Them Over There

While Heinlein was correct that those who don’t know history have no past and no future, knowing history is not enough. In some cases, it might be worse.

While travel is generally believed to broaden the mind, travel by itself is not sufficient, or even particularly helpful, depending on what you’re doing.

Both of the recommendations are designed to give you patterns of what could happen that you haven’t lived through; and patterns of how people live who aren’t you.

The problem is that humans are very, very — did I mention very — resistant to breaking out of the space behind their eyes and see that other people might actually be different.

I see it time and time again, for good and ill: very good people falling prey to very bad ones because they assume everyone is like them, just “misinformed” or “needs help”; very bad people doing horrific things to others because “obviously they would do it to me first if they could.” And everything in between.

I also see every country, regardless of their history making the assumption that the modus operandi and motives of other cultures and organizations is exactly the same as theirs. I’ve now mentioned about a million times the idiots who went over as Human Shields to Iraq because “they can’t even provide drinking water for their people, how would they have missiles” thereby completely missing the fact that other countries — dictatorships at that — have different priorities than say the US or England, even. In the same way, Portugal assumes that every country is as fraught as corruption as they are. Which works fine for other Latin countries, but fails them when it comes to other places, because as corrupt as we are… yeah. It’s nowhere near there yet. Russia assumes everyone moves, breathes and thinks only about them, and that everyone’s intention is to threaten them or conquer them, because they are obsessed with their dreams of national glory, and they think they should rule the world. And the US by and large goes around like a large vaguely autistic child who really, really, really doesn’t understand how different it is from other nations, or if it does assumes it’s worse.

Look, it’s part of the reason our intelligence services are so sucky. To completely understand what other countries are doing and why, you have to know they have very different cultures. They’re not you. Most countries can sort of extrapolate other countries, but America is so different we suck at it. This is why we tend to think places like the USSR (Russia’s party mask) were totes super powers. Because for America to do and say the things they did and said, we’d have to be very sure of our power. But other countries aren’t America. So we go through the world acting like gullible giants.

In fact Americans have one of the weirder cultures in the world. It’s just not in your face weird as China (whose history reads like they should be extra-terrestrials.) It’s subtle and more in the mental furniture.

Because of this, and because we’re a continent-sized nation, born and bred Americans (as opposed to imports like me) read not just the rest of the world but history hilariously wrong. (The history part is because at least when I went through school here — one year — American schools suck at teaching history. It’s all names and dates, not “Why did France do that?” Yeah, probably not worse than the rest of the world, now that all the books have just-so Marxist explanations, but still stupid.)

I had friends in my writers’ group back when who were writing, say, ancient Egyptian families and couldn’t understand in most of them the teens wouldn’t be/act the same as American teens now. Heck, my dad’s generation in Portugal, less than 100 years ago weren’t “teens” really. Their equivalent was under ten. Because by 12 most of the boys in the village were apprenticed in the job they’d have for life. (And dad was in school, yes, but it was way tougher than even I had.) They didn’t have time. And even I — and you guys know my basic disposition — didn’t sass my parents as American teens do, because there was a deep “fund” of “respect the elders” in the culture. I still have trouble calling people older than I — even colleagues — by their first name.

And then there’s the hilarious — or sad — misunderstandings like the Human Shields mentioned above. It’s sad, because they will buy other countries at face value, but are willing to entertain their own country might be evil. Which is why we have a large contingent of open-mouth guppies who think that the US invented slavery. Even though places around the world still have slavery. Including China, where everyone is a slave, it’s the degree that varies, of course.

The problem is made worse — not better — by idiotic travel abroad.

To understand the differences in a country, you need to live with them, as one of them, for a while. You need to speak the language well enough you understand overheard conversations. Etc.

My experience coming over as an exchange student for 12th grade was about ideal. I lived with an American family, as one of their kids, and attended a school nowhere USA (okay, a suburb of Akron, Ohio) and yeah, I had slight celebrity status in the school — being one of three foreign exchange students — but not that much. So I got to experience the normal life of normal people in normal circumstances, which was an eye-opener.

I always wanted my kids to follow me in this experience, but you know, things got complicated around the time they were of age to do it. So they didn’t. They still have experienced life as an every day foreigner when we visit my parents. In fact the issue there is that they never get past the irritation “What do you mean we can’t do that” and towards “oh, it’s just different. Still sucky, but different.”

Going over for two weeks, with or without the guided tour, staying in nice hotels and associating only with people at your social level and not past the level of polite interaction does not enlarge the mind. Instead, it gives a false sense of knowing what the world is like. This is where we get the “socialists” who know it’s good, because look at all the magnificent buildings in Europe, and the fact everyone has time to sit in the coffee shop and socialize with friends. And look at all the amazing public transportation. And and and. If you lived there, or knew history, you’d know most of the buildings created by socialists in the 20th and 21st century are already crumbling. (Some start before being finished.) You’d know people sit around in coffee shops either because they are unemployed, they pretend to work and their boss pretends to pay them, or all of the above. And all of it is paid for in a significant reduction in lifestyle and just the general comfort of life. (Take it from me. Their lifestyle is two social economic levels down from us, for the same relative “income level.” So, you know, upper class is middle-middle class here.) And you’d know the frustration of waiting for the bus on a rainy, windy day, getting soaked, but the bus is late because all the bus drivers went out for a pint together. And suddenly there’s five of them in a row, but you’re already soaked and starting to cough. More importantly you’d know the public transport only works because everyone works in the city and lives in crowded suburbs, in stack a prol apartments, while the countryside is relatively empty. And the people who live there need to buy gas at ridiculous prices, so they can barely afford it.

And sometimes customs that seem cruel just mean you didn’t understand any of it. Like, I was joking recently, with friends that I suck as a mother in law and would be shunned in Portugal. I rather love the girls my sons picked; have no intention of conducting low-level psychological warfare on them, and see no point in keeping them under my thumb. Which is the normal thing in Portugal, still.

BUT you see, there is a reason. When mom came to the village, grandma had to more or less make sure she fit in and didn’t disgrace the family. (It was indifferently successful.) Because villages were TIGHT communities, and the way to be helped, not hurt by them is to fit in completely. Which most people had trouble learning.

Normally integration took two to three generations. UNLESS you were a woman coming in, in which case it was your mother in law’s job to do to you what bootcamp instructors do to raw recruits, until you behaved like a “native.” (And yes, there was enormous variation between places even 10 miles apart, even when I was a kid in the seventies.)

So, it’s an evil custom, unless you know why it was being done. Most Americans don’t. And most American authors can’t write other cultures convincingly. Which, frankly, is one of the most amusing things about the left with their obsession with writing ‘the other.’ They’re so locked into the space behind the eyes that the only thing they understand as “other” is different languages, skin colors, or clothing. And those are the superficial, stupid differences without a distinction. Now, there’s nothing wrong with them that wouldn’t be fixed by dropping them naked in the middle of the Amazon rain forest and coming back in a year to collect them, but I understand the SPCA would be upset. And some of them might die. Or something.

Anyway, the point of this: When you naively assume everyone is like you, do try to think through it again. Because, well, most people aren’t. Even your siblings are likely to be somewhat different.

It’s difficult to believe in real difference — motivation, thought, etc — but if you manage to even approximate that belief it will save you grief and make you a better writer too, if you choose to write.

BUT more importantly, stop projecting what will happen to this country (or won’t) from both the history you learned, and the history OF OTHER COUNTRIES you learned.

The first might or might not work, depending on how much you really studied the time period, and whether you understand the differences. Like, yeah, no, the American revolution wasn’t instant upon the offenses of George III. Took forever, and up to the moment of shooting (And a little after) people you’d now stigmatize as sell outs were trying to reconcile without the need for a revolution. In that we’re not even slightly different, and we’d still have a road ahead before it came to being serious about an armed solution. (And we might not need it. That prudence, demonstrated by the funding fathers, should be emulated. Because war sucks and breaks all the things.)

The second never works. Partly because of the arithmetic. America can’t take the USSR option and keep itself going by looting other countries. We have no real empire partly because its against the fundamental nature of the country, but partly because it wouldn’t work. Given how much we consume/create/etc we just end up supporting any territories we claim. And that’s the opposite of what an empire should be. (And the idiots who think that buying and selling from someone is “imperialism” can exit the room now, on their own or under a succession of kicks from the regulars. You choose.) Even if we went full on evil, we couldn’t support ourselves that way. The other countries don’t have enough to keep us going, and would have less if we stop buying from them.

But then there is the fact we are weird. Unless you moved a lot within the country, you have no idea how different we are even inside the country. I’ve lived now in five states and eight different cities. It’s like a foreign country even moving between cities, much less states. The fact we speak one language (kind of) masks that somewhat, but it’s still a big difference in day to day life.

If you know one state/city/culture/class…. you know one of them. You don’t know America.

Most of the “problems” the left rails about might be true SOMEWHERE — we’re a country of 300 million, after all — but they’re not true everywhere, and they might not even be true in a significant majority of the country. The same is true of the problems the right rails about too. They seem more prevalent because of mass media being lefty, but really, no.

So when you’re anticipating what will happen “They put us all in jail” when you realize we are the majority of the country, and how large the country is, is laugh out loud funny to most people outside the big cities. As is the idea of “We just march on them and–” because lefties don’t all conveniently live in one place. (Nor are all of them disarmed.)

Most of the projections based on other countries will make you a doomer. Which is to say “A sleep walking enemy agent, demoralizing those who are still fighting to avoid war, but who are really on your side.” Don’t do that.

They might also — depending on where you live — make you unreasonably cocky.

We are in America. We are in uncharted land. You can’t know how it will turn out for good or ill.

All you know is the indications. And the indications are good for the side of freedom. (They don’t work at all in math terms for the totalitarians.) And more and more people are getting fed up with the left nonsense, mostly because the left can’t leave anyone or anything alone. Ever.

Oh, yeah, also despair is a sin.

Put your shoulder to the wheel. Don’t be entranced by false models.

It’s not that it can’t happen here. They’re trying very hard to make it happen here. It’s that the rest of us are working very hard so it doesn’t. And we have reality on our side.

It’s still going to suck like a hoover, for a while. Let’s make it a short while.

In the end, we win, they lose.

Be not afraid. And go work.

324 thoughts on “Them Over There

  1. c4c and to say that I know exactly what you mean. I lived in France for nearly 10 years, married to a Frenchman and everything and while I can appreciate the differences and all, it’s annoyingly difficult to explain things like blood-right to another American when I try to explain why my ex-husband’s family took generations to be considered “French” instead of “Spanish” (last name of Lopez and his grandparents fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War).

    They’re not us. We’re not them. They make the same mistake about us in that they don’t understand that we’re never going to “grow up” to be like them. If you can get that clear in your mind, then you have at least a hope of learning how to deal with them.

    — G.K.

    1. I had a cousin go to Poland to track down our family history and, irony of ironies, we’d spent a lot of time explaining that our name (my maiden name) was Polish, not French—but it only appeared in Poland following the Napoleonic wars and was, in all probability, some French war buddy that settled there. The name doesn’t appear to even have a Polish meaning more than “those folk over there,” whereas if it is French, it has a probable derivation.

      You still pronounce the terminal T, though. It’s Polish, we swear.

  2. I’m very fond of the 11 nations concept for the basic underlying assumptions in the US. It’s also interesting that I grew up right on one of the dividing lines, and have lived in only those two. Because of where I grew up, I’m used to being the odd one in the room—in either (major) direction.

