Don’t Jump Off That Ledge II

*Yes, I do realize this post is relatively lightweight, and that a lot of the points can be debated.  I woke up late, nauseated and dizzy.  I’m hoping I’m not coming down with “what’s going around” because we have to fly out soon.*

At Least It’s Not The Seventies

Those of you too young to remember the seventies – looks towards the kiddy table – might not realize why this is a good thing.  Yes, I do agree with the Professor that at this point Carter is an (unattainable) best case scenario.  However, that’s politics, and politics is always several decades behind life.

Yes, I know tons of scientific advances and amazing stuff were being one in the seventies, but – either because the mass media controlled the dissemination of what it wanted to show – or (and having lived through that time I incline to the second) people really believed this bizarre stuff, a lot of odd ideas got credence in the seventies that right now only apply in highly specialized areas… like in colleges, or among the very young and the very stoned.

–          This is the dawning of the age of aquarius was semi-respectable.  No, the religious and the older people didn’t really buy into this, but “what’s your sign?” WAS a normal gambit for opening conversations.

I’m not going to discuss the relative merits of astrology, but I’m going to say when an entire civilization formed on the enlightenment principles chases after it, things have gone seriously wrong.

–          Psi power is the future.

It might be – but if it is it needs to be tamed and brought within the realm of the “studyable” (totally a word, shut up.)  It wouldn’t be the first odd knowledge to become mainstream and studied, HOWEVER – and this has been discussed ad nauseum on these pages before, both by me and the commenters when they were intent (for reasons known only to their psychiatrists) on creating a brand new magical world – the way we’ve gone about it is clearly wrong, and event he “best scientific efforts” of places like the USSR have failed to do anything.  “But Sarah,” you say.  “All the scientific advances from the USSR proved to be the ones they’d stolen, pretty much.  So their process was wrong.”  Oh, sure, as Solyndra proves top-down scientific research doesn’t work.  Also, note I’m not saying there are no psi-phenomena.  I couldn’t.  And any writer who can uses a different process.  BUT as discussed here, right now it seems to be powered by something that’s notoriously observation-shy.  This causes it to be a hot bed of trickster activity (some of it psi – read The Trickster and The Paranormal.)  But in the seventies, any number of otherwise educated people (Heinlein!) believed that a lot of our science could be profitably replaced with psi-stuff.  Even scientists believed that.  Again, maybe this is possible in the far distant future, when we tame the unobtanium that powers psi, but they thought they were in the process of doing that, and it was just around the corner.  Again, when a lot of people believe that, at our current level of knowledge of it, something has gone seriously wrong.

–          Communism is the future.

Yes, even a lot of people on the right believed this.  No, seriously, they really did.  You see, there were all those figures coming out of the USSR (like the ones coming out of China now – snort!) that said how much more efficient a controlled economy was, so of course, in the end they won.  A lot of the race on the right was to create a parallel, equally controlled but more humane system, so that in the end our system would win.  This was essentially social democracy (and sometimes Christian democracy.)  A lot of the GOP cut their teeth in this era (those older than me by a few years.)  This is why they act the way they do.  (Juan McCain, say.)  This is why their whole attitude is “the same, only slower.”

The fact they were wrong wrong wrong takes a while to percolate and might necessitate their death.  Whether we collapse before that, who knows, but at least we’re no longer there and the new generation doesn’t assume controlled is better.  Which is good because:

–          All tech is mass tech.

Even though things like Future Shock talked of micro manufacturing, no one believed it.  Now it looks likely to be the thing of the future.  Also things they didn’t know were in the future include blogs, information transfer, the ability for the individual to do more and have more power than ever before.

This makes the future horrifying, upside-down, and very much OURS.  “Ours?”  Yep, the odds, because dahlings, when the going gets weird, the weird get pro.

–          All Children Must Go Through State Indoctrination School

Yes, I know the homeschooling movement began in the seventies.  It was also mostly “unschooling” which only works if your kid is self-motivated and driven.  (I suppose in the end what I did with younger son came close to that.  He would spend the morning sprawled on my bed – it’s largest and my office is across from it – reading golden age SF, then write me essays about how the science and tech have changed, and that was a school day.  Or he lectured me on Greek Myth while we gardened, and that was a “test”.)  But now it is respectable, it’s becoming the default in some places, and there are so many resources.

-If You Don’t Want To Have Sex With Everyone, You’re Repressed &

In The Future There Is No Marriage.

Turned out those were only true in France.  Okay, only the second one.  Despite the statistics, etc, and despite the spectacular damage that the economy and the crazy fems have done on our kids’ chances of marriage, I believe we might have turned the corner.  At least there are fewer movies pushing general, forced promiscuity as the only way to be sane.

Mind you, now the feminists believe having sex with a man at all is a betrayal of the cause, but that’s something else, isn’t it?  When the most idiotic thing around is political neo- Victorianism it’s not good, but it’s considerably better than the Brave New World Assumption that you must have sex with everyone, all the time.  When THE gay cause is the securing of the benefits of marriage to same sex couples… We’ve won.  No, I know some of you don’t feel that way, but compare it to the “marriage is just a piece of paper” cause.  We’ve won.  In the future, we’re all married.  (But not to each other, en masse, because that would be icky.  Some of you don’t wear pants.)

–           UFOS

I leave it as a class exercise whether there are UFOs.  I mean, some of Puppet Masters’ is right on it, there could be real ones, in the mass of insanity.  But by the late seventies, we were getting the “UFOs are a spiritual phenomenon and these aliens tell us how to save the Earth” BS and no, really, no. Even Marxism is more rational or at least “integrated” as a religion.

–          Things Just Get Worse

I know that this is hard to believe, but it was expected then that double digit employment rates would last forever, that the economy would just get worse.  We had too many people, see, and the future was grey, starving and awful.  Again, they’re trying to resurrect that.  Don’t buy it.  It’s a lie.  (Though in most of Europe, which never had a Reagan, the 70s now look like a high point for stuff like savings and employment – not in the PIIGS though, they got tons of money from EU and…  Okay, those indicators still suck, but they do have more consumer goods.)

–          Bell bottoms, that particularly horrible brown that was everywhere.  That particularly

horrible orange that was everywhere, too.  Afro perms, even for guys.  Psychedelic wall paper. Yoko Ono.  No, this is not a “tastes cannot be disputed.”  It’s a “EWWWWW”

–          We’ve Learned

We’ve learned.  At least those of us not in the political class.  Most of these ideas bring out a half-laugh, sometimes embarrassed because we bought into them when we were very young.  Reading some of middle Heinlein does the same.  “Oh, sensitives, RAH, really?”  It’s hard to remember this was “respectable” at the time.  And though our kids are indoctrinated into Marxism, now they’re told it didn’t go right before, not that it’s the way of the bright and shiny future.  And the kids have a reckoning coming (poor things.  Unfortunately those of our kids who have been brought to reality have to go through it with them) and they will learn.  Some already are.

The most important thing we’ve learned is that communism is not our inevitable future.  And that’s enough.

Don’t jump off the ledge.  It’s not the seventies.  We’ve learned some, and the years between have proved us right and opened new tech options that are on our side.

In the end, we win, they lose.  Whoever tells you otherwise, just wants you to stop fighting.

273 thoughts on “Don’t Jump Off That Ledge II

  1. I’m not sure that global worming doesn’t count as an astrology or PSI equivalent…. and Quantitiatvie Easing / Too Big To Fail etc. as something like the social democrat concept.

