The Carol of the Bells

There is a scene in one of Giovanni Guareschi’s books (I think The Little World Of Don Camillo) in which the communists set up a rally in front of the church complete with amplifiers.  Then there is a big wig from the city who comes to give the big rally speech and it’s all about the evils of capitalism, the imperialism of America and clerical reactionaries who exploit the people and other such chestnuts.

In the book, Don Camillo paces up and down, each sentence making him feel like he has a live cat in his stomach (I understand Don Camillo at a gut level, you could say.)  And then he loses it and remembers that the bell tower is constructed in three (four?) levels and that at each level the bell puller can pull the ladder up into the next level.  Which means, when he’s at the top there’s no way to get at him.

So Don Camillo goes to the top of the tower, and starts ringing the bell at/over the most offensive passages.  (I can imagine that as Americans you’re all recoiling instinctively at this, because the idea of freedom of speech is so strong, but let it rest that in the context of the book this is a battle in a war between communists and “righties” – which in the post war era meant “sides with America” – for the hearts and minds of the people, and that the communists had violated the rules of the game by putting the amplifiers in front of the church.)

The communists rapidly come to the conclusion there’s no way to get at him, but since the bells only peal on the most outrageous pieces of cant, about American imperialism, retrograde clericalism and the like, the speaker quickly learns he has to moderate what he says – and, to paraphrase the story “ends the speech on a pathetic and patriotic note that the bells wouldn’t deign contest.”

(I later repeated this incident – sort of – by getting caught in the middle of a communist rally and singing patriotic songs at the top of my lungs whenever they went over the acceptable partisan bullsh*t.  This while I was on the phone with Dan, who still married me, despite it.  [I was in a phone booth the rally formed around.]  Only I didn’t have a bell tower, but that was all right, because I had the weighted weaponized umbrella.  [ You only think I was joking.  Mom had it built for me.])

Most of us don’t have a bell tower – or an umbrella – not even metaphorically.  I keep coming up again and again to the thought that we should have started talking back in the eighties, instead of letting friends, colleagues and people in public life construct this myth that if only Carter had had a second term, we would be living in paradise.  We should not have gone along with their myth that Reagan’s cutting (a bare pruning) of government was iniquitous.

And we should never, ever, have let them get off easy over communism and the horror that communism really was.  We should have pointed again and again, when they tried to weasel that “but it’s not real communism” that “real communism can’t exist with real humans.”

We should have pealed our bells so loudly that they couldn’t tell themselves their comforting fairytales and pull their collectivist dreams over their wooly little heads.

We didn’t, partly because we had no blogs, and partly because we had no metaphorical bell tower.  For those of us in creative professions – but even for the ones in tech ones – there was no alternate route, no ladder we could pull up.  They could get us where we lived.  And they would.  Since they confuse morals with politics, they have no qualms about punishing political opinion with professional disgrace and ostracism.

So we couldn’t talk.  And because the media, entertainment and the news, or what the fabulous Ms. Chase calls the media/entertainment/industrial complex all reinforced their delusions and assured them there was real gold and promise in trying again all these old, bankrupt, vile ideas of forcing everyone to live the way the “enlightened” ones at the top decided, we’re now in the position we’re in.

I mean, you hear about echo chambers but for the last fifty years we’ve had an enormous echo-chamber of what is now called “progressive” (progressing rapidly back to the thirties.  The NINETEEN thirties) ideas.

Even for me, talking before I had an alternate route to feed my family fell under unacceptable risk.

And then of course, the question is if by then it was already too late.  As I said this madness, worldwide, started before any of us (or most of us) were born, certainly before any of us were old enough to do anything about it.  It was all “scientific governance” and therefore a small cadre of “geniuses” were supposed to steer us past the rough spots that the common man couldn’t navigate.  It was the spirit of the age, and as inevitable then as it is out of step with reality now.

Mind you, it didn’t work well, even then, but the illusion it could work could be maintained in the era when everything was “mass” – mass transportation (though that never took well in America) and mass manufacturing, and mass marketing, and mass entertainment, and mass—

The likely future of that world was 1984, where things were run tightly from above, not well but inevitably.  Heinlein predicted something like that, too.  See the beginning of the Door Into Summer and how forlorn it was for the character’s father to hold on to individualism.

We didn’t go there.  We went the other way, towards a million different alternatives, towards niche marketing, An Army of Davids, the ability for someone with a bell tower and a ladder to make a lot of noise indeed.

Because the last time I posted about something touching on this, one of you got the idea I was saying mass manufacturing of heavy industry stuff shall go away soon, I would clarify that’s not what I meant.  (I’m not saying that it will be with us forever, either.  I never cut short human invention.  But I think that for the remainder of the lives of everyone who is alive today there will remain some mass manufacturing and some heavy manufacturing.)  What I mean is that each age has a “prototypical” way of doing things.  In Elizabethan England, for instance, the nascent industry was cottage industry, labor intensive, and most people still worked mostly at growing food, because their methods of cultivation required THAT much work.

In say the forties and fifties, our factories required – still – a lot of human labor and human supervision.  To create the goods needed for civilized life, you need to make them all in one pattern, and as many as possible for economies of cost, and the making of them involved a lot of people in work that was done for a few, massive employers.

Now we’re at the beginning of that trend going the other way: towards distributed employers, and small-scale and customized goods for the people, all of it taking less human labor to produce.  The trend is maybe forty years young, so very young indeed in sociological terms, where things change very slowly, if they ever change at all.

So maybe my dream that we should have started talking back back in the eighties is just that.  Maybe it was impossible.

But the panic and lashing out we see on the other side now, comes from just a few towers, spread throughout the landscape and ringing in tiny voices over their speakers and amplifiers.

So, two things:

First, never think that we are defeated.  Yeah, they finally captured all the high ground, and they have all the amplifiers, and sometimes it seems our little bells mean nothing, even when we’re ringing the pure truth.  But just by ringing, by being the dissenting voice, we’re causing a reaction and we might in time even – who knows—cause moderation and common sense in those amplified speakers.  Don’t lose heart.  Don’t let that ladder you pulled up behind you make you believe you’re in a world of your own, and that nothing you do affects anything out there.  It’s very early, and they’re still angry and trying to find a way to silence the bells.  Once they realize that’s impossible, that’s when sanity can be expected. Will it be in our time?  I don’t know.  Shut up and keep ringing.

Two: My friend Bill Reader reminded me that October is coming out month, though as he put it “I don’t think they meant it for conservatives.”

I’m not in your position.  I don’t know how secure your tower is, or if you can pull the ladder up after yourself.  I’m not advising anyone to do anything that will cost them family support or employment, or the material things they need to survive.  But I’m asking you to take a step back and access where you are, because things are changing very fast.  And if you come to the conclusion that you can come out, do so.  As someone who did – it makes you far less conflicted.  There’s something soul-corroding about pretending – even through silence – to be something you’re not.  My grandmother used to say “Quem cala consente” which for those less fluent in Portuguese means “Those who remain silent are taken to give permission.”

If you can, consider taking up that rope and ringing that bell.  It might seem to you – it often seems to me – the sound gets lost as soon as it echoes, but little by little you start realizing people are listening.  And those in the crowd who do not dare come out yet, are taking comfort from it.  And the other side starts to realize that no, this is not what all thinking people agree on.

And we take a step back from the cliff we’ve been careening towards.

It’s entirely possible that the future really is a boot stepping on a human face forever – but that future is only possible if we let it happen.  You’re not responsible for the past and you can’t change it.  And the present is the direct result of that past.  But the future is what we let it be.

Shut up and ring your bell.

204 thoughts on “The Carol of the Bells

  1. You don’t even have to “ring dem bells” — sometimes the best response is a loud horselaugh or a simple Muntzian Ha-ha. Deny these fools their curtain of seriousness.

    Think how much effect such a response to Obama’s promises that “if you like your [fill-in-the-blank] you can keep your [fill-in-the-blank] would have had.

  2. I know – that you and Wretchard at Belmont Club have reminded me over and over again – that despair is a sin. I am tempted to it now and again of late, when I see politicians, the mainstream news media all describing the Tea Party as terrorists, and read of a petition (on Huffington Post, naturally) demanding that the GOP leadership be arrested and tried for sedition. So – the otherization and criminalization of political dissent is making great strides. I suppose the special camps and little colored patches for the inmates to wear defining their specific crime against the State are not very far off.

    Two lines that I remind myself of now and again when I am tempted to despair: 1 Kings 19:18 “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.”

    And from Macauley’s Lays of Ancient Rome:
    ‘Then out spake brave Horatius,
    The Captain of the Gate:
    “To every man upon this earth
    Death cometh soon or late.
    And how can man die better
    Than facing fearful odds,
    For the ashes of his fathers,
    And the temples of his gods.”‘

    1. I share that temptation, from time to time. But lately? I’m starting to take the overreaction as a wonderful sign. It is an overreaction, this attempt to dehumanize, demonize, otherize a ‘small’ group of opposition. Over a budget stalemate? Really? The progs are tipping their hand, they believe they’ve won the nation and will carry the day.

