The Indo-Europeans

Philology is the study of languages, their etymology and development and history. It is a sort of linguistic archeological anthropology; and while everyday anthropology is sort of an act of accident (you stumble upon something buried in a hole), philology uses living languages to make linkages with dead ones and even those before to try and identify where a people might be from from the words they use.

Take Greek. Greek is an Indo-European language, that is one of those languages that is descendent from a common root somewhere back in the depths of time. This is known, because there are enough root words that connect Greek with Armenian and Celtic and Germanic and Latin to show that there is a common root, developed out of Indo-European, while also borrowing words from other sources as they came into contact with other cultures (through trade or religion), or were conquered.

So what does Indo-European tell us about its homeland, through the Greek language? An example: the word Greek uses for ‘sea’ or ‘ocean’ is not Indo-European; it appears nowhere else; it is taken from a pre-Indo-European language on the continent. What does this mean? It means that the Indo-Europeans were not from the Mediterranean; if they had been, there would have been the same word for ‘sea’ sprinkled through Greek and Armenian and Celtic. What common words are there? Words for ‘bear’ and ‘wolf’ and ‘beaver’ – which, it would appear, could indicate that Proto-Indo-European might come from a temperate forest zone. That is the discipline, simply put. Dig into words, find their roots, and then find the roots of other words in other languages and compare them; syntax and gender and tenses – languages modern and written in stylus upon clay tablets, arriving closer and closer.

“The Indo-Europeans” by Alain de Benoist is about this. About the attempts of different thinkers (mostly 100 years ago) to identify the homeland of the Proto-Indo-European civilization, and what were their characteristics, and how did they become the dominant linguistic root. This book is fascinating; detailed and well researched and sourced. It takes the reader back and back and back further still until the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago. And it takes the reader on a journey through Anatolia and eastern Iran and Afghanistan and to the Russian steppes and up into the far Lapp lands of Finland, looking for the homeland.

Philologists are extremely intelligent. To marry the disciplines of archeology to anthropology to language as they attempt to write the stories of bronze age civilizations, it’s extraordinary. Even genetics, although Benoist is careful to remind the reader that genetics can say nothing about culture – language is the greatest vehicle for culture – race or ‘ethnicity’ or genetics has very little to add.

Our story, the story of our humanity – that is humanity post-ice-age (we are actually still in the ice age, we are just in one of the periodic warmings) – is extremely short; that is what I took from this book. Only 12,000 years up against an ice age that has been going for 2,000,000 (and, like I said, is still going). What life was like, before our warming, is probably unknowable. Because we can’t even identify the civilization that gave birth to our language, though it was only a few thousand years ago.

And yet, though our story is so short, it has nevertheless been so incredibly eventful giving rise to epic conquerors and terrible tragedies and tremendous acts of goodness (and, of course, wickedness too). And the people who study it all…

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Invitation to a Beheading

Vladimir Nabokov said “Invitation to a Beheading” was his best work; he evidently wrote it in the period of two weeks. Nabokov was of course a Russian writer and intellectual who was exiled by the Bolsheviks to Germany and who then went to the United States. He is most famous for having written Lolita, which I haven’t read, but maybe I should try.

I did not like “Invitation to a Beheading”. So let me give you my reasons why. We who write, write not because we think we have something to say, although there is that; we write for other people. But we also write to lift up and to entertain and to challenge and, mostly (in my opinion) to inspire. Empathy, kindness, curiosity, wonder. That’s the whole point of fiction. Unlike religious writing or that which goes into a history book or a science book, which are meant to instruct, fiction reaches out to a different part of our being. This is why I dislike ‘stream of consciousness’ absurdum. I should have figured when I read the reviews and the novel was described as “Kafka-esque”, that I should look elsewhere. But I love Russian writers, so I tried “Beheading”. My recommendation, don’t bother reading it. He wrote this book for himself, not for us. He can keep it.

Read Lermontov instead! Or Mandelstam; or Grossman; or Pasternak.

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The Blind Traveler

About two-hundred years ago, during the golden age of the British Empire and exploration, there lived a man named James Holman. Holman was born into the new English merchant class; his father was a pharmacist. During those days, there were not many options for young men. Clergy, or to become a soldier. Holman became a soldier, enlisting at a very early age (12) to work in His Majesty’s Navy.

