Refuse the Despair a blast from the past from November 2014

Yesterday I was looking at pictures of friends in France. They’re about my age and their kids are the age of mine.

Now, most of my pictures on line (though not all) are of conventions and fan events, because my facebook page is a professional page, not a personal one. (I would start a personal one, but most of my personal life is just my kids, and if they’re looking on FB for pictures, they’re ill. Now this might change as the kids move out/get a life/live in other states, but right now there’s no point.)

So, my pictures are different. But we also have family pictures. We used to do a thing every year where we took pictures of events throughout the year, and the things the kids participated in, then narrated it, put it together, and sent a CD to the grandparents.

We don’t do that anymore – mostly time issues – but we do still take pictures, now on the – increasingly rare – occasions when the four of us do something fun together, like go to a special event at a museum or take an overnight trip somewhere. (The last one I can remember, absent cons) is the Van Gogh exhibit in Denver which we took in last year on Black Friday.)

The thing is, in all these pictures, my kids are smiling, or goofing off, or even giving each other the stink eye.

Our family pictures involve stuff like mini-golfing together and posing around fiberglass animals. Or pretending to be swept out with the monumental dust-pan and broom outside the Denver Art Museum. Or Marshall looking very sophisticated (but not bored) in his leather blazer, looking at pictures.

Yesterday I read this at Ace of Spades, so I was primed to think how much people, consciously, try to make their lives look like “they should”.

And then I looked at pictures from France. I think all of us have watched at least one French movie, right?

Well, pictures from France, even pictures of people my kids’ age all transmit that “the world is a dingy place and we’re all hard eyed realists with incredibly complex sex lives” look of French movies.

Is it true?

Oh, heck no, no more than street cars mentioned by Ace are romantic or beautiful or anything like that. This is just the image sold in the movies. Most people in France, except for the issues brought on by socialism (break up of families, high unemployment, pervasive bureaucracy) live the same small, happy lives as anyone else. You know, someone to love, something to do, something to eat. Lives just comfortable enough they don’t struggle for more.

But how much you enjoy how you live and what you perceive as “the good life” can definitely be influenced by what you see. And that in turn changes what you do and what you see around you, and therefore your mood.

It’s probably not a coincidence that France has one of the highest rates in the world for consumption of anti-depressives.

For some reason – and it has to do with taking a really weird turn at the romantics and then getting stuck with more socialist realism than should be possible outside the Soviet union – they internalized the idea that high art is vaguely boring and definitely pessimistic (here I think it’s a great deal too bad that most of their “art” is protected from competition with foreign art by various stupid laws, and is subsidized with stipends allocated by bureaucrats, for whom, of course, life is both boring and pessimistic, with shades of sadism.)

And so, even though they might have been able to get around the blight of socialism, in time, and even though they live in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, they’ve internalized self-hatred, unhappiness as a sort of chic accoutrement, and the meaninglessness of their own quotidian life. (Which, even without socialism would make their family lives a mess and taking daily pleasure in things difficult.)

So, what does this have to do with anything other than beating the French? (Admittedly always a good pastime, particularly since I’m writing stuff in Liberte seacity.)

Simple: a lot of our high culture is French. It is sometimes French by way of Germany, but it is French. Most of our glitterati love French culture and by that I don’t mean the good stuff like what Mr. Du Toit appreciates (I have some favorite French writers, myself.) No, most of them admire the more recent stuff, not even the French cinema, but the pictures they get from friends who go on vacation there. They admire the air of being unutterably bored and depressed and the way everyone there seems to accept the world is on a handbasket ride to h*ll. It’s so… sophisticated!

In their minds, most of our glitterati are hanging out in cafes, smoking thin little cigarettes and sneering at the world.

I mean, most of them aren’t even looking at France but at American movies that show France, but they think it’s all so unutterably romantic and so much better than our cowboy can-do attitude, and they want to think life means nothing and all is lost so they can be just like the French.

In fact, the insanity in SF/F now reminds me a lot of the French science fiction of the seventies. (It was excusable. It was after all the seventies.) Stranger and stranger sexual identities, tearing down of all taboos, life is a bitch. Humans are evil. And then you die. Check.

Look, yesterday a friend sent me a picture of what can only be called a cave-world in China. The first comment was “Now that it’s discovered, humans will destroy it.” And it was followed by upteen comments agreeing with this.

Now, the caves will almost surely be despoiled, because it’s a communist regime. (duh.) But not because it’s “humanity” and even if it were, why the heck SHOULDN’T they be despoiled? (Other than scientific investigation, natch.) I mean, what is their intrinsic value outside of humanity studying/admiring them? And yep, a dozen of the comments were “Humans should just die off, they ruin everything.” Uh… everything for whom? If there are not humans, who appreciates/gives aesthetic value to anything? If an elephant paints in the forest and no human sees it, did it really happen?