    Having said that I think that overall you are right. There’s a lot more freedom these days and a lot less ability to suppress the message. We don’t have (for example) Capital controls and do have cheap airlines. And of course we also have the Internet, which is still revolutionizing pretty much everything. There’s a qualitative difference in that the 1970s were, even in the west, a place with limited choices and limited expectations. Now we expect, for example, that cell phones will get faster/better every 2 years and so on. In the 1970s you expected to get your phoneline after 2 years and no choice in handset type. Overall the 2010s are an era of abundance while the 1970s were an era of shortages

  2. On “Psi Powers”, some time ago I put it in the same category as Magic. IE if Magic was real/workable, we’d have it long ago in the Real World. if the Celtics (or fill in the blank) had real magic, why did they lose to the people who didn’t have real magic? [Sad Smile]

  3. “Yes, even a lot of people on the right believed this. No, seriously, they really did. ”

    Chambers, in Witness, comments that he thought he was changing to the losing side. (Though there is the point at which he buys a gun. The clerk asks him what he wants it for. Surprised, he comes close to the truth, he’s afraid of prowlers. The clerk assures him that’s a good gun for dealing with prowlers. He leaves thinking as long as we have that type, the Communists will not win.)

    1. he thought he was changing to the losing side

      This is what I think really makes people; we will change to the losing side, and then try to find hope while not being willing to leave. Because we believe it’s right.

      Easy to understand why someone would join the “wrong” side they think will win.

      1. What was that line from Mr. Smith Goes to Washington?

        I guess this is just another lost cause Mr. Paine. All you people don’t know about lost causes. Mr. Paine does. He said once they were the only causes worth fighting for and he fought for them once. For the only reason any man ever fights for them. Because of just one plain simple rule. Love thy neighbor. And in this world today of great hatred a man who knows that rule has a great trust. You know that rule Mr. Paine and I loved you for it just as my father did. And you know that you fight harder for the lost causes than for any others. Yes you’d even die for them. Like a man we both knew Mr. Paine. You think I’m licked. You all think I’m licked. Well I’m not licked. And I’m gonna stay right here and fight for this lost cause. Even if this room gets filled with lies like these. And the Taylors and all their armies come marching into this place. Somebody will listen to me.

        Emphasis added.

        To paraphrase Lord Keynes, in the long run all causes are losing causes.

        Might as well lose for good cause as win for bad, eh?

        1. Yesterday morning, I woke up mid-writing a poem called “A Congressman on his first term.” When I woke there was only one line and now it’s evading me, but it was something like this “And you’re roiled with rage and envy for all those who sleep at night; in the pit of greed and anger, you can’t tell what’s wrong and right.” (This proves I’m insane, btw. I don’t WRITE poetry!)

  4. ” When the most idiotic thing around is political neo- Victorianism it’s not good, but it’s considerably better than the Brave New World Assumption that you must have sex with everyone, all the time. ”

    Kate Rophie’s The Morning After went to great lengths to demonstrate that the line they pushed was Victorian, and succeeded.

    Oddly, it never occurred to her to prove that the Victorians were, well, wrong.

  5. The first thing I ought to have done was start giggling when you said the post was going to be lightweight. Yeah, right Sarah. Got away from you again, didn’t it?

    PSI–once you start analyzing it it disappears. As in “Telepathy.” I think it at you. You receive it. How did it travel? Radio waves? Microwave? Quantum whatsit? All it takes is a sender and receiver. Natural mutation of the nervous system to emit and receive whatever? Genetically engineered? Implanted device? Doesn’t matter. It not “Magic” anymore.

    Bell bottoms, orange, Yoko Ono. Totally agree.

    “What’s your sign” on the other hand . . . I think the gestational and neonatal environment marks us from the start. And a lot of illnesses and nutritional variations are seasonal. Even the Chinese cycle of however many critters it is. What was “going around” the year a kid was under construction? My older son’s school cohort consisted of a ton of really bright kids, half of them with asthma. The younger son’s group was average IQ-wise and every third kid was on Ritalin, and needed it.

    And I’m not sure we’ve learned a thing, just gotten more extreme, leaving a larger epiphany gap to be leaped.

    1. I’m not sure it was the “astrological signs” that had any kind of influence on what a person became, but the fact that all children go through developmental phases, most around their birth month. When they’re born has a lot to do with how they develop over time. I was born in September, at the beginning of what then was the school year. A cousin of mine that grew up in the same neighborhood was born in April. My developmental phases coincided with the school calendar, and I did well in school. His coincided with the end of school, and he was always lagging behind. I’d suggest that, in this case, it’s nurture, combined with the time of year, that governs, rather than any “astrological” influence. I also see that in my two daughters.

      1. The “Astrological sign” indicates what time of the year you were born. I agree with you that it isn’t the “astrology” that makes the difference.

        Every child matures at their own speed, but I suspect there’s a bell curve thing in there, which makes the school groupings by age _almost_ workable. But I think your mom getting the flu while pregnant can make a difference as well.

    2. One notes that the prime criterion in the Chinese system is not the month but the year. I, for instance, am an Earth Monkey, and not from my December birth.

      Years can have enormous impact, witness the studies of children gestating during World War II hunger, or during an ice storm (the effects have been traced down three generations), but not cyclically.

          1. Every time I read the Dark Side cookies thing, I envision Darth Vader saying it, but with the voice of some other actor, who speaks nearly two octaves higher (I can’t remember the name of the actor, though).

        1. LOL– Oh we are doing “what’s your sign?” I am a Water Ox, Sun Leo, Moon Scorpio. I knew the summer was ending because school started a week after my birthday. 😉

          1. I’m a something Tiger (can’t remember) Scorpio. The funniest part about this was when I was walking with a high school friend, discussing Chinese signs, I said, “My mom is a dog and my dad is a goat.” This old lady comes at me screaming about talking that way about my parents 😛 I couldn’t EXPLAIN it to her.

            1. That is funny– my mother is a dragon and my dad is a rooster. lol I tend to think that the Chinese astrology is closer to personality traits… my parents imho had the worst traits of each.

              1. Chinese astrology can work as a description of personality traits as long as you ignore the “year you were born” stuff. Case in point: me. I forget which animal corresponds to 1979, but every time I visit a Chinese restaurant that has the Chinese zodiac printed on paper place mats, I laugh at how inaccurate 1979’s personality traits are as a description of me. One of the neighboring years, 78 or 80 (again, I forget which one is which) is a much better description of my personality. But 79? Nope. I am “artistic” and “sensitive”? Ha! It is to laugh.

                1. This falls under the “stuff I learned in grade school” header, so possibly incorrect, but the idea was that the Chinese* count your age from conception, with year one ending at birth. So, by their counting you might properly be a 1978 child.

                  *I am fully cognizant of the ludicrous of consolidating a culture some three millennia old with a current population of over a billion and some forty or fifty major ethnic groups into a single category. Blame the American public schools.

                2. We’re Goats. It’s about as accurate as you remember. Of all the adjectives that can be used to describe me, “calm” and “artistic” are pretty much at the bottom of the list.

                  1. Yeah, as a Goat I am supposed to be sensitive and avoid confrontation, I about fell out of my chair laughing at that.

                3. At one point in high school, I was considering a collection of diametrically opposed “Astrology descriptions” of myself.

                  I did find one that actually fit, but couldn’t afford it in good conscience.

                  Note: as best I understand it, “real” astrology has a lot more variables than the Sunday paper, and that’s before we get into various interpretations/translations of traits. (What, you expect someone selling you stuff to say “you’re stubborn as a pig and twice as contrary”?)

        2. It’s strange. I know something like 5 people born on Halloween, yet only one born on my birthday, the 26th of October (anniversary of the gunfight at the OK corral). And I’m a DRAGON, dagnabit!

        3. I’m a Water Dog and a Scorpio. Lame. Never liked my birthstone or flower either.

        1. I’m told I’m a fire snake and a fire sign, and that’s supposed to explain things. I forget what it is supposed to say, though.

