The Light and The Darkness

As you know I’m working really hard to finish Through Fire, interrupted by some health stuff which is getting me down. So the world’s most awesome husband took me away from the keyboard yesterday night and on a date to the Denver zoo, to see the Christmas lights.

It was just starting to snow, as we approached and we were afraid we’d get frozen but it was surprisingly mild the entire time we were there, and the lights were awesome.

We’d gone once with the kids, when they were little, and the lights were mostly stationary, but now there are a number of moving light shows, and also stuff like oriental lanterns in the elephant area.

Because we went relatively late (had an appointment that let out at six thirty, so no choice there) and because it was starting to get nippy, we weren’t as mobbed with kids as you’d expect. At the end, we might have turned around and gone again, except there was a light drizzle of snow falling. So we adjourned to Pete’s kitchen, where we sat at the window, watching the snow paint patterns in the window and the wind shake the lights outside, while we sat inside all snuggly and warm.

Did I have a point to this, other than bragging about my husband?

When I was a very little girl, I thought the holidays were magical. You see, they used to outline the little medieval church tower in white lights. In a village where streetlights were few and far between and most of the houses not only had only one lightbulb per room (usually naked, in the middle of the room and like 40 watts, no matter how large the room,) but everyone also kept an oil lamp or candles, because the light was off as much as it was on, the lights outlining the tower in the dark (glimpsed from my window late at night) was a miracle.

Fireworks were miracles too, particularly the more complex ones that made pictures.

And of course, festas in summer were a thing of beauty, because of all the light and sound. In retrospect, these were rather pokey ambulatory festivals, mostly booths selling crafts (only these weren’t cool crafts, just most of the stuff around there and then was hand made.) And there were maybe three rides, one of them the obligatory tethered airplanes and the other probably bumper cars, leaving the third to either a roller coaster or a carousel.

Why am I going on about this, just now?

Because in the middle of that amazing light show it occurred to me “as bad as things are…” As in, back then, my little self would have thought that lighted zoo a wonderland out of dreams.

My kids, of course, take it for granted.

But there is a difference between taking it for granted and imagining that, somehow, strangely, the past, with its privations, the past without any of these marvels, was a wonderland.

I’m not going to say my childhood was awful. In many ways, it was a magical place. But it was a magical place despite the privations and the lack of entertainment.

I was blessed with a father who would walk with me through the local fields and woods and not only show me the local fauna and flora (and tell me stories about it) but also read the inscriptions in Roman ruins we stumbled upon. I had a father who in the summer would walk me to the nearest pond to see the fireflies over it, and who taught me to make a pan flute out of reeds. (And who would also take me on an expedition to feed and observe the ants in a massive anthill down by the fields. And always, always, be ready with history or legend, or poem to illustrate something. And I was blessed with a grandmother (dad’s mom) who made up stories for me involving an alternate of the village populated with shape shifters and magical beings.

Add to that a brother and a cousin who were willing to let me tag along with them on their expeditions and who tolerated my thievery of their books, and it was a very good childhood.

What it was lacking was more on the material front: non-scratchy clothes, heated rooms (and bathrooms!) in winter, medicine that wouldn’t be available for decades and – well… entertainment.

Look, I’m a very boring sort of person. Even now, my favorite entertainment is reading. Surrounded by games and movies, I choose books.

But back then even the books were limited. Not only couldn’t we afford them that often, but fewer were printed than here, so the choice was far more limited.

Of course we read everything – I read history and mystery and romance (and when my brother found it SF) because I read everything everyone in the family bought.

Even the newspapers’ serializations of old books ended up clipped out and kept to re-read later.

I don’t think any kid born here and now understands that re-reading wasn’t a choice. You re-read because you simply couldn’t find enough to read.

That today I can research anything – I was just looking up hot buttered rum (shut up) – by typing a sentence on the net, would be enough to make me think this was paradise when I was a kid.