    Of course, that’s just OVERALL culture heritage, in one country. There are definitely city-level differences, and in some cases they are so stark that visitors can notice right away. The first time I went to Eugene, and then visited Springfield (separated from Eugene by I-5), the feel was immediate. (Also note that everyone from the area knew of course that it was the Springfield in the Simpsons. It’s… just that way, not even accounting for the fact that Groening is a PNW boy.) I mean, Eugene is where Berkeley moved when Berkeley got too upscale, and Springfield is… Springfield.

    1. Heck, I Live in Eugene; and grew up here. I know Springfield is different than Eugene. Heck Santa Clara (north River Road, still “Eugene” by TPTB definition, even if we aren’t officially city, yet) is different from Eugene proper, especially UofO section. Let alone the “South Hills”, or southern (south of w 11th) hobby ranches/horse hobby farms. Also see Bend VS Redmond. Or try Portland VS Baker. This is just Oregon.

      I remember meeting youngest sisters roommates from college at her wedding reception. I’d sworn we’re from different planets. Her roommates were from the east coast, and not the poorer areas (they paid full freight for Stanford). Sis OTOH had not only had work study but was granted half scholarship for tuition and dorm. We weren’t poor, but we weren’t rich either. Solid lower middle class (I know what mom has left financially).

      1. I was born and raised in NYC and lived abroad before I moved across the river to NJ, Pennsylvania is foreign country to me and Oregon might as well be on the moon.

        1. 😉

          Back at you. East coast might as well be on Mars.

          I mean. What are those gate thingy’s that one has to slow down for on freeways that aren’t exits? I mean “what the heck?”

          Ran into in Florida going from Orlando (DisneyWorld) to Kennedy Space Center for the day (fly that far and NOT go and see the rocket gardens, museums, etc.; um, No.) And, yes. While we were scrambling for change (1997) while we approached, we did realize what they had to be. Just didn’t expect it. Should have, didn’t.

      2. Ha, yeah! We moved to Springfield from AZ back in ’83. Lived in Springfield for 22 years then moved up outside of Oakridge for another 14 years. Oakridge was totally different than Springfield, which was totally different then Eugene (where we did all our shopping, and my wife worked for 23 years). Heck there was even a significant difference between those of us who lived a few miles up the mountain, outside of Oakridge and the folks who lived in Oakridge.

        I’ve lived in 3 different countries, 5 different states. and at least 20 different cities. My wife and I lived in Phoenix AZ before we moved to OR. And now we have moved back to AZ, but Eastern rural AZ. We live near a town called Saint Johns. And there is almost nothing in common between Phoenix and Saint Johns, other than that a goodly number of folks go heeled (open or concealed carry) down here in AZ. Which is something absolutely unheard of in OR.

        1. goodly number of folks go heeled (open or concealed carry) down here in AZ. Which is something absolutely unheard of in OR.

          Sure. No one at all carries in Oregon. Maybe others will actually believe that. 😉 Which is why 114 didn’t pass and isn’t currently blocked by the Harney County Judge … Oh wait!

          I see open carry all the time even in Freds and Costco, both post “Don’t”. Concealed? That is the point of concealed, you don’t know.

          1. One of the first things I noticed in CG was a man bicycling by with an open-carried revolver. I have since seen a few more.

            CHL is ‘shall issue’ here, and not difficult to get – class, fee, visit to the Sheriff for fingerprints and photo.

            1. Lane County will accept online classes/test which are free. Fee to get class certificate. Sheriff visits are schedule out into July, now.

          2. d please pardon me, I assumed people would be aware enough to realize I talking about those areas of OR that I mentioned, the ones I lived in, in Lane County. Not being omniscient, I do not know what it is like in places I’ve never been. But in those places I did live, in 36 years I never saw anyone carrying. Not once, not ever. Not concealed, not open (and yes I am trained at spotting concealed). Not like I do every day here in AZ. Open carry would have created a major shit storm in Eugene/Springfield. In Oakridge, you might could have gotten away with it, depending who was out and about and saw you. My wife, who worked as a Lane County 911 dispatcher for 23 years has assured me that Eugene PD would stop you and confiscate your weapon if you were open carry, and arrest you if you were concealed carry w/o a CCL. Lane County had similar regs. And no where in OR can you concealed carry w/o a CCL, like I can anywhere here in AZ. So my original point still stands, things are very different in OR as opposed to AZ. There is very little common reference between the two. But you have beautifully made my point even better. Even within OR, it is clear there are massive differences, depending on what city/county you are in. There are places in OR where, according to you, open carry is commonplace and allowed. There are also places where it is either forbidden, or is outright illegal. So even just in OR, never mind different states or countries, there is no common ground. And that is the point the Author of this piece was trying to make. That we can not assume common ground with people from other areas/cultures.

            1. Agree with all of it. Lane County is not Douglas County, nor is it Baker County, let alone any of the counties that Portland Metro span.

              My point, while partly sarcastic (should have tagged), I am in Eugene. Which I should have added, not presumed (though I’ve mentioned it a time or two before). The Freds and Costco are in Eugene.

              Eugene PD would stop you and confiscate your weapon if you were open carry.

              Downtown? That I’d believe, legal or not. Don’t go downtown.

              arrest you if you were concealed carry w/o a CCL

              Yes. Oregon is not a state to carry w/o a CCL. Not too comfortable carrying in states that allow CC without a CCL if not a state resident (MT/WY/ID).

              I am not trained to spot people carrying, concealed or not. But I have spotted a number of open carried. Were they maybe out of uniform law enforcement? Maybe? Didn’t ask.

              1. Yes, Eugene is known for having a PD that does not believe in open carry, even though the city does not prohibit or regulate it. IIRC, the Eugene Library has the valid no-carry-even-with-CHL signs.

                Open Carry .org says

                only the cities of Portland, Beaverton, Tigard, Oregon City, Salem, and Independence have passed loaded firearms bans encompassing all public places.

                1. Oregon does not have a valid (legally enforceable) no carry signage. And The only places I don’t carry are ones where I get patted down – which equals places I don’t go.

                2. Well technically do not live in Eugene. In the urban growth boundary. City might incorporate us eventually. I mean they’ve been trying for 60 years that I know of (mom & dad built the house summer of ’63. We moved in Dec 23, 1963, just after I turned 7.) We don’t see a lot of EPD. Should. The Santa Clara area has a number of newer neighborhoods that are city (just hasn’t been able to encircle any of us). Last hammer to incorporate this area in total was in the ’90s with the sewer push. Eugene got their hands slapped by the courts, hard. A few years ago the city declared any school grounds and non-county parks within the urban growth boundary were in the city. I think they thought that would solve their problem. Didn’t. Like I said. We do not go downtown. Not even the library. Granted the issue isn’t the EPD stance on handgun OC or CCL, it is the the stupidity of roads and parking, or lack there of. Same result however.

    2. 11 nations, interesting. I agree, Fairbanks still pretty much fits in The Far West nation but Anchorage I’d put with, or at least far closer to, Juneau in The Left Coast.

      1. And the Far West summary boils down to just “resents the East for creating it,” which is how you know it was written by a Yankee.

        I’d say the Far West (Greater West?) has the same outlook as Greater Appalachia re: government and politics, with the difference being in that it originates from people with more of an El Norte hard work/independence foundation. Or maybe you could say it’s like the Midlands with a little more “stay out of my business” in it.

        1. It depends on the mixture of emigration that formed the area.
          A community of Mormons, a community of southerners fleeing reconstruction, and a community of “bummers” (the men of the Union army who went home to find no future awaiting them there) will all distrust the federal government, but for different reasons, and will react differently. Let them live near each other and develop a common history, and they’ll create their own culture with folkways carrying over from all three.

          For example, I grew up in Southern Idaho. The area was settled by those three groups. (Then tempered by territorial governors absconding with the public treasury, labor unions trying to launch a bloody revolution, and various other, smaller things.)
          Most of the Mormons had fled from Missouri. A good chunk of the rebels were from Missouri , and were not covered under the general amnesty, (They were also closely tied to driving out the Mormons, which was awkward.) The yankees mostly came Indiana, which neighbors Missouri, shared the river-based trade route with it, and had played a large hand in settling it.
          I’m now living in Indiana, so I can “pass” without too much trouble.
          But not as easily as I could in Wyoming or Montana.

          That said, I’ve gotten along just fine in Tennessee by just showing a basic level of respect to the local folkways.
          Not so much with Kentucky or California, though.

          1. I’ve lived where I am most of my life, and I still can’t pass for a native. Though that might be because I never particularly wanted to.

    3. I prefer the earlier “Nine Nations Of North America” version.

      I mostly nodded along with the “11 Nations” author — with a couple of “hang on, wait a minute” caveats — until the end when he completely lost the plot talking about modern politics. See, the author is a New England lefty, and his characterization of the New England “nation” is “yeah, they’re annoying, but they just want to do good to people whether they want to be done good to or not”.

      And while the Nine Nations author does put Anchorage right on the edge of “Ecotopia”, he does (accurately in my experience) describe how the balance between resource exploiters and environment preservers is so equal in Alaska as a whole that neither side has an advantage and every issue gets fought down to the knife.

      Also, I know other Alaskas love to dump on Los Anchorage, but there sure were a lot of Trump signs and banners in Anchorage in 2020 for it to really be part of the Left Coast.

      1. That was my reaction as well and why I found the whole thing to be annoying. I’ll have to look more into the Nine Nations that you linked sometime, though.

        1. It was written in 1981 so I expect it’s a little dated in its projections, but IIRC the history is the same and a little less reliant on divining motivations that the 11 Nations author.

      2. Yes, “The Nine Nations of North America” is an older book, but still very true. The borders may have shifted a bit in the ensuing years, but the cultures are still distinct.

      3. I have a copy of Nine Nations somewhere in a box waiting to be unpacked. I bought it when it was published. I thought it was pretty well done.

      4. Ditto on preferring the “Nine Nations” version, although I’d split “The Foundry” into “Land o’ Lakes” and “BosWash,” with NYC being the capital of BosWash rather than classified as an anomaly.

    4. Interesting; I used to own Garreau’s 1981 book The Nine Nations of North America but I missed Woodard’s 2020 American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures in North America – so I know what my next book purchase will be, later today! 40 years seem likely to show some changes …

      We live in small-town Oregon, about 20 miles south of Eugene/Springfield. And our town is very different from those Northerners. It’s different even more from where we lived in California, in a ‘bedroom community’ about the same size as Eugene. I know it’s hard to credit, but even the teenagers are polite here.

      I went to grad school in Berkeley in the late 70s; Eugene’s city council is just getting to Berkeley insanity-level (natural gas ban in new housing, pfui!).

      But ‘different’ is indeed multi-factorial; time – 1970s to 2020s, ‘zone’ – 11 nations, rural/small town/city, local ethnic concentrations, neighborhoods, and of course our recent ‘salad bowl’ vs the older ‘melting pot’ tendencies all say we’re going many different directions.

      1. live in small-town Oregon, about 20 miles south

        Cottage Grove? Wouldn’t think it is as “big” as Eugene. But otherwise agree with the assessment. As different from Eugene as Springfield is. Different from Springfield too.

        1. “Albion’s Seed” is different in that it shows more connections between areas of emigration to the colonies/U.S. and the communities that grew out of those immigrants. It’s also, to my mind, better written and better researched than either 9 or 11 Nations.

      2. I live in small town Oregon (North of Salem), grew up outside small town Oregon (much further south than any of ye minus Pete) and went to Uni in small town Oregon. And they are all quite different, and very much the same in certain aspects.

        Jefferson Abú!