      I continue to believe that Democrats are no more monolithic than Republicans, that the great big middle of American politics trends back and forth over the same moderate line based on individual assessments of singular policies/ideas. Most folks don’t closely identify with a particular party, it goes against the grain. The progs aren’t in the majority, it’s just that some of their concepts are alluring to some people. They’ve benefited from the drift for now. But they are doing their level best to alienate the middle.

      Look at the responses after Sandy Hook. Everyone felt the tragedy, everyone felt the pain. Then they decided to demonize, actively attack, literally threaten death to those who opposed a political point. Then they followed up after the 2012 election: “We won, get over it.” Somewhat like “It’s the law, shaddup.” The ongoing (and perhaps increasing?) shrill cry of racism regarding opposition. Barrycades, anybody?

      These things don’t sit well with actual Americans. And there are more than a few actual Americans on either side of that middle ground. People who believe vehemently in the supremacy of the individual, and believe in individual rights. And they’re starting to get a little uncomfortable.

      They came for the… Except, they didn’t come for anybody, they just attacked them publicly. And so the people who’ve been sitting this out because, well, those guys were a little rude/weird/bearded/odd, those folks are starting to see the Then They Came For Me end of it all. And the rude/weird/bearded/odd rest of us are still here to stand for them!

      For myself? I’ll stand beside any American in opposition to the destruction of our grand experiment. If they don’t agree with me on point X? So, what? Nobody agrees with me on that one. The progs are giving the lie to a lot of the malicious code in our culture, and some folks are figuring them out. I say “Welcome, friends! The pointy end goes that way.”

      sorry, my fingers just kept twitching…

    2. You know, there was a time when I was listening to Rush, and he said that the Democrats wanted to criminalize the other side. I thought that was slightly over-the-top at the time. *sigh*

    3. I read this on Bill Whittle’s new site today, and it got me thinking — that and Sarah’s comment that no progressive ideas can last more than three generations before it collapses.

      I think the progs have pushed too far, and there’s a growing backlash against them — not just in politics, but also in education, especially post-secondary education. The expense keeps going up and up, and the quality keeps dropping. Most college students today feel they paid too much for too little, especially those that got used to be referred to as “sociology” degrees. “Chicago-style” doesn’t translate well in Washington, and the nation is far too big to treat like the city of Chicago. There IS going to be resentment. There IS going to be backlash. There IS going to be a backing off of the Federal tit, simply because you have to give up so much of your soul to stay connected.

      I think what did it for most non-conservatives was the moment when Obama said he “would not negotiate” — it was his way or nothing, even when the entire nation had come to realize that what he was selling — Obamacare, and the federal takeover of the health care industry — couldn’t work.

      Meanwhile, he keeps firing top generals in his drive to destroy the US Military. He doesn’t realize that he can fire the entire officer corps and all that will happen is that the senior NCOs would take over. The man has been “promoted” so far above his level of competence that even the blind are beginning to see. The Democrats have begun to see this, and see that their continuing support of this man will not only destroy our government, but their politcal party and its brand for a hundred years. Expect the chaos to increase daily until the collapse. It’s coming.

        1. Wayne, I recall the same sort of support of Nixon right up until the end. There comes a tipping point after which only the bitter clingers remain. When John Stewart can’t put lipstick on Sibelius’ pig you know we will be dining on pork chops soon.

      1. I’m not sure I agree with Bill. I think this regime is a shell propped up by fraud and the media and we should NOT be running away from our opposition to it. Yes, the “Republican” brand is tainted, but so will any other brand that rises up against Teh annointed one. Look what they did to Tea Party in four years. So I think the solution is to claim it proudly and call them out for what they are. No, I’m not fond of the current Republican establishment, so my idea is to take the party over.

  3. You got it right this time Sarah. Silence is compliance. Sitting on our hands wishing for things to change isn’t going to work. I would dare anyone here to give me an example where it has. (Good luck, I’ve got a degree in history and I don’t know of any.) Only by demanding what we want can we get it. The time to speak up was here a LONG TIME AGO. Never forget the example set by our Founding Fathers.

    I keep wanting to go to an Overpasses to Impeach Obama rally on the weekends, but I can’t because of my work schedule. I do keep posting things on my Facebook, but I’m pretty sure it’s not accomplishing much. I’ll talk to anyone who will listen. I offer moral support to my cause any time it’s asked for and monetary support on the rare occasions when I can afford to do so. Who is with me?

    1. Working for a media company, who recently came out with a “Social Media Policy”, I can’t say as much as I would like, except in closed groups. But I get a jab in here and there.

      The reflexive defense of O-Care has gotten so knee-jerk that when I posted a cartoon (where people had gotten together to build a ship to fend off the Vikings launched it even though they knew they had done a terrible job, and it caught itself on fire), and likened it to the HealthCare.Gov website, two people came in and gave me crap about it, because they likened it to an attack on O-Care itself (which I have done elsewhere, but this time I was going after the clusterf*** they called a website).

        1. Hey! I only saw it because a page called, “Kismet Gamer Gathering” shared it.

          I haven’t remembered to visit the site from home, yet. I looked a little from work and promptly closed that tab. 🙂

  4. I think that this month will be regarded as the high water mark for the Progressive left. They initiated their final dream, the big health care program and it collapsed under it’s own rules and the incompetence of the progressive people who brought into being. The collapse of demonstrates all the fallacies of the basic ideas of the left and the fact that what used to meritocracy has devolved into cronyism. Fortunately the collapse just involved a webpage and hasn’t yet cost a tithe of human lives.

    1. Part of why I come here is because, every now and then, I get flashes of the idea that we might actually win this in the long run. Winning won’t fix everything, but… the “ratchet” might break a bit, before it reaches a snapping point that will send us off the far side.

      1. Or at least, if the future is a boot stamping on a human face, my face doesn’t have to be one of them, and I don’t have to stand against it alone.

        The hardest part of living in LA was it felt like I was watching a train hurtling down on a bunch of people playing on the tracks, and I was the only one who could see it. I couldn’t stop it, couldn’t get them off the tracks, couldn’t do anything but wonder if I was sane, or if they were.

          1. Yech! That’s… demeaning (and possibly smelly, if we are talking about the sandals).

            And then if you manage to hold your own she will start caterwauling and play the victim, to the hilt.

              1. I recall reading that in large Prisoner’s Dilemma games, the best performing algorithms of the non-communicating types were optimistic, vengeful, non-envious, and mildly forgiving.

                They were optimistic in that they greeted new algorithms with the assumption of trust. They were vengeful in that they returned distrust for distrust. They were non-envious in that they did not modify their behaviour based on the point totals of the programs they were dealing with. They were forgiving in that they would occasionally trust an entity that had returned distrust for trust in the past.

                Unfortunately, the best performing algorithms turned out to be the crony class. Basically you had a cluster of algorithms that had elaborate communication dances they would set off when they first met another algorithm. If one of them was a leader, and the other a minion, the minion would sacrifice itself to the leader. If they were both the same type they would simply trust each other. If one of them was a non-crony minions would sabotage them. I don’t know what the leaders would do, but I think they used the solo optimal pattern of tit for tat.

  5. I hope that the American Voters will find a moment of clarity in the Omacare Web Disaster. This should mark the end of the liberal single payer fantasy. On the other hand people do like thier fantasies.

    1. I’m not sure they’ll give up. Universal Health Care is one of the idols of the Left. Things get ugly when the gods fail.

    2. Oh, good lord no. There are already people saying that the problem is that we didn’t implement a single-payer system, not because centralizing the thing is a bad idea.

      1. And even when you end up with something which doesn’t work, and people can see that it costs them more than the previous system did, there will still be those who don’t mind, or at least keep saying they don’t mind that they are paying more because now some imaginary poor family somewhere is surely doing much better than they did before, and complaining about your own expenses just makes you a bad person. Think of the poor. And if the spin machine can dig out even one such family and parade them around for a while… well, that might need several other sympathetic low-income families who are now doing much worse because of ACA to counterbalance that, and with your MSM the chances for that getting publicized enough to make a difference even if those families do come out may not be good.

        That’s the way things are in countries which do have government run health care which does not work well. There is always the worry that even if it does not work well we’d be much worse off without it, or at least the low-income people would. And if you are not low-income yourself you need to think of those who are (besides, then you can pay for the better services anyway, so it does not impact you so much, so what are you complaining about anyway? Bad person. Guilt tripping works, especially with people have been brought up on that. And now I will guilt trip you Americans – that’s why what happens in your country is important. You are the big visible example. Even with your and our MSM spinning all they can, what really happens in your country can still be the most visible example.)

        Or maybe it’s just that I’m starting to feel the diminishing light and feeling more pessimistic due to that. I hope.

        1. Well, let me tell you this. They have made an eternal enemy of me, because the increase in cost for my insurance, combined with the change in coverage, plus my wife’s medications, is going to cost me my house. And if I hear the words, “We have to be better health care consumers”, (to reduce costs, you know) from my employers one more time, I may lose it, right there in the office.

          1. Wayne, you need to write up your story. Increased costs, reduced coverage, the house, the whole nine yards. If you’ve already done that, I’m sorry if I missed the link.