And this is why all the programs of the progressives have been outstripped. They had plans and ideas to bring about equality in 1930s terms. One stack-a-prole apartment, one ration of chicken a week, two suits of clothing a year: EQUALITY.

Instead, we have people living wildly divergent lives in the way they want to live them, and all these people can do is bleat about class and equality.

How do you determine class when, even if I were twice as rich, my life wouldn’t be much different day to day? I’d still live in a house that’s warmed in winter and cooled in summer; I’d still have light and music for the asking (I remember my brother’s transistor radio being a seven day wonder in the village.) I’d still have a computer and be able to read a vast amount of things for free. (And write with minimal effort.)

How do you determine equality when how happy and contented people are has a lot to do with what they choose to do with this immense common patrimony of science and abundance we have?

How can you even insist on equality?

In the end all their bleating is revealed for what it is: a plea for power. They want to control who gets the light, and who is shunted off into the dark.

Well, they’re going to have to think again.

We won’t go quietly into that good night. We’ll stay here and bask in moving pictures made of light.

They like the past so well, they can start their own self-restricted communities. We can always use more Amish at least for the cheese.

As for me, and my house, we’re going to go see Interstellar again tomorrow. We might even go do it in Imax. Because we can.

359 responses to “The Light and The Darkness

  1. Yes, when I was a child I lived in a house where the heating was provided by a stove in the living room and circulated heat by holes in the top of the walls. But I could go play in the park by myself without an adult, and sci-fi books were 35 cents a piece. A lot of them had stories.

  2. 🙂

  3. When I was a teenager, we used a woodstove and a box fan blowing across it to circulate heat, and only turned on the electric heat in emergencies… and this was the late 80s.

    • My grandparents built their “retirement” home at the farm and deliberately heated it this way: Metal fireplace insert with air circulated by fan. Works just fine in south Arkansas. I know because I helped them salvage the brick from the fireplace at their parents’ former home that they used to build it.

    • My house (I built ten years ago, or at least started, it still isn’t finished) is heated by a woodstove. I personally would never live in a place without one, because NOTHING heats like a wood fire; when you have been out all day and come in wet and half frozen, nothing will heat you to the core like cozying up by a fire. I’ve got gas heat as a backup, for when I’m gone in the winter, but that is all it is used for, to keep the house warm and the pipes from freezing when I am gone a few days.

  4. My 97 year old grandmother — her family brought her to Texas from Arkansas as a baby. In a covered wagon. The things she’s seen in her life…

    The scope of our modern world, it is so far beyond imagination.

    That some think they should control it, direct it — well, that doesn’t really surprise me. They’ve always been among us.

    That some think they can? ‘Tis when I know they’re assumptions have overwhelmed their faculty.

    Enjoy the celebration of wonder and possibility tomorrow. We’ll keep the lights on for ya.

    😉

    • butbut… how do you expect things to ‘progress’ unless they are controlled??? you can’t have progress without someone being in charge, otherwise its just a bunch of people doing their own thing and moving in random directions!

      • There is very little that is truly random. Gratuitous B5 quote: the truth points to itself.

        My addendum: history does what it does, their attempts to direct it are as futile as the Korean King who commanded the tide not to come in. They can try and shape their part of the shore, but the tide does what it does. They don’t like to admit that no mortal hand can direct it, nor that their hands are as mortal as any.

        • Korean? and he meant it go back?

          the only one I’ve heard of is King Canute, who was the king of Denmark and England, and whose purpose was to drive home to his courtiers that he was more aware of the limits of his powers than they were.

          • The Korean tale was the other way around as I recall it. The King had drunk a little too much of that era’s kool-aid and set out to prove his power to his courtiers and advisors, and had to be rescued (and became a better and more humble King thereafter.)