Holman was set for a normal, uneventful life, working his way up in the navy until if lucky he would captain his own ship. But James Holman was struck down by a debilitating illness. It is still unclear what the illness was, some sort of arthritis causing tremendous joint paint. But he was returned from his posting in Canada to convalesce in Bath. He didn’t really get better, instead he was hit by some sort of degeneration in his eyes leading to blindness. He underwent all the bizarre treatments of those years; including bleeding and the like, but with no improvement.

Holman’s eyesight never returned. However, he was somehow able to gain some sort of relief from his constant paint through travel. It could be that today he would have a better diagnosis (or maybe not), but back then it was all a mystery. So Holman took to travel; not luxury travel, he was living on a half-salary from the navy as he ‘recovered’, so he traveled in poverty, like a peasant. Thumbing rides on the back of carts, getting a lift from a friendly captain, borrowing horses. He crossed Europe and through Russia making it almost to the Pacific; he traveled to what is now Malabo (Equatorial Guinea); he went to Brasilia and Australia and West to East in the USA. Two hundred years ago, and blind, this was a true feat. Even more remarkable, he wrote about it. He became one of the first travel writers, the most unlikely.

This book was well written, shining a light onto the life of a man, an Englishman, who was not rich or influential and who in fact was extremely unwell but who nevertheless found a way to pursue that which he thought was important. To learn about other people, other places, and write about it. James Holman has been mostly forgotten by history, his writings were set aside in favor of others as English colonial furor waxed. But he lived, he overcame, and he did so with tremendous good cheer. And that is really something.

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Iran Frozen in Time

I started reading “Reading Lolita in Tehran” by Azar Nafisi because now, right now, Iranians are again trying to be free. They rise up, every once in a while to attempt to throw off the oppressive reign of the Mullahs, and then after tremendous brutality they are suppressed. Suppressed, but now cowed, not silent, not accepting. Fiery, fierce beneath their veils, waiting for the right time.

The right time will come. This might be it, and I for one can only hold my breath and pray and dream of what a free Iran would mean, not only for its people – but for Afghanistan and Russia and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. An end of the wars in Syria and Yemen. The stabilization of Lebanon. A solution (at long last) to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. A change of that magnitude would reverberate around the globe.

But “Reading Lolita” is not about that. “Reading Lolita” was written twenty five years ago, a biography of 18 years as Nafisi tried to figure out how to live in the new ‘Islamic Republic’, failed, and finally fled. That is the real story of dictatorship. The sad story. It isn’t usually the tale of ‘color revolutions’ or great leaps into liberty. More often than not, they are the stories of regimes that get more and more and more sclerotic and decrepit and constipated. Dysfunction and boredom punctuated by tremendous jolts of violence. Migration, creating massive diasporas which bifurcate from their home countries immediately, like a parallel universe, retaining some of the outward semblances of what it once meant to be Iranian (or Venezuelan or Cuban or Armenian) but developing an entirely new set of languages and motivators. A wholly new culture, not of one or of the other but a mixture of both, an amalgam that often times drips with hate of those who have moved on, when they themselves cannot, or of indifference to those who want to pretend they never were. But all, with a stranglehold on those left behind through money and the command of a story, told often incorrectly, but loudly and from a snapshot taken from a point deep in the past. Incidentally, this is one of the reasons that make solving these problems more difficult.

The story itself was well written and full of suffering and sadness, a compelling story; it was, as the title says, a novel in books. It starts with Nabokov, and goes through Fitzgerald and James. About how a secret book club helped people living under the totalitarianism of the morality policy find respite and solace in the written word. About Nafisi and how she tried to make her peace with life in the Islamic Republic, where there were things she could and couldn’t do as a woman, and how at the end this existence became untenable. And why she decided, at long last, to give up and leave.

This was a sad book, for me, mostly because it was written long, long ago and yet the protest scenes are the ones we see today on the news. A generation of protesters, who define themselves by the protests – as well as those who oppress them, defined by their own role in the violence – when civilization instead needs sanitary engineers and physicists. A full, wasted generation.

