When The Darkness Stares Back

I’ve talked before about being in the political closet.  The thing is, though that’s the easiest shorthand, it’s not the right shorthand, which made it worse.

The political closet would be right if one identified strongly with one party’s entire perceived agenda and were pretending to be the other. (The perceived is important and will come in later.)

My problem of course was that for most of that time, the party I identified most closely with was the Libertarians.  But even with them I have issues – I won’t go into it too deeply, lest we get Josh going – but to be blunt, there was an assumption that pacifism could work and that if we don’t attack other people they won’t attack us, which didn’t fit in with my life experience or my reading of history.

Before 9/11 I sorta kinda convinced myself maybe this time it would work that way, but after 9/11, particularly as half the Libertarians in my region went bananas and started frothing at the mouth about how we’d brought it on ourselves by being mean to the poor brown people.  (This is still one of my triggers, this ridiculous, disguised racism wherein Arabs – who, btw, would consider themselves white and nothing else – are considered sort of immature children and we have to take their sins onto ourselves.  Kind of like if you pick on a two year old and he breaks the cup, it’s your fault not his.  I say foreigners, whether they tan or not, are people too and capable of evil as well as good.  I should know.  I was born foreign.)

The other half went… Well… Look guys, let’s level up: I think drugs should be legalized because I think it would be easier to convince people not to take them (or to minimize the number of people who take them.  Some always will, and I’m not their collective mother) if they’re out in the open.  But there is a large cohort of Libertarians who make the legalization of drugs the be all-end all of their existence, not just because the war on drugs is ineffective, a statist power grab and distorting our polity – but because (perhaps because they’re enraged at these ills and kneejerk into the rest of it) illegal drugs are supposed to be good for everything including hair loss and ingrown toe nails.

Look – I know too much about the biological side of it to think most drugs – yes, including pot – are a net good.  I’ve also seen too many of the results.  Yes, all of them – including pot – have SOME beneficial effects.  But, as with all medicine, including the legal, there are the other effects and counterindications.

Anyway, in our area, that’s all the people that remained capital L, active and registered Libertarians.  Since all my email seemed to be peace demonstrations or pot taste-ins, I quietly dropped out of the active Libertarian thing – though not out of the registration until last year.

But I can’t say I fit the Republicans any better.  For one, most Republicans don’t fit the perceived Republican party any better.  I mean, of all the people I know who generally vote Republican, I think only two are fundamentalist Christians and even those have no issue with my gay characters or my other unorthodox positions.

Oh, and I don’t think (though some of them I know only on line, and who cares) any of them live in a trailer park, and only one (rather obvious and well known) is a billionaire, and our correspondence is at best irregular due to his being a very busy man.  (I wish he were one of you lot who read here.  Then he might, in an unconsidered moment, hit the kitty for a hundred thousand or so, which at the moment would relieve me of worry over husband’s job enough to write without issue.  But he’s not.  And I think even for billionaires, you don’t just throw that kind of money around – which is just too bad.)

I’ve met some caricature republicans while working on the campaigns – one of them almost made me leave the office – but they were so stereotypical, and so unlike any real Republicans I know, that now I wonder if they were moles.  (Like the crazy guy who thought he could camouflage as republican by having a chic-fillet bag with him.)

But if you turn to the “real republicans who govern”, I still don’t fit in with them very well (they by and large don’t fit in with base too well) because ultimately they are power brokers and power dealers, and their idea of government is to continue expanding the Federal power only not in the same directions as the Democrats.

As a friend of mine put it on FB, one side wants to give other countries vast subsidies so they’ll like us, and the other side sends over our young men and women to protect other countries, so they have the money to run their social programs and ignore their defense.

Yes, I do understand the necessity of keeping the lanes of commerce open – I’m not a total lack wit – but part of me thinks if we’re going to protect them, they should pay, not the other way around.  Then maybe they would perceive the benefit of what we’re doing, instead of resenting us like teens still living in mommy and dad’s house.  (On the other hand – I told you I wasn’t a lack wit – I am aware that from “we pay for the armies” to Empire and Tribute (which is a great name for a book) is a series of not very painful steps over a century or so.  Humans aren’t perfect and life is full of these little tradeoffs and things being what they are, a hundred years of our continued existence sound like to dream the impossible dream.)

So…  So I settle for voting for those people who will grow the deficit SLOWER and who stick their noses in what I eat, what I wear and how many kids I wish to have LESS.  The fact that they’re despised by the plutocrats in the press is a plus, because it means when they’re in power the press actually DO hound them and bark at their heels, as opposed to rolling over and asking to tummy rubs after Benghazi, fast and furious, and the executive orders that are slowly bringing SOPA and PIPA into effect (at the command of the vast entertainment corporations.)  Yes, I know that’s – sort of – the gateway to hell and that it’s how we got when we are, but societies and states are slow and cumbersome to turn around and the tech is going our way, taking away the power of schools and vast media operations, and putting it in individual hands.  We need another generation or two and then we’ll be a sufficient majority.  (We’ll never be an overwhelming majority.  A lot of people ALWAYS prefer security over liberty, though I grant you fewer of them in America than anywhere else.)

What I have been trying to avoid is the headlong RUSH into the abyss that might stop the tech advance BEFORE we can raise another generation, with different values.  Ah well.  To dream the impossible dream.

So, you see how complex my political positions are.  What is more, they change, in response to events, in response to new knowledge from history, in response to a whole bunch of things.

You’d think this was exactly the type of mind you’d want in someone who writes science fiction (or even fantasy) and who is therefore – by professional requirement – likely to build challenging societies, with loopholes, contradictions and points of conflict.  Right?


What the publishing establishment I entered in 1999 (remember I didn’t get into Baen until 2004) wanted only one thing: really articulate, literate parrots who would expound the status quo of the “intelligentsia” (and that btw, as caricatured as their idea of “Republicans.”) and join their voices to the chorus of all these things everybody knows (which just ain’t so) like “If there were no men, there would be no war.”   “To be truly liberated a woman must be a lesbian.” “Human extinction is the only way to change the Earth.” And my ever-favorite “We must not go to space, because we haven’t yet learned to take care of the Earth.” (As though humanity were MEANT to be some sort of gardeners or Earth were sentient.)  There are others, of course, including the ever fertile chestnut that if someone is rich he/she stole it from someone or his/her ancestors did.

I couldn’t hack it.  Tried.  You see, I had this idea that if only we got one or two more generations, we’d need people capable of explaining liberty to those generations, so there COULD be a rebirth, eventually.  Heinlein did a capital job, but he’s not around now, and science fiction AGES.  (My kids still loved Heinlein, but let’s admit it, right now it’s parallel history and it’s lost that veneer of “this is the future.”  Of course, it’s possible that veneer was part of mid twenty century culture and can’t be brought back.)

So my idea was to stealth it, till I got really big, and then from there to slowly uncloak and start talking about the important stuff.

Ah… well…  Let’s say that I miscalculated on several counts.  First, I might lack the necessary talent/proficiency.  (I keep reading in books and hearing my colleagues say that at heart we each know exactly how good we are, but if that’s true I’m even more of an oddity than I thought.  I have no clue how good I am.  I like some of my books, it’s all I can tell you – even though it might be bad manners.) Second, by the time I entered publishing, you had to be especially favored to even survive with the same name past three books – and you had to have impeccable political pedigree (usually supported by who you know, what schools you attended, etc) and usually other stuff like personal beauty or charisma (I’m not bad, but I’m female and I broke in after 30) to be pushed to bestseller.  And the “push” was in the house’s control.  (Again, I’m not talking about Baen, who has to grow bestsellers the old fashioned way.  And does, one of the reasons the other houses hate it.)  And THIRD – I couldn’t do it.  I didn’t realize how bad I was at it.  No, seriously, I didn’t.  I used to be good at it, or else, I wouldn’t have a degree in Languages and Literature from an European university.  But I’ve gone back and read some of my books that didn’t sell, and uh… there is this certain lack of confidence in authority and established credentials that keeps leaking through…  I guess having got out of school and spent a few years alone with my own thoughts, I was too iconoclastic to hide ALL of it.

I know people who are stealthing it, some much better than others, all better than I do.  (And I take my hat off to them.)

And I know people who are stealthing it in other fields, at least two of whom read this blog and comment under pen names, and one of whom I told I don’t want to know his/her real name.  I don’t want to risk letting it slip.

I admire their ability to do this, and I get very upset when – often – some blog or some commenter on a blog starts saying that they’re cowards for not confronting their family/colleagues/boss with their real political opinions.

Me?  I think more is won by planting seeds.  If Heinlein hadn’t got to me with fiction, I might very well have ended up in the politically correct chorus.  And he got to me because no one in Portugal had thought of isolating minds from him by accusing him of being homophobic, or xenophobic, or misogynist or whatever.  Yes, at the age of eleven or so, if I’d been primed, I’d have seen that in the books and not read them.  I’m sure I – at least in my public identity – have managed to land myself on several “do not read” lists.

On the other hand… on the other hand…

On the other hand, I think – or at least, after dealing with the failure of my stealthing attempt I tell myself that – I too might have a place in the ranks, and my position too can be useful.

