The Future We Can’t Know

So I was completely out of ideas for posts last week, and I searched out “idea for blog posts” and came up with this place promising to send you 100 ideas a month for some low fee.

The beautiful part about that – think about it – is that someone saw a need for ideas under the great pressure of daily posting and came up with a way to make money out of it.  I was going to say “America, what a country,” and I’m almost absolutely sure that the blog site was American, but it’s also an internet thing.

Someone saw a way of selling something that doesn’t even need to be shipped over the net, pure information.  And there it is.

Of course, in a way this is the beauty of ebooks too, the wonderful improvement over printing and sending books on paper.  It strips the experience of everything but the words.  We used to evaluate a book on a million things (and I think cover is still important, though the sales results I’m seeing make it important only for the extremes – truly awful or truly good, and most of us fall somewhere in between.)  The idea that we can sell ideas – air, nothing, is astonishing to me.

I was brought up in a very concrete type of world.  Mom would stop everything for me, if I was actually doing work she recognized as work.  This always struck me as funny because the “work” she respected was stuff I did for relaxation, like embroider or sew.  For this, she’d bring me better light, ask me if I was quite comfy and leave me alone.  But if I was reading or writing, it was classed as “playing” and “time wasting” (even when it was for school) and she would bug me, ask me questions, demand I help, etc.

It was obvious what she’d been trained to view as work was things you do with your hands and which produce results you can hold.

Which brings me to the one blog post I thought I could do from that list.  It was called “My Children Will Do It Differently.”

I looked at that for a long while, and tried to think what my children will do SIMILARLY.  Okay, they will probably work, and live and eventually die.  And I hope they’ll fall in love and marry and maybe have children.  But if we get more granularity on that, it’s all different.

Take me for instance (you can have this here writer cheeeep.  Well, her books, at any rate.) It’s a little more pronounced in my case, since my parents grew up in what was in Europe a slow recovery after WWII.  I’ve mentioned here before their home for the first 16 years of marriage would fit in my current bedroom.  (Though to be honest, my current bedroom is huge and weird, which is why I made half of it into an office, because who needs a bedroom that large?  I don’t sleep that much.  Of course, it has drawbacks, like the fact that when I type late at night or early morning I wake Dan up.)  In their world, in their culture, the idea of women working, even from home, was weird.  Mom did, but she – I think – always felt a little guilty over it.  (Which was sort of a family tradition on dad’s side, at least.)

I remember being very young – just before starting school — and hearing my parents talk about me.  Remember, because of how small I was when I was born, they expected me to be intellectually impaired. So, they were discussing my future prospects, and I remember mom saying “Well, she’s pretty enough.  If she doesn’t “go” at school, I’ll just teach her to be a housewife.”

In a way, I think, every child is a total surprise to their parents, and it must have been very shocking to mine that I insisted on concerning myself with matters of the mind (and could usually eat the guys’ lunch intellectually) but had to work really hard at house keeping, which didn’t come naturally at all.

But beyond that the world was changing in ways they couldn’t see.  Let’s suppose that, as they expected, I didn’t “go” at school.  It would have taken very little.  Given a less understanding elementary teacher and a father who’d pre-taught me at home, I’d have got discouraged.  I had many of the same issues younger son had (girls just grow out of them a few years sooner) which meant writing was slow and laborious, particularly done with a quill pen. If the teacher had taken my wretched blotched pages as a sign of my ability or lack thereof, I’d have been confined to dunce class forever.  Also, being very sickly helped.  By nature I am rather active, and as a child spent most of my time looking for ways to get into trouble.  If I hadn’t been sick three weeks out of four, and if at the time the right treatment for such things HADN’T been to isolate the patient and restrict them to bed, I’d probably never have made the effort necessary to read, despite clear dyslexia.  (Or difficulty focusing.  It’s hard to tell in memory.)  BUT it was dead boring in bed, the room (my parents’ room) didn’t even have a window and I practically lived there for weeks at a time. Oh, and little friends were not encouraged to visit.  Which meant I had to find ways to amuse myself.  Most of the time these involved lego houses and stories told to myself, but I lived for when my brother read to me, and I found that I could sort of re-read comics he’d read, and after a while, not sure how, I found myself reading – and then of course it was amusement that could be had in bed, and a way to escape it.

Let’s say I’d been a completely healthy kid, and had indulged in being outside, doing things outside, and had never really learned to enjoy reading for fun…  And had therefore found school boring and been a mediocre student.  Even then, the future my parents saw would never have happened.  By the time I was twenty the country had changed so much even working class men expected a woman who would be good at something other than housekeeping.

I often wonder what similar errors I’m making with my kids.  The thing is in times of catastrophic change, and this is one, all you can do is prepare your kids for the world you lived in.  And it’s almost sure my kids won’t live in it.

Heck, take just twenty years ago – when we moved to town – the post office was the center of my life.  If I had money, I was mailing stories/receiving (mostly rejections) responses in the mail.  My normal circuit pushing the pram was bookstore/bookstore/bookstore (used/new/used) and then post office and/or library.  I didn’t buy books every day (though I often took books from the free rack, which had been deemed too tattered/out of date to trade in.)

Of those destinations now, all but one bookstore are gone, and the bookstore has become the much smaller appendix of a toy store and two restaurants.  The library is mostly a day-homeless-shelter and seems to have fewer books every time I go there (and more movies.)

And the post office… the last time I went in (to mail back a contract) I found that most of the people in line were doing bulk mailings.  This accords with what we get in the mail.  Other than the occasional check – perks of the writing life! – mostly we get circulars, printed offers, coupons…

Most of my writing business is now transacted via email.

I have friends halfway around the world to whom I talk more often than to my neighbors.

Even the way in which I married would be different now.  We courted with phone calls and letters – now it would be email, and skype.

I think my kids will do it differently.  The relationships they’ve had have been at least partially long distance.  Let’s face it, it’s much easier for Odds to find each other now.  (I think my mom was wrong, anyway.  Even extending the search area to the entire city, the chances of any man around there wanting me for a wife were minimal.  I usually scared them off quickly enough.  See, I was Odd.  I didn’t act as they expected.)

Other things I can sort of see will be different, too.  Already, half of my shopping, including groceries, is done via Amazon.  I expect this to only grow.  I expect work to be unmoored from a point in space.  I.e, I expect they could live in New Delhi and work in New York City or vice versa.

The tremors this will set of are never ending, from the way people marry – will it be different if you’re both going to work down the hall (or in the same room) from each other your entire marriage?  No?  I mean, Dan and I like working next to each other, but most people don’t seem to – to the way they raise kids – two stay at home parents would be a major difference from the current system – to the way they buy houses (imagine the great price equalization if you don’t have to live in the city to work there) to… everything.

I expect they’ll live in a world I’d barely understand if I got transplanted there tomorrow.

But it will be perfectly fine, if I get there by living day to day.  I hope to still be alive 20 years from now and be able to look back and do a post on “how we do things differently” and “how my children’s lives are different.”

This is why I think that in a time of catastrophic change central planning is risible.  Even more risible than it was before.

And I think that though we might get the rug yanked from under us, the central planners will have it even worse.

In the end creativity and adaptability will take the day.  And the forces of control and rigidity will not stand against them.


UPDATE and A POINT OF ORDER: If you’ve been troll-hammered from this blog for good and sufficient reason, and you come back under another IP, you’ll get banned unread.  I give people a chance to come back — sometimes two or three — after a few months, but not if they just change IPs immediately after, which frankly smells of either paid trolling or mental illness.  If you’re intent on coming back and commenting, let a few months pass. And referring to having called me “Mrs. Hoyt” won’t mollify me, when what you called me was “Hoyt.”  Just in case you guys wondered if you’d seen what you’d seen, that’s what happened.

266 thoughts on “The Future We Can’t Know

    1. Hm, a little too easy to detect an issue… I notice the author keeps flipping around on what stats to look at, in a way that sure looks like cherry picking. Percentage of increase, comparing how much was spent on hardbacks to prior years– pretty much everything but “units sold/bought.”

