Hymns to Breath

A friend commented on needing to switch off the endless stupidity and hysteria of the so-called news for a few days. It’s a time which ought to be good for selling escapist books! (to show they have no nous look at what the trad sf/fantasy publishers are buying…) My comment was that I tended to go and do something dangerous. Not only can’t you think of anything but the task in hand (well you can. But not for very long) but it had a good way of putting things in perspective, and rendering the irritant in a proper scale.

I went diving this weekend. Now, for me these days that means using a hookah – the equivalent of leaving your aqualung in the boat, being constantly refilled, and taking a long air-hose to a second-stage regulator. Much used by commercial divers, they kill a few people every year. Most die from stupid, and I put in an effort at that.

The rig we were diving with was an old one my dive partner bought recently, had serviced and checked… and ordered new hoses and connecters for. The hoses hadn’t arrived yet, but the good weather had. Now the arrangement on this rig is different to any other I’ve used – it’s got 100 feet of 10 mm hose, which then splits with 50 feet of 8mm hose to each regulator. The 8mm hose needs replacing and is prone to kinking and tangling.   A kink is particularly an issue at the full length, logically.

I think you know where this is going, don’t you? No one sings hymns to breath… but to be without it.

It actually gets worse, and here is where the stupid comes in. To get down needs a weight-belt to compensate for the bubbles in the neoprene of your wetsuit. That’s a 9mm longjon and 7mm hooded jacket. So we’re talking around 28-30 pounds of lead – without which you simply can’t get under water.

The trouble is your wetsuit compresses as you get deeper. So: if you’ve got it right for what we’re doing, you’re neutrally buoyant at about 18 feet down. Scuba divers have a buoyancy compensator vest allowing them to adjust – so they tend to start heavy. Hookah crayfishermen tend to start light –and don’t have a big bulky vest (or tank) that would stop them getting into narrow caves and cracks (because that is what we’re doing, 30 feet down). If you need help coming up… you just haul on your hose. If you really, really have trouble, emergency ascent trouble (believe me, you DON’T want to do this, and you DO want to scream all the way up if you do. It’s vital to do so. You will wreck your lungs and possibly kill yourself if not), you have an emergency safety release on the weight-belt. You go up really fast. I’ve had to do this once.

This was nearly the second time. It might have been the second time… I think this may be the time to mention that I lent out my belts (I use 2) one with the air hose attached and little weight, and one with a lot (which reduces the rapidness of ascent if you only drop 1 – a good thing). I noticed the little weight one was a bit heavier, but I assumed that meant they’d re-allocated the weight between them. Yes, on the bottom I did work out I was a bit heavy, and actually I had an extra 5 pounds of lead. This was my stupidity. It was –if nothing goes wrong, not serious.

Of course that’s just when something goes wrong.

My buddy was inside a cave – moved forward and the twists in his hose kinked mine. No air. And we were right at the end of the hose, and I couldn’t quite reach him to buddy breathe (his bubbles say he’s fine.)

Now… this is where being calm becomes important. I yanked his hose, and started to swim up and backwards – which was HARD with the extra weight. I decided, while swimming up to drop the lighter belt (slower ascent)… to have the catch jam. But I had moved back and up a few feet which had slightly eased the kink (still sucking, trust me) and so I just swam hard. I found the other belt catch and had that ready to drop, but I could by sucking furiously get another breath and get a bit higher (and I knew this was a better ascent than just dropping the belt was – controlled — scary as hell, bloody hard but you aren’t going to damage your lungs. And weight-belts cost. I tried hauling on the line, but that cut my air off. So it was just swim and suck hard.

I got to the surface and found the problem didn’t end (just improved) – I was sinking, and had to swim hard (against the current of course.) I couldn’t spit the reg and breathe air (I took one deep breath of surface air) and had to make my way to the boat. I couldn’t just haul, because that made my air cut off, and might make my buddy’s air cut off. And yes, I was a bit short of line to get back to the boat. Fortunately the boat came to me.

I took a breather, we untangled the hoses, took off some weight and about 10 minutes later jumped back in. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.

But it was necessary. I spent another 4 hours underwater, and we came home with our bag of spiny lobster.box-of-crays

Sorry this has been a bit long – but there is fair amount that actually applies to writing there. Besides, now you know a great deal more than you wanted to about diving, and a little bit about the heads of the kind of people who do it.

