Why Juggle?

Yesterday I forgot to tell you that Tom Simon’s post on being Superversive is up at Jagi’s blog.

Also, this year my family and I have somehow forgotten to book panels at milehi, which means, ultimately, there’s not much point in going. If any of the huns and/or our friends up there want to make it a breakfast or dinner during the weekend of Milehicon I’m up for that.

We decided we had to go to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar workshop. Part of it is the seminars on terraforming and propulsion. I have so many novels upcoming that must be science fiction that I thought I’d best bolster my week remembrance of my studies of the matter. For one things have changed. When I last dwelled on the subject, everyone thought Ganymede would be an easy terraforming project, but it turns out to have too much radiation for such things. So, under professional development, I need to go there, and before I go I need to get two books delivered to Baen.

Through Fire is clearly one of those stumbling block books that almost break one to write. I think I know why, psychologically, as well as circumstances, but it means that since it’s a series, it must be done. If it were a stand alone, I’ll confess I’d probably have passed on it and gone on to something else.

Anyway, Through Fire, because it requires unusual concentration is part of the reason that I’m forgetting and losing everything, but the other part of it is that…

Well, I listed all the titles I’m working on (as in started/actively outlined/being written) in the diner on FB and scared myself. And that’s not listing things like the Magical British Empire which will take extensive line by line.

Again, I’m more convinced than ever that Ayn Rand was wrong. Atlas didn’t shrug. He juggles.

But this ties in with the whole idea of superversive again.

The word is good, but we’re not the only ones to come up with the concept. There is a time for tearing down and a time for rebuilding. Part of the ah… conformity of mid-century needed tearing down.

What people who moon over the America of FDR and how safe, clean, etc it was miss is that well… it might have been all that, but it was also more uniform. There is a dark side to chaos and a light side too, and the light side is where it allows creation.

(Perhaps my experience is not representative, but I know that I can’t work if put into a too clean, too ordered environment.

I like to be comfortable, which means there’s a little mat on my desk, for my tea cup. There’s piles of projects and notes that make sense only to me, and right now there’s the planner I still haven’t figured out how to use.)

It’s hard to know what was the real late forties and early fifties because more and more as I read an historical or watch a recreation I think “How much of this is true and how much is informed by Marxist narratives?” Like… watching a show about a hospital in Victorian London where in the very first episode of course there is someone who botched a self-abortion. (Did it happen? Sure. But if the village is any example, abortion was a skilled trade, practiced in open secret by an “angel maker”. And women trying to abort themselves were more likely to use irrigation and/or herbal or other semi-poisoning. Knitting needles? Perhaps, but I have trouble believing anywhere where there isn’t mental or other impairment involved, in which case, it could have been anything else she was trying to do.) Packed in the same episode there is also, (of course) an anarchist under arrest and also, (of course) a woman who chooses a glorious career in nursing over marriage.

Did all these things happen? Oh, sure. Just like legitimately repressive religious families happen (we know a couple) and just like legitimately abusive husbands happen (I know a couple, too.) BUT they don’t happen with nowhere near the frequency we see in our fiction, and I’ve started wondering if the frequency we see these things in historical fiction is the same type of “narrative” we’re inflicted upon our own times.

I know that anything touching on Victorian England attributes all its ills not just to poverty but to the disparity between rich and poor, as though that very inequality were such a sin that it caused all these ills.

In real fact, the disparity came from the fact that for the first time in human history at least a portion of the population had disposable wealth. Which allowed it to invest. Which allowed more prosperity that raised all boats.

The idea that the disparity would remain and increase, with us all turning into morlocks and eloi was the idea of Marx, who, as we’ve pointed out before never really created any wealth. (Or ideas. He stole broadly from all and sundry. His was the wrapping it up in an envy-justifying package, which I suppose makes perfect sense for an “intellectual” who thought himself superior and proved again and again that he failed at real life.

In fact the only place disparities increase to that point is in communist/socialist countries, where the confiscation of created wealth brings the engine of creation to a halt and leaves an effective finite pie, of which the kommissars , being human, take the best slice.

Anyway, I’ve recently started to wonder about all shows and books depicting the Victorian age. So many of the writers who became classics had a leftist agenda. And that too makes you wonder, and makes me want to go trolling Gutenberg for forgotten writers of the Victorian age to see whether we, indeed, preserved the best, or whether the same selection bias is in effect as for contemporary “push” on books.

Okay, that was a long digression, but in the same way even as close as the forties and fifties, it’s hard to know what was really true. One reads biographies (particularly the candid self-published biographies of people of no importance) and the picture is quite different.

But to an extent, we do know the fifties had more… ah… bonding between company and employee and that in theory at least, one was supposed to work for the same company for decades and retire with thanks, etc.

In fact, I grew up in a system very much like that.

I had to explain to my kids a pervasive feature of the fifties/sixties sitcoms, where “the boss is coming for dinner.”

The idea completely baffles them, and I had to explain that when women stayed home, the career really involved both and that scoping out an employee’s spouse was normal before a promotion, to see if she was up to her support role, etc.

At least that’s the world I grew up in. When I moved here, in the eighties, I was suddenly catapulted into a less “personal” world when it came to employment. In fact, many people here experienced that, in the eighties for the first time, too.

The rise of temporary labor, at which my entire generation seemed to be working, was particularly baffling for older generations.

But in my case, because I came from elsewhere, I could see both the wrenching instability and the benefits.

The old way of doing things had to be torn down, to give new flexibility to do things. And in a world in which computers were revolutionizing the way of doing business, it was important to have the ability to “try” an employee on before offering a more permanent contract, and also, even, to try positions on you weren’t sure of needing. (It was 90 before the interviews stopped holding it against me that I didn’t know short hand, even when I could demonstrate that I could take down text at normal speaking speeds, something I’d had to learn to do in college. And it was 90 the first time I was allowed to take a typing test on a computer keyboard.)

In the same way, I suppose, the rigidity of mind of a world of “company men” and “support women” had to be torn down, to allow new forms to even be thought about.

No, that’s not why they did it, of course. By and large, the authors who were “subversive’ were tearing down assumptions, norms and values as held by society in the hope that as it all came crashing down, socialism would emerge. (That too has never happened. Anarchy, sure. Strong man rule, sure. Socialism is something else.)

But it could be argued that some norms and values need to be torn down or at least pointed at and have duck noises made at them.

Societies like people get in habits of mind that must be poked, now and then, to see if they are functional or just, you know, things we fell into. Like my putting the tea cup on the right instead of the left of my desk. Maybe it would be better on the left, except there are a bunch of electrical cords there, and if we put it there, it will be a problem. So that habit has been examined and found to have a reason. Also I’m right handed, and it’s easier to lift my mammoth tea cup with my right hand.

OTOH my habit of leaving books that scare me and finding much more pressing stuff to do, like iron clothes, must be torn down and something better erected.

What I mean is that there is/was a place for “subversive” particularly as society was changing relatively fast. But subversive like everything else, has become ossified.

There might have been a point to Heinlein wondering if, in a society that controls the genome, and in which we live practically forever, incest taboos will persist.

There is hardly a point to most stories where such norms are violated simply because they’re norms, and then everyone dies and wallows in misery.

I see superversive as a society-wide movement, not just literary. Human Wave is more specifically literary, a “life affirming” and “Human affirming” movement. Superversive, on the other hand would encompass everything.

It would be a search for the paradigms that work, for history that is real, beyond the narrative, for ways of living that fit both our changed technology and our immutable human needs. It would not seek to break man to mold him to a dream, but to create human dreams, within which humans can exist the best way possible.

I’m putting it very badly, because this post is sort of a catch all for thoughts that will be developed (hopefully) at length over the next few weeks.

But it is part of the reason that Atlas isn’t shrugging or going off to Galt’s Gulch. In our connected, linked world, in our changed technology, that was never very likely.

Instead, Atlas has turned superversive.

Building up is always much more work than tearing down, and there are very few workers, yet, in this vineyard. And it’s not a simple thing. We can’t simply “restore” a time as depicted in literature or movies, because those are tainted. Besides, even the real historical times wouldn’t fit, since our technology is so different.

So we have to research, retool, adapt, cast out the poisonous bits of Marx’s barbed illusions, and forge on.

There is an immense work to do, and I doubt our generation will finish it. Like Moses, we’ll probably die before we see more than the outlines of the new “land.”

But it must be done. So Atlas juggles.

And this particular Atlas is, clearly, going in about 100 directions at once this morning, and must stop babbling and go write fiction.

I have a city to burn, executions to arrange, a Good Man to kill, a redemption to arrange, a character to humble.

I’m swamped.

You too go forth and erect those scaffolds. It is becoming clear that you can’t tear down a civilization and have some parts miraculously standing. And at any rate, the parts they want to stand involve paternalism and telling other people what to do, and truly those are parts that need to go.

So we need to start from the bottom and build up. And we need to make sure we have good foundations, because they will be tested.

Roll up your sleeves. Go to work.

In the end we win, they lose – but it’s going to take will and work to get there.

More and more organized posts anon.

337 responses to “Why Juggle?

  1. CombatMissionary

    Speaking of terraforming, when we terraform Mars, let’s officially change it’s name to “The Farmers’ and Hunters’ Planet,” OK?

    • Let’s see, that would be Diana and Demeter, right? So you want to rename the planet Mars, Double D, right? That is so . . . male. (And I mean that as a compliment. Plus, I’m quite sure the God of War approves.)

      • CombatMissionary

        Pam, I swear, I didn’t even think of that! If I were a first-year psych student, I’d be asking if there were anything Freudian behind your observation. 😉

        • Wayne Blackburn

          You know, I’m not sure about putting women under two moons, especially ones that orbit that fast. It could be hazardous.

          • On the other hand, with the low gravity of Mars, DD’s would be not the slightest problem for the bearer. Indeed the population of immigrants might self-select for that reason, with the expected effect on the genome.

          • IIRC, the moons of Mars are too small to have much effect on surface conditions, or even to be particularly visible from the planet (not that moons are likely to have any effect on terrestrial biology or cycles, regardless).

            I figure that if we ever do get around to colonizing and terraforming Mars, we should either consolidate the two moons into one, or convert them both into a nice, big Bernal Sphere or Bishop Ring for the terraforming crew to live in. The new “moon” would (maybe?) be visible from the surface, though it wouldn’t provide any more tidal effects than the two micro-moons do now.

      • I am now confused. I thought DD was an attribute found in more women than men.

      • I don’t know how many of you here are into model rocketry, but several years ago Estes came out with a new kit they called the 36 D squared, which had two D engines clustered in it. Being that most of us active in the hobby are guys who got into it as pre-teen kids, it was immediately re-named the 36 DD. It led to a never-ending series of jokes and modifications of the vendor paint scheme to that rivaled the WW2 bomber nose art.

        Some of the more timid souls who had SJW tendencies complained about it, but were ignored. Estes did get some complaints from those types and despite the kit being popular, discontinued it a couple of years later.

  2. Colorado Alex

    The idea completely baffles them, and I had to explain that when women stayed home, the career really involved both and that scoping out an employee’s spouse was normal before a promotion, to see if she was up to her support role, etc.

    The military is probably the last holdout of that mentality, and it’s dying fast. A friend used to say that she was the perfect Army wife. She could have thirty champagne flutes filled and hors d’oeuvres ready to go on two hours notice.

    Does such a system have drawbacks? Yes. But it also worked. Officers or senior NCOs who had problematic family lives or spouses who weren’t willing or able to integrate into the military community were bad prospects for long term success.

    • OMG, yes. I say this as the introverted wife of an E-6. You grit your teeth and act charming to complete strangers with whom you’ve nothing in common to bolster your husband’s chances for advancement.

      It’s not dead yet.

