There ain’t no there there

It seems to me that one of the bigger problems facing us all – and yeah, there’s a lot of them and most of them are nasty buggers – is that when it comes to the people who are supposed to be leading the mess, there’s no “there” there.

It’s a political failing, sure, since so much of the process to get someone into political power is based on image and perception that said process becomes intensely vulnerable to someone who is nothing but image and perception. That said, when it starts to look like empty suits all the way down, things are not looking good.

I don’t know what, if anything, anyone can do about it. Those humongous media conglomerates spend large fortunes to make small ones and to reinforce the whole image uber alles thing – and the movers behind the scenes really don’t want anyone working it out. Not to mention, when you’ve got more than two or three people in one place for any reason, you’re going to get politics.

Worse, the politics actually get nastier when the stakes are small. You ain’t seen vicious until you’ve seen the internal politics of a women’s craft group. There’s a reason those sewing circles are circles – it means nobody has their back to anyone else, because if you turn your back in one of them you’re guaranteed to get at least one pair of finely crafted sewing scissors lodged in there.

Sadly, no amount of determined hermiting can keep me away from the unpleasant realities of politics. It just isn’t possible: politics are built into human nature, since there are always going to be people who prefer to manipulate others rather than do things for themselves, and there are always going to be people who prey on others.

I’d like there to be a simple, easy fix for all of this that doesn’t involve genocide but as far as I can tell as long as there are humans, the flaws of human nature will be with us.

Which is not to say it’s all bad/evil/horrible and we should self-flagellate regularly in penance for being part of such a horrible species. Bugger that for a lark.

Pratchett said it in one of his books (sod if I remember which one). Part of being human is that as well as depths of depravity that would sicken the average demon there are heights of goodness that can outshine the angels. Sometimes in the same individual (actually as often as not in the same individual – just think of who was responsible for the first reasonable laws against cruelty to animals and try not to wince). Or, as Pratchett commented more than once, rising ape meets falling angel.

We’ve got the same physical urges as any other animal, and the same ability to follow them without concern for anything other than our own gratification. But we’ve also got the ability to choose not to let said urges cause harm to others, even when there’s a part of us that really wants to cause harm.

It comes down to who we want to be – the kind of person we want to be. If we want to be what other people think we should be, there’s a good chance we’re going to be empty suits driven by the whims of whatever passes for opinion polls in our circle of acquaintances.

The alternative can get ugly when people are in a lemming mood, but ultimately… well, at least in my view I reckon it’s a good thing to know what things you will (and won’t) accept and hold to the kind of person you believe you should be. Most of the time, it works (as long as the kind of person you believe you should be is not someone that’s going to go out slaughtering people in job lots. That tends to be somewhat counterproductive in the long run and will usually get you put down rather quickly).

(In a case of subject whiplash, today’s picture is the floral arrangement one of my sisters sent for my birthday this week. It’s the umpty umpth anniversary of my 18th birthday)

33 comments

      1. At the level of hermiting I’ve been doing, the best I can say about those is how they’ve impacted my family (the answer is: not well. Thanks to lockdowns when Dad needed to get a skin cancer treated (a semi-regular thing for him) he had to go to someone other than his regular doctor – he lives on the Gold Coast near the Queensland/New South Wales border, which is closed. Makes me wonder what would happen in a medical emergency when the nearest ER was on the other side of the border. Skin cancer turned out to be nasty – the doctor couldn’t close the wound, so Dad ended up in ER where he had a plastic surgeon clean him up and wound up with bandaging from ankle to knee to support it. Unfortunately, having it open for as long as it was let it get infected… so he wound up back in ER, then in hospital for a week on IV antibiotics. I don’t know if things would have been the same if he’d been able to see his regular doc, but it’s not a good sequence of events, and rather rough going for someone over 80 to deal with).

        I will say that what I’ve heard suggests that Oz is being at best hyper-paranoid about things.

        1. I heard of a case, early, where a ER turned away a baby because it wasn’t COVID-19, and fortunately his parents took him to another hospital. Bacterial meningitis.

          That’s what will happen, except there’s no guarantee of another ER.

  1. Conga rats on the recent birthday and also my FB reminder pinged me that it was just over five years ago we welcomed you into that glorious cluster fisk of US citizenship.

  2. Craft circle, school board, town council, church elders, homeowner’s association . . . they’re always a disaster because they’re always a bunch of amateurs given temporary power they don’t know how to handle. The only thing worse is professionals, who are convinced they know better than you and have the power to say what you can and cannot do. Doesn’t get any better as you go up the political ladder to state legislature, Congress, even The Big Guy himself. Which is what makes that genocide idea so appealing. Remember Henry VI: the first thing we do . . . .

    Happy birthday. The flowers are lovely. Ignore the petty people in power. Smile at a peon today (grocery store clerk, waitress, writer). You’ll be amazed at the grateful response and your whole day will brighten.