  3. Other places, other cultures…

    I’ve known men that thought that a drunk was always honest (more or less), and if you didn’t drink with them you fully intended to cheat them right out in the open. Others that were morally certain that your lending them an item was a gift, and your foolish insistence on wanting it back was adorable naivete. Some that knew, and I mean knew down deep in their bones that you were constantly lying to them, and they knew what you really meant. Because obviously you were lying, and in on the game with them.

    I’ve known women that were morally certain that little thefts from the office were so common as to be expected, and that attempting blackmail was what kept you from being raped by your boss. I’ve met children that you cheerfully slit your throat as you slept and steal all they could carry from your cooling corpse and have absolutely no guilt when attending church services the next day.

    There were those that attempted bribes, because that was just how the world worked after all, and became utterly confused and thought they hadn’t bribed enough when caught, because that was just what everyone did

    While I may have slept through most of cultural anthropology, reading people is a skill any odd or introverted person learns in order to survive childhood. Other cultures are not just “different,” meaning they have great food and cool clothes. They are DIFFERENT in that acting the way you do here can kill you. And you’d never know what you did wrong, half the time.

    Do you know when to tip? Who gets the bribe? How to approach unmarried women? How to give proper respect to your host? How to deal with the beggars on the street, the “legitimate businessmen,” the representatives of officialdom? How to properly chitchat, how seriously to take certain declarations and offers, how to bloody well give a proper greeting and farewell without a snub?

    Other cultures do not get basic American culture because it breaks their foundational assumptions of how the world works. They have to assume we’re lying, mostly, in order to remain sane. We are not them, to the point that if space aliens ever arrive, the real space aliens might be more understandable because at least they’d look different.

    1. “High trust” cultures of course look insane to “low trust” cultures. “What do you mean, stop at the red light? There’s nobody around!”

  4. This is off topic, but I wanted to post it while before ennui set in again.

    I came across the writings of Ghent University professor Mattias Desmet. This gentleman has written a book, “The Psychology of Totalitarianism,” that discusses the phenomenon of “mass formation” and how it can lead to pathollogical behavior whererin wide swaths of a society subscribe to a narrative they know is untrue, as in, “2 weeks to flatten the curve, distancing and masks work, this is a vaccine because we caalled it

    1. “. . . because we called it that.”

      Very erudite, Very compelling. He also describes what you odds can do to keep things from going totally South. (Spoiler: Keep being odd and be vocal.)

      I would pay money to see this man in a discussion with Jordan Peterson.

      A good talk with Tucker Carlson, explaining his ideas:

    2. Very few things are truly off topic here.

      Or, rather, we are routinely off topic in many different ways.

      I’m skeptical of this mass formation stuff, I’ve heard the phrase too many times recently.

      But, it may be that I have a similar theory with a different label.

      I view a lot of this stuff as ritual, magic, and religion. King theory and boss theory are bits of magical thinking that we invent over and over again, in various different ways.

      Ideology is a word that effectively means religion. In theory, it also includes scholarly theory that is totally not religious. In practice, there isn’t much there in some of these once you subtract the group think and the wishful feeling.

  5. Knew a woman who was a Korean=American born here in the US. I don’t know whether her parents or grandparents were the ones who immigrated, but it was all that she’d known. She married a Korean-American guy. IIRC, he was also born in the US. But his parents were immigrants. To say that there was a culture clash between the new wife and her mother-in-law was a bit of an understatement…

    On another note, the differences between American culture and the rest of the world goes both ways. We don’t understand them. They don’t understand us. I think the classic is the North Vietnamese reaction to the Paris Peace Accords. Officially, peace was declared between North and South Vietnam, and the US pulled out. And then largely nothing happened. And the reason why nothing happened was because North Vietnam knew that if they started attacking South Vietnam again, President Nixon would resume bombing raids on the North.

    Except, well, nothing could be further from the truth. Nixon would never have been able to get Congress to go along with something like that, and everyone in the US knew it (when Ford later tried to get Congress to merely authorize the arms and supplies that the Paris Peace Accords stipulated the US was supposed to send to the South, he couldn’t even get them to do that). But North Vietnam knew that if open fighting resumed, Nixon would start bombing the North again. So not much happened.

    Then much to Hanoi’s shock, the most powerful man in the world was forced to resign from office. And the leaders in Hanoi looked at what was happening, and said, “Maybe we won’t get bombed…”

    1. My ex has adopted Korean siblings. One went back to Korea and found a Korean wife. Imagine his wife’s surprise and distress when our very American mother-in-law absolutely, categorically, 100% REFUSED to take over the proper Korean mother-in-law role in her life! I understood my former sis-in-law’s distress, but I’m afraid I had my own somewhat Asian cultural reaction to it. I laughed. It was mostly sympathetic laughter, though. I’d had my own cultural misunderstandings with our very American MIL too.

        1. I saw that exchange in the comments a few days ago, let me check…

          Yeah, on the Finding Ways post, Krysti commented on Feb 7th at 2:17 PM, saying “I gave her your name and email–and she’s sent you an email.” I personally don’t know the web tech so I can’t tell you which name to look for in your heated email account, but it should be around Feb 7th. Might have gone to your spam folder if it was an unknown name emailing you out of the blue.

          Anyway, Krysti can tell you more, but hopefully this helps.

        2. I can advise you about which themes I’ve found work better, but I can’t do the coding behind the scenes to make them work properly. They frequently need a little help to work their best. And yes, please check your spam folder.

    2. I always assumed that the “mother-in-law dominates and terrorizes the son’s wife” dynamic was intended to keep the son’s earnings going to his birth family, not the wife’s.

      See, e.g., new wives frequently dying in “kitchen accidents” in India and the husband’s family conveniently keeping the dowry as an extreme example.

      1. What Sarah said. Culture matters. For some, the remittance is the cause. Others, it isn’t so much the money as the “you married my son therefore you belong to ME now.” Some don’t really know the reason or cause themselves, save that’s how it has always been. Well that and they want the shoe to be on the other foot now (as they were the abused new wife once).

        1. In Korea, it’s apparently the second option, coupled with “I had to go through this when I got married, and now it’s my turn to do the same to you.”

      2. In Europe they handled that by having the dowry revert if she died childless. But since they outlawed dowry they can’t do that.

  6. Three of my four grandparents were British, or Scots-Irish, and growing up, we knew them very, very well – to the point that when we actually went and spent a summer traveling through England, Wales and Scotland (on local transport, trains, hitchhiking, staying in Youth Hostels) it was with a feeling of weird deja-vu; that somehow we knew intimately the world that the grandparents had come from. (Being schooled in the classic English lit helped as well.) We could have settled in that world readily, but it was a little like an old garment that didn’t quite fit any more.
    I can write English settings and characters pretty convincingly, maybe German as well, since we grew up with so many German ex-pats in the Lutheran church.
    As for American sub-cultures, the military and veteran subculture is a whole odd little world of itself.

    1. Heck, the fact that someone once described my brother as an Eagle Scout despite not knowing that he was one shows that there’s a particular cultural mark of a voluntary teen organization!

  7. You’re absolutely right about having to live someplace to understand it, but you have to live there not just exist there. The highest failure rate for American expatriates is the UK. The vast majority of Americans in the UK send their kids to the American School, which means they live in Saint John’s Wood or Chobham. Their wives spend their days at the American Club, drinking gin, committing casual adultery, and complaining about the natives like they were Sahibs in the Raj. They know no actual, normal English people. They get all the “bad” things about living there and none of the good ones.

    We lived there and sent our kids to an English school, which means that we lived normal lives with normal,people. My daughter ended up head girl at her prep school, and number one son is still a useful spin bowler in cricket — he’s the only American among all the Indians playing for the local club.

    Bizarrely, it’s the same in Paris where very few of my work colleagues knew any French. True story, I was at a meeting in Paris — we were living in the UK at the time — and my colleague, who was living in Paris at the time, invited me to the “best restaurant in Paris.” It was on the Champs, so I was a bit surprised by this, but OK ….. it turned out to be Planet Hollywood. I called the wife, who fell about the place laughing.

    1. When I was at university in Germany, I lived “on the economy.” It was a steep learning curve, and pretty rough on me. But I learned, and paid attention. Prior to 2017, I felt comfortable in Germany and Austria, and could blend in well enough to pass in larger towns and cities. Then the rules changed . . .

  8. In fact Americans have one of the weirder cultures in the world.
    America is the only country int he world based on a creed rather than geography and ancestry. And while you might find two other countries where on can immigrate and become a (fill-in-the-blank)-an, I can pretty much guarantee you won’t find three.

    That weird enough for you?

  9. This is where we get the “socialists” who know it’s good, because look at all the magnificent buildings in Europe, and the fact everyone has time to sit in the coffee shop and socialize with friends.

    This reminds me when I was in language training in the Air Force. We were showed a propaganda film produced by the Soviet Union. Yeah, the subways were beautiful, as was the architecture featured (very carefully chosen, of course). What I noticed, however, was that not one person in the film, not one, smiled.

    And I was apparently the only person in the class to make that observation which, if you know me, is probably rather surprising.

      1. Actually, I was thinking my issues with face blindness and recognizing expressions in the first place. Yet it was so blindingly obvious even I could see it and yet, no one else did.

        1. Yeah, but we tend to go “What doesn’t fit” because the stuff that’s designed to emotionally appeal to normal people COMPLETELY misses us. I don’t ping “autistic” but I have all the sensory stuff, and a masculine turn of mind, which is how women do autism, apparently. (I also was exquisitely socialized in a very social culture, so I do get emotions better. From birth or training? Who knows.)
          BUT I do have the real “alien in the world” feeling, because I was manipulated by things that didn’t hit anyone else, while completely missing when the entire flock was responding to something. Because my brain works weirdly.

          1. the stuff that’s designed to emotionally appeal to normal people COMPLETELY misses

            Either that or we do noticed it, and the hamfisted attempt to yank us around by puppet strings pisses us off.

            1. I’ve known three year olds with better emotional manipulation skills than stuff I’ve seen on tv. You have to be carefully trained and educated to be that dumb.

                1. I start talking to the TV every time the parody, “Counselor teaching how to not grow up to be your parents,” commercials go on. I would LOVE to walk on the set and give the “counselor,” a large piece of my mind.
                  The one where he’s ordering his client not to read the books his father read is particularly infuriating.

                  1. My son and I mute the sound during commercial breaks and play “sum up the silent action as succinctly as possible.” That guy is a fecking jerk.

                2. Some of Progressive’s more recent commercials seem to be including a wink and a nod of “we know our commercials sometimes get irritating”, generally by poking fun at Flo. Unfortunately, the wink and nods that they use aren’t really any better.

                  About the only “franchise” commercials I like anymore are the Dr. Pepper commercials that always start with, “Next time on an all-new episode of Fansville…” They’re silly, and some fall flat. But even the ones that fall flat usually do it in a way that’s clever enough to make me appreciate the thinking behind the ad.

                  1. My son tells me, “Fansville,” employs a number of retired NFL types (the sherif in particular).
                    I enjoy them, too.
                    BTW, someone is sponsoring a 90-second, “reintroducing Jesus,” as formthr Super Bowl. I suspect it’s the, “He Gets Us,” group, which is purely, “Jesus as Social Justice Warrior.”

                    1. I suspect that the latter is at least partially in response to the success and popularity of The Chosen. Jesus is popular among those Jesus-freaks, so they’ll try and portray him in a way that will let them slip their dogma in.

                    2. Remember that when you ask “what would Jesus do?”, flipping tables and whipping people is within the realm of possibility…

            2. I am definitely old enough to be irritated by the transparent emotional manipulation.

              One of the reasons why I don’t bother watching TV.