These people clearly did not believe in this – no, seriously – For one, they were all still alive. No one can go to life hating themselves that much and survive. But it was the pose to strike to appear intelligent, in comments, in novels, in drawings, in…

To be hopeful and happy is to be low brow. To show yourself intelligent you need to despair in the approved Socialist-realist way.

The problem with this is that this sort of thing seeps into the culture by forming the younger people. It forms their attitudes and their beliefs. They are too unsophisticated to know the adults don’t really mean it, so they mean it a little more.

After a few generations you’re stuck with people so depressed, they will accept overlords, even barbaric overlords who stone women and gays, if it will save them from their ennui and their depressive view of the world.

And therein lies the rub. The helplessness of modern “realism” is a gateway drug to being sheep in thrall of totalitarians.

You’re so tired of despair and sadness, and yet you know the world is terrible and you want to atone for any happiness you still feel. So you give in to petty tyrants like the people in SFWA who change the rules and tell you you’re bad because you used the word they just forbid. Or whatever. And you abase yourself and feel dirty and miserable.

Until a really big tyrant, like, oh, Mao or Stalin or the despicable Che, come along and free you from your guilt by more than likely killing you, and if not making you wish they had.

It doesn’t have to be like that. On comments, on books, on drawings, refuse to follow the blinkered “chic unhappiness” of the elites. Laugh at their poses of sadness and thoughtfulness. They’re like little kids trying to look serious so we’ll think they’re grown up.

Mock, contradict, ignore, replace.

In the end we win, they lose.

It has to be so, if humanity is to survive.

Refuse the easy rewards of the merchants of despair. Build your life on hard work and can-do.

143 thoughts on “Refuse the Despair a blast from the past from November 2014

  1. On “humans should die”, my response to one of those types is “You First”. 😈

    1. I copied to paste that and reply the same.
      I also notice the ones declaring that loudest are also never willing to submit themselves to their solution.

      1. But of course. If they took their own advice, then they wouldn’t be around anymore to push their advice on others. And if you want anything done right, you’ve got to do it yourself. Everyone knows that. So, for the good of the world, they must oh-so-reluctantly stick around to continue to offer their good advice.

        Compare and contrast that with that quote from Mass Effect: “Had to be me. Someone else might have gotten it wrong.” If you don’t have a tear in your eye right now, you haven’t played the game, so I’ll explain briefly. A character that you come to know and love through the story walks, knowingly, into a situation that he/she probably won’t come back from, because he/she is the only one with the skills and knowledge to fix the problem and save millions of people. And although he/she indeed doesn’t make it out alive, he/she succeeds and the people are saved.

        … Dusty in here. Excuse me for a second.


          The Tuchanka questline was fun and very sad at the end if you let that friend do what he wishes.

          1. And that was one of his best lines in the trilogy, which is saying a lot considering how many good ones he had! “Anyone who fights us is either stupid or on Saren’s payroll. Killing the latter is business. Killing the former is a favor to the universe.”

            1. Wrex + Citadel Elevator = Hilarity.

              Also from Tuchanka:
              “There’s a REAPER in my way, Wrex!” “I know. You get all the fun.”

              1. I love Jennifer Hale’s delivery of that line. Manages to combine Reaper-normal amounts of rage and panic with “I am so done with this!” 🙂

                1. Yeah, I have a bunch of FemSheps, and only a few MaleSheps. The guy who voices MaleShep is talented (I mean, he voices the vorcha and The Biotic God so he has a lot of range) but for some reason it doesn’t work as well.

                  1. I’ve only beaten the trilogy with one each myself, Vanguard/Soldier/Soldier MShep and Engineer FemShep and enjoy them both in their own ways. I still need to go back and do at least two more runs at some point (one being pretty much me as an Infiltrator), possibly in Legendary Edition if I decide it’s worth giving EA some of my hard-earned money, but you know how time, money, and energy gets.

          1. One notes that if your action draws more attention than your purported cause, you are either very foolish or making a false claim.

      2. It doesn’t take long, hanging around in adoptee areas of the net, to find people who wish they would have been aborted.

        I always want to go full “Tim Curry as Cardinal Richelieu” on them: That can be arranged!

