The Valley of Shadow

I’ve been sitting at this keyboard, staring at the blank screen and wondering what to blog about for over three hours.  Okay, not three hours straight.  I went to the kitchen, had breakfast and started a load of wash in the hopes of getting the mental cogs moving.

It’s not that I have nothing to say – of course I do.  I was born with my tongue attached to the bottom of my mouth by a thin tendril of skin.  It amuses me to think that in the US, at least today, there would have been a very concerned talk with my parents about my birth defect and a time would be set for surgery to free my tongue.

This was Portugal in 62, and I was born at home.  When the midwife realized I was crying funny, she investigated and, finding that my tongue couldn’t move freely, she slashed through it with her scissors.

Needless to say I have no memory of any of this.  I have freakishly early memories, but not that early.  However, my mom said – often – when I was little that G-d knew what he was doing when he stopped my tongue and they shouldn’t have meddled.

All this to say that while I had a lot to talk about some of it is not appropriate to this blog.  I have no intention of turning this into an outright political blog – though I do the occasional political post when things overflow – because my writing is not primarily political.  If it were – just as if it were primarily religious – I would not hesitate to make this my political blog.  However, except to the extent that beliefs bleed through to my writing, my writing is not political or religious, and this blog is – whether one likes it or not – my public face and therefore the face of my writing.

And while I also have a lot to talk about that’s not political, there too I find myself stymied because some of this involves other people and events in the business – things I am either not allowed to talk about; not sure of their veracity; or would embarrass someone who hasn’t driven me that crazy yet.

So, forgive me if I talk in general terms, please.

Lately it has been growing on me that the entire country (or at least the area around me, and I have a feeling about the more outlying regions) is headed for a crackup of epic proportions.  And lest you think I mean civil war or worse, no.  I mean psychological crackup.  I’d have titled this “here it comes your 99th nervous breakdown.”

Perhaps I’m imagining most of the signs – people driving in TRULY absurd ways, more than usual; people doing loony stuff like get in an argument with cashiers in supermarkets over issues known only to their psychiatrist; some true pieces of lunacy both on my business side in contacts with various literary-involved people (more on that later); stuff people say, and the like.  These things are not a matter of kind – things of this kind ALWAYS happen in a free society.  One of the things the rest of the world laughs at is how odd America is, without realizing it is a conjunction of freedom and wealth that causes the “oddness.”  What I’m complaining about is the frequency.  I can’t go two steps outside the house without running into some spectacularly bizarre behavior, which normally would be the talk of the next month, but now seems to be happening everywhere twice a month.

I might be imagining it, since the State of The Sarah is bound up with publishing which is obviously a nexus of insanity otherwise publishers wouldn’t be trying to dictate how OTHER PUBLISHERS treat books the publisher didn’t buy.  Other rumors that have reached one are of strange behavior and peevishness from both publishers and agents including some publishers demanding lead authors sign a clause to NEVER self-publish. (Which would be fine if the contract stipulated that you would get everything you write accepted by the publisher at minimum x payment.  Of course, that is just not on.)

Another state of the Sarah – as in things that impact me closely enough to matter – I had to stop using the little office I’d rented after two months (though I technically still have it for one more month) because the building was virtually empty, save for a direct marketing company up in the front of the building.  All the little businesses that were there when I rented disappeared one at a time.

I had expected it to an extent, but not that fast or that thoroughly.  And the emtpy building wasn’t secure against vagrants.  After an encounter with a feral one in the hallway, I couldn’t convince myself to go back there to work.  I kept telling myself I was imagining things and was crazy, but when I told Dan he said not to be stupid and to listen to my feelings – and the truth is, when I don’t, in those circumstances, I get in serious trouble.

So I’m stressed – though not about to have a nervous breakdown, mind – and could be imagining things.  Perhaps.  Maybe.

But I’m not imagining four shootings in a month.  I’m not imagining the fact most people I know are worried about jobs and/or money and that groceries are set to double again, and as the cold weather comes energy will get… funny.  We’ll just say that.

Other people have compared living in the US today to the Weimar republic.  There is that slightly frantic sense of pretending everything is normal or better than normal, while we all stand on the powder keg of a cacked economy.  But in this case it is perhaps worse, because it is not just our country’s economy that is er… unstable… but the whole world’s.  And we know it.  We’re all tapdancing at the edge of abyss and even those who are only mildly are of geo-economic realities feel the unease, if they don’t know why.

I’ve been in these situations before, and I’ve heard about them.  It has a feeling of holding your breath, a feeling of the calm before the storm.  In this case the many storms.

Look, we’re being driven by a tumult of technological change.  It’s going to make everything very unstable for a long time.  Most of you know my opinion of how politics and bureaucrats are making the whole thing worse, so I won’t talk about it except to say that it should by now be obvious to anyone that 20th century ideas of “progress” and of history having a direction that these people know and can get behind are in fact poppycock.  None of the political theorists in the world could have guessed where the internet would take us.  Even after the journey started, even five years ago, even those of us who have our heads in publishing, would find it hard to believe how it’s hit publishing and how fast.

They can’t guide us to the future.  They don’t know the future anymore than we do.  All they can do is protect our very basic liberties.  Trying to tailor anything more complex is like what the publishers are doing to publishing.  It won’t help, and it might hurt.

The fourteenth century is a byword for awfulness, but part of it was that things were getting better.  There was tech innovation and increased population and more food.  BUT all this was changing too fast, and human societies can’t change fast without fractures and war and confusion and psychological cracking.

It’s still better than no innovation.  And it’s usually better on the other side.

The storm is bearing down on us.

Things are going to get crazier before they settle, but they will settle.  Look to you, your friends, and those who can’t look after themselves.  Work.  Push in the direction you want things to go.  The only way out of the period of uncertainty and insanity is through the period of uncertainty and insanity.

All around us, people might be headed for their 99th nervous breakdown.  But we’ll be all right.  Writers and readers and story people have means of escape.  We’ll get through.

None of us asked to live in interesting times, but they are interesting, and we are part of them.

In publishing, in life, in work – let’s make them good.

