Monday, July 23, 2018

The Mores, they are a changin'

Thankfully, I think I'm seeing a light on the horizon as far as our hectic summer schedule is concerned.  MBD and SIL have celebrated their one week anniversary, but must return to work and reality this week.

Ah Well, such is life!

The teachers arrive back at work a week from today, all rested from summer vacation and anxious to know when X will be completed.  I SO look forward to that.  X will undoubtedly be  the priority assigned to their want and, much like the old joke,  we're currently handling priority G.  Notwithstanding that explanation, they will continue to argue (with the person who's working on project G and not the person able to change priority) that X is much more important than G.  Reason?  Because X affects ME and G does not.

Funny that!

They fail to realize that this conversation, while scintillating and calming to my blood pressure, only delays the completion of G and further delays the start on H and by extension therefore X.

As I said before, such is life!

Pondering this phenomenon through the lens of a dram of amber liquid created in Scotland (or three), I came to remember a statement from a wise Master Sergeant stationed at Kadena.

No.  Not our beloved and fearless leader.  Wise Master Sergeants are not all THAT rare.  Some even exist in the Air Force today, although I fear "there wasn't nigh as many as there was a while ago" to paraphrase a song from long ago.




I had just arrived on Okinawa and as part of in-processing, was forced strongly encouraged to take a driving course and obtain a Japanese Driver's License.

Now, I had arrived on Okinawa via commercial airline via Phoenix to San Francisco to Tokyo and finally arriving at Naha International after about 36 hours travel (in the cheap seats) at about 9 AM.  I was met by my sponsor, who had been in my Squadron at Holloman, we collected my luggage and walked to his car.

Having become acclimatized to the dry desert heat of both New Mexico and Arizona, that first breath of 98o/98% humidity took my breath away.  Loading up his beater, (for that was what they called the cars the Americans drove. Purchased from prior Americans who had PCS'd home and generally covered in rust from the salt air), we pulled out onto the road.

At which point, in a moment of panic induced by sleep deprivation, I endeavored to put my foot through the floorboard as he pulled onto the left side of the median and started accelerating.  Fortunately, the floorboard was strong enough, or I was too tired, to withstand my assault.  However, my sponsor spent the next few minutes chuckling and saying "Welcome to Okinawa".

Some Beach!




So when the Wise Master Sergeant said "You folks need to understand that driving in Japan is different than driving in the states", I instantly think "Well....Duh!"

Being a Wise Master Sergeant, he said (looking at me) "I know what you're thinking.  Well Duh! They drive on the wrong side of the road."

I tolja he was Wise.

He then went on to say something I've since come to realize was truly profound.

He said "In the United States, people drive with the mindset "I won't hit you".  In Japan, the mindset is "You won't hit me." 

That statement and the philosophy behind it stood me in good stead throughout my tour in Japan (as well as trips to Korea, the Philippines and even a visit to Naples.  I would expect a car approaching a stopsign to run it and plan accordingly.  Similarly, I would expect a car turning across my path to do so without warning and certainly without sufficient room, and plan accordingly.

Got through the tour without a scratch on my car.  Couldn't do anything about the encroaching rust though.

That was in the mid-80s.  Back then, people in the US did, for the most part, drive with an "I won't hit you" attitude.  People would ease off the gas as they approached a stop sign, thereby indicating to cross traffic that they were aware of the sign and intended to stop.

"I won't hit you" people would see that Blake Shelton was waiting for that parking spot and go find another. Likewise, an "I won't hit you" Blake Shelton wouldn't be driving in the left lane unless he was actually passing someone.

That seems to have changed.

Now the US seems to have adopted the other philosophy, "You won't hit me".  Now people will drive at 15-20 MPH under the speed limit in the left lane.  "You won't hit me, you'll just go around."

Or they'll drive up to a cross walk at just under the Mach and brake only at the last minute, laughing as the pedestrian grabs his wife and jerks her to a halt.  Of course, pedestrian is pondering whether the "You won't hit me" driver is actually screaming "Aloha Snackbar" and seeking to paint a stick figure on the side of his vehicle to commemorate a confirmed kill.  How would it look any different?