      1. Here is some of the information he refers to. Cautionary notes are at the end of the piece.

        It’s annoying that online pieces like the one you linked usually omit hyperlinks. My guess is that the publishers want to hold readers on-site.

        Worth a try?—Paid subscribers get hyperlinks whereas everybody else doesn’t. Maybe that would work for specialized websites whose readers are seriously interested in following up in depth.

        1. For a niche, academic, or technical site, I think that’s a pretty good idea. I’d like to see the results, though I don’t work or write in anything that would fit, myself.

        2. Thank you.

          My suspicion is that the sites have the ability, but think it looks too amateurish– the NYT doesn’t do it, after all… (I think they do internal linking, though.)

          Possibly it’s a matter of viewing the article as a finished product instead of an information source?

          1. ;oops; Thanks for pointing it out. I meant here.

            Per FrO’s comment, I have niche sites in mind.

            I’m sticking to my contention that commercial sites want to hold on to the reader’s eyeballs, but you have a point about them not wanting to look amateurish. Maybe that will be addressed by developments in cyber-typesetting. Also, dead links should be automatically removed or redirected.

            1. Considered letting it go as a silly little mistake, but then figured you’d find out otherwise and then think I hadn’t bothered to click.

            2. There are more ways to show a hyper link other than just a blue underlined word (although it is standard). One of the online newspapers I read does internal links to previous stories by highlighting linked text in a sort-of-tangeriny-beige. There are others sites that have footnotes and the link itself is at the foot of the article.
              What I hate are the sites that pop up dialogue boxes when you accidentally mouse over the linked text.

      1. I’m handicapped in that I don’t actually want to anger anybody here. It’s really more along the lines of, “there are still silly people saying foolish things out there, and we have a duty to keep fighting.” Or something like that. /shrug

          1. “The NYT said to do X in order to attain success, fame wealth and happiness? Looks like I’ll be embarking on the Quest for diametrically opposed Y first thing in the morning!”

      1. The site where you buy your ideas.

        I think the original store was in Schenectady — they tried franchising for awhile. But they’ve gone to all on-line now.

      2. Years ago the stock response from one well known writer to the inevitable question of “where do you get your ideas?” was “I buy them from a PO Box in Schenectady.”
        Give me a couple of days and I’ll remember just who it was, probably in the middle of the night during a nightmare. I’ve been told I have a nasty habit of sitting bolt upright in bed, calling out a name or phrase, then quietly settling back to sleep. Probably a base canard as I remember no such thing.

            1. It’s a sub-section of the English Department at Ft. Hays State. Part of the Board of Regents’ plan to increase both the utility and revenue of liberal arts departments.

            2. Heh. When I first read Sarah’s response, I thought she meant that was what she said when she sat up in bed, at night. 🙂

              I saw a comment below about not being able to leave a comment. For the past couple of days, WordPress has been rejecting my first comment after logging in here. I think it’s having IBS and puking up the first thing to come across. I was able to save the one I made here by remembering to copy it just in the nick of time before it disappeared.

        1. Harlan Ellison IIRC.
          Barry Longyear had a collection called _It Came From Schenectacy_, and claimed that the genesis for his title.

          (This sort of thing is why I can never find my cell phone-too much dross)

          1. If my brother were a writer, he’d probably say his ideas came from Paducah, Ky. He is inordinately fond of B.C. comics.

        2. Quote from Wiki article about Schenectady NY.

          Author Harlan Ellison has stated that anytime a fan or interviewer asks him the question “Where do you get your ideas?” he replies “Schenectady”. Science fiction writer Barry Longyear subsequently titled a collection of his short stories It Came From Schenectady.

          End Quote

          1. As if anyone would trust Ellison to tell the truth about such a thing. I have it on very good authority that he has arrangements with the proprietors of insane asylums whereby they collect and send stray ideas his direction.

            Advances in treatment of the mentally ill has put a severe crimp in his output. There was once a time when the trail herds of ideas being driven Ellison’s way were legendary.

              1. I used to work at a shop in Airlie Oregon, a small unincorporated wide-spot in the road. I realized when I worked there that I pronounced R’lyeh veeery similarly to Arlie (air-lee) and I figured it fit. No original ideas ever came from there, though I’m pretty sure many bright new ideas went there and died.

        3. There was a variant of this theme I read years ago (in Ellery Queen, IIRC): Writer answers the Question by saying he belongs to the Idea of the Month Club. Actual club contacts him, offering membership. Author’s wife becomes inconvenient somehow (don’t recall details). IotM responds by sending Author a mystery plot—the perfect murder.

        4. I saw an interview where Stephen King said he got his ideas from Utica. Presumably he means Utica, NY, but I lived a few years on a street named Utica, and it was full of ideas.

          Does the paid idea service promise 100 unique ideas or does it give the same 100 ideas to everyone? If such a service was actually used by enough people, could it end up having a journo-list effect?

        5. You want to know what’s scarey? You give a talk about writing and use that joke, and I’ve been assured the people would come up to ask for the address.

        6. It’s gotten around a lot. And expanded sometimes. I was reading a how-to-write book where not only was the Ideas chapter named for it, the author talked about the time she was driving nearby and thinking about finding the discount outlet where they sold their blemished or imperfect ideas — which, she observes, is the process in action.

    1. Well, yeah. One of the things I’m working on is simply becoming accustomed to the understanding that I’ll never really “be on top of things.” Everytime a problem gets solved, or I pick up a new skill, I’m given a solid lesson in the chaos of life. It’s really a Socratic thing: the more I know, the more I know I don’t know. The trick simply becomes staying mentally flexible enough to keep your feet moving under you as speed downhill.

      1. “We’re still confused, but we’re confused on a higher level about much more important things.”

        1. that sounds like a Miles Vorkosigan quote: “We have advanced to new and surprising levels of bafflement”

  1. Since my husband took up consulting, he’s been working from home probably more than 50% of the time. So instead of the empty, quiet house that helped me concentrate, I’ve him thumping and cursing his computer, playing music, asking me if I want to go to best Buy with him because his *&^&% mouse has broken again, we can get lunch while we’re out . . .

    But you know what? I adjusted.

    Because I don’t think this is a strange situation, from the perspective of human evolution. Even recently, 90% of the people lived on farms. There was a division of labor, especially once powered machinery came in and fewer people could do the various jobs. But still many jobs were done by everyone, and even the different tasks often occurred near each other.

    Further back in human history, there were divisions of labor as well. Hunting vs gathering. But the next day, Dad was right there in camp, fixing his spear or chipping flint while Mom tried to turn yesterday’s kill into tomorrow’s leather jacket.

    The extreme segregation that came with industrialization is passing. Now we’ll find out if it’s just a habit of mind or if those who did well away from hearth and home had a genetic bias that way that has become common in the population.

    I _think_ we’re reverting to a more natural way of living.

    Now if the scattered members of the Odd Clan we’ve discovered online would just move closer so we could have face time, and watch each other’s back, life would be good.

      1. I always just figured that we’re the genuine apex predators and so need a lot more territory among the more sheeply of our species. Not that I want to resort to cannibalism you understand. Have you seen what Norms eat? /shudder

      2. Speciation won’t be a problem for a while. The various branches of Homo Sapiens have proven to be quite good at interbreeding.

          1. Nah, children are humans, feral human, but human none the less.
            When they were young and gullible and acting up we would look at the two boys and say “that’s what your older brother used to do before we got rid of him.” Didn’t work for long, but there were a few times when they got the strangest looks on their faces.
            Another child rearing technique we were tempted to try was to obtain a used whiskey barrel, we’re not too far from several Tennessee distilleries and by law they can only use the barrels once, seal the miscreant in the barrel and feed him through the bung hole. At the age of eighteen you decide whether to open the barrel or drive in the bung.