          2. I’ve noticed this myself. Most Leftist propaganda completely misses me because it is aimed at getting an emotional response out of a Normie.

            Normies go to a car show and look at a car, they have an emotional response to the presentation, the colour, the upholstery, the “show” part of the car.

            I look in the engine bay and under the car at the suspension to see what the guy who built it did in there. My emotional response is reserved for the wicked four-link they fabricated for the rear end. Nice paint is nice, but I don’t really care. Because I’m weird.

            When you go to the car show, watch to see who looks -under- the car. That guy is a weirdo, and probably knows everything there is about that car.

            So when a Leftie starts talking to me about solar power, the sales pitch is going right past me. I don’t care a single damn about signaling my virtue as a good person to this clown. I want to know if the solar thing is going to work. The more they try to sell me, the more I go look up what they said and start doing arithmetic.

            After 40 years of Lefties selling me open immigration, gun control, solar power, peak oil, the Worker’s Paradise and jumbo shrimp, I do not have to look stuff up anymore.

            I admit they did get me with Covid. They certainly had me going for a couple of months there, it seemed impossible that the whole entire medical profession rolled over at once like that. But, a bunch of frantic research later, I was back saying doubting the sons of b1tches pushing the mad science jab. Mostly because their sales job sounded so much like gun control I couldn’t believe they were serious. “If it only saves one life!”

            I’m sorry dudes, genetic modification by MRNA? And they called it a vaccine? Nope. Not a freaking chance.

            1. Same here, except that I suck at math, so I have to focus more on peeking under the language and persuasion end of it — the emotional tricks and rhetorical fallacies people use to keep you from peeking behind the curtain. I see those, and I’m like, “Well now, let’s just take a look at what it is you don’t want me to think about here.”

          3. The way I put it was “I was meant for a parallel universe” and “I was born without a layer of (emotional) skin that everyone else has”.

    1. A year or two after I graduated from my high school (mid-90s), a group of students went over for an extended visit of a month+. One of their host families said that you could always tell the Americans because they smiled—and they had things to smile about.

      It was only yesterday that I mentioned that Russia’s currently on a cultural suicide trip…

      1. I’m a native Texan who habitually smiles almost all the time. I’ve been told that in Ukraine it makes me look like a fool. Okay, I can live with that. People don’t tend to get in my face, but I attribute that to the fact that I’m 6’2″ (188cm) and I have the body language of a native Texan.

        1. When I lived in San Antonio, I had a friend who had grown up near Boston, MA. He said that when he had first moved to San Antonio, walking around downtown, he was getting really weirded out by all the people smiling at him. His thoughts were along the lines of, “Do I know that person? Is my zipper down? Why are they smiling at me?” It was completely foreign to him that people would be friendly to strangers.

          1. One of the things that my son, who was a language analyst for the military and fluent in East African French said when he came back from Kenya, was that the locals could always tell the Americans and they liked them a lot, because the Americans would talk to them like humans and equals and not like the hired help. And Americans were very generous and actually tipped well if they got good service and didn’t expect to be waited on hand and foot.
            I was surprised to hear that because you always hear about the Ugly American.
            No so I’m Africa I guess.

            1. If you are familiar with the origin of the phrase, the “ugly American” was the hero of the tale.

            2. That’s interesting — I wasn’t aware that there were a lot of Francophones in East Africa.

              I know Belgium was the colonial overlord in Rwanda-Burundi after the Great War, but is that “East” Africa or “Central” Africa?

        2. Americans freak me out. I’m from Ontario, nobody smiles or talks to you here. I mean, nobody. Never happens.

          First time I went to California, strangers would come up and talk to me apropos of nothing. It was scary as hell. Felt like I had a sign taped to my back.

          After I lived in the USA three or four years it seemed more normal for them to do it, but I didn’t do it. Still don’t.

          If I was in a town where everybody was smiling and nodding, I’d feel like I was in Stepford. Oooo, so scary! ~:D

          1. I’m picturing what The Stepford Wives would look like if the town was here in Texas. It’s hilarious. Involves really tight jeans and cowboy boots…

    2. I tend to notice things going on in the background of movies a lot more than most other people. One catches a lot of easter eggs that way; Buckaroo Banzai is especially rewarding for this.

      I don’t think it’s a spectrum thing since I don’t have any other markers; rather I suspect I can perceive the main subject of a shot quickly enough to have time to look around and see what else is in the shot that might be interesting.

      Actually now I wonder if that’s common among people with ADD. Like, don’t just stare at the trail, be able to perceive the leaf twitching in your peripheral vision that means the antelope is actually over there, kind of thing.

      1. > Buckaroo Banzai

        I saw that movie when it came out, and thought it was stupid. A couple of decades later, watching it again, I realized it’s a really good movie, and now one of my favorites.

        1. I was living in New Jersey when it came out, which gave it a bit of extra savor. Still watch it now and then.

      1. Even if it was a cultural thing, it’s still a miss because it was propaganda aimed at Americans. IME, Americans tend to be far more influenced by smiling happy people than by pretty architecture.

  10. I often disagree with things you say, points you make Sarah, which is one of the many reasons why I thoroughly enjoy the reads. This essay at my reading speed and comprehension, for example, could be a ten minute read. However as I stop, ponder, explore tangents, more than half an hour has passed.

    History, dates and names. To me rather important, markers, dog ears on the pages, oh yea, it was at that point that… 1066, Hastings ass an example, a different island before and after. The Anglo-Saxon isle quite different from the Norman-Anglo-Saxon isle.

    I feel we didn’t do too bad a job teaching history in America, thought admittedly my history lessons were learned in the fifties, not the seventies or today.

    Travel. I’ve wandered around the Ring of Fire, the Pacific Rim, fairly often. I’ve even spent a little time on the other side of the Atlantic. As far as I’m concerned one of the greatest values of traveling abroad is one’s gains a far better understanding of their own country and culture. Things we take for granted that we don’t even notice in our day to day living become blatantly clear when we see what those other guys are doing different.

    Everyone in China’s a slave. Could be. Most everyone here in the U.S. is a sharecropper. Skip on paying your property taxes before you tell me I’m wrong on that. Having said that, don’t get me wrong, I’d far rather be a sharecropper than a slave.

    On the other hand as that Frenchy, Albert Camus said; “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” Yep, but you gotta know the bit is in your mouth and the blinders are on before you can take them off. I do own at least a small piece of property, a few acres, that are not on the tax rolls.

    Travel is broadening, history is important social interaction is necessary, however to gain the most from everything requires critical introspection.

    1. Numbers and dates are important place markers. Though these days someone like me who transposes digits and mangles names can look those up in ten seconds.
      The differences before and after and why the movement of peoples happened?
      That’s far more important to UNDERSTANDING history.

        1. Not just history classes. American education curricula all seem to be deliberately designed to make the subject at hand, whatever it is, as absolutely mind-numbingly boring as possible.

        2. The main purpose seems to be to ensure no student will ever voluntarily open a history book for the rest ot their life.

            1. Oh, yeah. I felt much more connection to the Civil War from ‘Guns Of The South’ than I ever did from history books.

              Ditto for ‘An Oblique Approach’ and the Western Roman (Byzantine) Empire, and 6th century India. And Africa, and the Middle East in general.

              1. And a single word conveyed the attitude of a Roman general with a job to do. “Valentinian”

            2. This is why I write HF – to interest people in history, by making a ripping good yarn of it.
              I would bet that more people got interested in the ACW through reading Gone With the Wind than any required boring history textbook.

    2. Most everyone here in the U.S. is a sharecropper.

      Yeah, but we won’t ever believe that makes us lower than the rentier.

      “Whether we come from poverty or wealth; whether we are Afro-American or Irish-American; Christian or Jewish, from big cities or small towns, we are all equal in the eyes of God. But as Americans that is not enough we must be equal in the eyes of each other.” — Ronald Reagan

      “Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.” — Nick, The Great Gatsby

      “You man! I wish to have a word with your master!” “That sumbitch ain’t been born.” — Apocryphal

  11. I did nearly a month in the UK and while I was staying in a hotel, I did everything I could to avoid just doing “touristy” things. I tried to dine on the local economy, I did most of my own travel planning for places I wanted to go (I did do a tour group to hit all of the “tourist” things in London, which was a good idea). I rode the Underground and trains and noted that the “feral” mini-cabs are tame in comparison to LA or New York.

    But I did try to get outside of my bubble and try to be a part of the place that I was.

    It’s something I’ve explained to people and they don’t quite get it. Imagine this-stand in San Francisco. Fly ninety minutes from San Francisco. If you land somewhere that is actual land, you’re landing in LA, Portland, Seattle, Vegas…you’re still in the US.

    You have to fly at least three hours to get somewhere that requires a passport…and that’s just Canada and Mexico. And most of the US is like that-short of places like Florida or Texas, it takes more than three hours flying to get outside of a relatively “American” bubble.

    Stand in Heathrow Airport and in two hours…you’re in France, the Netherlands, the northern part of Spain, a good part of Germany…whole different countries that have whole different ways of doing things. The rules are different. The assumptions are different.

    And not paying attention to those things will get you in trouble.

    1. Stand in Heathrow Airport and in two hours…you’re in France, the Netherlands, the northern part of Spain, a good part of Germany…whole different countries that have whole different ways of doing things.

      The old saw: “Americans think 100 years is a long time. Europeans think 100 miles is a long way.”

        1. We had a visitor from the UK one summer, and we took him north of the SF Bay Area. After a bit of driving, he mentioned that the scenery looked similar, but in Britain you can’t drive a mile without being in another township, so the big “empty” spaces looked weird to him.

          1. Same thing here. My favorite variation was a guy from London that was staying in SF and wanted to make a day trip down to LA.

            By car.

            I had to explain that LA from SF was an eight-hour drive…six if you were insane and could do NASCAR speeds on I-5. He was thinking “London to Brighton” or “London To Cambridge,” which was 90 minutes or so away by car.

            (Every once in a while, I want to create a liminal city for a story called San Angeles, which is where you go for every coastal California stereotype-cable cars and funicular railways, piers and almost-snowy mountains, dense urban cores and lonely crossroads…)

            1. When I worked at Washington State University, there was a constant supply of foreign students who didn’t initially grok the difference between the state and DC, let alone the distance between the two. Or the notion that a big research university could possibly be located in the middle of nowhere (which it pretty much is) instead of an urban core.

            2. Similar thing happened to me back when I worked at an airport rent-a-wreck counter in Pittsburgh a few years back. Had a family fly in from Europe (I forget where, I want to say Germany but I’m probably wrong) on Friday, returning their car on Monday, for a long weekend vacation. They told us they were driving down to Walt Disney World.

              Wait… what? Uh, say that again?

              Yep. Disney World. They flew into Pittsburgh because it was so much cheaper than Orlando or New York. We (by which I mean myself, a coworker, and a manager) tried to explain that it was about 1,000 mile drive from the airport to Disney World, and they would have to drive straight through, non-stop to Florida to even see Disney World, but they’d have to turn around the second they arrived and drive straight threw, non-stop back to Pittsburgh in order to make their flight back home. They refused to believe us and took their rental car. Not sure what happened to him since I had Monday & Tuesday off at the time and forgot to ask about them when I returned to work on Wednesday.