        1. Yeah, I always feel like the last part of NW’s Greatest Show On Earth:

          at 17:00 Dawkins’ little ending bit. say what you will about Dick or Darwin, this is spot on. How dare we whine?
          “We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones
          Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born
          The potential people who could have been here in my place
          But who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Sahara
          Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton
          We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA
          So massively exceeds the set of actual people
          In the teeth of those stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here
          We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds
          How dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state
          From which the vast majority have never stirred?”

      3. Kind of like all those celebrities who were going to leave the US if Trump was elected…but never did..A clear breach of contract!

          1. True, but the considerations need not be tangible, and AFAIK the only other requirements are that they be voluntary on both sides, and not be in violastion of any law. For that particular (legal and mutually agreeable) one the considerations would have been equal – We get to not have them here, and they get to not be here. A clear win-win! 😉

        1. For Bush2, Depp left, went to France, decided it weren’t all that and came back. High crime and “asians” (i.e. mid-east muslims) rioting were nightly occurrences not far from where he moved to.

    2. Yes. “You first.”

      Personally. Too stubborn to give in and give up. It has proven time and time again the correct path. If there is a deep chasm or cliff, build over, climb down, climb over, build through, or go around. Might have to retreat a bit to do so, but always look to move ahead.

      My extended family, both sides, are known to live well into their 90s. I plan on beating that.

      1. Before I was blessed to move to North Idaho I would chant during my afternoon walks “Over, under, around, or through, that is what I have to do….”
        And my fam is long lived as well. I’m making plans to 95, and will take a status check when I get there.

        1. Mom’s immediate family is long lived. The extended family in Montana even more so. Grandma (93), Grandpa (95) passed away within weeks of one another. Grandma’s middle name was Stubborn. She was in heart failure for the 3 weeks to make grandpa’s funeral/masonic memorial. Final heart attack early AM afterwards, she never regained consciousness for the days after.

          Mom is 87, her sister is 85, her younger brother just turned 76. Given the latter two smoke, that is a miracle. Dad’s not quite so long. It seems like his dad died “young” given that grandma was only 48, and they still had 4 in school. But if you stop and reconsider, in ’59, when he died he was over 60. He also had 3 older children who were married with children of their own. The oldest of us, only a few years younger than his youngest. Dad’s surviving siblings are 80, 74, and 72. What gets dad’s family is artery disease whether they smoke or not.

          At 65, I’m still not on anything for cholesterol, or blood pressure. Probably should be on the latter. Medical keep saying my BP is fantastic for my age, weight (overweight), and physical (not “good”) condition. But it is “up” from when I was younger. (Or as hubby used to say. “By her BP she should be dead.” 90/60 was elevated for me. Now 99/70 is low.)

          1. That was lovely to read, thanks.
            Since I’m soured on hospitals, doctors, and that lot, I’ve started in the past year doing the Wim Hof Method–breath work, cold exposure, and meditation/commitment. I recommend it to anyone who wants to help their body function at its optimal level.

  2. I’m reminded of Gimli and Legolas and the glittering caves.

    Legolas: You dwarves will just mine it out
    Gimli: Destroy such a jewel? Perish the thought! We will make it livable, and viewable and gently with the greatest of care so things to enhance it’s beauty! Come and see friend elf.
    Legolas: I’m super skeptical, but I’ll trust you and see.

    …Years Later…

    Legolas: Wow, you weren’t kidding. This is totally awesome.
    Gimli: Isn’t it though?

  3. Who created the caves in the first place? Humans, that’s who. Although of course those humans lived at one with nature and there were fewer of them and they didn’t drive SUVs blah blah.

      1. I believe the Glittering Caves were at the back of the natural caves they built Helm’s Deep around. Gimli and Legolas found the entrance to that part during a bunch of running around in and after the battle.

  4. “hard work and can-do.”
    Yes! All the Yes!
    I’ve done my best to teach my children this. Not only does it help to fight depression, (thank you, inherited genes) but it also makes for a more robust society/culture.
    If you don’t know how to do it, learn. Read books, watch youtube videos, ask friends and family, find someone to teach you. You can learn to do anything, (though some are harder than others.)
    We see those French movies, or other such twaddle, and will have a discussion of how those characters make their own lives miserable.
    Usually followed with a discussion of what the characters should have done.
    (That’s also how you train up story tellers.)
    And, I might add, I’ve gotten to know my children in the process. Win/win.

    1. Back in 2016 out team was making Leopold benches for a camp. We ladies were seriously struggling with putting on the short leg of the bench. Then, I had a breakthrough: we have wi-fi! I have a tablet! YOUTUBE!
      Second video we checked showed us exactly what we were doing wrong.
      From that point, we turned out at least two benches a day.