            Those are the stories that need to get out, and we need to get behind them and push. > >

  6. “Then pealed the bells more wild and sweet/ G-d is not dead nor doth He sleep./ The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/ With peace on Earth, good-will to men.”

    H.W. Longfellow, “Christmas Bells,” written in 1863 not long after his son was wounded while fighting in the Civil War.

  7. Things do look bad. Some of us believe that a bloody civil war lies ahead. The only thing to do is as Sarah said “Ring your bell.” Do the best we can to refute the vile progs and do our best every day we can.

    1. The best way to avoid a bloody civil war is to disabuse “them” of the notion that they represent a majority and will face only token resistance. Refute their false beliefs and embolden those who think themselves alone.

      What good is sitting alone in your room?

      1. Which side is the military (the actual rank and file, not the politicians in the five-sided wind tunnel) on? Which side has almost all of the guns.

        The vile progs are pretty good at gathering mobs on doorsteps. How long would those mobs last if they were met with 00 buck?

        1. While 00 is impressive at close range it starts to leave people size holes in the pattern out past 15 yards or so. #1 or #4 buck on the other hand will to the job out past 50 yards in a full choke 12 gauge.
          You’ll find that most cop shops have switched to the smaller buckshot, at least the ones with knowledgeable armorers.

          1. Sounds like 00 buck is the perfect load for shooting at a mob on your lawn. They’re not more than 6 or 7 yards away and they’re all packed together. At least at first.

            For the distance work I’d be looking at rifles.

  8. Yes, “silence means assent” is an old English saying, as well. But stay flexible: much of the populace is easily distracted and may wander away from both your opponent’s circus and your bell tower, if something else new and dramatic appears over the next hill. You may be needed over there, next.

    1. Never fear, it’s only a matter of time before they decide, once again, that those of us who didn’t buy into their plan are somehow responsible for their manifest failure.

      If we’d have clapped loudly enough, maybe the fairy would still be alive. Since we didn’t, her death is all our fault.

      1. There are people who maintained that the Republican governors sabotaged it by not opening their own exchanges. Yes, folks, obeying the law is sabotage. They should have realized that Obama was an incompetent buffoon.

  9. A tutelary fable from here.

    Those who grew up in the 50s and 60s will no doubt remember cartoon shorts by Disney which featured Goofy struggling to be a good citizen. One of his lessons, related to driving a car, but applicable hither, thither, and even yon, was to “Don’t drive with your horn.” No matter the provocation — no matter how great an ass the Other Guy may be, do not respond. The lesson seems sometimes to have penetrated, with one result among others that drivers have become ever more rude as time has passed and more of them get away with ass-like behavior behind the wheel.

    To which I urge, one must stop letting them get away with it. Don’t let them get away with weaving in and out of traffic, with making illegal left turns from the right lane, with illegally changing lanes in the middle of an intersection. Don’t let them get away with infringing on the civil rights of the people, with turning a free and prosperous society into a Third World hellhole.

    Blow your horn.


  10. OK, I just want to clarify some things.

    1. No, no true American would be remotely upset by the notion of ringing the church bells over the Communist speech. It’s the Church’s land, after all, and they’re entitled to make the decision about when their bells are rung. (I merely assume that the pastor approved of the choice.) If the Communist protestors don’t want to compete with church bells, they should do their protesting somewhere that there aren’t any church bells to compete with.

    2. No, although I’m not Dan, I’m prepared to bet rather a lot that he didn’t marry you “despite” the incident you describe. Rather, it only endeared you to him all the more. It might not have actually _happened_ this way, but for guys like us, an incident like that can easily be enough to resolve the debate going on in our heads quite decisively, in favor of “for God’s sake, man, MARRY HER already, and DO IT FAST before some OTHER guy figures out she’s not already your wife!”. 🙂

    (BTW, I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m pretty much already as “out” as I’m going to get, this side of the revolution. Most of the people I work with follow facebook, so my chain of “Like”s makes it pretty obvious. My in-laws know. And my birth family? Yeah, no. As appealing as the concept of my mother never speaking to me again is, I wouldn’t want to be held accountable for the consequences to the rest of them.)

    1. They are willing to sacrifice those kids for their political agenda. The really telling point is threatening to punish the girls to shut them up about the harassment!
      “Tolerance.” PFUI!

        1. Hm. I wonder if a father who wants his children in a divorce case might have a better chance if he suddenly identified himself as a transsexual? Could always decide that he is a man after all, after a few years.

  11. This reminds me a bit of when I first listened to Rush Limbaugh. I thought, “heh, i’m not the only one who thinks like this.” As more of us come out, it gets harder for the army of darkness to implement Alinsky #13.

  12. Nineteen thirties? Yeah, except the parts that look more like eighteen sixty.

    But I remember how the Berlin Wall fell. (Exaggeration warning) One day it was a deadly killing field you had to survive to escape, the next day people were strolling through Checkpoint Charlie to shop . . . then walking back home.

    The USSR . . . melted. Without lashing out against it’s own people.

    I think it’s like one day _everyone_ just looked around and saw through the illusion. We need to think about how to lift the illusion, here. Or maybe it’s something you can’t push. People have to decide to look at it, and see, or not see, government overreach.

    1. Do remember that, in the grand scheme of things, the fall of the Soviet Union was a huge, huge anomaly. Historically, huge things like the Soviet Union don’t just collapse, and have the participants ruefully fold their tents and steal away into the night like so many embarrassed students caught TP’ing the principal’s house for Homecoming.

      Honestly, I’m, still rather shocked to realize I survived the whole thing. I fully expected to die on a Central European battlefield from about the time I was 13 up until I turned 35. In some ways, I still haven’t internalized that survival.

      Going by historical precedent, the fall of the Soviet Union should have meant the destruction of most of North America, and a huge chunk of the Eurasian land mass. That it didn’t? Incredibly lucky, bordering on ludicrously miraculous. Generations from now, scholars will marvel at the fact that it actually happened.

      1. There’s a lot of us that haven’t fully internalized the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting lack of a nuclear war.

            1. Probably not. The Soviet arsenal most likely in the same condition as the rest of their heavy equipment, and they know it.

              The Chinese, well, we owe them too much money, and they own too many businesses on US soil.

              No one else really has the ability to wage a nuclear war on us.

              A nuclear *attack* OTOH…

              1. If there are two things the Russians have kept up to date, it’s their nuclear arsenal and their space program. There are limits to my admiration of their space program . . . but it is functional. We cannot blithely assume anything about the nukes.

                1. ” There are limits to my admiration of their space program . . . but it is functional. ”

                  Yep, remember the story about NASA spending I don’t know how many thousands of dollars to develop a pen that would work in space, because all of our normal pens don’t work in zero gravity. The Russians used a pencil.

                    1. Yea. The original space pen was developed by some dude who though “Nasa’s spending buckets on smudgy space pencils. I bet I could make a pen that would do that like 100 times better!” and so he did.

                      Yes, Nasa was using pencils, and they were spending unbelievable amounts to develop them. Though, most of that cost was in trying to figure out a casing that allowed an astronaut in a space suit to be able to pick up and manipulate them. That is, as it turns out, really hard.

                2. As somewhat of a manufacturing guy (I’ve bounced around a few jobs in that type of work), I’ve seen some (a few) pieces of Russian design and engineering. It’s robust, I’ll grant you that. But their quality is for $#!~.

                  The likely have their best and brightest on their space and nuke programs, though- production of these sorts of things doesn’t allow for much error. I still have doubts about how reliable they will be, long term.

                  On the other hand, Chinese manufacturing is bipolar. I’ve seen some elegant designs with horrid production and vice versa, some well made products, and some that third world thumbless fish could have bettered. When they build something they *want* built right, it usually works. They have a rather careless view of patent and copyright, so I cannot say what is… copycat work, improved upon, or innovative.

                  I have no doubts about their weapons capability, I can say that much. Systemology is a horse of an entirely different color, and not my forte at all, so can’t say anything about that…

                  1. “I’ve seen some (a few) pieces of Russian design and engineering. It’s robust, I’ll grant you that. But their quality is for $#!~.

                    The likely have their best and brightest on their space and nuke programs, though- production of these sorts of things doesn’t allow for much error. I still have doubts about how reliable they will be, long term.”

                    Check out an AK-47, they may not be smoothly finished works of elegant beauty, but pretty is as pretty does. Short of setting them on concrete and driving over them with a cat they are almost impossible to make them not function. Our guys in the middle east are getting shot with fifty year old models, that have never been cleaned! From what I know of their nuke program they had the nuclear equivalents of Kalashnikov working on it, don’t know that much about their space program, but I suspect something of the same mindset goes into it. Functionality and reliability would be their goals if so, efficiency and elegancy will take a distant second.

                    1. The AK is a damned fine piece of engineering, and durable as all hell. That’s one of the things I had in mind, in fact. *grin* For a weapon of peasant armies, is does a hell of a job- but the Galil I’ve heard is a superior piece, that being the Israeli manufactured version of the AK. Durable, robust manufacture, sure, but the Russian AK has to be in order to stand up to poor/nonexistent maintenance.