      • CombatMissionary

        I guess my wife has it lucky. In MY career field, NCOs are so common that E-6 is considered ordinary for a Squad Leader, and E-7 means you’re vying for Platoon Sergeant against the OTHER two E-7’s. Wife wants me to get an active duty retirement, and I’ve told her, “OK, but that means you get to run the FRG (Family Readiness Group) along with the Commander’s wife, because at some point I’m going to HAVE to be the First Sergeant.” Never mind what that means for my already decimated hairline. 😉
        Heaven help me, I don’t care enough about PT belts and ribbon placement on uniforms to be a 1SG!

        • I would have thought that things like ribbon placement on uniforms were indicative of the person’s attention to detail, an attribute often correlated to staying alive in combat.

          Of course, as we have been promised no boots will be on the ground (will our infantry be forced to walk on water in future?) there is probably no need to worry about combat ever again. (And if it does happen, I suppose our troops will ride into battle astride unicorns.)

          • rustypaladin

            You accidentally just hit on a debate that has been going on since the draw-down was started. Many think that a highly polished uniform and a high speed haircut are important. Those will thrive in the current Army. However, that sort of attention to detail does not necessarily correlate with ensuring your troops have what they need to complete a mission or seeing a situation from the enemy’s point of view. Frankly, measuring ribbons on a uniform is much easier than thinking ahead. That it is not to say it does not have it’s place. It is simply far less important because the enemy does not care what awards you have or even if you have a regulation haircut. Only that you are standing in the way of his goal and/or that he is standing in the way of yours. Unfortunately, a Class A inspection is a lot cheaper than a field problem or a rifle range. And so cosmetics becomes more important than training. 😦

            • CombatMissionary

              “No combat-ready unit ever passed an inspection.”
              -Attributed to Confucius

            • We had a saying when I was in: A combat ready unit never passed inspection; An inspection ready unit never passed combat.

              • Bill Maudlin discussed how units during World War II had two sets of non-coms, and every time they went into, or out of, combat, they would bust one set back to private and promote the other. Because one set kept them alive on the battlefield, and the other kept them out of trouble off it.

          • …we have been promised no boots will be on the ground…

            Yep – they are issuing sandals.

          • I’m pretty sure combat troops who specialize in walking on water would count as amphibious and therefore need to be part of the Marine Corps. 😉

            • Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children might get all of the glory, but I’m pretty sure that most of the troops making amphibious landings in WWII were US Army.

              • Question of modern organization, not who’s done what when.

                Same way that the Army has more “boats” (note NOT ships) that the Navy, and the Navy has more planes than the Air Force, at least as of somewhere after the late 90s and before ’04. (Navy factoids are reliable, but not always current.)

              • William O. B'Livion

                Only because the Army historically outnumbered the USMC something like 10 to 1.

                Because they needed to 🙂

              • That’s because the Marines did it right the first time. 😉

                (Yes, this is a joke. It is not an invitation to discussion on various amphibious assaults during WWII, of which I really know very little)

                • CombatMissionary

                  [TURNS ON FLAME THROWER]
                  [READS COMMENT ABOUT JOKE]
                  [TURNS OFF FLAME THROWER, STOPS FOAMING AT MOUTH]
                  Bwa ha ha ha…

              • Usually the same troops. . . .

                Bill Maudlin had a comic where a green sailor is having the wise old soldier explain the ship to him.

              • In Europe it was almost wholly Army. Italy, France, almost totally Army for US contributions. Island hopping in the Pacific (Tarawa, Iwo Jima, etc.) it seems the Marines got the job most of the time. Either way it was dirty, nasty, horrific work. We still have folks like that (thank the Lord), it’s just that our press thinks it unseemly to talk about actual heroism.

            • William O. B'Livion

              That, or SEALs. They do pretty good in both.

              • This is true.

                And what do both units also have in common? A true appreciation for the Navy Corpsman. 😀

                • William O. B'Livion

                  You got that right.

                  Only 2 squids worth a damn. Those that carry bandages, and those that fly close air support 🙂

                  (Yes, I’m joking. The navy is really, really good about giving Marines rides to wherever the fight is. This is handy because while 2000 mile forced marches suck, swimming across the oceans plays hell with logistics).

                  • I used to spend a lot of time over at a forum that consisted of active duty, former military, and a lot of vets. One day, in the forum’s chat room, one of the Marines threatened to travel down to my neck of the woods and beat my rear if I called myself a squid one more time.

                    “YOU are a Doc. That’s a far more advanced life form!”

          • William O. B'Livion

            There is attention to detail, then there is OCD.

            I, as a former Jr. NCO, would have much rather had a senior leadership that demanded a certain level of professionalism in *and out* of uniform. I don’t care how good your uniform looks at the annual service dress inspection, if you’re stumbling to chow in a ratty t-shirt, baggy shorts and flip-flops you are not presenting a professional appearance.

            At a going away party (transfering, not EOS) our Master Gunnery Sgt had a full beard. Seriously out of regulation. Odd thing is he was great leader otherwise. Well, he’d also spent *way* too long on Embassy Duty and was behind the technical curve for our field. *Way* behind.

            So while being able to get the ribbons and medals lined up in the right order and to within certain tolerances is attention to detail, so is being tactically and technically proficient in your MOS. When I were a trooopie I knew too many of the E-6s and E-7s who were not.

            Oddly enough the opposite was true in 2 of the 3 reserve units I served with. Both the Artillery folks in the Missouri Army National Guard and the folks in the Air Force Comm squadron had their schiznit *cold* technically. They might not have had the most spit-shined uniforms, but the Comm Squadron could have the Sat dishes up, network run, firewalls set and mail servers passing traffic in an incredibly short period of time. Of course it helped that about half of them did it for a living in the civilian sector (for a while 2 of our network guys worked for Cisco. One as a programmer on switches and one as a Product Mangler).

            Attention to detail is relevant in military operations, but MUCH more critically having the wisdom to determine *which* details deserve attention is far, far more important. The difference between ribbons that are within 1/32 of being perfectly straight and 1/16th isn’t critical, but sometimes the difference between red-green and white-green is the difference between life and death.

            • There’s a story about Arleigh Burke’s time as a destroyer squadron commander in WWII. He was aboard one of his captain’s destroyers for an inspection, and said captain was nervous. Bad paint, rust spots, et. etc…

              Burke finishes the inspection, and fulsomely praises the captain. Shocked, the captain asks why?

              “Your guns!”

              The CO may not have kept the painting up/etc., with supply shortages and all, but all the functional stuff was in good shape, and the guns themselves were in top operational condition and showed the care lavished on them.

            • CombatMissionary

              “Attention to detail is relevant in military operations, but MUCH more critically having the wisdom to determine *which* details deserve attention is far, far more important.”
              Isn’t that why we have officers? To tell us which details are important? Especially Lieutenants.
              [RUNS FOR HILLS]

              • William O. B'Livion

                Generally you listen to the Lt, look at the map and take the *other* fork.

                • CombatMissionary

                  “Sergeant, it’s your job to implement the commander’s vision!”
                  “Sir, I’m totally on board with the commander’s vision. However, the immutable laws of physics and logistics have some bearing upon our ability to carry it out. If the commander can arrange another company in full battle rattle to serve as OPFOR out of thin air in the next hour, complete with HMMWV’s and commo, we’re all set. Otherwise I recommend…”
                  [THOUGHTFUL SILENCE]
                  “Alright, sergeant, start implementing your training plan while I go talk to the commander.”
                  Diplomacy: the art of accomplishing effective training in spite of the best efforts of support groups, without resorting to murder or mutiny.

      • And I can tell you, for those who as lowly privates arrived at our first duty station a bare 2 weeks before Christmas. We appreciated the platoon sergeant and his family who let us join their family for part of that day. (There were two of us.) Your work is appreciated by more than just the up line, even if the youngsters may be too nervous to say so at the time.

    • And it was well known that the general’s wife really ran the base…

      • Oh yes – and the daughter had a say.

      • Early on in my first tour in the Far East, they told me about the legendary colonel’s wife who had left the base and moved on, a few years before. She was a demon for volunteering, and not just for the nice sort of “colonel’s lady” jobs – she went and volunteered for the hard, dirty ones in the trenches: she ran a camera at the TV station for the evening news (this is when we did a live evening newscast, she coached one of the school sports teams (very effectively, too) and at Christmas, she was pitching packages at the post office – another hard and grubby job. She was everywhere, doing her bit. Everyone agreed that the only reason her hubby had any career at all was her doing, since he was a waste of flesh and a commission.

        • CombatMissionary

          We have words for officers like that.

          Of course, being in polite company, I’ll just refer to them as oxygen thieves.

    • My wife was the daughter of an Air Force Colonel and so when I was dragged into the military (yes USAF) she was prepared. BTW my Mother- in- Law was a down to earth person not one of those notorious “Colonel’s Wives.”

  3. (sympathetic shoulder pat) Get some rest. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. And if word gets out you’ve gone soft, your name won’t instill the necessary fear and it’s nothing but work, work, work….

    I loved ready Pepys diary for just the reason you mention, and the site where they only put up one days’ worth at a time was also useful to see how information was SO SLOW back then. Also, old Baedeker guides. They address what travelers at that time worried about (vails for the servants, where the pickpockets hang out, expected charges at the railway cafe, local customs for hiring a horse, etc.)

    • Time was that a merchant would send off his letter and wait for the response, months or weeks later. Once the telegraph arrived, why, he might have to deal with the response the same day.

      And the leading source of news stories outside the town was other newspapers. Who cared? It would be a week or a month late anyway.

      (The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage)

  4. Total tangent: We were talking about using our Goodreads group to solicit help for writing.

    I’m trying to kick it off with a few requests — advice on blurbs and covers, and beta readers. You can add your own requests if you like.

    https://www.goodreads.com/topic/group_folder/241990?group_id=104359

  5. “Knitting needles? Perhaps, but I have trouble believing anywhere where there isn’t mental or other impairment involved, in which case, it could have been anything else she was trying to do.”

    There often was. I’ve heard of a woman who tried to induce an abortion with a tire pump, and killed herself. She was scheduled for a “safe and legal” abortion the next day. . . .

    • When I was living at home we had some really strange neighbours. The woman thought she had appendicitis, so she operated on herself with a kitchen knife. She was pregnant.

      • Jordan S. Bassior

        The woman thought she had appendicitis, so she operated on herself with a kitchen knife. She was pregnant.

        What sort of lunatic responds to the belief that she has appendicitis by operating on herself with a kitchen knife??!!!!

        Did she survive her impromptu auto-surgical technique?

        • CombatMissionary

          Did her mother have any children that lived?

        • Apparently she did, We really didn’t associate with them, she, her husband and her boy friend used to sit on the porch. I do not understand all that I know about this except they all seemed to be … very strange. If I remember correctly there was a retarded kid living there, I do not know the relationship.
          How she managed to avoid a life ending infection is beyond me. I do not believe the pregnancy ended well.

          • ” I do not believe the pregnancy ended well.”

            The only possibly ending that I can picture describing as well would be an adoption.

    • Not all the time, apparently. My mother had a dance teacher who died from a self-abortion. She was motivated by desperation. (Military wife who had a husband deployed, fooled around and got pregnant, and didn’t know what to do)

      However, I won’t even try to argue that it was the norm by any means.

  6. Well I know abortions for the poor in Germany during the mid 20’s were very dangerous. I lost a grandmother due to the use of mercury as an abortion device.

    • All abortions were dangerous in the mid 20s. We had anesthesia and hygiene, but not antibiotics.

      Once I was in an online discussion about The Great Divorce in which someone had to point out to one reader — a doctor — that when the grumbling ghost whined about how they should never have operated, that means they were just about certain she would have died without the operation. They operated for nothing less. And that was the 1940s.