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          IIRC it was a Anglo-Saxon King who tried that and some versions have it that he knew he couldn’t stop the tide but certain idiots in his court talked as if he could. IE he was willing to get wet to teach those idiots a lesson. [Smile]

          • William O. B'Livion

            So how do we know he didn’t throw the test just to prove a point?

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Because being able to control the tide would be so useful for a king. [Evil Grin]

              • William O. B'Livion

                Back in the days of sailing ships it would be VERY VERY useful.

                • However these days it’s just about the lamest super-power ever.

                  • It’s Squirrel Girl type power.

                    Situationly insanely useful and powerful, but needs serious imagination for most uses.

                    (For example, I’d TOTALLY take that super power– then move to Japan. And be insanely rich as I stop tsunamis with a word.)

                    • BTW, Squirrel Girl is getting her own comic starting in January.

                    • Would be more awesome if comics hadn’t burned, razed, salted and converted to a urinal dumping ground all the awesome they previously had…..

                      They’ll have to do a LOT of work before I’ll consider wasting my time with their output–but thank you for the update. (how else will I find out that they’ve improved things?)

                    • Rent some of that control on the side to help maximize the tidal power generation.

      • Yes. And ain’t it glorious?

      • Oh, so sorry. I’ve been indoctrinated in the cult of the individual. Hard as I try, those chaotic ideas just keep creeping back in…

    • That some think they should control it, direct it — well, that doesn’t really surprise me. They’ve always been among us.

      That some think they can? ‘Tis when I know they’re assumptions have overwhelmed their faculty.

      YES.

  5. either WP or my stupid FF ate my last post so I will force this portion of it into here … dammit!
    Whenever I hear someone mention not going quietly or gently into the night, I hear Rodney in my head:

    I love his interpretation of the meaning at the end.

  6. Those who wish to push us into darkness are reminded to look at the ending of “Nightfall” (the novella, not the novel). We can always MAKE light.

  7. We live just a few minutes away from the local zoo and have annual memberships so entry is free. My 5yr. old son can see Giraffes and Rhinos and Elephants and Zebras anytime he wants… but COWS, that is an exotic animal we have to stop the car so he can catch a glimpse of in the fields.

    Whatever you’re used to, the other thing is exotic.

    • Heh. We drive by cows almost every day, but yeah, seeing a fox from the road around here is a rare and wondrous occasion.

      OK, yeah, I know farmers aren’t that fond of foxes, but still.

      • I’ve seen two foxes (or one twice) in my current neighborhood. Oddly enough, the only wild foxes I’ve ever seen.

        • I’ve seen racoons, a litter of them, cute as little bugs, coming out of a sewer drain…

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Then there was the possum that my Beagle Lilly “killed” in the back yard. [Wink]

          • Pesky raccoons are very good city dwellers. Coyotes are getting there, and some mountain lions are rather too adept at it. Deer are moving in as well in many places. Haven’t seen any bears rooting through bar dumpsters though.

            • Ah. That was based on a real life event. We used to live on West Colorado Avenue in CO springs, and at one time they tranqued a bear ALMOST in our backyard. He’d been rooting through bar dumpsters and was durnker than… a very drunk bear.

            • Here in town deer will just stand there on the sidewalk and stare at you like, what are you doing on their turf? Until November First, start of deer season. *poof* Then they’re freaking antlered ninja.

            • The deer around here eat my mother’s garden. They are practically tame.

              • My uncle has had major damage done to his garden by the hooved rats.

                • There is a reason my garden and all of my fruit trees are fenced. Facetiously I say that I would rather eat venison than green beans, and it is true, but still like a side dish of ‘rabbit food’ to go along with my venison, on occasion.

                  • Nothing better than, IMO, gas heat for warming up the whole house. The woodstove always left one end of the house sweltering and the other end tolerable, under optimal conditions… sub-optimal was one end of the house barely warm and the opposite end… well, you could see your breath. In the house.
                    And everyone had their choice: privacy, or stay warm.