Writing is of course very committing: you expose yourself, and your ego to a lot of possible risk. Writing doesn’t have to be about taking risks in content of course, of course. But it does sharpen the experience. It was quite central to sf 50 or sixty years ago when Eric Frank Russell had a black Doctor simply accepted as part of the crew of the ship, when Philip K Dick wrote about drugs… and so on, back when the editors and publishers and even a lot of the avant-garde readers blenched a little, but allowed the boundary to be pushed. Oddly, sf was growing. That’s long behind us in trad sf, and you’ll meet with censorship and shutdown now if your ideas are not narrowly doctrinaire. So: desipe being popular with some readers (not me, but definitely others) John Norman’s Gor Chronicles were killed. Oddly, trad sf hasn’t thrived under this change. But there are still good stories without those risks. A story merely has to entertain, after all.

That hasn’t stopped most of us loading ourselves down with weights, just to get into that water. Weights of preconceptions, weights of politics, weights of message. Try to make sure they won’t sink you or your book.

A writing buddy (or buddies) are good things to have. No-one else will quite understand the problems. No one else can be there when you need to breathe.

But the most important thing you can take out of all of this is: When things go wrong, when the book fails (and they will) Get back in as soon as you can. I cannot say how important this is. The longer you stay away the harder it will be.

I wanted to say a little something about freedom of speech. I said doing dangerous stuff gave me perspective: and either that or brain damage has me thinking this is really important. In some ways I am a classical liberal. That’s got almost nothing to do with modern US (L)iberalism. It just means I think good the idea of “I disagree with every word you say, but will defend to the death you being allowed to say them.” Equally, I defend the idea that no one should be forced to listen to them, or prevented from listening if they want to.

I believe, if you like, in ‘comparative shopping’ for ideas. A free market for them, which if it doesn’t produce the best will give all of them a fair go. If a speaker can convince people that the earth is flat and I don’t agree, shouting them down or preventing them from talking, isn’t selling my idea that the earth is in fact pear-shaped. What is, is presenting a better and more persuasive argument.

Yet we seem caught in a rash of the opposite right now: The latest incidents at Berkeley with Milo Yiannopolous’s attempt to speak there – to an eager audience, being attacked by a mob of anti-free-speech thugs and arsonists and their cheering and supporting crowd. It’s Sad Puppy ‘No Awarders’ grown louder more censorious and more unpleasant – and supported by the same people.

There are two reasons I can see for not doing this:

1) Your ideas are so stupid and useless they could never sell in a free market of ideas. They can’t compete and would fail in to gain any traction if there was an alternative.

2) You think that most people are inferior and incapable of making up their own minds, and shouldn’t be allowed to do so, in case they get the wrong idea.

So which is it? 1 or 2 or both?

I’ve a habit of being Cassandra. Here is Cassandra’s blunt warning to those cheering and celebrating silencing and de-platforming: you have far more to risk and far more to lose if this gets turned against you. The same has been going on sf/fantasy for years, and when (not if) it turns… and you want to get published, get publicity and you are excluded and de-platformed… well, the time to have acted to make sure EVERYONE could have a voice, whether popular or not… is nearly past. It may be too late already.

Finally, on arson as a political tool…

There was a house fire on the island on the weekend (not something that’s happened here for a long time, and I was one of attending Volunteer Ambulance Officers. No-one needed us particularly badly – for which I was very, very grateful. One of the things I try not to think about is my experiences in the army with burns patients. I’m going to talk about burns as one of those dangerous subjects people avoid more than the ‘brave ‘ and ‘daring’ alternate sexualities or nasty conservative white men are misogynists ‘brave and daring’.

Severe burns still give me nightmares 40 years later – and I wasn’t the one burned. I was just the guy who had to touch to move a man who had no epidermis left (85% burns). No matter how careful, how kind you were, he would scream. It was not because he was coward or soft. He was a brave man who walked to get rescue for his companions. How he walked I cannot begin to imagine. I cannot comprehend the extent of the agony he went through, then, and for months and months. Every movement, every breath just more pain.  And that was before the surgery started. That was before his wife arrived, screamed at his melted ruin of a face and ran away weeping. She never came back. And that was worse still because that pain will never ease. The psychological damage was horrendous. I doubt it ever went away.

I would not wish that on my worst enemy.

People who start fires because they’re not prepared to let someone speak which could burn innocent victims… Sooner or later, that’s what they will cause.

To those who started those fires, to the people who danced and cheered. To the people who said it was acceptable and justifiable. Go to a burns unit.

That is what you are prepared to do to innocents to stop someone speaking.

Wear it with shame.