              1. Heh. I had the opposite problem in 1982 when I went off to college. I was used to looking at a map of Alaska covering the whole page in our atlas, and then I turned to Massachusetts also covering the whole page and saw that the college town was all the way across the state from the airport at Boston and thinking OMG it’s going to take ALLL DAAAYY to get there! Except then I looked at the scale and realized that all of Massachusetts is about as big as the Kenai Peninsula and it would only take two hours. 😀

                (Okay, five hours on the bus, because Greyhound.)

              2. Not just European’s. Check out the various Yellowstone/Teton, Glacier, FB groups. Look for all the questions related to “I’m flying in-to, out of, Jackson/Salt Lake/Bosman. We have 7 days total to see: Yellowstone, Tetons, Glacier NP’s, Mt Rushmore, and Custer NM’s. Trip is doable. But all you are doing is driving, long driving days, and just hitting some of the highlights.

                1. Heck, my family’s guilty of it too. Sort of. We were doing a similar Pittsburgh-Florida road trip by way of Philadelphia and Raleigh to visit family. End destination was between Sarasota and Fr. Myers on the Gulf Coast. Third day we get to the Florida border. “YAY! We’re almost there!” Eight hours later and even the dog, who was the best traveler out of all of us by far, was going, “GAAAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWDDD ARE WE THERE YET?!?!?!??!?!?!?!”

                  1. Did you know there is a whole lot of nothing between Rocky Mtn NP and Custer NM? We were smart enough to stop short of Custer for the night. An hour or so drive to Custer, then spent the morning to 1 PM or so, before leaving, getting late lunch, then head for Beartooth. We stopped before going over Beartooth too. Long ways between Custer and Red Lodge too, with a whole lot of nothing. AND no rest stops. A lot of truck pull overs for stopping and rig sleeping, but no facilities. (One tends to notice when one really does not want to pull over and be rustic. You can see a long ways on that high elevation prairie.) As bad as Hwy 1 in Canada, only there, there be trees at the pull offs. (Noticed our last trip to Canada. Hadn’t paid attention before. But before we were towing a bathroom; also called a RV trailer.)

                2. My favorite Yellowstone anecdote is still someone asking the park rangers “What are you doing to prevent the eruption of the Yellowstone volcano?”.

                  1. “What elevation do Deer turn into Elk.”
                    “Why are the bears locked up and not roaming (where we can see them)?”
                    “Where is the baby bear petting area?”
                    “What time does Old Faithful get turned on in the morning?” (or any named Geyser)

                    Any National Park Rangers in the group that want to add to the list? Good safe place to get your snark out. I won’t tell (repeat, give credit to anonymous, to protect the snark, but not tattle).

            3. Your San Angeles is basically the idea behind San Andreas in Grand Theft Auto. i.e. take some of the most recognizable parts of California, and squish them all together into one large city.

              There aren’t any mountains, though.

              1. There has to be mountains, because how else are you going to have that creepy cabin in the woods that there’s no cell phone signal and a basement with a serial killer’s trophy room…

        2. Heck. There are ranches and farms in Oregon, let alone in Montana or Wyoming, that are the size of small European countries. Heck I’ve see Ranches with dedicated on/off ramps off freeways in all 3 places. Hint it is a Ranch interchange “no services”.

    2. Most European countries are the size of states. Some of them are the size of those dinky Eastern states. As we expanded westward, we grew tired of cutting the land up into such small pieces.

      1. Most European countries are the economies of states too.

        One of my first real realizations of how thin a hand Putin was playing was discovering that Russia has the GDP of Texas.

        1. no no. It only has the GDP of Texas if you BELIEVE THEIR NUMBERS.
          The wealthiest nations in Europe, say Germany, have the GDP of the POOREST states in the US, so I kind of doubt Russia has THAT.

          1. I doubt that Russia even has an idea of what its real GDP ism what with the endemic corruption and all. From what external sources can be got, they might even have negative GDP, if nobody’s buying their gas for a little bit.

            They have crappy, unreliable infrastructure on top of the cultural issues and the corruption. They don’t really do a lot of exports, other than oil and gas (nearly half their total- the rest are under 5% of total, bar precious metals and gems and the like). Most of their trade goes to China, with a goodly bit left over for Europe (EU needs that gas, now that they’ve cut off their nose to spite their face) and a teeny tiny bit for the few folks across the pond that are willing to trade.

            Official numbers put Russia between New York and Texas by GDP, as you said (a few hundred billion below Texas, small handful above NY). But again, considering how merrily made up I’d wager those numbers are for Russia, who knows? As economies go, they are third world. They’ve got natural resources as their main trade unit (by a looooong stretch- anything else would need to sell 7-800x as much), their critical infrastructure is maybe a notch above Brazil but below Germany (even with the EU stupidity), and they’re stuck in a war with a neighbor that used to be part of their country and losing.

            Russia is not a peer power, economically or militarily speaking. Nor China. That’s not to say we couldn’t screw things up spectacularly, but we’ve a long, long way to slide to reach Russia’s level on either scale.

              1. Please take that story with a Ton Of Salt.

                The “reporter” claims that an “unnamed source” gave him the information.

                IMO “unnamed sources” are often “I pulled this out of my rear-end”. 😈

                1. We all know what it’s called when Ox does that… 😛

                  There still hasn’t been any actual evidence of this ‘sabotage’ presented. I’m inclined to agree with LawDog that it was an industrial accident caused by negligence, corruption and incompetence — commodities that have never been in short supply in Russia, particularly during the last 105 years.

                2. Anything Seymour Hersh writes should be considered a lie until proven otherwise. Going back decades, if not for his entire career.

                  1. The sad part is that the best evidence that it’s true is that the CIA and WH are saying it isn’t.

                    1. Well, no.

                      The best evidence remains that Biden (and his lackeys) repeatedly and publicly promised to do it.

                      The second best evidence, is the circumstantial evidence that he (and the government he represents) are stupid enough to do it.

                      The third best evidence was the stupid “Russia deliberately blew up their own pipeline” narrative that the government and media pushed so hard. (While, I’m sure we’ll find, silencing critics of the transparently ridiculous story.)

                      Then we would talk about opportunity and ability, both of which exist.

                      Personally, I find LawDog’s case convincing.
                      But if I were a German, I doubt I’d feel the same. And that’s before this latest report.

                    2. I don’t have time to do the full post WP evidently just ate, again.

                      The best evidence remains that Binden and his flunkies publicly and repeatedly promised to do it.

                      The argument that he (and the government he represents) couldn’t possibly be stupid enough to actually follow through, is a pretty thin reed.
                      Especially in the wake of the Afghanistan fiasco.
                      And destroying our own energy independence.

                    3. The Reader thinks the best evidence that it isn’t true is a piece of recent history. Biden argued against the raid that got Bin Laden during the Obama administration.

              2. I get what you’re saying, but the whole “thought” that follows “Biden” threw me for a loop. Maybe his handlers thought. Maybe. But Biden…?

                Otherwise, count me in the doubt column until serious evidence appears. Hersh does not qualify as serious or evidence in my opinion. I can respect that other people differ on this, but, well, other folks have said it better in this thread alone (h/t balzaq, Drak, and thereader).

              1. Well, yeah. Consider that the dollar used to be worth more than the Euro, not too long ago. They’ve been printing it like an African country.

                I find it amazing that despite all that, our economy is still as strong as it is. Truly. And it could get so much better just as soon as fedgov takes its fat foot off the brakes.

          2. I discovered, to my utter amazement, that Russia doesn’t have container shipping outside their major ports. No container trucks. They just don’t have it. Not a thing.

            Consequently, every single frigging thing they do has to be loaded/unloaded by hand or forklift. Because no shipping containers. Oh, and their military trucks don’t have cranes or even lift gates.

            Even the Chicoms have container shipping. But not the Russians.

            1. I don’t know about the civilian economy, but the Russian Army doesn’t seem to have forklifts at all. Many many Twitter threads from Trent Telenko about this. Apparently they’re still working on the WW2-style “conscript labor is free and doesn’t require diesel, so why not just use that?” principle.

              1. That’s exactly what they’re doing. And therefore having a lot of trouble getting ten-ton rocket pods off the back of the stake bed and installed on the launcher. Takes hours and they have to build field-expedient ramps and use winches made of tree stumps.

                Whereas the American solution is to get a teenaged girl to drive an Oshkosh or S&S truck with HIGHMARS pods on the back, unload the whole thing herself with the on-board crane in a few minutes, put the empty pods back on and then go back for another load. Meanwhile the self-loading launcher trucks dump their own empties, pick fresh pods up off the ground and boogie to their next launch location.

                But then the President decides to leave half the inventory in Afghanistan for the enemy to use rather than bring it all home, so it is a little hard to say who has the advantage here.

                1. One of my favorite photos was of a Russian rail yard where aircraft bombs were being transported loosely stacked in open-topped, no-doors coal cars. Durr what?

                  1. They’re like drunken serfs from the Middle Ages, using stolen technology.

                    But Europe has been letting those drunks wage war and f- over their own fuel supply FOR A YEAR.

                    So you have to take a hard look at Europe (and the USA) and ask who’s benefiting from this farce.

                    And while we’re at it, who is benefiting from Canada not selling natural gas to Europe during this time when they’re short? Not Canada, for sure.

                    I don’t know who it is, just now. But we will find out eventually.

                    1. Well, that’s the point, innit? Nobody is benefitting from this, because the pain has not yet gotten to the point where the people in power start questioning their religious dogma. Canada won’t sell because fOsSiL fUeLs ArE bAd. Germany won’t let umpteen different nations donate their German-made tanks because, um, because the SPD is shot through with Kremlin-lickers? Probably why they won’t restart their nuke plants, either, in combination with nUkEs ArE eViL.

                      I mean, when the German Green Party, that wouldn’t have even existed if not for the KGB funding them back in the ’70s, are like “no, f*** Russia, give Ukraine everything it wants”, then what the everlasting hell is up with the SPD?

                      The only people who seem to be benefitting at all are American LNG shippers, to the detriment of … New England! whose natural gas woes are entirely self-inflicted in the first place. Okay, New York helped.

                    2. Take that work ethic and mentality that y’all just spoke of concerning basic military & civilian logistics. Now apply it to power, water, and sewer infrastructure. There’s a LOT wrong with the culture, along with a few bright spots.

                      I say the culture, because it ain’t just politics that’s downstream of it. Work ethic, innovation, efficiency, all of it is, too. Their main export, again, is a natural resource. Mostly unmodified. This is third world economies 101. They’re still there.

                      Socialism is a heckuva drug, folks.

                  2. Without the fuse assembly, a bomb, or artillery projectile, is rather stable and hard to set off. Open coal cars are metal, thus can’t normally burn.

                    Fuses are the twitchy bit. Normally they go separately, and are only added right before loading.

                    It is an old artillery prank to “accidently” drop an un-fused shell next to a n00b and start hollering.

                    1. I believe that is true, ONLY IF you’re using Western insensitive munitions. Otherwise there wouldn’t have been all those titanic weapons dumps explosions once HIMARS got on the scene in Ukraine.

                      The point was that where you have to crane each bomb one at a time in or out of a hopper to load or unload them is just about the least efficient means of transporting them imaginable. The safety was a secondary concern.

                    2. Hitting any HE with HE will set it off. A boxcar or coal car won’t prevent the Shockwave from propagating from warhead to target.

                      Russians use TNT filler for bulk stuff, or something even more stable. Same as us for same reasons.

                      You can burn TNT without setting it off, provided 1) not enough piled up to runaway superheat, and 2) no idiot strikes the burning boomstuff with a very hard blow.

                      You can heat your food over burning c-4, but don’t drop the pan on it.

