Of Warriors Born

Every now and then I’ll surface from my mostly-hibernating state and notice another twit rabbiting on about whirled peas and how any form of force or competition is evil, bad, and causes pimples or something. Most of the time I have a quiet little giggle to myself about stupid people and hope for the poor deluded fool to have a Darwin-worthy ending.

Because competition of the red-in-tooth-and-claw kind is built in to every living thing, and there isn’t a single animal that survives without at minimum harming some other living thing. Yes, even the herbivores. Aside from them killing parts of plants when they eat, many of them have some pretty damn vicious fights over which one gets to lead the herd or mate with the female or whatever. Plus there’s evidence that plants communicate, making them at least as aware as an animal, even if there’s not a whole lot of consensus on just how they communicate at least the last time I checked.

Every last human has killed any number of insects, whether by swatting them personally (or is that insectally?), spraying pesticide, or just stepping on them. Some of us have killed larger beings – I personally eliminated rather a lot of cane toads when I was growing up in Brisbane, by the simple method of hitting them on the head with a shovel then flipping them out onto the busy road we lived on. They were a menace, and if we didn’t keep at them, we’d find them in the loo, which is a startling experience to say the least. Plus if the cats found them the cat could be poisoned.

That’s not counting the animals that die so we get nice juicy steaks, bacon, and of course the old joke of devouring the unborn in the form of a nice omelet.

It’s bred in. Everything alive right now is the result of untold generations of cut-throat competition for scarce resources, up until very recently. We’re mostly in an era of unimaginable plenty, to where the normal economy of scarcity is falling apart. It’s kind of hard to work with the usual scarcity rules of fighting for food and fighting for a partner so you can live long enough to have kids and be immortal in the sense of having generations following you through centuries to come when pretty much everyone is able to stay fed and has the luxury to search world-wide to find a partner.

That might be why we humans crave extreme anything – I don’t think it’s an accident that extreme sports have become a thing after a relatively long period of peace that’s still mostly holding on. Just as I don’t think it’s an accident that some of the most impressive works of art and scientific advancements happened in times of terrible wars. As the old joke goes, Switzerland has been neutral for centuries and what is it known for? Watches and cuckoo clocks.

Similarly, you put someone into a situation where they have everything they need and they don’t have to struggle for anything, they’re likely to either stagnate or take up something risky. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where the love of – and often fanatic following of – sports has its origins. Apparently we need that adrenaline boost of our lives being in danger to push us to our limits, as long as it’s not a permanent thing.

It might be weird needing to have a modest amount of threat to our well-being in some form in order to thrive while increasing the threat level ultimately leads to what gets called everything from burnout (in its minor forms) to shellshock. Then again, if  that’s what drives us as a species to push ourselves to overcome our normal limits, maybe not so weird.

As long as we don’t forget that it’s part of being human to be fiercely competitive and to have the urge to see our rivals and enemies not merely defeated but utterly crushed (because then they’re not a danger to us), it’s not a bad thing to acknowledge that we’re the descendants of many thousands of people who beat someone else to the goodies as it were. Or to accept that sometimes, violence is the only way to solve a problem.

It’s figuring out which problems need violence and which can be handled by other means that’s the challenging part.


  1. I’d be willing to state that every problem can be solved without violence. Thing is, there are a number of problems where violence is the most effective means of solving them; and anything less merely kicks the can down the road for someone else to deal with AGAIN.

    What unsavory things did my ancestors do to survive? Probably prostitution, theft, rape. pillage. burn, maybe genocide (if their enemies are extinct, then how would we know?) probable infanticide of severely deformed children, sold some “excess” children into slavery or indentured servitude, killed on command of their lords or gang bosses, or just killed for themselves. They survived, they had kids, they did what they needed to for their kids to have a chance to survive and have children themselves. That’s the most basic purpose for life.

    1. problem is the snowflake brigade believes that if only we stop right now we’d suddenly get a perfect utopia…

    2. I remember in college, taking a course in violence and peace-making (it WAS one of those hippy-dippy schools). One day, early on, the professor went around the room asking why people were violent.
      The usual explanations were trotted out: small dick, pathological need to control, cultural expectations, etc.
      When they got to me, I said, “Because it works.”
      I further explained, “In the short run, it’s a remarkably efficient way of getting what you want.”
      They did move away from me after that.