115 responses to “The Valley of Shadow

  1. You’re getting that wierd ‘breathless calm before the storm’ too? You’re not the only one. I’m coping with it by pushing ahead with various writing projects – like the German translation of one of my books. I had enough paid work this last year that I paid off two long-standing debts, which was another reason to feel that I was a little less helpless. And I started the big push on writing historicals anyway, five or six years ago because I had this bone-deep conviction that we needed to re-learn and hold on to our history, that we would need that knowlege. We would need the assurance that our American ancestors (the real and metaphorical ancestors, that is) were decent, and forward-looking people, that they had also faced cruel circumstances, and endured.
    Also – I am stashing food. Buying in bulk at Sam’s of stuff we normally eat or use a lot of. Flour, sugar, beans, rice, canned meat, etc. Canning vegetable pickles and fruit preserves, (made from the leftover fruit from my daughter’s job delivering for a fruit bouquet place) making wine and home-made cheese … honestly, we are running out of places to stash the stuff. I feel like I am storing up for the longest, bitterest winter imaginable.
    Yeah, I always wanted to see interesting events first-hand, instead of just reading in the history books about them. Looks like I’m getting my wish.

  2. The reason I’m not sure I agree is because it seems to me that we’re always feeling on the edge of doom. In the late 70s, it was all about oil was going to run out and our government was going to implode. In the early to mid 80s, the Cold War was going to leave us a radioactive slag heap. Then the recession of 1990 was “the worst recession since the Great Depression”(I guess people forgot about the 70s). And so on.

    Does that mean we’re definitely not looking over the edge of the cliff? No, just that the events of the recent past make it harder to tell for sure if this is real or a momentary blip.

    • That’s the way I feel too. I remember waiting for atomic war in the 60’s, ecological collapse and a new ice age in the 70’s — but by most objective measures, things got better.

      • and they’ll get better again, but I expect an inky time and dangerous too the next couple of years.

        • Thanks, Charlie — as another who remembers the Sixties and since, I understand the necessity of keeping one’s head while things fly apart. The center can only hold if it believes it can.

          Sure, the news leaking out of China is … unencouraging. Letting the Mullahs get new toys is insane. We are not far from bright high school juniors building plagues in their basements. So what? I still think the middle years of the 20th Cent, what with Depression, World War and mass exterminations in the Ukraine and Manchuria and other parts, ranks as top of a very foul heap. But I am not planning on living forever. What comes, comes.

    • The issues you describe fall generally into two categories, true and political hype.

      The cold war started after WWII. As I child I remember having to bring a bag of supplies to be stored in the school basement in case there was ‘an event’ and we had to take shelter there. I knew that the adults were scared of the nuclear threat. To this day I can still launch into The Sons of The Pioneers 1950 piece Old Man Atom, which I learned from the Oscar Brand’s version on The Folkbox that my parents owned. The reason for the hype in the ’80 was political — various factions tried to scare us into supporting their candidates and their solutions.

      The claim of the ‘worst recession since the great depression’ in the ’90s was also political. If you read carefully and widely you would have known that at the time this claim was asserted there were concrete signs that we were pulling out of the dip. Nor, if you analyzed such things as the panic in the 1950’s, was it the worst down turn since the 1930s. The press seemed disinclined to report this clearly. (On the other hand there is every sign that we are double dipping the present recession. Once again the press seems disinclined to report this clearly.)

      The 1970 was a time of real political change. OPEC formed and put a strangle hold on us. There were real fuel shortages. First one administration tried to solve things with wage and price controls and the next told us that we were just going to have to tighten our belts, things would never be good again. Then they proceeded to helpfully tell us to make quilted window covers to preserve energy. Funny thing was no one anticipated the changes that would come with the development of technologies like the personal computer and the Internet.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I think what Sarah is describing is a little different from those times. While I wasn’t particularly aware politically in the ’70s, I do remember somewhat the news and the concerns my parents had. The big things were geopolitical wrangling between countries and major political parties.

      Sure, that kind of thing is also going on today, and political blogs and people on Facebook are wrangling about politics, but a lot more of the “craziness” is individual. People aren’t dealing with interpersonal and business conflicts very well (Unfortunately, I believe that a lot of THAT has been caused by a combination of “helicopter” parenting and trying to remove competition and conflict from schools). Instead of learning how to handle their stress, people are snapping and doing anything from going off on the cashier who double-scans their cereal at the grocery store, to going postal and killing random people or killing people they disagree with politically.

      Another part is the rapid changing of technology, new devices and methods of gathering and delivering information, more people recording things on video, bringing these videos to the public more rapidly, people becoming either worried about the above or people trying to be the next person to bring something controversial to light. There are also more people’s jobs who are threatened by technology, more intrusions into people’s privacy by technology, and more people railing against it.

      Individuals are getting more schizoid, little by little, and it’s going to take a major societal overhaul to fix it. I’m afraid it’s going to get violent, but hopefully not.

      • Our schools are teaching people there’s a “right” way to think. Watch it with your kids, I had to fight it with mine. THAT alone causes an issue, because if what you were taught was “right” doesn’t work, you can’t adapt. You crack, instead.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          I don’t know about a “right” way to think being taught in the schools here, but I know that if they are trying, mine are pretty much immune to it, although the younger seems a bit more susceptible than the older. Occasionally I run into, “The teacher said so!” being a defense when I try to tell him that his idea of how something works or what causes something is wrong (recently we had an argument about how fingerprints form. Teacher said it was from the fetus touching the walls of the uterus during development, which is apparently a common misconception).

          • teacher is slow, then. BUT THEN Robert dragged me to school to explain the water cycle to his Kindergarten teacher, because she assured him that water just disappeared after being used. (Robert’s counter to “we have to conserve water” — at four, mind was to answer that “Ehrlich was insane and has already been proven wrong; we get hit with almost enough water meteors a year than all the water in our oceans and if we didn’t lose some to the atmosphere we’d drown. We’re not going to run out of stuff; water that we use goes back into the water cycle. We don’t keep grandad’s pee in the attic in bottles.” This so shocked his teacher that he dragged me in to back him up and explain “the water cycle.” It was then I knew we were in trouble.) In fourth grade he dropped the pretense to my horror (“Robert, you’re not supposed to TELL them that. They’ll think I TOLD you that, not that you came up with it.”) and informed a teacher who was insisting he do something completely stupid, like read a book along with the class — instead of the Pratchett book he was reading, having finished the other one a few minutes after he got it — and who tried to cow him by saying “Your mom wants you to learn what we teach, otherwise she’d homeschool you” by saying “My mom DOES homeschool us. She only sends us in to the school to get us out of her hair long enough to get some writing done.” I got the most HORRID phone call and had to explain to him the difference between the truth and TELLING the truth when unasked for it.