                      The only reasons I have long term concerns about their nukes and space program is the sharply reduced tolerance for error that’s called for in these areas. Can’t say I have much practical at all about either one, so take this with a huge grain of salt- I’m comparing apples to iPads here, and I know it.

                  2. Russian manufacture, oh yeah. I got to inspect a MiG 15 while I was taking and aircraft structures and repair course. No two rivets were the same size, my had to Bog. They lined up (mostly), and the beast was as robust as h-ll, but our local FAA inspector turned several interesting shades of puce and lime as he gave the beast the once over. The wiring also appeared to be, ah, creatively installed. But the MiG flew.

                    1. You have to remember, most of these aren’t products of Soviet ingenuity. Most of these are the result of some mad spark who woke up one day wit ha burning compulsion to invent the ultimate machine gun.

                      The Tu-2 team apparently did a good chunk of their conceptual work while they were stuck in the Siberian prison camps, not because this was what they were assigned to do, but rather, because they loved planes.

                      When the Nazis invaded Stalin realized they needed bomber more than political control, so they got hauled out to go make the bomber a reality.

                      Compare that to, say, the P-51, which had been a side project of the NAA chief engineer for some years, and the moment they had a suitable buyer they had a first build out in three months, and was delivering production units 16 months later.

          1. A very severe retrenchment, releasing Eastern Europe. And baring a turnaround in their fertility rate, they’re as likely to become a Muslim state as re-emerge as a world power. _When_ the Chechens take over their nukes, I’ll worry about “Russia” again.

            1. It is not the Russians who concern me, nor their nukes — it is the socialists. Right now they control Russia, several adjacent countries, France, Britain, the UN & IMF and major institutions within the US (including two and a half branches of the federal government.)

              And, of course, much of the toxins they injected into the Middle East and Africa are still active.

        1. I still occasionally slip up and refer to Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and East Germany, and the Warsaw Pact and Iron Curtain. The students give me odd looks.

          1. I can relate. I still refer to the Soviet Union in class when referring to the current nation of Russia. The odd looks must be a universal student response.

      2. It sounds like it was a miracle. I’m sure many people had prayed for one, and the answer this time was yes.

  13. Well I just had an interesting work related lunch. During which it occurred to me that the majority of competent infosec people that are US based are heavily, heavily libertarian / small government conservative going on “classical liberal”. They (we) tend to not come out in public and state our political beliefs in work situations – though may be changing that – but it is becoming clear to me that the majority do slant this way. And that the more competent they are the less they buy into ideas that governments can solve problems at all (let alone solve them better than private citizens).

    This should be heartening to the rest of us. What with the whole NSA thing, I think a lot of people think that cyber security is just another branch of the watchers for the coming totalitarian state. I suspect no one on the top of the big statist piles we have right now has give too much thought to the political leanings of the underlings who do in fact protect their secrets and make sure that no one hacks their phone system. And really if the people who spend all their time stopping the Chinese and the Iranians and others from hacking the electrical grid, the oil pipelines etc. do decide that actually something needs to be done then it will be done. They know how to do it, they have the admin rights to do it (or people that trust them do) and almost certainly no one will ever be able to prove who did it.

          1. I’ve been in a roughly similar, analogous position, and he didn’t need to be extremely bright to do what he did, he just needed to be in the right position and not be afraid of the consequences.

    1. One more for the radical libertarian guarded-techno-optimist group. That is, if we could bring ourselves to congregate in a group.

      I’m also “undercover” from a work perspective. The few times I’ve let even the faintest hint of the way I see the world show (and it is apparently a very different way of seeing the world), I get some rather over-the-top reactions from my peers/coworkers. (I still need to maintain a working relationship in order to research/graduate.) I may not be completely alone though – I saw some rather strident libertarian literature on the door of a math professor’s office. Maybe he has tenure and can actually speak his mind.

      I’ve put a tutorial up on encryption on my blog though, and have spoken out a bit about that. My coworkers take the attitude that any use of encryption is just asking to be stepped on by the state, and that it is the height of antisocial paranoid foolishness to attempt to safeguard your data or communications anyway. If you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t even be curious about this dangerous knowledge. If you do try to hide anything, you’re going to jail and it’s your own foolish fault for trying to be clever.

      My attitude is that it is your *right* to communicate however you damn well feel like communicating, encrypted or not, and that if you actually take the time to understand what you are doing you can adequately safeguard your data from casual collection by any eavesdropper. If I had something to say privately, and the NSA wanted that communication, they can get a warrant from a real judge.

      Considering how many times I have been treated to surreal over-the-top rants/accusations of intellectual/moral/whatever treason whenever some of my thoughts become known, I’d say I have a lot of things to hide.

      1. Hint: “trust group” also recall that it is almost universal that after hours discussions over beer/wine etc. are great ways to build relationships

        1. I wonder how many NSA analysts specialize in SF/F sites?

          “No, I think they really do mean “magical sword,” it’s that other group that uses it to mean “backpack nuke.”

          1. Heck, I think half of the dye kits in Hellgate: London are named after British nuke projects. I haven’t systematically checked them yet, but I should.

      2. Dig up the cypherpunks mailing list archives. The early years (1994-1998) will be most interesting to you.

  14. Apropos of off topic: 3000 words and the plot just veered off in a new direction, two miles.

    And no words tomorrow – I’m teaching US government all day. Slowly, slowly, one class at a time, the stealthy libertarian works her (not so) evil spells. At least as much as the lesson plan permits, that is. 🙂

    1. Worked on an outline that may or may not be ready for NaNoWriMo.

      And five miles. (Day’s total thus far.)

      1. Came up with more NaNo ideas while staring out the train window. Worked on edits to WIP to get it ready for betas before NaNo.
        Walked several blocks in NYC. The buildings here are really tall.

    1. Milton Friedman’s grandson, Patri Friedman, is involved in that effort. He spoke at the Cato Institute a few years ago, and I got to hear him. It was pretty inspiring. I came away with my own seastead story–nowhere near as involved or complicated as Sarah’s are. My story is staying in the drawer for the moment.

    2. I had one as well in a story of mine in the drawer (was I writing that Freshman year? I think so). Atlantis, off the coast of Florida, and some sister cities off the coast of California and Japan. IIRC the design was a bunch of converted oil platform pylons that were used to lift ocean-going ships up above the water/swells/weather to form semi-permanent structures off the coasts, but allow them all to break up and move in an emergency.

      The idea was they would do all the things there (medicine, chemical refining, fuel production, physical industry) that became legally impossible to do on land. I suppose it’s a common idea.

      1. I just used one converted oil platform. The Venezuelans attacked it. I had a friend at work read it to fix egregious naval errors. He made two observations: 1. Dump the Silkworms–they’re wrong, and 2. “Laura, I just realized you’re a libertarian.”

          1. Well, thank you kindly. I will use that. Details are good. And, actually, I had given the seasteaders (who everyone here knows are the good guys), the Silkworms, which was Sublimely Stupid (blushing).

            1. That’s not entirely stupid in my opinion. They are Chinese surface to surface missiles, copied by others like the Iranians, and might be floating around the black market in your fiction.

              The “problem” is that “Silkworm” as a label was attached to several different Chinese systems. The HY-2 missile called “Silkworm” is a land-based surface to surface missile that would easily be used by a platform to defend against ships. Exported all over the world really. You can find pictures on Wikipedia. It would probably have a separate targeting radar system associated with it to feed it target data.

              If you don’t like Chinese systems for your good guys, they could buy the Taiwanese Hsiung Feng II (HF-2) which is based on the Israeli Gabriel Mk III reportedly which is also exported around. But I’m not sure if the Gabriel has a land-based version.

              1. Thanks. It was the country of origin that made it appealing. It had to be obtainable on a black market. However, I didn’t distinguish what flavor Silkworm I was talking about, and my pal seemed to think a) it wouldn’t fit on the platform, and b) the engagement was too close. I’m wondering if I want torpedos. However, I liked the HF-2. It’s pictures were pretty cute.

                1. The HY-2 Silkworm or the HF-2 can be mounted on a large trailer. Box launchers or paired rails in the Silkworm case. Then a large box trailer for a control station and maybe another trailer – each the size of semi trailers – with a radar dish atop it for search and target data.

                  When those kind of missiles are launched, the target radar operator basically sends them electronic commands that say “Fly X miles in direction Y, and then turn on your radar seeker – attack the biggest thing in your radar ”

                  Engagement range would be tens of miles out to maximum range – which would be the radar horizon or the missile max range, whichever is greater. The higher your search radar, the farther your radar horizon is.

                  You would not want to allow enemy ships carrying surface to surface missiles to get into your range.

                2. Terminology need not be wholly accurate if the character using it has been established as careless about such nomenclature. If he (she?) is prone to such sloppiness as calling a boat a ship, a rifle a gun or calls all helicopters “Apaches” we can be reasonably sure that what they term a “silkworm” ain’t necessarily so. People who fail to distinguish between a bullet, a clip a magazine and a ammo dump* are useful for comic relief.

                  *Am now imagining a dragon who eats sulpher, charcoal, lead and brass with a sprinkling of saltpetre seasoning and poops bullets.

                  1. *Am now imagining a dragon who eats sulpher, charcoal, lead and brass with a sprinkling of saltpetre seasoning and poops bullets.