First of all, because I’ve been on both sides of this and therefore can tell you the problem with the stealth position.  I’m one of very few people who has done this – most others are actual converts.  The problem with the stealth position is the problem of double agents.  You start out by pretending to be something you’re not, but if you’re good enough at it, it starts leaking into your thought and your identity.  (This is part of being human and a social creature.) I don’t mean you start thinking like them, but parts of the shibboleths of the dominant culture will start affecting your thinking.  Mostly the prejudices.  You’ll start feeling, for instance, anyone who defends the free market must be greedy, and flinching a little at unabashed defense of personal liberty.  This never happened to me personally.  I have seen it happen, until the person is completely captured by the other side and doesn’t even know it.  You’ll find them saying things like “Well, I’m a republican, but republicans are soooo anti-woman.  They don’t see only women can bring peace to the world.”

At that point if you’re another of the stealthers, and if this person was a friend (discovering other stealthers used to be a thing.  Sometimes I thought we should have a hanky code.) you salute a fallen comrade, route around the leak and move on.

I – and others – of the stealthers went the other way, though.  And it’s just as bad.  I got to the point where all these people that I knew, objectively were actually decent, good people – or at least not bad – but just didn’t think or challenge the dominant culture (either from cowardice or desire to fit in) were Evil with a capital E.

I had “friends” in the field, but none of them could be real friends, because none of them could see the real me, and I didn’t like the “them” they presented.  I started hating people for their opinions, even when I knew those opinions were  just the result of their growing up in a place and time and wanting to fit in.

And that is poison to the soul, particularly when you consider that I am, at heart, very gregarious and spent my formative years in a “live in your extended family’s pockets” culture (the fact I ever left probably means I am at heart rather insane, anyway.)

In the first route, you become a prisoner of the status quo.  In the second, though, it slowly makes you bitter and encased in a loneliness nothing can break.

I dedicated A Few Good men To Glenn (of Instapundit) because without the blogs, without knowing there were other people out there like me – with whom I might not agree on EVERYTHING, but with whom I agreed that political direction and beliefs were something to be examined and discussed in the light of history – were all that kept me – marginally – sane in the ten years of deep-cover.

It is still hard, sometimes, for me to remember that say, people who believe we should have the minimum wage are not CONSCIOUS Marxists.  Yes, they do implicitly assume that if a benevolent (where they find that, is beyond me, it being like everything else, a human construction and therefore at best mixed) government doesn’t watch over businessmen, businessmen will – of course – exploit their fellow human (who is always defenseless, poor muggings, like 19th century peasants) beyond all reason.  BUT they don’t realize their thoughts have been infiltrated.  Depending on how annoyed I am that day, I’m likely to unload with both barrels before I pull back and think that “oh, yeah.  Someone who has never even thought about this and for whom it is an “of course.””  These people are different from the hard-core vile progs and might or might not be winnable back to sanity.  Those we can win back must be won, because if we can survive this, we’ll need all hands on deck.  But right now I’m more likely to blast them with the burner.  My ability to distinguish between red and deep pink is gone.

It can’t be helped, at least for now.  It’s a war wound, and touching it brings a reflex response.  It might get better – supposing we survive (To Dream The Impossible Dream) over the decades.  It might not.  You pick your course, you place your bet, you take your lumps. None of us is perfect or unscarred.

Worse, though, it was affecting my writing.  I’d got in the habit of never writing about anything I REALLY cared about and was well on my way to learning to write about nothing, which is –of course – the road to grey goo.  (It’s paved with awards I hear, not that I ever saw one of those awards.)

I came out of the political closet because I dimly perceived that to stay in it, I’d lose myself.  If my occasional flailing around with how we got here and what it all means helps some of my still-stealthed comrades, in writing or other professions almost entirely taken over by vile-progs then it’s all worth it.

I will continue to run ultra-secret indie-only pen names who stealth.  Who knows?  Those might get through some of the “never thought” people.

Meanwhile I’m glad to be out of the political closet, sorry I couldn’t stick the stealthing, wondering if anyone can without in one way or another losing their inner selves – and profoundly grieved we live in a time where such conformity of thought is demanded by the establishment, even of people who are supposed to be creative.  I’m grieved that you’re not just required to generally believe in their principles (no, I don’t believe that only government is impartial and benign and they can’t make me. But I could allow that sometimes – rarely – government isn’t all wrong) or agree with them on some things (I am, for instance, for the legalization of drugs, among other things – even if my reasons are different from most of those the vile progs tout) BUT you’re required to loudly promote and proclaim the party line, even when it changes.

Life is what it is.  You live in the times you live in.  You do the best you can with it.

To my stealthed colleagues, I salute you.  To those who have fallen, I thank you for your service and I’m sorry we lost you.  To those who never thought of being stealthed, I assume you knew yourselves best, and are doing the best you can.

Courage.  It might seem like we’re dreaming the impossible dream, but it’s always darkest before dawn, and a friend once told me that the other side always crows victory the loudest when they know they’re losing.  There are signs, hard to read because so many of us are stealthing, that it might not yet be to late to turn this thing around.

Courage – return to your positions and do your best.  And I’ll do mine.  I’ll stand here and do my poor best.  And hope it serves something.

159 responses to “When The Darkness Stares Back

  1. Kitteh-Dragon

    Fabulous. Thank you. Thank you for being you, out of the closet, and letting me know I wasn’t the only person in the world who thought this way. Long may you write – under *any* pen name!

  2. “… it’s always darkest before dawn…

    It may get dark, but is your life really so bad now? Homo sapiens sapiens has been around a couple hundred thousand years or so. If you had to pick a time to be alive, would today be in the lower half of your list?

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Bret, there have always been “worst times” but very few judge current days compared to times that we haven’t experienced (or relatives haven’t experienced).

      When we’ve seen evidence of “better times” in the recent past, knowing that the far past was worse than now time doesn’t change the belief that *now* could be better and the future may be worse than *now*.

    • As far as creature comforts, no. As far as the human spirit? I don’t know. There would have been better times to fight from.

      • bretwallach

        Good point. You’re definitely spirited. And you want to change the world. I agree changing the world is going to be really tough right now and going forward – mostly because it is just too comfortable.

    • Rob Crawford

      Today would be at the top of my list. However, I’m really concerned over what tomorrow will bring. We’re making too many of the mistakes that have been made over and over.

      • Exactly. And the abyss is straight ahead.

        • To employ appropriate SF memeology:

          The concern is that we are at the apogee of human liberty and the boosters intended to lift us into stable orbit are failing to kick in.
          [Insert appropriate Star Trek clip, one with Scotty exclaiming that “the Dilithium crystals are crumbling Cap’n; the injuns canna take much more of this strain]

          • Having senior Congresspersons declaring that a reduction of <2% in the growth in Federal spending will eliminate 170 million jobs [http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2013/02/28/maxine-waters-predicts-sequestration-will-cost-us-more-jobs-than-we-actually-have/] is not conducive to optimism about the nation’s future.

          • Actually the boosters have been reversed and are threatening to shove us into the Earth.

            (As for the injuns –hey! Judging by some health issues one of the boys has, the men in this family can qualify as “injuns” (funny thing, supposedly it’s very little, according to the genealogies. Insert your own jokes about what great great grandma did behind the kitchen door) and I’m not straining them that badly! (okay, maybe I am, but they’re very patient.) )

            • I was about to make a snarky remark (moi? Snark?) about some idiot reversing the polarity so that the pressor beams are acting as tractors, when it struck me that there are several examples of this in the real world. (Pfui – who wants to discuss the real world?)

              Shortly after JFK, Jr.’s plane crashed I recall reading about a problem, common with novice pilots but afflicting experienced ones as well, of getting confused in a spin and losing track of Up and Down. This causes the dazed pilot to essentially steer the plane into the ground while under the impression he is acting to gain altitude.

              Similarly, I have heard of people dropped into the water (or into a snow bank or under an avalanche) being unable to determine which way is out and actually swimming deeper into the abyss.

              I see no reason this would not apply to cultures, as well as individuals.

              • In case you are ever caught in an avalanche, I have been told to pee yourself, and pay attention to which way the urine runs, so you will know which way is up.

                Having never been buried in an avalanche I cannot verify the practicality of this solution.

                • I’ve seen films of avalanches. You need not fear that I won’t be peeing myself.

                  • I’ve actually seen avalanches (from a distance) my understanding however was that it was more useful to pee yourself after everything, including yourself quit moving. My thoughts were that by that time my bladder would be to empty to be of any use.

              • RES, what happens is that your middle-ear overreacts, so that when you recover from the spin, it feels as if you are going to other way, and so you reenter the spin.

                As best the NTSB could determine, what happened to JFK Jr was not a spin but a graveyard spiral. I’ve flown the same equipment as he had, and there is one extra step required to get the autopilot to engage. Otherwise it looks as if it has taken over, but it has not. JFK JR missed that step, and the plane began a slow, descending spiral. There was no visible horizon, and instead of flying the instruments (which he was not trained to do yet), he felt that the plane was descending but not turning, and he pulled back on the controls. Except what that did was tighten the turn, making it feel as if the plane were diving even more, so he pulled back harder, which made the turn steeper, and we know the rest of the story. Training students to fly by eye and not by rump (seat-of-the-pants: what you inner ear thinks is going on) is one of the hardest things to do. (Unless you are in a glider, where you fly very much by rump.)