            1. oops I am a metal ox actually– lol– ding dang– I’m not wet.
              The metal ox is intense, determined, and motivated with morals. *smug

            2. The calming influence of the Water Element gives the Water Tiger a unique burst of empathy and social perceptiveness that other members of the Tiger sign do not share.

            3. A quick check of Chinese and Western zodiac informs that I am a water snake and an air sign (Gemini.) So I guess that means I piss and fart?

              Of course, Gemini being associated with Mercury suggests a certain fluidity combined with a resistance to being pressured.

              Eh, as I’ve long said: I’m of two minds about astrology. On the one hand I can kludge a mechanism out of Quantum Physics (N.B. – if you can’t kludge an explanation from Quantum Physics for any phenomena it is because you ain’t really trying) for Astrology’s mechanism, OTOH I think it was largely a conversation starter for the hopelessly inept. From my observation, “What’s your sign?” was a distant second to “Can I buy you a drink?” but YMMV.

              1. Oops. I was wrong. A review of the internet tells me I am actually a wood snake. It gets worse and worse.

                  1. Tigers really like water (unlike most other cats). They actually bath in large tanks and photographers have put up cameras to catch the wild ones. It is pretty fun to see.

                  2. OK, I googled and found out I am a Ram (some sites say goat, some say sheep, apparently sheep and goat are interchangeable to the Chinese) but have no idea how you guys are coming up with the other part; water, wood, fire, etc.

                    Oh and under my list of ideal jobs is Escort 🙂

                    1. google your full birthdate –the combination of year, month, day and hour point to the element (there are five elements). I am not sure how they put it together–

                    2. … apparently sheep and goat are interchangeable to the Chinese

                      Sure, on a dark night when you’ve been lonely so long …

                  3. Something like twenty-five years ago I red an article in the Wall Street Journal about a corner of India (seems likely in the SE portion, but I couldn’t claim confidence) where tigers are venerated and are known to go swimming. So, water tiger does not strain credulity.

                    The other thing I recall from the article was the natives’ attitude that reality operated in accordance with our beliefs. When Westerners tried to explain Science to them the natives would smile indulgently, pat the Westerners on the head and encourage them to “just go on believing that.”

            4. I always thought I was a monkey (nyuck, nyuck) until I actually studied Chinese, and found out I’m an earth goat (NB: the character “yang” is translated both sheep and goat). Not sure I buy that, but then, I’ve just gotten more skeptical as I’ve gotten older. Astrology doesn’t do much for me, and won’t until it gives me very specific predictions. Ones that call me out by name, probably.

              1. Ones that call me out by name, probably.

                Honest, at least!

                (no, not an astrology fan, but it’s refreshing to see someone set such a clear bar)

            5. Have you ever watched tigers play in the water? They love it. It’s a GOOD thing 🙂

        2. Metal Rat. Had fun when I found that out. I like Slippery Jim (although I think I’m probably some other metal than stainless steel myself). Otherwise Aries, as the sun sign, and never bothered to find out much more than that – you are lots of other things astrologically besides the sun sign, there’s the moon sign and rising sign and so on – even though I do like all kinds of woo-woo and practice a lot myself.

          1. Ah, Fire Tiger here, and other than feeling like the subject of a William Blake poem, I don’t know much about that characterization. I will say that the western zodiac manages to decently capture my character. (Sun Gemini, Moon Aries) A bright, agile mind in which high spirits and high emotions burn. A trouble-maker if there ever was one.

            I can’t say I practice much in the way of woo, but I like to stay read up on such things as they make for light conversation and are generally more accessible to the public at large than heavier topics like science and philosophy.

      1. Fire Horse. Hmm, maybe that’s how I ended up living on a small horse ranch in Texas.

  6. Not to excuse Heinlein, but folks tend to forget that back in the day what a true force of nature and influence in the SF community John W. Campbell was, and he fervently believed in Psi. John was also known to posit scenarios to his favorite writers for Astounding/Analog just to see what variations they would come up with. Explains some of the similarities of concepts found back in those days.
    As for UFOs I think it possible yet impossible to prove that there is a Federation of sentient beings that has declared Earth a wildlife preserve off limits until the residents get their act together. Given appropriate technology the universe is a vast store of riches, so there really wouldn’t be anything we have that they need. And we know from our own experience that when two societies interact the inferior culture suffers damage, so a truly benevolent society would intentionally shield and protect an infant race until they were mature enough to handle the disruption. So it’s entirely possible under that scenario to posit that a small percentage of UFOs could be caused by careless grad students here to study the natives and out for a joy ride. Or not, but it is a fun concept.

    1. I’d be more inclined towards the idea that they are self-replicating constructs send a long time ago with corrupted programming so they no longer fulfill their original function (whatever that may have been). Okay, parallel universe constructs might actually make even scarier story, I like somewhat Lovecraftian ideas and there have been these theories which connect UFOs with sightings of bigfoot and wolfmen and such.


    2. Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it here before, but in my opinion, given the number of unexplained sightings, plus the technology level/reliability level required for interstellar travel, we would have to be surrounded about 5 shells deep with so many ships they would have to have flight controllers stationed just to keep satellite launches from crashing into them.

  7. Hah – the thing that I remember most about the seventies is that those of mine and my brother’s friends who did get married and dressed their wedding party in the height of 70’s fashions now have to hide their wedding pictures from their children … because the children will laugh, and laugh and laugh at how their parents dressed on their Big Day.
    For the guys, I think the pastel tuxes with the wildly ruffled shirt-fronts were the worst of it.And there are no bridesmaids dresses quite as hideous as those of the 1970s…

    1. OMG the “little house in the prairie bridesmaid’s dresses in mismatched calico patches.” Now I’ll have the shudders for days. My cousin who married in the seventies wore the “monk style dress complete with cowl.” Okay, compared to the horrors of the time, it wasn’t that bad, but it’s just what you want for your big day: a shapeless sack with a cowl, even if it is in white.

      1. The monk style with cowl, if you add a tight belt to that you get princess Leia, which would not necessarily be all _that_ bad. Especially with clingy, well draping material and a well built woman underneath.

    2. Celia: …and the guys also wore “platform shoes.” For disco. [shudders]

      1. I wore similar wedges as you see for sale now, but even in my teens I stayed away from the platforms with clunky heels. That has to be about the most unflattering shoe style for anyone, male or female, ever invented.

        1. The ONLY platforms I ever liked were my mom’s white platform sandals. I appropriated them (at eight) and they became my first “grown up shoes.” Weirdly, I can still see my feet, all suntanned, with spindly little toes. Mom wouldn’t let me paint my toenails. (Grin.) (And yes, at eight I wore mom’s shoe size — six and a half.)

            1. Off topic, but do Chinese and Pakistanese, etc. all have wide feet or what? Since practically all shoe and boot manufacturing (except for expensive custom boots) has been shipped overseas it has become practically impossible to find a pair of boots that fit. I don’t think I have particularly narrow feet, years ago the majority of off the shelf boots fit just fine, nowadays I can’t seem to find anything that isn’t so wide that my feet flop around in them.

                1. I suffer from Barney Ruble feet too. Steal toes that are comfy are especially hard to come by

                  1. I wear 11 4E and New Balance handles me for everything from sneakers to dress shoes. A little pricey, but no worse than having to go to the local cop store…

                    1. I have less issue with sneakers and non-safety toe footwear. The safety toe caps tend to rub my little toe and big toe badly unless I get quite over sized … often a size and a half over. I’m a round an 8-8.5 4E-5E depending on maker. Oddly my latest pair are a 9 regular (Thoroughgood) but are so wide they fit like the 9 extra wide I previously had.