Would that nobody is writing a “Reading Lolita in Tehran” now, about the protests of 2022, which my little boy will read when he is in middle age as he wonders when, if ever, Iran will find freedom.

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Reflections on Evil

Yesterday I had breakfast with a family victim of a tremendous wrong. I won’t go much into details – it’s not my story to tell and it hasn’t been told yet. Maybe someday. What struck me about the discussion was its turn to faith. One of the family members was asked “How did you endure?” And he answered simply, “My faith. People say ‘things happen for a reason’ or ‘God has a plan’ flippantly, a throw away line to some event they don’t understand or can’t control. The 7-11 ran out of milk. The tire goes flat on your car. The thing that kept me, through the terrible years of suffering, was my belief in the unknowable nature of infinity and the certainty that my being in that terrible place was some part of a plan that God had.” That is a singularly unsatisfactory answer for those who want instant gratification, but for those who have dipped their toe in the great unknowing, it was remarkable. Especially from somebody who had earned the right to speak.

Then, another member of the group who had participated intimately in the same event from a different vantage, though I would venture the suffering was equally real, interjected, “I endured mostly through an epiphany I had early on. Thinking about the people who were doing this to me, I realized that they had endured a similar fate themselves. That fate made them wicked and vindictive, I realized that their past suffering had caused them to become evil, and I decided I would not become like them; I would not let them pass the malice on down through me to another generation. I found empathy for them, which led me to forgive them.”

These might be the most remarkable statements I have ever heard, coming as they did from ‘normal’ people only recently victims of an unspeakable evil. I got to thinking about myself, with my miserly degree of courage and my often petty vindictiveness – my response to that question would have been “I would imagine the Seal Team 6 strike team on its way”.

I finished the day reading the Bible to my little boy. We’re in Romans, Romans 6 specifically after the part where Paul tells us all how God really feels about all the sin and darkness. The silver lining in the storm clouds that never cease to billow; “But all that mess,” Romans says, “that I just went into. All the stuff that makes life unlivable, that ruins us in radiating waves of destruction, outwards from ourselves to our family to our community to our country to our world. Jesus wiped all that away in one fell ‘swish’, rebalancing the order.”

I’ve heard that all my life, and it’s never meant much to me. Not that I don’t believe it or that I’m not grateful, but I think it’s been said so much, I never really got it. But yesterday I understood it, maybe, sort of, in a small way. You see I’ve been reading and studying a lot about balance lately. On a cosmic level (reading a lot of physics stuff), on a natural level (if we don’t re-discover the idea of scarcity we’re gonna ruin the planet), but also on an individual (maybe metaphysical?) level. Balance, equal and opposite, the response to a hate so profound it ruins whole nations which itself emerges from a terrible suffering, a terrible evil committed a generation ago – arrested, stopped dead in its tracks by an equal and opposite force, forgiveness. And suddenly balance is restored, and out of such balance golden ages are built.

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” Romans 6:1-4

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“As I indicated above, I’m almost finished with Lord Jim (review forthcoming) – and it is a story about fear; about the irrational acts that define life, self-fulfilling acts of stupidity product of the little stories we tell ourselves, one after another and another and another and another until we are living among the wreckage and ruins of a world of our own making.”

Joel D. Hirst's Blog

Nothing easier than to say ‘have no fear! Nothing more difficult. How does one kill fear, I wonder? How do you shoot a specter through the heart, slash off its spectral head, take it by its spectral throat? It is an enterprise you rush into while you dream, and are glad to make your escape with wet hair and every limb shaking. Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim

Fear – that seems to be the topic of the day. At least for me. Fear; clammy and cold – sweating, staying up at night with that knot in your stomach. It drives decisions; it guides reactions; it robs us of present and taints our past.


Sometimes in a movie we come across a line or two that makes us think. This morning I shipped my little boy off to school and took some much-need down-time to watch a movie. You see I’ve been…

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Our Unbalanced World

I’m old enough now to have some life experience to look back upon. I’m disciplined enough to have not wasted the first ‘phase’ of my grown life (that is, the post-school period) on debt, drugs, alcohol, immoral living or other things that coax us from our paths. And I’m lucky enough to have been born in the United States (that is roughly a 4% chance, so already an extraordinary benefit and something that had nothing to do with me) and not in northeast Nigeria or Cambodia.

