Accident Of Birth

Sarah writes about her decision to leave Portugal and take the Big Swim to Murka, and along the way she quotes Somerset Maugham:

“I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid certain surroundings, but they have always a nostalgia for a home they know not. They are strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known.”

A friend once described me thus:  “Kim was born American — he just happened to be in the wrong country at the time.”

It’s even closer than that.  Right after my parents married in the early 1950s, my Dad (a civil engineer) got an offer — full-time job, permanent residence — in Canada.  He accepted the gig, and they were all ready to move when my Mom discovered she was pregnant (with me).  She was too scared to bring up a child in a strange country, far from friends and family, and so they changed their plans.

So I was born in South Africa, and for the first thirty years of my life there I felt rootless, with no ties to the country of my birth, just as Maugham describes above.  When I went back to South Africa in 2017 for the first time since the Great Wetback Episode in the mid-1980s I drove around Johannesburg, knowing every single street and suburb, and even went back to the house where I’d grown up from age 3 until I finally left it at age 24.

And I still didn’t feel at home.  It was as though I was looking at some place I’d seen in someone else’s movie:  very familiar, but not mine.

Unlike Sarah, for whom Colorado was the shining city on the hill, I had no “ideal” place to go to when I came Over Here;  I ended up living variously in Chicago, North Jersey, Austin and now, Dallas;  but none of them really felt like home, or a place where I’d dreamed of living either consciously or subconsciously.  I will admit that living in the city of Chicago (as opposed to the ‘burbs) probably came the closest, in that the North Side was very similar to where I lived in Johannesburg — apartments and houses, and literally walking distance away from downtown in both cases.  But Chicago was never my beau ideal  either.

Strangely, the places which did strike a chord with me were the West Country in England — many times I would look at a place (town, village, house, whatever) and think, “Wow, I could live there“, but of course that was impossible;  and the other place was Connecticut, which is so close to England (New England, duh) that it was scary.  But as with Old England, the liberal politics and societal foolishness (guns, etc.) of New England pushed me away from Connecticut.

I guess Texas is about it.  Unless something in my circumstances changes radically, I’m probably going to end my life here — not an altogether unpleasant prospect, by the way, except for the torrid summers and the fact that getting anywhere Not Texas requires considerable travel.

And I guess, too, that I’m getting too old to make that massive change in my circumstances.  Moving here from Africa:  massive.  Moving from place to place within the U.S.:  difficult at times, but bearable.  But my last move (from Lakeview to Plano) was over twenty years ago, and I very much doubt that I’d consider making a big move again, even if finances permitted it (they don’t).

And that’s enough introspection.  I think I’ll go to the range.  That, at least, is one of the huge advantages of Texas.

Escalation And Hammurabi

I can’t find the link to the correct Jordan Peterson talk, but he talks about what happens if someone kills your son, so you kill his wife and daughter, then he kills your sister, cousin, brother and mother, and so on, with escalating results until you have complete chaos and a bloodbath.

As Peterson explains it, the law is there to punish the guilty, protect society, avenge the innocent and — just as importantly — take away your responsibility of vengeance.

Hammurabic law postulated, among other things, that if a judge wrongly convicted a man to death, the judge had to be hanged too — thus making the decision important not just to the family of the wrongly convicted, but to the law and its enforcers.

In Mario Puzo’s The Godfather, when the undertaker’s teenage daughter is raped and beaten up by a group of young men, and the young men are set free without serious punishment, the undertaker says to Don Corleone (and I paraphrase):  “The young men were freed by the law — but there was no justice for my daughter.”

Let me apply all three principles to our world today.

We all know that several criminals have been released from prison after a minimal period of incarceration, or freed by Soros prosecutors / liberal justices with minimal or no bail, and these criminals have gone on to commit the same, equivalent or even worse crimes soon thereafter — sometimes within hours of release.

They, in other words, have benefited from the law (whether rightly or wrongly applied is irrelevant, the outcome is the same), but their victims have received no justice.

Under Hammurabic law, the prosecutors would themselves be imprisoned / executed for the subsequent murders;  the parole boards would be likewise punished for the crimes committed by the freed parolees.  But of course, we know that sadly, none of this will ever happen (unless I become World Emperor, in which case…).

So while the law has been ignored, misapplied, twisted, or even broken, the victims of these crimes have received no justice from the judicial system and its agents.

Now remember this part:  “the law is there to… take away your responsibility of vengeance”?

At some point soon, it will come as no surprise to me that the families of victims may seek to take revenge — in the absence of the law’s application — upon the people who are responsible for the criminals’ actions:  prosecutors, judges, parole board members, whoever.  And it will be no use wringing hands and wailing about people “taking the law into their own hands” or “becoming a lynch mob” or anything like that, because when the law breaks down and does not fulfill any of its duties to society, ordinary people are going to seek their own vengeance.