            1. Eh. I always said my job was to make the savages human. There was however the whole summer when Marshall was 6 when Robert claimed to be an alien, and Marshall claimed to be a twin, but NOT the alien’s twin (that was screamed.) It was… interesting. Sometimes we still call them the alien and the twin.

            2. In order to make that “missing elder sibling” thing work, you have to work in some actual evidence that such an individual actually existed. A set of toys the kids haven’t seen before, a walled-up room in the basement…

              Things of that nature. The ploy works best when you live in an old Victorian-era home, and you can set up a tower room for the kiddos to find.

              “Mom! Mom! We found a room! It was full of toys, and clothes, and all kinds of cool stuff…”.

              “That was your brother Timmy’s room, dear…”.

              “Timmy? I have another brother…? Where is he? How come I’ve never met him?”.

              “Well, dear… Timmy just couldn’t behave himself, and we had to send him away… It was all very sad, for us, but he was a bad little boy, and we had to be sure… But, then we had you, of course, and we hardly miss Timmy at all, now…”.

              That’s how you set that up, and pull it off. A friend of mine, growing up, was pretty sure his mom had done something like this, but there was just enough doubt… Good acting skills are a major plus, when it comes to parenting skills. Just like the way you go about implanting the idea of monsters under the bed, to discourage late-night roaming from the bed.

              1. We had “Michael” the older brother whom we had to send away. The problem is in a house of writers, the boys joined in in giving him a biography as soon as they caught on. Michael wasn’t bad. He had problems like Marsh and when we figured it out we sent him to a boarding school for kids with those issues, in CT (it really exists. We considered sending Marsh there, but we didn’t want to send him away and it would break all our hearts, so we decided to work through it first… and that worked, so he could go to normal school/college) and overcame his issues, entered college at 14, and is a patent lawyer in NYC. OF course, there are some bad feelings at being sent away, so he never visits and rarely calls. It’s very weird to have Robert report calls from his brother who never existed.
                There’s a book in that.

                1. The book happens when Michael shows up on the stoop, running from the Mob, a splinter faction of the CIA and two different species of aliens for processing a patent request for a theoretical FTL engine.

                  1. Nah, the story starts with somebody claiming to be the missing brother. Remember the “missing brother” isn’t real.

                    Sort of like the TV Series “Remington Steel” where the female PI created a male boss only to have somebody show up claiming to be her boss.

                    Of course, the “fake” Hoyt son/brother has to depend on some evidence that he’s real.

                    1. Oh, I’m aware. The weird part isn’t that he’s not real, but that when he shows up with the bizarre story, he believes he is. And shenanigans ensue.

                    2. My old man said “Foller the VAN,
                      And don’t dilly dally on the way”.
                      Off went the VAN wiv me ‘ome packed in it,
                      I followed on wiv me old cock linnet.
                      But I dillied and dallied, dallied and I dillied
                      Lost me way and don’t know where to roam.
                      Who’ll put you up when you’ve lost your bedstead,
                      And you can’t find your way ‘ome?”

                      N.B: Variable Alternative Nexus, a navigational device for multiverse explorers.

                    3. “It’s part of the return mechanism, you see? They use the Law of Exclusion. Aim you at the middle of your life, and you skid along the surface of the Brane until you hit the spot where you ceased to exist. So the capsule pops right back to the base a nanosecond after you left.”

                      “I . . . it’s my own fault. I was curious about whether I remembered our old phone number . . . how was I to know I was interrupting a crucially important romantic moment?”

                      “But when the pod crashed . . . I ought to have been thirty-five. And I realized what I’d done.”

                      When I’d opened the door, I’d almost mistaken the man for one of my children. But that desperate, hungry wolf looking out from under those black brows . . .

                      It was one of the curses of being a science fiction writer. Insane fans.

                      I started ticking off the points. “First, you aren’t old enough to pass for thirty-five, let alone significantly older enough to be from a future with time travel . . . ”

                      “What? That . . . you don’t have Nano-juv yet, do you? Oh my Dog!”

                      I could see the curtains twitching across the street. The kid–he looked an underfed eighteen–still reminded me so much of my boys I just couldn’t work up enough common sense to be wary of him. And . . . he looked hungry.

                    4. Hm. Since I tend to veer towards supernatural explanations – I suppose at least some of you are familiar with the Philip experiment? A group of of Canadian parapsychologists decided to try and create a ghost as a thought form in the 70’s. They made up a character, concentrated on it, and then had meetings when they tried to contact said ghost through a classic spiritualist seance, and Philip answered.

                      So, the ‘older brother’ has gotten so much attention through the years that he has become a sort of a real ‘ghost’, with rudimentary sentience, only a very confused one because as far as he knows he should not be dead, only he seems to be. So he reaches the conclusion the ‘parents’ had actually murdered him, and starts to haunt the family, seeking revenge and trying to turn the boys against the parents…

                    5. That experiment was mentioned in Kat Richardson’s _Polergeist_. [Wink]

                    6. I smell an anthology: For Michael, My Brother Who Doesn’t Exist.*

                      Proceeds going to provide for wounded vets, because (judging from frequent television appeals I see) there is a crying need for assistance for these brave persons who are severely injured while providing care to our animal friends.

                      *Alternate titles:
                      Michael, Who Don’t Exist
                      Michael, My Nonexistent Brother
                      Michael, We Hardly Knew Ye

                  2. Nah, it needs to start with the calls, but whomever takes the calls keeps telling him that the other brother was just a story. THEN he shows up on the doorstep. Maybe he’s seen once or twice in town, first, and tries to talk to one of the family, but they keep running away, because the guy must be crazy.

                    It would be kind of the reverse of the Twilight Zone episode where the guy disappeared from history – everyone started forgetting him and his picture disappeared from photos… OOH! Have the imaginary brother’s picture APPEAR in the pictures! *shiver*

              2. Hah – I spent a whole year at Sondrestrom AB, Greenland, claiming that I was an alien, on a mission to do anthropological research on humans. I had a whole long spiel about it, delivered with a totally straight face and kind of Spockish detachment, all about my home planet, my star-survey unit and mission … which used to amuse or wig out people, no end. I believe that some of them thought it was possible that I was an alien. Others thought I had been in Greenland too long … everyone else was just amused by the gag, and how I could carry it off.
                It was thirty miles north of the Arctic Circle, people – and before the internet! We didn’t have that many ways to amuse ourselves!

                1. The boys had this long running “Space Game” where our family were explorers, the house was a ship, the car was the away pod, when we went to cons it was a meeting of explorer families and when we went places like museums and the aquarium or amusement park, they were alien worlds.
                  The “game” ran constantly from the time Marshall could talk/understand, so he was about two until he was twelve or so, when Robert — at sixteen — decided to give it up. Depending on my mood it could drive me nuts. The last thing you want to hear from the back seat, as you head out on an emergency shopping trip after a difficult day is about the resupplying station, “explorer force” politics, whether you’re likely to be demoted for failing to anticipate the need for Blagerian fruit (carrots) etc. But you know, now it’s gone I kind of miss it. It made for fascinating listening to on long trips 😛
                  Maybe there will be grandkids, and maybe daddy and uncle will pass on the space game.

                2. I believe that when Keith Laumer was stationed on a tiny little island off of either Greenland or Iceland, he would go to the northern beach every day, pick up a rock, and carry it to the southern beach and drop it, trying to move the island a little bit further South.

          2. Something to it, though .. I married an Odd of a different sub-group (is it reasonable to sub-classify Odds by area of .. talent? .. focus?) on purpose, and it appears Junior Cat is also an Odd, so .. who knows where it ends?


    1. . But still many jobs were done by everyone, and even the different tasks often occurred near each other.

      Grew up that way. Good way to grow up.

    2. We were a one income family as I grew up. However it not the average. I’m not sure if you could say that he worked from home, he was a Rabbi. He was in the synagogue during worship times, early AM and early evening, Fri eve and Saturday morning & eve. He was around and available during the day. If someone from school called, my father went.