                • Yep – unusual attitude recovery (which JFKjr had to have completed to get his private pilot cert.) is taught at night for just this reason – wearing something to block any outside vision, you basically shut your eyes, the instructor weaves all over the sky to scramble your seat-of-the-pants idea of which way is up, and then suddenly he says “Your Airplane!”, you open your eyes, and you get to quickly figure out which way you are pointing solely from the instruments and then execute the correct recovery. I had a bast when I did those flights, but I can see where someone with maybe some sketchy instrument skills and/or who had an exceedingly deferential flight instructor could have squeaked by and not really internalized how badly things could go wrong if you didn’t ignore what your inner ear was telling you and trust the instruments instead.

                  Luckily, my instructor didn’t have a kind bone in his body, so I also got to do partial panel unusual attitude recoveries, where he covered up some of the flight instruments and I had to figure out what was happening by inferring what the missing instrument should be showing based on what the remaining instruments showed. At night.

                  To tie this all back in to Sarah’s post today, the most important thing I got from learning to fly is a hard requirement to never fool myself about my situation. Politically, at some point you hear the forceful “Your Airplane!” so you take a look and see the precarious societal unusual attitude you are in, and then you have to decide what has to happen to try and keep well away from the unyielding earth. When it’s going to be a near run thing getting out of the mess, you may no longer be able to afford the luxury or the costs of stealthing.

                  • Dorothy Grant

                    What the instructors tried to tell me, but it took actually experiencing to learn: it’s much, much MUCH easier to recover when you’re presented with a sudden crisis, or your “partial equipment failure” consists of post-it notes over the affected instruments. It’s far, far harder to recognize a slow failure, and to recover when the instruments are still visible and feeding you wrong information.

                    That applies to the country, too, not just a bushplane in a series of mountain passes a long way between airports with no roads visible under rain-drifting uneven clouds. One’s just… easier to fix, and safely a memory after the fact, because your hand’s on the stick and you have the control to steer your way out. The country is far harder to steer, and far slower to turn and bank.

              • Similarly, I have heard of people dropped into the water (or into a snow bank or under an avalanche) being unable to determine which way is out and actually swimming deeper into the abyss.

                The Mythbusters looked at the underwater thing, as part of a revisit of their myth(s) about getting out of a submerged car, and they found that most of the time, they were able to swim in the right direction (up).

                The rig they built was like a vertical human wheel, with hand and foot holds… the subject was put in blacked-out goggles to serve as an underwater blindfold, and the other one spun him over and over until he decided to stop, and then tapped the subject to tell him it was time to swim up to the surface. Adam found it all three times, Jamie, two times out of the three.

                The one time Jamie did not swim up, at least on camera, he said his sinuses had been bothering him and so he was somewhat distracted.

                Whether that proves conclusively that you can usually find “up” or not is still a subject for debate, because obviously both Adam and Jamie knew they were gonna be turned topsy-turvy and had no way of knowing which way they were going to stop.

                • Wonder if my sense of direction (non existent) has to do with my persistent from-birth ear canal and sinus issues? (Being extremely premature will do that.)

                • I have taken everything with a grain of salt on Mythbusters since they ‘busted’ a myth about people using 22 shells as fuses in a car and having them go off. Since both my father and an older friend had it happen to them in the space of a couple days (I don’t know which one came up with the bright idea, but since they both had trucks that were blowing fuses they both replaced them with what they had available, and hadn’t talked to each other between the time of one trucks ‘fuse’ going off, and the other ones going off).

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    I thought the only part they considered “busted” in that episode was the part about how badly it injured (or possibly killed, can’t remember) the driver.

                  • “Hate to tell ya this, Bearcat, but your recollection is BUSTED”

                    I humbly apologize, and will point out that anyone with a basic knowledge of either how firearms work, or how explosives work would not expect the driver to be seriously injured. The power and destruction of an explosive, or in the case of gunpowder a fast burning propellant with rapidly expanding gas, is in the containment. A cartridge placed in a fuse box is not contained, and while it will blow the lid off the fuse box, and possibly into pieces of plastic, it will not however ‘shoot’ the bullet with any appreciable force.

                    • Which is what they discovered… it punctured Buster’s clothing, but not his skin… as Jamie said, a human victim probably would have had several nasty bruises, but no actual injuries.

                      I hope that was true of your father and friend as well.

                    • Yes, smoked up the cab, half deafened them, and scared them half to death, but no injuries even that severe.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  I can tell you from personal experience not once, but twice, that you can, indeed, get your up and down screwed up for no less than 15 seconds (that’s how long I estimate it took me to figure out up from down while I was crumpled ass-over-teakettle on the ground – not hurt, just conflumerated; I was very flexible then), and if you’re in a real emergency, that’s long enough to make your situation enough worse it can kill you.

              • Relevant scene in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” But JFK Jr. had available ground control who were assigned to hold the hands of inexperienced rich pilots. But Kennedy male pride, that he had his wife and sister in law on board did not prevent him from arrogantly refusing help.

                • Air Traffic Control can only do so much, and the tower had no radar. Boston Center (the controlling agency, IIRC) saw the spiral but it was up to the pilot to take action, which JFK Jr. never did. Despite what you see in movies and occasionally hear on the recordings, Air Traffic Controllers cannot do anything to help fly the plane. In most cases, a talk-down is done by another pilot, with the permission of ATC.

                  OK, my inner pedant is screaming, so please bear with me. “Ground control” is the person you talk to when you taxi to the end of the runway. The control tower (“tower”) is who you talk to when you take off and land. “Approach” are the folks who talk to you from oh, 1000 feet AGL and five miles from the airport (unless you are on an instrument approach, when they follow you more closely), and “center” oversees IFR en route and some instrument approaches to rural airports.

                  • Dorothy Grant

                    But everyone knows “Ground control to Major Tom!”

                    …ducking and running….

                    (Seriously, have you ever heard the stricken quality of the silence when the reply for a five-mile-straight-in-final-any-traffic-please-advise comes back “Yeah, just me, two no-radio cubs, an ultralight, and a glider, for the opposing runway. Do you feel lucky, punk?” It’s so delightful!)

                    • That silence is almost as much fun as the look on the student’s face when the secretary at Ruralvill Regional Airport says, “Roger Cessna 1234, winds are light and variable, all runways are active, multiple no-radio ag operations in the airport vicinity, altimeter is” sound of hand tapping altimeter, “29.86. Keep your eyes open, hon.” The student got really nervous when I told him “don’t argue with the spray planes. Just get in line.” 🙂

                  • Interesting, I have worked on the runway at a local airport, where I had to carry a radio with me, and get off the runway whenever a plane came in, and only recall one ground person on the radio throughout. It was admittedly a small airport with most private planes and only one commercial flight a day, so probably they had a limited number of employees that covered multiple jobs.

                    It was admittedly very interesting when I was working on the taxiway (so I wasn’t moving for incoming flights, being at the end they were not taxiing through that day due to prevailing winds) and WWI vintage propjob broke off its landing gear on touchdown. The plane jerked sideways and veered towards me, the pilot luckily had the presence of mind to pull up and apply throttle, flying approximately 10 feet over my head. I don’t recall the model of plane, but it was one that had only two fixed central forward wheels, without one under the tail. After one had broken off I was highly impressed when the pilot brought it around and landed safely on the taxiway (after I had gotten off it) with only the remaining one. Dinged up the propeller and broke off the remaining landing gear just as he came to a stop, but managed to keep the plane upright and straight enough to stay on the tarmac. After the pilot at climbed out and the firemen swarmed the plane I complemented him on his landing, and he grinned at me and gave me the old line, “any landing you walk away from is a good one.”

                  • In some of the older, infrequently-visited airports, several of those may be done by one person in the tower. At least that was the way it was when I was learning to fly, 50-odd years ago (Civil Air Patrol). Didn’t stick with it — no money, no time, and multiple other interests/activities. I kick myself now… I HAVE flown front seat in a T-38, and back seat in an RF-4C during my military days. Wish there had been time for more…

    • Wayne Blackburn

      It hadn’t occurred to me before, but what’s going on right now resembles a game of Jenga. We’re taking from the foundation and adding to the top, and I’m afraid it’s going to come crashing down on us when the foundation is sufficiently undermined.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Oops, “undermind” doesn’t really go with the analogy being used. Make that simply, “weakened”.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        A couple years back or so, this was why I realized that Leftism past a certain point must amount to a reactionary attempt to revert things back to the status quo of ten thousand or a hundred thousand years ago.

        If all things must change, then sooner or later the foundations, the things that keep a society from being more than the strong eating the weak, also change. The further away a society is from one that has no rules against rape, murder and the exploitation of the weak, the more complicated its foundation is.

        Change is inevitable anyway, which is why all societies will collapse eventually. But if you seek change, any and all change, without thinking over things very carefully…

  3. STealther…nope…definitely not me. *grin* Ahh “may you live in interesting times”. we are in interesting times indeed .in the chinese sense of the phrase. *frown*
    You know…there are days, most of them as of late to be honest, when I wish I could travel back in time to. Why? Well to find the person who coined that phrase of course. So I can punch their teeth down their throat

    • Wolfie, you’d have to go back to about 13th Century China, if the information I read is correct. It may be earlier. The same group also came up with “This, too, shall change.” — the one statement that supposedly will NOT change.

  4. You make many, many good points. Writing is a weapon. We should use it to best effect.

  5. How can I identify with any political group? I could soil my hands with a little theft or prejudice perhaps if they were minor errors along the way to a greater good. However there is not a political movement that doesn’t have blood on its hands and willing to shed more. No thanks.

