What We’re Made Of

I have a character in my head who’s been trained in interplanetary diplomacy. (Oh, shush. Keep it down to a dull roar, will ya? It is getting written, but I think that series starting with No Man’s Land (eh) and ending six books later with Earthman’s Son will be written behind the scenes and not published till they’re all ready. For various reasons. So you shall most certainly abide in extreme patience, okay?)

Um… So, my characters are (probably) not separate thing from me, but rather I read and work through a lot of stuff (hobbies: thinking about stuff) and a lot of it comes out through my fictional characters, which is why sometimes they APPEAR to know things I don’t know.

In this case it isn’t even that I didn’t know it, just that I hadn’t thought about it.

This character — Skip. Look, his father named him Scipio. Not his fault — has a tendency to run at the mouth at me, when I’m not writing him (so annoying. He knows I can’t kill him, but he has no idea how much I can torture him) and a lot of it is from stuff he learned in diplomat school, and a lot of it has come through from my thinking on culture… oh, these last 10 years or so, when I started getting a feeling that something was wrong in the kingdom of Denmark. Or any other culture. Yes, yes, I’ll get to it. Chill, won’t ya?

Anyway, his uh universe (the Schrodinger worlds, you’ve been hearing about) is a weird hodge podge, and it’s hard, even, to date when the story takes place. By Earth time, it’s probably at the same time as Darkship Thieves (different timeline/future history) but then again it isn’t.

The whole conceit is that oh, 20? 40? years on, we come up with a way of instantaneous travel from orbit to orbit (Meh, Heinlein probably did it better in Starman Jones, but never mind) only we are using computers to calculate the translation and… well. about 50% of the ships just vanish, never to be heard from again. Turns out when doing it, you need to take time into account and the AIs dismiss it as irrelevant. So the ships acquire the nickname of Schrodingers because no one knows if those in them just vanished or are somewhere.

But they are…. somewhen. I think the oldest found so far in my head is 15k years in the past and the civilization grew from there. But there is a suspicion about the very advanced “alien” civilization they found, which would put it at… 100k years in the past. Mind you, there are some ships that went to the future too. And weirder stuff.

Which is why there are two competing mostly “good guy” human empires (Skip is not actually from Earth, it’s just what they call him) and …. a lot a lot of bad ones. And a great need for diplomats, first contacts and such. And whole disciplines devoted to studying culture and history of cultures and the psychology of cultures.

Okay, bear with me. I seem to do a lot of the complex processing through fiction, okay?

Anyway, Skip is dealing with a culture that is not only deep-rebarbarized, though retaining some things they process and call “magic” (which is will be interesting as half of this book will sound like medieval fantasy of a bizarre kind) but the colony, at least 10k years old, is also composed of modified humans from a particular mind set looking for complete equality. (They didn’t get it. What they good is unruly and interesting and a little crazy.)

The culture is in itself fascinating, will be hard to integrate due to physical mods, but those are recessive so that integrating into the greater universe means they disappear as a people. (They are cross fertile with normal humans.) However the culture is barbaric. The one thing he hits really hard is the survival needed infanticide, which… well.

So what he has been gracing me with is: The worst thing you can do to a newly discovered re-barbarized culture is to integrate it. The second worst thing you can do is to keep it as a zoo exhibit.

Which is a very long lead-in to this: I think we are partly and part of collective entities known as cultures.

Kind of like, we used to think the bacteria in our gut were parasites, but they seem to influence a lot of stuff about us, from what we eat, how we sleep, and our metabolism, and perhaps somewhat what we think.

In the same way, I think we might be part-culture.

Cultures aren’t just “the habit of doing this and that this way.” Okay, they are that too, and most of them underwent natural selection for each component of it. So, you know desert cultures have rules that maximize the chance of their members surviving in the desert. And forest cultures ditto, and our culture hasn’t adapted at all to this new thing called tech, but it’s getting there, and–

But it’s not just “A group of people got together and decided” which we’ve run with and tried to treat it as, including the social engineering. Wounded cultures; cultures forced into too alien a shape die. And it’s interesting the way they die.

What struck me first that the things we call “decadence” were actually a common set of reactions that also infected “conquered cultures.” It’s a case of “Uh, wait, that’s not “they were decadent, then conquered” it’s “they were conquered and there are these symptoms.” (Yes, in some cases there’s other ways. We’ll get there. I said abide in patience.)

In short: The women become whores, the men become effeminate, infanticide increases, crime in general increases, birthrate plunges.

And what it occurred to me is “All of these behaviors, if you think in terms of primitive warfare, are what will allow elements of the defeated culture to survive.” Women who become concubines to the conquerors will pass some of the dying culture’s “DNA” to the new culture, in the form of lore and bits of language. Men who appear non-threatening will be allowed to integrated in the conquering culture and not be killed outright. And …. all the rest. Survival, not of individuals (gay men didn’t reproduce in the past) but of parts of the defeated culture.

“But that also happens with prosperity.” Um…. kind of. Sort of. Usually not so much when the prosperity is increasing exponentially, but in the generations born to prosperity.

I don’t have enough insight into Rome (or then again, at a smaller level the renaissance) but I do into our culture.

I suspect when humans get prosperous and … cosmopolite (for lack of a better term) enough, they start tinkering with the cultural. Not just here, but always. (Look at the great apostasy of the renaissance with reformation, counter reformation, double reverse reformation, and what’s that dance again. Not that it was bad, the church had grown sclerotic, but it was a lot of change very fast.) And of course, the West became infected by communism/Marxism/Socialism/stupidity on stilts trying to create paradise on Earth, right after WWI, and the rules were imposed from within, but pretty obviously in every “conquered” sector, upending everything.

I think that’s the trigger. Everything changes, very, very fast. To our primitive brains that triggers “We’ve been invaded” (Not wrong, even if the invasion is from inside.) “Deploy the modes of behavior that will allow parts of the culture to survive, even if we don’t.

I think that’s what we’re caught in.

Look, we’re individuals, and we have the power of thought and the power of decision, but unless you on purpose, with malice aforethought acculturated yourself, you don’t even have any idea how much of what you do/how you react is cultural. In fact, culture is a set of behaviors that make it possible to do a lot without going through thought for day to day life in this workaday world.

Think of it as software running on the individual. Except this software is an AI and can, in certain circumstances, that you and your entire genetic legacy (particularly if you’re male) need to be sacrificed so the AI survives.

What we’re dealing with in the west is not decadence or malaise. It’s a culture, rooted in our most primitive brain, that thinks death is imminent, and is taking evasive maneuvers so parts of it survived within the conqueror.

The fact that there is no conqueror, and that the Marxist insanity can’t survive if it becomes dominant doesn’t mean anything, because these aren’t rational processes.

We need to make them rational and reasoned and convince our back brains we’re not conquered, there’s just a cancerous culture in our midst. And like cancer, if it continues growing, it will kill us: and itself.

It’s important to change the idea we can socially engineer at will. And it’s important to repair what’s been broken.

If humanity is to survive.

339 thoughts on “What We’re Made Of

  1. I’m assuming that “zoo exhibit” involves the culture knowing that the “aliens” are actually “out there” and that the “aliens” are keeping their culture “untouched”.

    1. I took it to be one of those “oh, ignore the basic human rights of anybody in their, it’s their cuuuulllture” type situations.

      ‘cus wife-beating is like totally not a cultural thing….. >.>

      1. Personally I liked the British response to Sutee (spelling?), the India culture of burning the wife alive on the husband’s funeral fire. “You go ahead and follow your tradition. We’ll follow up with our tradition of hanging anyone involved in burning widows alive.”

        Tradition of wife beating? Our tradition is to beat the * out of the wife beater. Give all the worldly goods to the wife and throw the beater out on the street.

        Molesters and Rapists? Tradition should be to castrate, and not chemically, at minimum. Gallows is an option too. Yes, there should be a consequence for false accusations, I just don’t know what that should be.

        1. Some traditions had it that false accusers deserved the punishment they wanted to inflict on those they accused. Sounds fair to me.

        2. “Yes, there should be a consequence for false accusations, I just don’t know what that should be.”

          If you want to stop it, the penalty should be the same sentence and a guilty would have gotten for the accused.

          If it involves prosecutors, judges, cops, lab techs, or any other “officers of the court”, either initiating or covering up, double it.

          1. False witness has always been considered a serious crime. It is in the code of Hammurabi, It is one of the ten commandments (whichever way you enumerate them). In a civilized society the penalty is high to discourage this as (particularly in a high trust society where reputation is critical) reputation can never be fully restored. It is our “elites” who feel free to slander without any consequences.

              1. Code of Hammurabi was one where if the liar received the punishment the offended party would have received. And many of the crimes in the code of Hammurabi had death as the penalty. I’d have to fish through Exodus/Leviticus to find the punishment for false witness, but I’d be betting on death. I think coveting your neighbors things was the only one of the 10 commandments that does not have death as a penalty.

            1. The big problem in modern times is if someone is a false witness, or just believed a false witness.

              A lot of activists want to punish those who believe accusations, rather than the false accusers.

              1. From what I’ve seen, most ‘activists’ want to punish the falsely accused.
                I used to live on a farm. I know what bullshit smells like.

                1. The folks who innocently accept an accusation are falsely accused.

                  I’ve noticed a stronger attack on the “enforcement” guys than against those who make false claims.

                  1. No, I mean ‘activists’ are more likely to punish the people targeted by the false accusations than go after the false accusers. Because admitting that there are any false accusations undermines their status as ‘activists’.

                    Which is much too important to be diminished, just to avoid unjustly persecuting a few of those ‘little people’.
                    They’re the Experts! They only sound stupid to you because you’re not as Educated as they are.

                    1. I’ve seen a lot more folks punished for accepting false accusations.

                      Because it’s easier than going after the accusers.

                  2. “I’ve ignored all the mountains of evidence from Mike Nifong to Richard Jewell to Russian collusion to January 6 that such malfeasance is common and 95% unpunished, because they are members of my tribe.”


                    1. That might possibly sting if you didn’t actively work to prevent people from getting additional information which will result in them drawing a conclusion which runs counter to your own.

          2. Kinda hard to kill someone twice.

            Also, as we see with the modern left, they refuse to investigate, much less punish most of their own.

            1. There’s always a choice of methods. Impalement on a short stake in front of the courthouse seems about right.

                1. Well, yes, the traditional passage for impaling them would probably get their heads too.

  2. C.S. Lewis’s admonition to read old books (alas, I don’t. At least not as old as he was talking about.) still holds.

    1. other than half of Annabassis (which is a file on a now dead tablet but it’s out there for free), the only old books I’ve read were Archery related (Toxophilus, and one other, older iirc), a bit on sword fighting, and Art Of War.

    2. Two of my favorite literary characters are Grendel and Gilgamesh. Even wanted to name our son Gilgamesh but the wife wouldn’t have it.

        1. 😀

          I REALLY wanted to name my son Aragorn and my daughter Eowyn, but the wife made it clear that events would transpire otherwise if I wanted to remain married. 20+ years later, still married, but still a bit salty about that sometimes. Women…I tell you…

            1. Well, it’s not like you were naming him “Sue”, or something else guaranteed to get him into a fight every day.

          1. My first wife went to grade school (so late 70’s) with a boy named Aragorn Boromir Celeborn Dean.

            So not only was he saddled with fantasy novel names, his initials were ABCD. Poor kid.

            1. Depends on the name. “Sam” or “Arwen” are pretty good. “Bilbo” is questionable. “Wormtongue” might doom your child to a lifetime in politics. And let’s not even get into “Gollum” . . . 😛

      1. Lead with Grendel, then “settle” for Gilgamesh. (Gil, for short; let people assume his name is Gilbert if they want.)

      2. Gil. It’s what Gilgamesh Wolfenbach uses.

        Punch and Judy decided that the feminine was Gilliane

        1. Our kids all have crypto-geek names…and yes, middle names are for fun.

          They should work like Eastereggs. Not a big thing if you run into it, not really sticking out…but if you know, it’s AWESOME.