      You Christians don’t know how good you have it. Saturday AM services(Orthodox) are three hours long. You literally spend the morning praying! On Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) you spend the entire day in synagogue. It’s a fast day, what else are you going to do? Besides it’s a day where you beg G-d not to kill you or send terrible things your way.

      1. A lot of Eastern rite Catholic/Eastern Orthodox rites have normal Sunday Masses that long, but it generally involves being allowed to stroll out for breaks if you’re a layperson. (Which isn’t to say that everybody does.)

        I’ve been to three hour Masses, but they were usually either BIG sung Masses or there were lots of things going on (like a long Easter Vigil Mass with Baptisms, Confirmations, First Communions, and all 12 readings and psalms recounting the history of salvation throughout the OT. Usually they do the shorter optional forms at Easter Vigil.

        1. A lot of Eastern rite Catholic/Eastern Orthodox rites have normal Sunday Masses that long, but it generally involves being allowed to stroll out for breaks if you’re a layperson. (Which isn’t to say that everybody does.)

          If it’s a mere 3 hours then they’re doing a short one. Part of the trick is that they have to repeat everything 3 times for it to matter (and if it’s important then it’s three tines three). Then there’s a generally relaxed attitude to timing so people have to stand about and hum while they get the thurible relit or the bible moved (or the bishop to show up). And of course there are some audience participation sessions e.g. where everyone needs to venerate the icon, individually. And then they have to do the hymn antiphonally and repeat each verse 3 times so everyone gets a turn…

          I love the Orthodox in many ways but except on special occasions I want the service got through with a minimum of fuss – the classic 8am holy communion with 0 hymns and a 2 minute homily is about right

  2. “This is why I think that in a time of catastrophic change central planning is risible.”

    The Western Liberal Intellectuals have (for some time now) seized on the aphorism “The Military always plans for the last War” – as if they had another basis for planning. But the Central Planners seem to be still planning for the 1930’s, or the 1960’s. It’s as if the Military was planning for the Franco-Prussian War and/or the Korean War.

    1. But the Central Planners seem to be still planning for the 1930′s, or the 1960′s. It’s as if the Military was planning for the Franco-Prussian War and/or the Korean War.
      I think that’s because they feel threatened by a world where central control is useless so they keep on trying have more of it. Similar to how WW1 generals couldn’t seem to grasp the impact of trenches and machine guns on land warfare, despite having had object lessons in the US Civil war and then a meere 10 years before WW1 in the Russo-Japanese war.

      The fact is that whatever happens in the future we know enough that central control (unless somehow we kill all computers, the entire internet and any way to recontruct them) is effectively doomed. We’re still humoring them because the new distributed world order hasn’t yet got the bugs worked out.

        1. I’m just afraid that it may go more like, “In the end, we win, if their stupidity doesn’t get us killed first.”

      1. Piffle. During Bolivia’s and Paraguays Gran Chaco war in the 20’s Bolivia’s army still did frontal attack on trenches and machine gun positions in spite of their main strategist being Hans Kundt who commanded a German regiment on the Eastern Front during WWI who had plenty of experience.
        I have a theory that stupidity is recursive.

        1. Just for grins, do a search on the phrase “last cavalry charge” and you will get a number of accounts of several of them up to and in the early days of World War II. One by US cavalry on the island of Luzon in 1942.
          While not totally ineffective, they did experience rather mixed results.

          1. I know a WWII calvary soldier — he still bush hogs my neighbor’s pasture (the neighbor is a WWII vet, too). The cavalry man taught two family members to ride horses, from the tales I’ve heard they were rather extreme lessons.

            1. We still have cavalry, it is just mechanized cavalry and air cav. Now we have Thunder runs instead of cavalry charges, they serve pretty much the same purpose.

                1. Oh, and last I heard, and listened to it, there is still an untitled Sousa (good Portagee name) Sousa march. It is in the cavalry style and right triumphant-sounding. If I knew where to send the suggestion for a title, I would suggest “The Thundering Third” or “Baghdad Galop”.

                  Jtg, old band nerd, over here at The Right of the Line, with The Colors.

          1. Nor is maneuver effective with all troops, as demonstrated by the tendency of French* troops to get the runs.

            *N.B., no slur on French fighting forces is intended. Please feel free to substitute any suitable alternative force according to your local culture.

            1. On a surplus arms website that I frequent the guy who moderates the subforum on French military arms will ban you if you describe the condition of a surplus French Lebel rifle as “Only dropped once”.

            2. Personally, I like the line — I think it was in Ringo’s Posleen series, in whichever book has them defending an Indowy megapolis — where one of the characters complains that a French unit is anchoring their line of defense on one side, and they’re going to collapse once the enemy engages. And another informs him that the French have good troops, but terrible leadership. Essentially, (my paraphrase), everyone of lieutenant rank and below is all right, it’s only on promotion to captain that they have their courage surgically removed and politician brain matter implanted to replace it.

              Wish I could find the exact quote, but most of my books are in boxes right now in preparation for next week’s move.

              1. On a related note, the Instapundit has noted several times that the French people tend to be good, reliable sorts; they’ve just had an abysmal political class for a very long time (as in several centuries).

              2. Then there was the whole scene at the end of “Manxome Foe” where they are talking about why they can’t have the French as part of the anti-Dreen alliance:

                “As individual soldiers, they’re fine. It’s their politicians and generals who suck. Oh boy, DO they suck.”

          2. There is good evidence that the British Generals in charge of the effort in France knew all to well what they should have been doing, but the small highly trained and experienced professional British Army had been obliterated slowing down the Germans in the fighting retreat across northern France in the first months of the war, and as all they had at that point were hastily recruited and barely trained civilians all the way up the chain of command, the only thing they thought they could really manage to coordinate was “Up out of the trenches at the whistle, walk in THAT direction in a line, and keep going no matter what!”

  3. Meh, check out the hotbeds of pair formation, AKA high schools. Speciation is going to be Homo Suburbia, Homo Urbana, Homo Jockus. Or among the older set: Homo Hookup . . . Homo Divorcicus . . .

    And Odds . . . yeah, too much concentration of those genes might be bad. And when it works well, it’d be scary.

  4. Ha, you’ll never guess this IP …

    “…all but one bookstore are gone, and the bookstore has become the much smaller appendix of a toy store and two restaurants.

    We still go to that one, but I can’t say I’ve bought a book there in years.

      1. Ah– it reminded me of when I was in bootcamp and we couldn’t call each other by first names… at least that relaxed when I finally reached my first duty station.

        1. well, names are complex things. I hate to be called “Sarah” by total strangers. I’d much rather my doctors — unless it’s the one who’s seen me for 14 years — called me Mrs Hoyt or Ms. Hoyt or even Miz Hoyt.
          And I’m okay with my colleagues at Baen calling me Hoyt — or my publisher. It’s a comradery thing, then.
          I’m okay with commenters here calling me Miz Hoyt or Mrs. Hoyt or Sarah if they’re long term commenters. I’m not okay with a perfect stranger addressing me as “Hoyt!” before a screed — that feels like “superior to inferior” and they can SHOVE it.

            1. Before boot, I had no idea “recruit” was pronounced with three syllables. Nor that my very name was a curse in the mouths of those who didn’t know me. Such an education.

          1. I do hope you know that when I sometimes refer to you as “young Portagee” it is intended to convey the utmost respect and affection. Besides, I am ten years older than you young lady. That, and your husband is the bravest man I know, and your kids are just scary.

            1. When I’m talking to Mrs. Dave, I have to use Sarah’s full name, as it my confuse my Sarah why I’d be talking to her about herself, using the third person, regarding things she doesn’t remember.

