Goats And Sheep – Kate Paulk

Goats and Sheep – Kate Paulk

Inter oves locum praesta, Et ab haedis me sequestra,


Provide me a place among the sheep, and separate me from the goats.


Lately, it seems this particular phrase from the Requiem Mass has a rather wider application. Truth to tell, that’s pretty normal among humans: we’re a social animal at our best and worst, and we don’t do well without other humans to rub off our odder and less pleasant edges.


Like anything, this can be taken to excess, as it is with the kind of destructive group-think where one must adhere to all the tenets of the group in order to belong, and any deviation from said tenets makes one not merely subject to expulsion, but evil and fit only to be destroyed as well. When the list of BadThink things is generated seemingly with a hose on wide dispersion and covers everything from politics to soft drink, that’s the kind of group you want to avoid, lest you fall foul of “Everything is an Abomination Unto Nuggan” syndrome.


To take the extended metaphor a little further, sheep are notoriously herd-centered, to the extent that often it only takes getting one sheep to do something and the whole herd does it. They bunch close together when they’re nervous and while they pack a pretty mean kick (and bite), by predator standards they’re reasonably easy prey. And any sheep that’s just a little bit different from the others will be abandoned by the herd even as it runs after said herd bleating to be let back in.


Goats are different. They tolerate each other, and are annoyingly independent creatures with a remarkable ability to make even the most patient person swear. Getting one goat to do something is no guarantee the herd will follow – in the words of Terry Pratchett, “Sheep are stupid, and have to be driven. But goats are intelligent, and need to be led.”


It’s hardly surprising that the standard religious metaphor to separate the good from bad is the sheep from the goats. Irrespective of the validity of said religion, every faith has gone through at least one phase where its leaders were extremely powerful – and what person with power doesn’t prefer to have sheep who can be driven rather than independent-minded goats for whom he (usually it was a “he”) has to actually be a leader rather than simply issue commands to drive the faithful onwards.


Lest the religiously inclined here take umbrage, I’m also referring to the modern secular religion of communism and its assorted personality cults and Dear Leaders, along with the splinter sects of anthro-centric climate change, enviro-fascism, and US political parties. The fact that one of the parties is marginally less of a religion unto itself than the other is largely a happy accident that I sincerely hope will be used to break the bloody power faction open and return it (or push it) to a narrow focus of “pay the bills, don’t use debt for the living expenses, and don’t screw with the rest of the world unless you’re prepared to clean up the mess afterwards”. The other one I don’t think has any hope: it’s become the Communist-Lite party (and lite only in the sense that the bastards are smart enough to avoid using the obvious communist rhetoric there. In terms of policy-as-enacted it’s somewhere between communist and anti-national socialist-fascist with a side of mafia in which the government forms the largest imaginable protection racket).


We’re seeing the results all over the world right now. Iraq and Afghanistan both needed decades of occupation to become marginally functional nations. In both it was painfully obvious that removing the strongman would awaken all the tensions said strongman had been brutally crushing for years. It’s exactly what tore Yugoslavia apart and why Czechoslovakia is now the Czech Republic and Slovakia. There were two ways to handle both countries after defeating them. One was to crush them utterly and walk away – leaving what was left to pick up the pieces in any way they chose. The other was to occupy them indefinitely, with a strongman level of control – including being willing to crush any sign of internal conflict or revolt against the occupiers. And actively change the culture to an American one.


Instead, the so-called experts (most of whom have been corrupted by soviet propaganda – but that’s a completely different rant and one Sarah has more experience with than I do) tried to build a middle path which tried to “respect” the local cultures – including the most appalling ones – and turn places that had been tribal before falling under the rule of strongmen (which is really tribal writ large) into modern nations in less than a generation. I don’t know about you, but I’m hardly surprised it’s falling apart at the seams.


I could forgive doing this out of foolish optimism, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, but the Libyan adventure isn’t forgivable. Qaddafi was anything but a good person, but helping to replace him with our enemies goes beyond criminal stupidity into treason – and I do not use that word lightly. I don’t expect to see any action taken on that front because there are too many people with power who have too much to hide, but that’s not going to stop me calling what I see. The White House is occupied by a traitor.


He wants sheep that he can drive wherever he chooses. We – more than most Americans – are goats. We’ll follow a leader, but that leader has to prove himself, herself, or itself worthy first. Hell, a lot of Americans are goats and are with us, but they’ve been disenfranchised from politics like the rest of us. We no longer have a real say, and we are seeing the consequences in thousands of small things as well as some of the big ones. Police becoming nothing more than uniformed thugs who can murder innocent people in their beds and get off with a metaphorical slap on the wrist. The bloody TSA. Courts upholding this bullshit when it’s obviously wrong. And of course, the American Pravda which is just as true to the name as the Soviet one was.


Like quite a few others, I see the next ten years or so getting quite ugly. I think that the American spirit is still there, but most people don’t realize they have it. I also think when it comes to crunch-time, that spirit will make itself felt in ways that will be unpleasant at best and involve a great deal of death at worst. But at the same time, no matter how bleak my logical analysis tells me things are going to get for us goats, I have a – possibly bizarre and insane, but quite unshakable – sense that the end result is one that will see the American experiment and American ideals rising to a new strength.


287 thoughts on “Goats And Sheep – Kate Paulk

  1. Thank you Kate, I never heard of that expression before, I shall go forth my merry way and behhhh all day long.

    1. I freely admit to first encountering it when I was in a choir and we were preparing to perform Mozart’s Requiem mass. That’s the form I used, although as I recall the same form is used in most of the other major requiems.

  2. The more I think about things crashing down around us and what the current world is like, the more I’m almost welcoming of it. Maybe then we can rebuild something decent out of the ashes.

    Unfortunately, I’m too cynical of my fellow man. While I might be more goat like, too many of them are proud sheep and won’t change from that to save their lives.

                1. s’mores are 2 graham crackers, 2 squares of chocolate and a marshmallow melted together in a campfire.

    1. A knowledge of history helps put things into perspective.

      The late 1850s and early 1860 saw the nation fall into factions that lead to outright war.

      The world seem to fall apart from the fall of 1929 through the late summer of 1945 — one could argue we are still sorting out the back blow from that, as well that from the heavy handed response brought to bear during against the communist threat in the 1950s.

      Even the best of times are colored by the memories of what has occurred, and the rumbling of the next catastrophe. Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, recorded the following in his notes: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” Ronald Reagan warned us: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

      1. My concern is that we’re not looking at 1850, but 1610 and the Holy Roman Empire. When conflict comes, it’s not going to be quick, and the rest of the world won’t stay out of it this time.

        1. Being attacked can be a real galvanizing force.

          We can be like the sibling who insist that it is one thing for us to fight each other tooth and nail, but don’t you dare attack my brother/sister.

          1. Except if fighting breaks out you can bet the left will happily accept help from all sorts of nasty people.

            1. NOT the Left. Progressives perhaps, but they’ll quickly find themselves isolated if they invite the wrong kind of ‘assistance.’

              The ‘Left’ is no more monolothic than the ‘Right.’ Painting them all with the vile prog brush does everybody a disservice.

              1. I gave up trying to separate them a long time ago. They’re all the enemy.

                1. They don’t separate themselves (“no enemies to the left”), why should we?

                  1. Because I don’t want to find myself fighting half the country because of an inability to distinguish political nuance and a stubborn insistence of relying on a two-dimensional graph to categorize people?

                    1. There is only one question that matters:

                      “Do you think I need to be rules or lead?”

                      And any answer other than “No” is unacceptable.

                    2. Depends on where you’re drawing the dividing line I suppose. I’m curious where you’re drawing it to reduce the Left to a fifth.

                      It’s not consonant with my experience that those who identify as Left are only 20%.

                    3. The left, who actually believes the sh*t they’re dishing, i.e. the communist fellow travelers among us, if you poll on OPINIONS are only 1/4 to 1/5th of the population.
                      Those who make “left noises” to be fashionable are considerably more.

                    4. This division I’m fully behind, and the vile prog moniker and the mockery and belittling thereof.

                      What I’m not behind is casual dismissal of the left as likely to be borderline (or no line) traitorous in a crisis, where this thread originated.

                      Vile progs? Traitorous now, likely moreso in a crisis.

                      But there’s a lot of people who identify themselves as left of ‘conservatives’ (usually a parody of conservatives) who are far removed from vile progs. Dedicated Americans, and people we’ll need in that crisis.

                      If we ignore that there is a vast moderate center, left moderate as well as right, then we forget that there is a huge chunk of people who can be (and frequently of late, are being) brought to our side.

                      The political organs of the media, as well as organized activists, beat their chests so loudly and shout their mockery so consistently, not to keep their ideological mates entertained, but to undermine something the bulk of their loose confederation might readily consider.

                      As the stakes grow, and as the President and his ilk reveal themselves, more and more of those folks are drifting away from any association. I’d like them to have a place to drift to.

                    5. Those who make “left noises” to be fashionable are considerably more.

                      I have always thought that there is a significant percentage of people who will follow whoever seems to be dominate at a given point in time. They gravitate towards power. Could be for perceived safety in numbers. Could be that the family always voted for this party. Could be that these are the same people who are convinced by the get on the bandwagon add copy that tells us nine out of ten doctors recommend X. Could be that they really don’t know their own minds. Whatever their particular reason, they choose to be in with the in crowd.

