The Audacious Masculine – or – The Devil Went Down to Georgia On the Railroad- by maryh10000

The Audacious Masculine – or – The Devil Went Down to Georgia On the Railroad– by maryh10000

The audacious masculine is taking extreme, foolhardy, risks simply for the right to say, “I can SO do it!”

In “The Devil Goes Down to Georgia”, a Georgia musician bets with the Devil. Now there’s someone you can count on to keep his word! The contest: who is the better fiddle player?

The stakes for the musician could not be higher – he loses everything, his very soul. To win gains him a fiddle made of gold. But it is clear that this contest, for the musician, is not about money. A gold fiddle is useless for making music. The reason for winning is for bragging rights. It would prove that the musician is so good that even the most evil being in existence, an inveterate liar, cannot help but acknowledge him.

For the Devil, if he wins, he destroys another soul. If he loses (and why would he admit to loss anyway?) he loses only a meaningless bit of matter – a fiddle made of gold.

The modern folk song by The Longest Johns, “On the Railroad,” imagines a work song that could have been sung by the workmen, including freed slaves, whose back breaking labor built the transcontinental railway in the second half of the nineteenth century in the United States. “Sweat and blood gonna earn my pay,” they sing, and the grunts punctuate a tune that evokes a visceral sense of the immense physical exertion required; labor so hard that although the workman “ain’t no slave” he must “slave away,” where they “spare no quarter and… spare no man,” and each instructs the others that “if I should fall, leave me where I lay on the railway.” Grim, dirty, blood-soaked.

But in one of the middle verses, an audacious boast. The boss man has set a pace of a mile of railroad laid per day. And the workman sings back his boast: “I’ll make two for the look on his face.”

A stupid boast. Everything about the song says that a mile a day is already excruciatingly back-breaking labor. Why would the workman even try for two miles? What would he get for it except the boss’s expectation that he could try for twice the work per day that he had planned? And a more deadly pace for the workmen?

But the purpose of the audacious boast isn’t to win any material reward, just as it wasn’t for the musician. The musician must get even the devil to admit that he is the best musician, even should it cost him his soul. The railroad worker must stun the boss man with his sheer physical prowess, even should it cost him more sweat and blood and leave him fallen on the railway.

Why the audacious boast? What does each man gain by risking everything on something so meaningless?

In the end, each man triumphs over his opponent, who never had anything to lose, or even, actually, much to win.

The musician walks away from the devil, risking everything to play the fiddle the best that it can be played. And so, in risking everything in the boast, he becomes what he has boasted – the best. His music is better for his boast, and he has expanded what “best” means.

The railroad worker doesn’t walk away from the boss man. Not yet. Maybe not ever. Maybe he will fall on the railway to Frisco Bay. But he has given his sweat and blood and he has been paid. Even if he “slaves away,” this time he is “no slave.” He may have a boss man, but he does not have a master. If he makes it to Frisco Bay, he will have earned his pay, and while he has “dirt on his brow,” he also has “steel in his soul.” The boss man may only require a mile a day. But he knows he can do two. Because he is a free man and he chooses to so dispose of his labor.

The boast of the audacious masculine is that he will risk everything to go past what he has done before. If he fails, the price is catastrophic. But if he succeeds….

109 thoughts on “The Audacious Masculine – or – The Devil Went Down to Georgia On the Railroad- by maryh10000

  1. ‘The Devil Went Down to Georgia’ is a really fun song. If my siblings and I ever get a videogame written, I’m pondering naming a town Joha just to arrange a fiddle contest sidequest… it’d be funny to see how many got the joke.

    1. Heh, it’s probably clear from what my writing looks like, but that was my dream as a kid, writing for games, especially if I could pull off something with the feel of the old JRPGs! Of course that’s not happening now and moving from that writing mindset to one more suited for short stories and novels, well…isn’t exactly coming easily.

      1. I imagine complex magic systems would be a challenge to transfer. In videogames, one has tutorials. In writing, one has to ‘show, not tell’ such things.

        Not to mention lots of complex character names being easy enough to handle when they pop up over each line of dialogue, but really unwieldy and confusing in a book.