    • Rob Crawford

      Sorry to hear humanity doesn’t live up to your ideals. Let us know when you find a group that does.

  6. Sarah, I used to work in a large office, where the culture and mean politics as announced was almost just to the right of Mao as perceived in universities, with all the left sibboleths*, dogmas and enforceable public faces that you find in a human services agency. I closeted my politics and opinions to get along, but one day one of the managers wandered up to complain about daylight savings, saying it was like the indian who found his blanket was too short cut the bottom six inches off and sewed it to the top.
    My gut reaction was that one shouldn’t make jokes about ethnic minorities….and then I realized I had worked there so long I was internalizing all that stupid PC poison.
    That, and a few other things, told me it was time to find another job.

    So yes, hiding is bad. You can hide it from yourself and lose it.
    (*H left out on purpose)

  7. Wow, I could almost write my own blog with thoughts, corollaries and givens from this post.
    I remember, many years ago, reading a SF story dealing with the Principle of Enlightened Self-Interest (PESI) where a labor union tried to infiltrate another planets labor pool to organize a union, but failing because the owners as well as workers were fully aware that enlightened self-interest in the owners dictated (pardon the term) that the workers be well compensated for their efforts, and that the workers knew that an owner making a decent profit was more likely to expand operations and increase marketing of the product. And each side had access to the others financial information to verify it. Eye opening, to say the least.
    And I remember how I never even bothered to vote until Reagan;s 2nd term. Raised a Democrat, I never gave it a thought. Then Reagan was shot, and I was so impressed with this man’s humor and humility he could joke on the way to surgery. I then became, if not a Republican, at least a Reaganite.
    And over the years, while I’ve principally voted Republican, it has mostly been because they’ve been closer to what I personally believed – not because they matched, but were the lesser of evils.
    Even now I wouldn’t describe myself as Republican, nor Libertarian. Conservative is closest, but I have a wide streak of contrary in my being that says “Don’t bother me, and I won’t bother you.”
    I guess the Pournelle Axis comes closest to defining my political views. Too bad it isn’t in more common use, except the modified version used by the Libertarian party.
    And I WILL get off the soapbox now – it is, after all, your blog. And I appreciated your thoughts very much today.

    • That was E.E. Smith’s last book, subspace Exlorers (or Encounter, can neve remember which) Pretty good, reread it after i gave up on Atlas Shrugged and got about the same message, I think

  8. if we don’t attack other people they won’t attack us

    This is, in fact, a valid and demonstrable assumption. They will not attack us.

    They will attack the people who have conquered us.

    • You know, I live in fear of our two families getting together. We will all swim in dark humor.

      • But it would be a great fourth Con book! RES as a high priest/priestess of vodoo economics, able to summon spirits and spreadsheets at the same time.

        • Now I am envisioning necromantic macros (necromacros?) designed to weave spells with a single hot key stroke, trapping demons in PivotTables and animating zombies via account reconciliations.

          iPad wizards, waging war in weality with their cantrip apps.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Wait – trapping demons in pivot tables? Don’t try that! Pivot tables are one of Hell’s devices of power! Put a demon in one, and he’ll come back even more powerful than before!

            Now, trapping undead in them might just work, assuming they would get lost in the various levels.

            • Nope – Demons are basically just like corporate execs – director level and above – and it’s well proven that the only thing that can ensnare and deflect exec-level stupidity is a well crafted pivot table.

              Now if your pivot-fu is weak, you should not attempt this ensourcelment – nothing is worse than an un-ensourceled and thus provoked exec/demon.

              Zombies are basically the equivalent of HR, so pivot tables go right over their heads. For HR, you need clever evasion – stay out of their reach, and attempt to redirect their attention to low hanging fruit, such as the posters that keep going up in shipping & receiving, or the stories leaking out of the most recent worldwide sales conference.

  9. I have never been able to stealth. I didn’t even have to open my mouth and folks knew my opinion. So I am glad you are out of the closet, and out of the gray goo– I did a small stealth in English Literature (BA) and I made a lot of English professors mad. hehehe Bwa-ha-ha

    • Never was able to stealth either, especially not in my English classes. The last one I had to take to fulfill core was standard po-mo feminist garbage about gay cowboys eating pudding (Simply the only one that fit my schedule). I had an absolute blast, however, as I used all their deconstruction techniques to turn those things inside out and show why those books were scathing criticisms of progressivism/Marxism/Socialism/the Sexual Revolution. Drove the professor nuts.

      • Unless that was a really crude scatalogical joke (my minds veers immediately to the gutter when I don’t understand something, what can I say) I don’t understand the reference to gay cowboys eating pudding.

        • Rob Crawford

          South Park reference. South Park hosts an independent film festival, and Cartman snarks that they’ll all be about gay cowboys eating pudding.

          • Easy way to spot a _South Park_ fan in a crowd: Hold up a copy of _Brokeback Mountain_; if someone shouts, “Where’s the pudding?”, you’ve found him. >;)

    • Arwen Riddle

      My B.S. in Anthropology was okay other than making me think that everyone teaching philosophy ought to spend every other year digging ditches. My Masters in Library science was a nightmare of politically correct b.s. I had to write an paean to multiculturalism in order to graduate. I dare not go back for another degree because I already want God to let lose the destroying angel.

      • THIS. THIS is why I haven’t gone back to get my doctorate, though I could do it in one year. (I got married. We got poor. Deal.)

        • If I go back to school, it’ll likely be for something STEM related. I’ve had as much of the nonsense of academia/bureaucracy as I can take for one lifetime. Simply being on the outside of my wife’s Naval career is occasionally enough to require extra scotch of an evening.

      • Oh, and should I put you on the list for the berserker T-shirt? (Actually I do need to attach a t-shirt shop to this here site, and that might be a good one…)

      • I notice it most in retroactive self-censorship. As in, two hours after leading an innocuous discussion about, oh, say late 19th century China, I suddenly start wondering if I said anything wrong — not factually but did I let my guard down too far. Not that a group of 9th graders who are madly cramming for the chapter test are going to call me out or tell their parents that Miss TXRed put too much emphasis on China’s internal problems and not enough on the eeeeeevil Europeans. But the auto-censor is still there.

        • I used to have emotional breakdowns EVERY TIME we left a con. It was a great part of causing me to get con crud and also of training me to hate all cons (except Liberty con.) I’d come home and go over everything I’d said and done, in exactly the same way.

          In the same way, when I was writing Heart of Light, it shocked me to find that not only couldn’t I make the villain African (because then it would never be published) but I couldn’t make the villain African because my internal censor wouldn’t LET me. That was my first scary warning sign that I might be getting crossed wires.

  10. The problems of stealthing are amply expressed in Jack Vance’s novel The Languages of Pao … which I will not attempt to summarize when Wikipedia is so easily linked: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Languages_of_Pao

    Suffice to say, in many ways to incorporate a language is to incorporate central beliefs. This is one of the primary battle spaces of the cultural wars, with the Proglodytes holding the strategic high ground. So many examples abound that for me to single out any would be insulting the readership.

  11. For myself, I am always deeply amused by the way that every single libertarian I know, myself included, absolutely can’t stand the Libertarian Party. (Even though that should be a fairly predictable result of trying to line up a bunch of people self-selected for characteristics like “don’t take orders well”, “deeply suspicious of authority – political authority, doubly so”, and “prone to make up their own damn minds”. I don’t think I could stomach taking on another set of political views, but I’m pretty close to convinced that libertarians trying to play the conventional political game will always be about as effective as the People’s Front of Judea, and for essentially the same reason.)

    I’ll confess to a degree of anti-war sentiment, but only because we always seem to hit the anti-sweet spot wherein we invest in interventions and occupations and nation-buildings (which trick I don’t recall working anytime in the last, oh, three millennia) at great cost in blood and treasure for very dubious returns.

    If the problem is the few, we have special forces and drones for that. If the problem is the many, we have the capacity to reduce a country to stone-age rubble and then bounce it up and down a few times just to hammer the point home. Either would be cheaper in money and lives than the middle course – and if we could stick to those ends of the spectrum and avoid pessimizing to the middle, I’ll be as libertarianly hawkish as anyone could want.

    • The individualists failed to organize. Yep.

    • Nation-building works in only one scenario, and even then not forever: a properly administered Empire. Part of that is forced assimilation, which modern sensibilities will never, ever permit. Break their back militarily, force your general social principles on them long enough for them to take, all the while holding out the fruit of full citizenship in the Empire, and then leave them largely autonomous and unmolested but still economically and culturally connected. I make no statement of the moral standing or political wisdom of this approach, and I certainly won’t claim to be easy. I simply observe that it works and that modern “nation building” efforts have done exactly the opposite in every point to disastrous results.

      • I would offer Germany, Japan, and South Korea as counterexamples. I think we also played a significant role in moving Central America out of the cesspool of incompetent thugocracies. Chavez is notable today for being outside the norm. 100 years ago he would have been considered a moderate.

        Nation building isn’t impossible, but it is difficult. Like most things, it’s more difficult when you’re stupid. We’ve (and here I include our NATO allies) have been very stupid in Afghanistan. It looks like we might have pulled it off in Iraq, but only time will tell.

        • History indicates that Afghanistan has always heen a blackhole for intervening nations. Consider: Kipling’s Fording Kabul River.