Nevertheless, just as there is no such thing as “settled science” there also isn’t (or shouldn’t be) such a thing as “settled people”. We are all a work in progress, one bad decision away from the precipice but one good decision away from real significance. The question, then, is about how to choose that decision. And, alas, there isn’t just one. I am faced with a dozen decisions a day. And not just trivial decisions (like where should I go to lunch, or what should I wear) but much bigger ones, how to go about trying to free a hostage, how to end a dictatorship.

The interesting thing is that all the decisions I am now working on (and have been, luckily, while I learned and grew) involve enemies. There is nobody in the world who will tell you “No, you shouldn’t indebt yourself to that expensive school you can’t afford” or “Hey, you probably shouldn’t have that beer” or “Hey, she’s up to no good and you’re married.” Nope, nobody will stop you from making those decisions – in point of fact you will find only the wind at your back and everybody trying to help you into the pit. Yes, misery loves company; but you know who is more gregarious? Failure.

Decisions of significance will make you enemies. Because there is always somebody benefiting, profiting from our unbalanced world. And there is rarely one well-lit path. Those enemies and the coalitions they build from the ignorant adherents to ‘isms’ and the tremendous rewards available for those willing to deny the preeminence of scarcity make the fight very hard, and the enemies very strong indeed. And this is the same in democracy as well as dictatorship; nobody governs in a vacuum, and while democracy is the worst form of government, besides all the others, it’s still pretty ineffective. Oh, but at least I can march in my parade!

I am struck, sitting here (un)comfortably in middle age, by just how crazy things have become. I am currently reading Sean Carroll’s “Biggest Ideas in the Universe” about physics (review forthcoming). What has impressed me so far (besides the actual physics stuff which is fascinating) is that what we know about physics has been built over the last 500 years, with each brilliant physicist adding one idea, one breakthrough. Archimedes and Galileo and Newton all building off each other (through the greatest technological achievement ever, writing) until we arrive at quantum physics and dark matter. I think the issue probably boils down to the fact that while knowledge advances progressively, human character is cyclical. We all must start from 0, that famous tabula rasa, and learn discipline and how to control our baser instincts and urges; only then finding balance and maybe harmony. And by the time we have found harmony (and only a precious few ever do), we are old and our children or grandchildren are having to learn this stuff all over again.

But the tech is there (thanks to the straight line between Archimedes and Carroll), which makes the opportunity for evil for our children so much greater. Injecting children with gender-bending hormones because they are depressed (probably because their unharmonious parents didn’t ‘make it’, and got stuck in debt or divorce or substance abuse)? Marie Curie would be mortified.

The issue, again, is balance. Our utopianism says that there is a recipe for harmonious living which involves no reckoning with the ‘ghost in the machine’, which is scarcity. They are ideological fixes, coming from deep, dark, bottomless wells of ignorance. Communism, Nazism, Islamism – Liberalism. All are ideological solutions to the problems of scarcity, but they are all devoid of common sense and reason (this is, incidentally, Why Liberalism Failed). The other side of utopianism believes that we will be rescued somehow by a “deus ex machina” – God will come again in rivers of blood; our Ancient Alien overlords will return to clean up the mess; or an answer in more accumulation of data points, scientism for those who gave us little boys in dresses. None of us want to accept the fact that we might be smart monkeys on a rare earth. And that the raping and pillaging of our natural world comes from an imbalance in our soul that liberalism has tried to fill with stuff. And that is where the real problem truly lies.

And how do you make this case to a 19 year old college student who in a rush of euphoria thinks they just discovered “inequality” 200 years after Lermontov was exiled; or to the African camp-dweller who was told if they only vote in the next election they too will finally get a house in the suburbs with a car and a dog and a Starbucks at walking distance?

We in America, especially those on the ‘left’ of the political spectrum (if you haven’t figured this out yet, that ain’t me) love to point at Europe, and say “Oh, the Europeans have found balance. Look, they have longer vacations and their apartments are smaller.” Forget that Europe was build upon the rape of Africa – who will Africa rape? Forget they live under a nuclear umbrella provided by we the unbalanced. And that, as we have seen by the return of war, was a parenthesis utopia anyways and only another sign of Marco Polo’s returning world.