                    Surely you mean a cartridge? Else you’d have left out the sulpher and saltpeter… (tongue firmly in cheek!) *grin*

                    1. “Surely [ I ] mean a cartridge?”

                      Of course — but such accuracy would have been contrary to my primary point.

                      Along that theme:

                      Watching films with my Dad
                      Al Murray can pick holes in almost any war film. He explains how he learnt from the best.
                      By Al Murray
                      If ever you want to ruin something properly, and by ‘something’ I mean a war film, watch it with my father. Though actually, if ever you want to ruin something (I mean a war film again) properly and he’s not available you could always watch it with me. Maybe ‘ruin’ is a bit strong, but certainly derail, bouleverse, scupper, traduce would cover it. Neither of us can help ourselves. It just happens. Not doing it requires monumental self-control, actual lip-biting.

                      In our defence I think that it’s obvious why we can’t help ourselves and that really it’s not our fault at all. Because war movies contain representations of real events, real equipment and of course real people, they are ripe, low-hanging fruit for the very worst kind of nit-picky pedantry. And the worst kind is the kind that fills you with a morbid thrill of the delight at being right.

                      Put on a war film and I start to seethe reflexively at the damned thing. War is hell, yes, but war films are worse. Just try watching The Battle of Britain with someone who knows their Spitfire types, it is torture. As for the German planes in that… well, they’re not German planes, they’re Spanish planes made under licence after the war, which in an odd twist are powered by made-under-licence British Merlin engines (the fabled engines that powered Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mosquitos, Lancasters). The planes standing in as the German Heinkel He 111s are CASA 2.111s. So the German aircraft have the wrongshaped noses (especially the Messerschmitts) and make the wrong noise.

                      Anyway, I grew up on this stuff. War films were a mainstay of British male popular culture when I was growing up in the Seventies. To some the Seventies is all about flares and disco, or Mohican haircuts and punk or, worst of all, ABBA – but to me the Seventies is war films on the telly. And there was one war film that was central to my development as a war-film pedant: A Bridge Too Far.

                      I have a clear memory of being taken to see A Bridge Too Far at the cinema when I was nine …

                    2. “Of course — but such accuracy would have been contrary to my primary point.”

                      I know, thus the flailing attempt at humor. Nitpickery of that sort runs deep in my family, too.

                      Inconsistent or careless terminology is by far the norm, for the broad spectrum of people out there (most definitely including me). Specificity is usually niche, and can help flesh out a character.

        1. Funny thing – I work with a guy who thinks he’s a libertarian, talks about how right Ron Paul is on lots of things, but then, when it comes to the ACA, he spouts all the left-wing crap about how the insurance companies are just screwing everyone to increase their profits, and how the “Republicans have not proposed any health care solutions”. Makes me want to pull what’s left of my hair out.

          1. There’s principles, and there’s applying those principles to a given set of facts. Things don’t always line up.

          1. Thank you; I’m still slowly working through his IRL writing. (I need tol be in the right mindset and have TIME to get the most out of it, although his mysteries on netflix are awesome.)

    3. There is also book by somebody named The Millennial Project, came out during the early 90’s, I think. I also think I still have it somewhere, but my bookshelves are not that well organized. The first step was establishing sea colonies, or sea arcologies, the final aim was colonizing the galaxy.

  15. “First, never think that we are defeated. Yeah, they finally captured all the high ground”

    I don’t know how many of you have visited the battlefield at the Little Bighorn, but I know when I visited it at around twelve years old I was very surprised. See in all the movies Custer and his men were in a valley, with the Indians swooping down from the hills on all sides. When you actually visit the battlefield it is the exact opposite. Custer and his men were on top of a knob, while the Indians had to attack uphill across a wide open field of fire. We are the Sioux in this situation, but while Custer and the progressives have the high ground, we still have a few advantages, the first is numbers, us little Indians vastly outnumber them, second we have superior weapons (the Sioux were mostly armed with repeating rifles, while the calvary had 45/70 single shots) logic and reality doesn’t run out of ammunition nearly as quickly as feelings, emotions may have more knockdown power on a direct hit, but it takes much longer to reload for another shot to be effective. And thirdly, they are cut off without water, without the prosperity capitalism brings to this country for them to suck off, they will die of thirst.

  16. defining ideas

    The World According to Kipling

    At a time when Americans are becoming increasingly dependent, here is a reminder of what liberty and independence really are.
    by James Huffman
    On October 10, 1923, Nobel Prize–winning author Rudyard Kipling delivered the Rectorial Address to the students of St. Andrews University in Scotland. The title of his address was, “Independence.”

    For most Americans the word independence elicits thoughts of the Declaration of Independence, of the liberation of the American colonies from the British crown. It connotes the freedom of a people from their political overlords, the birth of a new nation free to chart its own future and to establish its own government.

    This is well and good, and worthy of annual celebration. But as Kipling’s now 90-year-old discourse on independence makes clear, the term once conveyed an idea even more fundamental to human freedom than national autonomy. The independence of which Kipling spoke was that of the individual. It was personal liberty by another name.

    And so it had been for the founders of the American nation. The striving for the independence of one people from the domination of another was, at bottom, about individual liberty. It was about the freedom of the individual to participate in the design and actions of his own government with the possibility and promise that he might associate with whomever he chose, worship or not by his own lights, speak his mind and conscience, and enjoy the fruits of his own ambitions and endeavors free from the interference and depredations of strangers, neighbors, and government.

    The American revolutionaries and the founders of the American nation understood this tie between national and individual independence. They wrote and spoke of liberty as both public and private. For them, public liberty was the freedom of a people to govern themselves, while private liberty was freedom from both private and governmental oppression. Kipling would have cautioned the self-reliant founders of the American nation that liberty is also freedom from dependence, whether on others or on government.

    The public liberty of American self government, often framed as popular sovereignty, was founded not on a principle of majority rule in a democratic republic but on the pragmatic recognition that majority rule honors private liberty, while making government of an extended republic possible. Popular sovereignty in government arises naturally from individual sovereignty, which is private liberty. But the founding generation understood well, particularly after their experience under the Articles of Confederation, that public liberty does not guarantee private liberty. Independence of the nation under a regime of popular sovereignty does not guarantee independence of the individual, hence the constitutional protections of individual liberty—of individual independence—from the usually well meaning and sometimes nefarious designs of the majority and their representatives.

    There are many today, as there always have been, who mistake majority rule for the independence we celebrate every July 4. They conclude that the American Revolution is fulfilled by the actions of popularly elected legislators and will be advanced by the popular election of the president. They are encouraged and supported by a Supreme Court that balances individual rights, even those of the First Amendment, against the will of the majority. And their numbers grow as more and more Americans become dependent on government, rather than independent, self-sustaining individuals.

    Kipling’s address on independence to the students of St. Andrews began with these lines from the Scottish poet Robert Burns:
    [Read The Whole Thing]

  17. The best way to drown out speeches by communists is with cannon.

    Preferably loaded with grape.

  18. I wanted to share this great comment, from here: … he-answer/
    “Less spending means less goodies allocated through the political process and voting. What incentive do politicians have in accepting such principle?
    Will voters refrain from the delusional prosperity panacea of redistributing and suppressing production incentives at the polls?

    When pandering to politicians the odds are stacked against you, against the country’s perpetually compounding growth rate (or lack thereof), and thus against your continued long term prosperity.

    The public’s vigilance required to neutralize such inherent politician motivation is just no longer there in America. The vigilance required to avoid the nearly ubiquitous European trajectory is just no longer there.

    So enjoy the short socialist smorgasbord years, while they last, and secure an escape boat, because things will get worse. Motivation to produce is decreasing across the board, effort-reward curves are flattening, and the dream that someone else will do the exceptional work required to keep your top of the world standard of living will end badly, dear American. So have Hope but keep the Change, because you’re going to need it. Tough times, times of European malaise, lay ahead. Don’t hope that a Tea Party with twenty percent voter support (at best) can stop the decline. They are simply the predictable scream of a prosperity going down the tubes. Virtually every march towards coercive collectivism has had its minority opponents. They were defeated, forgotten, and the path to decline taken in great public hope and celebration. The flags change color, the details of the manifesto’s change, but the central delusional hope remains the same: that One day competent people will start leaving their families every morning to go work for distant others, under adulterated and flattened effort/reward incentives, and, ultimately, under the mandate if some public savior, some commissar, some public organizer, some expert committee, or the public majority itself. AND work with enough residual enthusiasm to outcompete most if the world and sustain your top ten percent worldwide standard of living. Sure, it will happen. Just vote for it and it will happen. What choice do they have? Others seem to have not been able to figure out this redistribution trick, so your reign as most prosperous citizen of the planet rests secure dear American. Divine forces guarantee the production that keeps America prosperous. Follow Europe to a better distribution of this taken for granted windfall.

    From this height (top ten percent in worldwide prosperity) it will be a long-long way down.

    Act accordingly. Teach your children cross border mobility.”

    1. Aside from seeing little point in reveling in the negativity of the inevitable collapse I get from that comment, I don’t buy it.