        1. There’s that, trying to get the feel of a fight right, and me ending up going down rabbit holes when it comes to the characters’ unique moves and spells as opposed to actually focusing on the things that matter when it comes to a story too.

          1. During a fight scene is the wrong time to explain how the magic works. If somebody uses a spell the readers have never seen before, you can describe the effects but that’s all.

            1. That part isn’t a problem. It’s more figuring out how to break the whole “-X amount of HP” mindset to handle close calls, injuries, and the like, though reading authors like ILOH absolutely helps with that. On the rabbit hole part that’s more me getting too stuck in world building notes to actually get anything written than anything.

  2. I like, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” yet at the same time I think it was a win-win for the Devil, given Johnny has fallen prey to the sin of pride.

    1. Good point about “Pride”.

      Of course, I suspect that somebody like Michael or Gabrial was keeping the Devil “honest”. 😀

    2. Really fun song…..But Pride in your real achievements, that you worked for, is no sin…false pride is…

        1. “Now my name is Johnny, and it might be a sin,”

          Not an admission of sin, but an admission of the possibility. I’d say that shows a remarkable piece of self-awareness, and thereby avoidance of that sin.

            1. It eliminates the possibility that you act in invincible ignorance, and also that your guilt is mitigated by ignorance less than grave.

              But it’s exactly as serious as committing it after making no effort to determine whether it’s a sin, and sometimes less serious than sticking your fingers in your ears and going “Lalalala! I can’t hear you!” to avoid figuring out that it’s a sing.

    3. It always reminded me of the old ballads where someone has to win a musical contest against the Queen of Faerie or someone similar. I’ve noticed that in most of those contests, the mortal wins, even it’s in a collection where a happy ending is far from universal. It seems that music is something we believe that humans just do better than demons or fairies.

      1. John Ringo did that in Monster Hunter: Grunge, where Chad has to play three nights for the Queen of Faery, or else. And Chad is not modest, not one bit.

      2. I Am Not A Folklore Expert, but I think the message here is that mortals can be creative, being in the divine image or what have you, and the Fae cannot, being fixed by their nature.

        Which makes me think about human art being creative but AI art quite literally being derivative. Forget Skynet, are we accidentally unleashing the Fae on the modern world?

        1. I’ve long thought that creativity, itself, is inseparable from the Imago Dei. Even in the folklore of giants (a trope almost as common as dragons and universal floods in the oldest legenderia), they’re almost always evil and brutish, clever-ish sometimes but un-creative, as though their fathers were something else than human, despite their form (traditional readings of Genesis 6 on the “sons of God and the Daughters of men” here).

    4. For those with at least a passing familiarity regarding The Dresden Files and Supernatural

      I read a very good crossover fanfiction once where Sam (with Lucifer in his head) accidentally teleported himself to Dresden’s reality by means of a loaded spell that he read out loud without thinking. (Lucy caught on a little too late.)

      Hijinks ensue, of course, and there’s a wonderful scene where Dresden’s being Harry Dresden to the devil himself, and Lucifer comments something to the effect of:

      “Are you sure you’re willing to wager I fear Uriel enough not to squash you like the bug you are?”

      Harry, being Harry, grins and drawls: “Well, my name’s Harry, and it might be a sin. But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret, ’cause I’m the best that’s ever been.”

      1. I’ve started following:

        They have one that has Samera VS Winchesters which gets Dresden involved.

        1. Ah, yes. There were a lot of folks in the comments getting worried when he involved Dresden, ’cause Harry does not respond well to being manipulated.

          But it all worked out well in the end. Not to mention an amusing behind-the-scenes involving Crowley!

    5. Consider the sequel:

      “The sin of pride”, the devil cried, “is what will do him in!”

    1. I’ve seen it maybe once straight through and chunks of it on different occasions. The sheer dumba**ery of what Obi Wan’s character is up to regarding the bridge makes it difficult to rewatch.

      1. Plus the sheer ahistoricity of it. The Japanese knew perfectly well how to build a bridge, thank you very much, and didn’t need Englishmen to show them how to do it right. The POWs were used as pure grunt labor.

