I Feel The Sky Tumbling Down

As a few of you know one of my favorite Heinlein books is Puppet Masters and part of the reason for that is the idea of a hidden world under the world we all know. This has been an attraction of mine since at least 12, when I began living in a secret world. I.e. the things I read in the paper, the person I had to pretend to be at school to get good grades, the things they “taught” me that I had to pretend to believe were the daylight world and what could be shared with everyone else.

Underneath it was what I knew wasn’t so. (Though the full extent of some lies, like the kindly, idealistic Soviet Union only became evident when I read The Gullag Archipelago at 14.)

If this sounds like a recipe for insanity, it is. It is also, I think, where a lot of people broke. If schools, and media and even entertainment and even entertainment translated from places like America which we all knew were bastions of the right wing, all reinforced certain memes — the kindly altruistic communist; the greedy industrialist; the oppressed worker; the saintly victim of society, etc – then how could I dare believe that what I saw with my own eyes was true?

I dared because I saw it, and because I have a good dose of stubborn as heck baked into me. I come from a long line of stubborn as heck people.

However note that my generation in Portugal by and large turned out not leftist (even if they are sometimes reflexively right in the European sense.) There is a reason for that.

If you were raised in a cocoon of artificial narrative, when you find one thing about it was a lie, you assume it was all lies. Being raised in that sort of environment where “everyone agrees” and there is “one truth” and everyone else are fringe or “wing nuts” is a danger, because once the cocoon breaks, the tendency is to assume everything you’ve ever known is a lie.

Keep that in mind. There will be a quiz later. (Actually it’s important for a later point.)

So, Heinlein’s Puppet Masters (and I don’t care if Patterson calls it piece work or what have you) hit a point with me, from the moment that he goes in through a secret entrance, but really all of the book. There are at least three other novels to write there, and the one I can’t write, the one that scares the heck out of me, the one that would turn out to be probably dark and dreary, is the one of the person living in the masquerade, as it falls apart around them.

(Toni W. once told me I have a tendency to start with my characters knowing nothing, and that it would be better for the plot if they started out knowing exactly what they’re facing. She’s right of course. And I hate to start with characters who know nothing or are so strange to the environment that nothing makes sense. That’s been part of the issue with Through Fire. I HAD to start there. It was the character I had. I tried Simon’s head but Oh, my, no. But someone or other said that everything we write is biography. Hence my books tend to be about people who think they KNOW reality and they know what’s true. And then it shifts under their feet. They find everything they’ve ever known is a lie, and they have to choose to charge on or go back into the cocoon of illusion. This is why the sf trilogy that’s planned (OMG, yes, I DO have a lot to write) will probably be indie. It’s so much that, I think it would drive Toni nuts.)

The part that scares me most about puppet masters is exactly The Masquerade. The non-possessed people living there thought all life was normal. The news, all organs of information went on as normal. And meanwhile, more than half of their neighbors – maybe their family members – were aliens.

You can imagine it going on. Sometimes I wonder if we’re living in something like that. (Okay, show me proof that they’re not controlled by mounds of tapioca between their shoulders! How would anything our government does be different?)

I will say right up front that I see why we needed a public education system with a semblance of unity. At least we needed a “things every American knows.” Yesterday night, I read The League” the True Story of Average Americans on The Hunt for WWI Spies by Bill Mills. I read it because it’s on KULL and because there are spies in the Dragon books, and technically, it has a WWI “feel” to it.

However, let me say it’s partly a lie. I mean, the title. A lot of it was the American Protective League hunting for other people: draft dodgers, people who talked down the war effort, etc. I’ll talk about it a day this week, because if you think that we’re in perilous authoritarian government times, you mustn’t know much about Woodrow Wilson. Never mind.

The point is that reading the book makes it clear how fragmented people were, and how many unassimilated and with no intention of assimilating immigrant communities there were. And how that could be a danger in a world where countries were fighting for their nation, not necessarily for any principle. (WWI.)

I think the book has a slant and I think they didn’t realize how they made me want to kill the Wobblies with fire, (because they sounded just like what we’re fighting) but that’s something else (of course, back then they couldn’t know everything they thought was wrong. Which brings us around to our premise again.

To make the United States competitive in a world of race/breed/history based nation states, our leaders (ah!) though they had to forge unity. By the seventies this was unity under the narrative, hence the Department of Education. Because there was one right set of beliefs…

The problem is between that and the press which had fallen for the seduction of “rule by the smart people” and flattered themselves they were smart, and an entertainment industry that had been taken over by progressives after WWI and was monolithically progressive after WWII, we got the narrative. Good, undiluted propaganda from the top, not that much different from USSR propaganda, where most of the memes originated.

Most of the organs supposed to educate, inform, amuse us were wearing a mass of tapioca between their shoulders.

They still are, only now it’s coming apart because we can talk among ourselves and reach crowds, and that makes it harder for the “narrative” to stick.

We’re seeing that with the UVA rape hoax, with Lena Dunham, the author of a poorly watched show who, nonetheless got given the gold ticket of promotion to the top of the bestselling world on her tawdry “autobiography” and who was crowned the “voice of her generation” and who, it turns out, is the voice of the neurotic liars of her generation, only.

Then there is this: New York Mag’s Boy Genius Investor Made It All Up.

Monday’s edition of New York magazine includes an irresistible story about a Stuyvesant High senior named Mohammed Islam who had made a fortune investing in the stock market. Reporter Jessica Pressler wrote regarding the precise number, “Though he is shy about the $72 million number, he confirmed his net worth is in the “’high eight figures.’” The New York Post followed up with a story of its own, with the fat figure playing a key role in the headline: “High school student scores $72M playing the stock market.”

It’s a lie. Of course it is a lie. But it serves the narrative of the genius, who can make it to the very wealthy in a manner that’s approved (the stock market) and who is of interesting ethnic origin and… Too good to check.  Because the narrative has been with us so long that we echo it without realizing, that we “feel” it’s right even when we know it’s wrong.

Now, for me, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The rape hoaxes? Sure, I know they’d do that, because the president wants more power over campus and because the left is afraid of males. BUT this? Qui Bono?

It’s only a series of impulses, of undefined “fits the narrative.”

Which – jornolist apart is what unifies the narrative of the left. They all have this same vague idea of what’s in and what’s out, and each independently carries his dram of water for it. Hard to prove, and it makes people who believe their lying eyes feel like crazy, when all the “best people” coordinate like this.

Heinlein once said there was no event Time reported that he had been at that Time reported even close to the truth.

I’m starting to believe he was right and it’s not just Time: it’s all of the MSM, all the learned monographs, all the education system.

The problem is this: what do you do when the masquerade falls down. It’s falling down and it will continue. It has to, because you know, the only way a masquerade can be kept is with full control over everything the masses see and hear. That might be why the left thinks 1984 is a how-to manual. But you see, they might have been better off letting us go to space. Yeah, they’d have lost control over some of us. OTOH the computer revolution where the techies went to play instead, will cost them control of all of us except the willingly enslaved.

So as the narrative breaks, as the earth shifts under our feet and the sky comes tumbling down, what are we left with?

The problem with leaving the cocoon is that you don’t know the boundaries outside it. You start questioning everything. Everything you’ve ever known proves to be a lie, that means you known nothing, like a babe unborn.

I’m trying to read a lot of older primary sources, to identify where we went wrong, but my fear is that we’ll hurtle back to “our loved Egyptian night.” That is, I’m afraid that once the progressive narrative is proven wrong we’ll try to hurtle back to the less liberal factions of the eighteen hundreds – or before. There are already people online going that way.

The problem with that is that way of life is dead. The same technology that made it unviable then has continued, and it has spawned other tech. That would not work now. Small things, like personal communication devices, like the pill, like modern medicine, like robotics – all make that way of life unviable, save for a very short, very painful time.

Note I’m not saying all of those developments are good or bad – but they have changed our environment and us. And society could not be as it was before the coordinated lies of the “progressives.”

So, where do we go from here?

Where we always went. The future is never assured, and the more I read the more I think the beginnings of the progressive era about 100 years ago were worse.

We can survive this. We can forge the future we want for our kids. Take what we can from the past and believe our lying eyes. Some things, like human nature, are immutable. Some precepts such as “envy is corrosive for individuals and society” are immutable.

Take what you can and build. Expose lies when we can. The overcoat must be pulled off and the shoulder-rider shown to the world. Resist the temptation to hurtle into some old philosophy that “explains everything.” We should always have suspected progressivism BECAUSE the parts fit too well and all the lies supported each other. Real life is not that coherent.

Start from the fact that a cocoon is a lie, and it lies shattered at your feet. It’s time to try out your new wings. Yes, your world is in ruins, but the world you can build is so much bigger and better and brighter, because there’s some things we can now do.

I see the sky tumbling down.

Be not afraid. The future is wide open and it’s ours to build.






239 thoughts on “I Feel The Sky Tumbling Down

  1. Having lived in the Intelligence Community for some years, I know what some of this is like from the inside. No, I can’t give details even yet, but basically I would read the Serious Media saying “the Soviet Union has no capability of X” or “the Soviet Union is ten years from doing X”, when I had, within the last month, intercepted data showing the Soviet Union doing X.

    I think you’re right: the most popular form of government is aristocratic fascism, whether the aristocrats call themselves Communists or Fascists or National Socialists or Progressives, or technocrats.