            • Sarah – I think your son is the BOMB. 😉

            • Contemporary pedagogical theory (developed in large part by erstwhile Weatherman Bill Ayers) holds that teachers need only know how to teach; actual knowledge of the subject matter is unnecessary and probably an impediment. This has many advantages, none of which involves actually educating the young.

              • ugh – I ran into the theory and broke my head on it. It is sooooooo stupid. The powers in academia are using that theory to brainwash the teachers so the teachers can do their drone like work in the classroom.

                • My SIL told us this years ago and I thought it was bizarre. The BEST teachers I had were experts in their subject. I still wonder if I’d love English half as well if my first teacher hadn’t been the bilingual daughter of a British father and my third hadn’t been a noted linguist.

                • Well, why do you think they have that theory if not to keep people like you and me out of classrooms?

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  Thank goodness I was a full adult before I heard that. The people I knew growing up were of the opinion that most teachers, especially those that taught technical fields, should be professionals in their field before going on to teach.

                  Keep in mind that most of the people I knew growing up were pragmatists, many of them farmers, many others Jack-of-all-Trades types, who could spot BS from a mile away. Not very interested in higher education, unfortunately, but they did understand the value of it, when done right. That was pretty much a motto – if you’re going to do something, do it right.

                • The Daughter will TELL anyone willing to listen, or not quick enough to escape, that there is no way this theory could be correct. She will do so in excrutiating detail.

          • So how do fingertips form? I figured it was part of the growing process. Touching the womb? so absurd.

            • I’m fairly sure they’re genetically determined. Curiously, btw, particularly for the superstitious, the lines on the palm of the hands for me and my younger son are EXACTLY the same. Weird, uh?

              • I recall recently reading that fingerprints are formed by the interaction with amniotic fluid, which is why (identical) twins do not have identical prints. I make no assertions regarding the accuracy, thoroughness or even provenance of the information.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              According to the article I looked up, they are caused by varying thicknesses of the underlying subcutaneous tissue, but it was from a scholarly article and a lot of technical terms did not stick with me, so I can’t remember enough to reproduce it exactly. They surmised it was only partially genetic, however, because identical twins don’t have identical fingerprints.

              • Thanks Wayne – it won’t stick with me either even though I find it fascinating.

                Sarah that is interesting. I thought palm lines were different on different people. My grandfather had a straight line across his palm and not the two usual upper sloping lines. It was a conversation starter. 😉

  3. ppaulshoward

    Some people talk about Heinlein’s “Crazy Years”.

  4. I agree people are behaving oddly. I work third shift so I am used to odd but recently it does seem to be getting worse. I hate driving anywhere because of the way people on the road have gotten so reckless. I’d rather stay at home and write on my front porch. The town I live in is smallish but we seem to have concentrated crazy going on lately.

  5. My sister, the eternal optimist, says I preach gloom and doom when I talk about food storage. Not only do we have nearly a year’s supply of food and water, we have seeds and such to plant food we need. We also have camping gear, outdoor cooking gear, safety gear, emergency gear, first aid equipment and extra medication and things for injuries, communications that are off grid, and ways to generate electricity for the most important items and petrol or gas for other items. We have a wind up radio system, and we have more than a few guns with lots of bullets. The next thing to buy on the list is a compound bow, and lots of arrows. We like to be prepared.

    Having lived through earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, floods, and drought, we know all about being prepared for just about anything. Because we live in a very violent and unsettled world, Hal and I both have personal carry permits and have guns in our vehicles and on our person at all times. I live 20 minutes from Memphis, TN. one of the most violent cities in America. I never drive up there without being armed.

    In being prepared financially as well, we are able to plan for any eventuality. So we have gold, silver, and cash on hand at all times. One never knows when the banks will shut down like they did in the UK a few weeks ago and we won’t be able to access our funds. We have also diversified our small businesses in such a way that if one fails, the others take up the slack, and we have two houses fully paid for, so we can always have a place to live, even if we have to go to a different state to do it. Land is vital too. Never hurts to own land outright.

    Are we nuts? We don’t think so, we just like to be ready and able to take care of our family and friends and ourselves if need be. One never knows what natural or man made disaster lurks around the corner. One thing though, call before you come by, because you will be met at the door by one very big scary dog, and a woman with a gun in her hand. Not scared, prepared.

  6. Just a thought: if the 21st century is the 14th century, is Human Wave the new Renaissance? Like the Renaissance, it looks past the recent happy times of Charlemagne/the Fifties to a more distant past (the Greeks and Romans/the American and Industrial Revolutions). It also employs more rigorous means of viewing things: hard science fiction is the equivalent of perspective in painting.

    Yeah, I know, the Human Wave is “just” science fiction. Just like the Renaissance was “only” about art and capitalism, rather than important things like Popes and kings.

    • The pattern is philosophy, then art, then table talk. Big ideas trickle down from big minds to the masses along this trajectory. Human Wave seems to lack a grounding in contemporary philosophy. There’s no Erasmus to articulate a Neo-Humanism like Sartre articulated Existentialism or Derrida articulated Post-modernism.

  7. Can craziness be contagious? Not as in passing along paranoia germs when you sneeze, but as if the tension in the atmosphere exacerbates other people’s short circuits. To me it feels like a hot, airless day in mid May, the kind that you know in your bones is going to send tornadoes licking the plains and lightning dancing over the land. You need the rain, you want the cool weather that follows the storms, but dang, the stillness and building tension makes you want to move into the basement permanently.

  8. Glad to know I’m not alone here in the “tin foil hat club”. I think the 2008 meltdown spooked a lot of us (just a cursory understanding of how grocery stores manage inventory should scare the living hell out of anyone if they think a total bank & credit meltdown is a real possibility). It’s felt like we’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop ever since.

    And let’s face it, the current leadership in DC hasn’t done much to inspire confidence – if we had a similar crisis now, does anyone doubt this bunch would do anything but make it immeasurably worse? I think a lot of us are breathlessly waiting for different results in November so we can feel like maybe our lives have a chance of getting back to normal.

  9. Sarah, about your meme poster at Instapundit:

    “Putin is afraid of Pussy Riot!”

    “All men are.”