                      This is why I think that the changes in information flow is scaring some in Washington. Remember when the President warned the graduating class that they needed to be very careful about where they got their news and to rely on the established news sources?

                      To be hard core believer takes a lot of dedication, time and effort. Most people simply want to get on with their lives.

                    6. One possibility is “I don’t care enough to study it, but if most people are doing that over and over it can’t be that bad” theory.

                  2. True, the whole reason the left exists at all is their ability to build a coalition of people, all of whom have bad ideas, and turn it into a giant ball of fail that rolls over everything like the boulder from Indiana Jones. Political Correctness was originally invented to help keep that ball of fail together.

                    1. I suspect that once real pressure comes to bear the apparently monolithic coalition they have built on the left will start to shatter.

                    2. CACS – that coalition is already shattering. Which makes sense when you consider that it operates by balkanizing everyone into their interest groups so they never look for common ground elsewhere – that only lasts until said groups realize they’re getting shafted.

                    3. Kate Paulk: One would think that somebody might have realized that tightly keeping people in groups to be served (under the supposed rubric of creating equality) would eventually bite back.

                      I guess too many learned their trade when the business of news was still limited, controllable and in reliable hands.

                    4. Yup. Early days yet, but the internet is proving to be a handy wedge in the wall.

                    5. And some are happy to be getting a slice of the pie – but all hell breaks loose when the pie runs out.

        2. The rest of the world is going to stay out of it for no other reason than nobody else has the ability to project a modern military force across the oceans.

          1. Oh, they’ll try to mess with us, but probably not in the mass military force sense.

          2. Other than the Mexicans, who seem to be doing a hell of a job invading us now.

            1. Historically, a nation had to mobilize an army, go to war, suffer significant casualties, and be victorious in order to bring home a group of low-status workers. The US has figured out how to get them to come to us. It’s hardly an invasion.

            2. A lot of those Mexicans come here to live and work without being stuck between their local government officals and the gangs shaking them down.

    2. It’s worth noting that most of what gets promulgated over either left or right-ish media follows the polarized forms that the majority of Americans disagree with. The assorted polls that you see publicized all over the place are carefully massaged to hit the demographics that are most polarized – you’re not likely to see a poll that hits large numbers of people in outer suburbia or flyover country.

      Since they’ve also been effectively disenfranchised by a political system that practically guarantees that there will be zero candidates who Joe Average can stand (much less agree with)…

      As I recall, typical turnout is around 30-35%. Of those, maybe 25% are the true believers on either end (the rest are the ones like us who still try to do things the way they should be done). The broad coalition of common ground covers a hell of a lot of people right there (which of course is *why* they’ve been systematically disenfranchised by the system)

  3. I think I recall some gif video of a goat eyeballing some fisherman next to a pond. You can see the gears turning in it’s head, as it decides it would be funny as hell to headbutt the fisherman into the lake and run away.

    It’s always interesting to see an animal with a sense of humor. I can imagine how this would get very old among farmers though.

        1. That was a funny strip until the writer decided establishing his progressive bonafides was more important than a joke.

          1. I don’t think I read that one, but its situation has happened to quite a few of old comics I used to read. Which one are you referring to? (I’ve a guess, but it is one I too do not read, so can’t tell, but what I have seen of it it often offends progs/leftoids so I am not sure)

            1. The appropriately named “Goats”. I have no idea if it’s still around…

              Come to think of it, the goat wasn’t named “Loki”, anyway…

            2. Sinfest is one that has really made a bad turn. Apparently the creator was smacked with a really bad review of what was a great comic, and now it looks like he’s had his scripts go through a review committee of Women’s Studies majors.

              1. I haven’t read that one in ages. I was willing to choke past the political digs for some awesome writing and sense of human nature, but I finally stopped reading at all around the time he introduced the Sisterhood.

              2. Yep, remember loving that and then around the Keen meltdowns it went wrong.
                Of all the Keenspot stuff that used to be, I only read Two Lumps and Nukees now. Well and occasionally I chat with Kaichi and Carson who I got to know online from back before then, though I liked Wingers, I never got into Cars’ Elf Life other than liking his artwork, but I used to partake in his forums, and Kai and I used to spend a lot of time on IRC and AIM chatting about everything. I owe them a lunch sometime (soon I hope).
                Kai has posted here and MGC I think at times too.

                1. Two Lumps: The Adventures of Ebenezer and Snooch? Oh, yes. I used to read that, too. Is it still out there? Oh my, it is.

                    1. I loved Two Lumps but just COULD NOT STAND the clumsily set up sucker-punch in a strip that had no artistic reason to include politics. Not even “this is what I stand for” but “people who don’t stand for what I do are poopoo meanyheads”. If I wanted to be mischaracterized, calumniated and mocked I would read Doonesbury.

        1. Everytime I pass this post I imagine Sarah in a valkyrie costume looking quite majestic.

          I suspect the job would not suit her. I don’t see her as limited to cleaning up battlefields and serving mead. She is too much of a berserker by nature.

          1. Sif and the Warriors three played by Sarah, her brother and two of his friends?

            1. Ah, no. I would go for her fellow Baen authors, Larry Correia, John Ringo and Thomas Kratman.

              1. So who gets each? (From his self-description, Larry has Volstagg in the bag).

  4. Should we ever get colonies in space or on other planets I predict they’ll be filled with “goats”. It probably doesn’t matter whether they move there on their own dime or are relocated at someone else’s expense.

      1. Australia is descended from the ones that got caught, America from the ones that got away.

    1. While I like to imagine the Belters will be the anarcho-capitalists of L. Neil Smith’s or Larry Niven’s fiction, I don’t see it happening in reality. Space stations, even on the scale of a Bishop Ring (theoretically doable without any significant materials tech breakthroughs), will be too fragile and require too much oversight to allow as much freedom as a planet affords. Who wants to *elect* the life support personnel?

      Such things are basically submarines or ships in space (some very big submarines and ships perhaps, but the same logic applies), and barring pirates, ships don’t work well as democracies:-(. Too much freedom, and everyone dies.

      Artificial habitats will likely be run as corporations or kibbutzim or communes of some sort, with fairly draconian penalties for violating the rules. At least until/unless they can be so fully automated that people aren’t necessary to maintain them, but we can’t even do that with cities on Earth yet.

      1. You’re assuming that the life support systems can’t be compartmented. IMO only the poorest habdwellers will have to share uncompartmented life support systems — one mark of the middle classes will be being able to afford their own systems.

        1. I expect that compartmentalized life support would drastically increase the cost and complexity of any habitat, and you’ll still need specialists to maintain those systems. Further, are you including food production in the category of ‘life support’? What about waste disposal? How long can compartmentalized life support systems recycle materials, and for how many people?

          At our current and nearish-future tech levels, I just don’t see anarchic, or even permissibly-idiosyncratic, asteroid or extra-planetary colonies as feasible. Obviously I hope I’m wrong about that, or at least that I get to be King in whatever habitat I migrate to:-).

          1. It would increase not only the cost and complexity but the safety. Also, the question arises of how much can be automated.

            Anyway, once in space, necessity is the mother of invention. “nearish-future” will be left behind real fast.

            1. I was thinking that a consolidated system of basic life support would be rather troublesome if it were to fail.

              1. Redundancy is your friend in life-or-death survival situations. And backups to the backups. And common parts. And cannibalized repairs when the backups to the backups to the backups fail at the worst possible time.

                What? I was raised by children of the Depression. We go in for ‘making do.’

          2. A general rule of everyday tech is that pretty much everything is assembled and maintained by normal working guys.
            Secondly, a top down control system is not needed even for complicated, life critical systems. One can have a system of standardization, testing, approval, and licencing within the framework of the free market, as you pretty much have right now with your car and house.

      2. I second the distributed life support as more practical: If you have a giant open-air O Neil cylinder – it will only be one rupture away from instant total destruction. It makes far more sense to divide a space colony into a ton of different pressure hulls, and distribute the life support equipment a bit. Depending on how rich and how distributed, I expect a space colony might look more like a flotilla of independent vessels accreting than a giant balloon.

        1. It’s the old distributedness –> resiliance argument. Flexibility too. You might be able to grow food in a giant tinfoil balloon, or enjoy a day at the park in half a pressure suit, but would you want to live in one?

        2. Our current space stations look like an accretion of cans due to the way we have to ship things into orbit (giant rockets, tiny payload). If we could get large amounts of aluminum from the moon or something, it might free things up, but to ship things across space still requires accelerating pieces from where they are made to where they are going.

          We haven’t built much in the way of giant arcologies here on Earth where there are far fewer logistical difficulties. (Though the 400 story Chinese apartment towers are trending that way)

        3. The larger your enclosed volume, the greater your buffer for pressure changes. A micrometeor impact would have no discernable effect on an O’Neil cylinder, but would be fatal in a suit. Sure, a large enough impact would fatally compromise the habitat, but something that large would also take out a large number of the distributed systems, especially if they’re cross-linked to provide redundancy.

          I think the best plan for adequate survivalbility of critical systems is to not get hit in the first place. A very thorough survey of the near-orbit environment is a sine qua non for space habitats.