      America (and American culture) has some unique aspects not widely present in other societies. The kinds of people who have come here, and continue to come here are the kinds who want to forge their own way. Oftentimes the kind who have seen first hand the miasma of progressivism and fled it in favor of individualism. There is a truth in American exceptionalism and spirit that I think is too often discounted by the naysayers. And there is an understanding that here, unlike almost anywhere else, you can fail and try again. And fail, again, yet continue to try. And succeed. Though that is being sorely tested, of late. Giving in to despair serves little.

      There’s also the point I made upthread, there is no monolithic entity opposing all that is American and leading us into the darkness. There are individual people, making individual choices for individual reasons. Those are the people we need to reach with an alternative message. And hope sells better than despair.

      There is pushback, more and more, from a wider and wider audience, on progressive ideas and burdensome regulatory schemes and elitist assumptions of superiority. There are cracks showing in the blue model (Detroit!) and the word is spreading. The shrill cries from the progs? Not cries of victory, no matter how they mask them.

      Side note: after publishing the comment I noticed I fouled the timeline in that comment upthread. The election, then Sandy Hook. That is all.

      1. When the motivation to keep what’s ours, what we’ve earned, what we’ve achieved, the things we have sweated and sacrificed for exceeds the pitiful stolen scraps the bureaucrats feed us to keep us complacent and silent, that will be the beginning of the long road back to where we want to be. We are Americans. Many of us yet slumber under the delusions fed to us by the flickering light of the news media, or the honey-over-tar promises of the politicians, but many of us are awake, aware, and angry.

        This is not the freedom of our founding fathers, but the spirit lives on, and it’s simple enough that it is found in an *overwhelming* majority, of both parties, of all faiths, races, and walks of life. Folk come from all over the world to become a part of that spirit, they face opposition unimaginable to the average person who will read this, simply to say “I am an American citizen.” It’s not much to say, in the grand scheme of things, but it is powerful.

        Leave us alone. Let us build a life here. Let us keep what we earn.

        That simple, stubborn, cussedly, mulishly hardheaded idea causes us no end of problems. We don’t want meddlesome strangers poking their noses into our lives. Simple human nature means it is going to happen, but, by and large, we stick to ourselves. But it’s a source of strength in trying times. And believe you me, many a soul will feel the strain before the sun sets on this Age.

        Being the sleepy, touchy, traditionalists we are, we like things mostly quiet. Those loud voices you hear on the radio, in the news, from DC? That’s not us. No, sir. We’ve got our patch, and we aim to tend it. Two thousand page, eleven and a half million pages of new rules, regulations, and ways to get in trouble? For most, as long as it doesn’t intrude *too* much, we shrug and go on (and that’s a bad thing, as many of us have mentioned before). But it follows right along with the character of the average American person. Leave me alone, I’ll let you alone.

        What if we’re not left alone, though? It’s going to happen. It is happening, as many folks have mentioned here- personal experience, close friends, family… That personal sphere of attention is being disturbed. Around here, we’ve been tightening our belts and working long hours, extra shifts when we can get them, already. Now there’s a new “tax” bearing down on us. Dodd-Frank is looming (hope none of you plan on refinancing or signing up for a mortgage after Jan. next year- it’s going to suck). The ACA is messing with our insurance premiums, grandma’s Medicaid, nephew’s job is going away, so on.

        When Joe Carpenter and Jane Farmer and all the other millers, stockboys, gas station attendants, shop foremen, oil riggers, small town electricians and plumbers and truckers and all the rest of the folk the economy leans hard on start feeling the pinch, they- we- will push back.

        It’s happened before. Mostly in little ways- the Tea Party successes in the last election count as “little” here. There’s dark mutterings at the coffee stand where I stop on weekends at oh-dark-thirty, headed late up the interstate. There’s people online, some flamingly liberal, that have gotten rude awakenings. Oh, we may be political foes from time to time, but they’re us, too. Americans, a lot of ’em. They don’t like how things are going much more than we do.

        Those bells? That’s a brave few, standing up to say what many, many thousands are already thinking. This is wrong. This is not what our great nation stands for- the creeping socialism, the arrogant bastards treating us like subjects instead of citizens, the outright filth being smeared over those simple words…

        …Are created equal…
        …Shall not be infringed…
        …The equal protection of the laws…
        …secure in their persons… against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…
        …are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

        We are not alone in this. Freedom is dangerous, and the ones in power right now, they know this. It is dangerous inherently, to them, to those who own it, to all around them. A free man owns his future successes and failures largely to the sweat of his brow and the limits of his mind. Against this, what worth is a paltry sum, pennies from the dollars already stolen from his brothers and sisters? This unnatural state cannot hold, for free men and women will not tolerate it.

        I cannot see clearly the future for us all. But the best, most realistic hope I have for that future is that we shall continue to meet the great challenges that come on our feet, accepting the consequences come what may, and always lay the foundation for generations to come, that they may face a brighter one than we.

        1. I’d really like to be positive about all this, but it’s pretty hard to argue with math, and this guy’s argument is pretty persuasive based on the numbers.

          He makes the case that going Galt and absolutely ceasing support of is the only way out, and not a very pleasant one.

          1. A number of assumptions are necessary for those numbers to be unequivocal.

            One: All of the 108 million means-tested etc etc welfare recipients vote. Demonstrably false. According to Federal election commission counts, B.O. Only got sixty-nine million votes. That’s a bunch of *extremely* lazy welfare recipients, and that assumes *all* of his voters were welfare recipients, another dangerous assumption…
            Two: All of the “ ” are telling the truth- that is, they aren’t working somewhere else on the side, under the table, so on.
            Three: There will never be a reduction in politicians’ pay.Congresspersons *have* sponsored bills that reduced their power, pay, and benefits. And some will continue to do so. Even if for nothing more than political points, some have, in the past. Not to mention local and state politicians, whose budgets salaries have been shrinking around here slowly but steadily for about 8 years.
            Four: All of the etc etc who do vote, always vote Democrat- this is not a tautology. I know people on means-tested welfare recipients, namely *several* veterans, who are quite stringently opposed to the current administration…
            Five: Welfare recipients will stay on welfare, and never get off. Many of them bust their butts to get away from the dole, but it can be damned hard when you’re a single mom, not by choice, for example.
            Six: Individuals don’t matter, only aggregate numbers. Pardon my french, but individuals matter, by Bog! Our president is just one guy. So am I, just one guy. One guy with a helluva lot of determination, guts, and common sense can do a lot.
            Seven: There will never, ever, be a Democrat candidate for the presidency so bad that the mob will go for him. There will never, ever be a Conservative candidate for the presidency, period, endpoint. My crystal ball’s broke. I have hopes (not capital h Hope), but no guarantees.

            I could go on, but there’s a start. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some hard data. But the practical assumptions just don’t support that guy’s thesis. I’m not going to give up and stick my head in the sand just because it’s hard. Of course its flipping hard! Human nature demands it be so.

            But the reward, a free life, is worth it. It is so incredibly, humbly, unimaginably worth it. Activism works. That is largely how the Progressives gained power in the first place. Education, mass media, neat soundbites, and panem et circenses. Given the task ahead of us, the more good folks we can have putting a shoulder to the wheel, speaking out, and not letting the current situation stand, the better for us all in the long term. It won’t be easy, or completely safe. But again I say, freedom is dangerous. Let’s live dangerously.

            1. There’s another problem with those numbers, which I did not see you address (sorry if you did and I missed it): The 108 million are not likely of voting age. In fact, probably less than 60 million are. There are not 108 million households on means-tested assistance. Yet of the 101 million full time workers, probably 95% are voting age, for the simple reason that they need to be near voting age to BE full-time workers.

              1. You are absolutely correct, Wayne. I didn’t want to go overboard with the problems, and I do have a habit of not knowing when to stop, so… *chuckle*


              2. Also, how many of them are ineligible to vote?* Yes there will be illegals and felons who aren’t eligible or haven’t bothered to get their voting rights back amongst the full time employees, but I’m willing to bet there are a much higher number of them among the welfare recipients.

                *Doesn’t mean they won’t vote anyways, but does point out that election reform to combat fraud is a worthwhile endeavor.

        2. Yes, Mr. Lane, thank you. While I’m not gonna go wild eyed optimistic, pessimism and fatalism just aren’t compelling.

          And I do believe there is hope.

          1. *chuckle* Nor I, good sir. The road ahead is steep, and fraught with perils unknowable to us for now. Pandora’s box isn’t finished with us yet. It’s a good thing we have what was left once all the evils were let out into the world.

            And welcome. The goodly folk around here, Odds all, are a big reason why I think we will eventually make our way back to where we belong. We won’t win on every score, but regenerating that feeling of independence and staunch refusal to knuckle under will be more than victory enough for me. I hope to live to see it once, twice, a million times more. Not that I’m greedy or anything. *grin*

            1. Mr Lane, I’d love to share your optimism, but I think the truth is that we are not going to be able to vote ourselves out of this. As Glenn Reynolds says,
              ” What can’t go on won’t”, and someone else pointed out that when the opposition commands 110% of the registered voters and runs the voting machines, our Republic doesn’t work any more. Time for us odds to get really creative and keep a weather eye out for black swans as well.
              Also I’d be cautious about writing off Karl Denniger as a source of figures and reasoned discourse. I’m not an economist, and I don’t play one on television, but he is and he makes sense much of the time.