  10. Some one mentioned above that it’s always the disaster is near. Y2K ,oil shortages, ice ages, glowbull worming, whatever. They are right, and wrong. The scary thing to me isn’t the mass media screaming its latest panic attack. What scares me is that everyone is hunkering down quietly. People are getting crazier and more frantic. (no Sarah it isn’t your imagination) and the government is saying everything is fine, just politics as usual. Anyone with half a brain (this dismisses most of the voters) knows that things are NOT going to get better soon, regardless of the election results. Yes a nice big collective farm/ranch somewhere miles from everywhere would be nice about now

    • yeah. A) this is not a cooked up crisis and B) it’s worldwide and it’s economic. We’re about to hit the point where if things can’t go on, they won’t.

      I’d suck at a ranch, collective or otherwise, but I wouldn’t mind a cabin in the woods.

      However, I don’t think civilization will collapse. I just think it’s going to be hard for a while.

  11. I think it will be a near run thing. A few tines on the bar the idea of a barfly compound was kicked around.I always loved the idea til I realized how old ‘flies are. We wouldn’t have the physical ability to see it through

    • That plus the flies are the flies and… the individualists failed to organize?

      It will be a near run thing and we’ll have to be very lucky. And that’s us. I have family all over the world. A lot of it is going to get very, very ugly.

      • I have been thinking on this. Individualist have been able to work together, but they have to be motivated and they have to find a way to keep the main thing the main thing. By now it shouldn’t surprise anyone that I come up with reference to 1776. Nearing the end, and facing the possible loss of support from the entire south John Adams and Benjamin Franklin argue. Franklin reminds Adams:

        The issue here is independence! Maybe you’ve lost sight of that fact, but I have not! How dare you jeopardize our cause when we’ve come so far? These men, no matter how much you disagree with them, are not ribbon clerks to be ordered about; they’re proud, accomplished men, the cream of their colonies — and whether you like it or not, they and the people they represent will be a part of the new country you’d hope to create! Either start learning how to live with them or pack up and go home — in any case, stop acting like a Boston fishwife!

      • A Barfly _compound_ wouldn’t work. Way too collectivist and so on. What we need is to agree on a county with a fairly small population, and, as possible, each buy their own kind of place and move there. We could manage to be a large voting block, and elect small town and county officials, Sherrifs and whatnot who fit our philosophies, or who are us.

        Of course, I’ve just decribed “A place with poor employment prospects for most Barflies except the writers” so it probably wouldn’t fly either.

  12. Actually the individualism might might not be a problem, most flies are workers and would take hold of what they knew needed doing. And problems would certainly find interesting fixes. The most serious problems would be sorting things out when 2 people decided to do the same task, in two very different styles

  13. Having read Barbara Tuchman’s “A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century”, This particular post of yours compelled me to quit lurking and write for a change, having struck such a chord within me.

    I, too, am a child of Heinlein, and while “The Crazy Years” as a designation for what’s happening to us fits, It has limitations.

    The internal argument I’ve had in my head for some time now I call “The RATE of change.” Has our (American) society needed to change? Yes. But desire of some to continually accelerate that rate, with the inevitable backlash, has been the thesis in my head for some time now. The few times I’ve said it out loud, I’ve been shut down by people who refuse to accept that there is a hard limit to how fast people, and by extension society, CAN change. I think of this dilemma as “Insta-change” (with apologies to Glenn Reynolds.) These people “feel” (I use the word advisedly) that a change needs to be made and, therefore, it should happen NOW. To hell with getting others to grasp (much less accept) the need for the change, should it actually BE needed, they “feel” that the change must occur instantly. And anything that impedes this change, up to and including our dear ol’ Constitution, is merely bathwater for the tossing, lest it should get in the way of validating what they “feel”.

    This is not to say that the other side holds the moral high ground. But since my thesis is that the rate of societal change is being accelerated faster than our institutions and safeguards will permit, the first group will care not a whit about the destruction of those safeguards and institutions (because doing so validates their “feelings” RIGHT NOW) until it is too late. Only then will they discover that those safeguards and institutions had a real purpose: to keep sovereign power dispersed to so many different municipalities, states, etc. that those with the will to power wouldn’t find power in the U.S. to be much of a prize.

    The intentional abandonment of Federalism so as to concentrate power within the federal government so that “Insta-change” can be forced to happen so as to assuage their “feelings” is, in my opinion, the greatest danger we have ever faced. You cannot slide the country half way to tyranny and then STOP. Those with the will to power, those aspiring dictators-in-waiting, will now see the concentrated power as a prize worth having, and one of them will take us the rest of the way. The only question remaining is: Will America’s first Dictator be a “Nehemiah Scudder”? Or will he be a “Josef Stalin”? The distinction won’t matter much to the dead.

    • I agree with Alanknkn – we’re being pushed along too fast, and overturning to many safeguards — all for the benefit of the few with connections, with public status and political power. There are just too many examples of overreach by federally-backed authorities, too many federal laws being imposed on ordinary and otherwise law-abiding citizens.
      I am just old enough to remember the Cold War scares, and tail end of the Civil Rights campaigns, the Vietnam War protests, and all the hysterical ‘scares’ that followed after them: future shock, global cooling, global warming, overpopulation … and satanic child abuse. Oh, and then Islamic/Palestinian/Red Brigades terrorism overseas, then the Gulf War and 9/11 … and this just feels different than all of those before. I think the difference is that this time a very large purportion of us now are wondering if we can really trust our political/cultural elite to have our best interests at heart … and deciding reluctantly that, very likely, we can’t. It’s shaping up very much as Anthony Codevilla outlined it: the Ruling Class and the Country Class.

      From the article linked, “Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans’ conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.”

      • I’ve been shut down by people who refuse to accept that there is a hard limit to how fast people, and by extension society, CAN change. …

        Interesting thesis. Yes, it takes time for people to change their minds and it takes more time to come to term with change. Most of my life, even the romanticized 1950s that I was born into, has been about change. I think that there is also only so much change a given person can take before they are overwhelmed.