                    1. He says it means he was squinting down the hallway at the clock and wasn’t sure if it was 25 minutes till four, or 26 minutes till four. “twenty-(five or six) to four”.

                      Other people have interpreted it as “twenty-five or six-two-four”, which is supposedly the markings on two popular pills of the time.

    1. I KNOW the Portuguese revolution was nothing like depicted here, nor was the regime afterwards. Mind you, the narrative here largely accorded with the press narrative there — but I was there and I REMEMBER.

      1. Gell-Mann amnesia is a real phenomenon. We read something that we know is full of holes, inconsistencies, and misrepresentations, then turn the page and read something we don’t have a familiarity with, and think they got it right. I see it mostly with religion and engineering, but it can’t be limited. The Journo schools just aren’t training inquisitive skeptics, they are training SJW foot soldiers.

        1. ‘s why I love blogs.

          Not because they get everything right– but because they offer an alternative to “…. I know these idiots screwed that up. Now they have this story where I don’t know enough to know if they screwed it up. I don’t even know enough to find a source that isn’t blowing smoke. Now what?”

          Now the “what” is: “find a blog I trust that trusts a guy who can offer sources and comment!”

        2. “Journo schools just aren’t training inquisitive skeptics, they are training SJW foot soldiers.”

          I can speak to this, for my sins, since I had to complete a few journalism classes for my major. (Long story short: I found out I didn’t actually want to be an engineer, needed a major that could fit in the time remaining on my scholarships including pre-req class spreads, hey, nifty equipment to learn about! Broadcast Studies with a control room secondhand from the early 70s and a very intelligent and frustrated professor*, boom.)

          Do they teach how to find knowledgable sources? No. Do they teach how to find primary sources, period? No. Do they teach actually getting outside of your comfort zone at all**? No.

          So what do they teach? Inverted pyramid structure, short declarative sentences, and limited word choice. One of my teachers even marked me down for not picking up that “epicenter” was too highfalutin for news. (I am from California and ALL news sources use “epicenter” with no qualms.) Nine tenths of the students were looking to be pretty faces on the television, and most of the rest were interested in the technical side. One of the few exceptions to the general coasters was from Dubai and English was her THIRD language. Gah. They cringed at the concept of the inverse-square law (in regards to lighting.)

          *Fr. Don knew his stuff stone cold. And he mostly had to put up with the uninspired students for whom “work” was a dirty word. His refuge was sarcasm.

          **One rare student actually based a class project around going to the (comparatively) nearby Aryan Nations white supremacist compound and getting an interview with leader Richard Butler. (I wonder how long she had to wash her hands afterwards.) Contrast that with another group’s more typical project—the local tattoo parlors. (Incomplete, too.)

            1. If you’re some place the quake isn’t then you don’t need the epicenter, you just need the nearest big city you recognize.

            2. That’s why I always carry my own, along with my state-issued ECP (Epicenter Carry Permit). When seconds count, seismologists are … somewhere else. An epicenter is like a parachute: if you need it, and don’t have one … [JOKE IN PROGRESS]

            3. She said the phrasing should be “The earthquake was centered on…” which is unnecessarily cumbersome. I mean, after the earthquake in Japan, everybody was using epicenter, right? She was… oy.

      2. I’ve lived a long time and I have used that “I was there and I remember” often. I think my turn towards conservatism came when I watched MASH and realized they were not really talking about the Korean War it was all anti-Vietnam. I know that was when I realized the morning network shows were turning towards having more “stars” on than thinkers, writers and talkers. I’ve talked with my twin sister about even “The Weekly Reader” we read at school during and after WWII was actually propaganda and using school children to spread it. Of course we didn’t know that at the time as we were under ten years old. Now I hate to think of what they are reading at school.

        1. I “watched” MASH by it being on in the same room it was on in, well enough to “get” the characters and think that the Hawkeye guy thought himself smarter than he actually was, and I think I was in high school before I realized it wasn’t supposed to be in Vietnam…..

          (Shockingly, the cultural differences between Vietnam and Korea aren’t quickly apparent to someone with public school education. I didn’t even HEAR about the Korean war for quite some time– all the folks who could have taught anybody about it either assumed we knew about it because they’d lived through it, or didn’t find it useful for their hobby horses. Vietnam, on the other hand, was very useful.)

    2. I think you’re right: the most popular form of government is aristocratic fascism, whether the aristocrats call themselves Communists or Fascists or National Socialists or Progressives, or technocrats.

      And on that note. I bought my father the recent biography of Napoleon ( Napoleon: A Life by Andrew Roberts) for Christmas and of course I’m reading it first.

      In it we have clearly described how Napoleon went from being pretty lassez faire WRT the press to full on propaganda in under a decade.

      And (as a result) we see how so much of the Napoleon story we learned in school (read in Hornblower/Sharpe etc.) was utterly wrong, in details, in motivations and even in some cases wrong in terms of major documentable facts about battles.

    3. I wasn’t ever in the national intelligence community – either civ or mil – but I used to sense the same thing, every time I read a story in the national media which touched on something that I did know something about first-hand; that there was some sort of pre-arranged and agreed-on narrative, bending the Serious Media in the approved direction.

      And yes – the most popular form of government is some kind of self-perpetuating hereditary aristocracy. Yes, there always have been ‘old families’ in the local sphere, or in some industry or other – even in politics – but now that tendency has gone totally completely incestuous. The spawn of politicians, or of the industrial caste go back and forth, into media, into comfy chairs at quasi-public foundations, into political office themselves – a web of familial and personal connections that rival that of European noble families of any era you could mention. The Elite sprouts are taken care of, from the cradle to whatever apotheosis has been decreed for them … and meanwhile the ‘new money’ (like the dot-com millionaires) splash out and hope to be accepted. It’s all very … European, and not in a nice way.

    4. For those that asked, “How do we know or figure out if what we are told is true?”

      I would suggest looking into two books by Richards Heuer, Psychology of Intelligence Analysis and Structured Analytic Techniques For Intelligence Analysis.

      Click to access PsychofIntelNew.pdf

  2. I checked Puppet Masters out of the library yesterday. I’m planning to read Heinlein for the first time in my life in January, but the library doesn’t have the two I was looking for (Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers), so I got that instead. I also have Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. Feel free to suggest other basic Heinlein for my education. 🙂

    1. TMIAHM is the most important. After that it’s hard to pick. I’m right now rereading Starship Troopers today. Puppet Masters is one of my favorites (I’ve said that). In no particular order: Have Spacesuit Will Travel, Farmer In the Sky, Tunnel in the Sky, Citizen of the Galaxy, Starman Jones. I”ll let the others fill in.

      1. My two favorites are Glory Road and Time Enough For Love.
        The first is pure adventure, and the second really a massive collection of short stories loosely tied together with a running theme. The notebook remarks in TEFL are in and of themselves worth the price of the book.
        For insights into RAH the man I recommend Tramp Royale and Grumbles From The Grave, both non fiction.
        One thing to keep in mind is that Robert wrote from the late ’30s until shortly before his death in 1988. Much of the richness of his works lies in his description of the human condition as it existed at that time, so you will encounter things that no longer apply.
        By the way, I am highly envious of you. To think you have all of Heinlein’s works ahead of you boggles my mind.

        1. Red Planet, Star Beast, Tunnel in the Sky, Citizen of the Galaxy, for starters (hey, I was about 11 when I found RAH).

          They, and Starship Troopers, affected my way of seeing the world more than I sometimes think.

    2. They’re not novels, so they might not be what you want, but I think “Lost Legacy” from the “Assignment in Eternity” collection and “A Bathroom of Her Own” from “Expanded Universe” are both worth reading.

      Legacy has the main characters take a road trip to Mount Shasta where they discover the world doesn’t work the way they’d always believed. Bathroom is neither science fiction nor fantasy. It’s about a post-wwII city council political campaign from the inside and is eye opening in its own way.

        1. I love “The Rolling Stones.” I know the “family buys a used spaceship and tours the solar system” plot sounds silly now, but I still love it. And as someone put it, Heinlein has ALL the characters involved in a conversation, and you can tell who’s speaking without name tags. The twins have distinctive individual voices.

    3. Thanks everyone. I was more a fantasy reader growing up, and though I read Asimov and a ton of Bradbury, I missed Heinlein completely. The local CC just ordered the two-volume biography, so I might get to that, we’ll see. The CC and the public libraries obviously used to have plenty of RAL, but over the years the more popular stuff has walked, so now they only have a few each. If I request a few, they’ll get purchased.

      1. Just note that there are a couple of different styles in there. The “juveniles” were made to order and have a different flavor than the later works, which have no restrictions on things like talking about sex existing. Some people only like one category or the other.

          1. But the sex in Late Heinlein is… not quite standard, shall we say? And with the sort of partners the characters choose, a little bit makes an unwelcomely big impression.

          2. Well, you know my contention on that: It doesn’t seem like as much, until you realize that, if Heinlein had spent as much time on each encounter as those other genres do, his books would be three times as long as they are.

  3. Toni W. once told me I have a tendency to start with my characters knowing nothing, and that it would be better for the plot if they started out knowing exactly what they’re facing.

    I’m not sure I agree with that. I can see a stronger plot as they slowly find out what they are facing. It has the feel of a mystery as the truth is slowly discovered.
    But in as much as I have not successfully published anything, I do not know what I am facing.

