ago that they have all the “legal tools” available to attempt to make this work. Don’t tell me it isn’t moral, or right; we all know that, but as long as the “Good Guys” will keep things running while the “Baddies” concentrate on lawfare, the Baddies will keep right on.

      And the problem isn’t that they are competent or sane; the problem is that they’re tantrum pitching 5 year olds with their fists clenched on howitzer lanyards. And until someone removes the lanyard (de facto rather than the de jure they’ll ignore), they will be able to rain down destruction.

      Yeah, there’s people like Joe Rogan with FU money and FU jobs, but most of us ain’t them.


  30. Without the unnaturalness of modern medicine I’d never have been born. True, the doc nearly killed me and mom both at the time, but the medicine, trained nurses, and hospital being there kept me alive.

    1. When I was born 7 weeks premature, my odds were 50/50. My youngest sister was also born seven weeks premature and had far fewer problems.

      1. The difference between us and them is that we celebrate babies being born, THEY celebrate babies being killed.

  31. When people try to convince me that people in history lived as long as people today as long as they made it to adulthood, I refer them to the list of English monarchs found on Wikipedia. From about AD 900 until Anne in 1707, the average age at death was about 45. IRRC, the oldest was Elizebeth II who died at age 69. I would assume that these people, being what they were, would have a somewhat longer than average life, though I have no evidence one way or another for that.

    1. Um. No. Those royal palaces by the Thames were mostly pretty horrible. There was also hunting, jousting, and traveling to other cruddy palaces and castles.

      Some medieval places were kept pretty clean, but a lot of VIP places had too many VIP cooks stirring the broth.

  32. While my first kid might have killed me if we were living a natural life, I never would have had him, because my husband would have died shortly after being born due to an Rh factor mismatch. (Not to mention that I never would have met him, because he was born 500 miles away.)

  33. There is my ancestor that gave birth to 10 live births, only 5 lived long enough to be named, only 3 lived long enough to marry and reproduce and only 2 survived their mother. Mom and the two who survived her all lived into there 80s, the other who married and had children lived up to 40, one child died around age 4, the rest were infants or toddlers. The average lifespan just of that family hits right around 30. These children were born between 1845-1860-ish in the US to young, healthy immigrants from Germany.

    1. Some states have exceptions for medical masks, and some specify masking to conceal your identity– but yeah, there are still some where masking that *does* conceal your identity is illegal.

      1. Other way around– where they were enforced against AntiFa thugs, there wasn’t a big AntiFa outbreak.

        It’s a great way to test for permissiveness, I gotta give ’em that.

      2. At least one time the sheriff showed first thing and told them the law.

        Remarkably law-abiding after that,

        They probably avoid the locations.

    2. It used to be illegal to flog someone while masked in Alabama. Anti-KKK law. It got pulled out and applied in the late 70s when Huntsville was tormented by a serial molester. (Rape? Rarely. Stake a woman out and torment her? Oh, yeah. They threw the book at the creep).

  34. Maybe our unique adaptation is our ability to use civilization to become more human, to bring more of our abilities and virtues to our service, individually and together.

    And maybe any other spacefaring race would need the same.

  35. When I started studying medieval history, one of the biggest shocks was the number of people dying in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. We’re accustomed to old people dying. We know there was a time when childhood mortality rates were high. But the idea of people in what we would consider their prime years keeling over dead came as a bit of a shock.

  36. I kind of want to live the unnatural lives they led in the first part of Genesis. 900 years plus.

  37. I have odd felicity of not a carriage accident, but, true to Heyer, family record of death while out hunting, at the ripe old age of 54 (this was ancestor who was a young Lieutenant in the Peninsula during the Napoleonic wars, Sarah. If we are related it’s him to blame :-)). However he almost certainly had cardiac issues, and did not break his neck over a regular stitcher.

  38. In 1923 my great grandmother died of pellagra at age 52. Who even knows what that is now? In 1925 James Deering, one of the richest Americans, died of pernicious anemia. If you develop PA, it can be treated for pennies.

  39. Well said. I’ve had many of the same thoughts but couldn’t articulate it as well as you have. Visiting my wife’s grandmother in St Petersburg convinced me that people move to Florida to wait to die and we were not going to do that. Of course, now that I don’t seem to tolerate the cold as well as I used to, I have been considering retiring to Florida, but I’m going to be doing something, living my life, not just sitting around waiting for the reaper.

  40. Nearly 30 years ago, as I was going into labor with The Spawn, people tried to shame me into forgoing the blessed relief of an epidural. “Childbirth is a natural process,” they said. “Women have done it without anesthesia since the dawn of time.”

    My response was: “They also died of smallpox, but somewhere along the line we decided to do something about that so I’m having my epidural, thank you very much.”

    1. Mom gave birth to three kids without painkillers.

      Which she always mentioned right before informing the gals pushing the “don’t use painkillers! Be natural!” stuff that they don’t give awards for skipping pain killers.

