Wednesday, February 14, 2018


Moses with the Tablets of the Law - Rembrandt
There have always been rules. In Genesis there was one rule, don't eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Nope, didn't last long. Went from "don't eat from that tree" to "who told you you were naked?" in pretty short order. So from the Garden of Eden we were unceremoniously tossed. The Lord showed Adam and Eve the Heavenly red card and they were "sent off."

Further on down the road (Exodus), the people of Israel were leaving Egypt. On Mount Sinai the Lord gave Moses ten commandments, ten rules. Much of which boiled down to the basic "don't take things from people which aren't yours." Such as wives, property, life itself, etc. Yes, there were other rules, all perfectly reasonable, ten, total.

By Deuteronomy there were hundreds of rules. Which to me is a proof of evolution, sort of. The Lord in His Heaven did not create lawyers, they simply evolved to meet the need of "there are too many rules, how do we keep track of all these?" A good question, which lawyers have been answering ever since.

When the Saviour came along, He tried to make things simple again, "love one another." The Golden Rule, "do unto others..." etc.

Nope, didn't last.

Perhaps one rule is just too simple and people are too complicated.

It's hard for people to follow rules. Often it's because there are just too many of them. We have a Constitution, it covers many of the basic things to make our Nation strong and well run. But once again, evolution stepped in. From lawyers there evolved the politician...

Hhmm, perhaps "devolved" is the more appropriate term.

In warfare the Europeans decided that there needed to be rules. Like -
  • Don't execute prisoners
  • Don't use particularly nasty weapons (like chemical weapons)
  • Don't invade other countries.
  • etc...
Seems to me the best rule in warfare is that if you start a war, it's okay for the other side to do whatever it takes to make you quit.

Again, warfare is one of those "don't take things from people which aren't yours" situations. Which leads me to this...

Once you have rules you have to decide what to do with people who break the rules, so you get special rules on punishment. Apparently in the old days, and I mean way back, many cultures had a very simple approach to punishment.

"What's that? John Doe broke a rule? I guess we better execute him."

"You mean, as in kill him?"


"Seems harsh but yeah, a rule's a rule."

I'm guessing that after a while somebody said, "You want the guy dead for stealing food for his family? You kill him, I'm not going to." Or some similar scenario where the rich and powerful (also known as "those who make the rules" or "those for whom there are no rules") discovered that the common folk outnumbered them. Also that they drew most of the guys who enforced the rules from the common folk.

I'm sure that after a few episodes of "pitchforks and torches people, let's go slaughter the nobility," the powerful got a bit more humble. Or at least a bit more sneaky about breaking the rules which didn't really apply to them anyway.

Now I was a sergeant for nearly twenty years in the Air Force, you'd think that I'm a big "rules guy," well, not really. I think that there are probably too many rules, which comes directly from bad leadership. In the military, if you break the rules, you get punished. If the higher ups decide, well, some drunk Marine drove his car into a local and killed the poor guy, everyone must suffer. So...

Okay, no more drinking anywhere in this theater. One guy broke the rules, so everyone suffers.

I really think all of life can be boiled down to one simple rule, "Don't be an asshole."

Everything else is just what to do if (when) people persist in being assholes.

Too bad I'm not in charge, neh?

Oh yeah, Happy Valentine's Day. St. Valentine broke the rules of Rome. He paid with his life. So we send each other cards and chocolates.

I wonder who made that rule?


  1. There's a growing segment of the population that does whatever they want to do, when they want to do it, regardless of how others are affected......lotsa dumbasses in the world. CURSE YOU HALLMARK! Aahhh.... Hershey, Rusell Stover .... mah friends, welcome!

    1. That is really the problem. Most of 'em weren't raised right.

    2. ...because someone, somewhere, has made rules that create conundrums for parents.
      Then, some parents gave up because instead they’re too busy trying to get more stuff.

    3. Rules which shouldn't be rules. The State has no business raising kids. And yes, that whole "it takes a village" thing, just proves that Shrillary is an idiot.

  2. That clip from " Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid " has long been one of my favorites, thank you.

    As for rules, it is my belief that when there are so many rules that no one ( including lawyers ) knows them all, the situation is worse than having no rules at all. Perhaps that is the same as what you wrote, just expressed differently.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. Pretty much. You did express it differently, one might say, concisely.

      (I do get wordy at times.)