      1. And that type of stories do seem to be quite popular. Look at movies (I’d say they do perhaps give a bit more accurate picture of what most people like simply because way more people watch them than read): Matrix, Avatar, first Pirates of the Caribbean, National Treasure – most of the biggest blockbusters in recent memory either had a protagonist who knew nothing in the beginning, or even when they had some clues the audience will find out that what had seemed known hid an unknown just under the surface (or at least that is the theme in the first movie of the series 🙂 ). Huge number of the hits in movies ARE some sort of mysteries, even if traditional whodunnits rarely make it. And when it comes to books, there is the Harry Potter series and Twilight etc… lots of protagonists there too who find out that what they had thought the world was like isn’t true.

        And I know I love that theme. Of course it’s more fun when the idea is that what seemed mundane hides something wonderful (even if usually at least somewhat dangerous) on the other hand when it turns out to be a nightmare… but even with the nightmares there is still the thrill, especially if finding the nightmare also includes finding the people who fight against it.

          1. True. 🙂

            But I do think the mystery itself has a very strong appeal for lots of people. Most, perhaps, when we start from what looks like our everyday world, which is why we get phenomena like the Potter series or in movies something like Matrix. Makes it easier to daydream that it might happen to you.

            1. Also what they call the Gnostic Appeal; basically that little thrill of “I know something you don’t know…..”

              Folks here, we tend to be “and so I get the fun of telling you ALL THE COOL STUFF and get to see YOU light up about it, too!” rather than the whole dragon-laying-on-gold thing.

  4. So as the narrative breaks, as the earth shifts under our feet and the sky comes tumbling down, what are we left with?

    I suspect this is the part that leaves so many unsettled. It leads in all kinds of directions: .gov daddy and doomsaying both spring from this uncertainty. The appeal to credentialism is a desperate bid to find authority to hold the uncertainty at bay.

    I find it simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. But I’m not particularly terrified for my people, or for the American way. For them, from them, I see the thrilling possibilities.

    I’m just a bit terrified for myself, I’m a little too smart to have no doubts.

    Ah! But the future that can lay before those following generations!! The things our people could do, could be!


    1. The old narrative? The one about doing what’s right even when it’s hard, heck, even when it gets you killed? “You all can go to hell, I’m going to Texas.” Remember that one?
      Of course, it also leads to stories about people working hard to be successful. People pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Those sorts of horrible stories about people accomplishing in spite of having none of the advantages.

          1. Their assumptions of superiority. Not necessarily congruent with everyone else’s assumptions regarding their quality.

            The more of those best and brightest they stick in the spotlight — the less cachet those fine pedigrees retain.

              1. I don’t know. The mountain lions have always run from our dogs. I *think* it’s because our dogs have a fence and back-up with firearms. Having good back-up is important, especially if you’re mastering things, and having physical constraints on your actions is excellent for the impulsive, which our dogs have always been.

              2. Dogs are team players. They got on board with us back in the beginning, and their partnership has taken them places that a wolf could only dream of.

                Granted, there has been a bit of a price, and I think the people who bred the Chihuahua and a few other breeds have a lot to answer for, but on the whole, the dog has done well. To some degree, I think you could make a pretty good case that the dog has weaponized loyalty, affection, and friendship, because it’s a truly frightening thing what some members on the human side of the partnership equation will do for one of their canine pack mates.

                Hell, I’ve personally waded into dogfights my idiot dogs have gotten themselves into, and I’ve often thought that afterwards they were probably telling the other dog something like “See? I told you my human was going to kick your ass…”.

                1. Hell, I’ve personally waded into dogfights my idiot dogs have gotten themselves into, and I’ve often thought that afterwards they were probably telling the other dog something like “See? I told you my human was going to kick your ass…”.

                  That’s what every %expletive% terrier says. And sadly they are generally right. I think every big(ger) dog should be allowed to have at least a dozen bits on any terrier for free and the terrier’s owner can pay the damn vet bills

                  1. The terriers I’ve been responsible for I’ve let deal with the consequences of their own stupidity. Unless it looked like it was about to be fatal, then I’d try to separate the combatants.

                    Other breeds, who’ve been less prone to starting things for no reason, I’ve waded in without too much remorse. It’s hard to take a terriers side, when they’re usually the ones looking for trouble.

                    1. Have you met a terrier? Ever? 😉

                      A more unlikely “victim” I cannot imagine. Likely perpetrator of various and sundry crimes against good order and discipline? Yes.Victim? Never. Even if a terrier was a victim, they’d deny it out of sheer pride–“No, that Rottweiler savaging me was all part of the plan, fool… I had him just where I wanted him, and then you stuck your nose in…”.

                  2. Dogs have been known to tree mountain lions and a pack will give a bear the heebie jebbies. Two of mine took on a Raccoon their size once. One at front, one at back and after I called them off, the coon limped, staggered and weaved out of the yard. Never came back.

                    1. A housecat can tree a bear, as well. I’ve seen footage. And a mid-sized mutt can tree a bear – that I’ve watched from way too close. A mountain lion very well may run from a barking dog (or pack), but if a mountain lion sees a dog before the dog sees the mountain lion, it may be lunch, just like some joggers.

                    2. See, the thing is that the bears remember. They really, really remember, and what they’re remembering are the days when they weren’t the top of the food chain, and had to be concerned about the dire wolves and the smilodons. A barking dog actually triggers the fear response in a bear’s brain on damn near an instinctual level, so even if it’s a Pomeranian, they get the hell away from the barking, baying nightmare.

                      Or, so I’ve been told by people that spend a lot of time around bears. You have to remember that our current set of carnivores on this continent is rather… Truncated. The surviving big predators are only where they are on the food chain due to being the only ones who survived.

                    3. Our current dog took on a raccoon–she’s a sixty pounder when she needs to go on a diet. She ended up with stitches but no lasting damage. The raccoon was in no better shape, but did not get to go to the vet and took itself off to live or die.

                    4. Since one of the dogs that’s on video treeing a mountain lion is a chiwawa that would need a half-dozen friends to weigh as much as my cat, I think possibly the fear comes from “he has back up!”

        1. I’m not sure we could. We really don’t have the cultural underpinnings for it. There’s a level of deference there I cannot find in our culture.

          I’d be more concerned with bloody, oppressive dictatorship. Ongoing with the bloody and oppressive bits.

          Despite the nattering narrative we are not nearly a beaten or subjugated people, and the skepticism of “better by reason of — anything” is still strong.

          It’s why the progs have remained undercover for so long, if they took their (assumed) rightful place they’d still end up so many dangling ornaments.

        2. But isn’t that where we are right now? With the ‘Bush Dynasty’ and the ‘Clinton Dynasty’ and all that nonsense? I know the progs think they’re better by birth. That’s where eugenics comes from. Smarter, more worthy . . . oh, it’s out of fashion to say so at the moment, but all the lines about white male privilege show what they really believe. Probably also why they can’t stand successful conservatives who aren’t of strict European ancestry.
          Just look at what they’ve done to the schools to prevent kids who don’t fit their ideals from getting uppity.

          1. To be honest, I think that the Bush ‘dynasty’ – and I ain’t too happy about seeing another one toss their hat into the ring – is at least competent. They’re open about their record.

            Others? Not so much. And this adulation for Hillary… nope. Choice between her and a concrete block, I’d choose the block. It, at least, stands firmly when the winds of change blow.

            1. I get really pissed seeing “our” side talk about how they won’t vote for someone because of their last name, acting like it’s not as bad as voting for someone because of their last name.

              I don’t like Jeb because I think he’s got all the weaknesses of his previously elected relatives, while lacking some of their strengths.

              I can think of places I’d use someone’s relatives as a shorthand– for example, there’s no freaking way that Hillary’s buddy, Wiener’s wife, should have had any kind of a security clearance, and I’d probably phrase that as “her mom started the Lady’s Auxillary for a terrorist group.” That isn’t so much about her “name” as a matter of a massive family issue that’s an obvious security risk.

            2. But if it was a Kennedy running, the Left would be singing a different song. A veritable hymn, in fact.

        3. “Back to”?

          What is Obama’s primary qualification?

          Bush’s? (Jeb, GW, G)

          How many *current* members of the House and Senate have parents who were also in the house or senate?

          You know who Mark Udall’s father is, don’t you?

          1. Nit, “born to rule” always means to me that because your father/mother ruled then you automatically take their place when they die.

            As bad as political dynasties can be, they haven’t reached that point yet.

            Mark Udall may have had an edge in going into politics but IMO he still had to convince people (including voters) to support him.

            The son of an actual Duke didn’t have to convince anybody that he would be Duke after the death of his father.

            Now “better by reason of birth” seems to be real in some circles now.

            1. Well, actually, in real life, the duke’s son often did have to convince people. Historically, if you see a regular, orderly succession from father to son or whatever, it probably means the post is a figurehead.

              Mind you, the usual technique to dispute it was the final argument of kings also known as war.

              1. IIRC, the heir to the Holy Roman Empire had to be elected King of the Romans first, usually during the life of the previous Emperor. And while the French dauphin was basically a dodge around French law lacking the concept of entailed estate, it might have served a similar purpose—was the dauphin ever not the usual first-in-line heir?