                    • whoa wrong section

                    • I’d blame WordPress if I was you; everybody else does. 🙂

                      Gas heat is far superior to electric (and works when the power is out as long as you don’t buy one of those newfangled furnaces that needs electricity to work).

                      We’ll have to agree to disagree on wood heat, however, I won’t live in house where wood isn’t the primary heat source.

                • My granddad also had major damage done to his garden.

                  Did you know that in Arkansas vegetable gardens are considered “crops” and deer destroying crops are always in season and no limit?

                  When he got over 80 and was tired of chasing them, he planted his garden at the farm so that sitting in his recliner with a 12 gauge loaded with slugs gave him a perfect field of fire out the front door….. 😎

                  He got at least 6 that we know about….

                  My life ambition is to age half as well as he did.

            • We used to live about a half-hour south of San Jose, CA, on Highway 101, in a bedroom community of about 40,000. I’ve seen in and around residential parts of town: Coyote, bobcat, mountain lion (three of them, next to a local elementary school), raccoon, possum, wild pigs, deer, pronghorn (female and fawn one winter, across the freeway on the hillside; likely just visiting over the hills from the Central Valley), turkey, golden and bald eagles, red fox, and once a ringtail cat along the creek south of town. There were occasionally bear tracks and droppings, but I never saw one of them in the fur. Well, except for one on the side of the highway, post impact; thought it was about the biggest dog I’d ever seen until I got closer to it.

              The various critters are more adaptable than most people think, and it’s worse because most people don’t see much of what’s around them. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s out here in the sticks.

          • There are coyotes in my neighborhood and a bobcat was seen.

          • William O. B'Livion

            That used to happen regularly in my home town–in the down town area.

            There were trashcans right above some of the storm drains…

        • Here I see them now almost weekly. Probably because I’m up nights. Also deers, usually whitetails, sometimes roe deers (the whitetail was imported here about a 100 years ago, and they have become common during my lifetime) and hares. Sometimes, rarely, elks, they usually don’t come that close to people, although I once nearly hit one right next to one of our local big supermarkets, a bit on the outskirts of this city but not that much. Young elks wander around a lot right after the cows drive the nearly grown calves away. So there I was, a bit on the outskirts but still in the city, driving along three in the morning, and not just one, but two elks ran across the street right in front of me and I panic brake… stopped just barely in time to avoid the second one (both smallish, so probably twin calves who had recently been driven away by mom). Called the emergency number because having them in the city is dangerous, and was shaken enough that it took a while before I remembered the name of the street I was on. Embarrassing. 😀

          • There are areas near me where the whitetails are nearly like the rabbits in Australia. Between my house and my job I regularly see 10-15 per year killed in or next to the road, and that’s just the ones that are unable to make it away from the road before they die.

            There are two bucks who romp through the yard at my father’s house, and if I could be sure of getting one to go down quickly, one of them would wind up in my freezer.

            • Biggest whitetail buck I ever got, I shot from my bedroom window. I’ve got three other deer from that window, and my dad has gotten at least three from it also (I have a shooting bench set up at it, 🙂 ) and last year my mom shot an elk while standing on my sidewalk.

              • I am sorry, but where was the elk?

                The Spouse says that English is a lovely language, but a bit of inflection and declention might help at times… 😉

          • Note for the curious: European elk are what we Yankees call moose. Our elk is not known in Europe.

        • We got a fox in the parking lot at my old job once. It was great because my boss Maria was scared of the thing. I was laughing so hard I could barely stand up. The thing was the size of a small dog and was eating frogs. I mean c’mon.

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          Deer like to run through my neighborhood in wintertime. Which is good with young ones, because you can point at the tracks and say it was reindeer. 😉

      • Depends on whether it’s the 2-legged or 4-legged variety of foxes… 🙂

    • When I was a little girl, we lived right by the Omaha Zoo. We could hear the animals at night. My parents liked to visit at the end of the day, when people were leaving, because you could stay after they closed.