But it's not just driving that this philosophy seems to have taken over.  It seems to be changing the Norms and Mores (pronounced More-rays) of polite society.  These are the informal rules that are not written, but, when violated, result in severe punishments and social sanction upon the individuals, such as social and religious exclusions.

While the "I won't hit you" crowd believes that it's "OK to disagree", the "You won't hit me" crowd demands that you acquiesce to their ideas, indeed even their behavior.  Further, action on their part to enforce their demand, including behavior far outside the normal pale of acceptable behavior, is absolutely acceptable.

However, they're relying on the belief, that if you don't agree, you belong to the "I won't hit you" crowd.  What I don't think they realize is the "I won't hit you" crowd is no longer subscribing to the old version of the philosophy, "I won't hit you, under any circumstances."

Nope, now it's much more likely to be "I'd rather not hit you, but I will to protect me and mine."

We're starting to see that more and more, and I think we can thank our previous president for his advice.  "Punch back twice as hard."

I don't think he thought that one through.  The law of unintended consequences rears its ugly head again.

Wish things were different and pray that I'm wrong, but......

Some days I wish I was  cat. 

33 comments:

  1. Ah yes, the "you won't hit me" crowd.

    Bad assumption.

    Well said Juvat, well said.

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  2. John Ringo talks about the breakdown of the unwritten rules in the novel, "The Last Centurion." (still chicken about the HTML thing you cool kids do)
    He has a name for the breakdown, but I just can't remember what he calls it.

    The law of unintended consequences is always a surprise to those who are stupid, who haven't read history, or both.

    Good post.

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    1. Thanks John, that book is now in my Kindle queue. (With quite a few other recommendations from you folks out there.)

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    2. When asked if I recommend reading Ringo's novels. I always say, don't start with "Ghost." That is the first book in the Paladin of Shadows series.
      And when you work your way up to reading the "Ghost" series you will understand the meaning of, "Oh, John Ringo no!"

      There is way more than a comment's worth of discussion to be had about Ringo's novels.
      I really enjoyed the science fiction and the social commentary of his "Live Free or Die" series, and I would highly recommend his Black Tide Rising zombie apocalypse series that starts with "Under a Graveyard Sky."

      Take a look at the monthly bundles that Baen offers.
      The bundle makes the per book price rather low, and I have started reading other genres and other authors because they were included in the bundle.
      Oddly I found that retirement increased the time I had available to read, but when I read more, I found more to read.
      I think the graph ends somewhere past needing an infinity of time to read an infinity +1 of books.




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    3. Yeah, I think Kindle books proliferate more rapidly than rabbits, or at least they do in my case. Increased reading time will be something to look forward to when the R word finally rolls around.

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    4. I second on the DON'T for the Paladin of Shadows, until you have read some of his other books. And when you do read PoS, take it with a grain of salt, enjoy the action and mystery, and if the other stuff bothers you, just remember, people who want to kill all of us die with a large regularity in many many ways.

      Do what John says, go read the "Live Free or Die" series as that series is just good. And his "Legacy of the Aldenata" series is one of the best I've ever read about first contact, politics, etc. Bloody, as all Ringo books can be. But you'll enjoy "Bun-Bun." Won't spoil it for you past that point.

      And if that doesn't tempt you, well, he's done several books with Larry Correia.

      Another author is Tom Kratman, an ex-Army Lt. Colonel, who is not very politically correct in his writing style.

      And, of course, David Drake, the author, writes excellent mil-sci-fi. His experiences in Viet-Nam and his penchant to base his plotlines on the ancient classics makes for some good reading.

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    5. Oh, and Mr's. Ringo, Drake, and Kratman, and recently Correia are kinda the more recent literary people that got me into ranting at the idiots of the world.

      The first one, of course, was R.A. Heinlein. "Starship Troopers" (the book, not that stupid lame movie that totally changed the whole message) is probably one of the best moral justifications as to the use of force ever written.