      • The reason for the abortion was lack of money. The family couldn’t afford another child. There’s a limit to what a wheelbarrow of junk German money could feed.

        • That does not mean that more money would have made it safe. Some things were not available at any price.

      • Yep.
        Apendicitis was a potentially lethal ailment.

        • One problem with this historical ignorance of the real fear of disease is that it renders too many complacent about the threat of increasingly ineffective modern antibiotics. (As evidenced among the anti-immunization crowd, incapable of projecting the statistics and unable to imagine the real perils of Whooping Cough, TB and other diseases/epidemics.)

          On oft overlooked aspect of the mid-century corporate culture you describe is that it was an anomaly of WWII. Following that conflict the United States possessed the only “First World” manufacturing capacity on Earth. (Part of why we rehabilitated Germany was they were the next closest manufacturing economy, having taken as spoils of war all the worthwhile machine tools in Western Europe.) This gave the American manufacturing economy a stability that permitted the practices to which the above post referred.

          It also meant that American manufacturers could get by with making only minor product improvements — often merely cosmetic — from year to year. With no serious competition (older Huns will recall when “Made in Japan” was synonymous with cheap, shoddy and disposable) it was reasonable to disdain the advice of Deming and his ilk and to provide the kind of corporate structure which so many had become accustomed to in military service.

          A number of these practices may pre-date the war; my understanding of Southern corporate paternalism in the mill towns, for example, does not illuminate the time periods, and may be a relic of the plantation past. Similarly, New England business practices for their factories may have differed from the South’s. And it is important to distinguish labor’s milieu from that of management.

        • Y’know, I kinda tilt my head whenever I hear people talk about appendicitis. I’ve always remembered the grown ups talking about ‘so and so died from a blown appendicitis.’

          Has that changed?

          • An inflamed appendix can be easily removed, and the incidence of subsequent infection and other resulting problems is virtually nil today. However, if it is not detected in time, and the inflammation reaches the point where the appendix bursts, it can kill a person quite easily, if not treated in time, and sometimes even then.

            • A grad student at Flat State almost died from a ruptured appendix. It happened on a weekend and he couldn’t reach the phone to call 911. He managed to e-mail a prof who was able to get into the guy’s trailer, then call the ambulance. Emergency surgery and high-dose antibiotics followed.

            • Yeah, that’s what I remember. I guess that my medical knowledge on that one is kinda out of date.

              • You grew up in the DDR during your formative years. Socialist health care can be bad or worse, and that one was definitely worse. (Though not the worst, I understand, the DDR being considered a paradise behind the curtain.)

                • Yeah, we had it pretty good, and they were very careful with my Mom when she was pregnant with youngest brother. She’d been hospitalized – why I can’t remember- but the doctor in that ward who loved to talk to her so he could practice his English was a sharp fellow. She mentioned having a sour or bitter taste in her mouth and wondering if any of the food she’d been given for lunch was supposed to have that aftertaste. He checked the baby, discovered that my brother was under distress, and the next thing Mom knew, she was on an operating table. She said the anaesthesia had only started to take effect, because she felt the slice, describing it as if someone had run a thin sliver of ice over her belly. Youngest brother’s umbilical cord was strangling him, and Mom had already lost a son that way (the brother after myself.)

          • Oh, yeah. I suppose it can still happen, but most of the time it’s an almost casual operation to fix.

            • That’s these days. I still remember having heard such stories in my teens, and it’s really a matter of being close to the kind of medical care that can handle that kind of emergency surgery. The further away from the better equipped medical facilities you are, the more likely you are to die of stuff.

  7. “Anyway, I’ve recently started to wonder about all shows and books depicting the Victorian age. So many of the writers who became classics had a leftist agenda. And that too makes you wonder, and makes me want to go trolling Gutenberg for forgotten writers of the Victorian age to see whether we, indeed, preserved the best, or whether the same selection bias is in effect as for contemporary “push” on books.”

    Yes, in spades. But I suggest you look for old college curriculae and literature omnibuses rather than troll through the whole of Gutenberg. I’d love to see a study comparing popular college texts from the ’10s and ’20s with today’s professorial choices.

    • I mean to check out Charlotte Young or Younge at any rate.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        When I read the mention of trolling Gutenberg, I went and looked, and the “Historical Bookshelf” page says that its list of books is, “cut & pasted & edited from A Guide to the Best Historical Novels and Tales stock_book_yellow-16.png, by Jonathan Neild. (1902)”, so it might provide a starting point.

  8. Gertrude Himmelfarb did some excellent work on the Victorian Era.Two books of hers I have ready to hand are: Victorian Minds a study of intellectuals in crisis and ideologies in transition. Another is, Poverty and Compassion the moral imagination of the late Victorians.

  9. So are you saying history isn’t what it used to be? (and probably never was?)
    I often wonder about the people who are so ready to tear down the current system who think the new one will just spring up from the ground and replace the old one without any issues. Where do they get that idea? When in history have things ever Just Worked Out?

    • From Marx. He explicitly refused to discuss what would happen after the Revolution because obviously once capitalism was blasted away, a humane and just system would spontaneously appear.

      I’m readin Red Plenty by Francis Spufford, which is an interesting look at the post-Stalin reality.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        What I always wonder is how they believed that the system got the way it was, if the perfect system would appear if they just tore down the old one.

        • I wonder about that with most things that start with “destroy what’s there.”

          If it doesn’t start with “make sure we have a plan, funding, material and support for X replacement,” it needs to be looked at very carefully!

          Not that I grew up near stuff that was torn down decades before with plans for a vague replacement, or where funding fell through, or where the supply cost got revealed as being waaaaaaay low…..

        • By building on what the old system produced. Capitalism was supposed to do all the heavy-lifting of industry. Communism could just take over and keep running the factories

        • The thing is, the only thing they ever actually agreed on was that the old system needed to be torn down. Many of them had ideas about what the new system ought to look like, but they never talked about that – because then they would spend all their time fighting one another instead of destroying things.

          It takes about five minutes after a successful revolution before Comrade Stalin starts feuding with Comrade Trotsky, and next thing you know, all the Old Bolsheviks are lined up against the wall. This is an inevitable consequence of the lack of honest communication inherent in the system.

          Nor is this a problem confined to the most radical and violent forms of Leftism. Consider all the boobs who voted for Hope and Change six years ago. They were all Hoping for different things, and hardly any of them like the Change that they actually got.

          • The Other Sean

            I think some of the more vehement and less-grounded Libertarians (and some libertarians) suffer from this type of thinking, as well. It is all well and good to talk of reducing the size and scope of government, but too many seem to believe that after that goal is achieved some sort of Randian utopia will break out. To be fair, many people do talk about what comes after, but there seem to a be a lot of people more concerned with (and vocal about) destroying Big Government than in planning for what comes after.

            • The thing about libertarians (and sometimes Libertarians) is that they won’t shut up about what they want to do after they pull Big Government down. Consequently, they never stick together long enough to accomplish anything practical.

              It’s a real pity that the Marxists and crypto-Marxists haven’t got the same problem.

      • Wasn’t that also supposed to be one of anarchists(early hard core one’s at lest) thing’s to? You didn’t talk about what came after you tore down the system ‘cuse there was no way to know what the knew “system” would be like because it would be like nothing wed ever seen before…..but don’t worry it will be AWSOME and FAIR.

        • Oh yes. Shulamith Firestone did the same thing in The Dialectic of Sex, loftily declaring that destroying the nuclear family and stopping segregating children would spontaneously produce a new world — in which women are adequately compensated for childbearing in a manner not involving what she termed destructive ego investments, until true utopia is achieved with artificial wombs.

          She did consent to speculate a bit, and even though I was a teen when I read it, I notice that it hypothesized a world in which you made no commitments, until and if you decided to join a group collectively raising children, and did not consider that such groups were inherently unstable in a world where no one had ever before had to carry through on a commitment. (Law is moot. Law can only punish failure to commit. It can not alleviate the harm to the children from such fickleness.)

  10. CombatMissionary

    If you’re going to take a sick day, I recommend a copy of The Walking Drum by Louis L’Amour, a nice warm fire, a comfortable chair, and a cold, rainy (preferably snowy) day outside that you don’t have to go contend with.

    • Do be warned, the book begs for a sequel, and L’Amour passed away before he could write it. That authors might die with books still to be written is clear proof that a devil does exist and that mother nature is an unfeeling beyatch.

      • Not to be morbid but can authors will plotlines and characters?

        • They can will intellectual property rights.

          • Some examples of the latter in settings that had new books include Middle Earth (though I think this was largely Christopher Tolkien assembling his father’s notes), Dune (Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson), and The Wheel of Time (Brandon Sanderson).

            • Christopher Tolkien was extremely scrupulous about not writing any new material in his father’s legendarium. Even The Silmarillion is almost 100% J. R. R. T.; the son contributed only a few connecting passages, mostly to link together the scrips and scraps of unfinished narrative that make up the closing chapters. (Which is one reason why the book ends with a whimper.)

              Given the reputation of Brian Herbert’s Dune books, as well as older examples like Ruth Plumly Thompson’s interminable Oz sequels, I’d have to say that Christopher Tolkien’s scrupulosity is artistically commendable.

              • Hmm. The Oz books are perhaps not so strong an example, because Baum was churning out the interminable Oz sequels before his death.

                The central plot of the second Oz book flatly contradicts an important point of the first.

                • If you’re going to disqualify Oz because of that, then you probably should also disqualify Dune because of Frank Herbert’s last few books. You know, Pancake House of Dune and all like that.

                  It very often happens that the author of a successful franchise winds up his career by doing rehashes and self-parody of his earlier work. But when another author takes over a franchise after the death of the creator, he nearly always begins on that low level and goes downhill from there.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              For what it is worth, Brandon Sanderson only had permission to *finish* the Wheel of Time series.

              Robert Jordan’s wife is the owner and apparently she’s decided that there will be no follow up stories in that universe.

            • “Some examples of the latter in settings that had new books”

              There’s also Todd McCaffrey’s books set in Pern, though I don’t enjoy them as much as I did his mother’s.

              • Oddly enough both the Hagar the Horrible and the Frank & Ernest comics managed to plow onward when taken over by the son(s) of the original creator.

                • That’s a thing that happens fairly often in comic strips. However, the comics are not nearly such an individual medium as books. Most comic strips are, or at least used to be, produced by a staff of artists and writers, of whom only the head man (or the head writer and head artist) receive bylines.

                  Charles M. Schulz was a revolutionary figure in the field, not just because of what he did with the strip, but because he wrote, drew, inked, and lettered every panel of every strip, all by himself. And his children were wise enough not to hire anyone else to continue the strip after he died.

          • But beware – see the disappointing “finishing” job that was inflicted upon an unfinished (i.e., pretty much unstarted, “seven surviving pages of an eight page story treatment” only) RAH work well after his passing by Spider Robinson, with the consent of the estate…what was it called… aha: Variable Star. Forgettable in story as well as in name

        • Robert Jordan did.

        • My understanding is that the only characters worth bequeathing tend to go where they will.

        • Certain intellectual property does become part of a deceased author’s estate. I know for a fact that the Robert Parker’s family has authorized two writers to continue two of his more popular series: Spencer and Jesse Stone. So far seems to be going well, as they appear to have captured the essence of Parker’s story lines.

          • The writer on the Jesse Stone series is also the writer/adapter of the TV movies derived from the books. Certes he has experience getting inside Parker’s character’s head. Other parts of Stone’s apartment as well, I’d reckon.

          • All of it does. I’d still give my right arm, heart’s blood and a lot else to write a sequel to Have Space Suit, in which they’re adults.

            • There’s only so much you can do by scraping off serials.

