Sans Blade

Because we flew up to New England and didn’t check any bags, I couldn’t bring a handgun or knife onto the flight because TSA [25,000-word rant deleted] and because they have some strange shitty laws about Texans carrying handguns around New England [250,000-word rant deleted].

Of course, our first full day of vacation was spent shopping in Kittery, Maine — home to a jillion outlet stores — so New Wife was well pleased to spend a morning shopping (as was I, you will see).  While she was shopping in the Ladies’ sections, I was off looking at guys’ stuff — and at Eddie Bauer, found a couple of beautiful white cotton shirts (my go-to everyday wear) at 50% off, which made them only a little more expensive than the Target / Wal-Mart equivalent, at much higher quality.  (And  made in Sri Lanka and not in China, for the win.)  Also a summer-lightweight cap from Barbour, at 70% off (making it merely expensive rather than Barbour-price i.e. nosebleed). Then it came time to remove all the price tags and such, which required cutting the little plastic loop thingy on the shirts, and a sturdy piece of string on the cap.

No knife.

Well, I wasn’t going to be put about like that, and because I’ve been to Kittery before, I went over to the giant Kittery Trading Post to buy a knife.

My original intention was really to buy a cheap $10-Made-In-China POS, then just throw it away before getting on the return flight.

Unfortunately, the Trading Post has an excellent selection of lovely knives… and you all know where this is going, right?  Here’s the rather old-fashioned Case two-blade pocket knife that followed me out of the store:

I have probably about three or four Case knives at home, and I love all of them:  they are the perfect “working” blades, and I have a soft spot for the “sheep’s foot” type (the upright one, for those unfamiliar with the term).  So for $35, I now have a(nother) decent pocket-knife, and  made in the U.S.A. withal.   And yes, it’s a fingernail-opener rather than the modern button-opener type;  don’t care.

And I’ll just have to check my bag when we fly back, because I’m not going to risk having this lovely little thing confiscated by the Airport Gestapo.


En passant:  KIttery Trading Post has an excellent selection of lightly-used second-hand rifles, so I did spend a little quite a long time browsing that aisle.  New Wife of course was shopping downstairs in the Ladies Department, so the trip ended up costing a little rather more than $35.  Don’t care about that either.  All worth it.

Out Of The Past 3

Separate But Equal

November 12, 2008
11:16 AM CDT

A German Kurd looks at “parallel” societies within a single country:

The largest group in Germany with an immigrant background – after the Aussiedler or ethnic German resettlers – are the Turks, who were once recruited as guest workers and, unlike many Portuguese, Spanish and Greek economic migrants, did not return to their native country. These people of Turkish origin have now lived in this country for half a century. That would be a success story in itself if the following problem did not exist: many of them are not culturally, religiously, economically, socially or politically integrated. That creates an atmosphere of mutual critical scrutiny. Many issues have been debated in Germany – from the smell of garlic that allegedly wafts from housing blocks where the majority of tenants are from the Orient and how to tie a headscarf so that it doesn’t allow ambiguous assumptions about someone’s loyalty to the constitution and democracy to ethical controversies about specific slaughtering methods that are traditional in some cultures. Nevertheless, there is no subject that people argue about more passionately than Islam. All in all, you could say that although these debates have been vigorously and tirelessly conducted, people still haven’t really got to know one another even after 50 years. That applies to both sides. We stand on the threshold of the others’ home, as it were, but know nothing about them apart from their name. You may consider that good, you may consider that bad; there are equally good arguments for ignorance as there are for interest.

Here’s what I know: nothing creates friction within a society more quickly, or more certainly, than separate-but-equal mini-societies, who do not share a common language, culture, religion or worldview.

It is, despite the writer’s example of Israel, a recipe for failure. (Israel can have a divided society because it allows its security apparatus a degree of freedom unknown in the West.)

Now, I’m not suggesting some monolithic all-or-nothing nation: far from it. Monolithic cultures, and people who advocate them, tend to lead to State-sponsored activities like public beheadings, extermination camps and mass resettlement/expulsion of “the others”.

But there has to be some kind of glue, some common ground, or else humans, by nature, will always be suspicious of “the others”. This is a genetic impulse which is so deeply implanted in the human psyche as to be fundamental, and not capable of change.

So: what common ground, then?

Religion is pointless—too many imaginary friends, too much subjectivity, and (such as in Saudi Arabia or the Gulf states), too much fertile ground for oppression.

Culture is essentially a meaningless basis for a society, especially in a nation of immigrants such as ours, or in a world which has become far smaller since civilization (and its corollary, mechanical progress) increased. We are, in essence, made richer by diverse cultures in a society, as long as one does not exist to the exclusion of the other, or another does not nullify the country’s principle culture.

Language. This is it. Unless people can talk to each other and be understood, there is absolutely no way that hostility and enmity can be prevented, and there is no way that people can come together. And note that I’m not supporting language chauvinism such as has been practiced in France over the years: that way ultimately ends up stultifying not only progress, but the society as a whole. The Language Police are little different, in their rigidity, than the Religious Police.

Note too that I’m not suggesting that retail stores, for example, be disallowed from speaking to their customers in any language they choose—but I am insisting that government should use one, and only one language to communicate with its citizens. (I don’t care, for example, if Mexican immigrants can’t read an IRS form. Call it a “spur to learning”, if you will.) In the long run, while accommodation to non-English-speakers may sound high-minded or even polite, it will end up doing more permanent harm than the temporary inconvenience caused by its opposite policy.

There’s more, of course, a lot more, but that would do for a start.

The very existence of nation-states creates the basis for “parallel societies”—but to create a microcosm of that situation within a nation will simply bring the global turmoil and enmity to people’s front door, instead of keeping it outside the borders.

Civic Responsibility

This sounds like one of the old Tea Party demonstrations:

“Two million people marched here yesterday, it was occupied all night, and there isn’t a scrap of rubbish on the road,” he said.

And good for the Hong Kong folks, demonstrating against true totalitarianism, as opposed to the fake totalitarianism of Trump that the Lefty loons scream about over here.

I just wish that Occupy Wall Street had been tried in downtown Beijing… and ditto the post-Trump “pussy hat” protests in, say, Riyadh.