        The Spouse and I have discussed the necessity of examining the whys of social strictures before replacing them or abandoning them altogether. While it is true that things are not perfect as they are — you have to determine what will actually work. What will function given human nature is what it is? And be prepared to fall short, because, well, as Joe E. Brown’ character concludes in a great final line:

    • Alanknkn, you can add the pressure from postmodernism that says the stronger the emotion driving the change, the more right the change is. So if someone, or a group of someones, really, really want to consolidate federal power “for the good of the people,” then they must be in the right no matter what others might say, and they need to more more quickly. Add a dose of selfless-narcissism and “nothing can be done quickly enough because it will do so much good and we have to speed up and how dare you not like the sacrifice I’m making for your own good!” Since there is no “Truth,” only emotional response, facts in opposition to grand ideas are meaningless – they are just someone’s misunderstanding of the great work in progress. Much like the bad statistics used to justify social causes in the guise of medicine.

    • Change has a generational component. Some social changes require the passage of generations (e.g., getting past the Civil Rights revolution: some people can never accept “others” as equals but those people eventually die out.)

      Another aspect of this is that as generations change they get “tired” of adapting. Eventually the effort to learn new technology is not worth it.

      Both these problems suffer from the fact people have longer lives. Waiting for a generation to pass takes much less time when the average lifespan is 40 than when it is 80.

      Perhaps we are developing a generation able to surf the change, but it is unlikely I will see the result. Still, I think eventually the arithmetic of change will be replaced with calculus. Vested interests, political, professional and social will fall before the tsunami and the question is how much damaging debris will ride the tide of change.

      OTOH, 300 years ago I dare say the idea of a society built around average citizens cruising around at 70 mph would have been stupefying. So, is there reason to think the coming reality won’t astound?

      • RES – When I first went to college in the early 1980s, there were a lot of people who were totally scared of computers. They are the same people who are in charge now. So yea–

    • They are committing the Fallacy of Chesterton’s Fence. It has a name and everything. 🙂

      See e.g.

      • “There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease.”

        • It is always dangerous to argue with Chesterton, almost as much as it is entertaining to engage with him. I will merely note, therefore, that it is equally a risk to venerate fences for their mere existence and maintain that existence unprofitably — eventually you become so enwrapt by fence that you cannot move.

          The point of Chesterton’s argument, of course, is not veneration of fence, it is the taking of due caution to understand their purpose before their removal. (This is a theme underlying Jonah Goldberg’s books; the importance of understanding intellectual moorings.)

          Put another way, I take a lesson from a friend who was prone to fits of remodeling his home: before you take out a wall, always check whether it is load-bearing.

  14. Sorry I haven’t been around the last two days. Today is my birthday, and I have had the stomach flu since Friday night. *sigh

    • Oh, no. Happy birthday, if that’s possible! (It’s happened to me!)

      • Thank you – first time for me… I am now 51

        • Congrats on turning 17 for the third time!

          • RES… You make me feel young 😉

            • You’d BETTER be young, woman. You’re only two years older than I.
              LIST of worst birthdays: my 30th –we were moving from South Carolina and I PACKED right through it. When we paused, two days later, Dan insisted on taking me to a good steakhouse before we drove to CO. I fell asleep over the steak.
              Then 35. Dan had been working 16 to 18 hour days on a project. We only had one car, so I was stuck home with the kids. Also, I developed a RAGING UTI that wouldn’t let me sleep. Then I got a cold. THEN on my bday everything I had out came back rejected. SIXTY short stories. Same day. Dan managed to get out in time to take me out to eat. We got a babysitter. I got in the car, Dan took a look at me and took me to emergency instead. Where idiot doctor tried to give me prozac because I was depressed. DUH. Wouldn’t you be?

              • I long ago decided that the recognition of “birthsdays” as “special” was arbitrary, illogical and prone to put excess pressure on family & friends. So, aside from deriving minor amusement from factoring the number of such anniversaries (I eagerly anticipate turning 2 to the Sixth) I largely ignore them. This saves much pointless agita and somewhat annoys the Beloved Spouse who does not entirely share my view (while willing to indulge my attitude toward my own birthsday, BS rather disdains it as a view of her birthsday. Go figure!)

    • Happy Birthday Cyn! Hope you have many more, and that they are better than this weekend has been for you. *blows virtual party horn*

    • May your birthday gift include a Swift Recovery!

      • Thank you Beth – 😉

      • Seconded. Even if a bit belated: I do hope you had a Happy birthday in spite of whatever bugs attacked.

        And I am sure that those familiar will agree, let us hope said bugs are not the size of a single bed mattress. (Sarah, I am not sure I appreciate that image.)

        • Thank you CACS It took me out for two and a half days plus I am in a very bad mood today. Probably a side-effect cause I am usually in a sunny mood. Okay that last statement is probably not true.

    • Happy birthday, Cyn. My 66th is the first of next month. I’m living proof that life doesn’t end at 50 – it just feels that way. May you surpass my meager quota of years (I plan to die on my 94th birthday, in 2042).

  15. BobtheRegisterredFool

    I don’t think Crazy Years is correct. By memory, the mix of societal failures modes he described does not exactly match what I think the basket of potential failure modes is.

    That might well be the same as quibbling with Ben S. over language, when he says something that implies that the potential bad scenario exceeds the possibilities that I have imagined.

    One of the mechanisms I have for it being driven by a stranger than usual Presidential election cycle is tied to a societal failure mode that I do not know that Heinlein ever touched.

    If part of things is an artifact of the campaigns, then, one might expect a weaker effect in some places in Oklahoma or Utah.

    I’m a bit of a nervous wreck, am having trouble lining up words, and dunno if I should say more.

    I just read Deep Survival yesterday, am still digesting it, and hoping to use it to develop new insights into the difficulties I find in life.

    • My fear is that our “elite” will decide civilization is not worthy of their enlightened leadership and conclude the only solution is to pull down the pillars.*

      *For some reason I have an affinity for Samson imagery — perhaps it comes of having the jawbone of an ass.

  16. Not “the Crazy Years” — for one, Fundamentalist-Religious Government (on both sides — “Contract With America” as well as “Hope and Change”) has been [ahem] “judged and found wanting”.

    No, what we are looking at is _Fallen Angels_, and “The Era Of Limited Choices”: .