                1. The Oyster Wife has gotten used to my referring to you as Sarah – in fact ‘Sarah’ without a qualifier or surname is assumed to be you. Says something about just how much time I spend with Hoyt’s Horde, it does. I referred to you as Mrs. Hoyt once (she’d made on off-handed joke about being jealous) and she told me it sounded like I was hiding something. 🙂

          2. To be fair, people referring to you by last name alone is a compliment that you’re established as Major Author Name. Though usually I see that in a list, with a slightly abstracted geeky look, like “Well, I love Correia, and Weber before the infodumps got so huge, and Hoyt, and Freer, and…”

            But there’s a world of difference between referring to The Famous Author [Sarah] Hoyt and addressing you directly by last name alone. Oy. Besides, if I did that, unless it were context heavy, which one of The Writing Hoyts would I mean? (No doubt, all of them would be after my hide, but I’d have been unclear on the insult, and really, that’s just poor wordsmithing! So many generations of sergeants would be disappointed in me!)

            1. It would probably sound like the phone calls to the Red household during Christmas or Thanksgiving.
              “Hello, Red House.”
              “Hi I need Dr. Red.”
              “Do you need the fine arts doc, the history doc, the doc doc, or the other doc doc?”
              *Whimper, whimper* “But I just want to sell you siding.”

              1. As much fun as it used to be answering the phone in the AF women’s barracks. “I wanna talk to Diane.”
                “Which Diane? Kinney, Swint or the Georgia Peach”
                “I wanna talk to Julie”
                “The jarhead or the zoomie?”
                “I wanna talk to Mary.”
                “Four Marys in this barracks, a-hole. Didn’t you bother getting a last name?”
                or – most fun of all (at 3 am)
                “I need to get in touch with (male name).”
                “40 women live in this building, a-hole. You wanna be a little more specific?”
                Fun times … not.

                1. Celia,
                  When I was an exchange student, they sent us on a bus trip at the end of the year. This was both so that we saw a bit more of the country (I saw more of the northeast) and so they could slowly cull the kids down to the “last bus” where everyone was on the same plane and get us to JFK on time. So my “last bus, stayed in CT and NYC and it was filled with Portuguese and Spaniards.” SOMEONE hadn’t culturally briefed the chaperone. He gets up there and starts calling “Maria, Maria, Maria, Maria.” Utter silence. He looks up. Me — actually not a Maria (I mean, I had it as a middle name) — “You might want to call the middle names. When someone is named Maria as a first name, they go by their middle name. When it’s their middle name, you ignore it. It’s basically filler.” Chaperone, turning red, “Oh.”

                  1. Reminds me of Spain, when about two thirds of the local ladies were named Conchita. Or Maria Conchita. Our unit secretary was one of them – she insisted that of her circle of close friends in high school (or the Spanish equivalent thereof) fifteen of them were named Conchita, which freaked out prospective boyfriends no end.
                    And the usual nick for those girls named Maria Conchita was ‘Moppy.’ Figure that out …

                  2. The distinction between immigrants and refugees is not always perceived. My European refugee parents tried to shield me from what they considered the coarsening influence of American culture. (For example they were scandalized and went through the roof when I brought home ominous music Mad Magazine.) They expected Communism to collapse but were off by 30 years.

                    So perhaps I have overcompensated for my upbringing. I don’t like doing superior-to-inferior at least not explicitly and I feel like a spineless brown-nose when I try inferior-to-superior. (I’d like to think that character contributes to my reluctance to suck up, but also I know full well how catastrophically bad at it I am.) Sticking to equal-to-equal probably minimizes the long-term damage.

            2. Oh, yes. Dorothy Sayers once had to write back to a correspondant that no, “Sayers” was a compliment in an article. A name like “Shakespeare” or “Milton.”

              I once correctly sequenced two essays by C. S. Lewis because one referred to Mr. G. K. Chesterton and the other to G. K. Chesterton.

              1. I don’t mind being referred TO by my last name. I mind having my last name barked AT ME with no honorific, which was the tone of Ms. Morgan’s comment. Yes, I could have misread her, but given her subsequent actions, not so much.
                I’m always a little amused when my publisher refers to me as Hoyt during a talk, because MOST female writers are called by their first and last name e.g. Connie Willis who sells way more than I do — though granted not the big BIG ones. I.e. Rowling. so I take it as an expression of a wish 😉

          3. Wow, that seems backwards, some what. I have gotten used to the Internet familiarity a bit and use forenames a lot, but it still seems wrong when perfect strangers address me by my forename. If they call my by my surname, that might be a bit rude, but at least it’s not (ugh!) _familiar_!

            1. I am in favor of sticking to screen names on the Web, even if we know each others’ True Names. For instance, I will always think of Miss Hayes as Sergeant Mom, Miss Chase as Bad Cat Robot, and Father Grant as Preacherman. It’s a different form of discourse, here on the Web. Oh, and I humbly beg your pardon, Mrs. Hoyt, for addressing you as Sarah a few times without invitation.

              1. PFUI. You’re a regular. Sarah is fine. (It’s better than what some nut bars here call me, to whit Her Hoytness and Mama Taz and even those are fine.) As long as you don’t call me Sarah! or Hoyt!

            2. Yeah, in person I wish receptionists and such would learn to say “Mrs. Hoyt” — but see, I’d not have taken offense at Mrs. or Ms. or Miz Hoyt. It was Hoyt: or Hoyt! from a total stranger, it had the feel of command which would set my back up, anyway….

              1. What _really_ makes my blood boil is perfect strangers cold-calling me on the telephone trying to sell me something, and addressing me by my forename.

                The way I learned it, people addressed by forename are one’s brothers and sisters in nature or Christ, good friends, small children, slaves and domestic animals. Everybody else gets the surname, either rudely or politely (with an honorific).

                I am somewhat old-fashioned about this.
                One can be polite without being familiar. One can be familiar without being polite. One can be rude without being familiar, but at least it’s not _personal_.

                1. At which point I feel moved to observe that historically, there have been a lot of patterns of familiar and formal address and these can be put to good use in the writing of fiction.

                  1. For instance, the reason men — and women in especially demanding courses, I noticed — get called by their last name only, no honorific in Portugal is that the country is not so far distant from the days when a man was a representative of his family line, no more, no less. A woman stepping into men’s shoes and doing men’s work became the same.

                2. One of my friends had a very hard time learning to use first name address when he was working at a company that rented heavy equipment. He was raised to be formal in a business setting, but they expected him to address everyone by first name and vice versa, “because this is an informal kind of business”.

                  1. Back when I was earning my first baccalaureate one instructor I had was named Mann. A grad student, he declined to be addressed as professor and I could never bring myself to address him as “Mr. Mann” nor as simply “Mann”. I usually evaded the matter, often by resorting to the British schoolboy technique of the simple “Sir?”

      2. I call some of my very good friends that I have known for years by just their last name (probably a holdover from high school) but you can call your very good friends by all sorts of things that would be rude and insulting if applied to anyone else.

        Oh, and it was ingenius of that commenter to change their IP and then use the same nom de plume.

          1. I tend to be charitable about that kind of thing. If it’s just annoying logorrhea on somebody else’s blog, well, just go, and sin no more,and come back when allowed after you’ve repented, but if it’s more than that, well, Mrs. Hoyt is not Miss Morgan’s private brain-care specialist. (Pace Douglas Adams)

        1. Ingenious? Cheeky, I calls it.

          As for what friends call one another, Owen Wister said it best: If you wanna call me that, smile.


  5. I think there are really only a few things one can teach sensibly to prepare for the future. One would hope the standard 3Rs would be something you could outsource to your offspring’s teachers though increasingly that appears not to be the case. So make sure your kinds can do the basics is key.

    Beyond that there are two things that will be critical.
    1) Ability to locate new knowledge, then learn it and finally apply it.
    B) Ability to troubleshoot something or some process

    Really if you can do those two you can have any job from plumber to programmer

    And if you want a third then
    iii) Basic public speaking/presentation skills
    would be my choice. Because you need to be able to explain to others what you’ve done, want to do, don’t want them to do etc. And public speaking is something anyone can do, all it takes is a few basics and a bunch of practice. No really. I don’t care how introverted you are, you *CAN* learn how to communicate in public. You may not get to the level of a Tony Blair or Bill Clinton but you can surely manage better than either Bush or (apparently) pretty much any presidential cnadidate from 2000 on.