              1. Then he needs to start comparing apples to apples, not apples to grapes. If he’s going to count all the children in the numbers when talking about voting, then I can’t take him seriously.

              2. It’s not solely a matter of voting ourselves out of the mess. There is a (much larger) play in changing the culture.

                110% of the registered voters and the voting machines? Don’t buy it.

                Dan Lane covered several issues with the assumptions up thread, but I’ll beat my favorite (dead) horse a bit. The treatment of each of those categories as a monolithic block that will not change is a fundamental mistake in analysis. It casts all .gov employees, all politicians, all assistance recipients as in opposition to liberty. Not true now, not inevitably true in future.

                More significantly/succinctly: mathematical analysis of sociological phenomena is fraught with inaccuracy.

                My hope may be a dark and fragile thing, just means I need to stand taller in its defense.

              3. I’m not “writing off” anyone, good sir. But I am doubtful of all things, and I do choose what I believe carefully. Given what I and others mentioned above, the particular article you linked first does not hold theoretical water. That is not to say the author’s facts are incorrect, only that his conclusions are not adequately supported by those facts in that specific article. I’m not going to dismiss anyone without adequate information. *grin*

                I’m not seeing the opposition controlling 110% of all voters. Looking at the results from the last presidential election it looks to me like there were nearly as many voters who voted against Ø as those who voted for him. While voting machines can be hacked, and I would *very* much like to see reform in that area, attacking the foundations of our republic without offering workable solutions is… I was going to say getting us nowhere, but it *is* what the opposition is doing, provably so in other areas at least.

                Pessimism is easy mode, Old Surfer. It often contains the taint of apathy. Those of us who’ve been beaten down and abused by the system that should be watching out for our freedoms are not wide-eyed naifs. This isn’t baseless optimism, castles built on sand, or a forlorn hope. We *know* it is going to be brutally tough. There might well *be* another war brewing in my country, much as I don’t want that to happen.

                If that happens, it won’t be because I chose not to stand up for what’s right. Is it optimism to say, “The coming generation is the first one to have *fewer* prospects than the previous”? Things are going to be tough for all of us. Tough like few of us can even imagine. The problems we face are real. The solutions, many of them have not even been thought of yet. Where will we go, if the torch of freedom gutters? Eamon talked about that in Being American here a week or so ago. We can’t just give up on our country. Not yet.

                We have a long road ahead of us. The structure of our republic is in tatters, the foundation of our country is in bad need of repair. It is always easier to destroy than to create- or repair. It is past time for us to take up the burden of fixing what rotted, what was willfully dismantled, and what decayed for lack of maintenance whilst we tended to our own affairs. The rest of the world will not stand idle while we fritter away the powerful economy that we built. There is much work to do, and time spent bemoaning the difficulty, the impossibility of it all is time not spent working to regain our freedoms.

                That is not to say we should *all* become Athenians, and give no rest to ourselves but for the task at hand. Pursue happiness. Tend to your spouse, your family, and your work. But do not believe that all is lost. This country was created by men, same as you and me. The things that frustrate and anger us are, too, the tools made by men. That means that we can do the same. We *can* bring back this country. Maybe it will be hard, maybe we will fail sometimes. I can accept that. It’s worth a shot. I say we go for it.

                By the way, if anyone wants an idea for another blog post, “Pessimism is easy mode” could probably be done better than I put it here…

                1. I think you captured it pretty well, Dan. Good job. We don’t have a Plymouth Rock to run to, and that’s fine. Let’s make our stand, make the argument here. We aren’t fighting the long defeat. We win in the end. > >

              1. Cute and trite it may be, but if it brings a smile to the face or lets a man stand taller knowing that he is not alone in his beliefs, what of it? We have a long road ahead of us. Things that seem to lighten our burdens have their place, as well.

                Human beings are complex things- sometimes hope can lift us up where cold figures cannot. The moral factor has been quite professionally exploited by the other side. That leads me to believe we can do it, too. They’re only men, after all- same as we.

                1. OK kids, I’m going to have to go back and re-read Denninger’s essays again with a more critical eye. I’m an old shipwright and surfboard shaper and tend to shy away from math more complex than feet and inches (we don’t do metric in our shop). In the meantime, I’m in the market for solutions, not feel-good platitudes and kumbaya. If I had the resources I’d be building a frigging starship or working on seasteading. We need a new frontier, not just to get away from the socialists but for the sake of our souls. What I’m hearing here lately has a whiff of concern troll.

                  1. Hm. I suspect what you’re calling platitudes and kumbaya I’m calling keeping a positive attitude while doing what must be done. The core of what must be done is fight! Fight for converts, for awareness, for votes and representatives. Fight for what we believe in and stand against the opposition. Do it in print, online, by word of mouth, by attitude. That’s what I see as real solutions at this time. Giving up gets us nowhere and going Galt doesn’t have the momentum for success at present.

                    I think we’d have to establish congruent definitions of ‘concern troll’ to be certain we’re clear, but I sure hope nothing I say is being taken as an insincere attempt to redirect the energies toward pointless avenues. I’ve got nothing against realism, but I see no productive point in pessimism and fatalism.

                    1. I’m with you on the fight bit for sure. Let’s not confuse pessimism with realism – I don’t think you are. Checking your gear before going offshore, preflighting before takeoff, is realistic, though I’ve heard some consider it pessimism. And don’t ever assume apathy. Going Galt isn’t necessarily negative. What I’m looking for, as I said, are more ways to ring the bells our hostess mentioned. We need some fiendishly creative solutions if we are to save the Republic – or not – (Heinlein wondered if some prices were too high).
                      Something to think about from Eric Raymond:
                      “He who knows not that he knows not is a fool; avoid him.
He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a student; teach him.
He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep; wake him.
He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man; follow him.”
                      And then James Hogan added the following (from Endgame Enigma):
                      “He who knows not whether he knows or knows not anything at all is a politician. Get rid of him!”
                      We could re-establish the code duello perhaps.

                    2. Sigh. I don’t agree with Whittle — and it hurts me not to. But two things — “Republican” is the only brand with a chance. If we run from it we run from a brand. Nothing will stand against the state. Second, he’s wrong. Even if we could fight over 75 years, we don’t have 75 years. BUT more importantly, we don’t need them. We’re NOT fighting for hearts and minds. After all these years of leftist indoctrination we STILL have most of those, mostly because our solutions work. Whittle is focusing on the youth and that’s … well, the youth trends left because they haven’t shed their college indoctrination, yet. They’ll come around when they have to deal with the real world — WE DID.
                      In a way Bill Whittle is being very American, and I say this as one of the few things in which I’m different. I’ve seen other countries. I know how this works. You can’t dilute your brand. you have to change the way it’s acting, yes, but you can’t dilute it. And you have to be aware the vast majority of the people are still on our side. Our problem is one of communication, NOT persuasion.
                      Communication is GOING to have to be one on one. The media is losing their grip. They already are. We need people speaking up.

                    3. “Republican” is the only brand with a chance. If we run from it we run from a brand

                      Yes. Michael Williamson posted a link the other to Hannity saying it might be time for a third party, with a caption something like, “Here you go, Democrats. Guaranteed majority for a long time.” And he was right. The Republican Party is the only place where the numbers exist to defeat the Democrats, and if we try to go and split off from them, all we do is ensure that both parts lose. The only way is to force a sea change from within.

                    4. It isn’t whether Whittle is right about the Republican Party, it is whether any competing brand can be established — and the story of the TEA Party (as well as OWS) prove that it can’t be done without gaining the cultural high ground.

                      Where Whittle is undoubtedly right is how we have to fight the bastiches. Blast their arguments without branding a solution, leading people to the solution before ripping off the Brand X label for them to realize they’ve chosen the GOP*. As the old joke about out-running the bear puts it, the Republicans don’t have to be a perfect party, they merely need to be better than the Democrats. Convincing people to leave the Democrats is more important that persuading them to vote Republican.

                    5. Where Whittle is undoubtedly right is how we have to fight the bastiches.

                      This is what I got out of the article (need to go back and re-read it, make sure I wasn’t gleaning the wrong things). Not abandon the brand, but wear the subdued patch instead. Instead of full-on ‘conservative thinking’ just hit them with rational and consistent argument. And then point out, you know who else thinks this way…?

                      As philosophically inclined as I am to a third party, I’m currently at loss for the practical implementation. I do think third party pressures are good for the future of the GOP, and Tea Party pressures especially so. The confidence of the RINO echelon is shaken by the successes. And the successes in the cultural debate draw more attention from those in/of the GOP. But when it comes time to cast a vote, I think we have to come together and back the GOP in order to defeat the progressive trend of the Democrats.