  17. Wow. I think I hit a nerve. A couple of thoughts:
    1. In my opinion, I don’t think that longevity is that big of an issue; I’ve been on this planet less than 50 years, and I’ve managed to accept a lot of change. I’ve seen many old people “stick”, while others adapted, and continued to do so.
    2. My premise is the RATE of change. I now amend (weasel) my point with the amplification that I MEANT an ever-INCREASING rate. Call the base rate A; They insist the rate should be A2; Most people, desiring to be (perceived) reasonable and liked, adapt to A2. But now they insist that A2 is no longer acceptable, and you MUST, to avoid being called a (insert epithet here), NOW accept rate A4. And so forth.
    3. I don’t insist on an EXACT match of *OUR* “Crazy Years” to Heinlein’s, but they’re damn close. Once again, the old man got it right, in the broad strokes at least.
    4. Both sides have had a hand in this pie for years; I think guessing WHICH party is in control of the Executive Branch when the TTP (Totalitarian Tipping Point) happens is best left to the Vegas bookmakers. Hence my “Nehemiah” and “Josef” scenarios. Does it really matter which, considering the ends?

    • Rate of change? Toffler, Future Shock — great theory but I don’t know as I buy it. Nor do I think it offers any prescriptive benefit, merely diagnostic.

      Executive power is over-rated, for a variety of reasons. The real problems lie in bureaucracies which, by their essential nature, resist change. It is not a Totalitarian Impulse in operation so much as it is bureaucrats attempting to manage the unmanageable. I recommend which addresses the phenomenon of Demosclerosis:

      [Jonathan] Rauch argues that his point is non-partisan and that both liberals and conservatives are equally indebted to and caught up in the system of Demosclerosis he describes. ” Many liberals have long assumed that Washington can do almost anything it puts its mind to, if only the right people are in charge.” Against the liberals, he argues that more and more programs will not solve the problem. Indeed, it makes it worse. Anyone who has witnessed well-meaning efforts to fight poverty, improve education, or protect the environment blossom and fail over the last century has to have sympathy with Rauch’s basic point. While countless individuals have been educated by state schools and fed by state programs, and while particular rivers are cleaner than they would be without state intervention, it is hard to argue that poverty is less or the environment is healthier. The overwhelming benefactor of the state’s enormous largesse has been the state and the people who feed off it.

      If conservatives are more comfortable with the idea that government cannot solve all of our problems. But conservative rhetoric about limiting government ignores what Rauch sees as the basic fact: “Demosclerosis turns government into more and more of a rambling, ill-adapted shambles that often gets in the way but can’t be eliminated.”

      As every student of military history knows, entrenched positions are the hardest to dislodge. Publishers, agents, public unions have long enjoyed their redoubts and will not give up their privileged positions easily. And when they do fall, the period following may be chaotic and fail to achieve desired ends (look at the politics of Eastern Europe these last 30 years — there was a reason Moses wandered in the desert for a generation.)

      As for other attributes of our current times … well, there are reasons underlying them. Prolonged economic downturns sap our energies and engender loss of confidence in our political and economic leadership. The opening of new communications channels undermine efforts to set a narrative and leave everybody distrustful of their information. Difficulties always look greater in the present tense. Maintain perspective and maintain first principles — they are the Pole Star of navigation through the darkness. (Besides, even if we run into a reef we can defend ourselves by claiming we followed standard operating practices.)

      • Noted Reactosphere philospher and Sith Lord Mencius Moldbug has devoted many millions of bits to analyzing what he calls the red-giant stage of democracy. It all comes down to his assertion, which which I happen to agree, that:

        “Imperium decays. Imperium is conserved.”

        People speak of the “concentration” of Federal power, but in a way, that’s misleading. The Federal Government has more power than it ever has before (a statement which would be true in the majority of the years since at least 1861, if not all.) But that power is dispersed, to the point where even in the teeth of a major economic crisis, a very popular and populist new President found that all he could do was throw money at it, and even that only in highly circumscribed ways. He couldn’t hire a bunch of new workers (nor can he fire them.) He couldn’t create a new CCC or man the idiot sticks with alacrity and aplomb: environmental impact studies and union hiring requirements and endless reels of red tape bound even his every move. Our desperate attempt to create a completely neutral, completely procedural governing process has produced one in which increasingly only those who will disregard the process and act on cronyism, favoritism, and nepotism can accomplish anything at all.

        No matter what we do, the ultimate decision to do a thing, or to refrain from doing it, comes from a human being. We’ve tried to go from the general concept of holding such a human being accountable for what they do or don’t do, to the concept that if we just make the rules clear enough, they will automatically do the right thing. This does not work. And now people have started to accept almost limitless nonsense because “well, they were just following the rules.” No matter how ridiculous the outcome of an actual decision than an actual human being being made turned out to be, they are not to be accountable so long as they followed the process.

        Don’t get me wrong, this has always been a feature of government in particular and bureaucracy in general. But it didn’t use to be that a man could empty a fire extinguisher full of chemical weapons in a peaceful person’s face and we spent more than a year and paid him a hundred thousand dollars to do nothing while we figured out if we were allowed to hold him responsible for it. Now it is and the trend is accelerating. You ain’t seen nothing yet.

        • This is why all bureaucrats should be required to watch Yes, Minister and its companion work Yes, Prime Minister at regular intervals:

    • I learned to write with a quill. I typed my first novel on an electric typewriter. I’m writing this on a laptop. HOWEVER here’s the thing — an individual can cope with extreme change. Societies, though, are tricksier.

      on 3 — that man wasn’t the seventh son of a seventh son, but he gave a good immitation.

      4 — consider that Marxism is a religion, though it mistakes itself for a science.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      If we’re comparing to Heinlein, I don’t see them like his “Crazy Years” as in later novels, but rather as the kind of neurotic reactions as in “Year of the Jackpot”.

      • Wayne, GET OUT OF MY MIND or at least my conversations. More than once in the last ten days, Dan and I have looked at each other and mouthed “The Year of The Jackpot” — which, of course, WAS 2012. Just saying.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Heh. Sorry, re-read it a few weeks ago.

          I have a friend who we do that to each other a lot, especially when we used to play Password. We would be on the same side of the table (opposite teams). We would move to the next word on the list, look at each other, and one would say, “I’m gonna use it” (meaning a particular clue), and the other would reply, “No you can’t. That’s mine!”

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I wasn’t responding specifically to you. I think I’ve seen some other references to ‘Crazy Years’ recently.

      About 2: I think this conflates at least two different rates of change that work differently. Changes in the ways that humans relate to humans work differently from changes in the way humans relate to tools.

      a) I posit that the type of society LeBlanc describes in Constant Battles as normally having a 20-30% male deathrate to violence is what I call a typical human society, what humanity defaults to in absence of other factors. I suggest that the typical human society is the most stable sort, in that it requires the least degree of law, custom, and other such things based on human relationships, so that if societies were randomly generated in regard to these metrics, most would end up typical societies. I consider that the typical society makes up the bulk of historic and prehistoric societies, but societies most often discussed are very atypical.