    1. Robert took a public speaking class. Marsh didn’t. I wonder if I should push him into one, perhaps even as auditing… He always gets high grades for his presentation, but I attribute that to his getting nervous and speaking in a British accent (which is how he overcame his speech impediment.) One other thing to prepare your readers “Don’t make their lives too easy.”

      1. I fondly recall a 500-level course, Rhetoric & Argument in Public Debate back in my day. It covered the history and development of the principles of rhetoric, from the ancient Greeks to modern day. The section on rules of evidence (including their priority) and logic has proven quite useful over the years.

        On a side note, the professor was named Dean [REDACTED] and regaled the class with an illustration of bureaucratic reflexology on the college campus. While just a freshman he had reason to phone one of the school offices, with whom he began his conversation by introducing himself, “This is Dean [REDACTED] …” only to find the clerk extremely eager to assist him. He claimed he developed the trick of always calling ahead when he wanted something from an office: “This is Dean [REDACTED], can you please provide me with such-and-such document? I will send over a boy to fetch it.” He would then wait an appropriate period then trot to the appropriate campus office to collect whatever it was he had wanted.

        I guess the moral is that if you anticipate sending your kid to college you could select a worse first name than Dean.

    2. I would add to teach them a willingness to work. A minimal ability to learn, combined with a willingness to roll your sleeves up and get the job done will get you far in life.

    1. To be fair, calling someone by their last name is a male-environment thing and I find it hilarious that my publisher calls me Hoyt — something she does for no other woman. But it was either Hoyt! or Hoyt: both of which have a feeling of “Listen up, you ‘orrible ‘orrible maggot.” And Pfui.

      1. Now you have my brain coming up with appropriate drill-sergeanty things to say to a writer. Like, “Hoyt! Drop (down on that chair) and give me twenty (chapters)!” 😉

      2. I think of you as La Sarahnissima: meant as a compliment seasoned with a dash of My, what a long tail that cat’s got.

      3. I have a tendency to introduce myself just by my last name, especially on the phone, and that probably does come from getting used to be called just that during my university years. Back then the geology and mineralogy department was mostly male, both the staff and the students. I don’t do it that much when I write, just when I talk.

  6. Never, NEVER, count the lovers of central planning out. Along with the belief in the short, victorious war, the scientifically/fair guided economy are the two most pernicious ideas ever to be devised by man. They are the twin zombies of public/military policy. They simply will not die. Porch light to moths baby.

        1. Dammit, Dave, you make me want to fondle my revolver! (yup, just checked, it’s still there and in good shape)

          Somebody needs to arm our Hostess and get her out to the range. I know she used to punch people out when she was a kid, but we all get feebler with age. I tried to draw housemate’s hunting bow a while back and couldn’t do it. Hell, he can no longer draw it himself, and he has taken lots of hogs and deer with it!

          It don’t take much muscle to cock a hammer and pull a trigger. God made us all, but Sam Colt made us equal.

          1. Oh, Sarah, you might want to consult Peter Grant on this question. IIRC, he has shot people, and been shot by people, and has been a priest in the Roman Catholic Church. I think he is qualified to give both practical and moral advice on this subject.

    1. I read the blog Surviving in Argentina. It’s like a road accident, you can’t look away. Evidently the latest thing central planning has caused down there are “asphalt pirates”. They don’t steal asphalt, they steal food from trucks. They used to steal electronics, but now those things are too expensive for anyone to buy. So they steal food instead.

      1. Tell me again how having a woman running the country is such a great thing, no matter what she believes about politics and economics, because of “women’s ways of knowing and their holistic, emotional, balanced approach and their use of soft power.” I ask because I need to get in the right mood to write a nasty, vicious, hand-to-hand battle scene.

        1. Because women are magical and have glittery feminist hoo-has, which is why if our entire leadership were feminists, there would be no war, no famine and no want.

          No, they really believe this crap. And write it. And win awards for it. And stories of worlds in which all men were eliminated aren’t viewed as horror and genocide but as utopia.

          1. Thanks, that did the trick. Off to write bayonets and sabers in the woods, musket fire at close quarters, and a desperation charge.

          2. The only glittery hoo-has I’ve ever seen were on strippers. Dunno if they were feminist, or not.

                1. It wouldn’t be so bad, if only I wasn’t looking sideways at a few of my characters and going “Oh. GHH effect.” I mean, it’s bad enough to write like that on purpose, because of genre expectations. But, but . . . Oh, Subconscious, we need to have a long talk . . .

            1. To shamelessly swipe Mr. Correia: The only time a hoo-ha should glitter is if it’s on fire…..

          3. Ours got the pet name ‘moominmom’ from the press. Fortunately, by the time she got voted in, the presidency had already been stripped of a lot of its previous power. The president still does have some, but nowhere near as much as they used to.

            She had been a chairman (chairperson?) of the main LGBT rights organization in Finland, big proponent of human rights issues, onetime member of the Social Democratic Party of Finland (a president has to give up their party membership), once a lawyer for trade unions, our first female president. Oh the media really, really loved her. Was elected twice, always got high ratings from the people.

            Well, she does like cats.

          4. Hey, what was so bad about Elizabeth Tudor, and Maggie Thatcher, and my Mom, and even you, Sarah? Oh, yeah, y’all are all outliers and Odds.

            Pournelle, in a couple of his Falkenberg novels, mentions some women who are so charismatic and Joan-of-Arc-like that a lot of men are willing to face death for and with them. We menzes always want to think the best of you gals, no matter how often we are disappointed. I do believe we are made that way. Please don’t disappoint us, you wimminzes! I think of that famous French painting, “Liberty Leading the People” . I think of that Viking gal with Eric’s men in Newfoundland, when the Skraelings were pressing them hard, who stripped her shirt, slapped her tits with the flat of her sword, and charged the Injuns screaming at them, terrorizing them and causing her own men to remember their balls.

            1. Sorry about the passion and the rude language in the above. I’ve been drinking. They did defeat the Skraelings then and there, though, and prolly couldn’t have done it without her.

              Sometimes you just have to fight. If you are not a natural-born fighter, well, you’d best work and train yerself up to that. Never forget, we are all descended from the winners of the fights. The blood of heroes and heroines flows in all of our veins. Also, to be honest, the blood of people who saw the main chance and that discretion was the better part of valor. That’s somewhat forgivable; sometimes you have to cheat to win (Please, only cheat the cheaters!). Just always remember the virtuous goal for which we should strive.

  7. I am betting – quite literally – Junior Cat’s future on the idea that some skills will remain useful.

    One of the hardest parts I had to figure out, as a new and young and Odd parent was that Junior is Odd, but not in the same way I am, so .. I can’t teach him what I know – he has no interest nor skill for it.

    Eventually, I figured this out, and have helped nudge him (and then chase after him to keep him on track…) into a path that should keep him employed and employable no matter what the economy does. (although he’d better find a significant other who will know what to do with any chickens he takes in trade .. if we get to the point of bartering chickens..)


    p.s. I am very good at cooking prepared chickens, but am completely lost on how to kill (humanely as possible, ideally kosher?) and prep a chicken – anyone know where I could read up?

    1. Yes, indeed — that is the weird part. Younger son is a lot like me, but me if I’d taken a different track from around five. And he’s way more brilliant than I at some things, like mechanical design. You sort of have to figure that stuff. “Oh, he can’t do what’s easy to me, but he can do this which I couldn’t dream of” and then figure out what to encourage.

    2. Google. The internet is your friend. There are several sites with info from detailed to general. I read up when my neighbor’s semi-feral bantums, gineas and peafowl started eating my garden. Haven’t returned the favor of eating one or more of them . . . yet.

    3. I’ll recommend “The Encyclopedia of Country Living”. It still comes down to an axe.

      1. Axe is probably better. My mother knows two ways to wring a chicken’s neck, but I think that requires direct observation to avoid cruelty to chickens.