        4. For large scale, i always envisioned tiered Backups.

          For a space station, one large main Life support system with one large main backup.
          Each Section/ring/quadrant has a main and backup backup to activate if both mains fail.
          Each smaller section Room/Main Hall has it’s own independent life support to be used if the 4 systems overhead fail.
          Of course length of sustainability for each system boils down to how close to the top of the tier it is. The small scale could be good for a day or 2, long enough so a rescue operation could be meaningful within the constraints of modern technology of the time to arrive and rescue folks (think DSRV’s 24 hour anywhere in the world Model).
          The section life support should be good for at least the length of time it would take to repair the hardest and most lengthy to repair portion of the main system plus 2 days.
          Main life support, with proper supplies, should be indefinite.

          This of course is unfeasible in a small scale system, such as a small ship, freighter, or IMO anything less that 100 lives. However in large stationary “way stations” of space, with hundreds, if not thousands of inhabitants, i think it’s is a perfectly reasonable amount of redundancy.

            1. sweet, jacket blurb for my up coming, unwritten, unimagined, or otherwise unstarted epic space opera.

              “Geek” – Sarah Hoyt

              Ah the money i shall rake in!!

              Mu Ha Wha ha Ha HA HA HA!!!

          1. Oh my.

            Another reason for a system of back ups for the whole and ring/tiers — so you can shut down the mains for regular maintenance.

            Of Course people, being people, might get complacent and fail to do the maintenance on some of the lower level systems if a substantial amount of time passes without the necessity of using them.

            1. I agree with maintenance, kinda why i liked a double redundancy in the main and section systems.

              as for upkeep on the small room sized systems. i’m of 2 minds. you should have a maintenance crew who basically gives them their certs every few months to insure they work. Can’t eliminate risk, but you can minimize it.

              Another part of me is a little more darwinish and goes along the lines of, well if your to stupid/busy/can’t be bothered to make sure your personal life support system works well…..

          2. Actually, for a Space Station-sized, long-term occupancy vessel, I envision main Life Support (air recycling, primarily) being mostly distributed throughout the vessel, as plants. Water recycling, I don’t have enough experience with, to know how practical a bio-based system would be, but I suspect that it would be feasible, and the tanks could be distributed as well (I mean, there are such things already; I just don’t know if they would work well enough in a closed system. I know there would have to be some sort of system to separate the organics from the system to be fed back to the plants, though.

            1. Experience is not necessary, as my man Humpty Hump said it’s all “hypothetical, political, lyrical, miracle whip.”

              Were just saying how we would see doing it. let them fine folks at NASA decide if we are talking out our Aft quarters or not.

              as for a large station, i could absolutely see a decentralized system for necessities such as water filtration, and food production.

              however i still see life support as a tier down system like i described. distributed is a good self redundant system, but i can see upkeep becoming an issue. especially if it is built over time and different sections have different models of life support.

              I guess that would be the definition. Is it a star base a la Star Trek (constructed all at once) or is it more like the Quarian flotilla a la Mass Effect (hodgepodge of many different designs built over time).

      3. barring pirates, ships don’t work well as democracies:-(. Too much freedom, and everyone dies.

        Warships don’t work too well as democracies, because you need fast centralized decisionmaking to fight people trying to kill you.

        If you had some oceangoing flotilla of Mariculturists/fish-ranchers, or one of Sarah’s seacities, then why not? A bunch of groups of people each own ships/equipment, and their business is living, not warfare.

        1. This argument isn’t making any sense to me. In space, each individual ship, whether it is a single huge entity, or a small part of a conglomeration, is an independent environment. The only benefit a conglomeration gives is that not all of the components will fail if someone does something stupid. It still means that everyone in that component dies.

          Larger habitats mean less resources required to build per unit volume, and more available space per unit of building material. Compartmentalization within a habitat, while requiring some more resources, does not require anywhere near the resources of many independent vessels being conglomerated together. With wholly separate components, there will be less overall volume for food production, less for fuel, and a higher percentage taken up by engines.

          This becomes a big consideration if you plan to go anywhere. It might be ok for a relatively immobile station, where fuel is only needed for stationkeeping purposes, but if you plan to do much moving around, it’s going to take more fuel than you have room for, unless we’re talking about fusion power.

          1. “It still means that everyone in that component dies. ”

            Only if it’s really fast. Even decompression will give you a chance to run for your space suit. However, there’s only a point in that if there’s somewhere to go once in it.

            1. One problem I see with the scenarios posited is that they all posit meteoroid impacts of some sort. Statistically, this is FAR less likely than someone doing something stupid and causing a life support FAILURE, which may or may not be detected in time to get into pressure suits (For example – a buildup of Carbon Dioxide, or a serious reduction in Oxygen concentration, due to some incorrect setting on a control – yes, there will be alarms, but unless there are strict testing and drills, who can be sure they are still functioning?). This could still happen, on a single structure, of course, which is why compartmentalizing and redundancy are still good ideas, but the resource issue is why a single overall superstructure is generally a better idea than an aggregation of individual ones.

              This is also more likely the type of scenario that would apply to the original post about life on a spaceship being more like that on a warship, although it should have also been “a warship in wartime”. On such a ship, sloppy mistakes can easily get someone killed.

              1. Combination? Single structure with enclosed smaller ones – perhaps something like houses inside a O’Neill cylinder – with the ability to function as independent units at least in an emergency, and the smaller ones would be privately owned and operated and the responsibility of their owners.

          2. unless we’re talking about fusion power.

            All you need is a nice grove of powerpods.

      4. It’s probably true that truly marginal environments will have strict, hierarchical social structures, but I think that a lot of people have very odd, inaccurate, ideas about what that means in application.

        Sort of like a girl I knew who couldn’t picture herself in the military because she was too much of an individual. *snort*

        People tend to think that strict or structured means autocratic, and it doesn’t really. All it means is that no one is allowed to be sloppy. Like… my brother and his family were here for a week. His kids are between 5 and 10… they don’t have pets. None of the kids ever bothered to shut doors (loved having them here). They’d walk out of the house… doors left open… walk into the chicken coop… both gates and the door left open… etc. Usually we’d notice and shut the door but we did lose one of our cats for a while…

        Does requiring strict door shutting cramp anyone’s freedom or individuality? Of course not. Does living with pets (or toddlers!) require everyone to observe strict door shutting? Yes.

        1. “Does requiring strict door shutting cramp anyone’s freedom or individuality? Of course not”

          Tell that to the chickens.

        2. Yep, there would be strong social pressures (as opposed to laws) on safety issues while allowing strong individuality.

          The idea being that you’re “free to be yourself but not free to endanger others”.

            1. True but I don’t believe in “perfect societies”. [Smile]

              Mind you, it would be more “workable” in smaller communities where “everybody knew everybody else”.

              In a larger community, you’d need some sort of enforced laws (along with a government acknowledged by the populous).

              1. The sort of fragile life support that would require strict safety practices implies a community (and structure) small enough for everyone to know everybody else.

      5. “barring pirates, ships don’t work well as democracies”

        One noted that the captain had absolute command of the pirates during attacks, creating a false impression among the general population, which is why so many fictional pirate captains are absolute masters.

    2. It’ll be filled with goats…until there’s enough surplus wealth to feed the mooching sheep.

      But then again, if we have ultra-high lifespans due to radical medical advances, children won’t be as necessary.

      I wrote something on the topic of space-based society here.

      1. Children will be as necessary, but the generation time can stretch. Well, depending on any changes in menopause, along with long lifespans. Everyone will, eventually, still die, and still need to be replaced. Just, not as often.

        1. Yeah. And if they can drag out menopause, women can have careers *after* their children — which they won’t need many of — are grown.

          1. Considering that the mistakes in DNA and everything else seem to accumulate steadily the older a woman gets (men too, but they have a bit longer) a system where people have their kids very early and really start their careers only after that would probably make most sense for longer lived humans. Perhaps with grandparents helping to support their children’s families until the children can start earning better.

            Well, that might need long enough lifespans that the grandparents would still have time to just enjoy their money all by themselves after supporting the next generations too, going through a life where the stages are “child – young adult financially at least partly at the mercy of your parents while raising your own kids – older adult supporting your kids and grandkids – when the hell am I going to be able to just be selfish and use all my money on myself and maybe my spouse and have some FUN” does not necessarily seem like the most desirable way to spend your life so getting the first generations to adopt that type of life might be a bit difficult. Might be a bit easier if you’d still have time for the good dessert after dutifully eating the healthy main course. 😀

            1. Interesting thoughts. Space colonization is likely to attract people anxious to start a new type of society, though, so there might be more takers than you think.

            2. well, that life might be rewarding enough for somebody who took it for granted, but to transition to it from the system where people expect to have that carefree fun period young might be a tad difficult.

  5. I like your categories, and, with permission, add a third category of creatures to sheep and goats: the “party animal”. The modern west is now catering to this herd which is demanding that plant-derived intoxicants, i.e.cannabis and its derivatives, be “for sale” on Main Street next to the bakery or the hardware store..

    Why treat cannabis differently than other intoxicants? In a word: children.