            • Pausing a moment to consider what today’s enlightened editors & publishers would require of the relationship between Kip and Peewee …

              Thank G-D for Indie … and Baen.

      • CombatMissionary

        I hereby award you ALL the upvotes, sir.

  11. Christopher M. Chupik

    Ah yes, the Victorian Age. When every woman was a repressed proto-feminist, every industrialist a Social Darwinian fascist and every anarchist a misunderstood idealistic youth who just wants to change the world for the better.

    • Not always. That’s why SJWs get their noses out of joint about how steampunk white-washes it. . . .

      • And a good chunk of why I love steampunk.

      • They also insist that Steampunk, being Victorian/Edwardian, glorifies the British/Imperialist rule, and thus is terribly, terribly racist. etc.

        • Well, duh. Everything but gray goo does that.

          • I think Eric Raymond once wrote that if you read some of the victorian works and follow – on material like H Rider Haggard deeply, you soon realize that “white” was more a code for “civilized” as you could find examples of plainly black-colored people being referred to as white.

            In other words, the “racism” of the time was as much us not understanding how they used language as it was actual racism.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Yep, thus the phrase “That’s very white of you” (ie that’s very civilized).

              • My godfather used that phrase.

                Basque, dark enough to blend right in with the Indians.

                Skin color was about as important as hair color, as as much a marker. (More so, maybe– a true red head is a LOT more notable than the subtle variations of skin when everybody works outside 95% of the year.)

                • CombatMissionary

                  My dad used to elicit eye-rolls from mom by referring to her as “squaw.” When people would get mad at him, he’d reply, “Go ahead and sue me. All I’ve got is a beat-up truck and a used woman.” This went over especially well with people in the People’s Republic of California. 😀
                  For his family, he’s considered a fairly tame, sensitive man. That’s probably why he and mom are still together, and quite happy.

            • “white” was more a code for “civilized”

              Still is, more or less:

              Urged to think about her future, Darlene erupted, “All that’s easy for you to say—you’re white!” The outburst stunned Elder, who was not only darker-skinned than her client but had herself been a teenage mother in Atlanta before earning a counseling degree from Georgia State.

              http://city-journal.org/mobile/story.php?s=6596#.VDKtNvldV8E

    • I cannot vouch its historical accuracy, but R.F. Delderfield’s “Swann Family Saga” (aka, the “God Is An Englishman” trilogy) is an interesting and compelling depiction of the Victorian and Edwardian era, viewed through the prism of

      Adam Swann of the “God is an Englishman” series is a veteran of the British Army in India who forms a transport business in the mid-19th century. The series explores the economic history of England from the 1860s to the outbreak of the First World War.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R._F._Delderfield

      The series uses commercial transport of a variety of industrial goods from horse and cart up to the early experiments with automobiles to depict the industrial changes in English society, as well as the social changes experienced by an upwardly mobile family.

      Delderfield is probably best known to American audiences as author of To Serve Them All My Days, about a “Mr. Chips” type teacher, serving between the 20th Century’s major wars. Several of his works have been adapted by the BBC and turned up in America on “Masterpiece Theatre” and the A&E channel (back when it actually attempted to provide a commercial counterpart to PBS.)

      • And I’ve been looking for the masterpiece Theater Version of Days for years,

        • I know it has been available — we bought the DVD set at Borders (which should indicate how long ago and why it might be out of print now.) Marvelous performances, especially Frank Middlemass’ Algie Herries. A quick [searchengine] reveals it available from a variety of sellers, at a variety of prices, with Amazon (use links from Sarah’s book above and she gets a commission) offering it for $32.85, with others offering it in the low 20s.

          Acorn Online (http://acornonline.com/video-index-a-to-z/a/video-index-a-to-z/) offers a set in the upper 20s and many other fine British productions — but alas, not Stalky & Co which I would dearly like to see again.

  12. Sometimes changes happen, not because anybody’s trying to tear down an old, inflexible way, but because of the pull of a new idea/fad. I.e., contract engineering – became popular not just to “try out” people in positions but because, 1st, employment offices sold companies on the idea that hiring pre-screened people is cheaper than keeping a large in-house HR department, then 2nd, contract firms sold companies on paying by the installment plan (i.e. a monthly contract) instead of a fixed larger fee they might not get the value back out of, if they didn’t keep the new employee. Thus, evolutionary change in business from external opportunites, more than internal “we’re tired of the old way, let’s look around and see if we can improve it.”

  13. Oh, Gods, am I familiar with this. The basic problem is one of historiography. Scholars have to learn 9however imperfectly) learn how to sift truth from perception and prejudice, not just in primary sources but in later writing. They have to. Intellectuals (all scholars are intellectuals but only a the percentage of self-nominated intellectuals are scholars) simply can’t be bothered.

    My father was a professor of the history of science and technology. All my life I have run into people who didn’t understand what this should be a separate discipline. Well, consider this; a historian cannot write history of science because he doesn’t understand the science. A scientist cannot write history of science because he doesn’t understand the history. The historian won’t spot that all the results of the early chemist’s experiments are wrong by the book. The scientist won’t understand that this is because the early chemist was working with impure chemicals, in an atmosphere heavily laden with free-floating carbon (coal fires).

    EVERY age has its history-fakers. It’s NORMAL. And they usually do serve one establishment or another. There is a whole body of histories of Rome that fail to depict just how f*cked up Rome often was because the British studied Latin in school and fancied themselves the heirs to the Roman Empire. And at the time, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. The British Empire was a clear improvement on every other colonial empire going, and in its absence its colonies weren’t going to be independent. They were going to be French colonies, or German colonies, or (if they had particularly pissed off God) Belgian or Dutch colonies.

    BTW; it is an established historical fact that the poor of the mid-industrial-revolution era were eating (on average, as calculated from original records) 1000 calories a day MORE than their ancestors just a couple of generations back who (according to those who despise the Industrial Revolution) were living the good life of pastoral farmers. It’s a little difficult to dig up – it thwarts soooo many beloved narratives – but it is there and you can find it. I’ve done so twice. If I have a little time today I’ll do it again.

    • Too many twits look at the past and compare it to the present when the proper comparison is to their past.

      • Actually, the problem is that too many twits look at the past and compare it to a present that exists only between their ears.

      • William O. B'Livion

        Oh hell no.

        The problem is that too many twits don’t even *look* at the past, they see reflections of shadows and call it knowlege. To wit:

        BTW; it is an established historical fact that the poor of the mid-industrial-revolution era were eating…1000 calories a day MORE than their ancestors just a couple of generations back whe…were living the good life of pastoral farmers.

        That is an important thing, no doubt.

        But what happens when we compare the quantity of calories eaten v.s. used for a *factory worker* v.s. a farmer in the early and mid industrial revolution. What about accident and mortality rates.

        Too often I’ve heard socialist lackwits (including family members at least nominally better educated than me) who don’t get that no one in the US was FORCED into the cities at gun point to work inside those dark, dangerous factories.

        They went because they worked INSIDE dark dangerous factories, instead of outside in all sorts of weather and times of day battling mother nature who *always* wins in the end.

        • YES.
          They try to justify it with enclosures and break up of this and that, but the process has repeated enough: England, here, China, India, everywhere that we now know better.
          People prefer dark dangerous machines to sunny dangerous fields.
          Only idiots think farm work is easy and safe.

          • Too many Leftists are city-bred English majors, and got their whole idea of agricultural life by reading pretty-pretty books of poetry about shepherd swains and milkmaids. They take the contrast between the Arcadian and idyllic countryside and the ‘dark Satanic Mills’ straight from William Blake, who lived nearly all his life in London and knew nothing about farm work.

            • Back when I read the NY Times for something beyond the Baseball coverage (even there they manage to infuse their political correctness, but it does not achieve toxic dosage … unlike in their football and golf coverage) the paper actually managed to startle me with a front page (albeit below the fold) article on the mid-90s scandal du jour about Kathie Lee Gifford’s clothing line being manufactured in “3rd world sweatshops” which explained that the long hours and dangerous working conditions in those sweatshops remained vastly preferable to the only alternative in thos cultures: farm-work. The article explained to New Yorkers that those cultures were hardly able to invest resources educating those children in gender and ethnic studies programs, thus the only alternative to employment for 12-hour days in dirty factories was 18-hour days on dirty farms.

              I presume whoever at the Times was responsible for that article is long gone.

    • There was a study that one contributors at http://www.chicagoboyz.net linked to a couple of years ago, about one of the underlying reasons for the American Revolution being that the colonists – even the working class and working poor, not to mention the middle classes – in the Americas had benefited for almost a hundred years of better nutrition than their counterparts in England. The American colonials were visibly taller, healthier, lived for almost a decade longer, more of their children (IIRC) survived to adulthood – and Great Britain essentially threatened all of that. Hence, revolution.

      • Colorado Alex

        Raw squirrel meat and whiskey beats tea and crumpets.

        • Forget tea and crumpets. Orwell wrote about an English tramp of his acquaintance, an unemployed navvy, who had been living for years on a diet of bread and margarine and not much else – consequence of the ghastly muddle of British social policy between the wars. The old fellow positively drooled when recalling his memories of the days before WWI when men of his class could eat ‘proper tommy’. One dish in particular he recalled as if it were the main course at a bacchanal on Olympus: Pig’s head.

      • Jefferson boasted that an American child was as likely as not to live to be 18. (The equivalent age in Europe, he stated, was 5.)

      • CombatMissionary

        Sorry, I thought for a second there you were referring to government healthcare. [EVIL GRIN]

        • Ahem. Walter Russell Mead:
          Under the ACA, the Doctor Won’t See You Now
          Getting access to a preferred, in-network doctor is getting harder all the time. Three big stories about access blocks under the Affordable Care Act came out this week. First, the NYT profiles the troubling rise of contract ER doctors. The emergency medicine departments in many hospitals now employ doctors who are out-of-network for a given insurer, even when the ER itself is listed as “in-network” for that same insurer. The result is that even patients who have the ability to choose an ER in an in-network hospital often wind up with out-of-network doctors treating them—and large, unanticipated, out-of-pocket bills as a result:

          When legislators in Texas demanded some data from insurers last year, they learned that up to half of the hospitals that participated with UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Blue Cross-Blue Shield — Texas’s three biggest insurers — had no in-network emergency room doctors. Out-of-network payments to emergency room physicians accounted for 40 to 70 percent of the money spent on emergency care at in-network hospitals, researchers with the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Austin found. […]

          • Thanks for that. I have a friend over there with significant problems healthwise and this is probably one of the things that explains some of the stuff we’ve been talking about / I’ve been hearing of. (For privacy reasons I can’t get into more detail)

            I’ll pass it along.

          • What gets me is the number of otherwise intelligent people I know who looked at the mess that successive government initiatives had made of the Health Care market and said to themselves “What this clusterfuck needs is more government”.

            • Remember when they promised us that the VA was proof positive that there was nothing to fear from government meddling in healthcare?

              • And I remember how many veterans laughed their butts off when they said that too.

                We knew better. 🙂

                • Including my Vietnam era Marine cousin of mine (infantry) who absolutely refuses to go to any VA hospital/clinic. In his opinion, the purpose of the VA is to kill off veterans.

              • I am sitting here in Plano, a Dallas suburb, watching the local news showing film taken from a chopper of the cleanup of the sidewalk where the Ebola patient vomited as he was being hauled to the ambulance this Sunday. You would expect to see a crew of hazmat suited professionals using the very latest in cleaning gear.

                Instead, there are three people, one of whom appears to be a bystander, in NO TRACE of protective gear, using a bleeding pressure washer to hose down the sidewalk and sluice the result into the gutter. No clue if they are using anything besides plain water. The news report says that the CDC already did the primary cleanup and this is something the complex ordered to reassure the residents…. Right.