        1. Yup. I’ve read the novel (haven’t seen the movie). And I’ve read an account by one of the PoWs who was actually there.

          IIRC, he didn’t actively dislike the author of the novel. But you could also say that he was not amused.

        2. Have you read “King Rat” by James Clavell?

          He had some firsthand experience with captivity under the Empire of Japan.

  3. A might profitably define himself by the trials he faces and the load he carries.

    Consider that each and every one of us grows, be it physically, mentally, or morally, by facing adversity. By overcoming obstacles, by meeting challenges, by setting goals and then surpassing them.

    We are made for this. Without effortful work, a mind goes wrong. Certain essential bits atrophy. Things that make us confident, capable, well-rounded, and humble are missing. We need the tasks that define us, that make us what we are.

    Consider how many old people you know that up and die mere months after retirement. A purpose is necessary for a balanced life. Consider how wild young men are when they lack purpose. They lash out, they do terrible things. But with purpose? A young man will still take risks, as young men always do, but those risks have a goal in mind.

    A purposeless life is one of fretful wandering. A purpose-filled life is one that holds peace within, no matter the storm without.

    Give young men something to strive against, something to test themselves with. Often enough, they will surprise you. Maturity comes from accepting responsibilities, and facing troubles and overcoming them.

    The world could use quite a bit more of that.

    1. I saw way too many professional military do just that, they retired, and then they died. Their entire existence was defined by their military career. Once that was done, there was nothing left for them to live for. Early on I decided that I would define myself. I am Michael Houst, I have these skills I’ve learned, and promotions I’ve earned; but I was not a senior NCO, I was a man who does the job of a senior NCO, and did it well. That mindset makes changing environments, not an extinction guarantee, but an opportunity for survival and gain.

      1. I very much agree. The skills we learn help define us, be we are not our rank or job title. Whatever that title may be, from CEO to street sweeper.

        That is why family is one of the best guarantors of longer life for men, I think. That purpose does not end when the chicks fly the coop. You never stop having that family tie. Then there are grandkids to consider, as well. A man alone, absent life purpose, just withers away.

        There are a lot of young men out there completely lacking in purpose. That may be one of the reasons they get drawn into the D party, along with potentially being surrounded by lefties in school. Leftism gives them a purpose that they didn’t have before, especially if their parents didn’t raise them right.

        It’s also one of the reasons that Dr. Peterson’s second book resounded so well in young men, I think. It gave them direction that nobody else did in life. Not a specific direction, but a way to find their own. That’s no small thing.

        1. “There are a lot of young men out there completely lacking in purpose.”

          And that is a major driver of the nihilism we see in the younger generations.

      2. Shrewd NCOs and officers tell the story of the hand in the bucket of water. Take it out, and look for the hole–it ain’t there. The world goes on, without you. I’m 32 years gone from Uncle Sam, and still kicking at a whole new gig. And fixin’ to put that one behind me as well. And not aimin’ to kick any bucket.

        1. I take a different approach. Take a clear bucket of water. Put your hand in it. Mark the water level. Pull your hand out. Mark the new level. There may not be a hole…but the level is lower.

          Never let anyone tell you that you did not make a difference.

        1. “Never live to work. Work to live.”

          Which is why my software career is so hard to put a title to. Designed software. Yes. Programmed. Yes. Supported end users. Yes. Usually all 3 at once.

    2. “Consider how many old people you know that up and die mere months after retirement.”

      Don’t remind me. Lets just say that retirement is not all that it was touted as. Which is why I’ve got feelers out for full-time employment…and if I could get the money together, would run for office.

      1. retirement is not all that it was touted as

        True for you.

        For me? Retirement is Great. I expect to be retired longer than I worked. (It is a goal.)

  4. Great post! I’ll have to find the railroad song. Men striving to accomplish the audacious and to be “the best” shows up in everything from sports (at all levels) to elite military units to uber-geekery (open-source software and hardware) to virtually all technological accomplishments from fire to spaceflight. Without that spur, we would not have roads or railroads or Linux or the Web or footprints on the Moon.