    An eight grader who tries to sneak a 12-pack of beer into school will discover it takes up a lot of room in his book bag, takes at least an hour to drink, and only two people can get drunk. Plus they will likely be caught when the empties fall out of the locker and bounce down the hall. Not so cannabis. Enough to stone 100 8th graders can be transported in a ziploc bag and get everyone intoxicated very quickly. Does ease of concealing an intoxicant matter to a parent? I think so.

    Consider khat, a leaf cultivated in the horn of Africa and flown into Heathrow Airport daily – 3 tons, and bought by immigrants. Chewed khat releases intoxicants. Culturally it is usually done in groups. The families with a violent son or husband who is having a khat-induced psychotic break call a UK ambulance to take away their family member. It is costing the UK health services millions and the after the khat-chewers “get well”, they go home and chew themselves into insanity once more.

    What will American look like by 2050, after several generations of children have had the ability to buy and use these mind altering substances? Somalia?

    1. Unfortunately, right now, marijuana is easier for most kids to buy than cigarettes. Getting it regulated and into stores where the purchasers can be carded is a step in the right direction.

      1. We lack the social will to constrain a black market in a commodity more than we already do. We create a heavily regulated white market in said commodity. Where do we get the social will to force the business of the black market to that of the white? Because economic forces alone are unlikely to do so, and at the same time fulfill the oft stated goals of limiting access, making lots of money, and keep volumes of sales the same or lower.

        1. Producing palatable liquor requires some skill and equipment. Tobacco is incredibly work intensive and there is some art to curing it. Marijuana is so much easier to home produce than either liquor or tobacco…and if you let it go to seed the birds will spread it abroad.

          1. Yeah, but there is just as huge a difference in quality in marijuana as there is in liquors. Sure you can get stoned on Mexican dirt weed* if you smoke enough of it, just like you can get drunk on Keystone Light, but there is as much difference between it and Purple Cush as there is between a can of Keystone and a bottle of twenty year Scotch.

            *The terminology has undoubtably changed since I was a teenager, but I haven’t spent much time discussing drugs with users since I was in high school.

    2. What, you think we haven’t already had generations of children wrecking their brains on the stuff? *cough*Obama for one *cough*

      There is reason to think that the result is poorly learned people with poor risk assessment and little ability to notice the characteristic weaknesses of their kind.

      A lot of stuff that screws up the CNS doesn’t necessarily pass the damage on to descendants.

      My guess is that what matters is what fraction of population is using what brain melters at what dosing, and what fraction is floating around with damage from stuff.

      I expect the limiting factor is differentiation into sub-populations. Some will respect the toxicity, and not touch stuff, and raise their kids that way. Some will have no real grasp, won’t raise their kids to have a deep understanding of toxicology, and may end up pretty destructive and dysfunctional. If things get really bad, perhaps bloody civil war.

    3. Every generation and nation has its mind-altering substances.

      While I personally have no desire to get myself shit-faced on anything, legal or illegal, I fail to see the point of banning something that can be grown in someone’s backyard – particularly when that item could be used for other beneficial purposes.

      Take cannabis. Thanks to it being banned, the US is unable to have an industrial hemp industry. There goes – among other things – cheap hemp paper, hemp cloth (which is softer and requires a lot less intensive cultivation than cotton, making it cheaper to grow), hemp rope – again superior to many of the alternatives – and so on.

      During alcohol prohibition the biggest growth industries were all black-market. Gangsters welcomed prohibition because they knew there was a market and they’d just been given a monopoly they didn’t have to enforce. The market for other mind-altering substances isn’t any different.

      As for the costs, those same people would be costing the system similar amounts for different reasons – many of which are self-inflicted and enabled by a government that’s more interested in having dependents it can control than in having citizens who control it (shocking, no?).

      1. Thanks to it being banned, the US is unable to have an industrial hemp industry. There goes – among other things – cheap hemp paper, hemp cloth (which is softer and requires a lot less intensive cultivation than cotton, making it cheaper to grow), hemp rope – again superior to many of the alternatives – and so on.

        Lars Larson has a once-a-month field day with this one; some of his guests have run the numbers, and there just isn’t a real demand. Canada has something like fifty square miles of it in the 90s and flooded the market; about the same time, Oregon had over 75 square miles of peppermint. (We already can import hemp fiber, and do… there’s just not the demand that’s theorized. Flax grown as fiber has a similar problem.)

        I do love hemp ropes, though; when I was a kid, there were some in the barn that had come over with my great grand or his brothers from Scotland, and weren’t new then!

        1. “I do love hemp ropes, though; when I was a kid, there were some in the barn that had come over with my great grand or his brothers from Scotland, and weren’t new then!”

          Which is one reason it is so easy to flood the market. When you buy something that lasts, you only have to buy it once.

          1. The uses for hemp rope as opposed to nylon is kinda limited, too– that rope was bigger around than my childhood arm, so MAYBE you could grip it one-handed. And it burned your hand like crazy.

            There might be options for paper if we could get rid of the requirements for post-consumer content. Don’t know how much processing it would take compared to wood, though, and how it would fare after that. The paper making process might destroy its longevity.

    4. A month back, there was another one of those no-knock raids in the city where I live. (I think they were originally conceived to prevent ‘organized criminals’ (supects? citizens?) from destroying evidence (flushing their joints down the toilet, was the scenario I was given))

      In these raids, the police do not announce themselves, blow in all the doors and windows simultaneously, lead with grenades and proceed to clear the building like they’re assaulting an armed compound. These raids often lead to shootouts with perfectly innocent citizens, because when someone kicks in your door at 3AM unannounced, what are you supposed to think?

      In this particular raid, one of their grenades landed in a baby cradle and lit a baby on fire. (3rd degree burns to the face. I think it survived) They took the house due to suspicious activity – said suspicious activity amounted to a bad tip from a criminal informant and these people’s relatives visiting from out of town.

      All of this militarized police insanity was ginned up, not to tackle any actually serious or violent crime, not to deal with murderers or kidnappers, but to wage “the war on drugs.”

      I don’t think there is any real use for marijuana. I’d never take it myself (linked to studies where it causes working memory damage, and I need all the working memory I can scrape together). But someone smoking a joint in the next apartment is far less of a threat to me than this militarized police juggernaut we’ve built over the years contending with smugglers. We’ve already had several bad raids in this town. Even more ridiculous is the asset seizure laws, and some of the cases where people who were attacked and killed (80 year old women) were posthumously framed. (Oh yeah, sure we recovered a ziploc baggy of marijuana from an old lady and her cats)

      In addition, what is visible is that we’re violently suppressing drugs, many of which do addle people’s brains and aren’t useful in any way. What you don’t see is that once you’ve conceded the principle that the government has a right to strictly control what you put in your body, you no longer have free access to advanced painkillers, to antibiotics, to anything invented after 1960. It’s locked up, locked down, and you’ll forever need an increasingly more expensive and hard to obtain permission slip to obtain any of the actually useful drugs that modern medicine has invented or will invent. Far from the market eventually taking the prices to their near zero production costs, things will continue to get more expensive and more scarce, because you have accepted the idea that you aren’t responsible enough to handle them and that someone else should tell you what you are allowed to take.

      1. In elementary school, I got my “social studies” class into a debate by pointing out a rather bizarre contradiction: “Why do you want to ban tobacco and destroy the industry, but want to legalize marijuana which puts the same burning vegetable crap in your lungs on top of it’s mental effects?” (If it were really about health, leftists would want to ban both.)

        The answer I got from another classmate: “Woah, dude. Like … I think people would like marijuana a lot better man.”

        Looking at either side of this (conservatives think banning cigarrettes was an impingement on their liberty, but want marijuana users behind bars. Leftsits think cigarettes are too dangerous to be trusted to citizens, but marijuana should be freely available behind the checkout), it seems to me more likely that these are simply cultural markers in an inter-tribal war-by-proxy through politics. Cigarettes/Cigars were used by and a symbol for 70’s business culture. Marijuana was 60’s/70’s counterculture. Each side tries to dominate the other by suppressing their in-group behavior, and all the rationalizations are made up after the fact to justify bringing down the punishment on people.

        Ultimately, people either own themselves and their lives (and must take full responsibility for themselves) or they don’t. If they own themselves, then society has no right to force them to be “useful and upstanding”, “healthy”, “right-thinking”, “properly socialized”, etc. (But then again, to stabilize the situation, they would have to be incapable of voting themselves a living after wrecking their ability to care for themselves.)

        1. In a society that seems to hold by the “if it feels good, do it” idea, I ask anybody who wants to legalize mind-altering drugs “how are you going to deal with the social problems caused by mind-addled people”?

          IMO without some social pressure (not laws) to discourage use of mind-altering drugs, you will have problems and of course my taxes will be required to “help those poor people”.

          Yes, there have been some “bad things” happening in the War on Drugs but correct those problems not “give up” and legalize drugs.

          If you want to destroy your minds with mind-altering drugs, go ahead. Just do not expect me to pay for your care.

          1. A bit roundabout, and a long way from the way our country works, but I think that if our government was arranged in such a way that people could individually decide which programs or functions got their tax money (or burn their tax contribution in protest), and the only thing that Congress was allowed to do was organize or propose activities for the citizens to individually contribute funding to, we’d solve a lot of our culture-war issues.