What’s more, I will refuse to condemn their actions, because as far as I’m concerned, these legal charlatans deserve their fate, all of it.  It’s not even a question of saying, “Well, I deplore their actions but I sympathize with their feelings.”

I’m going to applaud their actions, because at the end, what alternatives did they have?

I just feel sorry for the people who are going to be driven to exact the vengeance that the law failed or refused to provide, because they are going to be fully punished, you betcha.

This dam is going to burst, and it’s going to happen sooner than anyone thinks.

Question Answered

…the question being: “Kim, are you really that old-fashioned?”  upon reading the following:

…and realizing that I last used the phrase in a conversation with my sister as late as last year — with both of us understanding its meaning precisely.  (So did New Wife, by the way, when I asked her if she understood it.  She still uses it, occasionally.)

It is, by the way, a wonderful expression in that it acknowledges a feeling (melancholy) without taking it too seriously (i.e. by giving it a self-deprecating nickname).

Also by the way, I much prefer “melancholy” over “depression”.  Depression is a longtime (and potentially life-threatening) illness, whereas melancholy is just an attack of the blahs, easily remedied by the purchase of a new gun, reading a good book or listening to anything not composed by Igor Stravinsky or John Cage.

Interesting Factoid

Then there’s this:

You may recall a viral video showing a 16-year-old “gentleman” named Kristopher Baca as he rammed a mother trying to protect her child. Baca, a teen with a history of troublemaking, was driving the wrong way down a one-way street — in a stolen car — when he plowed into a woman named Rachel and her toddler. Fortunately, neither was seriously injured. Another motorist rammed his pick-up into Baca’s vehicle to stop him. Baca did not have a license and was on probation for “spiking a girl’s drink.”

He was shot to death in a driveway this weekend.

And there, you might think, is a reason to cheer — and indeed it is.  The mommy, understandably enough, is outraged:

Los Angeles’ legendary communist District Attorney (DA) George Gascón, known for his limp-on-crime approach, sentenced Baca to partake in a “diversionary program” with a juvenile probationary camp for five months, a sentence that Rachel found upsetting.

“George Gascón doesn’t value my life or the life of my child, or any other victim out there, and would rather reward the monsters like [underage suspect] by demonstrating to them that their actions have no consequences,” Rachel wrote in a victim impact statement.

And she set up a GoFuckMe account to help her through this time of trouble.  Here’s Kevin’s comment on that:

 Most of the comments left by donors are kind. Most…

Why only “most”?

You see, Mommy Rachel actually voted for George Gascón in the last contentious recall ballot.

So just as the little teenage thug got fucked by karma, so too did the liberal asshole mommy.

Karma, you see, is even-handed.

Virtual Morality Questions

The era of electronic entertainment has given rise to all sorts of interesting moral questions, questions that bring shades of gray to hitherto black-and-white issues of right or wrong.  Here’s one:

I was going to file this silly thing under INSIGNIFICA when I decided it wasn’t that silly, after all.

We might think that this is a modern morality question, but of course it isn’t.  People have been sending “love letters” to each other pretty much as soon as we discovered writing, only now the communication is electronic over the Internet rather than on paper and by messenger / through the mail.  In days gone by, therefore, a husband discovering racy love letters from another man in his wife’s possession would justifiably, in my opinion, be suspicious of his wife’s fidelity — and certainly so if the other man was a mutual acquaintance, or someone living close by.

Of course, the further the distance between writers, the less likely would actual adultery take place — but, to address the above question, is virtual adultery any different from actual adultery?

Note that I’m not talking about flirty communication here;  there’s an enormous difference, in my opinion, between “I’d love to take a walk on the beach with you someday”  to “I want to suck your penis”, although some might argue that the difference is only in degree.

The arrival of the telephone added sound to the situation — and one has only to see how many “phone sex” lines there are to see the effect of that.  Still, I suppose that one might argue that such activity is purely impersonal — I’m reminded of a scene in some movie of a young woman having phone sex on one of these lines while doing her ironing and watching her baby play on the kitchen floor — and it’s all just fantasy, not adultery.

What has changed, of course, is that communication nowadays can include video, where love letters never did.  Now we are talking about a whole different ball game, aren’t we?  Or are we?

Does adultery have to require actual physical contact to be classified as adultery?

I have to say “yes” to the above — although that said, I understand that virtual adultery has all sorts of “moth and candle” implications, especially if it’s between people who know each other.  As one woman of my acquaintance once put it:  “Virtual sex has replaced foreplay when it comes to fooling around”, and she’s absolutely right — if, that is, the couple are not just strangers getting a cheap thrill out of the thing.

And there, I think, is the crux of it.  It’s not the virtual aspect of it;  it’s who you’re talking to.  Which is more dangerous to a marriage:  talking sex to a complete stranger in a chat room, on a phone sex line or on a video call, or talking sex with a neighbor, a guy from the office or a friend’s husband?

I think we all know the answer to that.