            2. And there is a certain amount of “this is what my dad this” particularly for things like writing or politics, where there are no real degrees to get there and it’s who you know.

              1. Sarah, that’s the “edge” that I referred to but while some people have “ridden on the coattails” of a famous parent, IMO there’s no guarantee that the parent’s coattails will give them success.

              2. Oddly enough, the only cartoons I have ever seen successfully carried on were sons taking over their fathers’ work.

                Hagar the Horrible and Frank and Ernest to be precise.

      1. That’s story (our story!) not narrative. We can’t have successful stories corrupting the fine crafting of the narrative!!

        Possible glops of sarcasm dripping around here. Careful, they’re slippery.

  5. In the sci-fi movie “Oblivion,” the protagonist (Tom Cruise) discovers who he is and what he should be fighting for when he finds an old library and reads the classics. Once he’s reclaimed his heritage, he changes sides and dies a noble death for his people.

    That’s the power of literature.

        1. If anyone has been surprised by the plot twists of a movie in the last decade, I’d like to know which it was.

                1. It’s well worth the time, in ’07 our ship voted it the best all-round movie in recent years.

                  Not “animated movie.” Just movie.

              1. I don’t remember the Incredibles, but you’re correct, Frozen did have a nice little twist. I found the music very irritating.

  6. The reason I am attracted to your books Sarah – is that reason alone. The characters start out thinking they know their world, but they know nothing … at all. A cognitive dissonance between reality and under-reality.

  7. There is a tendency to see all the lies as being a deliberate large scale deception, and that give the bastards far too much credit. A lot of it is simply the nature of reporting, combined with tye broad prejudices of the reporters. Go read Menken on his years as a reporter; it’s clear that no reporter has the TIME to check anything like what he should to get it right. It just isn’t going to happen. It wasn’t going to happen in Mencken’s day, with only one deadline per day.

    Which isn’t to say there is NO deliberate deception. But they aren’t SMART enough to pull what the puppet masters did.

    As to Wilson; I have said for years that McCarthy was an absolute GIFT to the left. Because without him, the big fascist boogeyman would be Mitchel Palmer, who was Wilson’s attack dog.

    1. One of the problems is that, as Sarah pointed out, the “journalists” have a somewhat-connected view of what “the narrative” is supposed to be, so they each do their part of carrying water for it. Not particularly a conspiracy, in the strict sense, just an unconscious coordination adding up to an overall picture, which we put together via our pattern recognition skills into a coherent whole.

      The good thing is that the pattern is breaking down as more people can see that which is false.

          1. We must be talking about the Tea Party conspiracy to take over the US and leave everyone ruthlessly alone. The groupthink that was on display; large groups seeming to move in lockstep. It must has be all the work of mastermind billionaire brothers.

            Like minded people will come up with like minded solutions. Those people with the same goals will tend to move down similar paths. Though the realm of human possibility is infinite those actions that lead to a specific outcome are finite.


            1. Bill (after pondering how much “they” have ruined his life): “Who are ‘they’?”
              Deathwish Drang: “‘They’ are everyone who wants to be one of them. ‘They’ die off and are replaced, but the institution of Theyness continues…”
              — Harry Harrison, “Bill the Galactic Hero”

        1. Imagine a 5 year old asking adults if Santa is real. How do they all know what to say? It’s a conspiracy I tell you!

    2. Was a time when Marxists were fond of describing things as “objectively” this or that. Pacifists, for instance, were “objectively” pro-Axis in WWII, because the Axis would execute them, and the Allies tolerate them, so their actual effect was to impede only the Allied war effort.

      McCarthy was objectively pro-Communist.

      1. McCarthy was pro McCarthy. If he thought coming out for cannibalism would have served his ends, he would have stumped for amissionary in every pot (as Mencken said of Trueman, with far less,reason)

  8. Sarah wrote:

    I’m afraid that once the progressive narrative is proven wrong we’ll try to hurtle back to the less liberal factions of the eighteen hundreds – or before. There are already people online going that way.

    I ask:

    Is this foreshadowed is the Neo-Victorianism in Neil Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age?”

    1. The Neo-Victorians of the Diamond Age didn’t sound like they had *that* unhealthy of a culture. They valued acting civilized, working productively, making something of yourself, etc. And because of this, their subculture was the source of a lot of the technology powering the setting.

      Compare with some of his other microcultures: The self-dissolving cult that rode around on that derelict aircraft carrier, or the Federal MIB types (loyalty uber alles!), or the racist Mafiosi gangs in Snow-Crash.

      1. Yeah, the neo-Victorians had their fun side, but when I re-read it, the other cultures left a sour taste in my mouth.

        1. I think in Snow Crash and Diamond Age, Stephenson was trying to make a point/do some exploration about the relative reality of nations and the cultures within them.

          What works, what doesn’t – who inside some arbitrarily drawn border lives a halfway decent life and why, versus other people that go on to abuse cybernetic technology/drugs and generally ride around like barbarians causing problems, or form creepy dysfunctional cult-like societies. You don’t have to have a sci-fi setting to speculate about such things today.

    2. You can see a few disgruntled fringe groups lurking around the corners of movements like the “Dark Enlightenment” whose philosophy probably would be bad news if it ever became popular.

      Classical racists. People who are sick of the incompetence and pretension of the left’s aristocracy, and so want to go back to having a *real* aristocracy of superior people (it’s better when the guys we like are in charge!), and a reassertion of the great chain of being. (The royalist types). Etc. The fact that they have valid points/complaints doesn’t lessen the danger of the rest of what they’ll try to sell you on. There are (literally hunted and prosecuted) Neo Nazi types in Europe who sound positively sane when they start ranting about the Muslim violence, and how everyone who complains is ruthlessly shut up by the government. Which doesn’t mean it would be at all a good thing if they became popular and took power!

      If the world breaks down, then reaction against Western democracy as it exists could lead to reinstating a lot of the evils it has overcome.

      (Myself, I’m much more a fan of the classical “light enlightenment.” As I would not be ruled, so I would not aspire to rule other men. Freedom, trade, and real science/technology are good, etc.)

      1. If the established parties treat their voters’ legitimate concerns as if they were crackpot, they will do nothing but encourage crackpots.

        1. Yup. See UKIP, the French Front National etc. in Europe all of which seem to be getting serious and removing the really fringe weirdos from their ranks and, as a result, now look like they might win significant amounts of votes/seats etc.

  9. “So as the narrative breaks, as the earth shifts under our feet and the sky comes tumbling down, what are we left with?”

    The north and south really didn’t have any real reason to fight the civil war other than the fact that they were essentially two different cultures that didn’t like each other. Sure there were those in the north that thought slavery was a sin, but on the whole it was just two groups of people with different views of life. And part of that world view was those other people were arrogant, greedy, stupid, … pick your flavor of bad. To this day the north and the south dislike and distrust each other. It doesn’t make sense, but there it is.

    Culture, like boarders or paper money, is nothing more than ideas we all agree to believe. More and more the ideas we hold, the stories we tell each other, the things we hold to be virtues and sins, are fracturing. More and more we have two camps that distrust and dislike each other. Never mind who is right. That argument could fill libraries.

    Truth is, I believe the only reason shots haven’t been fired so far is that there isn’t a clearer, cleaner geographical seperation of the two camps. But my money says it will come, God help us all. The melting pot works when we all eventually melt into the common culture, but when the different parts of the stew refuse to be digested into the body politic we all get sick. Diversity + Time = Conflict. Or as a smarter person than me put it, “A house divided against itself can not stand.”

    1. Don’t be too sure shots haven’t been fired. Waco, Ruby Ridge, various ATF actions, etc. The progs are perfectly willing to see us dead, and because they have control of the government and especially the media they can keep dots from being connected…. so far.

    2. “other than the fact that they were essentially two different cultures that didn’t like each other”

      And what better reason is there, praytell?

      I have posted before on my opinion of the Confederacy, and won’t repeat it. But, let’s face it, if two cultures like each-other’s smell, they will resolve their differences by some kind of trade.

    3. Diversity + Time = Conflict.

      Eh. It’s a concise formula, but I think it’s wrong. And “house divided” doesn’t follow from diversity.

      We’re seeing conflict, assuredly. There are elements agitating for conflict and division so they may accrue power and prestige. The overarching American culture is under attack, likely for the same reasons at base.

      But we’ve never been a homogeneous nation. The 13 colonies were dramatically different enterprises, and things have not trended toward unity since. What we have had is an idea that tied us together, across cultures and history, through disconnected nationalities and old (old) animosities.

      While that idea is being attacked and mocked, while some try to bring it to siege, it is nowhere near dead. Nor, I think, even particularly weakened.

      Millions of people, millions, get up each day and head out to do their thing, surrounded by millions more who are not “of” their (historical) people. They get along, exercise basic courtesies, transact business, break bread together and in close proximity. They do it unconsciously, without tension, they do it unarmed with zero expectation of an old animosity rearing it’s ugly head and cutting them down. They’re just people, out getting through their day, surrounded by a bunch of other people. In this, in being people going about their day and not “IDENTITY” asserting their position, they’re American to the core.

      Americans aren’t alike. We don’t (can’t) point to relics of the past and ages upon ages of history and claim our particular place to the exclusion of those who don’t share it. We’re a hodgepodge, a conglomeration and a gaggle. We already are the diversity some seek so desperately.

      And we casually exercise it everyday.