  3. Really interesting post. Don't be an asshole is relevant for many things- driving in particular. Not enough cops though to keep people in line (or is it in their lanes?). The "no more drinking anywhere in this theater" rule is hugely stupid, but the Japanese are seemingly all about the gestures. We have to do that now for every offense, since we've done it in the past, and they expect us to do something. So nobody drinks as the Gomen Nasai for a death. As a cultural norm, a fault can be mitigated by how much you say you're sorry. If you cause (or even are just involved) in an accident, Gaijins had to shower the victim (or even the perpetrator) with flowers, candy, money, etc., to mitigate what the court would impose in the way of damages. Hugely stupid (and often totally unfair), but emotions and impressions are so very important to the Japanese.

    1. Perhaps we should take an example from Japanese history. Rather than have the flag who would impose such a penalty (no drinking anywhere in theater) do that, have them commit seppuku instead. Ya know, as a gesture.

      Which reminds me that in Germany, the USA would bend over backwards to mollify the locals. Whereas the Brits typically said, "Piss off, we won the bloody war." Not very diplomatic, but very effective.

      Just sayin'

  4. As to rules, in the Society for Creative Anacronism (SCA), in order to participate in combat activities one must know the Rules of the List, a list of 'do's and don't.'

    #6 is "Combatants shall behave in a knightly or chivalrous manner and shall fight according to the appropriate Society and Kingdom conventions of combat." Which, yep, in the real world translates as, survey says..... "Don't be an asshole!" It is funny when you have a couple hundred people in armor all answer the question as to what #6 is, in one might voice, "Don't be..." Makes you smile, right before you hit someone in the head, which makes you smile even more.

    As to the whole way of handling the Japanese, have the miscreant, the NCO and officer that the miscreant belongs to, and their respective superior NCOs and COs, all show up, in full uniform (miscreant surrounded by at least two very stern and solemn plug-uglies, I mean military police, of suitable rank. All show up and have a mass apology to the family, to the local citizens and to the local authorities, followed by a public chastising of all the personnel in the offender's unit. The Japanese put much emphasis on individual and group apologies, something that US lawyers use to great effect when some Japanese company does something stupid and the CEO publicly apologizes to the victims and to the nation at whole.

    The Japanese thing all comes down to them truly being an alien race, in comparison to our own 'anglo-european' view.

    1. I saw a brief clip on YouTube the other day, which I assume was the Russian equivalent of the SCA, where one of the "knights" actually struck a "damsel," she responded by smacking him over the head with something which was hard to see (maybe because I was laughing too hard) which was followed by the other "knights" proceeding to give the offending churl a "beat down." Chivalry in action. (Why are the Russians involved in so many funny YouTube videos? Perhaps we should have the FBI check that out. Yes, I'm kidding.)

      I like your idea of the offender and his chain of command doing penance. (With the MPs involved of course.) The offender would also suffer the same penalty as a local committing the same offense. For certain cases I would insist on the offenders doing time in a local lock up. I saw it in Korea for particularly heinous crimes.

      Asia is very different from Europe, something a Westerner needs to remember. You may not look like them, but when in Rome, you'd better behave like them. Heavy emphasis on "behave."

  5. I have been accused of breaking your one rule several times...I may have been guilty.

    1. I have been accused of violating that rule more than once. Like you, I might have been guilty.

      I tried not to act that way intentionally, on occasion though, the reptile brain takes over.

    2. Assholage is like stupidity. If it is Asshole, and it works, it's not asshole.

      You may be getting "Grumpy Bastard" confused with "Asshole," also. Consider it the "Get Off My Lawn" factor. If you're 20 and screaming at kids to "GOML" then you're an asshole. If you're 55, then you're a grumpy bastard. If you're 65 and you do it while carrying a Garand, you're Clint Eastwood, or a phycho, which would make you an asshole (that is, if you're not Clint.)

    3. Ah, definitive guidance on assholery, good to be able to quantify these things!


  6. St. Valentine was beheaded. If I had a Valentine, I'd beheading down to See's Candy or maybe a florist?

    1. The term "Sweetheart" comes from some whackadoodle chick in the Middle Ages. When her man died, she had the heart removed, candied (supersaturated in sugar, which preserved it) and carried it around with her for the rest of her life. Think on that the next time your wife wants 'candy.'


  7. A bit of a misconception is the number of original commandments.........


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)
Can't be nice, go somewhere else...

NOTE: Comments on posts over 5 days old go into moderation, automatically.