            Such a system would be stable against de Tocqueville failure mode – no one could vote themselves a living, since no one else would be obligated to contribute to a social safety net. If significant fractions of the country became drug addled, and few enough cared to contribute willingly to their care, they would starve, and serve as an object lesson to people about the risks involved.

            It would be stable against confiscatory taxation – Congress could raise the tax rate, but they couldn’t control where the money went, and if enough people were pissed, they would just burn their contribution and no program would benifit.

            It would solve a lot of “National Hobby” prioritization issues – all of NASA’s money would be given by people who want a robust space program.

            It might be unstable against something I’m not considering, but it would be far more responsive to the will of the governed, and less able to be abused for political predation, IMO.

            1. I know someone (a well-meaning liberal who just wants the best for people and thinks, because she’s been taught that way, that government is the best way to achieve this) who would argue that “well, then nobody would invest in public education for the disadvantaged kids, whose parents are poor and don’t pay many (or any) taxes.” To which the best response, I think, is “So nobody cares about education for poor kids? I guess that’s why there are no philanthropists tackling the problem, and no “save boxtops to donate money to your schools” ad campaigns on breakfast cereal. Oh, wait.”

              The “if you can’t persuade people to care, you shouldn’t force them to “care” at gunpoint” argument wouldn’t resonate with her, because she (AFAICT) just doesn’t see government as force. Funny thing is, she’s a quite intelligent woman, except for that big blind spot in her worldview. I’m not sure how best to point it out to her.

          2. I’d be happy to pay for it. However, my conditions would be this:
            You give up any and all rights you have to any children you’ve had, forever.
            You agree to get sterilized.
            You lose all rights to vote.
            You will live in a drug-user’s colony and never drive a car or operate heavy equipment again.
            The VA is in charge of your health care [DEVILISH GRIN].
            You get an 1100 square foot apartment.
            There are no roads for cars in the drug colony. Only foot and bicycle paths.
            You have a nine-to-five job for which you will show up on time. This will mostly involve cleaning up the colony and maintaining it. If you show up late, your drugs are cut off for a week.

            In the long run, this would be cheaper. 😀

        2. Problem, the conservative side isn’t just a flip of the liberal– it’s part of an established pattern of balancing costs. (harm and freedom, generally*) Conservatives oppose crack, too, but that doesn’t mean they’re hypocrites for wanting cigs to be legal– it means that they are comparing the amount of damage done (and some other considerations) and think that stuff that tends to make folks suggestible idiots that are allergic to logic (try sharing a study about the effects of pot on facebook…..) is a ban worthy thing.

          * part of why these need to be balanced is because “freedom” does not mean “do whatever you have an impulse to do right this moment.” If it did, you’d be free to draw a five sided square, to shamelessly steal from someone who says it better:

          Really is worth listening to.

          BTW, I lol’d when someone tried to tell me that anybody using a board on a TV show had to be copying Beck…..

          1. If it did, you’d be free to draw a five sided square Hey, if Riemann can do it, so can I. 😛

      2. I think you make a jump in your argument for which the evidence is not entirely conclusive.

        I think you, and others I’ve seen the argument from, may be conflating two things with a common cause.

        History, the modern system of policing is a new thing. The English speaking world version was an attempt to adapt it for the needs of a free people and a free society. I think it is important to understand that whatever reference point we are comparing to probably was not a steady state system that had necessarily finished development.

        Furthermore, think about the conditions that would have shaped the original understanding of the needs of physical techniques for policing. It seems likely that that the early policemen were mostly working with normal people, the naturally mentally ill, and drunks.

        I would suggest that what is going on is two separable reactions to increases in availability of relatively novel CNS poisons.

        The first, the militarization, might be mostly driven by the sort of things that, like PCP, can induce berserk fits were you can basically only kill the fellow. The stick techniques that work on drunks are unlikely to work on such. This is exacerbated by parents and others who cry police brutality whenever a drug addict is killed or subdued by anything harsher than a strong word. A policeman no more likes being killed, maimed or jailed than anyone else. The alternative to the first two (barring quiting), is enough force, and to the last is bringing in enough people, and enough lawyer vetted procedure. Hence ripping off the military.

        The other, the bureaucratic and legislative conclusion that certain substances ought to be criminalized, and certain tools provided for that purpose, has a different center of the decision, and I think is a compromise. As in, we lack a consensus for trying a solution that isn’t a bastardized mess, and if we had the will and resolve to do anything decisive, we wouldn’t have dug ourselves into this mess in the first place.

      3. TL;DR version: Most complaints people bring to bear on illegal drugs are earmarks of the government-created black market. Which, in turn, denies Us the People the essential liberty of self-ownership. The state asserts ownership of the citizen, which attempts to make us subjects and vitiates the stated purpose of government, which is to secure inalienable rights inherent to all men.


        1. Which in some ways is a legacy of the French Revolution and Rousseau (and Hegel-Kant-and Co.) that the First World War brought into the Anglo-sphere. Specifically the idea that the State, as a representative of the General Will, has the right to control the body of the individual for the good of the General Will. *blech*

    5. Out of the category of really weird, truth is stranger than fiction, it turns out that marijuana stimulates growth in one of the two parts of the brain that ADHD drugs destroy. The part that provides reward feedback. And no, I don’t have links to the relevant studies at hand, they’re buried somewhere in my email inbox, but I’m sure you all can find them.
      So maybe, if we’re lucky, legalizing marijuana will provide some help for the millions of kids with no real brain function problems who’ve had their brains deliberately damaged by parents, teachers, and doctors to make them more quiescent.

  6. Sometimes, you want to sit back and watch it all burn, but then with a shrug and a groan, you get out and try to convince the unworthy and criminally stupid to stop.

  7. It’s hardly surprising that the standard religious metaphor to separate the good from bad is the sheep from the goats.

    Being a ODD my mind has now taken a turn to consider the issue of the official scapegoat in one particular religious tradition. Oh no, of course it was not a sheep, that would not have served the purpose. Nor would have made a proper foreshadowing for another religious tradition. Dear me, now let’s see if I can steer my brain back to the actual subject at hand.

    1. Well, yes. And if you accept those particular writings, it was all of a purpose. That said, I’ve loooooong had issue with the whole sheep/goats dichotomy. I don’t particularly like sheep. I appreciate the wool, and lamb is delicious (especially in a good curry, or roasted with garlic and rosemary), but sheep is stoopid.

      1. Oh, yes. Sheepies are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. They did make life a lot easier for those old timey nomadic herders, though.

        1. Why do you think sheep are dumb? They are one of the first animals we domesticated.

          1. The original sheep probably weren’t dumb. We’ve bred them for thousands of years to be relatively docile and easy to manage – which usually translates to “not that bright”

      2. Wool takes dye beautifully and is lovely to kint. But sheep? They are stoopid, and they can be ornery. And stoopid. And skitish. And stoopid.

        Since I stopped digesting meat I do miss lamb vindaloo…

    2. After which you may need to bull your way through the topic, but don’t have a cow about it.

      1. If you got the balls you can always bull your way through, otherwise you’ll have to steer around.

  8. I prefer to think of myself as a sheep with a shank (see the original “Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs” essay). Yeah, I look pretty harmless and soft, but if you come after me, you are going to be in for a sharp, nasty surprise.

    1. No, you’re a sheep dog. Specifically a Maremma, Great Pyrenees or Akbash (or if you like dreadlocks, a Komondor). Big and fluffy from outward appearance, you blend in with the sheep, but are tough and strong enough to protect the herd.

      1. JP, I could be wrong, but I don’t think you’re supposed to tell women they’re “big and fluffy.”


              1. I used to have a poster of a very large, rather disgruntled looking cat with that caption.

                Lost, alas, in one of many moves.

                1. she had the saying butchered because it was described by my uncle to her, as it was supposed to say Ewe’s not fat … Ewe’s Fluffy (said uncle never got a story right). She later sold some correctly done in one of her many money making schemes.

              2. Mom had a kitchen magnet with a cat that said that… and put it right over the house cat’s dish.

                Terri-cat was very, very “fluffy.” (But she caught mice regularly.)

                1. my two older cats are getting “fluffy” but they have caught a few mices. But …. they are not good at keeping the mouse caught. All the times either has caught a mouse (I get the long tailed ones from the horse barns usually once the cold weather comes) they managed to get away and either find a crack to get out, or headed back under the stove where they tend to get caught at.

        1. Luckily for him, due to the unusual humidity, I am rather fluffier than usual today. We’ll just politely ignore the other adjective.

            1. Giver her a pair of glasses and make her shoot left handed and you have my twin. Although I know better than to do archery with my hair loose.

                1. The pained yelps also tend to upset the other folks on the firing line. Not that I’ve ever done it, you understand, but I heard it happened to a friend of a friend’s in-law’s sister’s cousin once. 😉

  9. The fact that one of the parties is marginally less of a religion unto itself than the other is largely a happy accident that I sincerely hope will be used to break the bloody power faction open and return it (or push it) to a narrow focus of“pay the bills, don’t use debt for the living expenses, and don’t screw with the rest of the world unless you’re prepared to clean up the mess afterwards”.

    Me too. Only it would have to be accompanied by a shift in general public sentiment to prefer such as well. Otherwise the other party would remain the government and continue on its merry way reeking havoc on our economy and complicating the messes of the world by stepping in with quick temporary fixes .