    4. One of the complaints I have had about my parents is the fact that my father always refused to teach me much of anything, and did not exactly encourage me to hang out in his garage, apart from helping to – okay, I’m not quite sure what the right word here would be, sand? Clean the old paint off a car, anyway, before painting it. Anyway, I did help occasionally with that in my late teens and early 20’s, and I would have wanted to also learn how to paint cars, only that he would not allow. He just did not like teaching, he preferred to do things by himself, in his own peace. And my mother was pretty much the same. She had been a professional seamstress once, but mostly that showed in the fact that she would occasionally take my sewing homework and finish it for me when she got frustrated watching me botching the job (and then try to do it in a way which was way substandard for her, in an effort to make it look as if I had done it…).

      But knowing how to paint cars, or how to sew, might both have been useful as marketable skills for me later. If you have any you can teach your kids, do.

    5. I grew up hearing about how my great-great-grandmother would kill her own chicken for supper by grabbing it firmly around the head and giving it a sharp twist of the wrist. This seems more like a skill found by long experience than one to be passed down.

      1. I was told how to disassemble a Moisin-Nagant 91-30 bolt by, “giving it a sharp twist like breaking a chicken’s neck”. So, if you want to try a training aid….well there are worse reasons to buy a rifle.

      2. It’s actually not hard. The difficult part is catching the chicken if you haven’t raised them to flock around you by throwing them some feed every time you come around. Then, when you’re ready for one, you reach down quickly, grab it at the base of the neck with one hand, grab just above that hand with the other hand, and twist quickly in opposite directions, like you’re opening a two-liter pop bottle intentionally so that it will spew everywhere. Experience comes in doing it quickly and being able to go through gathering up a half dozen without looking like you’re making an effort.

  8. I spend some amount of time everyday thinking about what I want to do differently than my parents (and I can remember this started when I was 8 years old), should my wife and I ever have kids (we don’t have anything against it, but none have come our way so far). If the future is more like the old testament then maybe my parents prepared me and my siblings. Thanks to this blog and also Instapundit I’m discovering a whole new world of thinking. For example, I got really interested in the Curiosity rover (never would have happened before) and stayed up the night it landed, making a few posts on my blog. My dad commented saying “…or maybe it is overreach, not sure man’s dominion extends to space…” I’m still angry over his comment, but also angry at myself because I honestly don’t know what I think about man’s adventure into space (other than the appeal of the technology) and I can’t explain to my dad why he’s wrong. In any event , what I have so far in terms of parenting for the future is that I want to treat my kids as individuals who have a future that I don’t know, and can’t dictate, rather than as property (my father explained that according to the Bible, kids are servants to their parents, and to pretend that other kids “don’t exist”). Also, try as hard as I can to not let my parenting style be a complete reaction to my parents, as over the years I’ve learned that they came from rough families and regret is a huge factor in their “style.” Make my parenting about the kids’ future not my past.

    On another note, I haven’t figure out what I think about e-books either. My wife calls me a young fuddy-duddy, because I’m less than 30, have predicted being disappointed in our none existent posterity, and can’t make the transition to e-books despite how much I love technology. With a book, I feel like I own something whereas a .pdf is nothing. But I guess the point is the idea the book contains, not the paper. So really with a book all I own is paper I can’t use for anything. Interesting.

    1. Don’t read a pdf, kid. Get yourself a kindle with a cover. It FEELS like a book.
      As for the Bible — it is a good foundational document and instruction on human behavior. I think reading it to imply space is “overreach” is interpreters overlay on it.
      As for space: we must go because we can; we must go because it’s safer to be a spread-out species; we must go because we’ll learn; we must go because we’re a colonist species, and when a colonist species stops colonizing it turns on itself and dies.

      As for G-d’s opinion of it, he if he didn’t want us doing it, he’d have given us less pokey-curious brains.

      Be not afraid — the future will be fun. Yes, also difficult and scary and full of strife. It always is. But oh, the things you’ll learn.

      1. I can almost top that. I was thumbing through a NKJV Bible someone gave me and noticed that the commentary for Genesis 2 has it that Adam and Eve (and all living creatures) were vegetarian before the Fall.

        I’m in a strange mood because I’ve been writing Genesis for the WIP, but with a Carrington Event instead of the flood, and I started laughing when I read those notes. Lightning has not struck yet, but He may be waiting for a large and appreciative audience.

        1. “The lion will lie down with the lamb.”

          Perhaps predation is a by-product of Fallen Creation. Perhaps part of humanity’s redemptive process is to repair Creation so predation is no longer necessary.

          (I have never seriously considered being a vegetarian, but probably I would seriously consider it if vat-grown meat were available.)

          1. OTOH, the first merciful thing God did after kicking us out of the garden was to make Adam and Eve leather jackets to replace the leaves. Vroom, vroom! Outlaws!

      2. He gave us less pokey-curious brains, but some bimbo couldn’t leave some of the fruit be.

        Oscar Wilde aptly captured human nature when he quipped, “I can resist everything except temptation.”

      3. First of all, in Biblical times most of the other kids in town would have also been your close or distant kin, and you would have hung out with them all the time. Second of all, there are several notable friendships in the Bible, including David and Jonathan. Thirdly, St. Paul said that fathers shouldn’t be jerks to their kids. Fourthly, your dad doesn’t seem to know many Jewish parents, because the ideal is that a father is very tender and kind toward his children, and that obedience by kids grows out of love.

        Fifth, it is my understanding that when God gave Adam and Eve stewardship of the universe and all that is in it, he gave us command over “every creeping thing that creeps on the ground.” So that’s a rover, yeah? 🙂

        Of course, being suspicious of tech’s consequences and human fads is also a proud part of the science fiction tradition, so maybe your dad is being fannish in his own way.

        1. “…he gave us command over ‘every creeping thing that creeps on the ground.’ So that’s a rover, yeah?” Ha! This is flawless logic for sure.

          1. Well, it’s _amusing_ logic. And I’m pretty sure that at the medieval University of Paris, somebody would make amusing Latin songs out of it, probably something bawdy about the Serpent. Also drinking and creeping home would probably be involved.

            I found it amusing that the Vulgate Latin translation for “creeping things” was “reptilia.”

      4. The most biblically orthodox position on space is probably “If G-d doesn’t want us there, we won’t get there, no matter how hard we try.” But I don’t think anybody here is going to roll over and accept the inevitable extinction that follows from us never getting there.

        The important difference I see between that and the culture of “insh’allah” is whether we keep trying.

        Given the plague of progressive politics visited upon America for her sins, and the total mismanagement by those vile progs of the space program, we as a society may not try again for a long while. Which I find sad, because I do believe that the traditional American culture has the “right stuff” to lead the species to the stars.

        1. I’ve thought about this too, but I think continuing out the logic means G-d wanted Adam and Eve to fall since they “tried hard” and succeeded, which doesn’t really make sense. What I’ve kind of settled on is, it is completely unreasonable to think we can predict what the will of G-d may be. If we can’t predict it, then what in the world is the point of putting limits on ourselves that may or may not exist? So the Bible doesn’t explicitly say we should go to space, but it also doesn’t say what I should do tomorrow.

          1. I don’t do theology, but it comes down to either God is the sort to jump out from behind bushes and scream “Gotcha”, or he really was interested in free will.
            And really, think on it, designing things so they fail so as to have a reason to punish is pretty passive-aggressive and nasty. I’d rather stick to the idea of a creator who says, “the universe is yours, just figure out how to open the box.”

      5. I think He encouraged us to do it. It was an Art Project, for engineers. I think the Lord like Art Projects, or else why would he have made the Universe, and us.

        Think about it. The Apollo Program had to work perfectly right in every detail, one after another, each depending on the last and on what was going on simultaneously elsewhere, to plant Neil and Buzz alive on the moon and get ’em back alive. It was just barely possible if everything worked exactly right. Every thing worked exactly right, which I figure means God smiled on our endeavor. And then there was Apollo 13. God still smiled on us when we screwed up, and let us show what we (well, Naval Aviators) could do to retrieve the situation. I think He likes it when we invent cool stuff. I mean, that’s what He did in the first place.