                2. try Amazon. (Younger kid “Do we have any anglo saxons in the ancestry? Because my anthropology professor showed a foot like mine… Us “English. Yeah. Probably both sides.”) I have 12EE (younger son) and 17 EEEE — yep, you read right) older son, aka Bozo-feet. Dan and I are D, because feet play with age…

                3. Go to Zappos and search on wide, this will tell you brands to look at in the stores.

                1. According to shoe size charts my feet are almost exactly halfway between a C and a D(normal), actually .025″ closer to D, but I doubt I measured that accurate with a tape labeled in 1/16″ increments. It used to be that most normal shoes fit me fine, now I find that most are sloppy even when wearing wool socks.

                  1. My problem is that me feet are shaped kinda’ like a slice of pie, I have really wide feet at the balls and really narrow heels. Add to the fact that I have long toes it means I slop around even if I get me feet measured with the shoe-fitter.
                    I got orthotics for arch problems, and they did help a bit since they act like a shim for my heels.

    3. …thank goodness my mom’s idea of a great wedding dress was a Gunnysack.

      TM, apparently. It’s a rather nice, gauzy ivory-white outfit with a burgundy brown flower-pattern chest panel. Dad was wearing a timeless gray suit.

      They got a lot of mileage out of horrifying folks, though.

  8. On the other hand, we don’t have a weekly “In Search Of…” highlighting ooga-booga “science”, mysticism, and urban legends. Instead we have entire channels running ooga-booga “science”, mysticism, and urban legends 24×7.

    (Also, we haven’t had a winter like ’77 or ’78. The water in the dog’s dish froze. IN THE KITCHEN. We had bottles of Pepsi freeze and shatter IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM.)

    1. Oh, yes. And when the snowdrifts weren’t just taller than us kids’ heads, but our dad’s head. (On the bright side, we were able to engineer “snow tunnel systems” instead of just snow forts, which made for awesome snow war.

      1. There was the time that the drifts went higher than our parents’ head, though we did have an architecture that supported high drifting.

        1. When my dad was a kid– born in ’50– it was normal to have drifts that were ten to 15 feet deep, and noteworthy when it freaking swallowed the barn; when we were kids, big drifts were about ten foot tall.

          I fear it’s more of a “NorCal is drying up” thing than anything, though.

    2. Remember the thermostats having to be set down to 55 at night to save energy.
      The only sane science program from then was “Connections.”

    3. Blizzard of ’77. Angola, NY; right on the shore of Lake Erie. My mom bribed a snow plow operator to drive in front of us on the way home.
      (this is before the blizzard hit its peak, and the snow plows were snowed under… )
      I built a snowman that year that lasted until late June.

      1. Funny story. There was a young PhD candidate who had built this *huge* thesis on how Global Warming had dried out the area to the east of the great lakes because rain and snow fall had tapered off dramatically in the 80s.

        Then that person’s advisor pointed out that it MUCH more closely correlated with the closing of the steel mills, the regional recession, dramatic drop in heavy industry and the consequent reduction in the burning of coal which provided the fine particles for the precipitation to condense on.


  9. Ah yas, I do love me those “If you were born in …” cards. Check the wage & price info in there and you see a severe change; what had been generally stable for decades, growing slightly, shifts into a higher gear in the Seventies. Look at the price of a gallon of milk/gas at the beginning and end of the decade.

    Remember when all the Savants were filling the MSM with sad reflections that the United States had become so large, so complex that presidents were unable to govern effectively, thus setting us on a path of single-term failed presidencies? Recall that after Carter lost in 1980 the professionally wise bemoaned that the United States might never again see a two-term presidency?

    Didn’t Kirlian Auras become fashionable, too? I blame Farrah Fawcett.

    Oh, and lest we forget in the general condemnation: the Seventies saw the rise of the TV miniseries. I leave it for the group to debate whether this is blessing, curse, both or too soon to tell.

    1. You know, I read that as “…the rise of the TV minstries” instead of ‘miniseries’. And come to think about it, I think it was that too.

      1. Nah, Fulton Sheen was in black and white, so he was much older.

        Better than most, too. (My agnostic/antagonistic husband loves the guy.)

  10. I remember the ’70s all too well — especially the Carter years. I spent most of a year in Washington, DC, in 1980, when Carter was in office. Talk about a control freak! The unit I worked for created intelligence data for the Air Force Chief of Staff. I can’t tell you how many times I had data come back to me with “Carter didn’t like this” on it. What were we supposed to do — go force the Russians to do things “differently”? That was also the beginning of the ORGANIZED terror attacks on the United States. One of the things we kept track of was how many people were undergoing terrorist training in Libya, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon (the numbers we came up with were in the range of 10,000 people a year for all the areas combined). He was never happy with our estimates. (Funny thing – under Reagan, most of those terrorist training camps disappeared, especially after the Libya raid.)

    Employment was abysmal. Inflation was between 10% and 18% during the Carter years, and the first couple of years under Reagan. “Carter as a best-case scenario” scares me spitless.

    1. And planes getting hijacked by terrorists all the time. My little brother and I played airplane ride in the bottom bunk, and my older brother would play D.B. Cooper or terrorist to harass us.

      1. I remember getting the luggage checked the time we flew to Nova Scotia. Nice ladies, opening up my little knapsack and pulling out my stuffed dog so it could be wanded. While I watched anxiously.

        I remember the hijacking stuff.

        1. They still go through your luggage, it’s just behind the curtain now. (note that nobody is selling locking suitcases anymore)

          I’d like to say the TSA makes us safer, but .. it’s just theater for the mentally incurious. What ended hijackings then still hasn’t been really *tried* this time… and the TSA regulations against checking ramp-workers and certain ethnicites mean we’re not likely to be the ones who solve it… again.

          Eh. I prefer to drive anyway, so I’ll skip the hostile, dangerous skies.


          1. As far as I recall, what ended hijackings was the treaty, signed by everyone including Cuba, to return hijackers to the country the plane took off from. I don’t see how that helps against suicidal terrorists. Did you have a different solution in mind?

            1. It depends, Scott. If you deliver them to the airport where the plane took off, you have a choice: deliver them from 30,000 feet, or let them walk down the ramp. I prefer the former. There aren’t any repeats that way. BTW, one country did that. I think it was Brazil, and the terrorists were delivered to Paraguay, off the ramp of a cargo plane 15,000 feet over the runway. No more Brazilian planes were hijacked after that.

              1. I’ve noticed that in spite of the comic opera attitudes the South American countries seem to operate under, when they decide to mean business they stop playing.

          2. I think what ‘stopped’ hijackings is probably that deluded fool with the shoe-bomb who got dog-piled by the rest of the passengers. After flight 93, anyone who tried to take over or destroy a plane from inside was going to get stuffed into the overhead luggage compartment in somewhat used condition. This hasn’t gotten a lot of media attention, probably because it runs against the media mindset to believe that people defending themselves is a viable social pattern.

      2. I had forgotten that– but one of my mother’s friends was flying from the US to Canada and my mother was extremely worried until she reached her destination.

  11. While I am loath to endorse anything David Frum, there was a time when he earned his plaudits. How We Got Here : the 70’s, the Decade that Brought You Modern Life (for Better Or Worse) is a useful reminder of the horror that was that decade.

  12. Those of you too young to remember the seventies – looks towards the kiddy table …

    In the future, we’re all married. (But not to each other, en masse, because that would be icky. Some of you don’t wear pants.)
    *sputter* Hey!

  13. Ummm, Ms. Hoyt? As a cat with a vast collection of nieces (and nephews) I have to point out that some of those ’70s fashions are *back*.