    1. It actually isn’t the public *sentiment* that’s the problem. It’s the damn headlock the US Pravda has over public perception of the political parties.

      1. A certain portion of the public, while uncomfortable about the governmental trend have been ‘properly’ trained by the public schools and universities they have attended. They will politely listen when you explain people would actually be better off without help from said government. They may even acknowedge your points. Then ask you, ‘What about all the needy people, who will take care of them if the government doesn’t?’

        1. I’ve had a certain amount of success with “who will take care of them when the government *can’t* or *won’t – and if that can happen, why not do it now?”

  10. I think you’re right about the resurgence of the American experiment and spirit. There are a lot of indicators that seem to point to this. Consider the following:
    1) Ann Coulter made a really good observation about the 2012 election. Yeah, the Presidency was lost, but beyond that, huge gains were made by Tea Party types, especially at local levels.
    2) Economically, union states are losing their workforce to right-to-work states, because that’s where the jobs are. Union memberships continue to dwindle.
    3) The lawsuit in California declaring tenure regulations unconstitutional actually made it through the courts. Disparate impact lawsuits may actually lead to minority populations that get decent educations.
    4) Birth rates among leftist voters are tiny as compared to religious conservatives are pathetically small. Leftists are falling into their own trap of abortion that’s not only available on demand, but socially accepted and endorsed. The vast majority of minority pregnancies in places like New York end in abortion. The on-the-plantation leftist voter base is aborting itself out of existence.

    In the long term, demographically speaking, conservatism is very likely to win out based on sheer statistics (because we all know that these statistics can’t be changed by any unforeseen factors ;)). It’s the time between now and then that’s scary. People need to quietly develop technical alternative income sources, alternative currencies like gold and silver. Heck, in some third world countries, things like prepaid cell phone cards have worked. It would also be really helpful if states developed their own food and power sources that weren’t dependent upon the national grid. But good luck getting that to happen.

    In the end, food, energy, education, currency and defense capability independence are what will help people, coupled with not being too close to major metropolitan centers.

    1. And combine that with the growing indications that the president won primarily because he had the entire apparatus of the state backing him and colluding to destroy his opponents, his popular support begins to look less and less real, and more and more a convenient (for him) fiction.

    2. The lawsuit in California declaring tenure regulations unconstitutional actually made it through the courts.

      The union certain to take this up the chain. In the process they will probably be able to find a judge to suspend the decision pending further adjudication. Then it will go on to the 9th circuit, who knows where they will land. It won’t really be settled until it make it up to SCOTUS.

      1. Yeah, there’s still a pretty good chance that this will get overturned on appeal.

    3. Yes, all of this. Add to that the increasing availability of work from home for a lot of positions – which means that communities are gradually going back to *being* communities (slow progress, but it’s happening) and your typical left-leaning intellectual type who lives in a better location and telecommutes is going to find the local attitudes rubbing off over time – particularly when said left-leaning intellectual encounters the likes of the former lawyer who’s now happily repairing shoes.

    4. “The on-the-plantation leftist voter base is aborting itself out of existence.”

      Which is precisely why they’re importing a new one from Mexico and points south. If the border remains open, we lose.

      1. You’re right, buuuuut…
        As soon as these imports become welfare class, they start aborting themselves out of existence too. It’s a short-term solution for the hedonist-fascists, unless they can get open borders. Inshallah they don’t.

  11. “But at the same time, no matter how bleak my logical analysis tells me things are going to get for us goats, I have a – possibly bizarre and insane, but quite unshakable – sense that the end result is one that will see the American experiment and American ideals rising to a new strength.”

    One can hope.

    1. Indeed so. The really weird thing about this is I’m by nature depressive and pessimistic. So if *I* have hope there’s a fair chance there’s actually something to hope for – and work towards.

  12. And actively change the culture to an American one.

    This is the important part.

    What really sucks is that probably the best way to do this would be to live an example of “yes, the rules really apply to everyone”– which would require coming down like a ton of bricks on attempts to form various terror gangs, effectively smashing insurrection.

    But that would require not having folks who actually want failure to prove themselves right. Kinda like Fast and Furious– if it’s not bad enough, then you gotta make it worse.

    1. But the nation in question has to adopt it in their own manner, through their own reference points. Japan and Germany both did and prospered for it. This lead to the impitus of the story, i.e., let’s fix our problems by getting conqured by the U.S., in The Mouse That Roared.

      1. Well, yes. It helped that both Japan and Germany had inherently ordered civilizations. In gaming terms, they flipped from lawful good/lawful neutral to lawful evil, where the likes of Iraq etc started at chaotic neutral (at best) and have degenerated to chaotic evil.

  13. They bunch close together when they’re nervous and while they pack a pretty mean kick (and bite), by predator standards they’re reasonably easy prey. And any sheep that’s just a little bit different from the others will be abandoned by the herd even as it runs after said herd bleating to be let back in.

    Because this is a Hun place….

    I’ve never seen sheep not allowed in the group for being different.

    I have seen ones with “puts group at risk” signals kicked out, they smell like predators or put a hole in the defensive wall and won’t stay in the middle– and yes, sheep are pretty easy prey, but so are goats, relatively speaking.

    A goat is, oh, twice as hard for a lone wolf to take out, but a wolfpack? They won’t wipe out the sheep, but they will wipe out the goats. It actually improves the survival of both if the sheep herd has some goats (well, in our area, llamas or donkeys, when it was financially possible there were shepherds and sheep dogs…but it’s the same theory) in the flock. They flock will keep the vulnerable– weak or young, even the goat kids– in the middle, and the stronger animals are a living wall, with the guard animals around the edge.

    The thing is, you can’t just throw a goat or other animal into the flock. You can sometimes get away with that with a sheep, if it has all the “I’m safe” indicators, but if you’re adding something without that they have to be established as part of the flock. The traditional “judas goat” smelled like sheep and wasn’t signaling threat, after all.

    Sheep are stupid, yeah, but they’re not really suicidal– they pay attention to things that don’t work from a human angle and SEEM to try to kill themselves, but it’s a surprisingly good survival system. A lot of the lessons of the metaphor depend on what we read into their actions.

    1. well, sheep can be herded en mass into the abattoir easily…as long as they stay with the herd, they think they are safe. Goats don’t go as easily. Yes they can be run in, but many need a bit of forcing.

      1. In certain circumstances, unsupervised goats will eat the vegetation down to the bare earth, so that it can’t grow back; and this includes tree branches and bark. This is good if you’re using them as weedkiller, but not good if you want living trees and plants.

        Btw, “congregation,” “gregarious,” “Gregory,” and “egregious” all come from the Latin “grex,” flock.

        1. lots of goats around these4 parts. They walk right up the trees to get to the bits their buddies ain’t gotten to yet. And the bit about cattlemen hating shepherds was due to the sheep browsing right down to the ground and leaving nothing behind (as best shown in the Droopy cartoon)

          1. And they both culled the feral horses, because those SOBs will pull plants out at the roots.

            Cows are actually really great if you’re going to be in one area for a long time, because if you can keep rotating them their eating pattern removes the dead stuff and just encourages growth. RANGE magazine has some great “before and after” pictures of properly managed range. Small wonder the Feds don’t like having cattle come in– it means that the areas need a lot less work. (especially if the permits include a road upkeep clause) Same things go for selling lumber harvest rights.

            1. The horses here have pulled the fencing up at the ground tugging to get the longer grass that tended to grow there, Now they Roundup the fence lines. It is surprising how strong a grip they have.

            2. And yet there are ecologists who approve of the feral horses and burros on the grounds that they make a good replacement for the equines that were wiped out — by the advent of humanity in the Americas. (The advocates for the Pleistocene rewilding.)

              1. That’s because a lot of “ecologists” are romantically minded idiots who have a reflexive level of hatred for things that are useful and an almost charming ignorance about how animals aren’t interchangeable just because they’re grouped together.

                1. I’m sure the people who have to deal with the problems caused by feral razorbacks, deer, horses, goats… camels… would like to hear these morons wax romantic about the ‘benefit’ to the Aussie outback they provide.

                  Especially if they get to show off the Aussie Outback afterward. The treehugging nitwits may just fall in love with it to the point they never leave!

                  1. We had a “nature is wonderful” neighbor when I was a kid.

                    That lasted until the deer ate her roses.

                    By the time we moved, dad was helping her put peanut butter on the electric fence to train them to go away….

                    1. The peanut butter trick is one I didn’t know of. And would I assume be more effective than the BB gun or slingshot method, which tends to teach them only to keep an ear peeled for the sound of a door opening.

                  2. They’ll probably point out that equines and camels are native to the Americas, not Australia.

                    1. In one of Posleen novels, Tom Kratman had one of the Posleen being “attacked” by a Panamanian plant. Apparently the Jungles of Panama aren’t a safe place even for would be conquering aliens. Oh, a lot of Tom’s readers started to feel sorry for that Posleen. [Evil Grin]

            1. there are a bunch of curs who think they are wolves who cull the sheep over there who need to be culled then less of the sheep would need killing.