  2. Technically speaking, violence can solve any problem. If you define a problem in terms of people complaining about it. So, if anyone who objects is dead, not a problem by that definition.

    Any sort of problem solving, it’s critical to understand precisely what you mean by solving the problem. What we want to happen and the physical world are unrelated things. Some of the time we get an intersection without being careful, but other times we need to be very careful indeed.

    Low risk apathy and deeply traumatized could be understood as two extremes on spectrum. Good solutions are an optimization problem with trade offs.

  3. “It might be weird needing to have a modest amount of threat to our well-being in some form in order to thrive while increasing the threat level ultimately leads to what gets called everything from burnout (in its minor forms) to shellshock.”

    Oh, now you went and did it. ~:D

    /rant mode engage/

    We are semi-carnivorous predatory monkeys. We are -made- for fighting. If we don’t get to do any fighting, it makes us go weird. Its unhealthy. Like being a vegetarian is unhealthy. (TRIGGERED!!! Waiting for the tsunami of “NO ITS NOT!!!” from all the veggies.)

    Fighting (generally) is not hunting and its not killing. There’s a distinction that the sucky pacifist types refuse to make. Fighting between individuals is mostly a communication. Punching somebody in the face is a very basic, mammal-brain type of communication that speaks to the deep part of the animal in a way that it can’t ignore. Even Leftist morons who never ever EVER fucking well listen will learn from it.

    Otherwise known as mammalian dominance. Everything from shrews to elephants have it. Its built in. It doesn’t go away because some guy writes a book about how great it would be if there was no more war and how violence never solved anything.

    Sometimes violence is the -only- thing that’ll solve it. We were talking about feral humans the other day. The one thing that’ll make one of those assholes back off is the certainty he’s going to get hurt bad. That’s why they go after women, they think they can win. Women need to teach them -fear-. Then, and only then, will they back off.

    For y’all Feminazi lurkers I know are reading this, female humans have mammalian dominance by the bucket full. Lately we call it Queen Bee-ing. Its why when women fight they go for the face. (Oh yeah, that’s what they do.)

    This is what makes girls with Aspergers so miserable in life. They don’t understand that they’re supposed to suck up to the Queen Bee. A man with Aspergers can still win the dominance game by simply pounding every dumbass that looks at him funny. (Ask me how I know.) Women don’t have that advantage, and so they suffer more.

    Personally I think young ladies should be a bit quicker with their fists, possibly use of improvised weapons would also benefit them. There’s nothing like a stacking chair to the back of the head to communicate “FUCK OFF!!!” to a Queen Bee. Those bitches need a whuppin’.

    By the way, shell-shock is actually diffuse brain damage caused by the shock wave of an explosion. Same thing that is going to get the NFL driven to bankruptcy some day soon. Shock waves are one of the reasons the US military went to those full-coverage “Fritz” helmets. I don’t know how well they dampen the shockwaves, but probably better than nothing.

    /here endeth rant mode/

    1. A lot of Shonen Jump series rely heavily on violence as part of communication. Which means that the stories don’t work very well for people who don’t grok that, yes, violence involving men and boys really can work this way, and there are things you can’t communicate anywhere near as well any other way over the same time.

      1. “I punched it on the nose. Now we’re friends.”

        I experienced this firsthand, but I should note, there should be a concept of recognition of the other as being ‘worthy’ of inclusion into the group; which is why the loss of coming of age rituals (via further expanding the concept of ‘child’ in terms of age and rejection of adult responsibilities and obligations) have weakened the concept, and left the young flailing.

    2. Nailed it.

      Unfortunately, at least in the context of public school, I can attest that improvised weapons used against said Queen Bees – or male tormentors out to do more harm, because they know you have no allies – gets you labeled the Source of All the Trouble by the administration, who will do absolutely nothing in your defense. Doesn’t matter what bruises or broken bones you have.

      If you can’t do the social thing, you are screwed.

      1. “…gets you labeled the Source of All the Trouble by the administration, who will do absolutely nothing in your defense.”