          • The Mongols/ Moghuls actually did fairly well in what is now Afghanistan, but they were not trying to build much of anything, at least at first. It’s modern empires that tend to crash and burn when both the landscape and the residents therein conspire against you. (Not that the Pakistani government has had much luck with “their” tribal regions, either.)

        • How much of what we did in Germany, Japan, and South Korea, was nation building? And how much was simply holding the communists at bay so the locals could rebuild themselves?

          • A LOT was nation building, particularly in Japan.

          • That is my read also, kick the old system to pieces, relieve the pressure so the locals can rebuild something, and make sure they have a market to export to. But it helped that there was a shared understanding of rule of law and what happens when you forget it (see? all the rubble?)
            I had a long discussion once about whether it was the Marshall Plan or the adoption of a hard currency that brought about Germany’s post-war economic miracle. So, I think that putting in place a hard currency (actually backed by something – not just a fiat money) will go a long way to creating a stable, peaceful nation.

            • Sigh. Look — Japan they had to build the culture from the ground up. Nation building. More like what we face in muslim countries.

              But even in Europe — look at the ones the US rebuilt and the ones we didn’t.

              Case made.

              Portugal has probably got as much money from the US as any other country in forgiven loans and what not. What it didn’t get was the “shape up or else” — so it never did.

              • You were there, so you probably have a much better understanding than I do, but from the outside looking in, I took away the opposite conclusion than you did about Europe.

                What I saw was that we occupied West Germany and told the Communists to stay on the other side of the wall, and enforced that order with force. Therefore allowing the Germans to rebuild their nation without the communists screwing it all up, places like Portugal however we just threw some money to and told them to go have fun. Letting the communists take over with predictable results.

                This is all admittedly superficial knowledge with no research other than talking to people stationed there in the military, and things I ran across randomly, so feel free to tell me I am all wet.

                • Two of the most important elements in German society today were deliberately introduced by the Allies after WWII, and count as nation-building if anything does.

                  One was the German labour-union system, designed by the British with all the hard-earned lessons from the ghastly failures of their own adversarial labour laws. Since German unions were given a voice in management and compelled to cooperate with it, German labour never became the obstructive, even Luddite, power that it often was in other industrial countries; and this has contributed mightily to the strength of German industry ever since.

                  The other was the German party system. Before the Nazi takeover, the German political parties represented narrow sectional interests; they were nearly all founded under the Second Reich, after all, and Bismarck did not allow any party to think of itself as representing the national interest as a whole — that was a job for the army and the Kaiser. Sadly, one of the reasons why the Nazis appealed to so many Germans is that they claimed to speak for Germany as a nation, not just for a particular region (like the Bavarian People’s Party), class (like the Social Democrats), or religious sect (like the Catholic Centre Party). By incorporating the new parties into two great blocs, one on the Right, one on the Left, the Allies gave Germany the first stable and responsible democracy it had ever known.

            • In Japan we sent business men to help them build btw. I think that helped a lot too.

              • In occupied Japan, MacArthur directly fulfilled the local expectations of a conquering aristocrat/monarch, complete with the new guys’ imposition of a new religion in the form of democracy/capitalism/anticommunism. MacArthur left many Japanese social structures alone, only really dismantling the military culture, and didn’t even kill the emperor, something that was widely expected given regional standard practice. The fact that the US occupation of Japan was aiming towards not just the elimination of a future 20-year rematch, but creating a stable economic ally in the coming face off with the Russians, was basically the back story to the occupation.

                • That was my read on Japan also, from studying MacArthur, not Japan, that MacArthur bucked FDR and Truman by basically occupying Japan and telling his civilian superiors to keep the communists the heck away from it (he was often called the Emperor behind his back by his subordinates). The Japanese got basically what they expected, except much more benevolently, and did the majority of the rebuilding themselves.

                  MacArthur had faults, but not being able to command respect, obedience, and a willingness to do whatever it took to please him were not among them. This included not only his troops, but the citizens of the Philipenes and Japan.

  12. After the last Rethuglycon debacle, I wondered if it wouldn’t be best to have the Tea Party folks form their own party and start running candidates. This idea they could infiltrate and undermine the “Country Club” Rethuglycons isn’t going to work, and SOMEONE needs to support limited government.

    I’m like Cyn — I’ve never been able to “stealth” what I felt, even in the military. I constantly spoke out against what I saw as wrong there, and knew that I’d never be promoted beyond E-7. I had plenty of company there. One of the jobs I had after I retired was in a software test lab. The lab grew from five people when I started to 48 people when I had to quit (medical problems). At its maximum, 3/4 of the people employed were ex-military. They were hired because they WEREN’T infected with the PC virus, which can cause some people to do more to support the engineers than to ensure a good product.

    I write for me. If other people enjoy it, that makes me happy, but I write for me. If at the same time it manages to convey the feelings I have about ANYTHING, I hope it’s in a good way.

  13. Raymond Jelli

    Mike Weatherford is right. No way the Repubs are going to change and this election proves it. It is not that they lost but what they did after they lost which is pack up their bags and wait to start collecting money in two years. The anti-Obama vote was a vote from people who need representation now! Who need a constant voice saying the country is being driven down and we are the economic victims of that. A party that would let the press know that they are not arbiters of opinion but merely reporters and their job is to report reality not the PC world view. I don’t see that happening except in scattered blogs. The circus has packed up and gone away which is fine since we needed triage and not entertainment anyway.

    BTW …. talk to Libertarians about meeting and supporting actual local small businessmen and watch ’em run. They care about the actual real individual about as much as Marxists do.

    • The problem is (and it shames me more as an actual small businessman than as a libertarian) that the aristocracy-of-pull disease is _infectious_ .

      Many, if not most, of my business peers care a lot less about “an end to corporatism” than they do about “corporatism for meeee!”

      Which is not to say I don’t know a lot of decent folks in the small business community, but I also know plenty as would be every bit as rapacious when it comes to playing the special-tax-breaks-and-grants, regulate-the-competition-out-of-business game as any of the giant corporations they dislike, just as soon as they got to be the ones with pull. Hell, some of them are already – the ones who know people in the local government, ’cause buying yourself a local council member is ever so much more affordable than buying yourself a Congressman.

      • Right now to survive as a small business — I KNOW — you need to take advantage of every tax break. (Sigh.)

        • Oh, I know, and I’m no better than anyone else in that regard when it comes to taking advantage of the ones that already exist. (Sigh, indeed.)

          I have something of a beef with the people who go conniving with the politicians to create new ones specially designed for them, though.

          And especially when they come up with delightful bordering-on-fraud scams like the one a couple of new developments hereabouts have to stick an extra 1% on the local sales tax in their sub-district which then goes to _them_ , rather than the city. A nice way of fiddling the figures to make your competitors look more expensive _that_ is. Despicable.

        • We are overtaxed, with virtually no say in how those taxes are spent, anyone who disagrees with the way the taxes are spent*, and DOESN’T take advantage of all legal tax breaks is an idiot. A point Romney should have made much more agressively when the current administration and the MS media (but I repeat myself 😉 ) was hounding him over his income taxes.

          *Those on the left who claim to support the way taxes are spent, and want more taxdollars to spend the same way, should, conversely put their money where their mouth is.

      • Raymond Jelli

        That is the biggest weakness of Libertarian thought and the Austrian School was quite aware they were promoting the kind of people who would not hesitate when they arrived at a certain level to be Socialists. It was a rational thing for those people to do. They hoped that once enough people realized that self-interest was the true engine of Socialism they could mitigate that.

        The other problem with Libertarians is that they sound practical but offer nothing practical. Trying to learn from Ayn Rand who to really make it in the free market is about as possible as learning from her how not to wreck marriages.

        • “Trying to learn from Ayn Rand who to really make it in the free market is about as possible as learning from her how not to wreck marriages.”

          Feh. Of course you aren’t going to learn that from libertarianism, any more than you’re going to learn practical advice on anything else from libertarianism. It’s just an ethical philosophy, and as ethical philosophies go, a pretty minimal one – fits in a short paragraph, if you don’t count the metaphysical quibbling (“so what exactly is a person, anyway?”) and arguing over edge cases, or in one line if you’re being poetical about it (“an it harm none, do as thou wilt”).

          Got to look somewhere else if you want a constructive theory of everything. Some libertarians may have ’em, but _libertarianism_ has a handful of one-line rules about what Thou Shalt Not Do, followed by “And figure the rest out yourself, m’kay?”

          • Which to my mind is why it’s good. If I thought we should have a rule for everything I’d be a Muslim communist and get everything covered.

          • Raymond Jelli

            You are not getting my drift. Its the fact that if you want people to follow the free market they do have to learn how to survive in the free market and if you get failure and no one seems to care don’t be surprised if people start deciding they want to rig the system. I’ve met too many Libertarians that are as spacey as Marxists and too many successful entrepreneurs who are pro-Democrat simply because they believe that is where the juice is. Ayn Rand did a pretty good job of pissing off William F Buckley so she’s not always the best model of how to make friends and influence people.

            I would also like to hear your answer to the first part because it is a big question that Libertarians don’t have a really good answer for.

            We can beat Marxists when they are the USSR but DC and GM not so much.

            • I don’t think ANY of us EVER took Ayn Rand as a model. As an Heinleinian, not a Randian, I don’t take Heinlein’s either. He was as much of a cuss as I am or more.