      1. Excellent! While it’s sometimes difficult to find the grains of wheat in the bushel of chaff (or the gold flecks in the pan of gravel), they are there, and there’s some workable “how-to” or good info on just about any subject. I have an entire “How-Tos” folder, almost 10GB and counting, of videos on subjects, from converting cam locks for key retention to cutting a dovetail for a 1911 front sight to repairing the door on a Panasonic microwave oven, and dozens of others. And they all work.

  5. MHZ Choice (streaming made-for-tv programming from various countries with English subtitles, predominantly European, predominantly mysteries) paints a weirdly bifurcated view of French pop culture. On the one hand, you have grim, nihilistic baloney indistinguishable from the Scandinavian mysteries, and then on the other you have police procedurals (Magellan, Murder in…) or amateur sleuth mysteries (Blood of the Vine), or amateur+police (Art of the Crime, Criminal Games) that I thought were entertaining. I don’t know if I’d call any of them family-friendly,* and police have license to do a lot of things under the Napoleonic Code that they’re not supposed to do here, but hey, consider it an education in what the American police might do behind our backs.

    *The only things on MHZ that might qualify as family-friendly are Don Matteo, Le Petit Tour, and maybe a couple of biopics, all of them Italian language.

    1. I’m a quarter Danish, but have serious difficulty with Wallander. Of course, Grampa Pete (well, Sigurd) had slightly rude things to say about the Swedes. 🙂 Grimdark loses me, whether that one or the Welsh one (Hinterland).

      I prefer Brit-mysteries, ranging from Midsomer Murders to Inspector Lewis, with a lot in between. (Never saw the Inspector Morse shows, and Endeavor makes me realize I’m missing backstory.)

      Midsomer Murders is offbeat enough, with a light fragrance of Monty Python… For just plain fun, give me Inspector Lewis.

      $SPOUSE watched one season of The Tunnel and metaphorically walled the TV for the second season.

      1. The family members with the MHZ account tried The Tunnel and didn’t care for it either. Haven’t seen it personally, wasn’t interested in the premise. The gritty police team dramas are duds for me in any language, from Streets of San Francisco down to the present.

        I don’t watch a lot of tv shows (as opposed to streaming or dvd movies) on my own initiative, so it’s kind of whatever the family members with the streaming accounts and I can agree on when we feel like hanging out in front of the tv. I watched Warehouse 13 on Amazon with them, and am watching Fringe (with Don Matteo chaser), having missed both those shows on their original run, to give you some idea of how out of date I am when it comes to TV. I have a certain fondness for the 80s-90s adaptations of Poirot, Peter Whimsey, and Albert Campion, but today I’d rather read them than watch them.

  6. French writers: For me it pretty much stops at Dumas and Verne. I haven’t tried Camus yet.

    French food: Willing to try just about anything. Frog legs weren’t bad. Not sure about snails, but what the heck.

    French wine: Sign me up. I love wine, and brandy.

    French cinema: Well, I liked Les Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf). I prefer it in French with English subtitles. I was so-so on Amelie. I haven’t seen much else that stood out.

    French soccer: Thierry Henri was brilliant.

    French racing: Alain Prost was one of the best drivers I’ve ever watched.

    Otherwise, France has some nice scenery, several museums, and a ton of archaeological sites I would like to see in person. Now if only something could be done about all the French. (I jest). I’ve heard they’re quite rude, but would rather determine that myself. Visiting someday is on the bucket list.

    1. I recall a quote to that effect from just after the Chunnel was built:

      “The English love France. They love the French countryside, the French food. They especially love the French wine. It’s just the French people they can’t stand.”

      Although I’ll admit to similar thoughts about California: if we could just get rid of the Californians, it would be an awfully nice place (though I think I would still prefer the Atlantic coast).

      1. There’s a story that God gave France all good things, he gave it an Atlantic coast and a Mediterranean coast, great mountains, fertile plains, forest, rivers, wine, wheat, the lot. All the other countries complained to God that he’d been too generous to France. So, to even things out a bit, God created the French.

        1. And according to the Germans, the French would reply “but of course, Monseiur; He needed to perfect the angels design.”

        1. There are still many unbowed “trapped” here. The actual votes would be close, it is just that the fascists have figured out how to cheat 20%, which makes it hard to win. Fraud by mail, etc, So California, aka Mordor west, should be a warning to anyone else who trusts the left to do what is right. The left is doing their best to rule in hell.

          1. The Reader thinks that ‘Sauve qui peut’ (since today is French day) applies to those trapped behind enemy lines in CA. The Reader is not sure what circle of Hell is designated for those who destroy an advanced civilization by depriving its members of power and water, but Newsom and his cohorts are going to find it.