          1. “Peter” was supposed to be my middle name, either in honor of Grampa’s nickname, or Great-Great-Grandfather’s name (because Scandinavia). Shortly before I was born, Mom’s BFF warned her that my proposed first name was identical to that of a new comic strip character that was steadily gaining popularity. So, that name went to the middle, and Pete to the fore.

            Grandmother on the other side wasn’t pleased, but that was her default operating mode. (She never forgot a slight nor minor offense. Dad got disowned when he told his parents to stop harassing Mom. Knowing Dad, it was emphatic. IMHO, it was well worth it.)

            1. My first name choice for our son was “William”. I wasn’t thinking of my recently deceased FIL, but one of my uncles, and great-uncles, etc. Hubby said no. Not only no, but hard no. My MIL complained we didn’t name the last grandson for hubby’s dad (William). She blamed me. I looked right at her, said “Hubby said no. Talk to him.” Rules were no relatives, no characters, no weird names. We went through the baby book (’89), on our way to the hospital, son was born the next day. Had a girls name picked out, not a boys.

              1. Our rule (which we broke, but only for a middle name) was no living relatives, and they had to be Saint names for given.

                …. I maybe haunted Banshee’s “yes this name is a saint’s” posts a LOT for those. 😀

                1. William counted as both living and dead relatives. Granted FIL had only died 6 weeks before.

                  My family has a habit of reusing names. So we end up with a lot of Little John, Little Bill, Little Kelli, Little Anna (2 cousins no less, well one is one of cousin’s twins born before cousin Anna, named for grandma, and great-grandma). Big (great-) Uncle Kelly, Little Uncle Kelly, Little Kelli … “Little” doesn’t drop off until the older relative dies. Sisters and I (more or less) dropped that. Younger sister and BIL didn’t. Their oldest is named after his older sister, and their son is a Jr. Technically cousin John was named for my dad, but wasn’t dad’s first name. Dad didn’t use his first name, ever, except where legally required, even then only used his first initial if he could get away with it (mom always says grandma lost the naming battle, but she won the naming war). Same with great-uncle Kelly, not his legal first name. That is just my immediate family, that doesn’t count all of dad’s cousins on his mom’s side (grandpa’s siblings didn’t have any children).

                  1. Eldest brother and a cousin are both Juniors. Elder brother was supposed to be non-family but Dad’s mother was thrilled that he got an old (mostly forgotten) name of her ancestors. I rather suspect my name vs Grampa Pete’s nickname (true first name is very Danish (well, was, he passed over 50 years ago), while his middle and preferred preferred name is very Scandinavian) was Mom being subtle with her MIL. No, our family doesn’t do subtle very well.

                    I got the “Pete and rePete” joke as a kid. Didn’t mind, because I really liked him.

              2. My brother in law had a bunch of rules.
                Can’t be in the top 100
                Can’t be out of the top thousand
                Must be spelled one way only
                No nicknames as given names

            2. My father’s parents wanted me to have an old family name. My mom, God bless her put her foot down. Geoffrey Leigh is an old Withnell family name, just not the one my grandparents wanted – Hornsby.

      3. When my (now) ex-wife was pregnant and we were discussing baby names, I joked that I wanted to use a traditional English name, like Ethelred or Boadicea. She had trouble remembering those, so, for the rest of the pregnancy, we referred to “Wardle.”

        1. Ah, yes. There was a Norman princess,. Emma, who came to marry an English king. Because of the strange, alien nature of her name, she changed it to the familiar Aelgifu.

      4. > “Even wanted to name our son Gilgamesh but the wife wouldn’t have it.”

        “Enough expository banter! Now, we fight like men! And ladies!”

        …Yeah, not using that name might have been for the best. 😛

      5. Slightly more seriously on the subject of literary names:

        During my time at Wal-Mart I was helping my supervisor check a list of names of store employees. It turns out we had a “Virginia Wolf” working there.

    3. I stayed up insanely late a few nights to read The Count of Monte Cristo a while ago. On top of that, two of my ‘re-read again and again’ books are Dracula and The Phantom of the Opera. I even enjoyed The Scarlet Letter back when I read it for American Literature – although I skimmed liberally through all the descriptive paragraphs to get to the psychological warfare.

      The stuff that people are talking about two hundred years later is generally interesting in some way. (Although I still have no intention whatsoever of reading Moby Dick. I know how it ends. And I don’t care that much about whales.)

      I don’t know if that’s really old enough to count, but it’s old to me.

      1. I liked the technical parts about sailing and whaling, but I’m Odd that way. Sort of like I enjoyed the part about making jet jewelry (and fake jet) in Les Miserables.

      2. What? Don’t you want infodump on the practice and technique of whaling? (I started Moby Dick, and got bogged down there before I could get to Story.)

        1. I tried to read that once as a youth, and about all I remember is a long discourse about how a whale is absolutely a fish.

          I didn’t get very far into it.

          IIRC, my mother had to read it back in college, and could not do it. She ended up using that generation’s version of Cliff Notes to get through that class.

        2. Um. No, thank you.

          An infodump on the gods and fiends and in-betweens of a particular world, with enough wry humor in the descriptive text, might hold my interest. Or possibly the philosophy and ethics of magic, and what happens when one ignores such. But whaling? No.

          P.S. Dialogue that popped into my head:

          “The first thing an Illusionist must learn is what is real. Adepts of Illusion go mad at a higher rate than Adepts of any other class of magic.”

          “I thought the Seers were always insane.”

          “Oh, Divination’s risky, certainly. But in that branch all you have to do is keep two journals. One holds What Is. The other holds What Might Be. Keep those two separate, and you’ll be fine.”

          “And Necromancers?”

          “They’re actually the most stable of all of us. Don’t bother asking, no one knows why.”

              1. Two very good points.

                I think part of it could also be that the Necromancers quietly police themselves so that the stereotypical mad killers out to conquer the world are dealt with ‘in-house,’ as it were. They work with the forces of life and death, after all. It’s not all that difficult to arrange for the Vecna/Orcus-like initiates to have an accident.

                1. There’s also the ones who simply want to live their perverse life and otherwise be left “alone”…..

                  Note: Do NOT play this at meal times unless you are dieting. Bob Kanefsy is a twisted mind.

                    1. Bob specializes in taking perfectly innocent songs (like Velveteen by Kathy Mar in this case) and twisting them like pretzels. What’s funny is he then gets the original writers to sing the parodies…..

                    1. A lot of the time stories have Necromancers not just fighting the Good Guys, but also fighting the dead– because the dead don’t want to be controlled.

                      They’re angry.

                      A… kind of playing with this thing?.. is used in a Chinese drama that Crossover Queen has a fanfic going with, where the active dead have “resentment” and the Good Guy Necromancer kind of judos it into helping both the undead and fighting evil, rather than “make the very angry dead people go nuclear on the folks I want.”

                      ….trying to reframe it….

                      So a good guy necromancer would be like one of the Ghost tv show guys, crossed with a social councilor. “Hm, you seem angry. Why are you angry? Is there something we can fix?”

              2. Taxes can be avoided, by several methods; death not so much, unless your magic system allows it, and several of the methods are….. problematic.

                1. My magic system, at the moment, is largely based off of Dungeons and Dragons, with a more descriptive POV than just “I cast fireball.” Plus some thought into how society would adapt to prevent the more ‘murder-hobo’ sort of magic users.

                  I’m probably not going to include most of the Resurrection spells, though. Or I’m going to put heavy restrictions on them. They’re fine in terms of game logic – if you really enjoy playing a particular character, it stinks when they get killed by a goblin who got lucky. But in a book series they tend to lessen the stakes and make the whole thing seem cheap. “Oh, Dave’s dead? Bummer. Now we have to shill out for a diamond again.”

                  The Clone spell exists, but there are only a handful of mages who know it, and it’s largely theoretical study rather than a spell actually used. Unless you find/create some other spell to copy your mind into the clone, all you’ve done is create a twin brother/sister for yourself. And they may not appreciate it. See the obligatory cautionary tale where a wizard who feared death created dozens of clones for himself and ended up constantly at war with himself.

                  There is one character/god who did create a mind-sharing spell, essentially turning himself and all of his clones into a computer system. (Memories and experiences are copied from each of the individual clones into a central database, where they are sorted into categories and sent out to other clones who send in information requests.) Then he had to work out how to manage it so that he and all his other selves were at least functionally insane.

                  1. You might like my husband’s hack, the Goddess of Death is very cranky about resurrections– so you need to get her buy-in, or be OK with pissing her off.

                    1. :big grin: Wouldn’t have shared it if he did!

                      We’re big on the “try to make stuff make sense,” so if a head cannon works, we share it.

                  2. And they may not appreciate it. See the obligatory cautionary tale where a wizard who feared death created dozens of clones for himself and ended up constantly at war with himself.

                    One of the things that worked out so nicely in SG:1 was how Ba’al did this… and the now many identical Ba’als just gleefully slipped into a Mutual Admiration Society.

                    It really needed his personality to work, but I STILL adore the quick little scene where the show cut to his apartment and he’s just chillin’ like a villain.

                    1. Oh, gosh, Ba’al was fantastic. We didn’t really bother watching much of the Stargate SG-1 later seasons, but I should really just look up all the Ba’al scenes and watch them just for the fun of it. One of the very few Goa’uld who actually had some personality beyond eyes flashing “KNEEL BEFORE YOUR GOD!”

                      Okay, I just pulled up YouTube and went through Greatest of Ba’al Scenes..Thanks for bringing him up, that was fun!

                    2. I ADORE the chew-the-scenery villains, and he did SUCH a good job!

                      ….husband just walked by and asked why I was giggling like a loon. Got like five words into “Ba’al clones” and he was agreeing. 😀

                  3. I’m having fun with mine. The antimagic needs work. There’s a lot of it. And all I wanted was a justification for the archer.

                  4. The one I’m working on will be a variant of GURPS ritual magic, based on spirits instead of mana. Most magicians are the usual run of hucksters, charlatans, poseurs, and pretenders, but every once in a while some shaman, witch doctor, monk, holy (or unholy) man comes into a bit of real power. It usually takes a little detective work to tell one from the other. How and whether the magic works depends somewhat on the local culture. My MC, a globetrotting wizard who has been around since forever and been everywhere and sundry, knows all the major variants, as well as the ancient ways everyone else has forgotten. But new varieties are always cropping up, and every once in a while, even he is faced with a poser.

          1. Plot twist: healing magic falls under the school of necromancy, technically. The magic of life is also the magic of death. Neither is complete without the other. Thus Necromancy is either utterly stable, when in balance- or complete, batsh!t insane, unbalanced. And nearly no points between the two.

            1. There was an old SNES RPG named “Rings of Power” (nothing to do with Tolkien) that did that – the necromancer was the party’s healer. Not a great game, but I liked that concept.

            2. Ooooh. I might steal that, if you don’t mind. Although it does raise some issues for my cleric classes… they would largely be using the Life side of the coin far more than the Death side, so there would be an imbalance in that direction.

              I could just say that divine magic works by different rules than arcane magic. Particularly if there are only a couple of gods (or only one) whose clerics are capable of healing magic and their powers balance differently. (In arcane magic you can only give as much life as you’ve taken from another, in divine magic you have to endure the pain of whatever wound/illness you’re trying to heal.)

              1. By all means, steal away. All the writers that ever were and all the ones still busily scribbling away today cannot manage to keep up with the readers’ thirst for more good stories. I fully support grabbing ideas and inspiration from any and all places. A good idea is a good idea, if it strikes your fancy why not other potential readers as well? Even if two writers start with the same initial premise, or steal a few of the same ideas here and there, the stories they create will be different. As long as it isn’t blatant plagiarizing (which is actually rather rare), writerly stealing is good.

                As to the latter, I’ve always been a bit bothered by the way arcane magic can’t do healing. At least, in most of D&D, games, and popular story universes that I’ve read. Why? Why close off one branch of possibility completely? I never found a particularly good justification for it. If you can polymorph a man into a sheep, why can’t you seal up a bleeding wound or cure a disease?