              As for “how people are going to survive” — look, this is the issue. People survive or don’t. The free market IS ultimately the only game in town.

              What we should teach kids is basic economics and TANSTAAFL and explain to them why rigging the system is ultimately bad for THEM. We’re not. We’re teaching them the opposite. (We USED to. “thou shalt not covet” and “Thou shalt not steal” would do.)

              • I have been, on occasion, boggled by a few libertarians who do appear to be preaching the pure gospel of Rand, or Rothbard, or Heinlein, or insert-name-here. (The ones who reply to every comment/criticism/question with a quotation from The Master’s Works are particularly annoying. If I wanted to talk to a book, I’d buy the book – and I bought the book!)

                It confuses me mightily. Who the heck is cussedly independent enough to sign up with the libertarians, of all people, and still wants a leader to follow or an ideology to buy into in every last detail?

                “We’re all individuals!” “I’m not!”

                • Hey, there ain’t nothing wrong with quoting Heinlein. (Though part of this might be a professional deformation…)

                  • The simple rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is still the most practical advice ever given for living a decent life. Few — very few — of us can manage it, and all too few even try. I know I often fail, but living is failing and getting up again. I keep trying.

                    Heinlein was right about far more than he was wrong. That’s not a bad record for anyone to have. I would hope to be a tenth as successful, as judged 20 or more years after my death.

            • Well, I imagine that’s because that _is_ where the juice is if you don’t much care how you get it. If you can get away with it (because the government’s on your side, or you are the government, or whatever), cheating and stealing and ordering around your fellow man and otherwise un-free-ing the market can be pretty damn profitable, no doubt about it.

              But it’s not libertarianism’s job to tell you how to fiddle things better, or to tell you how doing things the free market way will produce better results, or to make any assertions at all on the matter. it doesn’t promise any of that. It hasn’t made me rich or even more competitive, most of the time, but then, I never expected it to. It’s ethics. That’s all it is.

              All that being a good libertarian gets you is the ability to go to bed at night thinking to yourself, “Self, today I didn’t murder, harm, threaten, steal, meddle, defraud, defame, coerce, break my word, or advocate for any of these things. I have met the absolute minimum standard for being a decent person. Go me. And tomorrow, I get to do it all over again.”

              (Also, I’m not a capital-L libertarian, a dogmatic Austrian, and I’ve never promoted a thing in the name of libertarianism except the quaint notion that people should mind their own business and leave other folks alone and its derivatives, so you probably want to address that first part to someone else. Ain’t none of mine.)

            • To clarify: I do happen to believe that the free market is the best economic system out there, as a matter separate from my libertarianism, but that’s not the primary reason that I advocate for it. It’s because it’s the system that’s libertarianism-compatible, which is to say, ethically permissible.

              Even if it turned out that one form or another of planned economy system was more efficient, more wealth-generating, more likely to produce general prosperity, chickens in pots, cars in garages, etc., etc., I’d _still_ advocate for the free market, simply because all the other economic systems, by definition, involve taking people’s stuff for your own ends and/or forcing them to do or eschew things against their will.

              And however profitable that is, it’s Just Plain Wrong, and all the elaborate justifications piled up by activists and politicians and theorists to explain why it’s not theft and slaving this time around ain’t going to change that.

              • THIS is ultimately why I couldn’t stealth well. There are things I can’t pretend to believe. NOT EVEN for enough money to get the kids through college debt free. (Which is the greatest inducement anyone could dangle. I’m mehish on fame, except where it’s needed to make a living in my field.)

            • I think that surviving in the free market depends most on the protection of property rights. Because even if you’re not really good at figuring out the best way to monetize your labor or manage your wages once you get them, being secure that at least no one *but* yourself can take away what you’ve earned or built allows for a good amount of flexibility while you fine tune and figure out what works best. If nothing else, you can be pretty sure of making slow progress.

              Business people like government that will work to prevent competition. Just because businesses are involved doesn’t make something “free market.”

              I think that learning how to make it in a free market has got to be far easier than learning how to make it when markets aren’t free because you have to be skilled and talented at figuring out how to comply or get around the government and business imposed roadblocks. In a free market you’ve got to convince someone that it’s worthwhile for them to hire you and what wage your labor is worth, or you have to discover or convince other people that they want to have what you’re selling. Which you have to do *anyway.*

              Don’t over think it.

              • I’ve realized there are a lot of parallels between now and the turn of the last century. Then, as now, there had been a technological revolution that had disrupted the economic order. Then, as now, the disruptors(Red Alert!) – Carnegie, Ford, Edison, Rockefeller then, Gates, Ellison, Jobs, Page today – understand how precarious their position on top is and seek to use government to entrench their position. Really the only difference is that in yesteryear it was the Republican party that was primarily used to secure their status while today it is the Democratic party.

              • I’m the world’s worst saleswoman. No, seriously. Dan and I end up giving things away at our garage “sales”. I do remarkably better in the (relatively) freer market in the Us than in Portugal where everything is patronage and protection.

                I isn’t data (for one I’m not equipped for all kinds of pleasure — never mind) but nonetheless perhaps worth thinking about.

  14. “It is still hard, sometimes, for me to remember that say, people who believe we should have the minimum wage are not CONSCIOUS Marxists. Yes, they do implicitly assume that if a benevolent (where they find that, is beyond me, it being like everything else, a human construction and therefore at best mixed) government doesn’t watch over businessmen, businessmen will – of course – exploit their fellow human (who is always defenseless, poor muggings, like 19th century peasants) beyond all reason. BUT they don’t realize their thoughts have been infiltrated. Depending on how annoyed I am that day, I’m likely to unload with both barrels before I pull back and think that “oh, yeah. Someone who has never even thought about this and for whom it is an “of course.””

    I to have to watch tendency when someone starts spouting Marxist ideology, not to go into immediate ‘kill’em all and let God sort’em out’ mode.
    War wound is an excellent description, it reminds me of my Grandpa who fought in the Pacific in WWII, while he could like and be friends with Japanese people, after he got to know them, his immediate gut reaction when meeting one on the street was, “Damn Japs, we should have never stopped at Nagasaki.” (this is a direct quote I heard more than once.) He was 9 hours out of Pearl Harbor when it was bombed, and was supposed to be in there except their ship had broken down. I recall him talking about sailing into the harbor at night, with ships still burning, and everybody on a hair trigger because they thought there were subs in the harbor. Then spending days fishing bodies out of the harbor. While intellectually he knew those bloated, fish nibbled corpses were not the fault of all Japanese, at the instinctual level, until he had time logically beat it down, that was the immediate reaction.

    • …sailing into the harbor at night, with ships still burning, and everybody on a hair trigger because they thought there were subs in the harbor.

      Well, they were not wrong – multiple Japanese subs made it past the harbor mouth defenses that day. There’s solid modern photointerpretation of photos shot during the attack showing that at least one of the Japanese minisubs that got inside the harbor fired torpedoes that hit US Battleships during the air attack, and by the night of 07 December 1941 not all of them had been accounted for.

      • That should have said “because they thought there were STILL subs in the harbor.” I have no idea if there was still subs present or not, but according to my grandpa, at least those on his ship were more scared of friendly fire than enemy subs.

  15. And don’t ask me, please, about my belief (it’s part of the way I follow of my religion) that I do indeed need to be charitable. Of my own accord. And that means giving wisely (“Give until it hurts” means ‘makes a difference in what the giver can do,’ rather than ‘destroys any initiative or genuinely hurts the receiver.’) as well as generously. Which takes time. And when you throw in federal ‘ways to help the poor’ that demonstrably don’t, then, in fact, you are destroying charitable impulses. Talking about that is very hard when you see churches, synagogues, and mosques accepting federal money in order to help with “programs.” One of my favorite reasons for the idea of not combining the state and religion is that I don’t want religion to be subject to political whim.

  16. Aftrer reading all of this, no wonder I like it here.

  17. It’s not just the things you agree to that enter into your soul–it’s the silence. If you sit silently, if you don’t defend your core beliefs, you end up not being able to speak at all–in defense of yourself, in defense of others, in the defense of eternal ideals.

  18. I guess I’m sort of a half convert, half always libertarian. When I was younger I just didn’t think much about politics, and a lot of times just went along with what seemed to be the consensus, or what sounded good. And a lot of the ideas left pushes do sound good. They will start to fall apart if you go into the specifics of how they can be implemented in the real world, and what the effects then actually are – not to talk about all the unintended or not thought of consequences – but many of them often do sound good on paper, especially since the people who push them often are masters of filtering their ideas down into catchy slogans. And they have managed to monopolize the compassionate image in politics – the way conservatives/libertarians talk often does sound kind of harsh in comparison, especially since they do talk more in terms of facts and figures and the bigger picture, while the left usually operates more by appealing to emotions.

    So yes, partly I did just kind of float there. But there were always other parts where I found myself feeling rather rebellious. Self-defense was one, I always thought the idea of gun rights did sound pretty good (just individual rights, and what it means to effective self defense then, but that meant that the bigger picture, what well armed populace means in political terms as a deterrent for potential dictatorships, also made lots of sense when I finally started thinking about it). Others, well, I did visit Soviet Union a few times during the 70’s and didn’t much like what I saw, and I was familiar with its history, at least to some extent, since while our school teaching did smooth over some of the worst aspects to some extent, it didn’t completely hide them, and there were books in library which did go into details. And lots of people around me who still resented the hell out of that system after having lived through the wars against them. And my parents were small business owners, for whom the increasing and mostly socialist pushed rules and red tape were making life harder.