                I am trying to decide whether I should call my boss now, quit my job, and spend the night packing. Which I would do execept that with our various physical weaknesses neither my wife nor I are inclined to leave. At least here we have food, water, weapons, and shelter for a few weeks.

                • Snark about the competence demonstrated by the departments of this administration, correlating recent CDC*, USSS, DHS, DIA and HHS performance into a reassuring narrative is so easy as to not even be a JV level challenge. When they are not overstretching their authority — EPA, DOJ — they are ignoring their primary responsibilities.

                  At least Texans have Rick Perry to take names and kick butt — imagine if your chief executive were Jerry Brown, Andy Cuomo or Pat Quinn.

                  *Listening to Hugh Hewitt read reports that the #1 victim’s apartment has yet to be cleaned or even secured and wondering whether the planes he flew in on have been sanitized. No Mark Steyn this Thursday, but Greg Abbott coming up.

                  • One of the reasons we aren’t dead from one of the dozen-odd previous outbreaks of Ebola is because the virus doesn’t do very well AT ALL outside of the human body. Touching – or being very close to – someone actively shedding the virus isn’t great for one’s longevity, but a few minutes at ambient temperature and humidity is going to render the virus inactive. At this point there’s nothing to be gained by sanitizing the ambulance, airplanes, or sidewalks. The environment has taken care of that for us.

                    • Jeff, what we’re hearing is that this time around the virus is tougher; that’s why more people in West Africa are catching it. Also, apparently it has a mutation rate similar to the flu.

                    • The question might best be taken as to what degree security theatre is appropriate, and how reliable are the assurances of government agencies:

                      Waiting for the CDC
                      Editorial of The New York Sun | October 2, 2014
                      http://www.nysun.com/editorials/waiting-for-the-cdc/88863/

                      Are we the only ones who are wondering whether the next high-level resignation from the Obama administration ought to be the director of the Centers for Disease Control over the issue of ebola? Dr. Thos. Frieden, at every turn in his appearances — yesterday, when he went before the cameras for the first time about the Texas case, and since — has seemed determined to understate the problem where he should be sounding an alarm. Afterward his first broadcast, Americans had to turn to the Drudge Report to find out just how serious this threat is and what was happening at Dallas, where the first case of ebola in America had just been confirmed.

                • And against all this, there’s the UN almost HOPING it becomes airborne. I think they WANT a plague to rid them of the peons.

                  • They sure give off that vibe. If they want to play at silly buggers, I wish they’d leave the rest of us alone.

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    Oh, good grief. Now we’ve got conspiracy theorists saying that the Ebola is being genetically engineered by the Government, because there’s at least one patent on file regarding it, owned by the Government.

                    The one I found was related to inducing an immune response in people. You know, the kind of thing that vaccines do.

                    • I once talked with a conspiracy theorist about AIDS. I said we didn’t have the tech to do it; he said they could do anything; I said in that case, they could have come up with a less singular expensive disease; he tried to claim that they could not, after all, prevent its release; I said in that case they could have come up with a cure and then released a less expensive disease, and apparently he hadn’t thought that far yet.

                    • … apparently he hadn’t thought that far yet.

                      Curious how many discussions with such folk eventually reach that point, ain’t it?

                    • What are the odds that the conspiracy theorists are voting for the party that wants more government control oversight of the country?

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      The one who told me about it won’t be, but he’s unusual. He’s generally conservative/libertarian, but gets stuck on conspiracy theories like that, or anything having to do with Monsanto being evil.

                  • CombatMissionary

                    They better be careful what they wish for. Viruses spread best where there are lots of humans in tight quarters, lacking cleanliness, with little education and health care and few sanitation practices.

                    In other words, the leftist voter base.

                    • they do tend to forget that bit. sorta like anarchists who forget that many “right-wingers” and “conservatives” do better at protecting themselves and theirs when TSHTF … just because we hate it doesn’t mean we are not good at it

                • Got kerchiefs? Got that hand sanitizer, and plastic gloves if you’re like me and always have cuts on your hands?

                  Be careful and it will probably help.

                  Praying, anyways.

                  • Just a reminder: Hand sanitizer is good, but soap and water is better – wash yer dern hands!

                    • We’ve soap and water as well as hand sanitizer. We also have bleach for other things.

                    • Depends, do you wash them properly?

                      The stuff they used at the food handler’s class was a wonderful cheat– no matter what, it wouldn’t come off so there would be residue for the check, but the difference between “wet, soap, rinse” and “wash like you mean it” was instructive.

                • William O. B'Livion

                  You do know what happens when you expose a virus like that to sunlight and air for a couple hours, right?

                  Sunlight isn’t the best disinfectant–Betadyne was, last time I looked. Or, well, as Mr. Corriea puts it: “Kill it with fire”, but sunlight ain’t a bad one.

                  Oh, and http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/03/050325234239.htm

                • CombatMissionary

                  Time for me to go buy a propane asphalt-heating torch from Harbor Freight.

            • They keep misidentifying the problem. As long as they can continue to be sold on the notion that it’s the “Greedy Insurance Companies” causing the trouble, they will call for more Government to fix the problem.

              • Damn those greedy insurance companies, thinking they shouldn’t have to go bankrupt, leaving millions of Americans without coverage!!!

                • William O. B'Livion

                  The problem is that there are *sufficient* stories of “greedy” insurance companies engaging in a variety of practices that cross the line into fraud. I don’t know how true all the stories are, but I’ve worked in enough companies (from Big 5 Accounting firms to medium sized SillyCon Valley companies to DoD contractors) to believe that there are people at the C and V levels who are utter troglodytes.

                  Of course the right answer isn’t to blow the whole thing up and put it in the hands of people who can’t even manage their own lives, it’s to build a regulatory environment where doing the right thing is rewarded, and moral hazards are minimized. Don’t really know how to do that today, but we’re going to have to figure it out.

                  • The trouble with the regulators is that those who they regulate ALWAYS capture the regulatory agency at most within a decade. Then it becomes a method to suppress competition.

                    • I read somewhere that there are bureaucrats who go out of their way to write difficult to follow regulations then retire and get jobs in industry helping companies follow those ugly rules making a ton of money because they’re the only ones who know how to do it “correctly”. It could be apocryphal but it wouldn’t surprise me given how kleptocratic the gubmint is becoming.

                    • Hardly apocryphal. The Washington Examiner’s Timothy P. Carney, for one, makes his living mining that particular lode. He has reported repeatedly on the Congressional and White House staffers responsible for crafting Obamacare who have left public service for private industry jobs guiding insurance companies through the regulatory maze they crafted.

                      For example:
                      The Great Healthcare Cashout: Top Cardin aide to the hospital lobby
                      By Timothy P. Carney | September 24, 2014 | 4:49 pm

                      The lawmakers, federal appointees and congressional staffers who crafted Obamacare continue to get rich by going to work for the companies subsidized and regulated by the law.

                      Two weeks ago, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a member of the Finance Committee’s health care subcommittee, bid adieu on the Senate floor to a longtime staffer, Priscilla Ross, with a truly impressive record of public service. After describing Ross’s broad range of skills and long list of accomplishments, Cardin said, on the Senate floor:

                      “Priscilla came to Capitol Hill to improve people’s lives. She has succeeded in that regard — far beyond what most of us are able to accomplish. She has had an extraordinary career.

                      While I am sad that she is leaving the Senate, I take solace in the fact that she is not leaving ‘the arena.’ She will continue to find ways to make healthcare better, more accessible and more affordable for all Americans in her new post at the AHA.”

                      Ross, this week, began as “senior associate director for federal relations” at the American Hospital Association. In other words, she will help run the hospital industry’s main lobbying shop. Here’s how AHA describes her hire:

                      “Priscilla’s vast healthcare and Hill experience will serve our members well as hospitals deal with the unprecedented changes happening in the health care field,” said AHA Senior Vice President for Federal Relations Tom Nickels. “Her background in health care policy will be an asset to hospitals as they navigate the transformation.”

                      The “unprecedented changes happening in the health care field” are mostly the result of Obamacare, which Ross helped craft — exactly the point Nickels is making when he says, “Her background in health care policy will be an asset to hospitals as they navigate the transformation.”

                      If you read Cardin’s speech on Ross, it’s clear she was driven by a real desire to help the needy. But it’s also impossible to ignore the incentives that exist for staffers: Increase government’s role in a sector, through subsidies and regulations, and preserve the private-sector’s role. Follow this course of action, and you get rich. It’s wrong to say Priscilla Ross was motivated by this dynamic, but it’s hard to deny that her colleagues on the Hill see the way things work.

                    • Yup. At that point, in a ‘mature’ (read: stodgy and uninventive) industry, it hardly matters how stupid or counterproductive the regulations are. What matters is that they conjure up a whole corporate bureaucracy whose only job is to comply with the rules and fill up the forms as commanded by the governmental bureaucracy. This prevents new, agile, and innovative firms from entering the market, as they cannot afford to pay all those unproductive salaries.

                    • William O. B'Livion

                      In this case the insurance industry is already heavily regulated, and is widely seen as abusive, evil and corrupt.

                      Largely because it is corrupt (because it’s so heavily regulated corruption is baked in), there are abuses, and their responses to these abuses make them look evil.

                      I’m not arguing for *additional* regulations, what I’m trying to argue for is *sane* and *clear* regulations that protect both sides.

                      Right now we have neither clear, nor sane regulations.

                      Regulatory capture is a serious problem that needs to be addressed in a lot of places. Here is one of many where it’s already happened.

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    Maybe so, but the only times I’ve had problems have been due to regulatory impediments.

                  • so to protect us from those evil insurance companies, the leftoid controlled Gov’t forced through a law that forces everyone to buy coverage from said same evil insurance companies … but now with the added joy of bureaucrats without a clue controlling who gets to really afford the mandated coverage.
                    The reason the dems didn’t force through single payer is it would dry up a ton of their kickbacks …er … donations

                    • William O. B'Livion

                      That is basically the playbook of the left.

                      I’d be more inclined to *reduce* the amount of regulation, but strengthen areas of the regulations that pertain to fraud–both strengthen the ability of insurance companies go to after fraud, and some sort of mandate that if they don’t discover a reason for dropping the policy before X number of months/payments then they’re on the hook.

                      It’s also my opinion that health insurance shouldn’t be employer provided, and if there are going to be any tax benefits those should be on the individual.

              • Time was that greedy meant “possessing an inordinate desire for material goods.” Now it means, “possessing goods that others inordinately desire.”

                • William O. B'Livion

                  In this case “greedy insurance companies” are often those who are seeking to maximize their stock prices and income while not fulfilling the terms of their contract/policy. Denying more expensive, honest medical care (certain newer drugs, etc.) or canceling policies when people need them.

                  Don’t get me wrong here–the insurance companies *are* often the targets of fraud, and they should be able to go after fraudulent claims aggressively. They should also be able to drop policies that were purchased using dishonest information, but they shouldn’t be able to do it 5 years into the policy when the policy owner makes a claim.

                  And I’ll freely admit that I don’t know how frequent these problems are. Something like 80+ percent of Americans were satisfied with their insurance before this trainwreck, so the insurance companies couldn’t have been that bad.

                  However these are the things that are presented (admittedly by a media that routinely gets it wrong) and can be easily addressed, and in so addressing we can further the cause of both individual AND corporate responsibility.

                  The regulatory system should not be there to route money to connected apparatchiks, to allow existing organizations to flourish at the expense of the masses and new businesses, or for the gain of government.

                  It should be a framework that establishes consistent behavior and allows trust.

                  • There are a number of steps that can be taken, most of which eliminate fraud by eliminating the profitability of fraud. I am not an expert on the field, so the steps listed would merely be starting points for investigation.