                The way I’ve been looking at it in one of the story ideas that’s kicking around is that divine magic and arcane magic are completely different things. Arcane magic requires mana, or essence, some sort of resource than can be recharged by the mage on their own. It may require physical spell components (reagents, spell foci, etc), rituals, research, memorizing arcane formulae, hand and body movements in conjunction with spoken components, mental structures, things like that. Some or all. Divine magic works as a contract between a sentient being and a divine being. The sentient supplies something to the god- faith, devotion, something like that. In turn, the god provides divine magic. Anything from simple healing spells to divine miracles. Some may appear similar in effect to arcane magic, but they go through a completely different path. No mana required, no spell stuff, wavy hands, or the like. The god handles all that sort of thing, so all the cleric has to deal with is whatever the god requires of them to trigger the divine being to do its thing.

                In this manner, arcane healing is technically a kind of Necromantic magic. The balance between the two is more complicated than damage dealt = healing given. From D&D, you had clerics that could use either harm or heal as the same spell, same hit dice either way if you were neutral, at least. I think good aligned clerics didn’t get harm in some versions. The way I went about it was that the mage in question looks at life/death as a cycle that needs to be respected. Mages therefore don’t resurrect, ever. Some rare clerics or druids might get away with it, but they would be very rare and nigh legendary.

                The mage goes about maintaining the balance by keeping the quanta of magic roughly equal. A healing spell might leave behind a circle of dead grass, if there was no other way to even things out. This would make casting the healing spell situational and require forethought and some tactical acumen. Consider arcane healing in, say, a dungeon. With an already slightly unbalanced life/death equilibrium on the life side. No life around to draw healing from. Side effects may occur, such as unbound undead being raised without the mage’s explicit intent. Or life leeching from allies, again unintended. And not limited to that, either.

                As a writer, it’s always good to keep an idea of what can go wrong, and what consequences you can throw at your characters to keep them from getting too comfortable. It’s kind of a cheap trick, but it can keep the plot going (at least in pulp) for a bit. Just have to throw in some character growth, some progression towards the inevitable confrontation with the BBEG, of course.

                  1. Wonderful! I’m glad we could help in the creative process. (Although given that you seem to tend towards the sci-fi and modern fantasy genres as opposed to the discussed dark, high, and epic fantasy genres I prefer… I’m a bit curious as to what we said that sparked the idea.)

                    1. I’d guess it was necromancy and healing magic. She’s got a guilty party that I am guessing did a dirty deed- a doctor or something very like that used his knowledge of how the body works to make one certain body stop working. Something like that.

                1. Thank you for all of this, it helps to hash out how my worldbuilding works to compare it with others.

                  As for the first paragraph, my dad has a Thanksgiving story from when he was a kid. I’ll paraphrase as best as I can:

                  When he was asked to say Grace over the meal, he quoted the general sort of lines he’d heard his parents use in prayer, plus the standard Thanksgiving prayers. After they’d said the “Amen,” someone mentioned recognizing a few of the phrases he’d used. He answered “Well, yes. When you copy one person, it’s plagiarism. Copy everyone, and it’s research.”

                  The whole table cracked up.

                  1. That’s why we do it, I think. Noodling the ideas is all well and good. But one of the things that stuck with me from Jordan Peterson is how we work out our ideas with other people, getting reactions and shaping the idea further. Other people- assuming they are reasonably sane and all- will call you out when you’re going off the rails.

                    I think creatives in general and writers in specific can make use of that profitably. The kinds of authors that don’t talk to people are also the ones that usually hide their stories under the bed and don’t get read by anyone until after they die, if then. You don’t know how crap or good your work really is until other people read it. Getting feedback is essential.

                    And it keeps people sane. Probably. More or less. At least, that’s what Dr. Peterson implies.

                    The line about plagiarism and research is a good one. Reminds me of one of the pillars of humor I heard once. Things are funny that are shocking, or true. And that one is definitely true. Smart man, your father.

                    1. Oh, I figured out why the schrodinger ships kept getting sent up despite the high rate of failure.
                      Look, I know it’s unlikely and all that, and no one will ever believe it (Sarcasm, looking at 2020 etc.) BUT it’s like this “Schrodingers are built by corps that kickback to government. NO ONE KNOWS the high rate of failure till 20 years and thousands of ships in. “Reduction in population viewed as a plus.” Then trials, memorials for those “disappeared” etc, but too late.”
                      Unlikely uh? Before 2020.

                2. Why close off one branch of possibility completely?

                  Because niche protection, that’s why.

                  xD&D magic systems are the way they are due to having to maintain at least the notion of a heterogeneous yet balanced party* in a glorified tactical combat system, not because of any actual design behind the systems of magic. In forty-plus years of playing and reading about RPGs, I have never once seen anyone justify a D&D style magic system from any kind of first principles.

                  So unless you’re specifically writing a D&D tie-in novel, I would recommend throwing away the magic “systems” entirely and starting from scratch, because otherwise it’s like trying to file off the serial numbers from an AK and claiming it’s an AR. You can still get to “wizards are different from clerics” but you’ll have something original in which the clerics aren’t just stunted wizards except in one specialty.

                  (Even though everyone has always known that above 6th level the wizards outstrip everyone else, sometimes everyone else put together.)

              2. Necromancy and healing are the same magic at base in a WIP, because they are both life magic. There’s no such THING as death, death is an absence.

          2. > “And Necromancers?” “They’re actually the most stable of all of us. Don’t bother asking, no one knows why.”

            “No, I’m not going to conquer the world or summon legions of the damned. I became a lich so I’d have more time for macrame! Now get off my property!” [slams door]

            1. Ha. Yeah, I like to imagine there are a few liches who aren’t actually out to conquer the world. Some because they just want to study magic for longer than a mortal lifetime allows, others because they are having enough trouble ruling a country and honestly got bored of evil a couple of centuries in.

              And then there are these guys:

              1. Wait, how did you get WordPress to allow two images in one comment? We figured out how to do that with YouTube videos, but not with anything else so far. Did that comment go into moderation? If not, exactly what did you type?

                …And yeah, I’ve long thought the idea of a good guy turning himself into an undead just for the longer “life” span was an interesting one. Hell, I’d be willing to do it IRL if I could.

                  1. Ah, thanks! All I did was pull up two fun memes on a search engine, right-click and ‘copy image link,’ then paste. I didn’t think they actually show up as images. That’s neat.

                    1. I guess I should give you the basic primer on this.

                      If you want an image/video/tweet/whatever to be shown in the comment rather than just giving the link, put the link in a paragraph by itself. Note that this only works with images and gifs if they end in an appropriate file extension (.png, .gif, etc.). If you just want to give the link rather than show the content, include it in a paragraph with other text.

                      Fox has apparently discovered some new way to share meme images these last few days, but she hasn’t explained what she’s doing yet so I’ll ask her to elaborate.

                      WP doesn’t like comments that use more than one link and will put them into moderation; you’ll need Sarah to manually approve each one. We’ve found one exception: if you go to a YouTube video’s page, use the embed option and copy-paste the ENTIRE thing, it won’t count against the limit. So you can have as many YouTube videos as you want, plus one other link of any kind. We don’t know why that works, but Fox has suggested that YT might have a special carve-out.

                      As I’ve recently learned the hard way, WP absolutely HATES it when your comment consists of ONLY a link and nothing else. The comment won’t even go into moderation; it’ll just get vaporized completely. The only other time I’ve seen that happen is when you try to link to a site that TPTB at WordPress have censored. So include some commentary or quote the person you’re responding to.

                      …I think that covers it. Someone chime in if I’ve missed anything.

                    2. Hmmm, I routinely post comments with just a link to something on YouTube.

                      Does WP show you as following Sarah’s site? signed up to receive comments and posts? There has to be some kind of flag combo that it recognizes.

                      Or WPDE.

                    3. > “Does WP show you as following Sarah’s site? signed up to receive comments and posts?”

                      I don’t have a WP account, if that’s what you mean.

                    4. And that might be the issue, because I do, in addition to following and signed up for posts and comments.

                    5. > “And that might be the issue,”


                      No, apparently the issue is just WordPress being WordPress. Over the last few days I had 3 occasions where I made a failed first attempt to post something giving only a link, while a second attempt to post it with accompanying text immediately went through. That’s where I got the idea that WP didn’t like such things.

                      And now, TWO of those failed first attempts suddenly just appeared. I expect the third will be along shortly, just to rub my face in it.

                      Ladyeleanorceltic (we need something shorter to call you), forget I even said that part.

                    6. Weirdly in the world I’m writing right now that is the name of the Queen of the Star Empire.
                      Also I had no idea it was not your real name. Older son dated an Eleanor… briefly.
                      Also, while on this…. you do know I wrote of a lot of dark/and/light historical fantasy.
                      I’ve been debating sending you an ebook of Witchfinder or (depending on tolerance for vampires — though if I ever finish that series, note the climax is confession and communion (don’t even ask. Sometimes things whomp me like that) Sword and Blood.

                    7. Oh, that’s cool! Yeah, I came up with the name ‘Lady Eleanor Celtic’ when I was first setting up a gmail account that I only intended to use for a gaming app (that I didn’t actually use much, so I then got rid of it). I like the name ‘Eleanor,’ and there’s a family liking for Celtic knots and such, so it worked. (The ‘Lady’ part is my own liking for fantasy and the good kind of nobles kicking in.) I don’t go by my real name on the Internet. (Maybe when I’m older/care less/more able to defend myself against torch-and-pitchfork-wielding-Interwebz-mobs.)

                      Sorry about that, a lot of what you had discussed in comments and posts recently seemed more sci-fi and historical fiction based, so I made assumptions. (And we all know what comes of those, so… Gibbs-slaps self) Both those options sound awesome! And believe me, I have a very high tolerance for vampires. It’s something of a running joke in my family. (A good part of it is the fact that the first D&D book I ever really wanted to own myself was the Curse of Strahd adventure book I saw at a gaming store nearby. I really need to find a group willing to play that with me…) Sword and Blood sounds awesome, and I have no problem at all with that sort of climax. As a sidenote on that, have you ever read A Bloody Habit by Eleanor Bourg Nicholson? If not, I highly recommend it. It’s a vampire-fighting novel set in the period shortly after Dracula was published, and it’s excellently creepy.

                    8. > “I twit them, and then post the twitter link.”

                      Oh. Thanks for sharing, but I thought people already knew they could display tweets here. I’ve done it myself a few times.

                    9. > “What part?”

                      The part where I said WP was nuking comments that only included a link and nothing else. Apparently I was wrong about that.

                      Although having 3 such comments in a row delayed by days when all my other comments were going through quickly IS very suspicious.

                      > “Call me ‘Eleanor,’ if you like.”

                      Hmm… How about “El?”

                      I thought of “Lady”, but that seems kind of rude. Plus, it reminds me of the DMC 3 character, and she’s… how can I put this delicately… a raging, murderous psycho-bitch.

                1. Hello, Harry James Potter-Evans Verres from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality. (I should probably stop referencing that so much… eventually.) But yeah, that’s an idea I like too. I should use it at some point.

                  IRL might be less fun than you’d think. Some might feel forced to become historians by trade – after all, they’re the only ones who lived through it. They have experience where NO ONE ELSE could possibly get it.

                  1. > “Hello, Harry James Potter-Evans Verres from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality.”

                    Ha! I’ve been called much worse.

                    But I promise I’ll try to not destroy the Earth. 😉

                    > “Some might feel forced to become historians by trade”

                    Still beats non-existence.

                    1. Given how well demanding an Unbreakable Vow went for Quirrelmort, I’ll gladly accept a pinky-promise. As for the latter point, yeah, I would agree. (As a Catholic, I don’t think non-existence and death are the same thing, but that’s one of the metaphysical debates one is not supposed to get into with strangers and people on the Internet.)

                    2. > “Given how well demanding an Unbreakable Vow went for Quirrelmort, I’ll gladly accept a pinky-promise.”

                      I don’t even WANT to destroy the Earth. I mean, where else am I going to keep all my stuff? 😛

                      > “As a Catholic, I don’t think non-existence and death are the same thing”

                      I don’t believe in the afterlife, so from my perspective the latter gets you the former. Which is probably a factor in my being willing to try undeath; people who think they’re going to heaven probably mind dying less.