    But the final push, for me, was internet, and the chance to look at things more easily. Now, if you have even a slight inclination to try fact checking you can do it, quite a lot of even primary sources available, and often just having the chance to compare different accounts of the same events can be rather illuminating.

    I can well understand the appeal of the left. Practically all people I know are still more or less there – most of them vote for the local Green party. And for most of them it’s because they are not particularly interested in politics, just busy living their own lives and so go with the superficial. And as said, on the superficial level the left often sounds very, very nice. Local Greens talk about things like protecting old growth forests, and wolves, and gay and lesbian rights, and helping the third world countries, and giving places for young people to gather and make art, and of course they are against anything iffy like war. Very nice, yes? Very easy to fall for, or at least kind of go with, unless you actually start to look at things. And as long as the world seems to work fairly well, how many will bother?

    What I’m scared of is that if/when things do go south, how many will bother to start thinking even then? It’s always a lot easier to fall for the catchy slogan.

  19. Dorothy Grant

    I just received an utterly awesome package today, with a copy of A Few Good Men. I think, if ever you were going to spectacularly blow your political cover (can you top Rudolph Nureyev wrapping himself around Parisian airport security while screaming “protect me!”?), this book and its cover is it. And while you may no longer be stealthed, you are still fighting. This book, from front cover on, screams to the eyes that you are not going to silence yourself in the hopes that you might pass.

    No iconic moment ever happens without a groundswell behind it – and while the growing indie movement is full of people who’d never have passed the gatekeepers putting out unapproved messages, and midlisters quietly trickling away from the contempt and the hysterical demands to parrot the party line in thought and deed, you’re not just on ereaders but on the shelves of bookstores giving two fingers (American: the middle finger) to the leftist shills, while normalizing the browsing audience to the look of something that doesn’t care to kowtow at all. Congratulations, you’re holding a banner again. May it sell so well they have to contort the NYT bestseller list all out of recognition just to keep it off!

    • Yes — but… I wonder if there were minds I could have reached if I were quieter — it’s just I was given no option to be quiet.

      OTOH that book was DICTATED, one of those moments when something bigger than you takes hold of you and MAKES you do something. Let’s hope it’s all for the good.

      And glad the package got there!

  20. I usually describe my political beliefs as either the libertarian wing of the Republican party, or the sane wing of the Libertarian party. Which one is determined by a complex formula involving time until the next election, planetary alignment, the amount of idiocy coming out of DC in the previous 24 hours, and the price of tea in China.

  21. It is very late, and I can’t read a long thing because No Brain and Must Go To Bed soon… But… You have some weird Libertarians in your neck of the woods. Most of the ones ’round here, that I know of, are in the “we’ve got guns, ayup” ilk. Not the sort to go lookin’ for trouble, but hardly the sort to make excuses for people trespassing on their lawns. After that, and a few shared ideas about smaller government and fiscal conservatism, it turns into “any gathering of four Libertarians has about six political theories,” but hey.

    • Oh. Well. We all like guns. We’re Odds. We believe in protecting ourselves from the Normals.

      Of course in my case, particularly now, I can’t shoot the broadside of a barn (I NEED an eye appointment.) So I like knives.

      Automation like guns is all very well, but if you want art, nothing beats close-in whittling work. (I am NOT Athena. Also shut up.)

      • Knives make it personal. *sticks hands in pockets, tries to look harmless*

      • Oh, your one of those arteestes are you? Wahl, whittlin’em down might make sumpen’ nice t’ look at, and some right purty music. Suma us hafta work fer a livin’ an’ don’t have time fer sich frivolties. I reckon I’s ‘ll jest stick a bullet in ‘ier heads ‘n git backta work; an’ leave the arteestry ta those as has the time n’ inclination.

      • Oh– 😉 I really enjoy shooting guns. One of these days I might find someone to teach me how to throw a knife properly. Wouldn’t that be fun. There are axe throwing competitions here. BTW I am a very good shot.

        • I can throw an axe fairly well, but never perfected knife throwing. Oh, and I used to shoot smallbore competition, and am perfectly comfortable out to 700 with a highpowered rifle, but haven’t practiced much at ranges longer than that.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            I’ve also found knife throwing to be harder than axe throwing. I believe I have determined that one of the main reasons is that the grip you take on the knife is far more delicately balanced between too short and too long than it is for an axe. But I’m practicing, so I can do better in the thrown weapons competition in our local SCA group.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Now, Mississippi, you just need to go get that scatter gun we talked about. You can hit with your eyes closed with one of those, just using your ears to determine direction.

      • “(I am NOT Athena. Also shut up.)”

        That reminds me, I need to go Google up body armor … for the special places …

  22. “My problem of course was that for most of that time, the party I identified most closely with was the Libertarians.  But even with them I have issues – I won’t go into it too deeply, lest we get Josh going – but to be blunt, there was an assumption that pacifism could work and that if we don’t attack other people they won’t attack us, which didn’t fit in with my life experience or my reading of history.”

    There is a reason a I don’t call myself a Libertarian, or really don’t even an like calling myself Anarcho-Chapitalist (just happens to be the closest established system that I have found); that is there is baggage and assumptions attached to labels. You get the “No true Scotsman” beaten over your head, if you step out of the bounds of what they think the lables means.
    A little back ground on me. I was raised a clasic liberal; though, I didn’t know it at the time. My dad & Grandad didn’t talk in politacal terms, but just of ideas. I read all of Louis L’Amour, The Mad Scientists’ Club books by Bertrand R. Brinkley, The Tom Swift Books, Heinlein, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, Dougles Adams,….. 
    I was a weird kid, very introverted. I would play with other kids, if they played with me, if not I was in my own little world.
    School bored the crap out of me. This was before ADD, dyslexia & aspergers was widely recognized or understood. Look up aspergers and to varying degrees that was my childhood. 
    Funny story. One night(5th grade) I was told that my teacher wanted test me to see if I was special. I was like man I want to be special, so the next day when they took me to see this nice lady at the school I was pumped up and focused on wanting to do a good job. She explaind she was going to give an IQ test, & general comprehension test to see where I was at in relation to other kids my age. I sat down and did my best.

    I was heart broken when I was told I wasn’t special.

    Graduated highschool because I needed a diploma to join the Navy. Should of joined the Army would of been an happier experiance for me, I think. Did see quite a bit of the world & how good we have it here in America.
    After 4 years in the Navy bouced arourd from job to job. Wasn’t political vocal, just drifting. Been doing Security since 2001 here in Austin. 
    Always been interested in the News whats going on locally and abroad. News not opinion. Not that the news networks understand the difference anymore.
    9/11 happens. I wake up that morning turn on the tv to see what’s going on in the world. When it is determed that it was a terrorist attack, my first thought was maybe we will start taking them seriously now. I get dressed to start my 2 to 10pm shift.
    2008 or so, I was watching the news, on a TV that was by my security desk, CNN report on private school & charter school how they out perform public school for half  the money. This was in reguards to the DC school voucher program was about to be canceled. This got me to thing about and old idea I had in school that why shouldn’t  I beable to just test out of my classes. Why do kids have sit in class for a whole year bored out of their skull?
    That lead to me writing “If I was in charge of Education.”
    At about the same time I had just ran across a copy of Bushido Shoshinshu (Code of the Samuri) by Daidoji Yuzan (16th century), translated by A. L. Sadler, it was written as a guide & primer for young Samuri. I had read a translation not sure which in highschool. As I was reading this lead me to ask what is my code. I new I had a code, rules that I lived by I had just never written them down. That lead to me writing “The Tao of Josh”
    Writing “The Tao of Josh,” the election, housing bubble and there was this guy on CNN named Glenn Beck really got me think about the direction of the country was heading. 
    Beck’s show especially when he hit FNC opened up my world and broke me put of my bubble. He introduced me to a whole host of authors & books; Thomas Sowell, Peter Schiff, Amity Shlaes, Hayek, The 5000 Year Leap…
    This lead me to ask myself where do I fit on the political spectrum? And I don’t fit into any of them. (Hell I pissed of most of the people here.) 
    Late 2010 I read a book called “Meditations on Violence” by Rory Miller in the back it had a link to his blog. I had never read anyones blog before. I created a profile so I could comment under my own name. Part of that is you can start your own blog…. The Tao of Josh goes didgital. 


    I’m pretty new at trying to convey ideas in writen form.

    I totaly get not fitting in.
    I’ve never had to stealth as I usually just don’t associate with people. 

    The quote at the top is the exact reason why I wouldn’t suport Ron Paul for president, but that wasn’t Garry Johnson position.

    I’ve been in quite a few uproars with the peacenik libertarians 

    My polical philosophy can be boiled down into, I don’t care what anyone else believes, as long as they are not picking my pocket or breaking my leg.

    One of the biggest flaws we humans have is we meddle, and we justify it with it’s for their own good.

    We do it in our personal lives.
    We do it in our politics. 
    We do it on a world scale.

    One of the things my dad taught me we always shoot for the moon. If you shoot for just good enough, that is all you will get. Shoot for the moon; you just might be surprised when you hit it.