      War does not automatically follow from a few (very few, really) dissenters stirring tensions. War comes when enough people are willing to walk out their door and slaughter their neighbor for being different. But who are they going to stand back to back with? What greater tribe are they going to gather around them for the pogrom?

      Because I’ll not join their hunt, nor will I stand idly by. And there are more like me than not.

      Despair is easy, and seductive, really. It has its own compelling certainty. But Americans have already weathered blows that would send so many other societies into orgies of violence. We continue to stand in the face of conflict, the agitation of same, the attacks and mockery, the attempts to undermine the American core. Why would we give up now?

      People tend to bring up how much the progs have accomplished over the last 100 years, how much their is to be done to reverse it, how entrenched they are…

      They’ve had a 100 years and this is all they’ve managed??

      *derisive snort*

      Be not afraid. The future is wide open and it’s ours to build.

      1. Eamon, normally, I pretty much agree with you. Here, I don’t agree with what seems to be your premise. The “PL’s” themselves trumpet “how much they’ve done.” “Rev.” Al, JJ, and the rest of them, are quick to “tell us how much they’ve done.” Then, they try to claim “it hasn’t really changed.” What they don’t/can’t realize is that the ones _most_ likely to “believe” them, self select for large Least/Left Coast cities (primarily). Detroit and Chicago, being notable outliers to that. I fear that there is a very real ACWII coming. It will be the “Liberal” Coasts, against the Middle of the country. My biggest fear is that the AR/NBP will try to feed on the chaos, and end up being “put down,” by “vigilantes.” People who won’t ask. “Which side are you really on?” Or, “What religion do you follow?” It will be more along the lines of. “Are you part of the rioting/protesting crowd?” Police Military *must* follow “rules.” Self defense forces, have *much* broader “rules of engagement.”
        For example, police/military, *before* engaging rioters must “read the “riot act.” (Literally saying. “This is an illegal assembly, please disperse.” And, the “giving them time to do so.”) Now, _I_ as a legal citizen, have wider latitude. As long as I give them a “reasonable” time, I can say, to a rioting crowd. (Not in these words necessarily, but loudly enough to prove they could hear me.) “If you cross my property line, without my permission, with intent to injure/kill, I *will* stop you. I am _not_ the police, I don’t have to let you shoot first. Drop the explosive/fire bombs/weapons, or I *will* stop you by any means at my disposal.”
        If weapons/etc. are clearly visible, I _don’t_ have to “fire over their heads.” I can, but probably won’t. I’ll use other means (that I deliberately won’t specify), to _try_ to “disperse” the rioters/attackers. They will be _primarily_ “non-lethal,” but not guaranteed to be so. I’ve been a “back yard Engineer” types since my teens. The gov’t knows _maybe_ 10% of what I know how to do. Half of that, was gained in ways they can find out about. Having “friends” in “low places,” has many benefits. 🙂 So does being *widely* read, on many subjects. Sadly, most of my “ref.” books have been lost in moves, etc. Really lost, as in lost/sold to pay storage fees, etc. That, plus the benefits of a “somewhat misspent” youth. I once opened a car door with a coat hanger, faster than the own could have with his key. (He locked his keys in the ignition, and I offered to open the door for him. 🙂 )

      2. The other thing regarding the US Civil War- the population tended to regarded themselves as a citizen of their state, not of the US as a whole.
        This is not the case today. How many Americans here have lived in multiple states, for instance.
        In general, empires tend to crumble away at the edges.

          1. I moved down here when I was 16 when my Dad was transferred to Houston. The summers are hellish for me, but I really don’t feel like living in any other state.

      3. Eamon J. Cole | December 16, 2014 at 5:35 pm | Reply
        Diversity + Time = Conflict.

        Eh. It’s a concise formula, but I think it’s wrong. And “house divided” doesn’t follow from diversity.


        *pokes at the thing*

        Well, it’s not just diversity, it’s diversity on things that people hold to be important. I mean, we’re not going to have fits over if one’s underwear is cotton or spandex, so long as it’s not shown, so that’s not important.


        “(disagreement on important matters) + Time = Conflict” but I think that’s a bit wrong, too. I think conflict increases with time, and that the disagreement likewise.

        So (Disagreement on important matters) * Time = Conflict * Time.

        Or (Disagreement on important matters) = Conflict.

        1. Yeah, fundamental differences on critical issues — those can fracture a society. Especially without the ameliorating effect of the unifying idea of America.

          1. If I can’t trust you on the Big Stuff– say, “what constitutes a person, legally”– then I have to start looking for secondary identifiers that you don’t disagree with me on somewhat smaller things, such as when it is permissible to take things which do not belong to you.

            (This sounds like a snarky way to say “theft,” but it actually covers a much wider range. Japan has induced a situation where people won’t pick up a credit card or phone even to turn it in; when I left my debit card on an ATM it took two days to get back because the cops couldn’t come to pick it up for several hours after it was noticed. In my cultural group, stuff on the side of the road– usually from falling out of the back of vehicles– with no identifying features or markings can be picked up and kept, although if it’s high value a more active attempt will be made to find the owner.)

            1. Dubai has something of the same situation. So much so that inbriefings specifically note: Do not pick up someone’s wallet, such as to say “Sir, you dropped this.” It’ll be treated as theft and the penalty for theft is draconian.

              Stems from different expectations. The briefing was stressed because Americans are likely to hand something to someone who dropped it.

        2. Foxfier, Eamon,

          Though that formula captures part of why people come into conflict it’s to simple. Conflict is a deep rabbit hole.

          Rory Miller breaks violence (conflict) down using two different models.

          First is the Social and Asocial motivations. Fighting over identity and over resources, and…

          Second is based off Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to build a framework for explaining the different motivations of why people commit violence and come into conflict with those around them.

          Niether are perfect, but that is because the map is never the territory.

          Logic of Violence DVD by Rory Miller (YMAA)

    4. Your assertion that slavery had little to do with the war between the north and south is a fallacy. The South had been threatening to secede over the slavery issue since the Revolutionary War.
      We tell our children in grade school that the war was over slavery. Then in high school, we are taught that many of our “scholars” have come to blame trade tariff’s, class differences and cultural separation for the Civil War.
      But then in college, when I had the chance to read the writing of people who were actually in the war and experienced the culture, I realized that the original supposition was true.
      “part of that world view was those other people were arrogant, greedy, stupid,”
      And yes, the north and south did hate each others culture. But the root of that hatred was slavery. That is made clear in the readings of the people.
      You just have to make sure you read far and wide enough, though writers in the North are more likely to comment on slavery directly.

  10. I’ve begun to believe that there are two sides to every current event–the part that people think is meaningful and important, and then the part that is happening off stage, that really will change the world, but no one knows about it. The best example is Christianity. No one in the first century AD had any idea that a little religious schism in Judea would change the world, and would have mocked the possibility. But it’s not the only example. Look at the Founding Fathers, and what they believed in the mid 1700’s. No one thought they would change the world, they just wanted to improve their local lot in life.

  11. when I was a kid, my Gran was a maven for press on the family. My sis, had been hit by a car and severely injured, so Gran got a reporter to come for an interview. Even after being given the whole story, correct spelling of names, time dates, etc, about the only thing the story got right was my Mom’s first name. Most reporting since way back then (1981) word wide has gotten worse, and that is one stuff that isn’t an attempt to push a view. Add fitting a narrative to it and sheesh, most papers have more fiction and touch reality less than Harry Potter Fan Fic

    1. I haven’t put much faith in reporting since i first noticed that casualty numbers in accidents and such would fluctuate back and forth, and no two sources would have the same numbers.

      1. I find it very usefull to ask myself, of almost any story, “do any people I know of actually act like this?”

        I’m sometimes wrong, but it has kept me from buying a lot of “teenagers are (some bizarre behavior associated with sex or drugs)” stories.

  12. Maybe it has to do with our approach to chaos. We get comfortable and when the sky starts falling we move toward anything or anyone that promises to give us that comfort back. It’s better to realize that comfort isn’t steady state, be aware that chaos can happen at any point and do what you can to prepare for it. But that’s a lot of work.

    1. But isn’t that the way our ancestors approached life? Knowing that change was inevitable, they stored food, saved cash, worked at being self-sufficient, and also watched out for those in their community. It’s basic, but we’ve become so much more advanced in our thinking and our attitudes, and have been taught that fire doesn’t burn and water is not really wet.

      The gods of the copy-book headings are about to reach out and touch a whole bunch of people who thought those gods were long dead.

    2. Actually got to musing on the state of chaos this morning… concluded it doesn’t exist, as far as we can tell.

      Metaphor to explain: organization is light, chaos is its absence.

      Now, we can imagine “absolute lack of order,” but as far as we can tell, there’s no way for there to actually BE no order. Hot and cold might be a better example, since we can get really really really close to absolute zero, but can’t actually reach it. We can picture an area where the elements are not organized at all…but they’re still following rules, organizing principles.

      We talk about chaos like it’s cold– and there’s surely a lot of ways that lack of organization kills people off.


      All of this from having a tie-dye pillow case and a random comment someone made about Loki being a personification of chaos, and thus obviously not someone you wanted to be around. 😀

      1. Minor nitpick: I’m pretty sure thermodynamically it is the other way around:

        High temperatures correspond to broad distributions of particles over available states, higher uncertainty about the state of particles, and more entropy.