    Sure, not the PSI/Esper/alien nonsense – and you left out close kin Pyramid Power, by the way – and the more hideous color choices seem to be gone, but .. I’m seeing fashions that look eerily similar.

    The ’70s birthed the back-to-the-land movement as well as a natural/health-foods movement. I see a lot of echoes of this every day … not sure about everyone else.

    I’m pretty happy with this, in part because my family have a raft of different food allergies/sensitivities and better labeling and purity requirements, in part driven by this movement, make my life easier. (reading labels is easier than cleaning up puke)

    Overall, pretty glad it’s not the ’70s, and cautiously optimistic that we’ll get to the next iteration of the ’80s.


    1. I don’t think that those things ever went away for the true believers, it’s just for the last thirty years or so, nobody paid much attention to them except for the climate stuff and nuclear energy.

      1. Shoes. I remember some absolutely horrid trends in shoes for male and female. Platforms, stacks, hell-less, reverse– heels! All in colours and materials that defied nature or worse, were flogged as “natural.”

        At least this time around they have figured out how to make polyester semi-tolerable. I maintain that the creation (and revival) of the adult onesy (The Jumpsuit: A One-Piece Singular Sensation) is proof of the existence of the Devil.

        Wasn’t it in the Seventies that people started buying clothes with the label on the outside or even written all over the outfit?

        One wonders what of today’s trends will date so badly forty years on …

        1. My mom once made me a onesey. As she was trying it on and putting the holding stitches in to go over on the sewing machine, I started to panic. She’s going “You never like anything I design you” and I finally managed to get in “Mom… How do I get out of this?” At which point she collapsed laughing. Yep, no buttons, no zippers. She said, deadpan “Eventually it rots and falls off.” Then changed the design to put in a zipper…
          Onesys are DANGEROUS.

          1. I am undecided whether they are premised on the idea that women never need to eliminate or if they are a giant anti-seduction measure, since a lass has to be really willing.

            1. I think it was all based on the mistaken idea that we could all be a hot as Diana Rigg if we could just squeeeezzzze into . . .

              1. I’m a little sorry, but…. who?

                My quick search of the name brings up three pictures that look like a Brady Bunch mom clone, and one that looks like someone from a sci fi made for TV movie.

                  1. The jumpsuits really ruined that season for me…

                    Although all this talk about 70’s clothes reminded me of an 80’s fashion. The Denim Dress with the big zipper up the front.

                1. Sigh. Some things you just had to be there.

                  Diana Rigg originated the role of Mrs. Peel opposite Patrick Macnee’s John Steed in the stylish Brit TV import The Avengers.

                  Prone to leather cat suits and vinyl jumpsuits that were the height of Carnaby Street Fashion:

                  In her fourth episode, “Death at Bargain Prices”, Mrs Peel takes an undercover job at a department store. Her uniform for promoting space-age toys is an elaborate leather catsuit plus silver boots, sash, and welder’s gloves. The suit minus the silver accessories became her signature outfit, which she wore primarily for fight scenes, in early episodes, and in the titles. There was a fetishistic undercurrent in some episodes. In “A Touch of Brimstone” Mrs Peel dressed in a dominatrix outfit of corset, laced boots and spiked collar to become the “Queen of Sin”.

                  Peel’s avant-garde fashions, featuring bold accents and high-contrast geometric patterns, emphasized her youthful, contemporary personality. She represented the modern England of the Sixties – just as Steed, with his vintage style and mannerisms, personified Edwardian era nostalgia. According to Macnee in his book The Avengers and Me, Rigg disliked wearing leather and insisted on a new line of fabric athletic wear for the fifth series. Alun Hughes, who had designed clothing for Diana Rigg’s personal wardrobe, was suggested by the actress to design Emma Peel’s “softer” new wardrobe. Pierre Cardin was brought in to design a new wardrobe for Macnee. In America, TV Guide ran a four-page photospread on Rigg’s new “Emmapeeler” outfits (10–16 June 1967). Eight tight-fitting jumpsuits in a variety of bright colors were created using the stretch fabric crimplene.
                  (from Wikipedia entry: The Avengers

                  Like the Green Hornet’s Kato (played by Bruce Lee) Rigg’s Emma Peel (from M Appeal = Man Appeal) did most of the fighting in the series, demonstrating admirable martial arts prowess in a time when women with fighting skills were largely unknown.

                  In Mrs. Peel, Diana Rigg gave television a character young men daydreamed of and young women took as a role model: smart, capable, sexy and as comfortable in her femininity as any Heinlein character.

        2. Today’s fashions that will age badly? The prostitot look for small girls. The short, midriff baring women’s tops. Yes, even Plus Sizes. Saggy, oversized pants for men.

          1. Saggy, oversized pants for men.

            Take it away, Larry Platt:

            (Note: he’s not actually a general in the U.S. military, he was given the nickname “General” during the civil rights movement. The USA today article with the details isn’t loading for me right now, so that’s all I know about him, except for one other thing: that I 100% agree with his opinion of saggy pants.)

            1. A lot of fashions look good on a very limited percentage of the population, midriff tops and daisy dukes, for example. The problem is that the 90% of folks who don’t have the body to carry them off, insist on wearing them.

              On the other hand I fail to recall a body type that would aesthetically benefit from saggy pants.

          1. I kept mine: just cut off the rank tabs. Actually, I should find those. Be great for yard work, bike work, car work, house work, etc.

      2. At least the fabrics are more comfortable. I remember wearing a pair of tight jeans before anybody had heard of stretch – of course those were invented soon afterwards, and some of the first ones look rather interesting. 😀

    2. I have a friend who is sixteen years younger than I am, and thinks something like curtains printed with hideous huge brown-orange-white flowers are just great and look very… okay, no bloody idea, but she likes those anyway. And there are antique stores which specialize in something like plastic 70’s furniture and those brown-orange-white (maybe some lilac or lime thrown in there…) fabrics, and charge rather ridiculous sums for them, often way more than what they originally cost.

      And you may have to pay up to over 7000 euros for one of these, they are being made again:


      1. Those chairs always remind me of 2001, Logan’s Run, and Moon Zero Two. Why was the future dead white and minimalist?

  14. Things got really crazy in the ’70’s. If we weren’t all going to die from the doom of the month(overpopulation and exhausted resources seemed to be the favorites) we were going to be in the new mystical age of pyramid power and magic crystals. Fot a san look at the tenor of that decade see jerry Pournelle’s “A Step Farther Out”

  15. … some of you don’t wear pants …

    And how, pray tell (prey, tell?) is that sufficient grounds for disqualification?

    As per things getting bad, badder and worse (“worser, even,” he delivers in an exaggerated tone reminiscent of 70s era cartoon felines) it’s going to be an interesting ride. Mrs. Dave and I plan to procreate this tour – as we’re actually spending the o’erwhelming majority of it in the same time zone – and I’ve got a nigh-terminal case of curiosity regarding the challenges they (no less we) will face in another couple of decades.

    1. “And how, pray tell (prey, tell?) is that sufficient grounds for disqualification?”

      I promised my sainted pet tarantula that I’d never enter in a group marriage with people who don’t wear pants. It’s a thing…

      1. I’d act distraught, but that’s all it would be. The notion of group marriages has always given me screaming fits. I genuflect daily in the direction of divine grace that I’m seemingly managing with a spouse that likes me. I can’t imagine trying to cope with the disparate likes, dislikes, peeves and downright imbalances that would happen with multiple spice (plural of spouse. go with it). I’d start carrying around little cards with clues. “Mary hates coffee, Jennifer loves it. Margaret only drinks blended scotch (poor thing). Gerald is allergic to peanuts, Michael to cats (which explains why he’s building a “carriage house”), etc, ad nauseum.”