71 Comments

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71 responses to “Hymns to Breath

  1. I would not wish that on my worst enemy.

    my list is short, but I am not a nice person at times. Though some of those on that list have managed to be removed from this life.
    Some need a bit more though, and a “needs to visit” of a burn center is likely whats needed, (bet it takes a double digit percentage of epidermis loss to convince an overly large number of the thick skulled.

    Also, everyone forgets Casandra was right.

    • I might wish a lot of misfortune or even death on a handful of people. I’m not a saint. But serious burns… no. It’s torture that goes on for years. I’m not sure it ever ends. There is a reason for hell being described as it is.

      That was Cassandra curse: to be right, but not believed.

      • Get burned bad enough, and it goes on until death.
        The girl I describe to Dan has one arm that is more scar than skin and muscle. Barring some major advancements, the docs were not going to do much for that, and she had several operations to allow some growth, but not much else could be done for her.
        When I knew her she was 17.

        • My personal experience with severe burns is limited to a spot on the top a of one of my hands, toward the little finger side, where hair does not grow. That came from the night when, at the age of three or four, and with my mother’s back turned, I tried to put a fish in the frying pan and dragged my hand into the oil. The pain was enough that to this day I remember the events of that evening, down to what was on TV. Pain’s odd that way.

          it doesn’t compare to an acquaintance who had a power line burn off an ear and part of his face, and who’s had lots of plastic surgery. Or someone I met who had an arm burned off. Or a friend exposed to arc flash and who’s hand set the grass on fire where he fell. The stories we’ve heard from those who’ve been patients at the burn unit can get a little strong. Such as a thing called debriding. That’s when they dead skin and flesh is removed. One fellow told how he was informed of this procedure when he was brought to the tank and there were several burly men waiting. Their job was to hold him steady while it was being done.

          Nasty things, burns.

          The thing about electrical burns is that you’re lucky if they’re just on the surface. They can burn a path all the way through you, following the flow of current. And sometimes they have to identify you by your teeth. When we talk about the difference between open and closed casket funerals, it’s not all dark humor.

          • I was 2 when I pulled a frying pan of pork chops on to me. I recall wanting to see and grasping the handle. then my dad running cold water over the fresh burn. I remember being mad that the blisters prevented me from wearing a pair of cowboy boots.

            A guy I knew in the New Orleans area grabbed a live feed line while trimming a tree, it blew his heels off, and burned the hand to the bone.
            They said he calmly climbed back down, sat on the grass, and fell backwards.

            I also knew a guy that lost his wife and 2-3 yr old daughter to a 18 wheeler that blew a tire.
            Single closed casket funeral, and inside the casket was a single box about 12x12x12.

    • For values of “nice,” well, I ain’t either. But like Dave said, serious burns, no.

      I knew a guy once, name of Clint. He taught me quite a lot about cooking when I was doing that and a few other jobs to scrape by in my early years. Clint had about half a face, and his hands looked like knobby claws. Serious burns. Glass eye on the burned side. Never talked about how he got the burns, but said he was “lucky.” I’d hate to see unlucky.

      Never went out on the floor, stayed in the kitchen all the time. Hotter than the hinges of hell sometimes. Thermometer at our workstation stopped at 104. The needle went a ways past that some days. With serious burns, you get more sensitive in some ways. Clint couldn’t handle the cold well. At all. Can’t imagine the heat was much help, either. Or the occasional grease burns.

      Loved to cook, though did Clint. Entirely self taught, and darn near as good as the head chef (who was trained at one of the hoity-toity culinary colleges before settling down a bit). Taught me how to manage texture and savor, how to balance spice and sweet and sour, or tried to. Can’t say I was his best student.

      Some days Clint wouldn’t come in at all. Boss cook would have us cover for him when he was having a bad day. The man didn’t really need to work at all, he could’ve easily taken his disability and doctor visits through the VA and stayed home or gone fishing all day long. Some days he would just stop when the pain got too bad and sit on a stool next to the salad station. Every breathe was a wheeze with a sort dry whistle, and when it was bad he’d sort of curl up and shake.

      I would not wish that sort of pain, that sort of life on anyone, and I sincerely hope nothing happens to make me change my mind on that. Yes, there’s folks in the world that are bad enough they need killing. A bullet, a knotted rope, a needle will work just fine for the purposes of justice.