        Lower temperatures usually correspond to less entropy, lower disorder. (Though there is another DOF in there for classical gas thermo: s = s(T, another one of the variables)).

        An interesting subtlety: Nature always knows exactly what it is doing. Whatever state it has evolves to a well defined future state (yes, even in quantum physics, after you deal with via decoherence, or otherwise avoid the measurement problem mess.) There is nothing to choose, from the God’s eye perspective, between any given state from the standpoint of it being “ordered” or “disordered”. (The logo for Sandia’s LAMMPS molecular dynamics code is an illustration of this point:)

        When you start talking about lack of information about the state of a system, uncertainty about the micro-state given macroscopic information, etc: It is always due to a limitation in the information on the part of the observer. Entropy is in this sense, subjective. (Though it’s true that for an observer that starts with limited information, he can’t acquire a lower entropy state in one system without losing certainty about something else. (Szilard wrote a paper on this)). ET Jaynes wrote another good one about the subjectivity of entropy.

        Starting with exact information about the state of the system, information is lost either through coarse-graining, or due to an incomplete knowledge of the dynamics or state. (Projecting the true state space to a subset).

        (I’ll have to look up the papers in my pile later if anyone is interested.)

        1. http://lammps.sandia.gov/

          What was my point for all of this? (where was I …) Chaos is, at least in some respects, in the eye of the beholder. The second law of thermodynamics isn’t a fundamental law about nature on the same order as Newton’s laws or electromagnetism or conservation of momentum or energy: it’s a law about our *knowledge* of nature and how that evolves.

        2. I think I get your objection, but I don’t think it applies– one, the heat/order thing is to get a grasp on the difference, and two, lower temps just make it easier for us to KNOW what’s going on– doesn’t actually change if it is organized, in the sense of following rules, just how easy it is to understand from where we’re standing.

          1. It wasn’t entirely meant to be an objection: I was pointing out that our knowledge of the state of a system is the only thing differentiating an ordered from a disordered state. There is no chaos, as you said. A completely chaotic state for a system just means that *we* have no idea which of infinite possible states it can be in.

            (my other post got stuck in limbo due to linking the Sandia website, a well known den of internet iniquity. :-P)
            (link) (link)
            What was my point for all of this? (where was I …) Chaos is, at least in some respects, in the eye of the beholder. The second law of thermodynamics isn’t a fundamental law about nature on the same order as Newton’s laws or electromagnetism or conservation of momentum or energy: it’s a law about our *knowledge* of nature and how that evolves.

        3. “Starting with exact information about the state of the system, information is lost either through coarse-graining, or due to an incomplete knowledge of the dynamics or state. (Projecting the true state space to a subset).”
          And that in a nutshell is my big problem with everyone saying AGW/CC is “Settled Science” and anyone who disagrees isn’t a skeptic but a denier. They’re telling me that the model they have is great and grand but it gives the same results if you put in random noise (if I understand correctly). They’ve made the model so coarse grained, they don’t have complete knowledge of the initial state let alone the dynamics but they want to tell us it works.
          Wasn’t some of the original chaos theory an outgrowth of weather modeling and what happens when you make a small change to the inputs?

          1. *some* of the models predict future warming when fed noise. Some models assume no solar variability beyond known cycles, as well.

  13. I read John Barry’s “The Great Influenza” because another grad student was using it for his US history class. (Very readable book, BTW). The part that curled my hair was not the medical bits (although I’m using some of them in the WWI book) but Wilson’s “Secret Service” and how quickly some people turned informer and internal spy. Yes, there’d been the explosion on Black Tom Island, and German agents in Mexico and other places, but wow. Wilson’s efforts probably increased the flu mortality because of information suppression (even allowing for the fact that without modern antibiotics, treating the pneumonia that followed the flu was pretty much impossible.)

    1. Oh, you’re just touching the tip of the iceberg, there.

      Under Wilson, we had things going on that would have made the Stasi jealous–Try having your neighbors come to your door armed with a search warrant and looking for foodstuffs that you were thought to be “hoarding”, and then confiscating them.

      There are details of that era that were passed down in my family for generations that I’ve never seen anywhere but in our family journals and through oral traditions. The histories only allude to some of the BS that Wilson and his bunch got up to, but when you look at how thoroughly they wiped German culture out of the public’s view, you start to get a hint that Grandmother wasn’t full of it when she told you about living through stuff like the described neighborhood inspections by the busy-bodies.

      I honestly haven’t been able to find a good, solid history of that era that described what I’m talking about with any real honesty. We virtually ran a pogrom against Germans and German culture, and one of the tools they used to get Prohibition passed was the need to “suppress” German beer-garden culture. You can see the signs of it, when you go back and dig for the history of beer and brewery here in the US.

      The worst bastard we ever elected was Wilson, with FDR and Teddy Roosevelt coming in at a close second. Even Obama only dreams of getting away with the crap Wilson did. We had our very own Stasi-level nastiness going on, and we did it all ourselves, with patriotic fervor and full “voluntary” compliance. Only the victims really remember what it actually did.

      1. You’d probably have to ask Celia Hays about why no one remembers the anti-German stuff in WWI, but I wager that a teeny bit of the memory loss came from WWII, where “German as evil” was so strong that no one dared to mention their uncle who got beat up in 1917 because of his accent and his fondness for home-style sauerkraut. Ethnic Germans could not claim victimhood, even though they’d been the victims, so people shunted the stories away.

        1. Robert Paul Praegar, pulled out of a jail cell and lynched, because you know, he had a German accent and someone said he had maligned the US, even though he kept screaming he was naturalized, and had already been subjected to walking barefoot for miles and kissing the flag. His killers went free.
          So. Lynching in America only ever happened to black men, right? (It only hurts when I laugh.)

            1. Go back to the 1810’s and you have the brutal beating of Harry Lee by Democratic partisans who didn’t like what Lee’s friend was publishing. It does seem to be a pattern.

          1. Why do you think it was so easy to prosecute Richard Hauptmann for the Lindbergh Baby kidnapping?

            It was all too easy to believe that a German, a man who’d been one of those nasty machine-gunners in the war, was likely capable of doing something like that. Given the paucity of the evidence, and the questionable manner in which it was found, one almost starts to think he was actually convicted and executed for having been a German soldier.

            Of course, we’ll never know. I still think that whole thing had to have been an inside job, at least to some extent, and since they never found the insider, you’re left with the question of “How did Hauptmann even know the Lindbergh’s were going to be there with the baby, or which room it would be in, that particular night?”. The New Jersey cops have always been a bit on the corrupt side, and I think the pressure they were under led to what may have been a horrible miscarriage of justice.

            Lots and lots of ethnic and nationalist animosity going back to those days, which we wouldn’t even credit as being possible, today. Nobody remembers that Southern Europeans and Slavs were once as looked-down upon as the Irish or blacks, either.

        2. The thing was, it wasn’t just the Germans who got it in the neck. My maternal line had some issues with the Wilson-empowered neighborhood busybodies who were jealous of the hard work and effort that earned them prizes at the local fairs and so forth. Which led to the knocks on the door in the night, accusations of “hoarding”, followed by confiscations that coincidentally prevented them from canning the prize-winning preserves and so-forth that the busybodies were jealous of. It’s kind of hard to do any canning when all your carefully accumulated sugar has been taken away and “fairly distributed” among the jealous bitches you lived near. Family of ours went hungry during the winters of 1917 through 1919 due to this.

          What’s really stunning is how fast it all moved, and how thoroughly it has all been forgotten. It’s just like FDR confiscating the gold bullion from everyone–Today, you tell someone that, and they not only don’t grasp the import of him doing that, they can’t believe that he did it. In today’s terms, it would be as if Obama nationalized everyone’s 401k plans, in terms of the dislocation of the economy. My grandparents had had thousands of dollars in gold and silver certificates that they had to turn in, and you just don’t know what a huge deal that was unless you’re familiar with the period.

          There was animosity stemming from the kind of thing going on during Wilson’s administration that lasted until the 1950s, when my mom was a kid. It was why they were all staunch Republicans, along with the abolitionist traditions they still had. You heard the stories, you knew the people you weren’t supposed to associate with, but the entire context wasn’t there. The political tie-ins were horrifying–Part of the reason they were targeted was that they were Republicans living in a Democrat neighborhood, and the Democratic party apparatus was used to build these networks of informers and inspectors. The crew that confiscated all that food? Worked out of the local Democrat precinct headquarters, and was run by the local party members. For the local party members–The confiscated food all wound up in the hands of the Democrats, oddly enough, even though they were far better off than my family was, financially.

          Hell, I only connected the dots when I was in my thirties and doing some reading about the whole anti-German thing during that period. At first, I was like “Oh, my God… Not in America, surely…?”.

          After enough time back in the stacks, and by digging through some family records, I was forced to recognize that, yes, that happened in America. It wasn’t on the level of death camps, but it was well on the road heading there. There’s a reason I’m not so sanguine about something like the Nazis taking control, here–The only real difference between us and the Germans is that instead of national glory, we’re going to do it in the name of “doing right by our neighbors…”.

          I do have to qualify some of this–A great deal of it stems from stuff that was only alluded to, and from my reading between the lines. It wasn’t until I found all this stuff that I realized the sourcing of my Grandmother’s animosity towards the Democrats and Roosevelt.