    • I live out in the boonies. According to the NYSDEC, the wild cats and the wolves that have been seen around here aren’t really here, but are a figment of our imagination or a mistaken sighting of something else. I know what a wold looks like, and I’ve seen one or two around. Others have seen the cats. If it weren’t for the pictures of the bears, they’d probably be telling us they aren’t around here either.

      Fox and coyotes are common. But you have one or the other in a small area, not both. They fill the same ecological niche. I have fox in my yard, across the street they have coyote. Had a discussion with my then new neighbor who moved in from a more citified area to the boonies. She came over one day to ask if I had seen her (domestic) cat. “You let your cat outside?” “Yes” she replied. I told her that she had coyote in her yard, and she no longer had a cat. Could have been an owl. Or hawk. But her cat was cat food. Well, food.

  8. “I was blessed with a grandmother (dad’s mom) who made up stories for me involving an alternate of the village populated with shape shifters and magical beings.”

    So when are you going to write the story where the little girl discovers that the alternate village isn’t as “made up” as she thinks.

    • I think I probably owe it to my grandmother to write some of these. She never wrote them down. BUT I don’t remember them clearly, so I’ll have to use her stories as the basis of a YA.

      • 😀

      • Good. I’ve got a niece to corrupt. She just hatched, so you’ve got a couple of years before she starts reading.

        • Give her books for her parent to read to her. I recommend But Not the Hippopotamus, which she can also teeth on.

          • We’re a big family of readers, so I have no doubt she’ll have plenty of books to sink her (literal and figurative) teeth into. But I’m the only one in the face, I’ll that THINKS, so the educational content will have to be delivered personally.

          • We went through three copies of Moo, Baa, La, La, La. As far as I can recall The Daughter arrived in this world with an innate respect for books. Moo, Baa… was the exception. She chewed through her first, was well into her second — when she managed, in spite of being preverbal, to be clear that she must have one last unmarred copy for keeping.

            • Robert chewed all of my Agatha Christie library. He teethed on the books. I couldn’t keep him away. He’s never torn a book or done damage to any other. When I complained to Mrs Heinlein about that she laughed. I have no idea why.

  9. I used to read the back of cereal books because I didn’t have any other reading material at the breakfast table.

    • I thought I was the only one that did that…including the list of ingredients.

      • Not atall.

      • Bah. Are you kidding. Many is the time I read old instructions for machinery mom had thrown away. OTOH that’s how I figured out how to build my own radio (I’d read an old manual. This was an old radio) and why I and not the EE brother was called upon when an appliance threw a bellyache.

      • Remember that Twilight Zone that should’ve ended 45 seconds earlier than it did?

        The one with the bank clerk with a horrible wife, horrible boss, both of whom thought he shouldn’t read and so he was reading labels and political buttons and stuff?

        First time I found out that my immediate family wasn’t unheard of.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Was that the one where he’s the only person left alive, goes to the library and breaks his glasses?

          • Yes.

            ‘s why I hate the Twilight Zone– that was just sadistic.

            A lot of fans talk about how the “twist” was karma or some such, but that they ended a story that way, with a guy who was shown to be absolutely blameless, suggests that folks just enjoyed watching suffering.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Or that there was something wrong about his enjoyment of reading. [Frown]

            • I agree with you. But maybe they thought that people aren’t supposed to read so the punishment fit the crime.

              I think that the nasty way movies and tv have gone supports your pov.

            • I thought the crime was his exultation at the death of everyone. Remember, he wasn’t horrified that millions had died, he was excited that he would be able to read.

              • I didn’t see his reaction that way– he seemed horrified to be alone, and slowly figured out that he was able to survive, and then realized he’d actually be allowed to read…and then even that was taken away.

                Because he was pathetic, or something.