    Or, for that matter, the illustration at the top of this post. It’s clearly done by an AI (MidJourney or one of its cousins). It’s amazing what it gets right (perspective, color, lighting, character, pose, clothing, muscles, facial expression) and also what it gets wrong. The guy’s thumb is on the wrong side of his hand, and that hand is holding a “widget”, a round handle that becomes a flat surface near his other hand. And the rusty thing he’s lifting has no resemblance to any known railroad hardware, and it’s horribly unbalanced (is that a safe hanging off the end)?

    Nobody would have predicted that computers could make art, until some audacious person (almost certainly male) took a shot at it. And kept plugging away through several undoubtedly awful versions until he reached the current version, which isn’t half bad. And the next version will undoubtedly be better. And the expectation we all have, that the next version will be better, is the proof of Mary’s point.

    1. Well now that I’ve seen the thumb on the wrong side of the hand, I can’t unsee all the weirdness about this picture. The other hand is freakishly broad. The AI has the gist of the idea, but cannot execute it properly. This is rather comforting.

      1. There are whole bunch of extra fingers on each hand, I think.

        And the AI hasn’t quite gotten the hang of completely hiding parts you can’t draw behind other objects in the frame.

        1. I’ve found that “with four fingers on each hand,” is a good clause for many AI art prompts. It’s not a perfect fit, but many more hands come out anatomically plausible that way than without it.

      2. Yeah, AI frequently has trouble with fingers, and with making limbs with the rigidity of spaghetti. There are other issues that regularly crop up, but those by far seem to be the most common.

        1. The AI knows what kind of shapes and textures go next to other shapes and textures, but doesn’t have a lot of information on the three-dimensional hand and its possible contortions and the contexts for it to take one shape over another. So it puts a bunch of fingers next to each other and calls it good even if they’re bent weird or there are too many of them or in the wrong order.

          1. “My name is PNGio Montoya! You killed my father, prepare to… wait. Why do you have seven fingers on your right hand? I do not think that is supposed to point that way…”

  5. OK, last one wasn’t a boast, just done anyway (albeit audacious). So how about:
    “To the German commander:

      1. Back in the day, properly brought up and civilized officers seldom used that kind of language in public, even if they were blood and guts men of action and even if they knew the vernacular and may have thought it. What he had written down was “NUTS!”

        1. You may well be right, but my Dad, who was stationed only 60 miles away, in Soissons, told me otherwise….

        2. ” sir. You can’t reply ‘bullshit’. It wont look good in the history books. They wont even print you.”


          “That works, sir”


          “Nuts sir. Everyone will fill in the blue word. It will be infamous.”


          “(Typing furiously) “to the German Commander…..”


          A good clerk is essential to any commander. (Grin)

    1. Thank you so much for making me look that up!

      I saw another line from the British, under similar circumstances. (Back when they were just the more polite version of us):

      “Surrender? I’m terribly sorry, but we simply don’t have the facilities to house so many prisoners.”

  6. I like the quote from James Allen:
    “He who would accomplish little must sacrifice little; he who would achieve much must sacrifice much; he who would attain highly must sacrifice greatly.”

    When I think of the audacious masculine, I think of Tennessee Ernie Ford…”Sixteen Tons”, or the legend of John Henry, who according to folklore killed himself competing with a steam-powered drilling machine. And then there are the heroes of song and story who fight, and win, against meaner or tougher men: For instance, the the jealous man who took down Jim Croce’s “Bad, Bad, Leroy Brown”, Kenny Roger’s “Coward of the County”, and Johnny Cash “A boy named Sue.”
    Me, I learned early on that I was a weakling who didn’t have much physical fight in me, so I cultivated a different kind of tough in order to survive. (Now that I don’t have to face the same crowd of bullies, it doesn’t always serve me well anymore. )
    Then there’s what I learned when I had a Bright Idea that logicians have dismissed for a century, asked “why doesn’t it work? ” and kept attacking the problem until I found out why and got it to work. Getting my solution noticed from outside academia is a different kind of problem, but I’m intermittently working on that one, too.