                    1. Health Savings Accounts: by enabling the consumer to pay out-of-pocket with tax-preferenced funds, most small outlays would be easily & efficiently handled without the administrative burden that helps drive-up insurance claims. Because the charges would be “paid” by the individual consumer the ability to practice wide-scale fraud (billing for non-performed treatments, billing of 32-hour days, for example) would be limited. Funds for these accounts could be achieved through a variety of measures, including tax-free savings, deferred taxes, tax credits or some combination. Credit card vendors could provide the services, drawing upon and maintaining the accounts. Accumulated surpluses could eventually be transferred into retirement accounts and/or bequeathed to heirs.

                    2. Catastrophic insurance: in combination with HSAs, this covers serious medical conditions and, by focusing on the high-dollar care achieves a more favorable ratio of administrative cost to treatment expense. Eliminating the churn of more common minor treatments allows better focus on the events covered.

                    3. Both of those eliminate employer-provided insurance. Employers may contribute specific payroll dollars to health insurance in the same way they offer 401K benefits, but the insurance should be owned by the beneficiaries. Insurance might be purchasable through other forms of organization, such as church or social affiliations (“I got my insurance through my bowling league!”)

                    4. Prescription drugs are a particularly distorted market, with significant variances in the price of a routine drug depending on whether you have insurance coverage and whether that coverage includes the particular drug in its pharmacopia. Steps should be taken to rationalize this increasingly important component of health treatment as we move away from the 19th-Century mechanistic model and into a 21st-Century biochemical understanding of how human bodies work.

                    There are more practices that can be examined, such as rationalizing the malpractice insurance market (payment to settle a claim without addressing its validity seems antithetical to fundamental concepts of American morality) and allowing interstate sale of insurance (shouldn’t members in good standing of the Catholic or Mormon church be able to buy group insurance?) as well as permitting sharper definition of community risk.

                    Further, special courts could be established for insurance law and government should step back from efforts to regulate every possible action, instead crafting only so much regulation as is needed to establish and maintain the markets (yeah, this is a big loophole, but I would put the libertarians in charge, not the socialists.)

                    So long as insurance regulation is a basis for political power, the government camel’s nose will be inside that tent.

      • I would suspect that. Remember, the colonists would not be familiar with living conditions in England, save in generalities. News came across slowly and few people moved back and forth.

        It’s simpler to say that the Americans had grown accustomed to a great deal of autonomy, and George III (with the best of “I am placed on earth by divine providence to tell lesser mortals what to do” intentions) wanted to end that.

        It didn’t go over well. It went over rather better than most people realize, mind; there were plenty of folk who wanted to stay British or simply didn’t care. But it didn’t go over well enough to work.

        The American Revolution is, in fact, an anomaly, since the Revolutionaries were fighting to preserve a threatened status quo.

        • From what I’ve heard, it was more George III (who, yes, did indeed try to consolidate power to the throne) was interested in having the colonists pay their fair share of the common defense. That was somewhat understandable, given the fighting that had taken place in the colonies not all that long before. However, to the colonists it merely appeared to be a sudden increase in their taxes.

          I’ve suspected for a while now that if London had merely allowed the colonists to have their own representatives in Parliament, the war would have been averted.

          • If it had just been paying for their share of operations like the French and Indian War, there might not have been a major problem. Fat George also wanted to enforce rules that would have required that the Colonies send raw material to England and buy all manufactures from England. He wanted to micromanage through Colonial governors, when the Colonies had gotten accustomed to electing their own executives and managing their own business, thank you very much.

            He wanted to treat the Americans as if they were India. That didn’t go down well. There is a qualitative difference between running colonies inhabited by people raised in the tradition of British Common Law and running colonies inhabited by people accustomed to be bossed around by an upper caste. And George III didn’t see that.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            In many ways, King George is the “fall guy” here.

            The problem was that the English Parliament was operating with a “new mindset” where Parliament could “do whatever it wanted” while the Colonies were operating on an older mindset because they “missed” some of the events in England that created the new mindset.

            While I tend to agree that if the Colonies had representatives in Parliament the war could have been avoided, the Leadership in Parliament believed that American representatives were not needed.

            Part of their arguments was that areas/cities in England were not represented in Parliament but that didn’t mean those areas/cities could ignore Parliament’s decisions.

            While King George was no friend of the Colonists, he didn’t have the power to make Parliament do the things that were annoying Americans.

            The English Parliament made the mistakes not King George. [Smile]

            • Bernard Bailyn’s “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution” is still THE go-to book on what the Founding Fathers were picking up from the British Country Whigs about the corrupting nature of power and the need to have effective checks and balances on the king/Parliament/governor.

              I also recommend T.H. Breen’s “Marketplace of Revolution” about how consumption became a political tool. Even if you couldn’t vote, you could not-buy, or make your voice heard through protesting outside stamp offices, tea-wholesalers, and other imperial emporia.

              • I recommend Michael Barone’s Our First Revolution: The Remarkable British Upheaval That Inspired America’s Founding Fathers as a good read and informative history. The English revolution of 1688 clearly informed the Founders’ views of the danger posed.

            • The Other Sean

              I don’t think King George III can escape much (if any) blame. This was a time when His Majesty’s Government was really His Majesty’s, with the Prime Ministership determined as much by the King as by Parliament. The King took an active part in in manipulating the composition of Parliament, both by financially supporting favorable candidates for House of Commons elections and by creating new peers to sit in the House of Lords. He was very much in the driving seat for a long time.

          • He could have done it the old way — told the colonies we need this money, and then let them raise it as they choose.

            • No, he really couldn’t; not according to his lights. That would mean according the colonial legislatures the same legitimacy as the Parliament of Great Britain. George was fighting a losing battle to be the functioning King of England, and he knew it; but he was going to by gum make up for it by being King of America. (And perhaps he had some idea of taking England itself thereafter, by a flanking manoeuvre.)

              If George had tried to press the royal prerogative in the mother country as hard as he did in the colonies, he would have had a real revolution on his hands. Charles I had already proved that point.

              • Now 200+ years later we have King Barrack ruling by executive fiat.

              • James II re-proved it.

                • True, but James II survived. A king, when actually ruling, is nothing but a low, vulgar politician; and a politician is not apt to learn by example from some other politician who merely wrecked his career. Politicians are immensely vain and always think they know better than each other. If the other politician lost his actual head, then the lesson may get through.

      • Better nutrition, abundant clean water, and I strongly suspect an aspect of natural selection. The weak and sickly after all would either have stayed at home or died along the way. Add on the fresh air and hard work and you get a hardier breed of folk.

    • “They were going to be French colonies, or German colonies, or (if they had particularly pissed off God) Belgian or Dutch colonies.”

      With respect to our host, being under Portugal wasn’t that great either, by all accounts (Although nowhere near as bad as Belgium. Shudder.)

    • Jordan S. Bassior

      Specifically, the anti-capitalist versions of the history of the Industrial Revolution fail to explain where the industrialists found their factory workers. Not by buying slaves or importing serfs — these made poor factory workers as they tended to sabotage the equipment. They hired the factory workers by offering more money and better working conditions than did the farms of the same era.

      Low wages and terrible working conditions by our present standards. But the farms of the day were worse.

  14. Peace. And get that book finished because I can’t wait to read it.

  15. “There might have been a point to Heinlein wondering if, in a society that controls the genome, and in which we live practically forever, incest taboos will persist.”

    Given that incest taboos do not even have be about blood relations — stepchild/stepparent, for instance — and that identical genetic connection does not mean they are both or neither tabooed — cultures that forbid parallel cousins from marrying may actually favor cross-cousins as spouses — I suspect it would be more complex than the genes.

    • I would suggest that a major ingredient of incest taboos might well be the desire (on some level) to limit the number of potentially explosive sexual relationships in small tightly knit groups.

      • Very likely.

        St. Augustine thought it existed in order to force people to enter into new relationships with new people, instead of doubling up your old ones by making your sibling your spouse, your parents your parents-in-law, etc.

        • Colorado Alex

          Incest, like polygamy, is one of those ideas that can “theoretically” work, but in reality leaves a giant mess that spills over into the rest of society.

        • Mother/child and sibling incest are generally avoided among chimps (even bonobos, the perverts of the primate family). Father/daughter incest is likely fairly common simply because the idea of paternity isn’t one that chimps are familiar with.

    • Yes. I think extreme longevity would make more of a difference.

    • I’ve read about some speculation that part of the childhood imprinting process makes it significantly less likely that you’ll be romantically attracted to those that you grew up with during the first year or two of your life. Unfortunately, the only thing I know is that the idea exists. I don’t know how seriously it’s taken, or what sort of research has been done to back it up. But if true, it would represent another potential roadblock to incest involving blood-related family members (as opposed to step-family members, where the imprinting would not have occurred).

      • I read somewhere that one of the problems with the Kibbutz system and communal childrearing in Israel was that the children in a small kibbutz would imprint on each other as brother and sister and refuse to marry each other even if they were not remotely related.

      • I’ve read of a few historical cases where that proved true, and more recent anecdotes as well. (The case of Margaret of Tyrol aka “Margareta Maultasch” may be one of the most fateful of those.)

      • Westermarck effect

    • And if you read Tine Enough for Love, a couple is mentioned with 11 kids: 6 hers, 5 his, none theirs, because their combined genotypes apparently had enough reinforced bad recessives to ensure no kids would be born without something… and that was how incest was defined in that society.

      • The Other Sean

        That type of attitude deals with the potential genetic negatives of incest well enough, but does nothing to address the cultural aspects. I didn’t think much about that at the time I read Heinlein (although I did think it plain weird), but enough anthropology coursework has left me skeptical about the socio-biological aspects as portrayed in “Time Enough for Love.”

    • I think the cultural ramifications are going to be a lot more involved than the genetic ones. What happens when we’ve taken longevity to something like 200-300 years of healthy life? What are the implications of a crossing between someone and their great-great-grandaughter/son? Would there have been enough admixture of genes through the intervening generations of marriage to make such a pairing genetically viable?

      I speculate that the medium-term future is going to require some thinking about all this, as well as a good deal of experimentation. Posit a culture that occupies a deep space habitat, with an entirely artificial ecology and life support system: What effects will be observable, on that culture? First, I think we can expect that that culture would have to be very high-trust, and that something like traditional Arab culture would never work in that environment. Small, family- and clan-based systems like the Arab culture are not going to do well in an environment that requires a high level of trust between unrelated strangers, such as would be likely in an artificial space habitat. Arguably, the family-based systems might work for smaller polities, but anything with a large enough gene pool to be self-sustaining probably won’t work with traditional Arab cultural systems. Same-same with most of the African cultures, as well as a few others. The Japanese will probably have some success, as they’re almost perfectly adapted to that lifestyle as it is. I have some doubts that some of the traditions of American individualism would survive in that context, either.

      Now, if you try to imagine a working human society in such an environment, one coupled with reasonable advances in longevity technology, I think we can foresee the whole “incest taboo” becoming more restricted to being just between an adjacent generation or two. Were you to be on a time-dilated mission and return to the habitat of your origin, what would you find there, in terms of potential partners? Several generations might have passed between your departure and return, which might leave you related to a majority of the population upon your return–People with whom you have no real relationship structure in common with. Marriage to someone who qualifies as your semi-remote descendent would not be the same sort of thing as we developed the incest taboo for, in the first place–Practically, you don’t see even great-grandparents being in the position to boink with the kids from two or more generations forward. But, that’s going to change, and I believe that the change is going to wind up being something like “grandparents… No. Great-grandparents who weren’t involved in raising the child? Check the genes… Compatible? OK…”.