        You know, the sad truth is that these days the administration won’t do a damn thing in any kid’s defense.

        1. Isn’t that the truth. “Oh, your kid’s just faking it, they’re not really hurt.” Handed x-ray of broken bone. “Oh, well you can’t blame us for that…”

          I’ve always said the best proof that I am a calm and rational individual is there are certain buildings still standing.

          1. oh, you, too? Our kid got that, complete with us bringing in the bloody photos of the lungs (in our case – somehow they thought Kid was faking coughing blood). The broken leg was a case of insisting the kid jump, when kid said, it hurts. Next day came in a cast – second break for that leg.
            home school hadn’t been working due to need for Mom to be Mom not Teacher, but public sure as hell wasn’t an improvement.

              1. Iron Rice Bowl, that’s why. Once hired, can’t be fired. There is no reason short of overt, violent criminality that will allow a school board to fire a teacher.

                That’s why Doug Ford cut all the education budgets this year. To give those boards an opportunity to jettison the draggy useless teachers that have been cashing a paycheck for 20 years.

                The screaming y’all heard a few weeks ago was the Teacher Union finding a big crack in the iron rice bowl.

                1. *Offers up fervent prayers.*

                  …I think I’ll never forgive some of them for the insult of looking at me – two years younger than everyone else, bruised, bloodied, and just about mute with terror – and saying I’m the one took on a mob of ten at once and started the fight.

                  I’m very in favor of the Arnaud Amalric solution on this one.

          2. The amazing thing is there aren’t more Columbine-type incidents. You marginalize, bully, and turn other kids, who often are highly intelligent odds, into social outcasts with no investment in the society and wonder why they lash out in revenge?

            1. *Nod* That’s been my thought for a long, long time. I’m not surprised there are so many, I’m surprised there are so few.

              But then, a lot of us Odds are really relatively peaceable folks who would just rather get away from the crazy idiots rather than resort to homicide. Probably in part because I’ve heard the prison libraries don’t have the latest SF/F, and the internet streaming for anime is no good whatsoever. 😉

    3. :Applauds a truly magnificent rant: Thank you. You said it far better than my sleep-deprived rambles managed to do.

      1. Ha, you pushed one of my buttons.

        I really despise the fake-faced holier than thou pacifist set. Type of people who don’t lock their cars because its “untrusting” and then they’re shocked when somebody rips them off.

        1. I consider pacifism morally bankrupt, because in extremis it relies on other people to intervene on your behalf or to become morally complicit in allowing your murder. Meaning the pacifist merely outsources the violence and guilt. Phooey.

        2. I blandly told a friend who declared that he was pacifist that I generally held pacifists in contempt. He was nice enough to ask me why, then later amended that he wasn’t willing to initiate violence, but willing to try defend someone else if needed and could not be avoided, after I explained to him why I held pacifists in contempt.

          Which was ‘they’re cowards who are willing to let someone else die so they can bleat about how they wouldn’t resort to ‘filthy violence’, not even to protect someone else, then wail about how they weren’t protected by ‘the police, or soldiers – anyone else’ when they get attacked’; more or less.

          1. Genghis Khan visited a monastery. His men beat up the monks until the little old abbot came out and told them all off.

            Khan: “Shut up old man! I’m the guy who can run a sword through you and not blink an eye!”
            Abbot: “Back off, kid. I’m the guy who can have a sword run through me and not blink an eye.”

            The story goes that Genghis and the boys went in search of other prey.

            That’s a pacifist.

            I also recall the much vaunted Mahatma Gandhi saying that his methods would not have worked against the Nazis, who would have just killed them all and not given a shit.

              1. To further explain, his pacifism wouldn’t have worked against the Muslims who held India before the British took over (and actually helped the Hindu people into a prominent position), he held Hitler in positive regard, and from my point of view, only employed his pacifism against the British as a massive guilt trip because it worked on a people that were, culturally, capable of things like mercy, humanity, kindness.