      2. As long as they stay with the herd in a situation that, from a sheep’s view, does not seem to be a threat. Not like a sheep has a concept for “slaughter house”– may as well blame folks for not seeing a sign written in ultraviolet colored paint.

        A lot of effort went into finding out how to herd sheep; it just seems easy because we have an idea how to do it, now. Heck, I only know THAT because I always got stuck with the “help” of the town kids who wouldn’t listen!

            1. even then though sheep tend to herd together. Like the video of them running in a circle around a slowly moving car. It can become “Everyone Run, follow the butt in front of you!!! ” And when they go butt in and face out standing their ground, they are still susceptible to gabbing a hold and pulling them to where you want. but does take more work. Unless your work was to be able to grab one for lunch.

              1. For a human, yes; for predator animals, it’s not as easy– they’re closer to the sheep than to human “alright, lead this much, and— ” stuff. Following the butt ahead of you means that the predators have trouble seeing individual animals.

                It’s kind of like a bunch of Marines in camis. You can tell they’re Marines, but even in good light with no covers it’s hard to count heads and know how many there are and where someone’s arm is rather than a heart-shot. (Bored calibration technicians in Pensacola. If you’re high enough up, you can manage it– but you’re also a great target.)

            2. all this reminds me of a story my Dad tells of the fall pig butchering.
              They had many in a pen and were dispatching them with a .22 between the eyes. One of the pigs figured out that all he needed to do was stand in a corner, nose to the ground and the post against his forehead (the fence posts were logs about 8 inches in diameter) and no one could give him the coup de gras. No matter how hard they pulled and pushed, they couldn’t get him out of that corner. They ended up leaving it for a later time, and it took a while before they were able to get him out of the corner when someone was armed… I think it took some feedings, and hiding a pistol so it didn’t realize what was coming.

              1. Love pigs.

                As my mom says– they’re smarter than a lot of people. If they have room, the yuck is ALWAYS away from the water and food. 😀

                1. The mud holes they prefer are “clean”. Part of the problem with pigs gone feral is they are quite smart, to go with the nasty dispositions, destruction of things and eat anything there is. Though they will foul waterholes for some reason … it might be to keep other animals away from them.

                    1. As you can imagine, pigs being raised by humans do not usually have access to this. When I was little ours did, but that was probably highly illegal.

                    1. yeah, and for drinking, but they seem unaffected if they foul the water and drink it, but other animals can get sick from it … at least in a decent sized stock pond or small stream. The farmers are fighting that where the ferals are really over populated.

      1. Dang, the sheep in our valley must’ve been as tough as the Scots that raised them…. Never heard of that, although I have heard of all kinds of animals running until their hearts burst. (which is PROBABLY poetic license)

        1. I seen half a dozen in one flock keel over from heart attacks one day when a dog (mutt, not a herding dog) thought it would be fun to attack them. He would run up, grab a sheep by the wool (they had enough wool he wasn’t actually reaching hide) and the sheep would keel over, at which point the dog decided that sheep wasn’t any fun anymore, and would head for the next one. At first we thought they were just fainting, but after the dog was subdued, it was noted that the sheep were dead, not just fainted.

          1. Wow. Yeah, we had coyotes and the only thing they’d get was lambs– and that was DEFINITELY not a heart attack.

            Any idea what breed it was? Maybe something fancy and/or trendy? I know special breeding can result in weak systems….

  14. I agree with Kate’s point of the article, no matter the analogy being right or wrong. Getting in on the fun though. It is Monday.
    In the old Jewish Shepard manner, the Shepard ‘led’ the sheep. Which is why Jesus stated “My sheep know my voice and will follow.” It was probably the only culture that used that method.
    conservatism will win out in the long run, like Margaret Thacher stated, ‘eventually you run out of other people’s money.’ and the other not often noticed- other people’s tolerance. Liberals keep pushing, pushing, to make the herd accept new members, no matter how repulsive they may be. Eventually, it stops being tolerated.
    Drugs is a make believe issue. Before 1917, drugs of any type were legal and a kid could pick them up at any store. MJ was a common weed and planted along most irrigation ditches for erosion control. Everyone knew that smoking it would get you high, very few people bothered. Alcohol was unregulated. It was sold in draft form only, so it was no surprise to anyone to see a six year old kid bring a small bucket into the bar to get dad’s after supper drink. He or she might have a taste to make sure that dad would be happy with this batch. And we had less Drug addiction,alcoholism then than today. The progressive push to build a sheepfold has been a long one.

    1. I think this kind of analysis runs into a problem, because there is also a difference in the cultural enforcement system between then and now. Then, it was expected that groups would police their own with respect to abuses of various kinds. The “group” varying from being the extended family, the neighborhood, the club one was a member of, or whatever.

      If someone was known to violate the social expectations (for example, getting overly drunk or high on a regular basis), he would be told to clean up his act, and if he didn’t, there were several means with which to strenuously remind him, be it expulsion from the group, or having some representatives of the group visit and give a “lesson”. The six year old taking his dad’s evening beer to him would be treated rather severely if he was barely able to walk straight by the time he got home.

      And these types of enforcement have been systematically destroyed, which makes going back to such times very difficult.

    2. “…we had less Drug addiction,alcoholism then than today…”

      Depends on when you’re looking at things. Consider the written comments by foreign visitors to the U.S. after the Revolution up through, roughly, the 1840s. Minors passed out drunk, or completely hammered early in the day out on the streets. Or records of truly heroic levels of drinking being widespread through society, and not just among adults.

      The Temperance movement didn’t get rolling just because some old biddy didn’t want to see anyone else having fun, however it might have manifested up through today.

      1. Ok- Wayne first: I didn’t make any recommendations, simply stated that the drug/alcohol laws and enforcement have made little or no real difference and gave examples.
        SteveH- I am always hearing about those ‘decadent Europeans’ They actually drink wine with their meals and the kids drink at the table too. I’m sure that’s true, have you read about the British binge drinking vacations? Lots of women go to them, sort of like ‘Spring Break’. Joking aside, I didn’t say that people led righteous lives, nor did I say that minors didn’t get drunk. As Wayne said above, communities looked after each other and it was the large cities that had the worst problems. Sort of like David Copperfield. The start of the temperance movement began by church pastors because charity mostly came through the churches and pastors noticed that fathers were drinking the children’s food and clothing money. It began as “Temperance” Pay the bills, buy food and clothing before you buy the beer. Like everything else, the idea spread across the nation. The church only wanted people to put family first; then the socialists got involved and temperance became prohibition with the help of a lot of the old Biddies, churched and unchurched and the new preachers like Billy Sunday. Government stepped in (as always) and we finally came out with the tax cash cow called alcohol taxation and government grants for the ‘war on drugs’ And, no, I’m still not making a recommendation.

        1. Actually, both descriptions are sorta correct.

          The Europeans lived in filth, and needed to poison themselves a little, to avoid being poisoned a lot by their unsanitary living arrangements.

          Rural Americans had much cleaner water, which allowed them the habit of not drinking as a matter of course, and a wealth of cheap grain, which could of course be converted into alcohol. More on this in my attempts to say what I think is wrong with your description of the drivers of the Anti-Saloon Movement and prohibition.

          Firstly, Protestant society was not a constant before, during and after the nineteenth century. There was a frontier/riverboat culture that was very rough, and shaded into the culture of the many resource extraction towns that developed over the course of the time. Large amounts of cheap alcohol did play a role in this. As more women were brought into the places to settle down and raise families, there necessarily was a gentrification. As you mention, the clerics had one interest. Some of these attempts at family were destroyed by alcoholism, and at the time they thought everyone might be equally susceptible. I imagine that the Indian reservations being perhaps less alien than, oh, Portugal could have had a part to play.

          The flip side of the coin is production, transportation, and retail of alcohol. Most of the actual fervor developed during one particular period. Back in colonial days, alcohol was sold in pubs, apparently more or less spitting distance of how the English did/do it. Certain frontiersmen moved across mountains, and settled a valley that drained towards, IIRC, the Mississippi. They planted corn, and ended up turning it into drink to get it to market. Remember the frontier/boat culture I mentioned? You’ve heard of the guy who sharpened his fingernails for the express purpose of gouging out eyes? That, I gather, was a different drinking culture from that of Southern Europe. Some decades later, production was mostly changed from whiskey to a type of beer. The beer could only be shipped so far, so each brewery had Saloons in a local area. Then production was switched to a different type of beer. This type of beer was much better for shipping and storage, which meant that very many breweries were now all in direct extremely cutthroat competition. It is this second stage of beer Saloon that caused the most outrage. It is a very different kettle of fish from what came long before and long after. Nowadays a bar sells alcohol from many different manufacturers. Then, a Saloon sold beer from one brewery.

          European observations about American drinking were significantly about too much capacity desperately chasing too few mouths.

          Americans on European drinking seem to be driven by contaminated drinking water.

    3. MJ was a common weed and planted along most irrigation ditches for erosion control.

      This doesn’t sound very likely– my mom is a weed control rep (it’s a volunteer thing) and can’t resist teaching anyone who will hold still about ANYTHING, so I know how hard it is to remove ANY plant that’s been wide-spread. If the marijuana plant was actually planted for erosion control it would have been self-spreading enough that it would still be there, on its own.