          2. I got a fraud-by-mail ballot last week. Didn’t sign up for it, they just sent it. Renters are getting ballots for tenants that moved out ten or fifteen years ago.

            I wonder where they send the ballots for all the dead voters. Are they piling up in various cemeteries?

            1. I’d assume they keep them on-hand for those late-night “counting pauses”. After all, they can always “find” them a week or so later…

              1. 2000 mules.


                “According to True the Vote’s investigation, these nonprofit organizations served as a place for ballots to be stashed after they were collected from voters, and a base from which “mules” were assigned to deliver ballots to the ballot collection boxes at various times and in quantities that wouldn’t cause alarm when reported on the drop box’s chain of custody reports – and, they were the organizations through which the “mules” were paid per ballot delivered to the drop boxes. Engelbrecht says that “mules” were paid around $10 per ballot but that for the Georgia Senate runoff that price was higher.”

        2. Northern California wants out. Eastern California is well sick and tired of SoCal. Noisome is bound and determined to drive out the last remaining Americans in California, but it’s not going well for him, there. The ones that are left are the bitterest, stubbornest, toughest, and meanest sons of sandwiches that you’re like to find.

          And of late, Noisome is losing some of his long time allies. The Asians and the traditional religious of Mexican descent do NOT like what’s going on in the schools. Between the two, a 30% shift (if I recollect correctly) by both would mean that no democrat would be getting elected pretty much anywhere in the SW of Cali.

          I’m not ready to give up on California. There are still Americans there.

          1. And don’t forget that the Bay Area has a near-solid lock on the state government.

            1. Yeah. That is the main sticking point. It’s also a weakness. If they lose the Bay Area, somehow, over the top of an entire mountain range of corruption and lies and election shenanigans, they are done.

              Almost impossible job, as things stand now. But Americans are well known for assaying the impossible, so who knows? I’d love to see Cali turn deep red again. That’d be awesome. Maybe in my nonexistent children’s lifespan, though.

              1. Maybe not quite so impossible. It occurred to me as I wrote my previous post that much of the Bay Area’s political muscle is financed by Silicon Valley money. It’s one of the reasons why Pelosi was able to remain the House Democratic leader for so long (she could decide which House Democrats got some of that IT money), and probably why Harris had to be put on the presidential ticket. Remove that, and the Bay Area politicians lose some of their muscle.

                And some IT companies have started looking for greener pastures recently…

                1. And Hollyweird, despite sucking the Chinese teat, is losing money. There are a lot of variables in the air. The Tech Companies money looking to move is a big part of that, no question.

                  I think the business in Florida between DeSantis and Disney is going to have an effect as well. California doesn’t operate in a vacuum, despite all the attempts to do so. I’ve heard rumors in the background and seen stories in public that big companies are pulling back from commenting on political issues. I don’t know exactly how much money and power Disney lost over the monumentally stupid game of chicken they tried to play with the governor of Florida, but by all indications they lost big.

                  Add to that Elon Musk taking Twatter. That deal has not completed yet, but I wouldn’t bet against it going through.

                  The democrats are dug in deep in SoCal, though. They won’t go easy. The corruption machine is still big down there. I’m rooting for the Americans in Occupied California, don’t get me wrong. But they’ve got a heck of a fight on their hands.

                  1. The Reader believes it is too late. California is going to run out of water and electricity before any electoral change could impact its trajectory. They are doing their best to make SoCal a desert again.

                    1. Last I looked Cali was nowhere near 100% at providing its own electricity, but donchknow that coal fired power turns green when California buys it from out of state?

                      With respect to water, a lot of dams were built in the 1950s. Getting rid of the obstacles is the hard part, but Noisome is doing his best to create a bunch of angry people. I’m not sure they’re going to attack in the direction he has in mind. I suspect any change won’t be electoral. Christmas in Romania, or 1945 in Italy, perhaps.

                    2. There are two things to consider. The first is that cash is required to grease the corruption wheels. If the money leaves California – and it appears that at least some of that money might be on the way out – then it will be more difficult to pay for the corruption. That could impact the Dems’ ability to pull the shenanigans that they regularly engage in.

                      The second is that California is very open to ballot propositions submitted by members of the general public. Often this leads to problems. But it’s also led to some amazing things passing. One of the most noteworthy is a law on the books – passed by the voters – that bans racial discrimination (including affirmative action) in all state entities. Yes, there are ways to get similar results using alternative means. But racial as an official deciding factor is banned. And this drives the left nuts. Further, there was a ballot proposition in 2020 that was an attempt to roll back this ban (not the first such attempt, btw), and the voters shot it down.