        1. Is it apocryphal that the Chinese ideograph for “Trouble” is a drawing of two women under one roof?

          1. Yes, but it falls into the category of “it’s false but should be true”. [Grin]

            1. There is a rarely used – more than likely literary in usage – character that is simply two women, no roof, that reportedly means “foolish,” or “foolishness.” Take that as you will.

          2. I don’t speak Chinese, so this is filtered through Google Translate, but for single words it’s actually pretty good, so here goes:

            Typing “trouble” into Google Translate, and translating into traditional Chinese, got me 痲煩 (along with several synonyms, but 痲煩 had the highest ratiing in the list of synonyms).

            Typing “woman” into Google Translate gives 女人, and I happen to know that 女 means female and 人 means person. Now, the twice-repeated part of 痲 (the first character in “trouble”) isn’t actually 女 — if you look closely it’s … something else that I can’t translate, but I’m sure *somebody* here can — so it’s not really accurate to say that “trouble equals two women under one roof”. It’s two *somethings* under one roof, but that’s not the character for “female”.

            So I can see how the myth got started… but Myth Busted.

          3. I’ve often thought that a lot of the craziness that is Islam can be explained by allowing more than one wife…..

              1. More that young men of lower “class” (mostly socioeconomic) have little or no chance of marriage unless they can amass a large amount of money. This leads to risk taking (which can be good or bad) and large amounts of intersocietal violence. Have to have *something* to get rid of the extra men.

          1. We could set them against each other… um… considering Dan and I are fairly sure if our mother’s ever met it would be a global-extinction level event…

            1. Ok, who wants to start up a collection for the parents to meet each other? (With video, so we all can watch?) 😉

              On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 3:19 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

              > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “We could set them against each other… > um… considering Dan and I are fairly sure if our mother’s ever met it > would be a global-extinction level event…” >

              1. I don’t think my MIL is compus mentis enough, now. And our fathers would just take off to go car shopping or something, and get alone completely, despite not having a common language.

                1. Not having a common language can be very beneficial for man-to-man communication. Men typically share a common language with women and how’s that work out?

                  1. Reminds me of an interlude in (IIRC) Brian Daley’s The Fall of the White Ship Avatar – when a mechanical translation robot got slightly damaged and began putting out completely accurate translations.
                    Which led to a violent confrontation among the parties concerned. This served the plot somehow, although I can’t quite recall – I think it formed a diversion so that the heroes could escape.
                    (Yes, I have read science fiction!)

            2. Actually, Jean’s and my parents LIKED each other, and even visited each other without us around. That’s saying something — getting my dad out of the house was like herding a million cats through a 3-inch circular door, two feet off the floor. Single-handedly.

              Seriously, home was his “comfort zone”, and he rarely left it except to go hunting or fishing, or to visit the relatives within an hour’s driving distance. He hated travel.

          2. We’d all be fat as Nero Wolfe without any of the enjoyment:

            We’re getting together with A’s folks Christmas Eve, B’s for Midnight Mass, C’s on Christmas Morn for breakfast, D’s Christmas Day lunch, We’ll see E’s people for Tea and F’s for dinner Christmas Day!

            Uh-Oh — I just took a call from D’s people. They can’t do Midnight Mass because they’re going to be in (Sometown) for Christmas breakfast with D4’s family. They want to know if we’re available to do Midnight Mass?

                1. You know, if we manage to prolong lives enough at some point we may get something like that too. You will have grandparents, great grandparents, maybe up to great-great-great, and then there are the children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and great-great… all at the same time. 😀

                  1. My kids have three great-greats alive, and one looks like she’ll be going strong at least until they hit high school.

            1. With my sisters and parents (well, parent, now) anf Mrs. Cat’s sister and parents all within a thirty mile radius, plus the sisters’ husbands and their parents etc. etc. … We refer to major holidays as marathons… Christmas goes on for most of a week…


      2. So you’re saying if I wear pants, I have a chance? (Big Evil Grin) That’s patented Moron logic, that is… Speaking of, Ace’s Morons are all in a wild tizzy delightedly speculating you are a secret ‘Ette. Post on the Sunday Book Thread and they will faint in sheer delight (and grab your books).

        1. I’m not secret, d*mn it, I’ve commented there, I’ve linked them at insty and I’ve emailed them about wanting to be ON a book thread — and you can tell them I said so. It’s just my Sundays get nuts. I mean, really nuts. As in, “HOW did it get to be eleven pm” (And I got nothing done.)

          1. Look, Val-u-rite dissolves brain cells. On a good day they have the attention span of a goldfish that forgot to refill the Ritalin prescription. I could post on your behalf (or comment, I don’t have the keys either) They just want to think you are noticing them and reading their comments 😉 Teenage boys, regardless of true age or gender…

          2. That was me doing the speculating, based on your SCOAMF comment at PJM a few days ago. It’s nice to know I wasn’t imagining things.

            I haven’t seen you comment, but then again I’m not there all the time.

              1. There comes to mind a Hindu goddess with several arms typing simultaneously: one pair for blogging, another for science fiction, another for romance, an invisible pair for the pseudonym(s?) you haven’t revealed, etc.

            1. Ace’s is my first stop every morning (this is my last) and has been for years. I don’t comment much there because the comment system is so horribly broken that you can’t track any conversation. It’s like trying to talk in the middle of a cocktail party.

  16. “it was expected then that double digit employment rates would last forever”

    Gosh I hope so. I know things are bad now, and I have been out of work since last year, but I hope the employment rate does not get down to the single digits. Of course if it does, the way the rate is measured will be changed. Right now I am no longer considered “unemployed” because it has been over 6 months, and I can’t find anyone hiring. At least I am finding the occasional consulting project.

    1. UNEMPLOYMENT. right, go on, make fun of the uncaffeinated writer.

      Actually, I’m very afraid the employment will get that low after Obamacare disaster gets implemented. I think we’re going to have to learn to be contractors, etc.

      1. Consulting definitely has its pros and cons. I’m loving the project I’m working on now, but dreading the end of it (looks like end of July), because I have a hard time finding the next project.

        And regulation tries to kill consulting as well. Taxes, fees, regulations, etc., have a disproportionate impact on the little guy consultant who is their own business compared to the giant corporation (who in a lot of cases helped write the regulations so as to stifle their competition).

        1. Apart from a complete lack of guarantees of future jobs, we’re finding both me and my husband being self employed is not bad.

            1. White Slavery section of Craigslist. Just don’t take any fraudulent “cashiers’ checks” for them.

              1. “White Slavery section of Craigslist”

                When we’re talking about Sarah’s boys, I can’t help but think of “Ransom of Red Chief”. [Evil Grin]

                    1. Indeed, one of my favorite wargame designers is now published by Baen, Frank Chadwick. Was playing a game with Frank at a wargaming convention a few weeks ago.

  17. Okay, first off I have to state that I liked my bell bottom jeans. Not the super bells or anything crazy, but I have never cared for the tightness of straightleg jeans. BB’s have come back a bit, going under names like “flares” and “boot cut”, but again, none of the crazy bells that were super big. (I think my cousin had a pair that had bells that were 2-3 feet long. Crazy and hard to walk in.)

    On the subject of pants, my wife and daughters are annoyed with the return of hip huggers. Not that they care what other people wear, but it seems that is all they find in the stores. They have to look hard to find pants in the styles they want/need and are not hip huggers.

    And other “known facts” of the 70’s – we were supposed to run out of oil by now. Oh, and our rivers and lakes were going to be filled with filth and pollution, not fit for human use.

    1. Actually I like the hip-huggers because I don’t have a waist. I am straight up and down in that area- *sigh. For a long time I had to find clothes in the men section so that they would fit and then all of a sudden pants started to come in body shapes… YEA… and not the perfect woman.