    1. Knowing, or perhaps, understanding, why something doesn’t work is probably 80% of the solution.

      We know we can’t exceed lightspeed in this universe. But I’m not so sure we actually understand enough to find a solution to that problem, yet.

      1. Woe is me, for I have seen the elephant.

        John Godfrey Saxe/



        IT was six men of Indostan
        To learning much inclined,
        Who went to see the Elephant
        (Though all of them were blind),
        That each by observation
        Might satisfy his mind.


        The First approached the Elephant,
        And happening to fall
        Against his broad and sturdy side,
        At once began to bawl:
        “God bless me!—but the Elephant
        Is very like a wall!”


        The Second, feeling of the tusk,
        Cried: “Ho!—what have we here
        So very round and smooth and sharp?
        To me ‘t is mighty clear
        This wonder of an Elephant
        Is very like a spear!”


        The Third approached the animal,
        And happening to take
        The squirming trunk within his hands,
        Thus boldly up and spake:

        “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
        Is very like a snake!”


        The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
        And felt about the knee.
        “What most this wondrous beast is like
        Is mighty plain,” quoth he;
        “‘T is clear enough the Elephant
        Is very like a tree!”


        The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
        Said: “E’en the blindest man
        Can tell what this resembles most;
        Deny the fact who can,
        This marvel of an Elephant
        Is very like a fan!”


        The Sixth no sooner had begun
        About the beast to grope,
        Than, seizing on the swinging tail
        That fell within his scope,
        “I see,” quoth he, “the Elephant
        Is very like a rope!”


        And so these men of Indostan
        Disputed loud and long,
        Each in his own opinion
        Exceeding stiff and strong,
        Though each was partly in the right,
        And all were in the wrong!


        So, oft in theologic wars
        The disputants, I ween,
        Rail on in utter ignorance
        Of what each other mean,
        And prate about an Elephant
        Not one of them has seen!

        1. And not one of them said, “wait, that’s not what I’m experiencing, let’s compare notes and investigate further”. So while they may have been “to learning much inclined” they weren’t particularly interested in doing any.

          (Yes, I get that the Elephant is a metaphor for the divine, but that part usually gets left off the fable.)

          This came up on some blog recently, can’t remember where — maybe here? — and the commenter posted this version of the poem set to music performed by Natalie Merchant, which I thought was really nice:

          1. Given the moral, it is a metaphor for the divine (no, I haven’t seen THAT species of elephant), but the metaphor works just as well for the varieties of non-classical logic. Specialists one and all, and so devoted to the abstruse and arcane minutiae of their specialty that none of them has time to go back to a high-school level of notation and calculation and review what it really means. The situation resembles the old “Ptolemaic equants and epicycles work well enough, doncha know, you can’t do serious astronomy without them” argument.

            I’m trying to be just audacious enough to get attention without being dismissed as a kook, and not achieving it.

            1. Then again, we only get the metaphor because we see. It’s possible to have situation where one blind man actually finds the elephant, and the others blunder into a zebra, a giraffe, etc, so the first one is really right.

              1. This is certainly a tenable theory if one is still blind. However, once has seen the elephant and how many theories are partial views of the same beast, one cannot unsee it. There is a secondhand story to the effect that when Galileo first turned his telescope to the sky, he tried to show what he had seen to some of his fellow astronomers, and they refused to look. I believe it: I’ve spoken with their modern counterparts….

                1. But if you want to see things clearly you remove obstructions. Why would you deliberately introduce one?

                  1. Hey, I didn’t invent the elephant, it was already there and its parts had been well described. After the first blinding, dazzling flash of hindsight that opened my eyes, “Of COURSE it must be so!!! I went checking to see if anyone else had seen this. No one famous. No one who had developed a school of logic. “He came close, but didn’t quite get it. Him, too. Him three.” I didn’t see it all at once. It was more like “That looks like the same beast, from a different side”. So does that. Let me check…yep. And so on.