                      In short, it wouldn’t take much to loosen the left’s hold on the state if the proper opportunity presented itself. And such an opportunity might arrive very soon.

                    3. “but donchknow that coal fired power turns green when California buys it from out of state?”

                      This is permitted under state law at the moment. It won’t be permitted for much longer, though.

                      The expectation is that power providers won’t want to miss out on a huge market like the one that California provides, so they’ll fall all over themselves to switch to “renewable” energy sources in order to service the market. This sort of tactic has worked to an extent in the past. But as with the pork ranchers in other states who have recently given up on acceding to California’s demands, the renewable energy simply isn’t going to be there at the levels that California requires.

                      Making matters worse, there is a law on the books that phases out the sale of cars powered by internal combustion engines, and eventually will require that the only cars allowed on the roads be electric. Given that the bill didn’t make allowances for the additional required power infrastructure, this would clearly be a pipe dream even if the state was getting the amounts of power that would be needed.

                    4. Oregon’s going more or less the same route, with hydro deprecated. The four dams on the Klamath river (along the Cal/Oregon border) are scheduled for removal, with 100MWe of hydro to be “replaced” with 36MWe of solar. We’re supposed to figure out the remaining 64MWe ourselves, it seems.

                      The activists seem to want the Bonneville hydro dams to go away, so that would take out another huge chunk of power that gets sold to California. If memory serves, the Pacific Intertie transports about 1000MWe power to California from Bonneville. That’s a lot of windmills or spinning unicorns.

                    5. At least the Willamette and McKenzie dams won’t be disappearing. Yes, some are hyrdo. MOST are flood control. Eugene wasn’t nicknamed “Mud City” for nothing. Rumors of 40′ of water in downtown before dams went in. I remember the evacuations for those living between River Road and the river in ’61. Still a problem further north one goes from the unmanaged rivers flowing into the Willamette. Long Tom floods regularly despite there being a flood control dam; called Fern Ditch often for a reason (Fernridge). We are far enough north and west that even without the dam, the house would be safe for anything above 100 year flood, we can get the vehicles out of the driveway and off the street. But we’d be stuck, do not know if services could be safely used (power, water, sewer).

                      But yes, with the Oregon initiative our power rates are going to soar. A lot of push to put in home solar.

          2. Yes. They want their kids to grown-up to become middle class and have grandkids, not be auctioned off into eternal debt and sterilized behind their back.

            The grandmother clock is ruthless, but it is harshest on those who steal it’s desire away before the kid is old enough to know what they’re doing.

    2. From what I’ve heard, Parisians are the rude ones. Even the French outside of Paris dislike Parisians. 😉

        1. The French in the north can’t seem to stand people from the next village, per a French expat instructor MomRed had. The French in the south were pretty decent, what dealings I had. I tried to speak a little French, plus the international sign of “wave Euros, point at desired item, smile and look hopeful.” We got along well. Paris? The gift shop folks at museums were nice. The guards and administrators at museums were not nice. Waiters? Mixed bag.

          I liked Central Europe better, or southern France, the part that detests Paris. Normandy was fun.

          1. Folks in Southern France are decent enough people. At least, according to one of my old professors that did fieldwork over there, they were. Not fans of the “city folk,” to whit, Parisians. Salt of the earth, hard working, try and drink you under the table types otherwise.

            Given the temperament of the old guy that taught me, he probably engaged in not a few drinking contests himself when not digging for potsherds and fossils.

          2. My only exposure to the French was at De Gaulle airport. I still remember what they considered a BLT, though I’d love to forget it. (Sorry Pierre, Americans expect bacon to be cooked.) This was also at the start of security theater, where the little old Catholic ladies were selected for extra scrutiny. OTOH, that was in America, too.

            (FWIW, in 2001/2, airport security in Munich was downright pleasant. It’s like they wanted people to come back or something.)

    3. South Western France — Rugby playing France — is nothing like Paris. Saying of D’Artagnan that he was a Gascon was enough description. I played a season there the hitting is ferocious, the pitches hard as rock, but the French will make plays that no one else would even think of. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but more often they turn nothing into something really special.

      Go to Aquitaine. Get out of Paris and drive roughly south west until the roofs become tiled and the churches aren’t empty and then stop, Charente they call it now following the revolution, but Angoumois is it’s proper name. North is the Vendee, south Gascony. Avoid Bordeaux, it’s just Paris west. Nothing fancy in the cooking, just perfect ingredients perfectly prepared, and Cognac.