      1. I like them too. I’m very short-waisted, so ordinary rise pants hit me around the lower ribs … bleck. I hope the lower rise trend continues.

  18. Don’t jump! Don’t quit! she says, and dammit she’s right. grumble

    From my memory, Wikipedia, and Google: the Seventies, via people who were too busy to realize all was lost—

    The final Moon landings took place. Work on the Space Shuttle matured. The Solar System was explored.

    Microsoft and Apple were founded. Intel went public. IBM started development of the PC.

    Hydraulic fracking came into significant use.

    Gene splicing experiments got the biotech industry rolling.

    The Standard Model of particle physics was consolidated.

    Proof of the Four-Color Theorem relied indispensably on supercomputing.

    Southwest Airlines went public. The deregulation movement gathered steam, most visibly in the transportation sector.

    And so on.

    But this time we’re doomed! This time it’s different! Yeah, sure.

    1. 1. Correction:

      The final Moon Apollo landings took place.

      I expect more Moon landings. May there be many many more, into the indefinite future—and predominately not by governments.

      2. Contrast the 1970s with the late 1990s. In the 70s the clock was ticking for free-market democracy, whereas the millennium appeared to dawn on the Second American Century. Now, again, the clock is ticking.

      Barring a spasm of species suicide, history has an overall upward trend of progress, on which cyclical behavior is superposed. On an individual human timescale, peaks and valleys and trends in the cycles seem definitive. Then, somewhere, a butterfly flaps its wings…

      1. I have a chart of scientific progress, with the setback of the Dark Ages showing. I suspect it’s an exaggeration. But I think knowledge is too widespread for it to happen again . . .

        1. But how widespread is the knowledge when the lights go out? How many people know how to make electricity – of a quantity and quality to power computers – from memory?

            1. Not true, spinning an induction motor backwards simply tires you out. Even a synchronous motor that uses electromagnets for the rotor field would be useless unless you rewired it so you could flash the field.

              You’d need a permanent magnet motor. Fortunately those aren’t too hard to come by. The real problem comes with frequency and voltage regulation. Making electricity isn’t too hard. Making electricity clean enough to power computers and routers is a whole different kettle of fish.

              1. Um… can you say car alternators? And an inverter? Heck, my Jeep has a 110V outlet in the console between the front seats.

                1. A car alternator requires a pulse of electricity from the battery to establish the magnetic field (that’s what “flashing the field” means) after that it taps a portion of the output to maintain the field. You also need to supply power to the voltage regulator.

                  Inverters are a totally different creature, they’re solid-state devices that turn DC into AC.

                  You could fairly easily power a home with things you find lying around after the collapse of civilization, but you’re still not going to be able to get on Wikipedia if there isn’t power to the servers and the routers in between. Then there’s the fuel infrastructure, you’ll need mucktons of energy to run that. And let’s not even talk about the repair parts chain. You’ll probably see civilization last the longest near the oil refineries and the coal plants in coal country, but they’ll eventually go dark as parts break down. And that all assumes we don’t have the Eco-cultists running around “purifying” the earth of technology.

                    1. Someday they’ve got to make that book into a movie, just so they can put that scene in.

                    2. As I recall he wasn’t trying to surf his way out of the shockwave, he was making his last moments epic. It’s a good book.

                    3. Not sure (I’ll have to reread it) but I think it was a combination of his only change to survive was to catch the tidal wave and the thrill of riding the biggest wave in the history of surfing. Too bad that tall building got in his way. [Wink]

                    4. I’m pretty sure you’re right. At first, it was the thrill, then, as he realized how big it was, it became a chance to survive it. Until, as you say, the building got in the way.

                  1. I’ve been waiting because I didn’t want to break the seal, but there is a motor source to power generators that will be widely and cheaply available post-apocalypse: human-powered treadmills.

                    Sure, not very efficient but easily replaced parts and will the beneficiaries of that power really care?

                    1. That reminds me of the scene in Soylent Green where Heston gets on the exercise bike to power breakfast.

                  2. Good to know about jump starting the alternator. I hadn’t known that. By mentioning an Inverter, I was implying that one should have one or more of them BEFORE they become unavailable due to transport problems.

                    I look around and keep forgetting the situation most people would be in, because I can team up with the people on the road where I live, and we could live pretty well, comparatively. I keep forgetting that there are a lot of areas where that’s simply not true.

                    1. Now, if you had a permanent magnet motor, and most small motors are like that, you can get power out of it by spinning it backwards. If you wanted to do anything more than run a simple incandescent light bulb you’d need some kind of governor and voltage regulator, and those aren’t nearly as easy to come by.

                      Short term, a car with an inverter is actually a pretty decent way to keep small loads powered. Being solid-state the inverter will probably last longer than anything that would power it.

                      Our system is pretty robust, but you hit it hard enough and it will collapse. Recovery afterwards will take quite a long time. It’s a good thing I don’t think it will happen. I’d never sleep otherwise.

          1. There are quite a lot of different, cheap devices (hand-cranked generators and so on, and they are not necessarily that difficult to reverse engineer if you have even some basic idea of how to do that. Or a good book) which are meant for getting electricity for your laptop or such when you are away from the main grid now. If we lost the main grid maybe, and just maybe, that would be enough to save things on the long run. Even people who have never done anything can get pretty inventive, and start figuring things out, when kicked out of their comfort zones. At least after they can no longer expect somebody to come to save them.

            1. I have a fully loaded Marshall, and I’m not afraid to use him. At eight, in a blackout, scared, he built a radio in the dark, in minutes with a snap-it-circuits kit. Okay, I had to hold my finger on it, being the designated antenna but we did get to hear that it was squirrels er… making love in the transformer box that had caused the blackout and not, you know, a terrorist attack.
              I trust that kid to reverse engineer, wire and design just about any piece of advanced (or primitive) machinery needed and figure out a power source within a week. TOPS. You see, he’s VERY lazy. Primitive living conditions are lots of work. He wouldn’t sit under that.

              1. My theory is that all of our technological advances, at least the older ones, have come to be because of lazy people. Yep, somebody just lazy will try to live off other people, but lazy, smart and with a conscience will try to figure how to get his part done while not actually having to do any physical work.

                  1. One of my favorite programming gurus says that, rather than follow the old dictum of “if you have to do a task three times, automate it” you should automate the first time you do it.

                    It actually takes a little more work, but in reality there’s no task that doesn’t require being done more than once. So the second time you save time…

                    1. The first time you do the task you are learning it, you can’t automate it then because you don’t know it. Also you’re not sure you’ll need to do it again (sometimes).

                      The second time you’re checking your knowledge and planning the automation.

                      The *third* time you’re writing your code, checking your interfaces and your assumptions. It helps to be able to mount a scratch monkey at this point.

                      From the fourth time forward you’re just checking the outputs.

                      I’ve got emails coming in every morning for this thing I automated for someone back in 2007. Not getting an email means it broke. Of course, I don’t work for them any more so if the email comes in I may or may not care.

                  2. suppresses bilious rant

                    Only heaven knows how my mentors managed to put up with me, back in the day. When tempted to unleash a few choice words about subsequent STEM generations, I try to remember those mentors’ example.

  19. The first homeschooling was generally undertaken by tofu and nuts types with graduate degrees in education… yes unschooling… yes far left. The problem was that they had no constitutional standing, really, to explain why they were excused from mandatory school attendance. (Pierce vs. Society of Sisters was “public” vs. parochial school established a religious exemption but if you’re not religious?) Eventually homeschool caught on with a few brave people (the chance of losing your children to the state was real) who made the claim of religious conviction and won in court on that basis.