      I’d guess that some variety of the hemp plant was used, but not a variety bred for narcotic potency, even at the level of the 60s. I’d guess a fiber variety. (Some poking around suggests that “ditchweed” is a fraction as strong as even “bad” weed.)


      Also, the 1917 thing was the first FEDERAL law. States were already regulating drugs; I think Cali did it through the “poison” laws. (Which actually makes sense….)
      You can usually find stuff about the state laws by checking drug pusher sites for rants about hating on the Chinese. (apparently, seeing a problem with opium dens is a sure sign of racial bias)

      1. The story I was told from the time I was old enough to understand is that when Mexican migrant workers came through following the harvest, they would ask permission from the land owner to plant in the fencerows. When they returned next harvest, they picked the MJ. Since my grandfather was one of the landowners in question. That is the hillbilly origin story for ditchweed.

        1. That should read “since my grandfather was one of the landowners in question, I tend to believe it.”

        2. According to my mother, most long term migrant workers would plant things next to the fields they worked on regularly. They’d also improve the places they stayed while working, for next year.

          That is a massively different claim than it being used around “most” ditches for erosion control.

      2. I was speaking of Federal law. States have all kinds of laws; but, it was when the feds began enforcement that things started going to pot. Which is what I was discussing. I’m sure that states had liquor laws too. Here in Oklahoma, we have a rule. If the MJ is found in a field north of I-40, the farmer gets the benefit of the doubt if he says its wild. That doesn’t mean he gets away, just that he has an excuse. If south of I-40 he gets to explain it to the judge. Because during the dustbowl days Northern Ok. was seeded with MJ for erosion control.Many farmers moved from western OK to eastern OK to get away from the lost topsoil and it is possible some seed followed. In New Mexico, some of the Hispanics liked to joke about it, which is where I first heard about it in the fifties. Since I’ve never smoked any, I can’t say what type it was. However, by the fact that it wasn’t discussed and we didn’t have the ‘war on drugs’, we have now, compared to today, I know it was a different attitude.

      3. Interesting. Kudzu was brought in from Asia for erosion control in the southeast.

        There are some things in Kudzu’s favor. It is utilized for fodder for goats where the soil is poor. As a member of the pea family it aids in fixing nitrogen in the soil. In Asia paper, fabric and food goods are made from it. Here a rather pretty jelly is made from the blossoms.

        But the stuff grows incredibly fast, and if not kept under control will choke out competing plants. It is extremely tenacious, although half a decade of over grazing can kill a stand.

        1. Ooh, I hadn’t heard that it was good for returning nitrogen to the soil.

          Sounds like you could put it in a horribly abused area for a year and then turn the goats loose.

          (Incidentally: kudzu and similar unintended over-successes are part of why hybrid plants are so popular– you are less likely to get lawsuits for introducing a weed.)

  15. So I’ve got Fox News running in the background while reading this, and they’ve been reporting all morning that – per John Effin’ Kerry, our illustrious Secretary of State – that the United States would welcome talks with, and the assistance of, Iran to help stabilize the situation in Iraq.

    Let that sink in for a moment: The Obama Administration is now seeking a tactical, if not strategic, Middle Eastern partnership with *IRAN.*

    To fix problems that the administration itself created with the failure of its suckup, blame-America-first foreign policy. Whatever mistakes the Bush team may have made, they don’t compare in any way to this.

    It’s not just in Libya that Obama replaced the government with one run by our nation’s enemies. He did the same thing in Egypt by abandoning Mubarak to the Muslim Brotherhood, and in Afghanistan by abandoning them to the Taliban, and now Iraq by abandoning them to the tender mercies of ISIS on the one hand and the mullahs of Tehran on the other. He might as well have abandoned Ukraine to Putin, and one figures that the Baltic states and Poland are next. (I’m sure they think so, too.)

    Couple that with the way that the federal security and enforcement apparatus has become focused on suppression of domestic political dissent, and the ongoing, rapid militairzation of even local law enforcement, it’s not, in my opinion, enough to say that Obama’s a traitor. It would be better to say that under his leadership, the United States has literally switched sides in the War on Terror.

    The good news, if any, is that at least we’ll have full employment for cartographers, for at least the forseeable future…

        1. Try not to get hung up on the third subclause of the fifteenth item of the articles of revolution for a start (yes, it’s another Pratchett joke – but valid nonetheless.)

      1. And that means that they’re pretty much guaranteed to go nuclear…

        Keep an eye out for news of suspicious shipments from Pakistan to Saudi Arabia…

          1. I heard a while back that there was a deal in the works with Israel about Iran.

            1. heard that a few times, but it seems the current administration keeps finding ways to back-stab the plans
              Seriously I think the Saud and the IDF wonder just who’s side 0bama really is on.

              1. They know. It’s just impolitic for them to actually flip him the bird and tell him exactly where he stands. And he’ll be out of office in a couple more years. Got to put the long-range plan in place, and ride out short-term stupids. 😀

  16. My worry is that we’re going to get hit with the one thing that doesn’t care about any of the above – a massive epidemic of some fatal disease. Yes, I think we’ll probably pull out of our current troubles, though it may take a while. But an epidemic in our current state would probably be catastrophic.

    1. You think there will be an emergence of some new disease? Because I don’t think there is anything out there we can’t deal with, with the possible exception of some form of bio-weapon, such as smallpox or weaponized versions of various forms of “plague”.

      1. It doesn’t necessarily need to be “new”. A mutated strain of an old disease will do quite nicely. China currently seems to be a popular spot for those. Fortunately, none of them have been all that serious to date. But it only takes one…

        And I worry that our current troubles, particularly the factionalism that so many are pushing, will cause unexpected problems in the systems in place to deal with something like an epidemic.

        1. See John’s The Last Centurion for an interesting take. I think he’s generally right on the way it would be treated by normal Americans.

          1. Just another reason to not live near major urban centers. Imagine if there was a sexually transmitted ebola strain that had a two-year incubation period, followed by a week-long death? Scary. Especially since as the conservatives and religious flee the cities, hedonists keep pushing ever lower standards of sexual conduct. We could have entire cities turn into plague infested, walled-up ghettos where anyone caught leaving would be shot on sight just to contain the outbreaks.

            Sure would swing this country rightward, though. In a HURRY. The leftist voter bases would be killed off merely based on their lifestyle choices.

          2. I read today at Ace of Spades about the possibility of American troops getting stranded in Afghanistan by a sudden international crisis. Why does John have to be so depressingly right all the time?

  17. Whenever I see more insanity from the government I have to remind myself of a few things:

    The pool of voters is a fraction of the population, taking the results of any given election as indicative of the tenor of the population is — inaccurate, at best.

    At any given time, most Americans expect the .gov to handle its business and stay out of the way. The more the .gov gets in the way, the more likely they are to be annoyed. Annoyed Americans are problematic for would-be rulers. Pissed-off Americans…

    Regarding foreign policy, our cyclical .gov drives many, many foreign powers crazy. We’re unpredictable, the next election can flip the tables. This makes for difficulty in strategic planning. There’s a reason Putin is pushing NOW. Later could easily be impossible.

    On military drawdowns, we have a professional, volunteer military. A draw down does not eliminate skilled individuals, it just moves them. Someone wishing to take advantage of strategic weaknesses may find themselves shocked at the speed with which the military can be reinvigorated. Even large capital assets can be fielded with shocking speed. Pissing in our patch can go from being a fun pastime and mockery of the current CinC to a deadly game in very short order.

    Times are bleak, they’re not hopeless. And I think we’ll find more goats hanging around than we suspect.

    1. If push comes to shove, look for the churro sheep. What are churro sheep? Glad you asked, and no they are not anything like the little fried snacks. Churro sheep are the ancestral Spanish sheep that came over with the conquistadors, back in the day. They have long, stringy fleeces, good-sized horns, and are tough as nails, will eat almost anything, and act about as goat-like as domestic sheep get. Look at Navajo sheep for an idea of what I’m talking about. Anyway, to use Kate’s metaphor, the churros are the sheep that are willing and able to support us goats when the time comes. They like their flock [govt supplied conveniences], but like survival even more, and are willing to rustle with the rest of us if it comes to that.

      (Why yes, I did write a book partly about churro sheep. Why do you ask?)

      1. Reference to an obscure sheep with historical antecedents to flesh a metaphor with nuance?

        And there’s a book?

        This is my surprised face:

        And this is why I come here.


        1. The book is in university press limbo at the moment (somewhere along the Rio de las Animas Perdidas in Purgatorio, I suspect).

        2. Yes, Eamon, and yes TXRed. To both of you. Most Americans are currently hitting “mildly irritated”. The fecal material will meet the rotating blades when they get pissed off.

          I don’t know what will tip it or when, but I suspect that it will be one of those lightning-fast things, and it will be within the next few years.

  18. My, I must say: your Emperor sure has great dress sense, doesn’t he?

  19. When I decided to raise a fiber animal, I picked Angora Goats over sheep because the goats are so much more engaging, smart, and funny.

    I’d much rather be compared to a goat than a stupid sheep. Sheep are boring and don’t really have individual personalities.

    Each of my 35 goats are individuals. It may have been easier to raise sheep, but it would never be as much fun.

    I just hope there are enough Americans who are goats to survive and build after all the sheep follow the leader over the cliff.

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