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    6. Slowly the queue grows, title by title, dollar by dollar, until the Kindle is full. Does anyone know what happens when the Kindle is full? Is it the end of the universe as we know it? Will I be blinded by the white light of enlightenment?

      If only I had a Wise Old Master Sergeant to guide me in this quest!

      But.... Thanks for the advice.

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    7. Beans.
      Yes, yes, yes, to Heinlein, Kratman, Correia, and Drake. And your statement on Ringo is dead on.
      Bun-Bun as mobile artillery, and Bun-Bun in the Council Wars series.
      I was looking up the title of the anthology novel set in the Black Tide Rising world, it is called, "Black Tide Rising," and found there will be a John Ringo and Mike Massa collaboration novel set in the Black Tide Rising world called, "The Valley of Shadows" and is due out in November.

      More books to read. Life is awesome!

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    8. I think it folds into a tesseract, but I'm not sure, having killed 2 Kindles and Amazon doesn't like me anymore.

      Seriously. I am an electronic object killer. Back in the old days when mice had balls, I would kill one every month or so. The IT guys would come over and I'd ask them to look at my mouse real carefully and find out why it was smoking. And there would be a thin wisp of smoke coming from the mouse...

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  3. That's a very profound philosophy from a fighter jock, but then again, you got it from a Master Sergeant. In my experience Master Sergeants and Marine Gunnery Sergeants are the fonts of great knowledge. I totally agree with your premise. We have torn asunder the social contract that served us well for hundreds of years. Live,and let live, has gone by the way side and hs been replaced by my way or the highway. Things that were once anathema in society are now openly practiced and flaunted. An essential part of that social contract is that we are all in this together and therefore we each owe a duty to not destroy the very fabric of the contract. That duty is now widely ignored and we see "political leaders" pandering to their base and urging them to violently attack what remains. It is a sad state of affairs.

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    1. I've found that my tendency for profound philosophy starts to increase with the first wee bit o' whisky and begins to wane with the third. Consequently, I must strike while the iron is hot. But, I do appreciate the compliment and yes, my experience with Master Sergeants and Gunnery Sergeants confirms, with few exceptions, that they are fonts of great knowledge.
      Sad indeed.

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    2. My Dad always told me "If you go in the Army, you listen to your Sergeant! If you go in the Navy, you listen to your Chief! They just want to tech you how to do your job and stay alive!".

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    3. Sound words. The Air Force, with a bit different combat structure, says the same thing about the Flight Lead.

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    4. And on the flip side, all the pilots I know treat their Crew Chiefs like royalty....

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  4. Yeah, cats have it pretty well made, until there are too many.

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    1. Yes, the rodent population at Rancho Juvat has been increasing lately as our outside cat population has dwindled. The AC in my wood shop needs replacing due to a rat deciding to electrocute itself. May need to restock the Cat supply.

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    2. Schmedlap does her share, though, I bet.

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    3. Yes, she does. For some reason though, Mrs J is not enthused when Schmedlap brings proof of kill into the house.

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  5. Very accurate observations on driving. I'm sure you share our local hazard, the illegal alien with his/her first beater, no insurance, no license, and a f**k you attitude.

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    1. Why yes we do. Very much members of the You won't hit me club.

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  6. Survived driving in Naples for six years. Truth here!

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    1. I'm sure your Guardian Angel was relieved when you departed there.

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  7. Here where I live there is the clash of the Old South "I won't purposely hit you" and the liberal-socialist-communist "You won't hit me (comrade)" mentality. The farther away from the epicenter of Evil, otherwise known as our local state university, which, apparently, is a branch of the University of Beijing, the more the "IWHY" and the "IWPHY" mindset takes over. Coincidentally, it tends to follow the political bent of the populace. Unfortunately, "We" are outnumbered by "They" in this county. (Look at one of those electorate maps after the last election and check out Florida and see that blue blob in the north part surrounded by all the red? That's my county. Good thing I actually like shouting into the wind and trying to stop the tides.)