                  1. In Canaduh we emptied our military warehouses and sent all kinds of ancient, obsolete crap to Ukraine. Old rucksacks.

                    Buuut, replaced it with nothing. Empty warehouses filled with emptiness. But still heated, right?

          3. So, would it be fair to just send Texans to fight the Russians the next time we need to worry about that kind of thing?

            (Just the image of Texans building tanks of their own is…worrying…)

              1. Fence pipe, drill-stem pipe, some old Ford or Chevy engines (or both, because of denominational conflicts), hmmm. And something like shotgun shells, because—The Ultimate Feral Hog Cannon!!!!

                  1. Ever see a belt fed 12 gage? I have. Think scaled up MAC-10 on a pintle mount, modded to feed from a cloth belt.

                    Y’all hold mah beer and watch this!


                    Bombombombombombombombombombombombombombombombombombom! Yeeeehawwwwwww! Bombombombombombombombombombombom!

                    Just wow.

      2. Texas is larger than Ukraine, which is the largest European country (Russia is partially in Asia). We have metropolitan areas with larger populations than some European countries.

      3. Apparently the Northwest Ordnance was our first legal recognition of that, because the base subdivision for surveying was the township, defined as a square 6 miles on a side.

        1. I’m trying to recall the book I read about the continuing effect the systematic township system had on the psyche of communities formed under it. (And their comparative advantage over similar communities that weren’t. e.g. Southern Indiana vs. Northern Kentucky.)

          And failing.

          It had a good bit of commentary about good government planning being putting a structure in place for spontaneous order to crystallize around.

    3. Oh, heck, I drive 300 miles north and I’m not just in the same country, I’m in the same state. I’m going to be driving 650 miles to a summer camp for my daughter’s troop, and that’s just one state over. 1100 miles for the summer camp my son’s troop is going to, and I think we’re going the three-state route.

      When the Lewis & Clark expedition to explore the Louisiana Territory came back, people thought they had died because they’d been gone so long. Nope, just trying to get a hint of what was in that purchase…

      1. Eh, as the miles go up, time is more important than distance. I managed to hit San Antonio in eighteen hours in my work truck. LibertyCon was only around four hours, depending on traffic. Heading up the East Coast, depending, could take around twelve or as little as eight.

        1. Old Joke:
          A: I can get in my truck and drive all day, and still be on my ranch!
          B: Yeah, I had a truck like that once.

      2. Well, if I drove about 300 miles north(ish), I could end up in Portland. I’d count that as a different planet. /VBEG

      3. going to be driving 650 miles to a summer camp for my daughter’s troop
        going to be driving 650 miles to a summer camp for my daughter’s troop

        Which camps?

        When we go to Tetons/Yellowstone. It is over 300 miles to get out of Oregon, and we aren’t driving from the coast. Over 600 miles to get across Idaho (it a long, long, way across the fat high plains of Idaho, uphill and against the dang wind, both ways).

        1. Meriwether in Oregon, and Buffalo Bill in Wyoming. (Interestingly enough, my brother worked in a camp just west of there the summer after he graduated from college—and I will have to ask the BB staff if their property used to belong to the Girl Scouts, because my MiL attended a camp right about there 70 years ago.)

          1. Sounds like fun. Troop never made either Meriwether (I think it is the rotation now for less experienced scouts VS Baker, for the two troops near us) or Buffalo Bill.

            Which options are the boys doing in Buffalo Bill? (And I thought having black bear mamma and her COYs having to be located out of Baker each summer the staff week was exciting! Grizzlies and Black Bear abound.)

            Are you staying in camp for either one?

            650 miles means at least one night going and one night coming back. Do you know where the caravan is staying? 1100 miles is going to be 3 or 4 nights, don’t remember the rules. Just know there are rules for hours of driving.

            The 2003 Philmont contingent flew to Phoenix out of Portland then two passenger vans (through relatives of other member contingents got the crew to Philmont and back. Chose to fly because all 4 adults were on leave without pay to do this. Taking vehicles or even the train meant at least another week or more. (The other contingent did take the train to Philmont.) I could have taken vacation but no way would Philmont approve me being on a trek. Medical condition fine. No medications. But my weight/height ratio they would not approve. As it was hubby had to get special dispensation via additional letter from his doctor, because of the medication he is on.

            1. We’re still planning for Meriwether—since I have a relative who lives pretty near you (River Loop), I am going to ask her if we can camp in the backyard for one night on the way up. (Way down would probably be Medford, and I’d really like to get them to do a play in Ashland, timing would be Twelfth Night for the Elizabethan Theatre.)

              And we’re still planning for BB. Time on the road—including rest stops—is ten hours a day, which means we’d probably do two eight-hour drive times to put us right on the Idaho side of the border on Saturday night, giving a comparatively short drive on the last leg. They have a Wednesday “out of camp” day that still needs to be planned; because it’s deep summer we the adults are wary of Yellowstone, given horrible traffic, but we’ve heard Cody is a fun day trip.

              I am one of the designated adults on both trips. There will be a female “provisional” Scout (coming on her own, without the troop) on the BB trip, so even though her dad is one of the adults, there needs to be a registered female leader along for the drive there. And I’m an ASM for my daughter’s troop. Ought to be fun, except for the driving part.

              1. It’s deep summer we the adults are wary of Yellowstone, given horrible traffic

                Pack your patience. It is the popular parking areas that get jammed (Old Faithful, Norris Basin, etc.) But there is enough smaller areas that don’t. Animal jams are where cars plug roads, not entirely the fault of drivers. For some reason those nice wide clear paths are popular with the buffalo. Who knew?

                Also, coming from the south, and a short day, your last day. You probably have the last day route planned but something to consider:

                Come into Wyoming over Teton Pass from Victor. At the Wilson Entrance, turn toward Wilson and Moose Teton entrance. Drive Moose Rd (slow drive but possibility of bear, moose, deer, and elk). Go North through *Tetons (Tetons, Bear, Elk, Pronghorn, all **possible sighting), Roosevelt Parkway, and *Yellowstone southern Entrance. Exit on the East Yellowstone exit at Fishing Bridge toward Cody. This will bring you pass a popular waterfall, the mud pots (Grant Jctn go NE), and Hayden Valley (bison, possibility of Eagle, bear, and wolf). Drive is along the Yellowstone River (off and on).

                (*) Hopefully there are two adults, one for each vehicle, with the annual or Veteran (Lifetime Free) National Park Passes (or purchasable at the Wilson gate entrance).

                (**) Not guarantied. Possible.

                Can you tell we’ve done this, more than once or twice? (Hubby has a senor lifetime pass.) We’ll have a better eyes on view of the damage done by the June 2022 flooding this June. We’re there (coming in via Cody headed to W. Yellowstone, so we’ll go by Buffalo Bill Camp) June 2, coming south from Waterton AL (long day). Only 3 nights, 4 days, before we move on to Tetons. But we’ll take in the whole park, especially Lamar and Hayden Valleys.

                River Loop

                100% in my neck of unincorporated Eugene. We are a mile or so west of River Road. River Loop I & 2 are east of River Road. We don’t have enough room for the tents (in our very squishy backyard). OTOH if you need space I can get you in contact with the coordinator (neighbor) with the Irvington Grange where OTC troop 182 meets.

              2. There will be a female “provisional” Scout (coming on her own, without the troop) on the BB trip, so even though her dad is one of the adults, there needs to be a registered female leader along for the drive there.

                That is one of the changes with the new (more or less) co-ed policy. Venturing there had to be at least one registered same gender adult leader on mixed gender youth outings. But BSA didn’t (i.e. all male scouts, could have all female registered leaders on outing. Not anymore.)

                You are going to have so much fun on both trips.

                Another mother and I generally ended up being two designated leaders for our sons’ troop summer camps, with the male designated leaders rotating in and out during the week, or come in for the night. She was a substitute teacher. I could take vacation time. All the guys had to take leave without pay (hubby had two floater holidays but he couldn’t count on getting permission to use them during the summer).

    4. Heck, how far can one go on an 9 hour flight from London?

      It is a nine hour flight from SF to NYC.

      How long does it take to drive across France, Germany, Span, etc.? Length of Italy is longer. It is 43 hours non-stop driving SF to NYC. If you plan on stopping over night, figure average of 70 MPH for 10 hour drive days (take us 13.5 hours to drive 950, average ~70 mph, from Jackson, WY to Eugene, and it is 85 MPH across Idaho. FYI, for us, not sustainable, day after day.) That is 700/day miles, or 6 days. Further east traveled the lower the average MPH, so figure 7 – 9 days of travel. And you’ve never left the United States. That isn’t taking into account the route from Seattle to the Florida Keys.

      1. “It is a nine hour flight from SF to NYC.”
        Five and a half-ish, says American – did you subtract out the time change, +3?

        Doesn’t change the point.

        1. Five and a half-ish, says American – did you subtract out the time change, +3?

          No. I googled it. Of coarse google probably took into account that closest airport is Eugene. And no flight out of Eugene (other than the roller coaster LA/SF/Medford/Eugene/Portland/Seattle, Vegas, Denver, Phenoix, flights) is “regular”. Roller coaster, plane changes. Coming back from the east coast is worse, not only plane changes, but long wait times at plane changes. Although did say SF so should be direct flight. Maybe “seems like it”, with the +3 hours?

          1. Yeah, starting in EUG does add some time. Last summer we had a EUG – DFW – LHR trip at about 14 total hours, until American started fiddling with connecting times; they offered EUG 0600 – PHX – DFW evening – LHR. Wound up EUG noon – DFW, stay overnight, DFW evening to LHR.

            Last time in JFK was 2018, from SFO. Another overnight, before moving on the next day, via Queen Mary2.

            1. In the 1990s I thought about visiting my brother, who was stationed in England. At the time, almost all the flights left from New York, and the NY ones were by far the cheapest. And the British end was just a few miles from my destination.

              Getting from Little Rock to NY, though… there were no direct flights, and it cost substantially more LR-NY than the transatlantic hop. By the time everything got added up, it cost more than I could afford.

              Flip side, my brother flew back to LR a couple of times, bringing his wife and daughter on for shopping trips. It cost him about a quarter of what I would have to pay since his flight originated on the other end.

              I ran into something when making shipments by truck; the price could by much different depending on where the order was filed. I found I could sometimes cut the price in half by calling the destination terminal and giving them a credit card number. I never figured out how that worked, but at least I was able to take advantage of it sometimes.

        2. FWIW, direct flights from SFO or San Jose to Chicago (ORD) ran about 4 hours. ORD to the left coast occasionally took a lot longer because of some impressive head winds. (Sitting on the tarmac in Las Vegas or Phoenix is boring…)

      2. New York to Low Angeles is Moscow to Madrid.

        There’s a humorous take on the difference between the US and the UK:

        In the US, 100 years is a long time.
        In the UK, 100 miles is a long way.

      3. Driving from Porto, Portugal to Moscow is only 60 miles short of driving from New York to LA. (100km for the Europeans you may want to use this fact on.)

          1. Not much of an exaggeration, in truth. There are plenty of places more than a hundred miles from the nearest human. Drop it at lunchtime in the summer, only seismologists would notice.

            Canada is big. It’s ridiculous how completely empty most of it is.

              1. There are more people in New York City than there are in all of Ontario. And nearly all of Ontario lives within 200 miles of the US border. The rest is moose, mosquitoes and muskeg. Traversable only in the winter. You want to go someplace in summer, you fly in with a float plane.