                • I didn’t like Twilight Zone because so many of the stories ended with that sadistic little twist at the end. Except possibly the one where the leader of the totalitarian society becomes irrelevant.

                • His crime was piling up all those precious books outside, failing to find them a safe shelter. What was going to happen to them when it started to rain?

        • Time Enough at Last, starring Burgess Meredith.

    • We still read at the table for breakfast and lunch … used to be the newspaper, now that we’ve stopped that delivery it’s books/kindle. Can’t just enjoy the nowness of our Capn Crunch for some reason. Not at Dinner, though, as that is the daily mandated socializing period …

      • Sometimes I write instead of reading. When I go to restaurants or am eating at work — and sometimes at home, too.

  10. One of the weekly columns in this morning’s Wall Street Journal is about the American energy resurgence, and how it came about because people have their own property and can do with it as they choose, because some people (wildcatters) won’t say die, because the states are different from the feds, and because other people were willing to risk their money on the land-owners and experimenters. And lo, the Bakken was fracked, and oil and gas flowed like, well, oil and gas, and it was pretty d-mn cool and really good. And once again foreigners are impressed with what Americans can do when we’re left alone to do it.

    • and the smart foreigners are copying our fricken fracking and steerable drilling, thus helping to lower the prices (it helps too the Saud got miffed and are trying to bankrupt the Rus and Persians)

      • $1.88! Christmas week!

        I need a tanker truck to fill up. (But who needs all that paperwork?)

        • Need to get it from Oklahoma or parts of Arkansas … no ethanol to make it go bad quickly

          • True.

            But if I could get 5000 gallons under 2 bucks a gallon, I might see how quickly I could run it through the bike…

            To keep it from going bad, ya know?

            • I got a 91 ST1100 with a 7.3 gallon tank. When running right and not at Texas Speed (75 mph limits, 80-85 traffic speed) I get 44-50 mph. That 5000 gallons is a Lot of riding, but I’d need someone to follow along as I prefer to go places (been known to ride 6 hours to go get lunch)

              • Street Glide, 5 gallon tank, about the same mileage.

                Yeah, need to bribe a driver. Have to call ’em en route though — never know where I’ll end up.

                • and they’ll hate the rides in West Virginia, Colorado, etc

                  • Hah! Yep.

                    Though, it’s possible any ride would be migraine inducing.

                    “Whaddya mean you’re in Oklahoma?! You went for donuts!!”

                    • oooh, BBQ at that place in Davis … yum

                      “What? I’m still in Texas!. Get yer behind to Camp Wood, I need go juice!”

                    • “All you gotta do is take 55 South, it’s not like you gotta chase down 337 or something! Sheesh. I coulda called you from Vanderpool…”

                    • “I’m on 26 in WV … um … you might want to get a smaller truck … The full size ain’t gonna get around those hairpins.”

                      I think I’d need a 500 gallon av fuel pumper for him.

                    • Couple places in the Black Hills, or dropping down into Durango. Definitely coming down the coast road outta Oregon.

                      500 gallons, that’s about right…

                    • 500 gal tank on a City Van Isuzu turbo diesel (to keep the driver from borrowing any fuel though the version with a small block chev will go faster).
                      Very maneuverable, decent ride (we had a TD and SBC version at the airport when I worked there), and the TD gets great mileage (though that was on Jet A instead of actual diesel ymmv)

                    • *ring ring*

                      “I need a ride.”

                      “It’s… 3:30am?! Where are you, at the jail?”

                      “No, some place the roll up the sidewalks at dusk, seems like.”

                      “So, Jonesborough?”

                      “No, Mountain City.”

                      “And you need a ride to…”

                      “Lubbock.”

                      “… You better be d*mn glad the blackmail is still working.”

                      “I’m just glad you have a truck that my bike fits.”

                      Some of the best road trips start badly, but get much better, in my experience. Sunrise over the open road, cool breeze in your face, stereo cranked up and right foot on the floor…

                    • Yep. Many a tedious chore has been rescued by the fact I like traveling on the road.