      However, I also believe that in such an environment, the whole “Pick your own partner to produce kids with…” thing is going to go right out the window. The local gene pools for these theoretical habitats and ships simply won’t be big enough, and something is going to have to take the place of a large population. Stored gene banks, perhaps? With a mandate that some significant percentage of your children will come from crosses out of those gene banks?

      I can see someone having to manage all this, carefully–Likely, the traditional matchmakers, the grandmothers of the tribe. What would be interesting is to consider the ramifications of the whole thing, where outside impartial judges are deciding whose genes are going to be pulled out of the banks for the crosses. We might see a significant overturning of traditional male reproductive behavior strategies, in that it might make for more sense to “earn a reputation” with those supposedly impartial grannies than to try to impress the young and foolish maiden. You might see a situation where someone who died young without issue, but who did so doing something significant, might be a more successful genetic source than his peers who simply did well with the young and impressionable. Consider the number of men whose performances earned them the Medal of Honor, and who did not have children of their own. Perhaps the elders might look at that as being something to strive for in the gene pool, and choose to cross that man’s line with many others, in hopes that the self-sacrificing altruistic trait might be reinforced and passed on?

      Small- and medium-sized artificial habitats are going to require massive changes and adaptations for our cultures to do well in them. The effective abolition of the incest taboo for partners who are more than a few generations apart will actually probably be one of the smaller and less noticeable adaptations. The biggest one is going to be whatever we do to ensure genetic variety is maintained…

      • Would there have been enough admixture of genes through the intervening generations of marriage to make such a pairing genetically viable?

        Depends on the background, but it has a high enough risk that my folks have gotten outcomes of sufficiently higher quality to justify replacing bulls rather than crossing them with their umpty-granddaughters.

        Part of that is simply that by the time a four-gen daughter line is old enough to breed, the bull is big enough to cause other problems, but even with a “frozen bull” it pays to switch.

        Probably technically OK for humans, where you don’t get paid by the pound and they’re not the result of a careful breeding program, but unlikely to turn out well psychologically. Listening to the angst of guys trying to relate to someone only ONE generation younger, it really does matter.

        • ” Listening to the angst of guys trying to relate to someone only ONE generation younger, it really does matter.”

          Get enough cases where you’ve got physically still virile men and women from significantly different generations encountering each other, and I’m pretty sure the cultural differences will cancel out.

          Assuming that we don’t find a way around relativity, deep space operations are going to cause some serious intra-generational entanglements, far beyond what we experience in this day and age. Imagine the implications of widespread and common use of suspended animation, for example: You might have cases where one partner goes on a mission, and the significant other goes into hibernation, only to be awakened after the ship the other partner was on is declared lost. That person is then going to be adrift in time, and will have to find another partner from among those who are available. Or, conversely, we’ll wind up sending only committed couples on these missions, and not have stay-behinds.

          The scale of these missions will be so far beyond what we’ve done before that it isn’t even something that we can relate to. Going to even a nearby star could be a one-way, multi-century trip in deep sleep. Nothing we’ve done is even remotely like that, in terms of magnitude.

          When you stop and consider the implications of stuff that’s very likely to happen technologically in even the near- and mid-term, it becomes very hard to predict what we’re going to do with our culture in response. Let’s not even consider longevity or gene banking: What the hell happens when we manage to do a digital backup of a full human mind? What rights accrue to the copies? How will we manage the situations that will inevitably arise, when dealing with active electronic copies of people who are several generations past their freshness dates? Will the influence of these “digital elders” influence society, slowing down the rate of change and adaption, serving as a damper on the culture? Or, will they be historical curiosities, only activated as museum displays? The legal ramifications alone are staggering. Inheritance issues? What if I leave my property to an SSD drive with my personality complex recorded on it? What then, for my heirs?

          We’re going to have to adapt, and figure out answers to a whole lot of questions we haven’t even really considered.

          • I don’t share your belief about the cultural differences– even today differences just from area to area can bite people, and that’s with a largely shared culture.

            About the only way I can see it working is with some kind of REALLY strong sub-culture that would provide a primary identity that constrasted with the super-culture.

            Not believing there will be actual electronic copies of people; there’s just way too much stuff, and even the body we’re in has trouble channeling it all the same way. (Much more will be philosophy, but…. simple form, even cloned dogs that were made with an egg from the original dog’s mother are not that much like the dog they’re a clone of; things are a lot more complicated than we think.)

            Also don’t think suspended animation is very likely. 😀 Different views!

            That said, the “what if” makes for a lot of really good philosophy type questions, and can have major impacts– I never had any question about the proposed “Reawakened Neanderthals” being people (even if badly wronged, horribly harmed people) because a lot of fantastic fiction made a (rationally supported, look for “return of the dog heads” on TOF’s page) view viscerally true. The idea that LT. Data was not a person was and is just horrifically wrong, in addition to requiring a definition of “person” that I cannot subscribe to.

  16. “There is an immense work to do, and I doubt our generation will finish it.”

    Wouldn’t matter if they did. There’s always something coming up the line right behind the current problem. The Soviet Union falls and the Iron Curtain disintegrates, but Radical Islam is waiting in the wings.

    And, of course, there’s always the next generation of useful idiots who know for a fact that they’re much smarter than the totally useless (except that it gave birth to them) generation that preceded them that is seemingly doomed to commit most of the exact same mistakes that the preceding generation committed, along with a few more just for good measure.

    And on a completely unrelated note, this morning I read – with a certain amount of glee – an article mentioning that Intel has now pulled its advertising campaign from Gamasutra in response to the GamerGate mess. Specifically, the move appears to be the result of an article that Gamasutra recently ran that essentially mocked gamers – i.e. the people who supposedly read the site.

    • And Russia continues to be Russia

    • Google the Intel news and you find a lot of people having vapors.

      • I’ve been having a lot of vapors myself. I would say I just try not to waste others’ time making them listen to it, except I doubt I conceal it half as well as I hope I do.

    • Holy crow, I decided to do a search on those terms, and founds the most unbelievable examples of “Spin”. A website called “The Verge” that I haven’t researched the positions of, but which makes it obvious with headlines like “Intel buckles to anti-feminist campaign by pulling ads from gaming site” the the subhead “#GamerGate supporters try to silence calls for video game equality” and in the first sentence “Intel has pulled an advertising campaign from video gaming website Gamasutra after it reportedly received a number of complaints from self-identified gamers upset that the site was championing fair gender representation in video games”

      Uh-huh, they were upset about “Fair gender representation,” sure. And the weasel words used throughout the rest of the article for “left-wing ideals the imagined cadre of “social justice warriors” uphold.” (this being an example).

      And it just gets worse from there.

      • I’m familiar with the Verge – one of the sites I have in the reader feed for tech related news. Yup – culturally they pull about as left as gawker/io9/etc.

      • “It doesn’t matter whether the games are good – what matters is that they’re properly diverse!”

        As an occasional gamer myself – I want three things. An engaging story line, a game that is satisfying visually, and (preferably) gameplay that doesn’t require me to run around like a frantic chicken trying to solve quests all the time. (One of the things I like about the ‘Fallout’ series is that it’s visually interesting with a good story line – but there’s nothing wrong with just wandering around the wastelands looking at this and that and killing the occasional whatever that attacks you.

        I could care less whether the company making a good game has the appropriate numbers of (fill in the blanks) – because that’s not what I’m paying them for. I’m paying for a good game – and ‘diversity’ doesn’t guarantee anything like that.

        It’s one of those situations where the process becomes more important than the product. ‘Diversity’ will hurt gaming much more than any lack of it would.

        • Speaking about diverse games …

          Has anyone else noticed that the NBA tends to field teams with an appalling absence of diversity? Hardly an Asian-American or Latino</DEL Hispanic player on the court. I don't recall hearing of any Samoan-American players either — clearly the NBA is a hotbed of racism and bigotry. A blue-ribbon commission needs to be formed to study the lack of diversity and recommend fixes for the games before the start of the new season!

          Golf suffers a comparable absence of diversity — our president ought to boycott the game until the PGA addresses the matter. His frequent rounds constitute an endorsement of the present power structure and should be stopped. Let him bowl or play foosball instead!!

        • Odds on there being a majority of gamers who NEVER play the human if there’s a choice?

          I think the last human character I rolled was a mage. She was a bank alt…..

  17. “I have a city to burn, executions to arrange, a Good Man to kill, a redemption to arrange, a character to humble.
    I’m swamped.”

    Get some rest, Sarah. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.

  18. MadRocketSci

    One thing you can do with Ganymede, since it is deep inside Jupiter’s magnetic field, is anchor magnet coils in the crust of the moon. The moon’s orbital motion would act as a dynamo, generating significant amounts of power.

    • Until you retard the moon’s orbit and crash it into the planet….

      But hey, all batteries run out.

      • And of course, being human, the residents will load the system right up to the edge of the limit.

        “No! Don’t turn on that microwave until I switch off this light panel!!!”

        “Uh-oh.”

        • Funny mental image; but of course, as I’m sure we all know, it’s not the peak load on such a system that does the mischief, but the cumulative total conversion from the potential energy of the satellite to the electromagnetic energy extracted from the coils.

          Though I wonder if the real limiting factor wouldn’t be the attenuation of Jupiter’s magnetic field, which would proceed pari passu with the decay of Ganymede’s orbit. If the field were reduced to the point where the Jovian magnetopause fell inside the orbit of Ganymede, the lights would very suddenly go out.

          Anybody got any spitball figures on which quantity of energy is larger?

          • I don’t think it matters. One could harvest several terawatts for several million years before the orbit of Ganymede decayed enough to notice with anything but the most sensitive instruments.

  19. But it could be argued that some norms and values need to be torn down or at least pointed at and have duck noises made at them.

    They all need to be, in some way, “pointed at and made duck noises at”– when not under stress, and if they collapse from little more than that then they both needed tearing down (if only to be rebuilt) and it’s been done.

    Thing is, these days the fact that duck noises have been made is used as justification for tearing down, and if it takes more tearing than expected then it’s proof of eeeeeevil, and heaven forbid if it’s under stress, has duck noises made at it, is being torn down and refuses to be destroyed utterly. HOW DARE IT?!?!?

    Reality is so nasty, requiring though instead of “it’s there, mock it; it was mocked, destroy it” reaction.

    (Mocking, of course done only by The Correct People.)

  20. Building up is always much more work than tearing down, and there are very few workers, yet, in this vineyard. And it’s not a simple thing. We can’t simply “restore” a time as depicted in literature or movies, because those are tainted. Besides, even the real historical times wouldn’t fit, since our technology is so different.

    So we have to research, retool, adapt, cast out the poisonous bits of Marx’s barbed illusions, and forge on.

    There is an immense work to do, and I doubt our generation will finish it. Like Moses, we’ll probably die before we see more than the outlines of the new “land.”

    But it must be done. So Atlas juggles.

    I gotta say, it appeals to the part of me that snarls at the “it’s all in a handbasket, take what you can and sit back, let it fall” mindset.

    I can’t type my response in polite company, and I can’t say it because my kids are about five feet away, but transcribe a growl here and that’s about right.

    • There is reason Roland’s stand at Roncesvalles is sung of to this day, and the tale of brave Horatius celebrated in Macaulay’s lay:

      … Fast by the royal standard,
      O’erlooking all the war,
      Lars Porsena of Clusium 195
      Sat in his ivory car.
      By the right wheel rode Mamilius,
      Prince of the Latian name;
      And by the left false Sextus,
      That wrought the deed of shame. 200

      But when the face of Sextus
      Was seen among the foes,
      A yell that rent the firmament
      From all the town arose.
      On the house-tops was no woman 205
      But spat towards him and hissed,
      No child but screamed out curses,
      And shook its little fist.