  7. Inspiring and admirable, but sadly there are a myriad ways the enemy can will and does turn those virtuous impulses against those who hold them, to squander their strength in a vain or counterproductive cause and incur death or grievous harm in the process.

    I suspect the task of the next generation will be to cultivate prudence and judgment in men while retaining that conquering spirit.

  8. Today’s non-masculine ideal is “I can SO make them do it!”

    Those elitists wouldn’t have a clue how to do anything themselves. Everything has always been done for them without any effort of their own.

    And so they Believe they can force the ‘little people’ to build their physically and logically impossible dreams if they just apply enough force. Ban this, mandate that, and somebody else will just make it happen.
    It takes a LOT of education to make somebody that stupid.

  9. I finally figured it out a couple summers ago. The dummies jumping off the cliffs at the lake are, well dummies but they are necessary dummies. Wait, that’s wrong. What I mean to say is, um, you’re right. “Stupid” risks are what guys do, not all guys but lots of them. It’s part of the male structure that made Columbus and Lewis and Clark and Maxwell (the magnetic equation guy) what they are. So I’ll drink to stupid. Which needs a better name but I wanted to acknowledge the perjorative.

    1. I think you’re looking for “audacity”, in its original connotation of “daringness” not its modern connotation of “offensiveness”.

      “Il nous faut de l’audace, encore de l’audace, toujours de l’audace!”

      (We must dare, and dare again, and go on daring!)

      ― Georges Jacques Danton

      1. Well what I mean to say is that young guys jump off cliffs and roofs and jump bikes and do silly things with explosives and plenty of people call it stupid and say it should all be curbed completely but…you are denying the essential adventurous spirit if you do so. The modern connotation of offensiveness is false. I think we agree?

        1. Ah, yes, of course. I misunderstood and thought you were looking for the appropriate term.

          And if we suppress that urge too much we get post-transporter-accident wimpy Kirk, or the society that gets so apathetic it forgets to breathe but also spawns Reavers.

          As a man, even if not a particularly daring risk-tolerant one, that urge to suppress is an existential challenge.

  10. I’ve recently become a fan of the Longest Johns, and I love “On the Railroad,” along with many of their other songs. They’re very good at inspiring stories in me.

    1. Brings back memories of when my two sons performed that song at the school talent show. Best performance of the night (even taking my bias into account.)

      1. When I was in High School, my brothers came home from grade school choir singing that at each other. Can you add “sibling rivalry” to “audacious masculinity”? I knew you could. That wasn’t even the worst offender in the “Songs sung to irritate the sibs”.

      1. I would argue that’s a bit different. Striving for excellence and mastery is striving toward an ideal.

        “Because it was there” is less aspirational, more akin to “What are you rebelling against?” “Whattaya got?”

        1. And because of the very fact that perfection is beyond mortal reach, the striving for it improves mortal man. You will fail. You will fail a lot whilst chasing perfection, excellence, and mastery.

          But chasing that goal means you are therefore closer to it than you ever would be, had you not tried. The betterment of mankind is made by such things.

          1. On the other hand, there is the Noonday Demon, Sloth, one of whose favorite tricks is tempting you into dreaming big dreams so that you will neglect the work you actually have at hand.

            And not even succeed in the big dreams.

        2. This. But I’ll add that the quest for mastery and excellence will take you to some interesting places.

          Example: My 42-year voyage to win a World Muzzle-Loading Championship took me to the UK (twice), Australia (twice), Italy, France, Portugal (Our Hostess is not the only person who knows where Porto is), Germany (twice), Austria, and Hungary. Usually on a schedule that permitted some sightseeing (when you’re doing the equivalent of neurosurgery, a few days to get over jet lag is prudent). Went to distant, exotic places. Met exciting, unusual people (friendly, too). And tried to defeat them in the course of sporting competition. (DID it once.)

          It beats the tar out of going to the beach.