                1. Umm, maybe.

                  I actually looked into this a year ago or so. According to the populations listed in Wikipedia, if the ten Canadian provinces plus the three territories (consolidated into one) were made US States, they would fall into the ranks as follows:

                  5 — Ontario (between NY and PA)
                  14 — Quebec (between VA and WA)
                  25 — BC (between MN and SC)
                  30 — Alberta (between KY and OR)
                  45 — Manitoba (between HI and NH)
                  48 — Saskatchewan (between ME and RI)
                  51 — Nova Scotia (between MT and DE)
                  54 — New Brunswick (between SD and ND)
                  59 — Newfoundland & Labrador (about 90% the population of smallest state WY)
                  60 — Prince Edward Island (about 1/3 Newfoundland)
                  61 — Yukon/NWT/Nunavut (about 1/4 Newfoundland)

                  1. Or, to avoid teeny tiny states, you could conglomerate several of the provinces as follows:

                    5 — Ontario (between NY and PA)
                    14 — Quebec (between VA and WA)
                    17 — Central Canada (AB, SK, MB, NT, NU) (between AZ and MA)
                    26 — Western Canada (BC, YU) ( between MN and SC)
                    40 — Eastern Canada (NL, PE, NS, NB) (between KS & NM)

              1. Toronto.

                Of course, that may be the born and bred Montrealer in me. Screw the Leafs!

  12. My dad was a Depression kid from North Carolina, but he spent a tour in Britain during WWII. I remember having a talk with him where he emphatically told me people in other parts of the world don’t think the same way, or do things for the same reasons. The advice stuck.

  13. One of the advantages of reading SF and participating in fandom is that, in principle, you are thinking about some of these differences and being exposed to them recreationally, frequently a decade ahead of general pop culture.

    Of course, individual mileage will vary dramatically.

    1. “…thinking about some of these differences and being exposed to them recreationally”

      Good point, but even most sf fans don’t seem able to see the similarity between “human from alien culture” and “alien from alien culture”, and subconsciously treat the first as not alien/different at all.

      One of my favorite authors who handled this issue well was Gordon Dickson; his “The Alien Way” and “None But Man” used plot to point out that cultures vary widely regarding identical issues, even when they seem similar outwardly.

  14. Unless you moved a lot within the country, you have no idea how different we are even inside the country.

    But: As I like to say, human nature hasn’t changed at all in the last 200,000 years, except that our in-groups have gotten bigger, way way WAY past the Dunbar Number. So if I found myself in a pub in Leipzig, or Lima, or Zanzibar, and there was another American there, we would bond over the things we had in common, even if he or she was a different ethnicity and political faction and from across the country from me. Yes, even a NYCer.

    1. Of course. I bonded with American expats in Porto over the A Team. ALL OF US, including the insufferable academics, watched it religiously and talked about it next day.
      Stupid little things….

  15. While travel is generally believed to broaden the mind, travel by itself is not sufficient

    Sometimes you just have to keep your eyes open.

    The last time I ran a tabletop RPG, it was a modified Yanks-In-Space rediscovering-the-fallen-empire setup but set on a conquered/colonized world. Now, I’ve never been anywhere but Canada, but the end of the campaign, one of my players who had traveled extensively worldwide complimented me on capturing the essence of what a Third World country is like.

      1. That should be to their benefit, then. Our ruling class walks on eggshells to please the Mexican government.

      2. They’ll try. Heaven knows, they’re going for it.

        Example, after Christmas 2022 a provincial police officer was murdered by [lowlife] in the next town over from here. Today I found out that [lowlife] has been -released- on bail, most likely why the cop shop was like a kicked hornet nest. I do believe they might be a tad upset. I would be.

        Now, very important to note that I am pretty sure this type of thing has never happened before in Canada. I know of no other case in which a policeman died and the perp got bail. This particular perp is a -beauty- too, priors for domestic assault, drugs, guns, assaulting police and a bunch more stuff. He’s a piece of work. But there he is, free as a bird because member of protected minority.

        So, I guess we will see what turns up in the next year or so on the political front. I doubt the cops will take this lying down.

        1. particular perp is a -beauty- too, priors for domestic assault, drugs, guns, assaulting police

          Guns? In Canada? Where TPTB disarmed everyone? Oh. Wait. That is right. Make guns illegal, only criminals have guns. What can anyone down here say? Other than, Cringe and Ouch, our sympathy.

          I do believe they might be a tad upset. I would be.

          I bet the police aren’t happy, too.

          1. I actually meant the police. Canadian dialect, that’s what “cop shop” means. It’s the police station. They were uncharacteristically active when I drove by.

          1. The death squad is the objective, both official and freelance.

            Thus increasing oppression and distrust. Break the system so Revolution, then we get the Dictatorship of the Proletariat Radiant Future assured to us by Marx and Mao.

            You will be made to participate. For your own good, of course.

            Yes. They really think so.

        2. And given that they’re likely depending on said cop shops to help them turn folk into serfs, they may find this bitting them in interesting ways later on.

          1. I will say that I saw an article today about Metro Toronto Police standing around watching while a junkie was shooing up -in- the subway station.


            Again, this is a very new thing. I lived in Toronto for ten years, I never saw bums sleeping on the subway or the streetcars. Bums had hiding places, they didn’t lie around where you could see them. But now? They’re -everywhere-.

            Having known more than a few cops, it is strongly doubtful they were standing around watching buddy shoot up because they wanted to. They were -ordered- to. But they don’t like it.

            The situation in Caledonia has probably done more damage to police morale in this country than any other single event. One of their guys got killed in cold blood. Assassinated, straight up. The killer is OUT, on bail. They’re all sitting there, thinking about that.

            It’ll be hard for the Liberals to run a police state if the cops never leave the donut shop.

          2. Cops as an org obey the State. Push come to shove, they obey.

            The few who won’t, typically quit. The org just hires more “biddable” minions.

            Note: most cops lose 100% of pension if fired, even at 19 years. So the longer they have served, the more the State has over them. Add the simple expedient of minor corruption, even a “big game pool”, and “Officer Jolly” chooses the brown shirt that keeps the cop in the pension, and out of “general population”.

            There are exceptions.

            But study any formerly free-ish country that fell to Nazi or Bolshie. The Cops go Chekka, fast, because it protects their families, at least at first.

            Do -not-, ever, count on LEO disobedience to thwart tyranny. It just doest happen in numbers enough to matter. The individuals may quit. The org dons the boots.

  16. I moved quite a bit as a youngster and lived in several states. Not an easy thing for me to learn a complete new set of social cues in each new school. It took me until a principal pointed out to me that there WERE such a thing as social cues to get the concept. I was agin’ it when I heard.

    I can’t say it wasn’t valuable even though tough. I did learn that those people over there don’t do things the way they are done here.

    But even people who haven’t moved much should know that. After all everyone knows those kids from the Spartans team in the rival town next door are a bunch of hoodlums.
    And the pretty boys from the Hornets team in the college town over thataway are rich snobs who wear preppy clothes and try to date our cheerleaders.


  17. Interesting side note that probably goes better in yesterday’s thread than todays, but apparently during the lockdowns around 240k kids vanished from the public school rosters the known transfers and drops cannot account for.

    Striking, given how all the other institutions seem to be coming up rotten too…

        1. Nonexistent students, nonexistent voters…do I sense a trend here?

          If only the Democrats could live in their nonexistent world and leave the rest of us alone…

        2. Same situation as all the “deserter” LEOs in New Orleans in 2005. Most were merely paychecks going …. somewhere else.

  18. I remember watching a CNN story years ago about the frequency with which Asian girls marry non-Asian guys. At one point the narrator said, “Asian boys are often under a lot of pressure from their mothers to marry Asians because they want to continue the culture.”
    I laughed fit to die. OF COURSE Asian mothers want an Asian daughter-in-law who’ll put up with their $#!+

    1. Oof, there’s a good example of Asian mother who wants a submissive daughter-in-law in Gokenin Zankuro,

      Main character’s been engaged for years, but won’t marry the younger fiancée Sumi (at least in the first 2 seasons I’ve seen); my read on it is that she sees Zankuro as the person who can rescue her, while he’s already drowning trying to support his own household and his mother’s impossible demands. He can trust the geisha Tsutakichi to look after herself. Sumi just folds to whatever his mother wants, including ordering 100-ryo feasts in anticipation of Zankuro bringing back that much money from the latest very odd job.

  19. There are places (or at least, there were 30 years ago) in the US that are very much like the village in Portugal in some ways. We lived for a couple of years in Groton, Massachusetts, renting a pre-war house (pre-Revolutionary War, that is) from someone whose family had owned it for decades. She told us that if we were to stay in Groton, we would never be accepted as locals. Our children, if any, would never be locals. Our grandchildren might be considered local, if we were lucky.

    As far as standard of living, I looked into the data to make a comparison between Denmark and the US maybe ten years ago because I was arguing with somebody on-line who thought that Europeans had it a lot better than we do. I found, and pointed out, that the average amount of living space in Denmark was about half the size of that in the US, that cars cost roughly twice as much (for the same model – a Honda Civic, I think), and gas and food were much higher in price. Taxes were well over 50% of income, too, to pay for the Danish welfare state. And that didn’t include the VAT that’s hidden in everything you buy there. By the time I was done, I could demonstrate that poor people in the US had about the same standard of living as the middle class in Denmark. The person I was having the discussion with wasn’t at all happy to see those numbers, but, of course, I don’t think they changed their mind about the comparative position of the two countries.

    1. You missed the stat for “smug” being about 5x for euros in general and 10x in places.

      Versus our “self assurance” quotient, of course…

    2. My very own homeschooled daughter, who is an engineer BTW, is convinced that Europe is entirely socialist, and that it is the wave of the future.

      I have no idea where I went wrong, other than letting her go to college, but we could hardly stop her, right?

      But yeah, she needs to see how they actually LIVE in other countries.

      Not the utopia she imagines for sure.

      1. Engineers think that everything in life can be solved with the right system. I have one here right now telling me that “guaranteed minimum income” based on taxing the rich is a good thing and the wave of the future. Doesn’t get it when I say the rich will just leave and the middle class will stop working so hard to become the rich.

        This is because engineers think that A) everyone is smart like they are and B) everyone will obviously cooperate and work together to keep the system functioning, because that’s the best solution.

        They get very angry when you point out things like people cutting down light poles in American cities to sell for scrap, or copper theft as a full-time business. Such things can’t happen in Real Life.

        Or my all-time favorite, the guys in the Middle East who shave away at the earthen walls of the village sewage lagoon for fertilizer. With a backhoe. And the lagoon is on top of a plateau above another village. And they keep taking soil from the same place, because that spot is closest to the road and they don’t have to walk as far if they work there. And they Keep. On. Doing it.

        And then, shock and surprise, the wall of the lagoon fails! The million cubic yards of sewage cascades down the hill killing people in the village down there… and they blame the Israelis. Not the genius with the backhoe, and not the other genius who put a giant sewage lagoon UP HILL from a human habitation.

        Just remember engineers really, really think they can for sure make that system work, be it crypto, socialism or electric cars. Because the system -will- work. Right up until the people in it blow it up.

        1. In order to design a system, you have to understand all the parts you intend to use, and how they will interact.

          The parts of an economy, or a social system, are people. Most people don’t fully understand themselves, let alone anybody else. You never know how they will interact, either.

          And so the Perfect Systems fail catastrophically, time after time, and the Social Engineers can never figure out why. The Design is Perfect!

          Obviously, all they need to make their Perfect World a reality is Perfect People! Start by disposing of all those pesky imperfect people…
          How can imperfect people create a Perfect World? How could imperfect people live in a Perfect World?

          1. “In order to design a system, you have to understand all the parts you intend to use, and how they will interact.”