                He was the first SJW in my eyes, weaponizing someone’s kindness against them, and his message only lead to other people dying for it, all so he could feel all nice and righteous. Only a few hundred years prior to that, the Muslims raiders would have laughed in the face of his pleas that they were peaceful people, raped his wives, daughters and sons in front of him, burned his village to the ground, and then beheaded him after all were dead.

                A pacifist who is willing to have someone else die for his ideals is someone I generally hold in contempt.

            1. “A pacifistic male is a contradiction in terms. Most so-called pacifists are simply sailing under false colors. When the wind changes, they hoist the Jolly Roger.” — Lazarus Long.

    4. And those of us girls who finally decide we don’t give a tinker’s dam and ignore the mess really make the Queen Bees wild. I give thanks almost daily that anti-social media wasn’t around when I was a teenager.

    1. Hadn’t you heard? They have “white privilege” so it doesn’t count.

      Yes that is sarcasm.

      1. Not to the people ACTUALLY SAYING IT to Holocaust survivors. They, unfortunately, are serious.

    2. Obligatory:

      “Anyone who clings to the historically untrue and thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never settles anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst.”

          1. Did I get the source wrong? I purged my quote directory on this particular system a month ago, so I’m winging it today.

  4. Every last human has killed any number of insects, whether by swatting them personally

    There’s at least one sect of Jainism that wear masks to avoid inhaling small insects and brushes the ground before walking to avoid stepping on any. I wonder how they feel about their white blood cells taking out bacteria? 🙄

    1. According to one of MomRed’s Jain co-workers, antibiotics and vaccinations are considered OK, since they post-date the writing of the religious rules. So the body doing it’s thing is also OK.

  5. I came to the conclusion many years ago, that males of ALL species like to fight! Yes, they sometimes fight over food or mates or territory, but sometimes they just fight for no reason at all. Sports, for humans, is a way to compete in (usually) less than lethal ways.

    I used to coach kids in hockey. I had some drills where it was one player versus one other player. Some (non-hockey playing) folks told me I shouldn’t run such drills, as it would lower the self-esteem of the loser of those sorts of drills! I told those complainers that ALL of life is about competition! You compete against other job applicants to get hired. You compete against others to find a mate. You even sometimes have to compete to get accepted to certain schools. So I told those folks to bugger off.

    Sports was my life when I was younger. I started playing little league baseball when I was 11, and played sports until I was 38. I discovered when I was a kid and we would play pick-up sports like baseball or football or even soccer in a vacant field was that there are two kinds of people in life. One, when faced with a challenge (like being picked last when teams are decided in pick-up games), will “up their game” to beat that challenge. I was one of those folks. When I first started playing in the pick-up games in my neighborhood, naturally I was one of the last picks. But I worked hard at improving at sports, and so I became a higher and higher pick, and then finally was usually one of the team captains who would pick others for my teams. The other kind of person, though, when presented with a challenge, will instead avoid the challenge, and will find something else to do that won’t challenge them. Those are the people who feel stigmatized by being picked last, so they quit playing sports.

    Nowadays, the folks who can’t stand failure always want to blame others for their failures, instead of trying to improve themselves! They also try to destroy the institutions that made them “feel sad.” Pity.

    1. There have been multiple cases of “bar brawls” between units while I was in the USN, where after the fight was over the two sides end up drinking together and BSing.

      1. In most of the men’s ice hockey leagues I played in, both teams would physically abuse each other on the ice during the game, but then both teams would usually go drinking together in the same bar after the game. Most of the players seem to have got their violence out of their system during the game, and did not have any reason to continue being violent. I also was an announcer and statistician for women’s roller derby leagues for a number of years, and it was the same. The skaters would knock each down during the game (sometimes getting penalized for illegal actions), but then both teams (and their fans) would all go to the same after party and were all great friends at the bar. So at least part of that violence at hockey games is “ritualized violence.” Also, most hockey players know there is a line which you should not cross, regarding dirty hits, etc.

        And speaking of violence, I can only think of a couple of professional hockey players who were guilty of domestic violence, while there are many documented cases of domestic violence from the ranks of professional football and basketball. Baseball seems to have its fair share of abusers, too.