    1. You’re not wrong. I sometimes think the best way to pick the people who should be in power is to find the ones who run as fast as they can from it. Then I remember that I utterly suck at anything resembling leadership and a policy like that would land me in the hot seat.

      Nuh uh. The Do Not Want would be heard halfway around the world. I have enough issues with the responsibilities I’ve already got without adding more.

      And thank you. If I chance to see a peon today I shall do so. Otherwise I’ll smile at the next peon I encounter.

  3. When one is targeted for slaughter or servitude, turnabout is merely fair play.

    (To be clear, I am not advocating for a shift from civil disobedience to something more kinetic under current conditions.)

    1. Quite. As a general rule when your choice is slavery or death, some of the more… interesting methods of objecting start to look more attractive.

  4. ::musing:: You know, not all politics is evil…. just when you have to describe it as politics, it has usually gone beyond Being A Decent Person.
    (And these days, generally involves weaponized abuse of the Be A Decent Person impulse.)

    That’s why the Office Mom is so important– they may not do as much as everybody else, but they make it so everybody else gets like a hundred percent more done. They know that you can’t put Smith and Jones as alternates on the same job, because their kids are on the same sports teams, but if you put Jones with Brown it’s great because they HATE eachother and it gives them a reason to never be in the office at the same time, and MacDonald should be thrown at ANYTHING that needs organizing but for heaven’s sake don’t have her TALK to anyone–

    That’s politics, but it’s the just-knowing-people and helping things go smoothly politics, not control people or big-conflicts politics.

    I think part of the issue with the quality of current leadership is that a lot of folks don’t know how to lead, they think authority comes without responsibility.

    1. Or even worse, they believe having authority makes them Authorities. That they suddenly know how you should live your life better than you do.

      It’s not just empty suits all the way down; it’s empty suits surmounted by empty heads. Look to our current ‘leadership’ for proof.
      ———————————
      “AOC is not ready to sit at the adults’ table.”

    2. This. It’s a common thing in those who have a narcissistic bent. “I want X done, someone else will do it for me Or Else. Consequences? That’s your problem, not mine.”

      I wish I could make every Congresscritter take a turn facing the invading swarm on the southern border. That might get it through to those who still have half a functioning brain.

      1. Several have had PR events where they personally escorted illegals through the checkpoints.

        The best kind of power is being able to do wrong and be able to rub peoples’ faces in it.

      2. I wish I could make every Congresscritter spend 6 months in the 9th century BC.

        Rome or Egypt, either one, back when they REALLY knew how to do oppression.

          1. Having nobles and slaves is something every culture that gets past the big man stage seems to default to. And usually it was not a pleasant phase for anyone except maybe the very few at the very top.

            About the only cultures I’m aware of that didn’t hit some form of that are the ones that never got beyond hunter-gatherer – and those were/are no picnic either. They tend to be a little too close to the bone for that.

      3. News didn’t cover it much, but it’s a pretty regular thing for Congresscritters to go down and get videos of how bad the border is.

        One of the trips got on the news a little, because the idiots *shot* at the congresscritters. It attracted attention….

        Of course, the guys who go to actually dangerous areas (rather than walking through with carefully chosen for PR purpose illegals) already either know or suspect it’s bad.

          1. The poor horses! I don’t want to think about how badly some Congress members would ride, and how confused the poor horses would be. (Or the horses would get fed up and the members of Congerss would discover that walking in riding boots is no fun at all.)

    3. I’m fairly sure a lot of them think responsibility is something that other people have. You know, something for the little people…. And yeah, the office mom, the secretary who knows everything and everyone, the cleaner… the folks who actually make things happen by taking the obstacles to said things out of the way.

  5. Now I’m picturing the sewing circle vs. the Round Table for some reason. As for politics, I’ve come to realize they will never leave me alone.

    1. For obvious reasons I haven’t worn it in years, but pre-9/11 I picked up a T-shirt showing a medieval-style (quite possibly a reproduction of a genuine illuminated manuscript scene) image of a woman on horseback chasing a knight on foot, using her distaff as a lance. The caption was, “Ladies Sewing Circle and Terrorist Society.”

      1. What a shame! Combat spinning should totally be a thing. (and combat knitting, and combat weaving, and….)

  6. Politics, when done well, is how humans resolve issues short of the various forms of violence.

    We’re having a problem that far too many people are more than willing to go to violence in one form or another to get what they want. And, they think that they are ultimately immune to the law of averages. That one day, the luck runs out and gravity takes over. You cannot argue with gravity, no matter what you think you can do.

    1. So what if all you want is to be left alone?

      Do you think the Left will ever do that unless they are forced to?

        1. And to issue a pointed reminder that “compromise” does not and never will mean “I give and you take”

  7. Happy Birthday, Kate! thanks for sharing your views. Always interesting to read, and it’s comforting to realize there are others that see the same problems with the crew in charge. Not much we can do about it yet, but nice to feel less alone.

    1. Thank you. It does help to know that you’re not the only one looking at this and wondering WTF is going on with these people.

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