            First, you have to get them to realize that there ARE other parts and they DO interact.

        2. The Reader observes that engineers age out of that belief in the perfect system. A young engineer sits around trying to design the perfect system. An old engineer sits around muttering ‘how is Murphy going to thwart me today?’ The break point is about age 40. The Reader never suffered from the perfect system delusion – he started his career in manufacturing.

          1. There are times (pretty much ALL of them) that I figure any ‘designer’ needs to spend a year or two in maintenance so they KNOW, from BITTER DIRECT experience what Bad Design is and does, and to NOT DO THAT.

        3. > telling me that “guaranteed minimum income” based on taxing the rich is a good thing and the wave of the future. Doesn’t get it when I say the rich will just leave

          Nah, they’ll just move to “Hollywood accounting” (also used by the publishing industry) and people like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates will suddenly be a whole lot less “rich.”

          1. As an added bonus, this will hit people accumulating wealth and thus make it easier for our current elites to stay wealthy.

      2. Ask her how it can be the way of the future when countries that go socialist forget how to have kids.
        Europe, other than recent and hostile immigrants is a VAST old age home.

  20. I’m goin’ to take a little trip, down paradise’s endless shores
    They say that travel broadens the mind
    Till you can’t get your head out of doors

    — Elvis Costello

  21. Cultures? There are people who insist that you must be SO MISERABLE sitting over there doing your own thing and so they will pester you until you drop it and do the thing they like and you hate instead, and thinks themselves very wonderful for it.

      1. The NY number six subway line used to stop at South Ferry, until they got new cars with different door spacing. South Ferry was an arched station and the doors didn’t line up with the arches. Now passengers on the 6 end at City Hall, but it still had to go to South Ferry to turn around.

        My favorite thing about the subway, though, is that the IRT, IND, and BMT are all on different loading gauges so IND cars cannot use IRT tracks and vice versa. In fairness, they were built by different private companies over a century ago and weren’t designed to be interchangeable, but it makes for a very inefficient system and there’s no fixing it.

        1. Long ago, there were two major railroads with different track gauges. They reached an agreement, and one day one of the railroads shut down. Crews from both railroads rushed out, pulled the spikes and repositioned the rails. Within a few days they had converted that railroad to the agreed-upon rail spacing.

          Meanwhile, mechanics were converting the engines and rolling stock. That took longer.

          The government was not involved.

          1. Almost the entire rail system of the South was converted in 1886, most of it in a week or two, from a 5 foot gage to 4 foot 9 inch. Track and stock both.

            Amazing feat.

          2. “The government needs to mandate $THING for progress!”
            “No, it does NOT, and SHOULD NOT.”

            Example: Phonograph cylinders. What government mandates said to go to disks?
            NONE. You want to make cylinder phonographs & cylinder records? Go for it! Good luck. No law says you can’t. None was ever needed.

  22. Look. I am not here to kick arses until folks get in line. I’m old, cranky, and haven’t got the balance or stamina to straighten out the 8 Billion or so who don’t see things like I do.

    I will tell amusing or even actually funny stories with a moral. And include a side or three of self-deprecation to soften the buffeting. Because folks either listen or don’t. Some folks need to learn the hard way.

    Not my place to judge, either. There is but one Judge. Each of us needs to deal with that in our own way. For some, it seems disbelieving or ignoring works.

    In the meantime, I hit five years, eight months cancer-free this week, I still have friends from my teens and twenties (think Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations), and I can still afford the mortgage and a bit of food for the wife and me.

    Life is a blessing. To enjoy it, we need to show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Let’s show each other, first; then spread out to all our neighbors.

  23. Well, I just got my daily quota of irony.

    I got an ‘invoice notice’ from PayPal claiming that I owe $369.00 for some order I never made. I set up a PayPal account…hmmm, 10 or 12 years ago? Never used it.

    Now one of the ads on my E-mail is “Help minimize fraud with PayPal!”

    You can’t make this shit up…

    1. After PayPal’s revealed (“attempted” but not believing they TRULY rolled back, just that the bastages are waiting to pull it off another way or with different wording) evilness, I don’t put anything past them. I had just set up an account and they did that… and I killed that account and said why. No second bite of the apple for those anti-Americans.

      1. I killed my PayPal account as soon as I figured out how to do so. Already had unlinked any CC’s (which were subsequently cancelled). Only used it once. Found an alternative direct route. If an enterprise will only accept PP then they do not want my business.

  24. The problem seems to be worse on the Left, because they are so good at ignoring evidence. I’ve concluded that Democrat politicians assume that the rulers and leaders of other countries are as gullible as the people who vote Democrat.

  25. Give me insight if I’m wrong, Sarah.

    A few years ago I realized I had always analyzed war from what I now consider Anglosphere logic. The Anglosphere goes to war to facilitate trade. But I started to realize that a lot of the rest of the world uses trade to facilitate war.

    I love to tell people how the United States has conquered Mexico City twice, then left because it wasn’t profitable.

    I remember an article I read a few years ago, that claimed that Germany was making inquiries with Russia to see how much Russia would pay them to be their protectorate. And supposedly the Russians basically said, ‘What, no, you pay us for protection.’

    Americans are really bad at empire.

    1. I think we might actually be following the Ankh-Morpork theory of war. What was it…

      “We own all your helmets, we own all your shoes…”

      “… and if you’re gonna be attacking me, I’m calling in the lease. Give me my sword back.”

      1. The problem with that is that all the lessee (with the sword) has to say is “make me” and the lessor (with the loan paperwork) is screwed.

      2. Well, that was Kipling’s thought in this:

        The Peace Of Dives

        “Hast thou seen the pride of Moab? For the swords about his path,
        “His bond is to Philistia, in half of all he hath.
        “And he dare not draw the sword
        “Till Gaza give the word,
        “And he show release from Askalon and Gath.

        “Wilt thou call again thy peoples, wilt thou craze anew thy Kings?
        “Lo! my lightnings pass before thee, and their whistling servant brings,
        “Ere the drowsy street hath stirred,
        “Every masked and midnight word,
        “And the nations break their fast upon these things.

        “So I make a jest of Wonder, and a mock of Time and Space,
        “The roofless Seas an hostel, and the Earth a market-place,
        “Where the anxious traders know
        “Each is surety for his foe,
        “And none may thrive without his fellows’ grace.

        “Now this is all my subtlety and this is all my Wit,
        “God give thee good enlightenment. My Master in the Pit.
        “But behold all Earth is laid
        “In the Peace which I have made,
        “And behold I wait on thee to trouble it!”

        Eleven years later, the wait was over.

      3. A city in the Hanseatic League found itself under siege because it lent a lot of money to a king. The peace terms were forgiving the debt.

  26. Wait, WHAT!!!
    Marsh has a girlfriend?
    And you apparently like her?
    This demands a blog post all of its own my dear niece.

      1. I am obviously a doddering old fool and clueless which I proved with our meeting at the elevators at LC. Live in my own little world I does.

          1. Well duh! Sure enough, right there in digital black and white. Only excuse is I was on the road at the time and somewhat distracted, but then that’s not untypical of me any more.
            This does raise the obvious concerns of course. Given those twos’ proclivities, as a couple they would of necessity be a force of nature, and Good Lord in Heaven what sort of children might that combination of genetics bring forth!

            1. Isn’t that the best kind of relationship, though?

              I’ve never met the individuals in question, but in general, I’m in full support of couples that one could easily imagine fighting back to back through hordes of Evil Minions. Particularly if they make the slightly more intelligent Minions go “Nope, I’m out of here. Bye.”

      2. Runs through mental list, removes four, divides by the full moon and a box of computer chips, glances at Magic Eight Ball

        Ooooh! THAT girl. OK. Makes perfect sense.

        1. … I just noticed the terminology. They’re ENGAGED????

          Mazel tov, a gantze Mazel!

  27. One of my funniest “gee whiz” moments was when I took a walk through the fields in Belgium, and came back with a tick on my leg. I was like, “Wow. I didn’t know they have ticks here just like we do in the U.S.”

    On the other hand, it was only one tick, not the hundred or so I’d picked up one time walking through a sheep pasture in Northern California.

    1. other hand, it was only one tick, not the hundred or so I’d picked up one time walking through a sheep pasture in Northern California.

      Or Oregon/Washington or even more if you walk through brush/woods in Eastern US (apparently).

      1. Southern AR forest/farm. My dad and I walked the boundaries of 60 acres to make sure the “Posted signs and fence were still good. There were ticks, seed ticks (ticks that are about the size of a period) and chiggers were everywhere on us, including places only your spouse should see.

        By the time we applied the calamine we really were “pinkskins”, and we ended up spending the night in an Epsom salt tub. I have never been more miserable.

        1. Yes. Oregon, anywhere on lower 48 west coast, is mild compared to the East coast or South US. We don’t have as many varieties of ticks, or as many. We don’t have chiggers. While we have mosquitoes, and no-see-ems, they are not our state bird.

    2. Tall Grass Prairie. I swear I got more ticks there than in any forest you can name. One reason the Indians burned the prairies was to drop the bug numbers from “anemia-inducing” to “irritating.”

      1. Weirdly, in five plus decades of outdoor activities, I have extracted exactly one tick from my person, and it let go rather easily despite being huge.

        I guess I taste bad or something.

        1. My first camping outing was Elk Camp when I was 4 weeks old (there are pictures somewhere, also last Elk Camp, I understand I got sick) not that I remember it. 66 years of outdoor activities, including 18 months over 4 years of seasonal work with the USFS bushwhacking around and through (marking/cruising) presale units, never extracted a tick. Found them on clothing, once or twice. I’d know if I was bit. I’m allergic to bug bites (not anaphylactic or as bad as when I was a small child, but bad enough I notice when I get bit).

      1. The (somewhat) reassuring thing is that it takes half a day for them to give you Lyme disease if they latch on, because it takes that long to get to their mount parts. So doing a tick check every couple of hours is sufficient.

        Note: I have yet to have a tick on me. I tend to stay out of tall grass when hiking.

        1. Heck. Managed to bring home a tick and never got off of asphalt walkway. Neither me or the dog. Came home hitch hiking on the dog. Long BLACK fur. Sigh. I might have freaked a bit. She is on flea and Tick prevention that kills both. Ticks have to actually bite, but they don’t latch on. Brush her off outside the car before she goes in to get any ones just wandering around. Fleas are killed if they are even on her, not ticks, darn it. She isn’t the only dog that got ticks from that location. Just one of the lowest to the ground.

            1. Yes, ticks drop from trees. Ticks hide in dead leaf and needle piles too. It is a section of the path that hugs a steep hill thus a wide retaining wall. Let your dog walk that wall and (almost) guarantied they will pick up a tick, for all that the wall is two feet wide at the top, and concrete. Bigger dogs walk it regularly. Pepper has once (got away without a tick). When the other 3 dogs picked up ticks, reported the next weekend, decided Pepper didn’t need that challenge. She picked up one from the ground, instead (sigh). Not only black hair (bad enough on the black labs with short hair), but fluffy black hair.

              It isn’t like we don’t take her hiking on forest trails. Besides the Flea/Tick prescription, she gets sprayed with pet friendly repellent (mosquitoes are the target here, but works against ticks too), and she gets brushed before she goes back in the rig, and again before we go into the hotel room. People are more likely to bring ticks into their hotel room on their clothing than Pepper is from her fur. But nothing is perfect against ticks.

  28. Honestly, I’ve been trying to understand other people for years. In hindsight, there might be a connection between getting my bachelor’s anthropology and my then undiagnosed autism.

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