    2. I’ve got a good Biblical argument for why man’s dominion over the Earth would naturally extend to space. God gave Adam and Eve that “fill the Earth and subdue / have dominion over / rule over it” command before the Fall, right? Back when the idea was that they would be immortal? How many generations of reproducing immortals would it have taken before population pressure started pushing us to explore other planets, other solar systems?

      1. Lots.

        And on the other hand, we do not know that their terrestrial situation was permanent. It could be that when their terrestrial life was done, the blessed would say goodbye to everyone and be taken off to Heaven. Or that we would multiply to the appropriate number and then all be taken into Heaven. (One Christian theorized that number would be equal to all the angels who fell: we would then restore the population of spirits in Heaven to its appropriate number.)

    3. Indeed, one of the original imperatives is “Be Fruitful, and Multiply”, and as those nutty Malthusians from a few days ago made clear, the surface of the Earth is in fact, finite. As it is impossible for a finite space to contain an infinite series (yes, I believe human genealogy to be infinite, I’m an optimist), thus it must follow that any good, HUMANISTIC civil policy that cares so much for the little people, would include a robust space program with an eye towards eventual colonization.

      Oh. Oh, my. I appear to have justified manifest destiny in the spacefaring age. Wagon train to the stars, anyone?

      1. As it is impossible for a finite space to contain an infinite series (yes, I believe human genealogy to be infinite, I’m an optimist),…..

        Well I call that the limit.

        Some folks have a system of belief that includes the belief that just as beer is proof of Divine affection so too given a benevolent deity there must be a way to deal with the light speed limit as humanity learns to define ship as star ship.

        1. If I understand Alcubierre, all we need to do is create a negative mass, which makes the FTL drive design simple enough.

  9. It occurs to me that a decent modern parable could be made with the statist central planner bansturbators as the evil zombie masters, zombies as their drones of dependent underclass and vampires as the master race that has gone all Randian on the mismanaged statist global economy and moved onto their own parallel life

    1. Draka with zombies? Now there’s a shared-world anthology that would either appeal to, or repulse, everyone.

  10. … who needs a bedroom that large?

    Sometimes people have to improvise. Not all parts of the country are conducive to basement dungeons.

    1. Attic… okay, I guess then it wouldn’t be a dungeon, at least not technically. But attics do have a long and illustrious history. Besides, the dictionary I use most often does claim that ‘dungeon’ was also once used for the keep, so… a tower attic?

  11. I expect I have mentioned previously a CSPAN2 BookTV presentation on the history of Xerox. It is surprisingly easy to forget how recent an invention is the photocopier, nor how much it changed the culture, especially when you factor its role in development of the laser printer.

    Or look at the pocket AM radio — which gave us the idea that music should be portable and available to us at all times. Originally derided as “made in Japan” this invention formed the basis for the Japanese electronics revolution, leading to the Walkman and IPod.

    We recently caught a portion of a History Channel program on the Most Significant Inventions of the Last 100 Years (something like that – we missed the beginning), a show derived from (I believe) a Popular Mechanics survey that laid out a large variety of technology which all had in common that they significantly changed the way people live. The directions of those changes are as impossible to predict as it would be to look at a single African butterfly and start hurricane preparations in Schenectady.

    One thing that remains unchanging is the pattern of human social response to the demand for change.

  12. In a wholly UNRELATED COMMENT I want to take a moment to note the impending royal birth and express my deepest hopes that the delivery be brief.

    This is NOT from any concern over the health and comfort of the Duchess of Cambridge (frankly, I think a little honest labor is probably good for royals.)

    No, my concern is that the media coverage of this event be as brief as possible.

      1. ‘Tis a boy. All involved are reported to be doing well. (Aside from the throng of reporters trampling over each other in front of the hospital.)

        1. I wonder if that country will still be a monarchy by the time it might be that kid’s time to inherit the crown.

          Well, celebrities will still probably exist. He may be able to make a living as one.

          1. I wonder if the natural downward progression of IQ in the House of Windsor means that he’ll be able to tie his shoes unassisted.

              1. Now, now, Harry’s a smart kid and a darned good whirlybird pilot. Also I loved the interview where his guys had to scramble in the middle of it. You couldn’t see his butt for dust, practically. And Charles has grown into the kind of guy who is really quite reasonable, as long as you let him ramble around his estates doing estate work, and the whole family is full of people who do good service if you let them alone to do it.

                1. The problem with being a celebrity with money for your life job is that it doesn’t encourage people to help you up your wisdom scores. Except maybe through bitter public experience.

                  1. Yes, I remember that. And heck, Charles was supposedly a good officer too. And Philip their dad. And Elizabeth made a mean truck mechanic in the war – but they never have her visit garages, alas.

                    No, I don’t think any of that crew are stupid or cowardly. And I’d hate to have the media publicize all my stupid actions ever.

                  1. The gossips can bite everybody’s butt. Both boys look plenty like Charles.

                    As the BBC pointed out the other day, even with 200 witnesses watching the birth of the son of James II and Mary of Modena, there were still people insisting that the baby’d been smuggled into the palace in a warming pan. Because that’s what they wanted to believe, so that they could revolt and install William of Orange (and Mary, who was present and lied about the birth for her own advantage). This is not to say that James II was not a giant idiot, but there’ve been worse kings, and his son was legitimate.

                    1. IIRC, he struck me as having some resemblance to his grandma– who I rather admire.
                      Still, common rumors are good to at least know about.

            1. I’m sure that, by marrying a “commoner” (albeit a rich one), the gene pool has been granted a little leeway.

              1. Cf. the rules in Weber’s Honor Harrington series where the Manticore royals had to marry commoners, to avoid inbreeding over generations. (And for other political reasons too, as I recall, but that was the reason I remember best.)

            2. That was the whole point of the outcross with the Spencer girl. She brought in excellent genes, but was very badly and wrongly educated. Nurture can’t improve much on Nature, but it can sure mess it up.

        2. Oddly enough, the notice had that it was a boy printed out and the time hand written.

          Hmm — on reflection, one suspects that they had TWO ready to go as appropriate.

              1. Well Mary, that could have been what the Royal Family *told* the reporters and this is something that I think the Royal Family would be correct in doing.

                Reporters IMO ask too many personal questions about things that are “none of their business” and won’t have taken a “no comment” or “none of your business” as a good answer.

                1. Yes, but that would not have stopped the reporters from worming about. Odds of preserving silence are low.

                2. The diminution of the private sphere is another aspect of our culture’s return to primitivism. The world would be little diminished if no celebritard was ever allowed to Twitter, FB post or speak in public outside the limited spheres their abilities entitle them to occupy.

                  That this is concurrent with an increase in the realm of what once was public (government affairs) now becoming private (in the name of “transparency”) is probably not coincidental.

                  1. My grandmother has been known to rail on about how, back in the time of her girlhood, the studios wisely made their screen talent sign contracts that prohibited them from speaking publicly. It was specifically to prevent embarrassing nonsense spilling from their lips and hurting ticket sales. Of course, now they see no need for that because those celebritards are worshipped as akin to gods.

          1. Since my husband was at school when our youngest was born, I did the same thing for his birth announcement– had it all written up and neatly formatted in each version, with his full name (guess the English title will work for them) and a spot for the picture, with “born April XX at XXXX weight X.X height XX.”

            I was still on pain meds when I filled out the Xs and put it with the celebration candies so his non-deployed coworkers knew what was up. ^.^

      2. So very quickly???? I bet it was delivered days ago and they’ve just had it hidden in back, they way those cooking shows do a 5-hour standing rib during the commercial break!

        1. You know you’ve been around some people too long when you expect the next post to be “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”

            1. Does he ever say “Put that in your pipe and smoke”? [Wink]

              1. No. He does all the smoking around here. But not in the same room I’m in. And cigars? I’m a very easy going gal, really, but _those_ he smokes outdoors.

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