      And justice seems a fuzzy concept for those who cheer the riots and suchlike. Our pledge of allegiance (which I said every day in class for years, but one doubts any of the aforementioned have given it much thought) ends with “…and liberty and justice for all.” There were good reasons, then to put those words in- as there are now. If the scales of justice are weighted at all, towards either or any side, then justice is not done. A lie is a lie is a lie, as a crime is a crime is a crime.

      • Had a customer with burns on his arms, gotten while rescuing his daughter who had over 80% at least, and she was a tween when she had gotten them, so she had the pain of growing taller with severe scaring trying to limit her growing.

      • “I would not wish that sort of pain, that sort of life on anyone, and I sincerely hope nothing happens to make me change my mind on that. Yes, there’s folks in the world that are bad enough they need killing. A bullet, a knotted rope, a needle will work just fine for the purposes of justice.”
        This is my position.

    • This invention seems as though it should be posted here. Not FDA-approved yet, but I can imagine every burn center in the world simply salivating over something that promises to eliminate the need for debrieding and skin grafts.

  2. I was thinking of the oft-repeated phrase from the left of the last year or so: They go low, we go high.

    It confused me when it was first stated because I thought it was some kind of joke, partly because most on the Left seem to go reaaaaaaallly low (calling someone a racist can end a career whether it’s true or not, and yet is their go-to insult), but mainly because that phrase IS going low.

    Because it’s stating straight out that you are above your competitors. Better than your opponents. The bigger man. And said with such incredible smugness. You don’t want to wallow in the muck with your fellow citizens? You’re saying they’re in the muck, and they’re wallowing in it. Good lord, that’s inherent to the statement they’re making!

    Do they fear the weakness of their own arguments? Is that why they try to deny others the right to speak? Maybe subconsciously. Maybe they do realize that all they know is the catch phrases and not the philosophy that underlies those catch phrases so they can’t argue effectively (perhaps it’s just me but when in an argument in real life with someone on the left you can tell when they know they’ve lost because they talk down to you and say you cannot possibly understand their point. A personal attack to imply they’re smarter than you. The rejoinder I use is to repeat their argument back to them in simpler, clearer terms than they were using and ask what I didn’t understand.)

    However, I think your second explanation is much more in line with my observations: They truly believe themselves to be better than their fellow man. They truly believe they know what is in their fellow man’s best interests. They truly believe they know how to run their fellow man’s life better than their fellow man does. As if their fellow man is a child whose bottom needs wiping.

    And worst of all? They truly believe their fellow man should be grateful to them for their service.

    Really and truly.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      “Left seem to go reaaaaaaallly low”

      The scary part? They can still go lower. And will.

  3. I remember being brought to marches and demonstrations by my mother in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Even as a child I was confused by the definitions of “courage” used by the speakers. They gathered in great mobs, escorted by armed police who were there to protect them (from whom it was never clear). At worst they had a few people stare at them as they went by. Mostly though, they were simply ignored.

    And this was in the so-called “Bible Belt”. Modern films about that particular time and place show throngs of angry misogynist and homophobic white men threatening the poor brave women. I was there, though, and it wasn’t like that at all. We had women marching and chanting and holding signs and dragging children (like me) who had no clue what the fuss was all about.

    And all around ordinary people went about their ordinary lives, not giving a damn. This was their courage. This was their great struggle. They knew that they were safe because they lived in a country that protected them. They could rant and rave to their heart’s content, and people would smile and nod and say, “Isn’t that interesting” because that’s what people in the “Bible Belt” do when someone rants and raves at them.

    I know that my mother wanted to be brave and courageous. She knew that she lived a very safe and comfortable life and that she hadn’t done anything to earn it. She had to do next to nothing to keep it–she had plenty of time to get involved in meetings and marches and so on. Her “oppression” could be satisfied by a couple of hours running a washing machine once a week.

    My basic impression of Leftist politics as being a refuge for people who want to believe that they are brave without actually risking anything was formed as a child, and in the years since then I haven’t seen anything that has changed my mind about it.

    • Joe in PNG

      Screaming about oppression is a kind of Live Action Roleplay for wealthy leftist.

      • Draven

        in the case of the black blok kids, its scream about oppression, smash things, and then go back to their upper middle class homes….

    • (wry smile) I feel a lot of the modern ‘protestors’ go home to comfortable upper-middle class homes, and honestly many are either aging comfortably off hippies or people who thought that worth imitating.

    • Draven

      yeah they are so ‘brave’ when they smash up a starbucks in Company strength and act like they are ‘bringing the revolution’

  4. > So which is it? 1 or 2 or both?

    Survey says: Both!