      I fell in love with the place years ago. If you want a taste, watch Les Vacances de M. Hulot. Don’t worry about the language, Tati was a mime and it’s almost entirely sight gags. Mr. Bean is based on M. Hulot to give you an idea.

        1. I’ve seen them all, they’re all good but Les Vacances is the first and best. I love M. Hulot. I don’t need the subtitles.

          I really like French movies, we only seem to get the depressing, nihilist, ones here, but the French still make the small to medium movies that Hollywood doesn’t make any more.

      1. The difference between the kind of people who play rugby and the kind who play soccer (called “football” in France, as it is in most of the world) is this:

        So I’m not surprised that Rugby-playing France is where D’Artagnan came from. Cyrano de Bergerac too, for that matter.

    4. Franks out of Transalpine Gaul!

      Going by textbooks, France seems to still have competent researchers in certain of the hard sciences.

      1. Success in France is determined by one’s results in Mathematics. Very good Maths gets you into the Grande ecoles and that, not the university, is where careers are made, the Polytechnique in particular. Arts can get you into the Normale, but that actually just a teachers college.

    5. French cheeses, and the French idea of breakfast are awesome.

      The US is still has better steak, though I gather that Argentina also has really good roast meat on the bone stuff too.

      1. Disagree: unless I got gypped (which, given that we were staying at a VERY cheap hotel in Paris, is a distinct possibility) I found French breakfast (a croissant and a piece of cheese) to be EXTREMELY lacking.

          1. I didn’t think much of French breakfasts. They were like German and Austrian breakfasts but lighter, but that might have been because I was with an American tour company for once, and the hotels were catering to other Americans, not Europeans.

            1. The hotel breakfast in Wasserburg am Inn was decent. OTOH, the lunches at the no-name tavern in Deeper Bavaria was awesome. Neither venue dealt much with Anglophones, but high school German and point and pay usually worked. (Mosquito itch ointment–I think we found a translator or one of us had mad mime skills.

          2. That’s actually what was served at the Bed & Breakfast in Salzburg where my study abroad group was based out of. Different from what I eat here stateside, but I really enjoyed it.

            Maybe I need to give France another chance.

      2. Last time we were in Europe, Italy had both better and cheaper steak than France, and in Tuscany the food was much better than France. France has declined a lot in the last two decades, IMO…

    6. I think I’ve seen exactly two French films. And I like to joke that the second film, Manon of the Spring, was written so that you don’t slit your wrists after watching the first film, Jean de Floret.

      The former is the sequel to the latter, and the latter is very depressing.

        1. The Fifth Element did cross my mind, as did Taken (which I haven’t seen). But I also wouldn’t really consider either film to be “French”.


      1. As BGE mentioned above, you have to watch the Monsieur Hulot movies. With or without subtitles they are hilarious. He just pokes so much fun at the absurdity of life, including the world’s most inefficient cubicles.

        You can even watch them twice, once without subtitles and again with to find out what the heck is actually going on.

        I need to watch those again. They are so much fun.

    7. Fabio Quartararo is damned good motorcycle racer, and Johann Zarco ain’t half bad either, though prone to brain farts. French MotoGP is up next iirc. this weekend

      1. I thought of Miguel Duhamel, but he was Canadien (Quebec) so doesn’t really count as French. Same with the Villeneuves (Gilles and Jacques).

      1. And Schumacher was possibly the best of all time, although it’s impossible to be sure.

    8. When I was a kid growing up in France (where my parents were working), Alain Prost was the only driver whose name I knew, because his name got mentioned on French TV about ten times more often than any other driver. Which led to this funny anecdote that I heard when I was about nine or ten. Cannot vouch for truth of anecdote, but story is that Alain Prost was driving along a country road at speeds that were perfectly safe for him but were definitely above what the law considered safe. Policeman sees car speeding, pulls him over. Walks up to driver’s window, not yet having seen driver’s face, saying “Who do you think you are, Alain Prost or something?” Prost, handing him his driver’s license, says, “Well, yes, actually.”

      1. P.S. Anecdote did not relate whether the policeman ended up giving Prost a ticket or not.

    9. Ship the French to Ukraine and hand them rifles. Either they defeat Putin, or France is liberated from the French at last. Either way is a win, I’m thinking.

      1. Remember the NCO wisdom of Sgt Eric Bergstresser in the Vorpal Blade series:

        “As soldiers, the French are fine; it’s their politicians and generals who suck. Oh, boy, do they suck!”

    10. Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths by Régine Pernoud

      A more modern French writer. OTOH, she may confirm your opinion about OTHER French.