        There was an excellent movie from the late 1970s about violence in sports called “The Deadliest Season.” In the movie, Michael Moriarty is a professional hockey player who gets sent to the minor leagues because he won’t “goon it up” (i.e., he won’t fight). In the minors, Moriarty’s character is befriended by an older player (played by Paul D’Amato, who also played the infamous “Dr. Hook” Tim McCracken in Slap Shot, which came out about the same time) who teaches Moriarty to goon it up. So then Moriarty gets called back up to the top league, and his mentor also gets called up to a rival team. When the two players play against each other, D’Amato suckers Moriarty into fighting, taking both players off the ice (and that is a gain for D’Amato’s team, as Moriarty is the more talented player). Eventually, Moriarty performs some dirty stick work on D’Amato (crossing the line of excessive violence!), killing D’Amato in the process. But what makes the film surprising is that Moriarty is then put on trial for murder, which almost never happens, no matter what happens on a field (or ice) or play. Unfortunately, that movie (Deadliest Season) was a made-for-TV movie and was never released on VHS or DVD.

    2. I’ve often thought that if humans have to be tribal (and there’s some good evidence we do), sports are not a bad way to accomplish that. If “we” are Broncos fans, “they” are Raiders fans, and we show our superiority to them by running up the score on the gridiron twice a year…well, there are certainly much worse ways to be tribal.

      And as far as one-on-one drills lower the self-esteem of the poor darlings…the kids don’t play those games. In the sports where the parents refuse to keep score, they know full well who won and who lost. I would suspect on your hockey team, the kids would know full well who was the best player, who was the worst, and have a fair idea of the rankings in between regardless of how many drills they did.

      1. Yeah, kids (or adults) on sports teams know the pecking order. They know who the best player is, the worst, etc. But as a coach, I enjoyed coaching “house league” hockey where the idea is supposed to be that everyone plays an equal amount of time, instead of like the “travel” teams (or like soccer, where they use the ridiculous “elite” team title) where coaches tend to play their best players only. My belief was and is that you can’t learn to play a game, or learn to play it better, by sitting on the bench and watching. You need to get out there and play.

        One year when I was coaching ice hockey, I had two beginners who had never played any hockey and who had both only been skating about a year. Most of the other 13 & 14 year olds in the league had already been playing organized hockey for 5 or 6 years. Needless to say, at the beginning of the season, those two rookies were not good players. But by the end of the season I ranked them in the top 10 players in the league (out of probably 60 skaters in the league)! They REALLY paid attention to the what the coach was saying, and they made very fast progress learning various skills and team play concepts. We easily won the league championship that year. Of course, early in the year, some of the other parents would privately complain to me that I was playing the beginners too much, that it was hurting the team. I reminded those complaining parents that the parents of the rookies were paying the same amount of money that other parents were paying so their kids could play, and that nobody got better without playing. (It should go without saying that you always tried to have your best players on the ice at the very end of a close game!)

        Another year, I was coaching a 5th & 6th grade floor hockey team at a Family Y. NONE of the players had ever held a hockey stick before, but they made rapid progress. I also rotated the players so that they played every position, including goalie. At the end of the season, the Y gave me a certificate for a free pizza for me to award to the best player on the team. Well, I was a softie, and didn’t want to single out one player as I always tried to build on the team concept, so I used that certificate and spent some of my own money to buy more pizzas so everyone could have pizza at a season’s end party. I’m sure all of the players on that floor hockey team knew who the best player was, but we didn’t need to spell it out.

        And although I’m drifting off the main topic of this thread, I believe teamwork is important. No team can win with a superstar and a bunch of scrubs. Even Michael Jordan couldn’t win any championships until he had a strong supporting team of players around him. Oh, wait, I can get back on the topic of violence! Hockey teams always used to have an “enforcer” whose main duty was to be a deterrent force. If the other team tried to injure the enforcer’s star players, the enforcer would either go after the other team’s goons, or would retaliate in kind against the other team’s star players. So that kept most teams from trying to injure or otherwise take liberties with a team’s best players.

        1. Re: Teamwork – I’ve said for years that a champion team will beat a team of champions damn near every time (you have to make allowances for people having an off day and the occasional bit of bad luck). If everyone on team A is working together and everyone on team B is out for themselves, then if the general skill levels are in the same range, team A is much more likely to win.