      Furthermore, given the track record of deliberate changes in this area, one might expect that an effort to engineer this sort of change would instead act to randomize and revert things towards the typical society. This is one way that it can be argued that the extreme left is actually ultra-reactionary, resetting things tens of thousands of years back while trying to jump forward.

      b) I’ll freely concede that changes in tools and technologies somewhat influence and are somewhat influenced by changes of other sorts in societies. However, I think there are limits to the interaction, that significant changes in one have occurred with little change in the other, and that there are other differences that I haven’t the wit now to describe. For the last bit, think how little humanity has truly changed since it was described in the classics. Also, when transferring technology from one society to another, consider the cases that have been made for the society getting the technology not changing in its essentials.

      About 3: I concern myself with exact matches only because I am an argumentative nitpicker, societal failure is a much beloved food for thought, and I think, based on who Heinlein hasn’t completely alienated, that if he covered a favorite dead hobbyhorse of mine, he didn’t beat it long and hard. Also, that societies and civilizations worth speaking of will fail sooner or later is obvious the the dedicated student. I don’t see why one would use the phrase if one is not referring to a specific set of traits. Maybe I’m just scum for being so weakly grounded in Heinlein that his language is not the most vivid that comes to my mind when discussing such phenomena. 🙂

      I tend to put it more in terms inevitable social change changing the underpinnings of an atypical society until it can only function as a typical society. (Not that it always runs the full course, as fancier high density societies tend to fall apart well before they manage to sabotage passing on everything learned over tens of thousands of years.)

      4. I suspect that, whatever happens at the end of the Republic, there is one party that will have made a distinctive stamp on the pathology of it. I trace things from the current day back into the mid nineteenth century, and have argued that the tiger doesn’t change its stripes.

    • Some older people adapt, but at some point it becomes perfectly reasonable to say, as my grandfather did, ‘So what if they stop making records? I own plenty already. I am not going to the trouble or expense to purchase a CD player and have to start collecting music all over again.’ Heck, I have a younger friend who got irritated when he realized that he was about to face purchasing the entire Beatle catalog for the third time. And that was before the I-Pods and MP3 players hit the market.

      I think that Sarah is talking about a combination of factors. The full effects of the technological revolution are still unknown. We can reasonably suppose that they are likely to be every bit as world changing as was the effects of industrial revolution. Our educational system is failing a large percentage of students. The global financial picture is not rosy. Our government (Federal and local) has obligations which outstrip resources. There are competing world views/political systems which do not play well together. (OK, some don’t even want to let others on the playing field.) We might experience the best of all possible outcomes and things will settle down with a minimum of fuss and displacement — but this does not mean we should count on it.

      As a side note, I don’t care which part of the spectrum the totalitarians come from — I don’t care if the trains run on time at that kind of cost. And I am confident that, after a while, they will no longer be able to keep the trains running on time.

  18. It’s not just you. This year, especially this summer, I’ve noticed absolutely horrible driving. People during rush hour weaving almost as bad as drunks after closing time. Darting from the left hand lane to the right hand exit across five lanes of traffic in a large truck. Vehicles that just can’t seem to stay within the lines. This kind of driving has always happened but it was a once a year kind of thing. Now I’m seeing it every week.

    • YES. Robert and I in Denver. Guy cut across three lanes at 75 mph with inches to spare. I’m glad Robert was driving. I’d have panicked. He just went white and went “did you SEE that?” as idiot went out the ramp. And while that was extreme-extreme, we see this stuff almost every time we go out. Like… idiot turning into the left lane of the North bound side of a divided road, and going South on it, three blocks, heedless of beeps and near head-on collisions.

      • Every time I drive this year, I see that happen two times a drive (usually California drivers). Last time I was out on Friday, some guy got out of his car at a stoplight and waved his finger at the driver behind him. I called the police, but they wanted me to follow the driver. NO WAY. I am a single woman in a dodge neon and he was in an SUV. Can you say the word squashed? I gave the police his license plate number, but it doesn’t help at all. I am so disappointed in our police.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      So other places are seeing driving like around Cincinnati?

      • They used to have bumperstickers saying “Pray for Me. I Drive 183.” Now that kind of driving is normal.

  19. Any psych major will tell you that one great way to make an animal psychotic is to subject it to an inconsistent environment. (Sometimes pushing the lever gives you a pellet, sometimes it gives you a shock, but there’s no rhyme or reason to it. And there’s no other way to get food. The critter will soon go nuts.)

    In human social terms, our world is heading there with a quickness. Call it anarcho-tyranny on the governance side, call it The New New Economy on the economic side, whatever. But not only is the world getting stranger, the world’s response to whatever a person tries to do is getting less predictable, and it’s getting less consistent. The less faith a person has that doing the “right” thing will produce beneficial results, or even not actively produce negative ones, the less reason they have to do the right thing. The less confidence a person has that working for the future will produce a better future, the less impetus they have to do so. And so on.

  20. “The fourteenth century is a byword for awfulness, but part of it was that things were getting better. There was tech innovation and increased population”

    According to Barbra Tuchman’s book “A Distant Mirror” which is about the 14th century, and I just finished, the population in Europe at the end of the century was considerably less than at the beginning. The black death of 1347-1348 and at various other times through the century eliminated a lot of people. As did the various wars and brigandage committed by out of work knights and other fighting men.

    Then there was the schism with two popes (Clement and Urban) each claiming to be the “true” pope. The start of the hundred years war between England and France which involved many of the other kingdoms. The popular uprisings in England, France, and other countries.

    In short, I’m not sure things were getting better.

    • They were — which brought about the issues — and they got better again afterwards. Yes, there was catastrophic population fall, but part of the reason was because population was increasing at the beginning of the century and people were traveling more which in turn brought about the plague, which… I also own that book but there is more recent scholarship, some of which casts doubt on the concept of the dark ages as a time with no progress. BTW there is something wrong with our concept of the entire period since it relies on the idea a sudden, drastic population fall caused economic boom which is almost by definition impossible, economically. No, don’t tell me that’s what historians say. There’s something funky with that equation. The books I read attribute it to the redistribution of goods, but we’ve seen plenty of that in modern days and unless divinity intervenes, everyone always ends up with smaller fishes and less of a loaf. There is something funky with that equation, and I’d like to see their work — the parts that never made it to the books.