    Timely message on adding weights to ourself. I’ve been struggling with a current project and started to compare it to the last one, which, while not *easy* to write, was comparatively easier, and I realized the main difference was that I had fun, and let the ‘message’ weave itself in naturally (it won’t be a very strong message to the target market, but the literary types will likely have a stroke), where as my attempts in the second one were more ham-fisted. Oops. I’ll have to ‘fix that in post’, as it were.

  5. It’s on some of the news blogs I follow – in New Haven last night, the protesters blocked an ambulance with a very ill patient inside, preventing them from reaching the hospital in a timely manner. This is not going to end very well. So far, all the really out-of-hand protests are in Deep Blue-Land or Dem-controlled cities, but if the black-masked antifa pros try this nonsense elsewhere … it could get ugly, very fast.
    In one of the Dakotas, they’re pushing for legislation that will protect a driver who accidentally strikes a protester deliberately blocking a road or highway.

    • Robin Munn

      At some point, someone is going to claim self-defense (“he was blocking me from getting to the ER, thereby deliberately endangering my life”) or, more likely, defense of someone else’s life (since someone having a heart attack can’t usually drive themselves to the emergency room). And then when the jury comes back with a verdict of innocent, the wheels are going to come off.

      • How the hell do you become so incredibly stupid, short-sighted and self-centered as to fail to realize that that Ambulance could have your best friend, sister, partner, mother or child in it. And if not yours, someone else’s. And next time it could be you… I’m sorry, obstruct an ambulance or its occupants and then society has little choice but for arrest and serious jail time. It’s that have the obstructionists leave in an ambulance or worse.

        • Robin Munn

          Hot Air had a report that one group of protestors was told, “No one gets by, unless it’s an ambulance.” But an ambulance did get blocked by the domino effects of blocking traffic (this street is blocked, so traffic backs up to THAT street, and so on).

          Also, it’s not only ambulances that carry patients to the hospital. Sometimes, if you know that someone you love needs to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW, it’s faster to drive them yourself (even though you won’t have the flashing lights and sirens to get other traffic out of your way) than to call an ambulance, because the ambulance will take an extra 10 minutes to get to the patient.

          And therefore, anyone deliberately blocking traffic COULD be blocking someone from getting to the hospital: they have no way of knowing. And at some point, one of those blocked people is going to deliberately run down the person doing the blocking, and claim the defense of others as justification.

    • dougirvin

      That happened in Seattle a dozen years back or so. Patient died.

    • Sam L.

      North Dakota.

    • aacid14

      When the BLM protests were going on one of the Level 1 centers in Boston was on ambulance divert because the ‘protest’ shut down access. But the ends justify the means to a lot of these protestors. It is extremely disturbing and only a matter of time before they threaten the wrong person.

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  7. dougirvin

    Dave, one objection to your advice to go to a burn unit. Some of these people get a visceral – one might even say orgaasmic – thrill in causing and seeing pain and suffering.

    • Zsuzsa

      If they went with a supervisor, it might be helpful in sorting out the genuinely well-intentioned Leftists from the Che types who are into Leftism because it gives them an excuse to induldge their sadism.

    • TRX

      Unfortunately much of the healthcare industry is infested with similar freaks. It’s very nearly a perfect habitat for a certain type of sadist.

      • aacid14

        Ugh. I’ll admit to enjoying the adrenaline rush and seeing the results of doing the job right but there are very few I want to be hurt. It is scary how many people have dehumanized others now.

    • Sadly, you have a point.

    • Andrew

      And that is how you identify the true sociopath. I know, I married into a family full of them. One of the many reasons I have a shotgun by the door and, well, enough about that.

      And yes, I have only seen the ‘true leftists’ as a group enjoy extreme physical pain in other human beings. A truly disgusting thing to observe in your fellow man.

      Best thing to do when you see someone laugh over true pain like a burn debriding is to take the laugher outside and put them out of our misery, but then that would be stooping to their level, so…

  8. Stephen J.

    “You think that most people are inferior and incapable of making up their own minds, and shouldn’t be allowed to do so, in case they get the wrong idea.”

    Speaking as someone who had a lot of leftish friends in fandom and used to be, if not outright leftist, at least sympathetically centrist in his politics, I can confirm it’s this. The fundamental thesis of every self-appointed utopian advocate ever is the basic assumption that the average plebeian Joe cannot be trusted, for the most part, to make the obviously right decision or to grasp the self-evidently correct truth by himself; that the statistically inevitable majority of any group of people, if given their own choice in the marketplace of ideas, is going to go not, as Aristotle believed, with the best idea in that marketplace but with the loudest advertised, the cheapest, most convenient, most flattering, most personally appealing or simply the one most effectively lied about.