                      ‘Course, a few tedious chores have started for others because I like traveling on the road…

                      :sheepish:

                    • “Definitely coming down the coast road outta Oregon.”

                      I used to claim that Oregon engineers method of designing a road was to find a stream, pick a bank, and then measure off of it with a hundred foot tape, making the road mirror the stream channel, only offset a hundred feet.

                      Of course coming down highway 51 (or is it 55?) towards Tillamook I used to claim it was so twisty I kept seeing my own taillights.

                    • Some spots in South Dakota where I’m pretty sure I saw myself in the curve ahead…

                    • Ooh, Time-Bending, too? Awesome.

                    • Around those curves? Everything gets bent.

                    • Ah, glider chasing . . .
                      Ring, ring! Ring, ring!
                      Chase 1 (still in NM): “Yeah?”
                      Pilot with busted chase radio: “Hi, I landed!”
                      Chase 1: “Oh good, where?”
                      Pilot: “A pasture near Springfield. County Road HH is the closest, I think.”
                      Chase 1: “Oh fudge.” (Pilot was trying for Raton, but got really good lift and kept going.)
                      Pilot paid for a lot of steaks and beer after the crew fetched him.

                    • “But I was having so much fun!

            • oh, and word is it might get lower for some time too.
              It is 1.87.9 here in town. That is what it was nationwide on Inauguration day, 2009. He must be deeply disappointed that all his work to keep it close to $4-5 has been for naught

      • Actually, they’re trying to bankrupt the frackers…. and if the EPA has its’ way, they might.

        • for now it is a tool to hurt the folks they are mad we won’t do something about. They know that they will likely never break the Frackers on their own, but right now they need them

        • But even if they do shut down the framers, the very threat they pose will force the Saudis to keep oil prices much lower than they’ve been. If oil gets reliably over $70 or so the caps will come off the wells and the prices will come back down.

          Eventually the less efficient OPEC producers will have to make up for smaller profits in volume, they’ll ignore their production caps and pump as much as they can. Splash one cartel.

      • It isn’t “fracking.” Don’t remember what the real name is, but the Greenies thought up the most obscene-sounding term they could get away with, and instructed the media in their pocket to use it. And everyone went along.

        • Hydraulic fracturing, sometimes called hydro-fracking, is the technical term, first used in 1947 for the practice that was developed to open up new parts of the Permian Basin. It wasn’t that common until the 1969s and 70s.

        • there is a large amount of it here and I recall some in Lousisiana years before I moved here, and for as long as I can recall the roughnecks called it fracking, a play on Hydraulic Fracturing.

  11. “How do you determine equality when how happy and contented people are has a lot to do with what they choose to do with this immense common patrimony of science and abundance we have?”
    THIS. This is what makes me angriest about all the people pushing us to do “the right thing”. IMAO, the ultimate goal in life is to be happy. And that means something different from person to person and from day to day. If people want to smoke and drink and eat steak because it makes them happy, LET THEM. If people want to be vegetarians and run marathons because it makes them happy, LET THEM. Don’t try and “nudge” me into “correct” behavior. Don’t try and tell me that Big Mac is going to kill me. (Believe me, I already know.) But at what point do we stop sucking the life out of life? At what point do we say “Wish you’d stop being so good to me, Cap’n”?
    All I can think of is Denis Leary’s monologue from Demolition Man:

    *I’m* the enemy. Because I like to think, I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech, freedom of choice. I’m the kind if guy who would sit in the greasy spoon and think “Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the big rack of Barbecued spare ribs with the side order of gravy fries?” I *want* high cholesterol. I want to eat bacon, butter and buckets of cheese alright? I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinatti in a non-smoking section. I wanna run around naked with green jell-o all over my body reading a Playboy magazine. Why? Because maybe I feel the need to okay pal? I’ve *seen* the future, you know what it is. It’s made by a 47 year-old virgin in gray pajamas soaking in a bubble bath, drinking a broccoli milkshake and thinking “I’m an Oscar-Meyer Wiener”.