      1. I have seldom found Twain to be genuinely wrong. A bit off, at times, occasionally pushing things for humor, but seldom genuinely in error.

      2. Holly: Jean-Paul Sartre said Hell was being locked forever in a room with your friends.

        Lister: Holly, all his mates were French!

        Red Dwarf

  7. As long as we’re doing Tolkien:

    “I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
    “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live in such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

  8. Looking at this… I kind of wonder how Ladybug manages to be so optimistic. o.o backlash?

    1. Creators were not hardcore ‘FRench art is the only legimate inspiration for a Frenchman’, otherwise they would not have looked to Spiderman and Sailor Moon for inspiration.

      Sailor Moon and Spiderman have less good to bad adaptations, but also have some very good adaptations.

        1. Asterix le gaulois, and Lucky Luke. Tintin is Belgian, but still my favorite. Comics is how I learned French properly.

            1. Tout la Gaule est occupee par Les Romains… Tout? Non! Un village peuple d’irreductibles gaulois resiste encore et toujours a l’envahisseur. Et la vie n’est pas facile pour les garnisons de legionnaires …

        2. The folks who animated Arcane are apparently a French animation house, and they are incredible. Mind you, Arcane is a tragedy, but it’s a tragedy in the classic sense of “heroic flaws and good points interacting to overall destructive effect.”

        3. This is so good to hear/read. I see how much is made of anime (aneem, as in anemic, I say) which is either flash-bang annoying or slow and depressing, even when it’s actually animated and not just “radio with occasional pictures” (shot on threes gives me headaches, worse is WORSE) – it makes Roger Ramjet look QUALITY (and RR at least had semi-competent scripting…. though it bordered on painful to watch).

  9. That despair just permeates western media and makes for crappy stories, and I think this is why anime is so much more popular than western comics. Some ridiculously over the top shonen character getting the snot beat out him but staying upbeat and winning is way more fun than the dark brooding “it’s not a phase, mom” western comic storylines. It’s all the left want to write, but nobody really want to buy it.

    1. A reason people are unhappy is that first, they want what they don’t have, and only appreciate what they have when it is gone.

      We were walking in Santa Clara central park. They have drained the lake, so the ducks and geese now wander on the paths, and you have to dodge goose poop. We passed two women, one the elderly mother of an older daughter, and we paused to discuss dodging goose poop, as well as the cute young baby geese. My comment was that if our worst problem this week was having to dodge goose poop, we had nothing to complain about. The older white haired woman walking with a cane agreed, and said that most of the time she saw people worse off than her, which helped her appreciate what she had.

      So do not despair because of goose poop.

      1. It’s not necessarily despair about goose poop but the people that decide to drain the pond in order to return to nature, and then ignore the geese and ducks destroying the ambience and poopooing anyone complaining. (At least no swans. Swans are mean.)

        1. Geese aren’t exactly fluffy bunnies, either. Not quite as bad as swans, but close.

        2. > “people that decide to drain the pond in order to return to nature”


          Ponds aren’t a part of nature?

          1. These aren’t the brightest vegetables regarding anything but getting hands on power

          2. Some are. Some aren’t.

            Merely removing an artificial pond will not restore the original landscape, especially if the draining water cuts a stream. (The original of most mill ponds was a swamp.)

  10. You say, “It’s so … sophisticated”, which reminds me of Tom Lehrer’s line: “I find that if you take the various popular song forms to their logical extremes, you can arrive at almost anything from the ridiculous to the obscene-or, as they say in New York, sophisticated.” His definition of the New York term also fits this attitude.

    1. I still recall the Election cover from a 1976 MAD magazine that I wish I had saved – and had framed:



      And sure enough, a Bigger Idiot was elected.

  11. Note that below is purely trolling, and to my knowledge is currently false:

    The Russian Ministry of Defense has announced that after a great military success, the Russian Federation now ensures the independence of the Russian speaking Republics of Pskov and Kursk.

    Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Maria Zharkova that the Republics of Pskov and Kursk would remain completely independent of American control.

    1. Argh.

      Zakharova. I looked up the right spelling, then read off of the wrong tab.

    2. Is the joke there that both regions are firmly in the recognized boundaries of the Russian Federation?

      I’d heard of Kursk, since I have a more than passing familiarity with WW2. But I had to look up Pskov.

      1. Exactly, “chocolate ration increased from 4 oz. to 2 oz.” style.

  12. Very well put. It does hit some things that have been getting to me lately, especially with the escape hitting one delay after another and the expectations I always find myself struggling with. Hopefully I can recharge and find some way around these roadblocks soon and thanks as always to you and the others here for putting up with me during these times!

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