                2. “And yeah, I’ve long thought the idea of a good guy turning himself into an undead just for the longer “life” span was an interesting one. ”

                  I think that’s what Chelsea Quin Yarbro envisioned with her vampire Count St Germain. The first 4-5 books in the series are interesting; after that, she’s somewhat recycling.

      3. When I got my first kindle in 2011 I grabbed a whole bunch of older books that were free and that I hadn’t read either recently (e.g. War of the Worlds) or ever. In the later category was Moby Dick. I can see why the literary types go (or went, Melville is on the outs being a dead white presumably cis male) ape for it. There is so much experimental stuff, the Whaling info dump, parts where it becomes written like a play, amazing wordplay and complexity of character and foreshadowing. But my lord it was a slog, I read it on and off for like 6 months before I finished it (used to read every day on the commuter train it was like a once or twice a week thing).

        1. You were lucky; I had to read it in HS English class. I finished it, but the two thoughts I remember were, “Holy crap, this is boring!” and the related, “It might have been good as a 100-page novella, but not at 500+ pages.” The only things even close to as bad were War and Peace and Anna Karenina (neither of which I finished, or even close). I’ve read Gilgamesh, the Anabasis, quite a few other Greek and Roman works, even Beowulf in Middle English; all were entertaining and well-written. Not those, though.

            1. That’s… a very apt description. It’s the 1850’s version of a technothriller.

              I do believe, madame, that I am going to steal this description from you.

        1. Read it. Found it fun/interesting. Probably never going to be able to read it again, at least not with the same level of interest.

          I liked the premise a lot though. One of my favorite story cliches/tropes is ‘that person who looks dumb/useless/amusingly incompetent is actually brilliant and dangerous as all get out.’ Another of my favorites is ‘secret identity,’ so there you go.

          1. Peter Wimsey = Scarlet Pimpernel updated. I really think that has a lot to do with the continued popularity of the books. And Scarlet Pimpernel was assigned reading for me in, I think, eighth grade. All the girls in the class went gaga over it and I did enjoy it. Never been tempted to read any of the sequels though; I think Baroness Orczy wrote a whole bunch of them.

            1. Same with me. I enjoyed reading the Scarlet Pimpernel (and the Daffy Duck version, the Scarlet Pumpernickle), and have re-read it from time to time. But I never bothered to look up the sequels.

      4. The Count of Monte Cristo is my all time most favoritest book ever. There’s just SO MUCH going on in it. Like Princess Bride–pirates, slaves, horse chases, true love, revenge, duels, family drama, greed, redemption, treason, love, hatred, everything.

        1. I have got to pick that up again. I was in the middle of it and noticed my library copy was missing half the last page, and then I haven’t gotten around to it for mumble years.

    4. How old is “old”? Serious question…part of reading the old books, the old histories, is that they provide perspective. And often wisdom. Not to mention that just about anything written by the Edwardians featured beautiful prose. I read Walter Winans’ book on revolver shooting just for the delight of it (We’re talking about the only man to win an Olympic medal for art…and another for rifle shooting.)

    5. We have thousands of old books. Many over 100 years old. One I read with interest is a physics text written in 1910 that ignores Einstein, and has some very “interesting” views of how the atom works. This was from my Grandmother’s brother, used at UC Berkeley.. Another science book from the 50’s seems to see the first 4 billion years of earth history as a blank. They didn’t even know it was 4 billion they were ignorant of. It is useful to remember that smart people can be wrong.

      I was just rereading “Storm” by George Stewart, published in 1941, a story that reveals California prior to WWII., and weather forecasting in the dark ages.

      He also wrote “Fire” in 1948. Tales that reveal more of how the past is still present. California burning is nothing new. We just stopped doing controlled burns, so the flames burned higher. As we turn, turn turn.

      1. 1910 is before a lot of modern (especially atomic and radiation) physics. Einsteins Special Relativity is published in 1905 considered a minor concept, not experimentally verified until the 1919 eclipse observations. His paper resolving Planck’s ‘Ultraviolet crisis” is earler and is published and out there, but not paid much attention, ultimately he gets a Nobel for it in like 1923 (NOT special relativity, that is still controversial at that time). Neutrons are not discovered until 1932 by Chadwick, The Bohr model of the atom (which itself is missing the neutron and is fundamentally incomplete) based on Rutherfords small central nucleus theory isn’t even in Bohrs head until summer of 1911. One of the common Models was the Thompson “Plum Pudding” (clearly a Brit) model from 1904 perhaps that is what you’re seeing. So I think we can forgive the physics books authors of the end of the fist decade of the 20th century for being a bit conservative and failing at prescience. Sorry to be facetious but here over 100 years later we forget just how fast physics moved in the ;at 19th and early 20th century especially around anything at the atomic level.

        1. In 1910 they thought they were modern. One of our books from 1900 has modern in its title. Yet how little they knew.

          It is “lucky” the neutron was not discovered until later, imagine if the atom was split in 1928. WWII starts with nukes. I see God’s subtle hand in the timing. For me this is God’s most amazing attribute, that He can be subtle. My way of saying it: Einstein was wrong. God not only plays dice with the universe, He plays with loaded dice.

          What i find most interesting in our discoveries of the past 100 years is how many new lethal ways to wipe out life on our planet we found. Gamma Ray Bursters, Black holes, Asteroids. I have the March 1966 Analog with “Giant Meteor Impact”, since that was nothing you would discuss in a “serious” scientific publication in 1966.

          So the question for today is: What is it that we don’t know? Will the Russians sell their part of the space station to Musk, in return for his help building their new station?

          1. Dad likes to talk about God’s Judo.

            The demons use death, pain, and humiliation as their greatest weapons against His people? And mankind in general?

            “Oh, yes, very impressive. Very intimidating.”


            “All right. What else you got? Come at Me. Make My day.”

      2. Yosemite uses controlled fire burning now … In the Valley, in the (very) late fall. Not, however, at the higher elevations (that I know of). Now they are paying for it in the Giant Sequoia Groves (southern one, I think) in the park.

  3. That . . . explains a lot of stuff I’ve always wondered about Weimar Germany and the rest of the west (not so much the US outside of NYC) in the teens and twenties. The elements were there, but the “sudden” appearance of so many off-kilter [I’m being kind and not saying depraved] behaviors always made me blink.

    1. It’s part of what cued me off. If I were a sociologist and sociology weren’t thoroughly corrupted, this would keep me busy for the rest of my lifetime, just investigating.

      1. nod I have my reasons for not being a practicing anthropologist, several along the very same vein. From older scholars that were active back when there were those in the discipline that were… for want of better words, both academic and disciplined, the response of a culture to defeat was pretty well studied. Just as you’ve stated, from what I can recall off hand.

        When one considers for instance, leadership and social elites that are confident and passionate about their own culture and nation, proud of who and what they are and what they’ve come from, and defend that culture vigorously compared to what “leadership” and “social elites” that exist today, well. Fall a bit short, don’t they?

        Cultures- the ideas that underpin and support them, the very bones thereof- those tend to endure, somehow. There are things that existed in my childhood that could likely be traced back through the murky mists of time hundreds of years, now I think on it. Some social rules and such, patterns of behavior that doubtless weren’t expressly taught. I think the internet and mass communication has been more a death knell to such little cultural memes than anything else, not even warfare and disease. Look at the slowly eroding regional accents (they were much more pronounced in my youth than today), for just one small example.

        But the culture that birthed this country, the one that the other side wants to subjugate (if not erase entirely) still yet exists. Even as hard as they try to eradicate it. Even with control of the schools, the media, and so on.

        One thing that stick out to me at this moment is how cultures under stress respond. Some diminish and, as you said, produce the signs of a defeated population. Others spawn reformations or fundamentalist movements…

        The backlash against the current insanity could be described as such, perhaps. A revolt of the sane against the deluded, the dumb, and the deceivers. Because one can attempt to deny reality all one wants and for as long as one can. But you cannot buck reality completely. As the DC mayor has just been realizing, however unpleasantly recently, what with the past (2016) claim of being a sanctuary city compared to the buses that have been arriving from Texas and Arizona…

        It would take someone with brass balls to do an ethnography of the social movements sweeping the country today, left and right. I suspect anyone trying would be at great risk of accidental suicide should they attempt it honestly. Too much corruption that needs the current power structure to remain in place, too many whose lives and livelihoods are cemented into that structure, corrupt though it may be.

        Yet at the same time, I believe it would be of immense value to history to do so. I don’t think anyone really has a clear picture of just how bad things are right now.

        That being said, things are far from hopeless. The mess in the Augean stables just happens to be larger than expected. As none of us are Hercules, we must do what we can with our little shovels as we can.

        1. A thing that jumps out at me about the Declaration, is that it’s very…. Christian.

          I’d say Catholic, but a lot of folks connect that to something it isn’t; so it’s accurate, but would mislead.

          But the Declaration hits at the heart of Christian philosophy, and…. kinda makes a framework around it.

          That culture does NOT die off when attacked.

    2. Maybe everything was off about Weimar Germany because we conquered them, but we didn’t occupy their country. Their conquerors were out of sight halfway around the world. Nothing for such coping mechanisms to latch onto.
      Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

      1. The Germans were forced to give up massive amounts of money and resources in war reparations. Further, there were tight restrictions on the size of Germany’s military, and what weapons the Germans could possess. This might have triggered a “conquered people” response even without an occupying army.

        As for the US, it’s possible that the “conquest” involves many people openly accepting tenets and practices in the name of societal peer pressure while knowing deep down that what they claim to believe is hogwash. They have submitted to things that they are unable to fully embrace.

        1. Submitted on the surface. I suspect the “conquerors” will discover just how thin the veneer actually is one of these fine days. Maybe even by November. 🙂

      2. America-centrism. We, contrary to myth, didn’t really conquer them, we just added a bit of oomph at the end. Their real conquerors, the French and British, were right next door and real pissy about it, too.

        1. Indeed we didn’t conquer Germany. We just made it so the Allied forces had far more cannon fodder to pound them with. We also provided food an other material so Great Britain and France (and their troops) didn’t starve. Our war material output was limited and what we did create ( e.g. Jenny aircraft with Liberty engines) was inferior to what the UK and France were cranking out.
          I’ve always wondered what an alternate timeline would look like where the USA stayed neutral, would a stalemate be reached and a negotiated settlement? Without the reparations and the destructive payments do we avoid the Austrian Painter and his insanity? Do we avoid some of the insanity of the Weimar? Or do we get a resurgent Germany that is NOT required to disarm and a second war 20 -30 years later anyways taking advantage of the Prussian military instead of distrusting them? The point of divergence to get that is hard. Wilson had been champing at the bit to get into WWI for a bit, Maybe if something flipped Ohio or California in the 1916 elections, that gets us a President Hughes. But bugger all if I can see what his foreign policy would be, he’s a moderate/progressive Justice on the supreme court, but lots of Progressive Republicans (E.g. Teddy Roosevelt) would have been happy to go barging in. And that plays havoc with other stuff down the road. For example no Asst Naval Sec’y F.D. Roosevelt so not as strong a relationship with Churchill, but will that matter? The complexity of history and causation is amazing.

          1. It’s more than just complexity, it’s the butterfly wing effect. A courier doesn’t drop cigars wrapped in a vital message, Princip’s pistol misfires (or explodes), shrapnel struck more vital areas or a subsequent gas exposure was fatal, a briefcase doesn’t get moved behind the leg of a conference table. All three have effects far beyond the immediate. Maybe not actually chaotic in a math sense, but they’ll serve until the real thing comes along.

    3. I think the kink and behavior were always there, what changed was how open it was when the old order had lost its authority. Too, Red Berlin went back well before the war and the Hollenzollern were always a bit swiffy.

      The other option is that the writers changed. The popular accounts have it that all the people who fought the war were traumatized by it. The facts would seem to be very different.. Number two son has been researching this and he does go on and on, That goes back before the war too with that POS Stratchey and the Bloomsbury crowd. Once you got away from that crowd, things seem to have gone on much as they always had.

