One should never be killed by a stranger

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

In Glory Road, our hero faces another skilled swordsman — “an ugly cocky little man with a merry grin and the biggest nose west of Durante” — who does something he had heard of, never seen:

He retreated very fast, flipped his blade and changed hands.

A right-handed fencer hates to take on a southpaw; it throws everything out of balance, whereas a southpaw is used to the foibles of the right-handed majority — and this son of a witch was just as strong, just as skilled, with his left hand.

Goldman improved on the idea.

When the big-nosed fencer gets run through, he grasps the blade:

“No, no, my friend, please leave it there. It corks the wine, for a time. Your logic is sharp and touches my heart. Your name, sir?”

“Oscar of Gordon.”

“A good name. One should never be killed by a stranger. Tell me, Oscar of Gordon, have you seen Carcassonne?”


“See it. Love a lass, kill a man, write a book, fly to the Moon — I have done all these.”


  1. Kirk says:

    Imma gonna go on record as believing that being killed at all is a lousy option, let alone by someone you know.

    Like most of what comes out of entertainment, though? This is so much specious bullshit. What’s unfortunate, though, is that the human mind is a mimicry machine that copies everything it sees, and uses it as a model for how to solve similar problems and how to behave in similar situations.

    Which is to say that people will fall back on scripts they learned unconsciously as children, and that they’ve observed/experienced in entertainment. If you watch carefully, while in a military context, you’ll see countless occasions where newly-promoted leaders are really acting out scenes they’ve seen in movies or TV shows about the military, sometimes word-for-word. Which is an absolute mind-f**k to try to break them of, because the guys that are prone to doing that are usually also completely lacking in any form of introspection or self-awareness, and they’ll deny, deny, deny up until you sit them down in front of a TV and run the movie for them. At which point, they’ll usually either lose their composure and admit to not knowing what the hell to do, or they’ll go even deeper into denial.

    Needless to say, the impressionable sorts that do this are generally lousy people to put in charge of anything, because they’ll pretty much do the last thing they saw.

    It also plays out a lot in marriages–If you listen carefully, and have the perspective to be able to compare, you can see the behavioral tics echo down the generations as kids act out what they saw their parents doing in specific circumstances. It is absolutely ‘effing bizarre to see my younger brother doing many of the same things in arguing with his wife that his father, my stepdad, did with my mom. To equal ineffect, because my sister-in-law comes from a “differently dysfunctional” family background, and you can see her playing out her scripts as they argue. If you see it, it’s incredibly bizarre–But, again, you have to have the perspective from having seen the preceding generations.

    What disturbs me is knowing that I’m probably doing a lot of the same sort of mimicry, but all unaware of the specifics.

    On a deeper level, it does make you wonder about the whole intertwined issues of predestination and free will. How much of who we are is actually “us”, vs. childhood experiences we don’t really consciously remember and genetics? Nobody really likes thinking about this shit, but when you point it out to them, it’s really hard to avoid noticing.

  2. Harry Jones says:

    I try hard not to do what my parents did, because they were miserable and I would be prefer to be less unhappy.

    Some movies and books are closer to reality than others. As I gain life experience, I learn to spot the authors who knew their stuff. I may not do what the protagonists do, but I will take it under advisement.

    Before Dashiell Hammett wrote detective fiction, he was a detective. By contrast, superhero movies are written by people who have never had superpowers, and watched by people who don’t care.

    Most pop culture is absurd. All the truer books and movies are the obscure ones. You can steal good lines and no one will call you out on it.

  3. Kirk says:


    Thing I’m getting at is the unconscious nature of it all. People just don’t realize they’re doing it, and even when you point it out, they deny, deny, deny.

    This is one reason why I think you have to be fairly careful about what you put out in mass media and entertainment, as well in what you take in. One of the things that I think isn’t really appreciated is just how much influence all this crap has, out in the commons.

    I’m not fond of the ideas that folks like Grossman put out, like the ones about “murder simulators” in gaming, but… There’s a certain subset of people who’re susceptible to the suggestions put out by those media influences. How many “copycat” murders and crimes do we have, looking back? I can think of more than a few.

    The whole thing needs careful thought and consideration that we generally don’t give it. Look at the speed at which we’ve normalized abnormal sexual behavior–And, I submit that that’s mostly due to the “culture jamming” that’s been going on in popular culture since the 1980s, at least. How many LGBT types are there, naturally, in the population? Statistics would suggest that it’s far lower than Kinsey (another example of a deviant trying to norm out their perversions) said it was, probably around 2-3% of the general population. Yet, look at mass media, and estimate how many are portrayed and normalized? Look the stats where they ask random members of the general public what the incidence of LGBT behavior is, and they’ll tell you things up to a full third of the population. Yet, ask them how many they know personally, and nine times out of ten, they’ll be hard pressed to name even three percent of their acquaintances as being members of that population.

    How the hell did that happen?

    The things we read and watch for entertainment. And, the general emphasis on these things in the news and other mediated sources. Actual facts on the ground tell us that the numbers of real LGBT types are a lot lower than the accommodations we’re asked to make would justify, and when you include in the numbers of sexually deviant criminals, you’re left with the inescapable conclusion that the tail is wagging the dog in order to benefit… Who, precisely? The criminal deviants? The mentally deranged? Why are they demanding we do this, and to what end…?

    The political is downstream of the cultural, and the cultural “high ground” has been bleeding off sewage now for generations. Is there any surprise that the whole of Hollywood is now onboard for blacklisting their cultural “enemies”, after whining for decades about how their actual conspiratorial Communist peers were treated for what they were?

    I’m not sure of the solution, here, but it won’t be pretty when it comes.

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