    My 2 cents,

    • Josh– you haven’t upset me yet–
      Plus I was bored in school too after I learned to read in first grade so I do understand. I was special, but my parents wouldn’t let the teachers put me in higher grades. Then when I was 13, my parents took me out of school and my life turned into a hell on earth until I finally broke free. I won’t mention it again (I have mentioned it here a few times). It did define my real dislike of authority– any authority of my person. It has taken me years to see the value of government (not the government we have now– but Constitutional government).

      Even with my authority problems I did join the Navy at 27, which ended up being the best thing I ever did for myself because I met a good man who could meet me intellectually and emotionally. The second change in my life was at 41 when I became ill with a chronic disease that forced me to re-evaluate what I am doing. I found that I was supposed to be writing and I had farted it off for years. And Josh, the first two weeks with this disease I almost died. I spent two years on high chemo and high prednisone which fried my brain some. It is coming back some even though I am still on the chemo/prednisone combination. (lower dosages).

      So yes, I do understand your position. The disease and the subsequent suffering changed my view again– We are Odds here with our own ideas and life experiences (harder than most people live through). It is not unusual with us. So you are more like us than not like us. 😉

      • I got the impression Josh was being tested for the OTHER kind of special.

        If I’m wrong that wasn’t an insult Josh, but you mentioned Asperger’s, and our ed system has a history of grouping those in with the ‘special’ kids.

        • I got that too– 😉 lol But I don’t think Asperger’s children should be grouped with the children who need special attention (mental deficiencies, or physical deficiencies) unless they have extreme problems. I do have a friend with a child dx’d Asperger’s that cannot deal with the school environment. It is too noisy so it causes her pain, but she also has brain seizures so I think she might be atypical. My friend is taking her to a special school so that there are actual nurses on the premises. BTW it is NOT in the US.

          • No. Marshall’s sensory stuff coincides with aspergers almost always. Meaning, kids who have aspergers almost always have it. Kids who have it don’t always (or normally) have aspergers.

            This is what the school failed to see.

            Anyway — particularly YOUNG kids get extremely frustrated. See, Marshall used to complain people breathed too loudly and he couldn’t hear the teacher.
            Imagine going through a world like that, trying to listen to/follow instructions. He’s a gifted artist, but we only let him be in art ONCE because the classes tend to be noisy and he would get EXHAUSTED and cranky.

            • Rough for Marshall… Can he differentiate noise now? I know that for many years until I got older I could hear what was happening in the next room (or farther). Plus too much noise and movement around me makes me cranky too.

              • Yeah, he’s much better now. Not “normal” but close enough to it. I suspects this runs in my family because I remember having the same issues. It’s just girls mature earlier. He had an issue with his eyes not tracking together also, and some textures STILL give him the heebies (wool and knit cotton. It’s… interesting.) The eyes not tracking together makes you write VERY slowly and I couldn’t finish any assignment on time till fifh grade. I still have issues with my eyes.

                • My hubby and his grandson both have that problem with the eyes. The hubby learned how to see two different pictures and watch me and watch the TV at the same time. lol. The grandson is having a hard time in school though. It was really hard when he first tried to read. But I don’t have to tell you. My problems with the eyes were quite different. I was tested when I was seven and had my first eye-glasses when I just turned eight. I was near-sighted with astigmatism. By the time I went into the Navy I was almost blind. My eyes were just this side of letting me into the Navy. What saved me is that I have an amazing color sense. I pass every color test.

                  I had laser surgery when I was 32– (still have astigmatism). Now my eyes have degraded a little and (just had my eyes checked) my left eye is stronger than my right eye. (Always knew it… thought I was left eye dominant– now I know I am). But I am right hand dominant. So sometimes when I set a plate down on a table, I am putting it in the wrong place. I just broke a plate when thought I put it on the counter and I actually dropped it on the ground. The hubby thought I did it on purpose… It was the cross-wiring… really.. I don’t like to break plates.

                  • Do you shoot right or left handed?
                    My grandpa was right handed and left eye dominant, he did everything right handed but shot left handed. On the other hand I have a friend who is left handed and right eye dominant, who does everything left handed except he shoots right handed.

                    I myself am left handed, left footed, and left eye dominant to such an extent I have problems teaching right handed people how to do things 😉

                    • I shoot righthanded, but I close my left eye so it doesn’t distract me. 😉 I was taught righthanded (I started out life ambidextrous, but after a lot of retraining by teachers and parents, I don’t use my left hand as much as I used to except for typing, of course). Several of my cousins are lefthanded–

          • Cyn, this was the early 80’s it wasn’t as well understoud as it is now. ADD, Dyslexia, Aspergers & Autism it all on a spectrum from severe to mild hardly noticable.

            • Dyslexia runs in the family and the schools never seemed to catch it. I think my form is very very mild (g, q and p, b). I have learned around it. I have a brother with a severe form (he was being taught to read in the 70s). So yes, I know how there wasn’t any help for these types of problems in the 80s. Even now, there isn’t as much help as there should be because of the paperwork or the cost. It depends on where you live too.

              • About the brother, he spent his adult life in the merchant marines and ended up going into the officer program in boiler engineering. (He was a boiler tech). Because his dyslexia is so severe, he never learned to read (he explains it like the letters are ants that crawl around the page), he would have people read it to him. One guy tutored him on some of the subjects during the officer training so he was doing all his learning in auditory mode. He made it– except he wasn’t supposed to be offer the training because he hadn’t had four years of college. lol

                He is now an officer in the Merchant marines and has worked well in his area for years. He has some mechanical skills though, which he learned as an apprentice to a boiler tech. There are still children who would do better in apprenticeship programs than in actual school.

              • You can learn around the severe form either. There’s a reason I misspell in ALL languages I know. It just takes TRULY intensive rote copying and also knowing the rules for back-support. Even so, without the wordprocessor with spell checker turned on (which helped learn gradually through millions of words) I’d have three spelling mistakes per word. Which is how I started out when I started working on computer. My poor husband used to fix my spelling.

        • 🙂 While pointing at nose.

        • Eh. Marshall had sensory issues (no directional and he hears all sounds at same level. Or did. It’s something you grow out of.) The school decided he was autistic. Look, he’s like the opposite of autistic. Yes, he’s an introvert, but he LIKES people and has always been gregarious (a gregarious introvert? Think guy at the back of a party, not saying anything but grinning.) and he’s actually EXTREMELY empathetic. But they tried to get us to sign over authority to them, because they “knew” he was autistic.
          Instead we took him out of school, had him tested, had problems fixed.

          Then there’s Robert — read adult books (like history, not porn) by time he entered kindergarten. Bored out of his gourd. They not only tested him to see if he was “the other kind of special” they rigged it by giving him a test that maxed at 107 (tests for kids max at certain points) and then tried to convince us he needed to be in the slow classes.

          We had him privately tested (took us $500 we did NOT have at the time. Ah well) and then we went after them…

          • The human brain is a pretty amazing thing.


          • Glad you gave them the end of a pointy stick. I was bored in school too… I went from no schooling (after 13) to electronics course in the Navy. Now that was fun. First time I wasn’t bored in school. First time I was challenged too.

    • The advantage of Ron Paul is that he ain’t quite all there anymore. That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, and it is not. But he honestly believes if pulled all our forces out of the rest of the world, picked up our marbles and went home, so to speak, nobody would bother us. Of course that is a fallacy, but he believes it, so when we lost a city or two to these people we’ve pulled out and left alone (which we will) he would be more likely to pick up the red phone and send the order to get rid of that pesky country that caused such problems after we were minding our own business.

  23. Just because they aren’t bad people, doesn’t mean they won’t do horrible things when their society tells them to.

    I remember the aftermath of the Gifford shooting, with the newsies blanket painting all right wingers as homicidal sociopaths just waiting to go on a rampage. And I remember everyone sage nodding their heads in agreement, “So true, so true.” People I’d known and worked with for years.

    They don’t think we’re human anymore. Just some pig man villain from a Captain Planet cartoon, to be defeated for great justice, where nobody real ever gets hurt, and the winners are always the good guys.

    In all fairness, not all of them are like that, and I think at least some of them would be horrified if there was a purge. That said, the person I’m thinking of was also close friends with a genuine wild-eyed raving right-winger who was not even remotely concealed about any of his opinions on anything, so both of them were a bit atypical for LA.

    • That is when you reverse their tactics on them and start lecturing on the evils of “otherizing” people, whether those others be Amerindians, Blacks, womyn or conservatives.

      • I’ve actually had a grown man do the “I’m not listening to you,” routine, just short of sticking his fingers in his ears. In retrospect, I don’t think it was intentional, or that he meant to, but I think I broke his worldview at an inconvenient time.

        We were talking about the healthcare bill, and I was explaining one of the reasons I was opposed to it was data decay. Data loses fidelity the farther it is transmitted from its origin. This is especially true for data types that are fuzzy to begin with. This limits the capacity for any centralized entity to make good decisions no matter what their intentions or how capable the entity is.

        It implies even angels could not make good dictators.

  24. I am not NOT getting comments to me UGH… so flippy the notify me of follow-up comments.

  25. (Like the crazy guy who thought he could camouflage as republican by having a chic-fillet bag with him.)

    Turns out it wasn’t camouflage– he wanted to rub his murdered victim’s faces with the “hate sandwiches.”

    He also wasn’t exactly insane, having a very orderly list of targets of “hate groups” from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s web site, a plan, and– thank God– a lack of skill with a weapon; just lots of self righteousness.