  11. “Watch this! Hold my beer!” It’s a well-known joke, but if you think that doesn’t reflect reality you were never a teenage boy or young man. 🙂

    1. Which is why scouts were always able to surprise me. But never were able to surprise the scoutmaster or assistant scoutmaster, who were generally laughing (or quietly chuckling). Often as not, provided “suggestions” on how to “improve” whatever, which means whatever never occurred because too busy plotting. Which was the point. Essentially “been there and done that”. We girl scouts got up to our own shenanigans, but they weren’t the same shenanigans.

      1. My wife and I are both lifelong Scouts – so I got to see both the BSA and GSUSA docs.
        Back in the 90s and 2000s the BSA’s Guide to Safe Scouting was always much thinner than the GSUSA’s Safety Wise.
        It was always interesting (in a frustrating fashion) to see the tug of war over time between the risk-management types and the program types…

        1. I haven’t participated in GSUSA since late ’60s, early ’70s, and then still a youth participant. BSA experience a lot more recent, as an adult (even that is getting ancient quickly). Sister started her oldest in GSUSA. They didn’t go camping because it (her words) it was too much of Pain to arrange (not the least that finding enough adult women were willing to camp was difficult, even if in BSA, small percentage, but not difficult). Even partnering with a BSA troop to accompany on one of their outings. Not that camping, either on their own, or partnering, or co-oping Venturing, didn’t and doesn’t, happen in GSUSA, because I have talked to GSUSA leaders whose troops do wilderness camp (all three methods listed). Oh, well. Now girls and women who do want to keep the Out(doors) of scOuts, can, through BSA. As well as earn Eagle.

  12. I’ve always assumed the point of the golden fiddle is that it is a large chunk of GOLD and worth a lot of money. Not that it could ever be played well, but that it meant enough money to set you up for quite awhile.

  13. Tolerance for risk is one of the best ways to define the different political tribes. The opposing cohorts of collectivists and individualists are easy, but the really interesting one is the authoritarians, the schlubs, alas, will always be with us. Mary Douglas and Aaron Wildavsky and the Cultural Theory of Risk are the way in to one of the very few useful sociological theories.

    The downside to high risk tolerance is that psychopathy is selected for. Just for an example, it’s actually fairly straightforward to build a good stock market model, what’s hard is executing it. Psychopaths have a great advantage there. To become a billionaire in the markets, you have to make large, concentrated bets over and over and over. Survivor bias blinds us to the fact that almost all of them fail. It’s why I’ll never be rich, I just don’t have the risk tolerance,

    Last thing, risk taking is almost always studied by academics who are almost all extremely risk averse. It’s like having the blind study painting or the deaf study music. That’s why they fail to understand and their failure, much as Marxism does, pollutes everyone’s thinking on the topic because we talk about it in terms of “rationality.”

  14. Americans are a rebellious lot, we take that rebellion out in many ways. We rebel against everything, we can. We are very serious about Rebellion. “What do you mean that can’t be done? Here hold my beer!” We have rebelled against everything, even Each other and God himself. It is in our nature to rebel. That is why the left will always lose, we can’t help rebelling against them as well. It won’t be long before most young realize that the left is now the Man, so the left can be rebelled against. And the pendulum swings again.

    1. Yes, it was. Thing about C/C++ is it teaches one about coding that can be used to exploit other language structures and tools. Because you know how the underlying software/hardware interaction is working (not as much as byte or assembly coding does, but better than most other languages). Boy can that put spikes into others when they come behind to modify/change the code, unless they too know, to the core, the tools code software/hardware interactions. Which, in my limited experience samples, the newer kids on the coding skills are not taught (not that some don’t learn because ultra curious but most won’t).

  15. Use it like a spoon!

    I think Mary here has never done hard physical labor. Sometimes the best way to deal with it mentally is to turn it into a game… to go from drudgery to seeing if you can do better than yesterday or the guy across the way.

    Taylor ( no relation) showed that a steady and not overexerting pace with periodic breaks results in higher long term output. But making it a challenge can turn an otherwise miserable day into something almost in the vicinity of fun. If Mary can’t make sense of it, I’m not surprised… ask someone named John or Bob.

    1. Meh. My name is Sarah, and I’ve done that. I think everyone has. It’s not a way to get through hard work, but BORING work, and women do plenty of that.

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