Back to decisions. There are many ways which we could begin to right the ship, but all of the “isms” of the world make finding consensus impossible. And we are running out of time, because the advocates of scientism, who gave us hormone injections for toddlers, are talking about seeding the stratosphere. What could go wrong?

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Reviewing “A Hero of Our Time”

Mikhail Lermontov straddled the mountain ridge of Russian creative culture, between poetry of the ‘intelligentsia’ during the days of high empire and the period of prose that both was led by and inspired the revolutionary time of Russia’s coming of age. Specifically, the period between the December Revolution and the October Revolution, those hundred years when Russia finally abandoned its absolute monarchy in favor of a more modern type of government. Specifically, a government that recognized the humanity and ‘equality’, at least relative equality, of all its citizens.

Lermontov was born into the nobility, but like Herzen or Turgenev he had a profound sense that something was wrong in Russia. The attempts by Tsars Alexander I, II, and III, and Nicholas I and II to hold onto absolute power in the face of a world that was changing was proving futile, but extremely dangerous. In those early years between revolutions, it was the writers, mostly coming from the nobility, who were leading the charge against the Tsars. This led Lermontov to get into trouble on more than one occasion. And he was exiled to the Caucasus, which was probably the best thing that could have happened to him. Russian writers are inspired by the Caucasus (in fact all writers are, I think). And his one novel “A Hero of Our Time”, set in the Caucasus, has all the imagery and the savagery and the smells of those mountainous lands.

It’s hard not to be moved by the mountains. Mountainous, mountain inspired literature is better; literature that comes from cold environments, from people struggling to make their way and survive the elements, and somehow the deep internal reflections that are produced by the natural environments of the mountains make the literature more meaningful. Just compare Pasternak with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Depth of spirit, juxtaposed against vulgarity.

We writers are haunted by mountains. Which makes “A Hero of Our Times” extraordinary, even read now, 200 years after it was written.

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700 Pages of Horror

I just finished “The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence”, Martin Meredith’s imposing tome that tells the story of post-colonial, ‘independent’ Africa. There is no way to write this review, except in the spirit that Meredith meant when he summed up his own book by concluding, “African governments and the vampire-like politicians who run them are regarded by the populations they rule as yet another burden they have to bear in the struggle for survival.”

Meredith’s book is important, and horrible. The wickedness that Africa’s post-independence leaders have inflicted upon their populations has known no restraint, even in world history which is full of the tales of abuse and predation by the strong against the weak. Mass murder – not thousands or tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands but millions. Indiscriminate murder. Corruption – not a fake receipt submitted for a lunch, or a ‘gifted’ bump up to first class but the systematic pilfering of state banks and state treasures not for hundreds of thousands, or millions, but billions upon billions of dollars. Torture of enemies – not waterboarding or sleep depravation, but rape and cannibalism and throwing children to crocodiles and the distribution of machetes by which husbands could murder their children.

We talk about bad government in the west, we complain about stupid policies we don’t like, which might be inflationary or cause market imbalances. In dictatorships, we decry political prisoners who dared challenge their tyrants, we complain about freedom of speech and worry when a tweet is deleted, an account suspended.

Africans have to fear state-sponsored starvation; the wholesale genocide of tribes; the myriad obstacles not to prosperity or a new car or a great vacation, but to their children’s ability to continue to live. The fact that until 2004 there had only been 4 presidents who left their posts willingly. The fact that every country, at one time or another, experienced the mayhem in revolving vortex of evil.

Africa was stillborn. I am not sure it will ever recover.

Why? Why did this happen? Why did we let it happen? There are no answers. Some say it was that the colonialists set Africa up for failure, and that is true. Some say the tribalism of the ancient past is inconsistent with democracy, and that is true. Some say central banks served as an unlimited kitty for the wicked leaders to raid, and that is true. Some say the cold war “us or them” permitted evil behavior for political reasons, and this is true. Some say that the withdrawal of any restraining institutions or entities upon the power of the tribal bosses allowed those level of excesses, and that is true. Some say that their natural riches were too easily predated upon, and that is true. Some say western money in the form of AID made leaders unaccountable and made consent of the governed more difficult, and that is true too.