          Kinda funny how it’s all forgotten, and not taught in schools, isn’t it?

          1. Oh, and one other thing with the gold confiscations? Most people don’t realize this, but they were going into banks and drilling safety deposit boxes, merely on suspicion. And, if you turned someone in for having either bullion or the gold- and silver-backed bank notes, you got a cut.

            And, again, oddly enough, the f**king Democrats were right there in the middle of it–Family members on my Grandfather’s side fell foul of that, only thing was, the gold had already been spent trying to keep the employees of the family lumber mill paid and fed. They were turned in by Democrat employees who were certain that there was money to be had, there. Same-same deal as under Wilson, too–The local Democrat politicians were involved, and set up under the local party offices.

            It was truly an amazing era, that nearly everyone has forgotten. Mostly because, and here’s another “odd little coincidence”, the predominantly Democrat-leaning academics that teach history have shoved everything down the memory hole.

            Gee, what a coinky-dink, huh?

            Ever wonder why your “staunch Republican” grandparents and great-grandparents hated the Democrats the way they did? Guess what… There were damn good reasons. Ones which have mostly been smoothed over during the good times of the last few generations, but this Democrat proclivity for theft isn’t anything new. It really is a wonder that there wasn’t outright revolution during either period, but as always, the Republicans earned their reputation as being the “Stupid Party” because they put the greater good ahead of personal benefit, and didn’t start trouble. Which is how we got where we are today, if you think back over the last six-eight years. The upper echelons of the Republicans and society in general are always good for fleecing the middle class, so long as they’re kept insulated from what’s happening, and that pretty much recapitulates the last few years, doesn’t it?

            A pox on all their houses.

            1. If it can be blamed on Republicans or Conservatives, it’s remembered. Otherwise, it is conveniently forgotten. And let’s not forget the things that are straight up lies, like how the Republicans were the party of Jim Crow and all about defeating civil rights. After all, a Democratic president signed the bill, so the Democrats who fought it tooth and nail took credit for it in the end.

          2. In today’s terms, it would be as if Obama nationalized everyone’s 401k plans, in terms of the dislocation of the economy.

            I think they’re headed for this.

            Part of why we’re scrambling is because it was decreed that my husband must put a set amount into his TSP. We’d already been using it, but not to that degree, and it’s not like we suddenly got more income from somewhere else while prices are going up.

            I keep flipping back and forth between it being more likely for the various 401 types, or the old bonds like my grandma use to buy for Christmas. That one seems more likely in terms of “oh, more than two years past maturity, we’ll keep the money” is subtle, but it doesn’t make for a very big chunk relative to the easily ten thousand that a random kid in the military compiles in just one 4 year term.

            1. If they do try something like that, I’m fairly certain that it will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

              Couple of acquaintances/potential clients of ours were talking about just this very point–One of them is a died-in-the-wool Boeing admin Democrat, and the other is a self-employed Republican. The idea came up, the Democrat went “Pshaw. They’re not talking about that, for real… That’s Republican scare-mongering…”.

              The Republican half of the conversation pulled up a site, immediately, showing where the Democrat think-tanks were talking about just this scenario, and some others that showed party leadership endorsing the concept, saying “But, of course, we can’t do that…”.

              To solidify his point, he also pulled up Obama talking about how he couldn’t legally grant amnesty, and…

              Well, I think you can do the math. The Democrat in this discussion blanched, swallowed hard, and said something to the effect that if “…those f**kers pull something like that, you won’t need to start a revolution–I’ll be doing that my damn self…”.

              God, I love modern technology. It’s made political arguments so much more… Fun. You can pull up, anywhere, irrefutable evidence that the other party is either mistaken, or seriously stupid. And, you don’t have to imagine their faces when the facts catch up to them–You can rub their little noses in it, right then and there, and watch realization dawn in real time. Great fun, even if it does cut down on your social invitations.

              1. Part of why we think it’s coming is that even when I was in the Navy, I never put any in that I couldn’t afford to lose. I do not trust the system to make for a good retirement, even if it’s just “don’t screw up too big in the stock market.”

                When they started requiring contributions, though….

        3. My mother was a little girl during WW I. She lived in a German Catholic community, St. Florian, Alabama. She was force taught English, when she was in the first grade. She claimed that she could not remember German at all (but when we would watch a WWII film, she could always translate what the German soldiers were saying.) She told me of an incident when the KKK tarred and feathered and old watchmaker and made him walk down the middle of town in front of everybody.
          Our surname is German, but my dad insisted that we were Irish. It wasn’t until I was around 30 years old, that I found out the truth.

          1. Amazing, isn’t it, how all the other victims of this stuff are forgotten? And the cherished victim classes of today are the only ones whose memories are enshrined in the history books, but with the wrong perpetrators.

            The Democrats have a lot to answer for, over the generations. However, the Republicans have just as much, because the Democrats could only have gotten away with this crap with their participation and connivance–Which, I have to admit, was mostly done in the name of civil amity. After a point, however, you quit forgiving this kind of BS from both parties.

            I so badly want something else to replace this culture of corruption, but not enough of us are awake and aware of what’s been going on. They got control of the history books, and that was all she wrote.


            1. It’s hard to blame the Republicans where they had little or influence. As in the deep south. Also the Republicans seem to have lost the fire after winning the Civil War. It’s hard to see that liberty had any friends during the Progressive era. Even the elite from New England were going over to Germany and fainting at the Great things Bismark was doing. I wonder just how much of Wilson overreaction was due to the Progressives feeling betrayed by their heroes over the in Germany.

              1. If they’d just spoken up, despite the lack of power, I could forgive them for failing to counter the slide into despotism. But, they didn’t, by and large. Most of the bad things that have happened to liberty down the years have had Republican co-sponsorship, so the best you can say for them is that they held Liberty’s head and murmured sweet solace while the Democrats raped her.

                That ain’t enough to earn either my forbearance or my forgiveness. I may not be up for hanging them, but I’ll damn sure exclude them from governance ever again. Just look at the latest fiasco–They win the mid-terms in one of the biggest turn-overs in Congressional history, and we’re right back to the same-old, same-old, rendering verbal fellatio to the Democrats while facilitating their defeated opponents agenda. Tell me, what was the point of electing them, again?

                I don’t want a tap on the brake stopping the train we’re on, I want a full-scale lock-up-the-wheels and put out the boiler stop. And, I don’t see them doing that–The real problem in Washington DC isn’t in the parties, it’s in the permanent entitled interests that have taken over both parties. Boehner is about as bad as Reid–All he’s got on offer is a slightly slower, somewhat gentler rape of our liberties. I don’t want a rape, at all.

                1. In the Republicans case I get the feeling that they did speak up, when they heard about things, but it’s sort of a case of if a tree falls in the forest, and the media doesn’t report it, did the tree fall. It’s hard to speak up If you have been effectively silenced. Read Amity Schlae’s The Forgotten Man. Wilson and FDR JAILED dissenting voices on trumped up IRS charges. As for Boehner, I get the feeling that he’s sort of between a rock and a hard place right now. Lets be honest, the Democrats still control the senate for the moment and you know how much of a baby Obama is. He would shutdown the government at the least excuse. For which the media would blame the Republicans and run unending pieces on how those nasty Republicans put all those government workers out work over Christmas. Sometimes you have to eat crow and take the sucky deal when the consequences of no deal are worse.

                  1. YES. This. With Romney everyone kept saying ‘why is he nowhere to be seen?” Well, I’m not going to say he was the best thing around, but he WAS campaigning EVERY DAY. The media just ignored him.

                  2. Exactly.

                    It’s not like actually having the bill did the House any good the last several times– if Reid doesn’t actually get reported as having it, nothing happens.

                    Last shutdown, I had to be subtle and flip a loudmouth’s public complaints about “the Republicans” shutting down the gov’t, by acting like she’d just gotten confused about which party Harry Reid was in and what part of Congress they controlled. (For a miracle, it worked. Maybe she really *didn’t* know, or maybe just realized I’m a geek who would expose her ignorance, either way she stopped dumping on the evil rethuglicans.)

          2. I really love it when people tell me that the Catholics are the real Know-Nothings. They will cheerily ignore that the Klan targeted Catholics and Jews, but the Know-Nothing line is incredible.

        4. Hi, TXRed – I had read somewhere or other, that the last white man lynched by the KKK in Texas was an ethnic German in 1917-1918 or so, but I have never been able to find the specifics on it.

          A lot of the anti-German feeling from WWI was – I think – brought on by things that the wartime German government actually did and which were reported lavishly in the newspapers. The Zimmerman Telegram was just the most egregious, but there were large and swell-established German communities, all over the US, who did cleave together in business and cultural pursuits, and some elements among them did throw their loyalties to Wilhelmine Germany (and a diminishing number later) to Nazi Germany. The Americanized Germans were rather innocent, in this respect; they had a sentimental attachment to the country they had come from, but not much notion of how much Germany had changed since they had emigrated. I have met with quite a few of the older German-Texan generation who recalled how their families made a decision in and around the early 1920s to speak English at home, so that their children would be English-fluent. It had not been necessary until then.

          I also think – based on nothing more than my own reading and sense of logic – that some of this was based on memories of the Civil War, when many of the local Germans were Unionists and abolitionists in a Confederate state. Once burned, twice wary, as the saying goes.

