A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Virtue Signalling

A house on the next block, half of a duplex, has two signs on its front porch, both identical. They read: "Hate Has No Home Here." Not that I suspect his neighbors on either side of harboring sinister sentiments; but I also suspect that the resident may actually hate such things as racism, sexism, or even Donald Trump. The message is repeated in Arabic, just in case anyone misses the signal, and also in Hindi and perhaps Urdu, as well as a script I did not recognize, in Hebrew, and in Spanish. Perhaps, by omission the resident is signalling a dislike for Germans or Russians or French or of speakers of Tamil. The irony is that people using one of the scripts displayed have oft-time exhibited murderous hatred for users of another of the scripts. Oh, well. The purpose of the sign is to signal the resident's moral smugness to members of his own tribe.

A house on the next block south (another duplex) has a sign in its window. This one features a line drawing of a revolver that seems to be pointed at the viewer and bears the inscription: "Never Mind the Dog; Beware of Owner!" This, too, is a kind of virtue signalling, albeit to a different peer group, and one which has a utilitarian bent in that the home may be that much less likely to be broken into by some of the local gentry.

I am trying to recollect whether the first house mentioned is the one that was raided by an armored car a couple years ago because the previous resident was selling dope to the kids on the playground behind the house. It was certainly within a few doors of the place.

Another block or so along, I saw on my daily stroll, a couple entering their home -- I assume it was theirs -- and the woman struck the man in the hear by swatting him with a sheaf of papers she had, shrieking (yes, shrieking) "Will you get that door open!!!" And the man replied testily, "I'm trying to find the hole!" I assume he meant the keyhole. The woman was casting shade. No one else was about, but still, when did people start airing their domestic concerns in this way. What's next: fistfights on airplanes? Oh, wait.

This is the same more-or-less daily walk on which I saw a fellow on a skateboard walking a pair of dogs, the which were pulling him along on the skateboard, like a team of Alaskan huskies. Except they were pit bulls.

You see all kinds of people. Sometimes you can use them in stories.


  1. Well, I wouldn't have a problem with someone using a pair of American Staffordshire terriers as draft animals. We have those folks here in Lansing, too.

  2. More likely it should read "Truth has no home here".

  3. ‘I know there are people in the world that do not love their fellow human beings, and I hate people like that.’ —Tom Lehrer, ‘National Brotherhood Week’

  4. Why Korean (the other script) particularly? If Korean, why not Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, or Mongolian (whether written in Cyrillic or in Monggol Bichig)?

    1. The problem with being inclusive is that it is necessarily also exclusive. Some must be omitted to avoid the infinite regress. It's like the supposed conundrum that if one culturally acknowledges one religion in the populus, one must acknowledge all the religions in the populus, even made-up novelty religions.

      Given the supposed gist of the poster, the obvious criterion is to use the languages/scripts of whatever groups are supposedly least-welcomed. But this does not notably include Koreans or Israelis; and certainly not while excluding Chinese, Vietnamese, or sundry others.

      Since my next door neighbor on the south is an Arab and on the north is an Hispanic, while others on the block are by heritage African, German, Italian, and others, it's not clear why such hectoring is thought necessary.

      (Note of irony: There is a substantial Syrian community in Allentown, farther up the river, and they split about 50/50 on the current refugee crisis. One faction is all for welcoming them; the other faction, more cautious, worries that it includes those who had driven them out of Syria in the first place. Go figure.

    2. Ten years ago (maybe fifteen) it would have been observed that 95% of the Arabs (or other Middle Eastern) immigrants in America were Christians. They now are probably the ones in your more cautious faction.

  5. I've got one in the vein of "nevermind the dog, beware of owner"-- because it made me laugh. :D My mom collects fridge magnets like that, too---
    "45: because there's no 46...yet" and "Due to the price of ammo, warning shots will no longer be issued."

    1. Given the age of the magnet, I suspect that part of the reason this revolver exists is because of the joke:

      IIRC, when RangeTV had it show up on one of the gun shows, my mom didn't notice it was on until dad repeated "no, you can't have it" two or three times.


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