    As to the "YWHM" attitude, when the fall migration of new drivers from Beijing, yes, actual ChiComm Chinese drivers, there's about 2 months that some parts of town are a "NO GO" zone. When the older ChiComm Chinese curse at the new ChiComm Chinese, you know it's bad.

    That whole University of Beijing in Gainesville thingy? It got so bad that the FL Legislature had to remind the affected university that they were a FL university first. Other stupid things that University that Galen Hall coached for has done? Tried to only do upper graduate degrees only, as they could make more money from it and pay their socialist (and communist) teachers more. Again, the FL Legislature stepped in to attempt to remedy the situation. It got so bad the local community college got permission to go do 4 year degrees, and has a better 4 year degree reputation in some fields than the big university. (Mrs. Andrew took advanced calculus (honors) from an actual Moscow University math prodigy who was teaching at local community college - he, of ex Soviet Union, said the politics and backstabbing was less in Moscow than at the local university, and he came here to get away from socialists and communists. Ha!!!)

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  8. When I got to Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan in '62 (Cuban Missile Day, actually) I was hit with the left side driving too. Another thing I learned how to do in my beater was to turn MPHs into Klicks.
    And yes, I remember the MSGT I worked for as Scheduling Officer in the RTU at George.

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    1. Multiply by .6 to turn KPH into MPH and by 1.6 to turn MPH into KPH as I recall. (I had that backwards originally)
      I actually had a SENIOR Master Sergeant I worked for as Scheduling Officer. Things went a LOT smoother when he came on board.

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    2. I remember something about divide in half and add the first digit. 120KPH=72MPH (60+12). Siri says it's 74.56 MPH. But that seems close enough for those days driving around the Japanese countryside. Actually 60kph would have been more useful (37mph)

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  9. I bought a car in Bahrain and was told to get a Bahraini drivers license. I stood in lines long enough that eventually I prevailed and got one. There was no test. It took a good part of the day to turn an international drivers license into a Bahraini license but what can I say. They got used to the idea that if one throws enough money and time at the goal, the goal is achieved.

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    1. Nothing's impossible with enough Money, Time and People.

      And.....

      Absolutely nothing is impossible to those who don't have to do it themselves!

      The latter is one of the immutable laws in the universe.

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  10. The more miles that I put on my motorcycle, the more I drive my car like everyone is trying to kill me.

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  11. That they are, and NOT for the better. And yes, those 'were' the rules in the Far East, even back in the 70s... And like you, they paid off for me during tours in Italy. Well, except for Chicken Tunnel... sigh...

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  12. Juvat,
    it's possible that the rodent problem isn't a lack of enough cats, but a lack of cats trained in catching them. Mama cat is supposed to train them, but it can be a spotty business for her.
    I had someone abandon a young cat on our corner, that I adopted. We were overrun by mice that year. My cat seemed to be useless. I was catching them in multiples every day. I'd peel them off sticky traps and toss them into an aquarium to hold for a roommate's python. Snake got too big to bother with mice. Really odd to see a mouse running around on top of a large snake!

    Anyway, one evening while she was wandering around the back patio, I grabbed a mouse and tossed it in her direction. She chased it around for a while, and after she had worn it out I smacked it with my gloved hand, and got her a fresh one. Gave her more than a dozen that evening, and that transformed her into a mighty hunter. She LIVED to hunt after that training session.

    No idea what was happening that year, but you could drive down the road at night and see mice running across the road from the cattle ranch. Every block had a cat sitting in the gutter waiting for a mouse to show up. One morning I peeled a mouse off of two traps on the way to the shower, and there were more mice in the same traps on my way back.

    BTW, she lost several mice that evening that got away from her and reached the grass and fence. It wasn't until near the end of the batch that she started to kill them shortly after catching them. Early on, when they both got tired, she would lay down with them under a paw until they recovered sufficiently to attempt to escape. Eventually they got damaged enough to get too slow to be entertaining for her, and that is when I would remove them and get her a fresh target.

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)