    1. “(the chance of losing your children to the state was real)”

      Yes, I’m remembering a Mormon family of 10 children who had to move from Texas to New Mexico in order to home school their children, who all ended up finishing college around age 20 or younger … wow.

  20. I do remember the ’70s, having been born in ’61 (metal ox with sheep/goat rising sign, Gemini with virgo – my aunt does astrology charts) to academic parents . My mother was very involved with ENACT in Ann Arbor in the early ’70s, so I got a lot of ZPG and recycling, we’re over populating and over-polluting the earth to death, etc., at a pretty formative stage. I wonder if that’s why I a) want to get some goats and chickens, to hell with town zoning regs, and b) I’m so worried by the economic and political landscape, since I was brought up to expect the worst. Though this time it’s global warming instead of the coming ice age.

    A few random thoughts.

    On Psi. I’ve never had any personal experience, but my mother has had occasional flashes of it. Knowing when to call the airport and page me, even though they didn’t even know which day that week, never mind which flight, I was coming in on. Knowing when a friend who had been in a car accident was being taken off the ventilator as a trial (and failing). Some weeks later on a long solo drive, while he was still in a coma, deciding what the heck, checking the time, and concentrating on him for five minutes telling him to wake up, look at his wife (who she knew would be at his bedside), and to smile at her. He did. At that time. Her psi, if that’s what it was, was very infrequent, and except for that once, never on command.

    On UFOs. I’ve seen one. Triangular, a circular blue light in each corner of the underside, flying at about helicopter height and car speed, following the road for a few minutes, and then zipping off. Not something I was expecting to see in the woods of Connecticut a few miles south of Foxwoods on the evening before Thanksgiving and I’ll happily change my mind if someone can show me a military or other aircraft which looks and manoeuvers like whatever it was that I saw. My sister saw a similar thing in Arizona, only there were three or four which merged together and raced off. I find the History Channel’s ufologists hysterical, but there is something there, even though I’m sure they’re all totally wrong and bat s**t crazy.

    1. A friend once told me that her father had claimed to have seen a couple when she was still living home, and she says that once when he called to her and her mother to come out, that there was one over their house, there was still some sort of weird glowing mist there for a few seconds after they did, although the actual UFO had already disappeared. And he was one of those types who otherwise always seemed to be very solidly standing with both feet on the ground, not a reader, not interested in any of that stuff, not even after he saw them. And not a prankster, either, just rather unimaginative ordinary guy who watched sports and liked to work with his hands. And I have never seen her exhibit any tendency towards telling tall tales either, so I am inclined to believe her, and that her father also told just what he had seen.

  21. OK, ladies, did anyone wear palazzo pants? Oh so elegant … well, maybe not …

  22. Everyone who believes that there are or could be “psi” powers needs to acquire enough background knowledge to take courses in neurophysiology, neurochemistry, and physics. Then they will realize the absurdity of psi. To me, psi is as likely to be real as crystal therapy for cancer or magnetic bracelets for arthritis.

    1. I enjoy learning neurobiology– however, I still think there is something psi– just because of certain members of my family and experiences. I am sure that we haven’t found everything yet… If you are right, I would rather live in denial (or escape into fantasy).

      1. That’s my take too. Enough people seem to have weird experiences that you can’t, and shouldn’t, just dismiss them. But I don’t think they are ‘supernatural’, just something for which we don’t have an explanation yet. I don’t think we have found everything about everything yet, not necessarily even close. Scientists thought that about physics a hundred years ago, and then it was found that what was known then well was a subset of laws, not the whole. And there are a lot of holes still left in most disciplines.

        And hey, placebo effect, so I perhaps even that crystal therapy may have some effect, sometimes and on some people.

        1. Yep– and placebo effect is a real phenom. Also prayers have an affect. So there is something that connects us– some tighter than others.

        2. What, you think that some objects might radiate some sort of energy that can have an effect on physical reality? Your ‘radiate-ton’ is clearly unscientific!


          1. Hey, if physicists can carry on about Dark Matter, Dark Energy, String theory and Quantum whatevers whilst arguing whether there are eight or eighteen dimensions, and they don’t understand why time doesn’t run backwards as easily as it runs forward, I refuse to feel unscientific about a little speculation about PSI.

            Oh, and since I’m feeling particularly silly today . . . See, at the Big Bang, time was created, and ran backwards as well as forwards. So, Duh, the Universe is only half the age we think it is. The other half is time running the other direction. Deconstructing antimatter, rather than constructing matter into more complex forms.

            1. Fundamental physics is not in a healthy condition today. In my nonexpert opinion, the crux is the scarcity of relevant data: obtainable data is inadequate to test and winnow out the most ambitious, impressive-sounding models. In a sense, people bloviate about how many angels can dance on a pin. The Not Even Wrong blog, which is uncompromising in more ways than one, strives for a clear-eyed look at the situation.

              Right now, again in my nonexpert opinion, there are two domains in fundamental physics: a bunch of things that are so well understood as to be almost mundane, and a bunch of things that are speculative and likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. And very little else, and very little movement between the two domains.

              Even with tongue in cheek, I wouldn’t take the condition of fundamental physics as a guide to anything.

    2. I liked Catherine Asaro’s quantum physics-based version of psi in her Skolian Empire series. I don’t know how accurate the physics is, but it’s at least good enough to look plausible to this non-physicist.

    3. Anyone who spends time here and thinks the only reason someone might believe in psi-things is a lack of technical knowledge needs to reexamine their assumptions and consider what they have been doing in order to defend said assumptions.

    4. 1. The open atheists and materialists I have encountered here in Massachusetts have been more obnoxious than the open believers in religion or the paranormal. However, this state is not typical of the country as a whole.

      2. It’s one thing to acknowledge that, despite everything, our understanding of the epiphenomena of consciousness (and of consciousness itself) is highly inadequate. It’s quite another to conclude from that that Yeehaa! Yipee! Anything goes!

  23. The non-extreme types of bellbottoms weren’t as bad as the pants rappers made popular in the late 80’s-early90’s. What my dad termed, dogfight pants; as in ‘I wouldn’t wear those pants to a dogfight.’

      1. Note: I think most of the rappers should switch pants with the gals– most anything would be flattering on those ladies, and skin tight Lycra would have two vectors to lower the probability of the guys reproducing….

        1. One of my favorite lines from S.M.Stirling’s Island books is the black Coast Guard captain saying that to avoid gangsta rap she would have been willing to get sent to the Jurassic in the middle of a velociraptor pack in white sheets… Amen, Captain Alston. Amen.

  24. The fact they were wrong wrong wrong takes a while to percolate and might necessitate their death.

    FWIW, my heart practically stopped for a second there before reason caught up and Gibb-smacked me, saying, “of natural causes, idiot, and not Pratchett’s sort.”

    1. You remember the phrase “live by the sword, die by the sword”?

      For perpetual revolutionaries getting shot in the melon IS a natural death.

  25. Another interesting thing about the 70’s was that the climate scientists were telling us that the coming disaster was a “new ice age”–i.e., global cooling. Strangely enough, what we were all supposed to do to head this off was. . . pollute less and use less energy.

    1. “Strangely enough, what we were all supposed to do to head this off was. . . pollute less and use less energy.”

      Every “ecological disaster” — regardless of proclaimed cause, mechanism, or effect — has the same solution: centralized power and a poorer society.

      It’s almost as if the “solution” was what matters to that crowd.

      1. It’s like they’ve got a boy’s band to sell.

        Same way that all education reform boils down to “more members of Teachers’ Unions.” It is never higher standards for teachers, holding teachers accountable, better methods of evaluating teachers … no, it is always the same solution. Just as “school spending” is always “insufficient” and never “are we getting value?”

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