      1. The Peter Jackson colorized documentary showed that too. Most veterans who survived were not traumatized. They had good memories. Some of them leapt out of poverty and hunger by becoming soldiers, and even underage ones, and never fell back. They made the most of their chances.

        1. https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/back_to_army_again.html

          “Next week I’ll ‘ave ’em fitted; I’ll buy me a swagger-cane;
          They’ll let me free o’ the barricks to walk on the Hoe again,
          In the name o’ William Parsons, that used to be Edward Clay,
          An’ — any pore beggar that wants it can draw my fourpence a day!

              Back to the Army again, sergeant,
                Back to the Army again.
              Out o' the cold an' the rain, sergeant,
                Out o' the cold an' the rain.
                              'Oo's there?

          A man that’s too good to be lost you,
          A man that is ‘andled an’ made —
          A man that will pay what ‘e cost you
          In learnin’ the others their trade — parade!
          You’re droppin’ the pick o’ the Army
          Because you don’t ‘elp ’em remain,
          But drives ’em to cheat to get out o’ the street
          An’ back to the Army again!”

        2. I think it’s fair to say the intelligentsia was traumatized, the rest not so much. The intelligentsia set the narrative, of course. Paul Fussel was excellent on Poetic Meter and Form but his experience of the war seems to be significantly less universal than he claimed.

          I never went to war, or served for that matter, but I come from a military family, both sides, and war seems to have been something that happened like sickness and bad harvests. To be endured. Perhaps artists experience it differently.

          1. No. I think it started with the pre-Marxist romantics and their reinvention of the garden of Eden, which made primitive man peaceful. The pacifist rot was already into the “elite”

      2. Writers who survived were disproportionately likely to have not served. This is not a random selection.

        1. See the comments on Tolkien vs Martin. Tolkien served and has a, “war is bad, but good men fight and do their best through it,” outlook, while Martin avoided service and I’m told has a very negative outlook.

    4. Is that the same man who wrote, “Earth Abides” ? Worth reading, but a bit of a downer. (For Presybypoet).
      (A massive plague wipes out most of humanity and one bookish man tries to keep a kernel of knowledge alive…and mostly fails. But he does found a tribe with the potential to grow and flourish).

      1. Yes, he wrote it. Have read it. He also wrote “The Years of the City”, about the life cycle of a bronze age city. Also, seeming downer ending, the city ends up plundered. Better to have tried and failed, than to never try at all.

        Wrote non-fiction, history, much about California, but also Picket’s charge, 28 books. Professor at UC Berkeley, back when that meant something. Seems to have been inspiration for naming storms. Quite an interesting man. 1895 to 1980.

  4. “Zoo Exhibits” – Reservation System? Even with parts of the system now fighting back – Casinos, Fireworks, etc.

  5. One friend described me as “Culturally Mormon.” Now, I can tell you exactly what’s wrong with LDS theology, but the fact is, she’s right. I grew up in Mormonville, I live in Mormonville, and while I am most definitely not religiously Mormon, I really am Culturally Mormon.

    1. We were taught about good queen Bess and the glorious revolution, which was a remarkable thing for a bunch of Irish papists to learn from the Presentation Sisters.

        1. Just so. We had an excellent dinner conversation when the children were studying the revolution about what side our family would have been on had we lived in the 1770’s. Roman Catholic, in NYC, very bougie. Given how much of the revolution was a reaction to the Quebec Acts and the number of down with the king and no popery flyers that went around I suspect we would have been loyalists.

          1. A question I need not ask…I’m descended from an officer in the Continental Army.

            1. Me too. Both sides of the family. Well maternal side, don’t know if the Continental Army was an officer or just enlisted. But paternal side, he was only 12, Washington’s Aid and Drummer Boy (where 4 older brothers planted him, when they joined the Continental Army because it wasn’t safe to leave him on the homestead alone, or with neighbors, with the parents passed).

              Granted there is at least one more recent emigrant, as grandma said, her mom and her sisters had to marry someone from out of the area because all the males in the area were too closely related. Great-Grandpa came from Scotland via Nova Scotia and across Canada, down the Sound on a boat into the Hayhurst Valley.

            2. I’m descended from British and French officers. My first cousin could join the Cincinnati were he of a mind to since it’s by primogeniture. Our great, great etc. was an officer in Dillon’s at Savanah. This was somewhat important to my mother when she was blackballed at the country club by the local DAR bigots for being an RC. She pointed out that the DAR were the descendants of common soldiers, whilst she was the daughter and descendent of officers. When she was angry, my mother made the Queen sound like a fishwife. You could cut diamonds with her accent.

          2. And yet the net effect was that in all states, Catholics gained the right to vote and half of them, to hold office.

            Consequences can be weird.

          3. Part of the anger at the Quebec Acts was related to the “promised land” west of the Appalachians having been marked off-limits to settlement, much to the anger of colonial governments with western land, to speculators big and small, those who’d been promised land there, and the few who were already venturing westward. Potential fortunes were being threatened. It makes me wonder how much of the anti-Trump reaction is social and ideological, and how much is because of the potential for disruption to illicit income?

            1. A great deal, there are trillions at stake. Still, I suspect being exposed for the billions already extracted is more important to them, that and the fact that they’re depraved beyond belief.. Epstein didn’t kill himself.

              1. They also believe we’re out to UTTERLY destroy them. The truth is, if they slunk out into the shadows, we’d have let their hoary heads decline naturally into the grave. But they think we are like them.

    2. Too much of history is taught as a morality play. It’s not. This is what made Will and Ariel Durant’s work so incredibly good – they had the ability to treat history as a clash of fundamentally decent people trying to survive and prosper.

      FWIW, if you want the source material for Heinlein’s philosophy, try the Durants. It’s the mother lode.

        1. They cannot escape the culture they grew in, no matter how they struggle. C S Lewis had some things to say about that, much more intelligently than I could.

          And yes. Lame. Very.

  6. A semi-accessible example of this cultural crash can be found in some writings, plays, etc from 1500s Italy, after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain.
    References to Spanish or Jewish prostitutes / side girls are there, but can sometimes be hard to understand without a map of the cultural references.
    Eg: Lazarillo de Tormes, a Spanish book of that time, apparently the first extant work to have a gamine as the main character, has him working for a water-seller, who is so generous that he gives him all the money he makes on Saturday. His employer is a Jew, hiding as a converted Catholic, and will not take money earned on the Sabbath.
    In the Jewish diaspora from Spain, many went to the Low Countries, while others went to Mexico / Central America, and North Africa.
    An interesting look at this time is in a history / cookbook called “A Drizzle of Honey” taken from Church records of the Inquisition in Spain, where one way to discover hidden Jews was to investigate how they cooked.
    Somehow, it looks like I went down a rabbithole. :-》I hate when that happens. :-》

  7. Yep culture is a comfort, a confidence, we conform to it and also contain it.

    Men wearing dresses that are psychotic messes and such, so far, are not a dominant part of our U.S. culture even though love, accept embrace such is pushed by those inmates who think they run the asylum.

    The back brain, under attack, fight or flight is, of course hard wired and cultural. Root hog or die still a strong American cultural value. Many of us grew up in or on the edge of that world. Me in the Florida piney woods, my children in Alaska (I moved up here from NYC when my daughter was born so they could experience the same freedom and personal responsibility. Confront a gator, goose, grisly or moose on your own, alone, makes you a better person assuming you live to tell about it, and you most probably will if your parent’s raised you right.), many in Podunk, Kansas or Blue Ball PA on the edge of miles and miles. Those boys and girls, culturealized (For want of a better word.), civilized but not cityfied may be our last Great White Hope irregardless of creed, color or national origin.

  8. I would expect cultures to evolve and mutate rapidly during boom times, similar to the way species radiate whenever there is a massive food source increase, then they have a vicious competition play out to see which ones take which niches.

    That’s probably what we’re seeing here: during the boom times we had the surplus to generate a bunch of different mutated cultures, and the current one running the show just kicked the legs out from the table. Now we’re in a big ugly fight over which cultures end up surviving.

    And part of any fight is always asserting that you’ve already won. Going to be interesting times…

      1. We were, from the 50’s to probably the 90’s. I’m arguing the boom times are when the radiation kicks off, but the brawl is on the downturns.

        Right now this would be the contraction where it all gets fought out, but a bunch of the cultural groups seem to have first spawned in the 50’s or 60’s.

        I’ll have to go double check, but I recall that even modern CRT first developed in the 80’s and just took this long to widely contaminate academia.

        Of course, conflicts can also cause rapid evolution, via die-off, so this is probably a flawed, or at least incomplete theory.

        1. I’ve seen at least one on TV interview from the 80s in which the man being interviewed claimed that juries should nullify any prosecution in which the defendent was black. The rationale given was pretty much the same as CRT.

  9. I sorrow over Japan, crushed decisively by the Allied Powers in WWII, who responded by having so few children that they are now demographically extinct. There aren’t enough fertile women of childbearing age to make enough babies for the Japanese to survive as a sub-Asian race. Women didn’t want to get married and didn’t want to bear children, so here they are.

    Maybe, maybe, women don’t want to mate with the losing side. America didn’t stick around after putting Japan on their feet, so there were no winners to fall in love with and marry. So now, no more Japanese. Death by disinterest.

    I know blue cities are filled with childless people, but you should have seen the Cody, Wyoming parade over Independence Day. Children everywhere, throngs of them, hordes of them. Families with multiple children, multi-generational, all of them whooping and cheering the parade. Somebody doesn’t think they’ve been conquered.

    1. They had a boom first, then a crash, I don’t understand South Korea. They just stopped having babies.

      1. As a guess, and by analogy with the way Western diseases went through American Indian populations like wildfire because they had no natural immunity, it’s possible Japanese and Korean cultures had no resistance to some of the more the toxic elements of Western culture which they adopted along with Western technology. I only mention it as a hypothesis: I’m not familiar enough with the details to defend it as a theory.

      2. I’m thinking the reason South Korea is in trouble is the existence of the North Korean maniacs on the border. This is just my armchair guess, based on my own experience of having to live with a psychopath in control of whether you live or die, but….

        You get tired.

        Years, decades go by, and you can’t get out of the situation, you can’t get anyone else to solve it, and the people around you are just, shrug, oh no, don’t you dare try to get out of the mess, put up with it and maybe they’ll behave better eventually. (Because while you put up with it they don’t have to do anything to deal with the damage.)

        1. Maybe not just North Korea. The Korean peninsula as a whole has been a mess since just after the start of the Twentieth Century. The government at the time (over the protests of the reigning king) agreed to a voluntary annexation by Japan. Korea transitioned directly from Japanese control to the divided peninsula situation that it’s in right now.

          On the other hand, having a united peninsula is the uncommon situation for Korea. The peninsula has spent most of recorded history divided between two or even more kingdoms. The peninsula wasn’t united for all that long before the Japanese got control.

            1. That 500 years included mass (though brief) destruction by the Japanese invasions, and utter domination by the Manchu (Qing Dynasty), who invaded a few decades later. The latter imposed an arrangement that saw Korean princesses sent as concubines for the Qing Dynasty, and essentially treated Joseon as a feudal subordinate.

              1. “Utter domination”. You might want to check a few more sources on that one. I particularly recc’ “Ginseng and Borderland” by Seonmin Kim.

                Neither the Manchu nor the Joseon Koreans would have thought of Joseon as utterly dominated.

        2. Plus I see intermittent references to S. Korean college students that suggest an academic fifth column.

      1. Our enemies have only conquered the scum that floats on top.
        Most days, I suspect that we could get a better government by picking 537 people at random. On bad days, I’m certain we’d get a better government by picking 537 people at random from lunatic asylums.

        1. At least some of the lunatics would know they’re not the ones who should be making decisions for everyone. A couple of them might even be entertainingly insane! As opposed to horrifically/painfully insane pretending to be intelligent.

      2. The more that people push back against the efforts of the ruling nobility to impose their “fundamental transformation of America” the more that ruling nobility pushes along its effort to go full Orwell. Just look at their word games about recession, much less their sheer insanity over the definition of “woman”.