    It even makes a certain amount of sense, from a typical fangeek’s perspective. Using myself and a fair number of fellow fans as an example, your average fangeek of the last few decades is usually (a) smarter and more imaginative than most of his/her classmates and shares very few of their interests, (b) given a lot of grief for this by peers, (c) gets most of his positive feedback if any from the teachers who are the only available protection from those peers during school hours, until they’re old enough to seek out fan communities for group protection, and (d) has a significant chance of either having witnessed a family breakdown or been part of one. Assuming all of this as formative experience seems to me to explain a lot of progressivist positions: the low opinion of the hoi-polloi and the belief that society will do better if run by a small group of gifted elites; the affinity for benevolent authority figures who can and will enforce public acceptance of the disliked; the impatience with traditional family structures and with any argument that they are generally better for children and society; and the loathing of the humiliation that comes along with any kind of competitive defeat or loss, with the consequent preference for equal outcome over equal opportunity.

    The problem, I speculate, with the current crop of outrage-signallers is that they’re so angry that they’ve forgotten this belief; they’re acting like a father so furious his child still won’t agree with him that they’ve fallen back on the equivalent of, “Because I say so, now shut up and cooperate or I’ll fetch you one ‘cross your rear!” As Dougirvin notes above, if this outrage goes far enough then even the notion of people suffering real agony from the violence won’t deter them; it will only be written off as karmically earned pre-punishment of those “who want to do the same to us”.

    • Goes to what I was saying earlier to Mrs. Hoyt about what makes these radical lefties. Betrayal at home. I experienced a -c but I have a loving, stable Christian family.

      So despite being a fen since forever I’ve been anti-Stalinist almost as long.

  9. Dave said: “To the people who said it was acceptable and justifiable. Go to a burns unit.”

    I have a similar message for the incredible morons who think it is right and proper to sucker-punch people, beat them with bats and generally have at those eeeevil Nazis any old way they like.

    Go to a brain trauma unit.

    Go see what -actually- happens when you hit a girl on the skull with a bat. Or hit a man in the face with brass knuckles. Or tackle somebody by surprise and bounce their head off the curb. It ain’t like Hollywood.

    “2) You think that most people are inferior and incapable of making up their own minds, and shouldn’t be allowed to do so, in case they get the wrong idea.”

    This is the basic enabling notion of all Leftist thought. People are stupid, they must be controlled. Freedom is dangerous, somebody might run with scissors. Everything else they say is a justification of or a lie in support of that basic belief.

    This makes for some convenient decision making. It’s perfectly okay to beat the common people into a coma or burn them alive, because they are dangerous and stupid animals. Animals are expendable and replaceable. One is no different than another.

    • “This makes for some convenient decision making. It’s perfectly okay to beat the common people into a coma or burn them alive, because they are dangerous and stupid animals. Animals are expendable and replaceable. One is no different than another.”
      Yes we ran into the untermench syndrome with the puppy-kickers. It was quite okay for them to cheat, to lie, to denigrate, to damage our careers as best they could, because we weren’t deserving of being considered human. Odd how the very same people are ardent PETA supporters or Vegans ;-/ – making LESS than animals.

      • Andrew

        But the very act of non being a human makes the animal morally superior to any one who disagrees with the smug bastard nose-stuck-up-in-the-air elitists.

        I live in a college town that is run, as a past boss said to me, like a plantation (yes, in the south.) The elitist lefties from the university rule over us poor townies like slaves, destroying businesses, housing, access to food and generally all the fun things in life (no indoor ranges, etc.) They, the masters, use the voting powers of the university students like scourges to flay us daily.

        I kid you not, I got warned by my boss at work regarding a confrontational conversation with a very powerful, fully admitted, communist professor, that happened in my not-work time. But because I worked for X-organization, the Commie bastard knew he could freely attack me and mine (my wife also came under fire at work for my mouth off work.)

        But the same overlords have no problem forcing gas taxes higher in our county because they’re all driving their hybrids. They can afford to eat ‘organic’ food (well, according to my Organic Chemistry class, all food is organic) while forcing discount food chains to shut down or not open.

      • http://www.campusreform.org/?ID=8741

        Soldiers for Socialism, in Florida. Organized beatings are now going to be a thing, apparently. I predict this does not go well for them, because Florida.