      2. Mencken suffered a good deal from this. He had the bad taste to say that if we HAD to choose a side in WWI it should be the Germans. NOT popular.

        It was the reason it took him so long to realize that Hitler actually WAS doing everything that the Kaiser had been accused of doing.

    2. A must read book is Thomas Fleming Illusion of Victory – many stories of the tyranny of the Wilson administration

      There is a reason that the election of 1920 – and the defeat of Cox / FDR – was a very key point in history.

  14. “I think it would drive Toni nuts”
    But Sarah, you make that sound like it’s a bad thing.
    I thought it was an implied given for anyone joining the Baen author stable.

  15. The problem is this: what do you do when the masquerade falls down. It’s falling down and it will continue. It has to, because you know, the only way a masquerade can be kept is with full control over everything the masses see and hear. … OTOH the computer revolution where the techies went to play instead, will cost them control of all of us except the willingly enslaved.

    Hence the push for “Net Neutrality” getting the whole of the internet regulated under Title II.

    And yes, I’m for a “free” and “open” internet. Giving a government, *ANY* government regulatory authority over it is *not* going to keep it free or open.

    1. I agree that if the government gets control, we are in big trouble. However, we may also be in trouble because the cable companies and telephone companies are greedy and may start cutting deals with some of the big content providers. We are screwed either way. Wish I had an answer.

      1. NO. There has never in history been a monopoly unless the government caused it. EVER. There are temporary monopolies, but if the cable/telephone companies do that, someone will undermine them. That’s why I’m not scared of Amazon.

        1. Well, sort of. The cost of entrance to provide local service is so large that no one, except Google in a very few places, has been willing to build out the infrastructure required.

          1. For something like Amazon, ebooks? Oh, hell no. If I had a couple hundred thousand or my husband had three more retired friends, we could do it. The other ebook stores aren’t even TRYING.

            1. Baen Webscriptions seems to be doing just fine right there along side Amazon. Sure there was an initial investment and a few growing pains, but the only reason the bigs have never truly followed suit is their own butt headed stubbornness.
              As for monopolies, let us examine the phrase “crony capitalism.” The active part it crony. Capitalism is just a disguise they throw on to fool the unaware. Funny how so many that became successful in a free and open market seem to have to demand “protections” that in effect kill that very market with rules and regulations intended to keep them that has on top. Whether you call it crony capitalism or monopoly depends entirely on just who is cutting deals with whom.

              1. I’ve been buying ebooks from Baen longer than I have from Amazon… and when its a Baen book, I still get it from Baen

        2. There have been a few near-monopolies (at least domestically) that persisted for quite some time. Alcoa and Standard Oil didn’t reach 100% of the domestic market, but they effectively cornered their respective industries, until Standard Oil was broken up by the federal government and effective competitors to Alcoa appeared after post-WW2 demobilization. Of course, while Standard Oil was a monopoly its prices were actually lower than those its successors charged. I don’t think government action was really justified in the Standard Oil case, and just to spite the government the Alcoa monopoly ended via market action during the decade or so the case worked its way through the courts.

  16. For many years now I’ve said that the media loathes the Internet not because of the reduced market share, but because it destroyed their monopoly on the gatekeeper role, and thus their self-appointed position as “sole purveyors of truth” — but not totally.

    Fred Reed, whose writings and rumblings are strong medicine for those who can take it straight, recently wrote, “We have all heard Lincoln’s dictum, “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.” Being a pol, he didn’t add the crucial, “But you can fool enough of the people enough of the time.” Here is the secret. You don’t need to ban unwelcome books, because the only people who read them already agree with them. You don’t need to kick in doors at three in the morning to seize forbidden typewriters. People might revolt against that sort of thing. Just keep prohibited topics off the networks and out of the papers. It is enough.”

    You can read the whole thing here: http://www.fredoneverything.net/TwoTiers.shtml and he does have a point. I think, to a certain extent, it’s the same point you are making. There are those of us who are awake, who have blown off the myth and masquerade, and who are outside struggling with reality, but there is also a vast herd of blissfully unawakened sheeple who still get all their “new” and “entertainment” from elite-approved sources, and what’s more they prefer it that way. They have no desire to wake up, and resent people who try to draw them from their comfortable cocoons. SJWs are the self-appointed straw boss sheep herders.

  17. Let’s not forget the biggest narrative fail of 2014: the revelation that there really *were* WMDs in Iraq, deflating one of the antiwar movement’s most successful memes.

    1. It wasn’t entirely a narrative fail, since they could still Blame Bush for it.

      (I do wonder how they can do that without their heads exploding, but that’s a different question.)

    2. Actually I haven’t seen it deflating that meme all that much, it doesn’t seem to bother the current left much to continue spouting a proven lie.

  18. ‘The problem with leaving the cocoon is that you don’t know the boundaries outside it. You start questioning everything. Everything you’ve ever known proves to be a lie, that means you known nothing, like a babe unborn.”

    In L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Rachel Griffin series, in the second book, Rachel is annoyed with someone for not learning things. He retorts that he has just learned all he knew before was a lie — why learn things that might also turn out to be lies?

    1. Reboot and start over. Take what you know and fit the facts to the new data. Change the way you look at the world as necessary. And remember that what you think you know may be BS, or not, but always test.

  19. Sarah,

    This post reminded me of this lecture/speech by Murray Rothbard, and I thought you might find it interesting?

    Murray Rothbard: Six Stages of the Libertarian Movement


  20. Nice homage to Carol King by the way.
    I felt the earth move under my feet.
    Been humming that little ditty all day now.

  21. Turning things over a bit… how blessed AMAZING is it that we have such a…. solid sort of notion of “how things are” that we can even talk about “everything” being wrong, and take it as a mind-breaking thing?

    I’ve been mistaken a lot. Sometimes on big things. (Example: “teachers know what the bleep they’re talking about.” Ooooh boy, did I ever make that mistake, and some cousins to it!)

    There’s a reason that I’ve got such a constant drum-beat about folks having been given bad information with no chance to verify, or that the person they trusted should’ve verified and didn’t, or move it back a few measures. (Recent example: apparently John McCain’s comment about water boarding being torture is based on him believing it is the same as the WWII torture called the water treatment where the target is repeatedly drowned and the water gotten out. Washington Post had citations, IIRC, liked it over at Mr. Wright’s blog.)

    Sometimes what we know is just not accurate enough, and bad guesses come from that. That’s pretty much the entire history of science, there, if you add the next step of “so you try to figure out what WOULD work for what we actually see.”

    Maybe it’s because I’m an observant cradle-Catholic, from a conservative household, never divorced, etc…but I don’t really see the world-breaking aspect of “what I knew was wrong.” I’ve never had something that could even come CLOSE to “everything” being wrong all at one time. There were some shocks, they were more adjustments than actual “it’s all wrong!”

    The funny thing is, from the way stories are told I feel like I should apologize for having gotten stuff right enough the first time, having a coherent enough world-view, that I didn’t suffer any world-breaking events…..

  22. “because if you think that we’re in perilous authoritarian government times, you mustn’t know much about Woodrow Wilson.”

    What I do know I learned on my own, I certainly wasn’t taught anything about him in school. They skipped straight from Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War to FDR and WWII. About the only thing taught about WWI in school was, they thought it was big and called it “The War to End All Wars” and then WWII came along; let me tell you about WWII.

    “I’m starting to believe he was right and it’s not just Time: it’s all of the MSM, all the learned monographs, all the education system.”

    If you are just starting to believe that, you really are a trusting soul. I believed that by about the time I entered High School. But then I had Heinlein’s perspective myself, everything I KNEW about that was reported in the news, the News lied about; so I assumed it lied about those things I didn’t know the truth about personally. And I was told this repeatedly by my parents, now kids don’t always believe everything their parents tell them, but when their real life experiences align with their parents beliefs; they tend to give more credence to them than to people (like public schoolteachers) who espouse known falsehoods.

    1. Well, my college History teacher must have certainly not been enamored of Wilson, though he didn’t cover much domestic stuff for WWI (that I remember). But I figure if he had been, he would certainly have slanted his coverage of it so that it would not seem like entering the war on the side of Germany would have been a better idea.

      1. Germans were and still are the largest ethnic group in the US. A large portion of that communities sympathies laid with Germany. Even then most thought that the old world conflict was none of our business.

        Woodrow Wilson won arguable on his promise to keep us out of it. Then went back on that and then had to crack down on those who then spoke out. Under Wilson:


        Those ethnic communities that Sarah mentioned holding themselves apart were a lot of them German. Think Amish and Mennonite; which are some of the last holdouts; today.

        It took a concerted effort to build a National Identity that up until then there was none. Up until then we truly were a nation of individuals and individual groups

        1. Was I unclear above (not unusual – I am unclear a lot)? I can’t see how what you said in response is relevant, unless you misunderstood what I meant.

          To expand, and try to be more specific: When my college History teacher covered World War I, he presented a very un-slanted view of events. Essentially, he presented what appeared to be an unbiased report on the events and tensions leading up to the war. Due to this coverage of the time, I came away with the feeling that we should have stayed out of the war altogether, because there was really no definite side we should have been supporting, and, in fact, that if we got into it anyway, we should have supported Germany.

          Because of what I have learned here about the things the Wilson administration did at that time, I take that as an indication that my History teacher was not a Wilson-lover.

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