It’s all true, and none of it matters. Or perhaps all of it matters. But what matters now, is that the chances of Africa surviving a birthing process such as she had at the hands of Nkrumah and Mugabe and Museveni and Mubarak and Bashir and Garang, etc., are not great. Too much has been wasted, too much has been looted, there are too many deep, deep scars that require healing, but how? The environment is ruined. The governments are not salvageable. Things are hopeless.

So, to the haters out there who won’t like this review, first don’t read Meredith’s book. You can’t handle it. Second, for my part, I lived for 10 years on the African continent. I dealt with 5 civil wars (Chad and DRC and Nigeria and Mali and Uganda); I worked to help build democracies after terrible events, Al Qaida takeovers and LRA infanticide. I left Africa fairly hopeless. Nothing in Meredith’s book makes me think I was wrong. Incidentally, I wrote my own book about Africa. A novel, which is as brutal as Meredith’s history book, because in Africa truth is worse than fiction, we cannot bring ourselves to write things out of our imaginations as badly as they actually are.

My only entreaty, please read this book. You probably will say “But why, if its that awful?” If the powerless Africans have had to live through these awful, awful years, we certainly can deign to read about it.

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William Saroyan – A Daring Young Man

William Saroyan is the most well-known American/Armenian writer. His family arrived, like so many of the Armenian diaspora, fleeing the genocide at the tail of end of the Ottoman Empire. Saroyan had the seeds of greatness and genius. I think that is what made reading this biography harder. This biography was definitely not a ‘puff piece’ about Saroyan. Saroyan’s flaws, and if Leggett is to believed there were many, were all on display. For the sake of organization, I will focus on three major flaws, which all played off each other, and one observation – flaws that were not overcome, but which in the end defeated him and robbed the world of what might have been a transformative talent.

The first issue of note is that Bill Saroyan did not have discipline, especially to read. I have not ever met (or read) a writer who does not read. That is like a filmmaker who does not like to watch films; a cook who does not like to eat. Saroyan had no patience to read, preferring to write, which is why his writing was adolescent. He never built it. His greatest work was his first, “A Daring Young Man On A Flying Trapeze”, which was never equaled because his craft never improved by exposing it to others. Writers read, period. Had he read as much as he gambled and caroused, his craft would have matured, his genius would have been polished and he could have been one of the best.

Which brings me to the second point; Saroyan seems to have had a real problem with discipline; specifically, if Leggett is to be believed he had addiction problems. While certainly to alcohol, his worst addiction was to gambling. Spending hours, losing thousands of dollars in one night; running from creditors, stopping off at important moments instead to gamble. Using limited money available to try and get that big win which would solve his problems. His gambling kept him always with money problems; ruined relationships as he had to ask for loan after loan; and destroyed his ability to write. Instead of building wealth, investing the first fruits and watching those grow over a lifetime of successful writing, he found himself slipping behind his peers (Hemingway and Steinbeck) in fame and wealth, which led to resentment.

Which is the third character flaw, Saroyan believed he was better than everyone else, and that made him resentful. He considered his writing superior, which meant he could not take advice (which, in the absence of reading, was the only way to improve); he ruined professional relationships by demanding more money than offered and acting slighted when those negotiations failed; he had a permanent allergy to authority which caused most of the middle of his life to be ruined by his run-ins with the military after he was drafted into WWII. He refused to bow his head and be a soldier, it was beneath him. This flaw, in the end, destroyed his relationship with his wife and his children as well.

Saroyan’s was a sad life indeed, which made this book hard to read.

Now the observation; William Saroyan it seems visited Armenia on several occasions. But he did not find anything remarkable in his homeland. This biography is full of Armenian names; and he always identified first and foremost as an Armenian, but that did not translate into a supernatural love for his rocky bit of earth, as it does for some people who go there – but not all. It was incidental to his Armenian-ness. Incidentally, this is the reputation that the Armenian diaspora has. They build their whole sense of self around being Armenian, but can’t be bothered, mostly, to turn that into a love of an ancient land under a mountain and between two great seas. And, for this reason, and I think that for William Saroyan it might have been decisive, they do not allow Armenia to save their lives. If Bill had connected with his land, he might have been saved. As it was, his life was lived from one ruin to another. And that is the saddest thing in the world.

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