  10. Uncle Lar

    Dave my friend, do have a care. The world would be a darker place without you in it.
    I do understand that in early colonial days in New England lobsters were so thick on the shoreline that rules had to be imposed restricting the number of times a week they could be fed to indentured servants. Still, a nice haul that.

  11. Holly

    My best friend’s dad was severely burned rescuing his employee from a fire caused by I don’t know what but involved said employee doing something wrong in the chemical vats for metal plating. Both men survived, but it was up in the air for a while, and my friend’s dad went through years of treatment. (I assume the other guy did, too.)

    My wish for the rioters would be that they be the only victims of their actions. I am apparently not quite so kind as Dave.

    • I confess, in both senses of the word, that I incline toward your line of thought, Holly, although I transported a patient who had 2nd degree over 93% of the body and third “only” over 2%. It was an attempted suicide that eventually succeeded, emphasis on eventually. I had difficulty recognizing the individual as being human based on what little I could see of them, because the aedema (swelling and tissue weeping) had started.

      Would I wish that on anyone? No! Would I relish a nasty moment of satisfaction if one of the not-at-all-peaceful protesters got, oh, a hand burned by one of their Molotov cocktails (protip: don’t use a plastic water bottle)? Yes, I would. I am not a good person in many ways.

      • I’m afraid to say, I’m in the same boat. As Captain Mal said, “… well, I’m alright.” and I see a sort of Ironic Justice in the arsonist hoist by his own petard.

  12. It appears to me that these people have no real understanding of the causes of the last election. I believe that the election of an outsider candidate signals the end of the patience of middle America. The last 60 years have been penance, accepted by those who witnessed the end result of certain policies with their own eyes at the liberation of lovely vacation spots like Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. All sentences come to an end, or should. The quiet acceptance of guilt is coming to an end as such atrocities pass from living memory. What happens when that population segment that provides a majority of military recruits refuses delivery on the next levy of punishments for the heinous crime of existing? The lack of police response to the events in Berkeley prove beyond doubt that they cannot expect the most basic protection from these marauders. I think that they will respond with violence.
    The sentiments that I hear and read say that this segment is fast running out of cheeks to turn and nowhere in the good book is one commanded to commit suicide before defending oneself or one’s fellows. This response will lead to violence as it is painfully evident that peaceful negotiations are impossible. You cannot negotiate with those who do not negotiate in good faith. They do not, as Chuck Schumer so eloquently demonstrated, so why waste our breath?

    Well that was a rambling mess, wasn’t it?

  13. Joe in PNG

    A few years ago, I foolishly rode my motorcycle into town while wearing a pair of shorts*. I popped into a store for literally just a few seconds, came back, and as I pulled my bike out of the parking space, I rested the tail pipe against my bare shin.
    I looked down, and had a nice 2″ area of melted skin. The pain receptors decided to fire up at that point. Riding a bike with a severe burn on badly paved 3rd world roads to get to the doctor is no fun.
    That little burn was bad enough.

    • Have to mention what may be a regional oddity: Talking out fire. At one time there were people who said they could do so. I’m told that before I was born, maybe before my father built his house, there was a house across the road from where I grew up. A fire got out and caught on the wooden shingles. The owner got on the roof and severely burned his hands yanking off the the shingles. He failed to save his house, and by night was in terrible pain. They sent for a woman who could talk out fire, and when she was done he pain had lessened to where he could fall asleep.

      Have wondered if there was something to that or if it was a type of placebo effect that caused the brain to release endorphins. Whatever the case, it worked that night.

      • Andrew

        I have met some witchy women like the one you describe. Either they truly are tapped into a spiritual power (one nun I knew would fit that description) or they were very good at hypnosis (couple mountain women deep in the Smokey’s.)

        Everyone carries on about ‘Eastern Medicine’ but the ancient European ways are just as strong and valid.

      • I’ve read it as “talking the fire off” and the people who said they could do it used certain scriptures and prayers, reciting them as they “drew out” the heat from the burn. No idea how it happens, but I’m not going to discount that for some people, it worked and worked well.

      • adventuresfantastic

        I’ve never heard of this, but it sounds fascinating, like something Manly Wade Wellman would write about.

        • It reminds me of some things I’ve read about among the brauchers, traditional healers among the Pennsylvania Dutch. Supposedly one of the three basic requirements to be seen as an actual braucher was to be able to ‘draw fire from a burn’, though that as often meant some skin disease like Erysipelas as it did an actual burn.