                    6. I see it as more of an insurgency in the Republican Party than establishing a new brand. Of course, with all the damage that’s been done to the brand… and the media amplifying and magnifying scandals, mistakes, missteps, mis-speaking… and manufacturing the same through creative editing (the people at NBC news should be drug through the streets for their editing practices… gently, though. Want ’em to learn, is all)
                      And that insurgency will be fought by the resident hierarchy in the Republican Party. Look no further than John McCain, who’s so depressed about the Tea Party. Or Mitch McConnell, who said that anyone associated with FreedomWorks or the Senate Conservatives Fund would be considered an enemy of his.
                      It SUCKS that we have to fight the bastiches both within and without the party, but that’s where I see the situation. We won’t “fix” the brand until we clean out the big statists within the Republican party.
                      It’s a war on three fronts. We’re fighting the vile progs within the Republican party, the vile progs in the media, and the vile progs across the aisle. And the problem with vile progs (aside from the obvious big-statism and never seeing a problem that can’t be fixed with a massive government bureaucracy, is that they lie about who and what they are.
                      We pick a front. We focus, fight, and win there. And then we move on to the next one. And we fight holding actions on the other two until we’ve fixed the one, then move on.

                    7. A big part of the problem is the nice guys who mostly agree with us. the guys who seem to think we are anti-government when what we are is for limit LIMITED government. As if there were no space between binge-drinking and “lips that touch liquor will never touch mine*.”

                      Surveys have demonstrated for over forty years (at least) that there are plenty of ideas that receive 80% approval — until they are identified as associated with the Republican Party, at which point they drop 20 – 30 points. Conservatives must advocate what we are for — liberty, keeping the dog of government in the yard, not the bed, real education, personal integrity — and let those who like such ideas find out where they can be bought with their votes.

                      *Yes, that one is a freebie, presented as a public service in recognition of the right to bad jokes.

                    8. By that logic (the 20-30 point drop), is the brand already so tainted / damaged / of ill repute, that a new name is the way to go? I mean, granted, any name under which small-gov’t minded move is going to be a target of everything the three fronts can bring to bear, but… does sticking with “Republican” give more power to the big-gov’t enemies (they said it first)? Such that they may cry “you can’t vote us out! We’re vile Republicans!”

                    9. To be fair, some of us _are_ anti-government. But most of those (among whom I count myself, BTW) are perfectly happy to say “hey…lookee here. A blueprint for a government way smaller and way less dangerous than the one we’ve got now. And it’s even the one that very government is already supposed to be following. How ’bout we all work together to at least get it back within those limits…and then if we live long enough to reach that goal, THEN we can start arguing over whether it ought to be even smaller than that.” 🙂

                  2. Surely not here? I’ve been deep sixing everyone who says it’s all lost — THAT is concern trolling. I’m all for seasteading or stellar ship, but you know… we’re not there yet, scientifically speaking. So, we’ll have to fight for this.

                    1. “We’ll have to fight for this”
                      That’s why I was jazzed to come across the Bamboo Spears essay and the Reynolds quote. The Tea Party seems like the way to go if we can get the IRS goons off our backs, and I think of the Tea Party as a remake of the Republicans, not a third party just yet. The media threw the last two elections and it seems like getting real information to voters is the only hope for an elective system. It will be interesting to see what Whittle comes up with – his old blog Eject-Eject! had some wonderful writing, “Tribes” for example.
                      I threw the starship/seastead thing out just to see what came up – this is a group pretty heavily into speculative fiction eh? Sorry (not really) about the concern troll remark, just seemed like there was an awful lot of “hale fellow well met” idea-free content from some quarters. Please let me know if I offend before you break out the ban hammer.

                    2. No, no — the ones I “ban” I rather don’t let through. They’re people who come in and start off “this is conservative stupidity, all is lost.” They don’t want to argue, they’ve already been banned and so are in moderation. I was actually going to write about it today. After caffeine.

                    3. I do agree that working with the TEA Party to remake the Republican Party is the way to go, and getting legit information to the people who will actually vote *is* key. That getting information out is part of what we do here, and on the Smallest Minority, and other places around the ‘net.

                      Whittle’s a new voice to me, and I like a lot of what he says. It’ll be interesting to see what he comes up with.

                      If concern troll/hail-fellow-well-met guy is me, no worries. There have been and will continue to be a lot of real world solutions we come up with. Several things were discussed here in Building Under.

                      All those practical things will keep the country moving if/when there’s a collapse- economically, politically, howsoever. The other side, taking our country back, means “ringing the bells.” Speak out when liberals mouth their idiocy. Offer alternate solutions (i.e., the internet, homeschooling, etc) when Common Core is praised, and point out how brain-numbingly stupid it is to spend so much more on “education” (indoctrination) when it relates almost 1:1 to lower actual student performance (test scores) and practical knowledge/intelligence.

                      We don’t need to waste our time trying to convince the true believers that Marxism kills, that’s not the point. If we can reach those folks who don’t vote, but believe pretty much as we do, then we’re getting somewhere. It shouldn’t be too hard to propose and implement something that makes Obamacare look like the pile of fail it is. Just do the smart thing and use actual people who work in the industry as your idea guys, not politicians, and we’re already ahead.

                      Feel-good is not a solution or an end in and of itself (that’s more the other guys’ trick). I don’t want you to think we’re a bunch of platitude spewing naifs. *chuckle* What specific things I or any other individual here can do are going to depend on that person, their knowledge and skills. I’m a not-too-bright redneck from Southern Appalachia. All I do online is speak my mind and, often enough, make a fool out of myself. I ain’t the final word on anything here, so if I’ve offended, take it with a grain of salt.

                      I wouldn’t worry too much about the banhammer, Old Surfer. You’ve not done anything to merit it. Hell, we play a little rough around here sometimes, anyways. *grin* When it’s happened, banning hasn’t come without warning, and in most cases several warnings. You’re fine. Hope you’ll stick around.

                    4. If Bill is a new voice to you, you might like to go read his essays on his old site, , where he got started. Unfortunately, not all the essays are linked on the front page by name, but going through the archives is enjoyable.

                      My personal favorites are Honor, Strength, and Tribes (which are linked by name), and Rafts is perhaps the most abstract (not linked, but if you add “/archives/000132.html” to the homepage URL, it will get you there). That one, I believe, is a very important look at people’s way of seeing the world.

                    5. Selected essays also available in Silent America: Essays from a Democracy at War by Bill Whittle:

                      From the pages of Eject! Eject! Eject!, one of the most influential of the new-media weblogs — or “blogs” — comes a book of essays that captures the American heartbeat. SILENT AMERICA: ESSAYS FROM A DEMOCRACY AT WAR has been read by hundreds of thousands of people online. Now you can own the collection that has been called “required reading for every high school and college in America.” HONOR. EMPIRE. STRENGTH. MAGIC. HISTORY. FREEDOM… fourteen powerful essays on the American spirit. Join the thousands who have laughed, and cried, and who have found in SILENT AMERICA the words they have been searching for to describe the wonder and pride they feel for America.

                    6. If concern troll/hail-fellow-well-met guy is me, no worries.

                      Our hostess is pretty good about blog cleaning– and it’s really obvious when someone that is let through is a troll, because there’s five or six folks saying so.

                      (I thought I might be thought a troll at one point, but no!)

                    7. The head of the FDA has proposed that hydrocodone been put on schedule II. He has also proposed that a paper prescription hand carried to a pharmacy be the only way to get meds. They say that it’s to combat meth abuse but I think it’s the first step to tying us to a particular piece of land. If you can’t get a ‘scrip called or faxed in, that means that you can’t work out of town for an extended period of time. Both hubby and I refilled meds twice while we were in Portland. It was a red curtain of blood moment I was so angry. If this get made into law my husband might lose his job. His is traveling and sometimes staying in a city which isn’t our own for months at a time.

                      I myself take hydrocodone twice a day for osteoarthritis pain. Because my hubby’s pancreas is no longer functional, he takes insulin and creon–the pancreatic digestion enzyme.

                    8. Making hydrocodone Schedule II to combat meth abuse? Umm, some of the same people may take both, but to the best of my knowledge unlike ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, etc. there is no way to make meth out of hydrocodone. And hydrocodone is a downer, while meth is an upper, whole different family of drugs, that excuse just doesn’t hold water.

                    9. I think it’s really to tie us down. Maybe they think that if we’re spending more time, effort and money getting our meds, we won’t have time to oppose them.

                    10. Wayne and RES, thanks for the linkage- will definitely be looking into that as I get time.

                      Old Surfer, I’m not literate- I dictate via ghost writing semaphore to a translator in Abudabi. *grin* Also, I don’t wear shoes.

                      Bearcat, the difference is Underhill vs. Underbridge. There’s been some confusion over the years, but we do take to sunlight a mite easier (thus the “redneck…”). *chuckle*

  19. So maybe my dream that we should have started talking back back in the eighties is just that. Maybe it was impossible.

    In 1989 I read an editorial in a campus paper, which claimed that “El Salvador’s Next.” As in El Salvador would follow in the footsteps of Heaven on Earth, a.k.a. Nicaragua under the Sandinista regime.

    I wrote a very-well footnoted reply to this editorial, pointing out several factual errors in the editorial. The letter did not get printed. I went to the paper to inquire why a letter which pointed out factual errors was not printed. “Well, he’s a senior editor.”

    Three to four months after the editorial, El Salvador didn’t fall- but the Berlin Wall did.

Comments are closed.