        The reason I fear a stolen election so much in November is because people who know that the vast majority of the population loathes their agenda, and continues to rabidly push that very agenda which is loathed, are doing so because they believe that population’s will does not matter; i.e. the Democrats think the fix is in and thus the popular rejection of their insane agenda is irrelevant.

        1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World and all the other dystopian novels were meant as warnings. Democrats/leftists (but I repeat myself) view them as “how to” guides.

        1. “…the Democrats think the fix is in and thus the popular rejection of their insane agenda is irrelevant.” And their agenda will be enforced…how and by whom?

          Well, let’s see…
          They despise the military, which is teaching “correct” pronouns instead of small-unit tactics and weapons systems maintenance.
          They despise the people in “flyover country” who feed them.
          More and more Red state governments, state and local, and more and more local law enforcement even in Blue states, is indicating (or saying outright) that they will not enforce diktats from Sodom-on-the-Potomac which violate the Constitution.
          Most of the competent military is no longer active, but is keeping track of events.
          “Civilians” (see previous) have nearly all of the small arms in the US, and almost certainly a reasonably good selection of crew-served weapons.
          The Internet is a wonderful, and fairly accurate (for non-idiots) source of info on IEDs and similar.
          Etc, etc, etc.

          What could possibly derail their agenda?
          (Note that all of this is based on observation, online and elsewhere, not on personal direct knowledge. After the boating accident I’m just an observer…)

      3. America is not defeated. Our overclass is.


        where are there kids?

        Iowa is having kids.

        Rural areas are having kids.

        …Seattle isn’t.

        1. Expensive housing sends forming families elsewhere, especially middle-class. Add in failing basic safety and you get even fewer families.
          Seriously. One kid families stick out the high cost because of friends or cool restaurants. 2 and 3 kid families leave. Unless the grandparents are able to buy a house for them.

          1. Yeah, counting nieces and nephews, (total of 7) there are 5 in the next generation. (plus two stepkids). The youngest just had her second, and word is, she’s calling it quits. (Really tiny lady, with potential medical challenges in her future.) The second-youngest has two kids, from different fathers, both conceived out of wedlock, though she eventually married the fathers. (IIRC, before birth for the first, several years later for the other because reasons. Damfino the reasons; her thinking is opaque to me.)

            The remaining grand-niece is a corner case; her mother has done a bunch to avoid the family drama; if there’s a Tony award for such, there’d be some strong contenders. Sigh.

          2. My nieces and nephews have 0, 1 or 2 kids (in one case, stepkids). The two-kid families; one is more-or-less rural (but getting a lot of ex-Californians, so they’re thinking of moving). The other is Odd by even our family’s loose standards. Reasonably urban, but her thinking process is opaque to me.

            Mom had two sisters, all three had three kids each. Dad had two brothers, one with three kids, the other with none (he’s been gone a long time, but I suspect he was closeted). In my family, Eldest brother has three kids, Elder two, and me, none. Sigh.

          3. :nods:

            It does mean that the overclass doesn’t know anybody with “lots” of kids, like THREE!

            (There’s also a bit of a cultural hang-over from the massive shaming of those who met or exceeded replacement levels; the tactics are not as effective in generation 3, though.)

            1. :chuckles:

              Three is not a lot of kids. Three is my family. Three is normal.

              A lot of kids is the families we went to ‘homeschool co-op sort-of-school’ with. One of my best friends had four siblings, for a total of five kids. Another friend came from a family of seven kids. That’s a lot.

              When I find a spouse, I’m tentatively planning for as many as God will give me. As an introvert who was for a while more comfortable talking to adults than kids my own age, I might be mildly insane by the end of it. But God provides. (And goodness knows we need more sane people in the world, so hopefully I can help make up the difference.)

              1. :grins: We’ve got seven, now.

                Via the “open to life” route.

                Likewise an introvert– since we homeschool, it’s a bit easier, the kids have healthy boundaries when playing that schools tend to not allow. Playing at the park, they just have FUN, instead of forming groups based only on age!

              2. Same. Also an introvert; also willing to have as many kids as God gives me, if and when I eventually get married; still more comfortable talking to older adults rather than contemporaries. I can only hope my eventual husband is willing to pick up the slack on the days when I just can’t. My youngest brother, lately married, plans to have a passel of children (his wife loves kids and became the favorite aunt almost immediately, which bodes well).
                I did grow up with six siblings, though I was nearly the last, and much younger than the next oldest – they’d mostly moved out by the time I was seven. By now, we are basically our own tribe, what with all the nieces and nephews and cousins and second cousins. Family get-togethers are more lively than I can handle, and I often slip off to a quiet corner for a bit. But I wouldn’t trade them all for the world. And most of them are blessedly sane and grounded in reality.

                1. Family get-togethers are more lively than I can handle, and I often slip off to a quiet corner for a bit

                  Waves hands. Even when I’m hosting. Holidays now are more quiet as the nieces marry/have significant others, have their own children, and have (more or less) moved away. (Less because Portland VS Eugene isn’t that far. But at least one has to share step-child with another household on holidays.) But it didn’t use to be that way.

                  Your siblings sound like my dad and his siblings. Grandma all but raised 3 sets of kids. Older Sister and Dad, 8 – 10 years later, younger brother and younger younger sister, another 6 – 8 years later, the two everyone called the “little boys”. Youngest of the latter remembers throwing a tantrum when oldest married and “was taken away by that strange man” … She was 22 he was 3. Repeated when oldest brother (dad) married a year or so later. He was 4 when oldest nephew was born, and 6 when I was born.

                  We used to have 60 to 80 at holidays, more during summer family gatherings, before all of us cousins grew up, moved away, married, and had our own children. A lot of family holiday swapping and distance so rarely get all together for holidays anymore. For gatherings growing up this meant both mom’s and dad’s parents and siblings. It was quite a shock to marry and start the swap holidays with my family VS inlaws. Why couldn’t the inlaw family just join mine for the holidays? After all there were fewer of them! 🙂 After almost 44 years I have adjusted, but still … Okay, only took 10 years, and then FIL/MIL passed and no more holiday swapping.

        2. One of the reassuring things about this area, for me, is the population of our church. Morning Mass is crowded enough (in a pretty big nave) that we try to get there early so we can get better seating. Kids of every age, and ‘out of the mouths of babes and infants’ comes a joyful song unto the Lord… although whether it’s joyful for others might be debatable.

          Our priest(s) are thankfully pretty good at talking through background noise, so it isn’t all that noticeable. And stars above, children are beautiful. (I will probably have a much more complicated position on this when I have my own, but for now, they’re really wonderful to look at/wave to.)

    2. Japan worries me– I’m rather fond of them– but they really aren’t so rare that they’re going to die out.

      It’s just going to get very, very ugly because the current numbers are what would work for upkeeping populations of a century or two back, rather than current populations.

      This is a horrific human cost.

      It’s not extinction.

    3. “America didn’t stick around after putting Japan on their feet.” Um, we kind of did. We just didn’t colonize. There’s still a lot of American servicemembers marrying Japanese women and having children with them.Not all of those children come back to live in the US, either.

      1. :waggles hand:
        Not really a lot, unless you look at Japanese culture in general and judge it from there; from that point of view, wow, yes, very much lots.

        But all the service members I know who did so, they’re… basically Very Weird Japanese, culturally speaking. Not Foreign Warlords or some sort of similar thing.

        I am still horrified by how many Japanese girls dated grunt marines and were over the moon with how sweet and considerate they are, compared to Japanese guys. (Needless to say, those ladies tended to move to the US.)

  10. If you actually read the OT, you may find that many of the things we moderns consider barbaric were matters of cultural survival and were explained as such from the beginning. The various Israelite prophets were constantly fighting a rearguard and mostly losing struggle against religious assimilation and adopting things such as politically correct religious affiliation, nature fertility rites and ‘sacred’ prostitution, and infant sacrifice which their neighbors practiced.

    1. 90% of the OT:
      “For F sake, can you ftards stop with what’s easy and useful in the short term and ACT LIKE YOU HAVE A BRAIN FOR SIX SECONDS?!?!?”

          1. The Babylon Bee did a Cliff Notes version of the Bible in which several chapter summaries were variants of “stop doing gross things GOSH!”

                  1. You’re welcome. And as an aspiring mother who’s apparently unfamiliar with Jeff Vogel’s humor, you might also want to read this: http://ironycentral.com/?page_id=20

                    If you still want to have babies afterward, I can only assume it was meant to be.

                    1. Eh. Jeff’s humor ain’t bad. I get it. There’s a certain class of nerd humor that relies heavily on common history and education with a firm foundation in cynicism and snark. It can be a kind of reflexive defense mechanism in a world that demands you take seriously things which are not, and never have been, actually serious.

                      Which can in turn lead to making fun of things that people can sometimes take entirely too seriously. Like childbirth and parenting. Humor keeps us sane.

      1. “For My sake, can you….?”
        And its still going on. We refused to back to one church because the minister did a sermon that worked out to, “Ezra and Nehemiah were racist for not being inclusive and welcoming of the pagan wives the local Jewish leaders had taken.”
        He also used selective quotation of Leviticus to argue the Jubilee was divinely sanctioned “income redistribution.”
        (He completely ignored a few verses down, where it essentially says, “Don’t enslave your brother Israelites, that’s what the neighbors are for.”)

        1. One time the pastor in the Bible reading changed the Abraham sacrificing Isaac story to read something like this: “One night Abraham had a nightmare, where he thought God told him to sacrifice his son Isaac.”
          This ended up being a totally different story than the one you usually hear. (IIRC, the justifications were that God, of course, wouldn’t do that, and that Abraham had sealed a treaty in the previous chapter by planting a tamerisk tree in the previous chapter, which meant that he was starting to follow the gods of the area, and losing his connection with God.)

          1. He promised no floods, and He keeps his promises.

            That said, I don’t think I’d blame Him at this point. Given that certain of the human population seem determined to flaunt that promise in His face by using the Sign of it as a symbol for every twisted action they can think of while gloating about their own PRIDE… I’m in awe at His patience.

    2. The last line of Judges (21:25) says it all
      ” In those days Israel had no king. Each man did what he considered to be right”
      That’s just humanity in general…

    1. I would say it’s a defeat from within. In broad strokes, following the exhausting and brutal wars of religion between Catholics and Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries, intellectuals and philosophers began to turn away from a belief in God in the 18th century, and increasing through the 19th century toward such things as Marxism, existentialism, nihilism, and the rejection of religious morality. Those who follow the way of the philosophers have cut their ties to the cultural moral anchor given by Judeo-Christian religion and have drifted into anthropolatry (cult figures) and worship of the secular gods of political power, money, and sex.

      1. Yabbut what held societies together for the 400,000 years before that religion was invented?

        We know those earlier societies were successful because…we’re here.
        The application of moral principles is far too complex to be dictated by a few short, dogmatic rules.

        1. Who knows how deep the roots of Judaism really go? The Jews, at least, claimed that the roots of their tradition went back before Abraham to Shem and Noah, and since written records of that approximate era outside the major civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt are so scanty, it’s hard to disprove it at this late date. Then, too, ancient societies were generally a lot smaller and more spread out and more closely tied to nature and natural cycles, which puts something of a cap on their folly.

          1. This too. Weirdly, they probably have a point. Some symbols from 14k years ago — Gobleki Tepe — appear in Jewish symbolism.
            I mean, this is usually used to mean that Judaism wasn’t the “first” to come up with this, but why not? Do we have any proof that other religions weren’t depraved/debased forms of the true one?

            1. And there are some interesting bits of Genesis. Cain went away from his parents and found a wife. He? And here and there people “consult the Lord,” like Rebekah asking why her pregnancy was so rough. And Melchisidek, “prince of Salem,” who was a priest of the Lord in Abraham’s time.
              It’s possible to read the OT as, “All right, humans, you’ve reached the point I can teach you some new lessons. Let’s begin….”

              1. IIRC, there are indications in both the Abraham stories and the Moses stories that they are being retold things that had been told to the peoples long before, and should never have been allowed to be forgotten.