          I’ve seen it happen often enough. We’re social critters at heart. We compete viciously to make our place in our group, but we’re much more brutal when our group is competing against another group.

    3. “I told those complainers that ALL of life is about competition!”

      that’s actually my biggest objection to Little League baseball (and probably to Pop Warner football). When I was growing up, if you weren’t good enough, you never got to play, and therefore could never improve in order to ever BE good enough. My parents saw the whole high pressure con job the community put in to get kids into the program as merely a means of being able to reach into those parent’s discretionary income.

      1. Mike, your league needed coaches like me who try to play all of the players an equal amount of time. It doesn’t always work, like sometimes in hockey your players get penalties and so you have to scramble lines, but coaches should try to equalize playing. My little league mandated that in every 7-inning game, every player had to play at least 3 innings. Also, pitchers were limited to no more than 7 innings pitched in a week, and we usually had 2 games per week. That actually worked out pretty well.

        I played in men’s soccers leagues for only about 2.5 years until I hurt my knee. But that men’s league followed the STUPID pro soccer rule of only 3 substitutions per game, meaning if there were extra players on the bench, they would never get into a game. Does anyone know if modern youth soccer leagues are more enlightened where they might try to ensure that all players get to play an entire half in every game?

        1. Two reasons to rotate players.

          One, youth sports are justified as personal development, and fun, not optimizing for scoring. Professional sports are what you get when you start fully optimizing for scoring, and that isn’t really something that is sound to do with a large number of young people. The economics only support a certain number of adult professional players, and if what kids do is occupational training, they need other activity in their lives to cover other occupation possibilities.

          Second, fatigue related injuries. Girls get a lot of torn ACLs, and the mechanism is apparently partly fatigue, and partly structure of female bodies. Manual labor all day might be safe for adolescents, if things are calm enough that they can stick to proper form, and they have the experience to be skilled in maintaining proper form. With youth sports and especially competitive games, the uncertainties are enough that rotation probably should be essential.

  6. Switzerland has been neutral for centuries and what is it known for? Watches and cuckoo clocks.

    And cheese.

    And chocolate.

    Let’s not totally dismiss the Swiss here. If a society could produce only one thing, the world’s best chocolate is not a bad choice.

    1. The Swiss are also known for producing some dang fine firearms: Sig, Brugger & Thomet, Sphinx are what immediately come to mind.
      Then again, the one of the reasons the Swiss have avoided war is by making themselves very difficult to attack, and giving their people weapons.

      1. It is a rather old joke and undoubtedly predates the easy availability of Swiss chocolate outside Europe. Or, for that matter, Swiss firearms or Swiss cheese.

      2. It’s easy to be neutral when the landscape itself helps defend you.; as well as having a reputation for being able to kick the asses of anyone who attacks you.

        1. I _think_ it is Switzerland that has (had?) explosives in all the tunnels through the Alps that lead to it. Now I’m going to have to go look…

          Apparently “had” is the correct tense: How Switzerland camouflaged its ready-to-explode architecture during the Cold War

          And I’m sure the NSA is not the least bit concerned that I just Googled “alps tunnels explosives”.

  7. Fisher’s Chant
    Leslie Fish

    Come up. Come up, oh sweet thresher shark
    One of us today will die
    One will go down the other ones throat
    Beneath the pitiless sky

    The Earth is thick with the numbers of men
    The poisoned soil turns cold
    So out we go to the ancient sea
    To feed as we did of old


    The gods made Man like any other beast
    For all that his pride denies
    So we must take our turn at the kill
    And all of the rest is lies


    And you who raise tame beasts on the land
    That you march to the slaughterhouse door
    May point no safe, fat finger at us
    Who risk a little bit more


    And you who buy your meat at the stores
    May raise no howl of shame
    For as you pay for the food beasts death
    You eat and you share the blame


    And you who feed on nothing but plants
    Don’t hold your pride so high
    For plants are living and just might feel
    And they take so long to die


    So come to the battle of the jaws and gaff
    At the border of sea and air
    We’ll duel for food while the old gods laugh
    By the gods, this fight is fair!

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