      But the Consul’s brow was sad,
      And the Consul’s speech was low, 210
      And darkly looked he at the wall,
      And darkly at the foe;
      “Their van will be upon us
      Before the bridge goes down;
      And if they once may win the bridge, 215
      What hope to save the town?”

      Then out spake brave Horatius,
      The Captain of the gate:
      “To every man upon this earth
      Death cometh soon or late. 220
      And how can man die better
      Than facing fearful odds
      For the ashes of his fathers
      And the temples of his gods,

      “And for the tender mother 225
      Who dandled him to rest,
      And for the wife who nurses
      His baby at her breast,
      And for the holy maidens
      Who feed the eternal flame,— 230
      To save them from false Sextus
      That wrought the deed of shame?

      “Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,
      With all the speed ye may;
      I, with two more to help me, 235
      Will hold the foe in play.
      In yon strait path a thousand
      May well be stopped by three:
      Now who will stand on either hand,
      And keep the bridge with me?” 240

      Then out spake Spurius Lartius,—
      A Ramnian proud was he:
      “Lo, I will stand at thy right hand,
      And keep the bridge with thee.”
      And out spake strong Herminius,— 245
      Of Titian blood was he:
      “I will abide on thy left side,
      And keep the bridge with thee.”

      “Horatius,” quoth the Consul,
      “As thou sayest so let it be,” 250
      And straight against that great array
      Went forth the dauntless three.
      For Romans in Rome’s quarrel
      Spared neither land nor gold,
      Nor son nor wife, nor limb nor life, 255
      In the brave days of old.

      • This was an insanely popular poem in Victorian times – and I’ve used it to good effect with some of my characters.

      • And from a little later: “And while the three were tightening their harness on their backs, the Consul was the foremost man to take in hand an axe!”

        A leader worth following in a different way.

      • To this day one of the most assigned books in Hungarian schools is a historical novel based on the defense of Eger in 1552. Everybody has read it. It’s available in English as “Eclipse of the Crescent Moon” and it’s a rocking good tale of noble men and women fighting against the odds to try and withstand an implacable (but honorable) foe. It’s a Romance in the way the tales of Horatius and Roland (and some versions of El Cid) are.

    • I gotta say, it appeals to the part of me that snarls at the “it’s all in a handbasket, take what you can and sit back, let it fall” mindset.

      That’s the mindset that says Leonidus and his 300 were suckers.

      • Just finished “Gates of Fire” and am re-queuing up “300” on my Movie list….

        • Something about the forlorn defense really speaks to the European species. For examples:
          Thermopylae
          Roland
          Horatio at the Bridge
          The Alamo
          Camerone
          Malta

          And those are the ones I can list off the top of my head.

          • Rorke’s Drift. (Aka the movie “Zulu.”)

          • G.K. Chesterton, The Last Hero and Ballad of the White Horse.

            “”But you and all the kind of Christ
            Are ignorant and brave,
            And you have wars you hardly win
            And souls you hardly save.

            “I tell you naught for your comfort,
            Yea, naught for your desire,
            Save that the sky grows darker yet
            And the sea rises higher.

            “Night shall be thrice night over you,
            And heaven an iron cope.
            Do you have joy without a cause,
            Yea, faith without a hope?””

          • Dien Bien Phu. French Foreign Legionaires parachuted in long after they knew it was hopeless. The choice between dying or enduring Communist prison with their comrades, and sitting listening to the news in a bar…

            • 6th foreign infantry dropped with NO airborne training in support of the 2nd REP (who were paratroopers). That takes cajones

          • “I’m 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as those ba starts are going to get.”

            • I need to teach my tablet to swear properly…

            • Was that Bastogne or Remagen?

              • Northern shoulder of the Bulge.

              • It’s a story – probably apocryphal – from the Battle of the Bulge. Two soldiers who had lost contact with their unit are retreating down the road when they see a lone Private setting up a fighting position. They ask him if he’s crazy, doesn’t he know the Germans have broken through and that they’re everywhere. The Private replies with the above. The two soldiers decide that they’re tired of retreating, so they start digging in. They start collecting more troops, a tank destroyer, etc. and eventually form a strong point that stops the German advance along that road.

                • Wasn’t there a Clint Eastwood movie loosely based upon that? Kelly’s Heroes, I believe. 😉

                  • Given how far screenplays diverge from source material, it’s possible, but Kelly’s Heroes is the antihero steal-the-nazi-gold-from-behind-enemy-lines flick with Eastwood as the disillusioned Lt-busted-to-private who comes up with the scheme, Telly Savalas as the skeptical Master Sergeant who Eastwood talks into going for the gold, Donald Sutherland as the 40-years-too-early beatnick/hippy tank commander, Don Rickles as the corrupt supply sergeant who tags along to protect his ‘investment’, and Carroll O’Connor as the bumbling blowhard comic-relief General.

                    Pretty much the war movie one would expect Hollywood to make at that point in the Vietnam war (1970).

          • John Ripley at the Bridge at Dong Ha.

            Special Bonus Points for occuring after the drawdown and eventual abandonment of South Vietnam were public knowledge.

      • William O. B'Livion

        And why was Leonidus fighting? Why was he willing to die?

  21. One of my regrets was in revisiting “Fiddler on the Roof” (the music from which I still love) and realizing just how chock full of Soviet propaganda it was.

    And it’s not just about the past – it’s the present. My girls hate it when I call L&O:SVU” the “longest running fantasy on TV” due to how wildly the criminals skew from reality. Pisses them them off when looking at the lineup of main characters I tell them “the old white business owner is the bad guy” . (apply the intersectional PC checklist to the main characters shown in the preview).

    I’m never wrong.

    • I can’t watch those shows. I go ballistic when the cops casually trample the rights of citizens, almost like they’re trying to acculturate the viewers to it.

      • Seen one and a bit of that one with the orange-blond guy with glasses.

        First one he does illegal threat and search of a place that sells TIRES to find out about who killed someone in an illegal race. It was really stupid and pointless… unless you assume he’s a massive bully.
        Second one, it was about SWATing. He was a nasty jerk to the poor SOB that was the head of the team sent in with assurances that it was a hostage situation headed for murder/suicide, and both my husband and myself blew up. (My mom, oddly, was on the side of the jerk– emotionally, makes sense; cops aren’t supposed to trust intel. We were thinking in terms of the laid out situation, where you supposedly HAVE had the intel verified, which is what was presented in the show.)

      • Wayne Blackburn

        The one that made me the most angry was The Closer. I wanted someone to walk up and punch that bitch in the face so many times…

    • Honor killer turns out to be Catholic.

      • The recent one was “fun”. Bad guy was (duh) obvious, but who was the victim? The black jock athlete who had partnered with him to promote a clothing line accused of rape? (How would they make the white guy the racist if he was guilty….) The women who accused him? On the one hand this is “men are always evil” SVU, otoh – black guy and (as obama supporters wore t-shirts saying) “bros before ho’s”.

        Turns out (for once) the women lied (bribed by the white racist guy, natch). They split the difference a bit – the athlete had been sleeping around, making him vulnerable to these accusations, and of course, the women who completely and publicly destroyed a mans life? No prosecution for an open and shut case of perjury. Might keep other people from coming forward.

  22. Ow. I’ve been substituting in a US Government class this week and thumbing through the textbook. Ugh. I couldn’t finish the introduction because it is all “be excited about Obama and the power of the youth vote and you need to learn government so you can make a difference and power to young voters and Change!!!” I skimmed a few other chapters and wasn’t impressed – it’s the old Mcarthy was a fool and the Cold War hurt civil rights and so on. I’ll probably read more tomorrow, if only to see if it gets better, worse, or remains blah.

    • Gee, since the Cold War was initiated by the Truman Administration and the suppression of Civil Rights was perpetrated by Southern Democrats I wouldn’t think they’d connect the two.

      • The communists that Whitaker Chambers said were in the government didn’t exist, apparently, and loyalty oaths are bad and no one dared dissent until the 1960s, apparently. I’ll read farther tomorrow.

        • Who’s the publisher?

          • I think Pearson. *does check of covers on the ‘Zon* Yup. Pearson. The ad copy says it is “Designed around the theme that ‘politics matters’ . . .” Which the intro does seem to push pretty hard, just not in a great direction. I’ll skim more and hope it improves. Maybe I’m just in a cynical space at the moment.

        • I love that sentence in John Simon’s review of “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. Something like, the problem with the Salem witch trial as a metaphor for the hunt for Communists is that there were no witches in Salem Village.

          • It’s amazing, when my class read (parts of) that and watched the movie, it was just about the time when some of the Russian “yes, they really were Soviet spies” stuff was in the news…. There was a VERY quick mention of the allegory and then hurry, hurry, change the subject.
            (I was a good willed battleship– if she hadn’t hurried, I would have asked about that problem, and been absolutely innocent of intent to harass. No sarcasm here, either– I left a LOT of marks by asking clueless, innocent questions and not being with the program.)

    • OK read a couple of chapters today. It’s left of center, not blatantly so but in the “wink wink nudge nudge* way. Not great, but work-around-able if I had/have to. It’s also a LOT wordier than the history texts, and written at a higher grade level. Which is interesting in several ways . . .

      • Sounds as if a little teacher-induced skepticism about assertions in text are all that is needed. A properly raised eyebrow or suitably droll hmmmm can do wonders with such drivel.

  23. There was another, more insidious, reason for The Boss Coming To Dinner: Determine if the marriage was going to endure — or, for that matter, if in fact the woman was there as anything besides a cover for “unnatural acts”.

    • I don’t think there were enough unnatural acts to make that a reason. Most people don’t live in the SF community 😉

      • On the other hand, trouble at home WILL come to work– and it’s harder to hide a nasty temper, a substance problem, tendency to spend beyond income or simply “his wife is NOT going to allow him to do the job we want” (wide range of reasons) when you share a meal.

        Less Machiavellian, eating meals together is a team-building exercise, and The Boss (…usually his wife…) would host several “parties” a year, usually at his home for everybody.

        • Oh, yeah, sure, that’s what I said, the couple was viewed as a team and the wife was important.
          OTOH “unnatural acts” is 3% of the population (MAYBE) and not something you can ferret out in even a meal in the house and most people KNEW that. (I’m assuming he means gay people with a fake marriage, and hell, diplomatic services were the only ones I could think of who would be really suspicious, etc, because of the potential for blackmail.)

          • Sudden vision of Employee and Wife showing Boss and Boss’ Wife around the house, and oops, they missed hiding something. But Boss’ Wife says “Say, George, don’t you have a Gimp Mask just like that?” Employee is sure to make that promotion to Plant Supervisor in no time now!

          • It looked like ‘e might not get the point, so I belabored it– and why!

            “Unnatural acts” as in homosexual would be that tiny, but I think that in practical terms would cover a wide range of stuff that pretty much falls under your initial summary of them not being scifi fans. 😀
            If you could “pass”– your wife was still happy and supportive and wouldn’t freak the danes– didn’t matter.

        • Interesting anecdote from Advertising the American Dream: Making Way for Modernity, 1920-1940 by Roland Marchand: you had major ads about how if your furniture was shoddy, the best cooking and conversation in the world would not overcome the first impression.

  24. We have a seminar on Copyright at MileHiCon on Sunday.

  25. David Aitken

    Sarah said “It’s hard to know what was the real late forties and early fifties”.
    Ever think of talking to old people? My mom is 90; born in 24, so she was 16 in 1940, and still lives by herself, with help. If you’re interested in talking to her, I could probably arrange it. BTW, we met at Pete’s last December. Let me know.

    • perhaps. Mostly I read biographies. But it doesn’t present a cohesive picture. The cohesive picture is all from professionals and you know what they do.
      On the perhaps — only if I’m attacked by a book in that time period. As is, I’m suspicious of the narrative, but I’m not an historian, if that makes sense.