      Depending on the audience, she’d then go into selection characteristics for, say, cattle, vs women, as far as enabling birth without painkillers. (Sometimes aiming to horrify, sometimes aiming to persuade.) She’d been helping with difficult births in animals for decades at that point, so there are a LOT of stories.

  41. Studying my family history has been a real eye-opener. My Polish grandmother bore ten children, three before she and her husband emigrated to the US in 1910. One died as an infant in Poland. A toddler girl died in the steerage of the steamship on the crossing. And my Aunt Phyllis died in childbirth at 22 in 1930. (I would have been Phyllis Duntemann if the gene-toss had gone the other way.) My poor little cousin died with her. Up and down the tree as far as I can probe there are dead infants and children, and adults dying in their 30s and 40s. I’m now 69. I’ve lived more years than my father, grandfather, great-grandfather, 2GGF, 3GGF, and 4GGF. To find a man in my direct line who’s lived longer than I, you have to go back to a man born in 1729, who made it to 78 in the butt end of Lower Saxony. Good genes and good luck? Who knows? Given how bruising the farming life was back then, it’s a wonder any of them made it out of their 20s.

    Sarah’s point about us still having things to do is cogent. My target is 96, my GGmother, the oldest person in my direct line as far back as I can see, well into the 1600s. I have a lot of writing to do yet.

    1. My target is 98. For similar reasons. SO MANY BOOKS and universes to write. Also, seeing this republic to a more stable place again. Preferably more constitutional.

    2. The reason I know about the multiple great aunts passing in their 20s or 30s is because they are buried in the family graveyard. Don’t know if gg-grandpa Frank’s wife is one of them (I could probably check the family tree, but … lazy). Grandma Annie alludes to it because of her mother’s issues, that grandma reports, like her mother she had to take over the household duties at a young age. Her older sister was already out of the household. Her mother spent a lot of time in Salem because of what would be called today as PSTD from being mom to her younger siblings, and older brothers. An Aunt also had problems but didn’t spend anytime in Salem. When grandma married an Engineer, who often was on the road working, a maiden aunt was placed at their home to “help” with her two small children, without asking grandma and grandpa. Grandma states in her writing that she could trust her aunt to keep the house clean, but grandma would cook the meals for her kids and herself, and absolutely would not trust her 4 year old and 30 month old in the care of the aunt. To the point of making a safe location for the two children to stand when grandma went to deal with the turkey’s she raised for local sale for Thanksgiving and Christmas (her egg money). Fully knowing how mean turkeys are and how dangerous they are to small children even before turkeys are full grown. When I first read this my reaction was “OMG she is talking about dad!” The 30 month old.

  42. Well, my family is the oddity. They seldom died young (if they went before 80, the relatives stood around shaking their heads about the “early death”). This has been verified by historical records (wills, census, etc.).
    What they did is farm, run trading posts and ferries, and engage in small commerce. In the industrial age, they were mechanics and laborers (thus, with a slightly shorter lifespan). Other than death by Indian raid, or an occasional ‘died in the war’, they lived long lives.
    Of course, they weren’t drinkers, smokers, or living in overcrowded conditions.
    The exception was the women – now, excessive child-bearing took its toll – there were many generations that had the patriarch burying one wife (often after 1/2 dozen offspring), after another. Once pregnancy ceased to be a major hazard, the women lived as long as the men. And, even then, most of the women survived multiple births in good stride.
    Until the 20th century, when smoking became common. That vice took out a BUNCH of the relatives. Some of the family, living along a polluted river (the Ohio), did develop some nasty illnesses and cancers.
    The healthiest were living in the rural and mountainous parts of WV, PA, and OH. Worked hard, lived long.
    I had the family constitution. At nearly 71, I’m mostly healthy, with some minor conditions easily handled with cheap meds. The younger brothers, born in an age of immunizations, are in MUCH worse shape.
    As for me, I pity COVID if it does try to take me out. I’ve battled tougher enemies than that!

  43. I live in third world countries in Asia and Africa. Spent the last two years in the mountains of Asia. CV wasn’t really a big deal where I was. Not many deaths, folks got sick and then got better, I didn’t hear of any cases of long CV. Granted, it was a ‘kafir-disease’ – good Muslims wouldn’t get it, so there was a hush-hush shame factor. But the co-morbidities were mostly absent. If you had diabetes you’d already be dead of eating to much starch. Heart disease – already dead. All the infections, broken bones previously mentioned – dead or crippled. Etc. Etc. 62% of the population is 25 or under. Median total age is 19. Interestingly, life expectancy is about the same for male/female.
    Yeah, the natural world selects for hardiness.
    And I’m glad to have had western meds – pneumonia at 6 months to start with…

    1. Now on the cities, the death toll was way higher, but without good stats… Was it more than equal to the population ratio? More access to meds = more co-morbidities? Different sanitation? Different diet?

      Dunno. And since They don’t want real answers, I’m sure we’ll never know.

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