                1. The best example is in the story of Noah. It talks about the gates of the deep opening. I always figured it as metaphor, until I heard of the Black Sea flooding. The Ocean (deep) rises after the Ice Age, until during a storm the path to the deep, named the “Gates of the Deep” (an easy path to the ocean), erodes. The first small salt water stream flows. Rapidly it cuts deep. The Black Sea floods. Saying the Gates of the Deep opened is an accurate description. For a settled tribe on the shore of the freshwater lake, being buried under 500 feet of salt water qualifies as your world being flooded.

                  Mt Ararat is east of the Black Sea, along the way to Lake Van, which fits the description of where the Garden of Eden may be located,( Just ask Armenians). A few miles south is Haran, where we find Abram “4,000” years ago. The writer of Genesis did a great job of trying to organize 5,000 years of oral tradition and stories. He did have help.

                  1. I did some playing around with lowering sea levels using cartography software a couple of years ago. It looked to me like what is now the bottom of the Persian Gulf works nicely, too.

              2. It’s possible to read the OT as, “All right, humans, you’ve reached the point I can teach you some new lessons. Let’s begin….”

                That is honestly how I read it.

                “Oh, ME, they broke. …. OK, I can fix this. Just… keep cultivating them up…..”

                1. The secret is that to be free to come, you must be free to go. This requires patience. The paradox of good parenting is to hold them tight and let them go, at the same time. This true paradox cannot be taught, only lived.

                  God seems to have created a universe where free will is required. Easy to design a universe of only rules. Harder to create a universe of commands, with rules that don’t save, but only flow from commands.

                  Another great paradox, the infinite seeks relationship with the finite. Civilization, marriage and relationship with God all based on one word…Trust. That is why the left’s intentional destroying trust is their most evil thing.

        2. Casserole dishes. No functioning society can last without casseroles. And pies. Because sometimes you don’t have time/eggs/whatever to make a cake.

            1. Some of us picky eaters can’t/won’t survive on casseroles. There were Lenten suppers every Wednesday in Lent when I was a kid where probably 3/4 of the church would show up with a variety of dishes. I was a very picky eater, and learned to live on Jello molds (no cream cheese thank you), Parker House rolls, and the occasional Swedish meatballs or cocktail hot dogs that showed up. I viewed Lent and this enforced unintentional fasting as a rather unpleasant feature of the period leading up to Easter.

        3. Religion is almost certainly /not/ a recent invention.

          There are a bunch of things that seem to be related to fairly fundamental thought patterns, that would likely predate the modern form of humanity.

          Fundamentally, we have neotony as a result of getting infant brains through pelvis, and maturing into adult brains. Social behavior, violence to prevent children from being eaten by obligate predators, and authority to keep children from eating toxic plants, are basically essential. The complexity of the processing seems to directly lead to religion as a side effect.

          Many of those moderns who identify as ‘not having those thought patterns’ do in fact have those thought patterns.

          1. Earliest evidence I can think of is the flowers in graves.

            Strongly doubt that they were trying to cut down on the stink, and you can’t do the “it keeps predators away” logic like some do for graves.

            The records aren’t exactly awesome or non-self-interested, but Judeo-Christian traces its own foundation to literally the first folks who were moral beings.

            How organized the relationship with Himself was after that is highly variable… but we want to know the rules. To know how to make stuff work.

        1. I see many more toxic strains and ingredients than just Marxism, but if you consider Marxism as the Borg of Western Philosophy “All your uniqueness is our own. From this time forth you will service us”…it’s a decent simplification.

    2. Dr Yeagley also cited what he said is a Cheyenne saying:

      “A people is not defeated until the hearts of its women are on the ground.”

  11. And here I would have just referred to St Paul’s comment in Romans 1:18-32…

    It ain’t rocket science, so might be rejected by some; but read it through. Twice. Before you just toss me on the Group W bench..

    YMMV; but I’m eagerly anticipating that new book series.

    1. C’mon Saul/Paul of Tarsus tell us what you really think. On second thought sorry we asked…
      Paul would have been interesting to talk with…

  12. Oof, this post hits right in the “yeah, that matches up with my observations”. Very sobering, that.

    OTOH we’re all Odds here who bucked part of our culture to start with. So we have a little resistance to the AI. We just need to leverage it with logic and decide to keep moving.

    …Not the easiest thing, no.

      1. > “oh, no, we have to people…..”

        At least we can do a lot of it over the internet these days.

  13. I actually do the same thing. My characters tell me what’s possible.

    The culture thing is real. Henrich’s book, The Secret of Our Success, actually describes how it might work. We have gotten to the point where we have exchanged the biological instincts (and some actual biological structures — such as a much more extensive digestive tract) that other animals have for cultural learning.

    The only area where I would disagree (and I may be wrong of course) is that “promiscuous women, effeminate men” normally does more than preserve aspects of the conquered culture. It also normally preserves the DNA of the conquered, mostly through the DNA of the women. That’s not the way that is working this time, because the conquering culture itself has a death wish.

    Normally, when the women become promiscuous, or submit to the conquerors (same thing), they actually get pregnant and have children. Through lack of social support for marriage, contraception, and abortion, that no longer happens even in the conquering culture.

    One of the most horrifying aspects of our current conquering culture is that it is literally telling all men, including their own, to die. And there’s actually an inbuilt cultural imperative for men to sacrifice themselves for the women and children. And they listen to the women and sacrifice themselves for the women and children. So it sure as hell matters what women tell them. And the women of the conquering culture are telling them to die. And they’re complying. See suicide rate of young men.

    One of the images that sticks in my head is from the Canadian trucker convoy of early this year. A young man, sitting high up in his rig, parked in Ottawa, reaches down to get food brought to him by a bent over immigrant (Polish, I think) grandma. And he knows he’s doing the right thing. Men need to be told by their women when they are doing the right thing.

      1. Which is why the left is so adamant about erasing the meaning of mother and woman; they seek to erase the culture so they can replace it; their goal is the destruction of western civilization itself.

  14. Sarah, you -really- need to read =The Secret of Our Success=, if only so you can help the author with his work. You get it!

    1. I HAVE bought it. I’ve been reading between other things, because life is still very busy, though starting to settle. But how could I help the author? I lack credentials.

      1. I took it as help the author by purchasing his book. 😉

      2. Actually, I was taking it as more than just buying the book. Fiction is a way to test social hypotheses. Granted, it can be way off, but it clearly can get as close or closer than the social sciences as they seem currently to be constituted. After all, Henrich was an aerospace engineer, and had a career in that, before he switched and became an anthropologist.

  15. trying to create paradise on Earth, right after WWI, and the rules were imposed from within, but pretty obviously in every “conquered” sector, upending everything.

    I think you can make a good argument the West effectively conquered itself with WW1. WW1 discredited not only what was left of the aristocracy but the general liberal republican movements in Europe (although not the US…although progressives were here by another route already). All that was left standing were the various strands of Marx despite them having failed as well in that the workers fought the capitalist war instead of rising up and the second most backward of the great powers was the one that went communist without industrializing and being capitalist first.

    So why did the Marxists survive better than aristocracy and liberal republicans? Two reasons I think. One, while Marxist predictions failed, Marxists were not in charge and had opposed the war thus could not be blamed for it. Second, Marxists were much quicker to adapt through fascism (which Mussolini was already working on during the war), Leninism (the vanguard leading the proletariat explained away why only Russia embraced communism and then only after the war), and Gramscism (the proles suffer from false consciousness and thus were tricked into the war).

    You don’t have to agree with any of those three theories, but that’s more than either aristocrats or liberal republicans promoted between the wars.

    Meanwhile in the US the war was not seen as it was in Europe and, since the Progressives (honestly calling themselves that) were in charge they got credit for winning the war and the supposed grand peace. Wilson also set the framework for what FDR would do in WW2 in terms of seizing the economy and arguably some of what he did in the Great Depression.

    We were conquered, by ourselves.

  16. Sarah has a very good viewpoint – it also explains a lot about what is currently going on in ‘civilization’ overall. It also makes me think about there are also a bunch of sub-cultures that generate specific responses in people too. Example: When a couple of military vets get together, language shifts from ‘civilian’ to ‘military’ such as A asking B if what was said was understood and the reply is “Copy”.
    There can be a lot of other (very small but observable) traits that are imbedded in such sub-cultures.

    I worked with a whole bunch of cops and cop types and was one for many years – to this day I don’t carry stuff in my right (gun) hand as I was taught by the culture to do this. After leaving the “criminal justice” profession I still find my self following many of the lessons learned and passing them onto others. With that thought in mind, a culture that has a strong “something – merchants, military, religion?” – will tend to pass that minor factor on as well as DNA or other major elements even if just in stories and myth. YMMV but it’s an observation.

    1. Concur. After 40 years of Navy flight test, I speak Aviator fluently. And it’s not just a language, it’s a mindset.

      1. Any career is a mindset. As an example, I was once told by a law professor that law school isn’t really about teaching students the law (which varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction in any case). It’s about teaching the students to think like a lawyer.

  17. I like the premise, except the 50% rate. If your taking a risk that big, the reward has to be massive. And, you’d never do it twice if you are sane.

    I suppose if there were a bunch of ships all jumping at once, and half of them ended up scattered across space and time, that would make sense. But if it happens over and over, why keep doing it?

  18. Okay, so this ‘thought piece’ is profound! Culture runs deep, the barbarians will need enormous Jacobin/Bolshevik-brass to completely run the table. Moreover, do they have enough ‘envy and resentment’ to fuel their rage? Will their holy trinity, race-class-gender, continue to amp their surreal facade. Or, at some point will they simply whimper away having achieved an equal outcome equilibrium wherein everyone is cold, hungry, and poor?

    Once we hit bedrock, only sane people will have sway!

  19. Yeah Patience.
    Picture if you will 2 vultures on a tree limb.
    You mean that in the past gay men didn’t get pregnant? According to the Prog/Libs of the present they do get pregnant.

  20. Interesting argument, but I’m not so sure it’s correct. I believe that Western Christian civilization took sick in the First World War. The disease of Marxism, with it’s roots in Rousseau’s cult of the lower class, existed – but it was the blundering into the bloodbath of the trenches that demolished the credibility of the ruling elites of the era and gave Marxism an opening.

    And since then, there’s been an overarching “The next war will kill us all” hysteria. Poison gas, nukes, biological weapons…a miasma of depression. Plus the hysterias about the Population Bomb, Next Ice Age, Global Warming…still MORE depression.

    What’s needed is to recognize that there’s a clique that is running these scams for their own profit. And not to play their game. Whenever possible, prosecute and punish. I have no doubt that a determined prosecution could put a lot of “global warming” schemers into prison for fraud. Let us lock them up…then weld the door shut.

    Cheer up, people! Too many of you seem down in the dumps. Remember…no guts, no glory!

  21. We are tribal. Mo’s genius was to invent a way that all the fighting tribes of Arabia could join his new tribe of islam to join together and become a powerful force.

    America is the greatest tribe, anyone can come from anywhere in the world and become American. I could not go back to Germany and become German, I could not go back to Spain and become spanish, I could not go back to England, and become English, or to any of the other mongrel mixtures that make me who I am. My German ancestors, invited to be a buffer from the Turks, lived in Russia for generations. They stayed German. They moved to America, and shortly became American.

    This is also the power of Christianity. Jew and Greek. Slave and free. Rich and poor. America has extended from religion to ordinary life, the chance to join the greatest tribe the world has ever seen. This is why the left has to tear down. They would divide us into tribes they control. No more American tribe.

    That is why in WWII those not offered citizenship, and still Japanese citizens knew the power of what they were not invited to join. Why those citizens by birth wanted to fight for a country that denied their parents the chance to join. They saw the power and importance of being an American. Of joining the tribe. We fight for the right to be an American. This is what our civil war is about.

    1. And there are Turks (are they up to the third generation yet?) whose parents were brought into Germany as guest workers and who will never be German.

  22. Have you heard the latest? Xi threatened to shoot down MaligNancy’s plane if she visits Taiwan. Can we get Schiff, Swalwell, AOC and a few others to go with?

    No way we’re lucky enough for that to actually happen, though. Bummer.
    Negotiating with an enemy that can’t be trusted is just plain stupid.