  14. The people who sucker punch people they disagree with are the emerging Spartacus League. At some point,they are going to be facing an emerging Freikorps. Yes, this would not be a positive outcome.

  15. This is going to sound like a cheap political shot but it’s based on roughly a century and a half of history: They are acting like Democrats. When faced with being out of power after the Civil War, how did the Democrats react? With violence. When someone challenged their power, how did they react? With violence. The current tone has reminded me of the Camila Massacre; Berkeley especially so, and both reacted to the same thing: a challenge to their power.

    • You can go back even farther, at least to the Democratic mob in 1812 Baltimore that attacked a Federalist newspaper. The newspapermen and allied politicians were jailed. The next day they attacked by a mob who removed them from the jail and spent three hours beating and torturing them; one died from the wounds inflicted.

      The Civil War and its aftermath were a large-scale instance of continued Democrat violence, in which I’d include the Draft Riots. Long after, there’s the events at Wilmington.

      During World War I, Woodrow Wilson’s bully boys in the American Protective League didn’t break too many heads, but they did tend to tamp down on any opposition to the Wilson regime. Just after World War II, the corrupt Democratic regime running McMinn County, Tennessee attempted to use violence and intimidation to keep the populace under control, but were thankfully defeated by an armed citizenry.

      During the 60’s and 70’s the KKK, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party was responsible for several heinous acts of violence. Many violent lefties of the same time period were then, or later became, members of the Democratic Party.

      And that brings us to the current time. It has been two hundred years, and as we see in the news each week, the Democrats remain a party that welcomes violent thugs.

    • snelson134

      As I’ve said way too many times, the current crop of “rape culture” advocates are the same type of people who believe the Scottsboro Boys had it coming.

  16. “I took a breather, we untangled the hoses, took off some weight and about 10 minutes later jumped back in. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done.”

    My first, last, and only scuba diving experience, with its first, last, and only malfunctioning regulator experience, taught me that sweet sucking air is the most underappreciated joy in the entire world. Having bronchitis only reinforced this opinion.

    And yes, getting back in the water… the longer you wait, the harder it gets. There’s a lot of value in getting back on the horse. I know this, yet find so very many excuses not to get back into the water with scuba gear.

    For writers, I can see the same application. Rejection? Keep writing. One-star review? Keep writing. Sales tank? Keep writing. As stated elsewhere, every martial artist with a black belt was once a white belt who didn’t give up.

    • Maybe the divers here can tell me if there’s something to this. Was going to take SCUBA and had to have a physical first. My physician refused to clear me on account of my sinuses. I’ve had sinus problems most of my life, and the thought there was a chance they could close up while under water, then rupture from the air expanding as I ascended. I knew lung rupture was a real thing, but what of sinuses?

      Never took diving, BTW, so never advanced beyond skin diving.

      • “…but what of sinuses?”

        The sphenoid sinuses form the floor of the brain pan. Having one of those rupture, that might be Bad. As in, if you were lucky, it would sever your brain stem and kill you immediately. If unlucky, it would only damage the brain stem. Double-plus ungood.

  17. jon spencer

    Why no bail-out bottle?

    • Oddly pony tanks are not a feature even on the BC’s made for compressor (hookah) diving. My bud has a new bells-and whistles one, just doesn’t use for crayfishing. I suppose because the compressor has a twin reserve tank (lower pressure than a dive tank, but still as much as a pony’s worth of air) so even if the compressor stops, the tanks will still give you 2-3 minutes (about a pony’s worth). We always have someone in the boat on the surface, who will haul hoses (they are very strong), and can pull the diver up, if the surface compression stops. Hose kinks just shouldn’t be possible and decent quality hose (I’ve had at least 1000 hours on good hose and never had it happen – this is proper breathing hose, designed not to collapse.) I think this hose had been left in the sun and is old as the hills. Most problems are 1)compressor stops. 2)2nd stage regulator fails (that’s been my other ascent). If it’s the latter a spare reg on the pony would help. But this is why we buddy dive (we can share a reg.) It really boils down to my stupidity and fault for the weight-belt issue. I should have corrected that immediately. Remember I’m only 30 feet down. I can swim 30 feet on single breath easily – if I am neutrally bouyant.

  18. I really like your stories, Mr. Freer.

    Oh – and the yard ape just re-read Changeling Island “It’s a really good book, mom.”

    • Excellent. Get them young enough and they’re mine for life… 🙂 Seriously that was my target group. I just hit a lot of other people that didn’t grow up entirely too. My aim is not great.