      The two popes made Catholicism less than infallible — visibly so — and seeded the end of de-facto theocracy.

      What I was trying to say was that things get worse, and then get better. I don’t think even if the worst happens we’ll go down to a new dark ages, or that it will last five hundred years.

      • No, don’t tell me that’s what historians say. There’s something funky with that equation.

        Bernard Shaw’s play The Devil’s Disciple* ends with an ironic exchange between two British officers who have just realized that Britain is about to lose her American colonies because of a flukish oversight by the British cabinet.

        Flabbergasted, the obtuse Major Swindon asks: “But what will history say?” General Burgoyne replies suavely: “History, sir, will tell lies, as usual.”

        The important thing to consider is that things are nearly always simultaneously getting worse and getting better, to varying degrees, and determining which has the upper hand is always a rum go.

        *If ever the opportunity allows, do see the 1959 film adaptation of this play. Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster were never better, and Olivier’s droll performance as Burgoyne** is a delight. It is a crime that it is not available on disk, but TCM does show it from time to time.

        **Shaw wrote the play as a defense against allegations of Burgoyn’e incompetence.

      • One of the big problems with the period 1310-1375, at least in England, is that the princes decreed that all the little villages be emptied and everyone that had lived in them be moved into a single, central town. When I was stationed at RAF Alconbury, there was an archaeological dig that covered three small towns that at the time they were abandoned, were about 400 years old, and had a population of between 75 and 250 people each. All of those people were herded (deliberately) into the town of Raunds, where I lived. I spent quite a few weekends and holidays working there in 1986-87, and learned a lot about the area. Moving the people into the town (then about 800 people) placed a HUGE strain on the local sewage system (mostly open trenches running along the sides of the streets), and created an even more unhealthy environment. The move was made in about 1350. In 1366, the plague wiped out half the population of the town. The move was made because the local squire decided it would be easier to defend one city than a dozen small towns. The Law of Unintended Consequences cost him more people than brigands or raiders could have killed in fifty years.

      • One of the conclusions reached from the Raunds Area Project that I voluntarily worked on in 1986-87 was that there was the beginning of a middle class and entrepreneurship during the fourteenth century in the dozens of small villages in England. The middle class was basically established around three industries – brewing, traveling merchants and repairmen, and storytellers. One find was the discovery of brewery waste from the period approximately 1275-1350 in each of the three towns the study covered. There were also a larger than expected number of items that obviously hadn’t been made in the area. Discoveries at a nearby gravel quarry included the remains of a Danish trading post that dated from about 950 AD, and may have been in use as late as 1300. The move of people from the small villages into one larger one, plus the spread of the plague in 1365-66 (in that area) ended the experiment.

      • Just for fun — at present it is thought that the rise in population and trade that had enabled the rapid spread of the plague had been made possible by a combination of fortuitous weather and improved farming techniques. By 1000 the use of the draft horse was made possible with the invention of a padded collar. Subsequent decades saw an improvement in tackle, horse shoe, plow and cart designs. It still took several hundred years for people to adopt and adapt. (We are still figuring out how they did it, as we look back from a post horse era.) Lets see — new technologies change life and bring unintended consequences, not all of which are good, and take time to work out. Where have I heard that thesis before?

  21. There’s a lot of meat here, but I thought I’d throw my two cents in here as well.

    Things ARE getting worse. There’s a very definite reason for it. It has to do with the general public coming to understand that there’s a huge vacuum at the top of government, and that rules really don’t mean anything any more. Through the miracle (or curse, depending on your viewpoint) of the Internet, the general public has come to understand that there’s a “us” versus “them”, but for the most part, the US is the average citizen and the THEM is government – regardless of level.

    The rules that govern the US are not necessarily the rules that govern the THEM. The THEM (government) are exempt from many of the rules and regulations that the US have to live with. What would get one of US thrown into jail for life results in a wrist-slap (if that) for THEM. The “US” are finally beginning to figure out, too, that they are the ones always tasked with paying for whatever the THEM and their buddies want.

    Children and adults both require known, specific limits – what we usually call “laws”. Yet when there are too many laws, and the average person can be tried (and convicted) for a felony without doing anything they haven’t been doing for the last twenty/thirty years, they begin to ignore ALL laws. The result is one step short of anarchy. Government – both parties, plus tons of unelected bureaucrats – have piled rules upon laws upon regulation to where it’s difficult to breathe without breaking one of them. It’s a house of cards, and eventually it will either collapse, or totally choke the life out of the ‘system’.

    That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s not irreversible. Don’t get me wrong – the collapse is coming. Behind it, however, is the chance to rebuild. Our Constitution is a marvelous document. It’s resilient enough to withstand the collapse, and to emerge even stronger. The other good news is there are a lot of people who believe in the United States and its constitution, and who will work to rebuild – without some of the errors we made earlier.

    There is going to be a period of utter chaos. It could happen as early as this November when we go to the polls to elect a new president, or it could wait another ten – twenty years. That’s it, though. The collapse is inevitable. The thing to do is to plan on it and prepare for it. Once it happens, we all need to begin the rebuilding.

  22. Thomas Sowell talks about some of this in an article on National Review Online today. As I said on Facebook, I can pinpoint the turning point in our government’s relations. Here’s what I wrote:
    I can even pinpoint the beginning of the destruction of representative government in the United States: it happened when, even knowing he was guilty, the Democrats in the Senate refused to impeach William Jefferson Clinton, simply because he was “one of them”. Now, the Republicans know that they will get absolutely no help or cooperation from the Democrats as Obama shreds the Constitution and the laws of this nation. He’s become a dictator in fact, even if it’s not recognized by the majority of the people of this nation. We have one chance this November to put an end to his dictatorial rule (executive orders setting aside the laws passed by congress is dictatorial, unconstitutional, and grossly unjust) at the ballot box. If that fails, the only opportunity we will have is the use of force to overcome his one-man rule.

    • Sowell just objects to Obama because Sowell’s a racist*.

      *Racist, n.
      A person who does not grant preferences for someone because of their race.

      N.B., from Ambrose Bierce:

      BIGOT, n.
      One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

    • Yeah — preens — Sowell TOTALLY reads my blog. (Do you know how hard I’d pass out if he did?)