    1. What? Not adding Biden and Kamala to the list? Gezzzzz. If we are dreaming, lets dream big. Really hexing the whole “not a chance we’d get that lucky” vibe, but still …

    2. I wouldn’t be surprised if a Chinese J-11 makes a dangerously close high-speed pass of Pelosi’s aircraft. That’s something that the Chinese have been doing recently.

  23. What are we made of ? — Skin and bones starvelings, up until a couple of centuries ago;
    The mass of humanity worked all day to produce enough food to fend off famine. And now…

    An Afghani woman in the US, writing to her father at home explained US society, and he
    explained the reason why: ‘They have no real problems, so they make up imaginary ones.’

    Time will tell if humanity can survive prosperity, or must deliberately return to…Austerity ?

    1. Interesting thought. Plenty is not something our ancestors were adapted to. The culture as well as the physical doesn’t know how to handle it. So does the programming try to return us to what it recognizes as status quo?

  24. I’m not made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails; and I damn sure ain’t made of sugar and spice. I’m about 20 pounds of dirt, 200 pounds of water, and whole bunch of charges holding the mess together. Some days I’m amazed I can even get out of bed.

  25. Well, that’s right. It makes as much sense to consider humans as something different from humans-in-a-culture as it does to talk about honeybees as separate from the hive. They aren’t. In a real sense, there is no such thing as A honeybee (even if he is named Eric). There are colonies of honeybees and an individual honeybee is a member of a colony. Period. Always and forever.

    Something Jordan Peterson said drove this home for me: he said, paraphrasing, that there is no such thing as a cod (fish). There are either large schools of cod, or there are NO cod, because cod are evolved to function only in large schools. When the schools get too small, they don’t reproduce properly, and they are much easier targets for predation.

    Humans are super-adapted to socialize. We have a ton of specialized adaptations even compared to our closest relative, the chimpanzee. We are literally physically and psychologically adapted to and specialize in living in groups, just as much as any codfish.

    So yes, culture isn’t just something that humans just “happen to do”, on the side as it were. No, we are strongly adapted to “do culture”, and we do it just as much, and just as much out of necessity, as a codfish schools or a honeybee hives. We call our school/hive “culture”, and you’ll never find a human without one.
    This is also why the relative conservative disinterest in engaging in culture war is so devastating. Conservatives tend to think of people as individuals, and of groups as collections of individuals. I totally get that, being out on the edge of the bellcurve in that regard myself.

    But. I also now see just how wrong-headed it is. Yes, we are individuals, thank God, and the Enlightenment and all that. But we are also individual members of H. Sapiens, a species which is more adapted to socialization, that is to say, acting in groups, than any other species in history. You can’t intelligently consider a member of such a species a standalone “individual” other than as a thought experiment. They don’t occur in nature that way, and when they are placed in a situation of complete isolation they literally go insane.

    People interested in the welfare of such creatures ignore their social situation at the peril of the creatures’ health, physical and mental. If you treated animals in the zoo as badly and with as little regard to the species’ true needs as that you’d be considered cruel and run out of your job. Yet that is how we treat we each other and ourselves. We need to get smarter about the care and feeding of H. Sapiens if we are to survive.

  26. I’m not yet convinced. How does a culture survive by changing into a completely different culture? Yes, perhaps some recipes and songs and native dress… the sort of surface thing tourists think of. But if a culture throws away it’s cardinal virtues then I don’t think you can say the culture is preserved just because people still know the old folk dance and What to cook for which holiday.

    Honestly it sounds more like sacrificing culture to save genes. R/k theory seems like it would give similar results. Wars will preferentially kill K type men, leaving the r’s home to mate and take over institutions. So r behavior flourishes. In times of plenty r behavior also flourishes because that is the best strategy for dealing with low risks and prevalent resources.

    Click to access modern.pdf

  27. This is the most profound thing I’ve read from you.* Thank you so much for your bravery.

    *maybe just means the first thing I understood.

  28. Think of it as software running on the individual. Except this software is an AI and can, in certain circumstances, that you and your entire genetic legacy (particularly if you’re male) need to be sacrificed so the AI survives.<./I>

    Speaking as a somewhat effeminate, extremely conflict-averse male, appearing harmless can also help protect your genetic legacy. If you appear harmless and useful, the conquerors are a lot more likely to let you live. As long as you’re alive and intact, the chance to have kids remains.

  29. I’m not entirely sure where to put this. But is anyone else suspicious of the term “Celebration of Life”? I’ve told my husband that when the time comes, I want a funeral, not a Celebration of Life. I know that when the time comes I won’t have any say in it anymore.

    I can’t even say why it raises my suspicions, but it feels like it’s denying people the right to mourn. And that a celebration of life is something that should be thrown while the person is still alive to enjoy it.

    1. Makes sense. There’s a case to be made for every proper birthday party being a ‘Celebration of Life’ while the individual in question is participating.

      I think my own preferred approach, God willing a long time in the future, would be have the ‘Funeral Proper’ for solemnity, prayer, and grief. Afterward, there can be a Wake where friends and family remember fun times past and hope for joys future. The Wake can be a little more of a celebration, although not streamers and confetti. That just seems tacky. (Catholic Christian here, so I’m aiming for family/friend reunions in Heaven.)

      1. I want ya’ll, when my time comes, to have a proper Irish wake. The LDS are exempt from alcohol, but I want them to have enough mountain dew to act as silly as the rest of hundum on that fell and dread night.
        Put me in the ground with happy songs that make you cry, okay?

        1. I promise NOT to sing “Dearly Departed”.

          Michael Longcor’s “Truck Driving Vampire”, OTOH.

          “I’m a truck-driving vampire,
          I only drive by night.
          A truck driving vampire,
          Undead but not uptight!

          I’m a good ol’ nosferatu,
          And an 18-wheeling stud,
          Wearing white socks, drinking Blue Ribbon,
          And redneck blood!”

          1. I dreamed of a place called Lazariums where we kept zombies. You see, they decayed but never died and weren’t brain eaters, just…. rotting. And they were kept in these places for their safety and visited like prisoners or… well cemeteries.
            I might need to write that story, but I hate writing horror.

            1. Good to know. (Though hopefully never needed – or at least, needed a good long time in the future.) The older-son-and-Ireland thing is funny. Maybe when the day comes he’ll do the honors?

        2. I like this take on it 🙂 :
          “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘WOW! What a ride!’ ” – Hunter S. Thompson

    2. My impression is that it’s more like a wake, but after the funeral. It allows the family time to have a more private funeral before having to put on a brave face for 500 “acquaintances”.

      1. Maybe it’s a regional thing, but around here it seems to be just another name for the funeral, at the church, funeral home, etc., and the ceremony seems the same.

      1. My family funerals are an rite of exhaustion, for the survivors. All Day Event. (Caps intended.)

        .0. Digging the grave by family (no longer allowed unless cremated, last time done 1973).
        .1. Church/Funeral Home, or other venue, depending on venue. Can be limited to extended family depending on expected crowd. Or anyone. Normally the latter. Cousin’s was the former. (Family can be everyone. Down to toddlers and infants.)
        .2. Secondary service depending. Dad’s had one, same location (Masonic Hall, Masonic Service). Cousin’s was second location, family, and semi-open to public.
        .3. Interment. Limited. Parking Tetras is practiced. People pack into the vehicles. Generally immediate extended family.
        .4. Last, but not least, the potluck, which generally, but not always, is at a relative’s home.

        By the time the above has been completed, not surprisingly, most are bawled out by the end. OTOH after cousin’s funeral, about an hour after we put our 10 year old to bed, I never want to hear the scream that came out of that bedroom again. Not ever. Put night terror screams to shame.

        Mom actually split services in half for dad’s memorial/service. First 2 were late April, with a cookie social after the service at the same location. Then internment (he was cremated) was July 2, with immediate family, his siblings, us kids, our kids, down to some great nieces/nephews, with a potluck at the graveyard afterwards. How I learned #0 was no longer allowed. Dad, and his younger brothers, BIL, and a number of cousins, dug uncles grave (their uncle), apparently along with fighting the hard dry clay (it was late August), they got soused. Younger Uncles said dad told them about helping same uncle to dig their dad’s grave back in ’59, when the “little boys” were too young to help. Dad’s grave, in July, same two uncles “cheated”, they brought in a small backhoe.

        Graveyard used: Private, Historical.

          1. Our funeral vaults including the new one mom bought (trust mom not to want to be aggregated to the old ones) are in Portugal. I don’t think that’s an option for me…. For one I wouldn’t like to send my bones away from home.

            1. For one I wouldn’t like to send my bones away from home.

              I understand.

              Aunt has recently purchased a memory wall for cousin. One of the comments she heard from cousin’s classmates, is they had no where to go to mourn. The private graveyard is within private ranch property, no longer owned by family, not open to the public. Family of interned have deeded access (thanks to Aunt Denise and the new 501(c) and official active graveyard historical designation), but no one else. The extend family (and county roads) of the murder (vehicle homicide, callous disrespect at minimum) took exception to the road memorial where cousin was hit and killed.

              Interestingly one of the more recent challenges the 501(c) has is wide and flung qualified relatives are inquiring on how to be interned. Qualified by convent is any descendant of Jessie and Cynthia Applegate. Which is a lot of people. It is .8 acre. There are no vaults. Some discussion of limiting to extended families that has volunteered annually to show up for the annual clean up, for decades (mostly descendants of Frank Applegate, Jesse and Cynthia’s son). Can’t legally do so. Why the sudden interest? The cost of public graveyard internment. OTOH they are going to find, while the spot is free, they still have to pay for the digging, and grave liner, a good portion of the cost of an open to public graveyard, plus the gravestone header. Gravestone header monuments, now have a size and height limit. No more large monuments. OTOH not ground flush of most public venues.

          1. I think I’ve accreted some 4th cousins of the name. Weird.

            No. Not really. There were at least 5 brothers when the 3 (Jesse, Charles, Lindsay) who left home for Oregon in 1844, on the second wagon train on the Oregon Trail. Two other brothers eventually ended up in CA later. But, that doesn’t count any other siblings, or cousins left behind. Not to mention the 3 brothers on the wagon train had a lot of children with them (Jesse and Charles had 20 between the two of them). Then two while Applegates have been in the US since before the Revolution. Applegates were left behind in England, and possibly in Europe. The Applegate name was created when an infant was abandoned in an Apple Orchard on an estate near the orchard’s gate. The estate lord (do not ask me the level) adopted the infant, and the surname Applegate was applied. I’d have to do a deep history dive to figure out when (or find Aunt Leta’s book, and look up her sources).

            1. Apparently ONE branch of mom’s family have been in the US WAY back. WAY back. I have a broad swath of 5th and 6th cousins all through the deep South.
              I guess I am in fact part redneck. ;D I know, you’re all shocked.

              1. ONE branch of mom’s family have been in the US WAY back. WAY back. I have a broad swath of 5th and 6th cousins all through the deep South.

                That would do it. Also, would not surprise me if you have some Lovelace scattered in there too. While limited on the West Coast, and mostly limited to direct relatives, very, very, common name back east and specifically down south. Some, but not all, because after the civil war, the liberated took their names from the plantations they were freed from. Lovelace plantation does/did exist. Now, the western branch, we’re not sure when they got here (great or great-great?). Grandpa and his siblings were born in Oregon. Grandpa died when I was 2. Great-Aunt Leta survived him until late ’70s but she never discussed family with anyone. I know there were two other siblings: Grandpa’s twin, died in their early 20’s, and great-aunt’s twin, didn’t survive infancy. I don’t even know if grandma even met her inlaws other than SIL. Honestly, though we’ve never done a 23-And-Me, would not surprise me that whomever moved to Oregon did so under “passes for white”. At minimum they were younger non-inheritors poor relatives of the plantation.

                Either way. Hi cousin. However many times removed. 🙂

  30. Sarah, an aside. Triggered a check from bank, to your NV address, to be mailed 8/18. Just an FYI to be on the lookout for it. Know fund raiser is done, but timing … No goodies needed.

  31. }}} I have a character in my head who’s been trained in interplanetary diplomacy.

    I suggest, for the heck of it, you name that character, “Weteef”, or something like that…

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