    • C4C *sigh*

      • You know, right now, as we speak, there is an FBI agent assigned ONLY to analyze how often C4C appears on this blog, said by whom, and what it means for our plans of world domination.
        Enjoy!

        • Poor Fred. Are we sending him a fruitcake this year? 😀

          • Fred works for the .gov. He IS a fruitcake. It’s a nice thought though. 🙂

            • You are what you eat.

            • I kind of feel sorry for him. All that FBI training and he ends up reading our comments and wondering if any of us are sane instead of catching bank robbers. I can only imagine the conversations with his wife and kids over dinner.
              “You won’t believe this one comment thread I had to read today…”

              • Ha! I don’t. You do realize that he _also_ has to read all of Sarah’s books don’t you? And he gets paid to do it! He might even feel guilty over how much he enjoys them.

                Oh gosh! C4C! I’m a rebel too! Go read all my stuff! Horrible ant- government stuff!

                • I was going to say something similar. Maybe he also has to read Kate, Mad Mike, Larry Correia, and Tom Kratman. You know – basically having one guy keeping track of the whole Evil League of Evil.

                  Nah, they wouldn’t be that mean to him, would they?

                • Ooh, I wonder if it’s that nice, horribly polite FBI guy who did my husband’s latest security clearance?
                  “May I speak to *name* please?”
                  “Which one? The child or the adult?”
                  He was nice enough that he deserves to get paid to read Sarah’s books. But I’m not sure he deserves the local pun flinging here.

                  • what’s wrong with pun flinging?

                    • It’s not the flinging that’s the problem, it’s the mess it makes when it lands.

                    • Nothing at all. But he was so polite I think it’d break him.

                      Heck, I thought I’d broken him when he seemed to think I thought he was calling for the kid. (I do this because it makes salespeople stumble over their tongues–they aren’t supposed to call minors. It’s also hilarious to do to husband’s friends–except I do the “No, he can’t talk right now, he’s not done with his schoolwork” to them. I know kid’s friends by caller ID.)

                  • Eeesh, don’t remind me of my security check. There was tear gas involved. Literally.

                • Anti- not ant. I like ants, so long as they stay outside and don’t build where I walk.

              • There is a lovely series of second string Spy novels from the 1960’s, by Patrick O’Malley. The titles are all “THE AFFAIRE OF…”. And in THE AFFAIRE OF SWAN LAKE there is a scene of which this discussion of Fred strongly reminds me.

                An island is the site of a secret Russian installation. The scientist who will oversee its technical magic is already in place, awaiting the rest of his team. That team is supposed to get “shipwrecked” on the island during a fall storm, but a LOT of people have been so stranded, and are in the cover-house, drying off, and essential having an impromptu cocktail party, with American cocktail party conversation.

                Which the Russian scientist is listening to with growing incredulity. He THOUGHT he spoke English! These people are MAD!

              • I think they have to keep replacing them, because they become Huns 😉

                • We could infiltrate!

                  If Huns weren’t so bad at keeping the sarcasm out of their voices when parroting the lines…

                  • That’s where the deadpan comes in. We get the occasional straight-man or woman, who just serves to amplify the weirdness that huns generate like heat from a bonfire.

              • I am reminded of when they were monitoring Arlo Guthrie and he picked up his obviously tapped phone and asked if the guy needed any lemonade or something else to drink (it was a hot day and the “repairman” was out there on the pole “doing repairs”)

                He eventually got a quiet “no thanks, I’m fine”.

                • Our phone was tapped for YEARS in Portugal. (Well, mom had a radio show where she did much what I do on this blog.) When we heard the distinctive (though not loud) click, we’d start talking to the agents… Sometimes outrageously.
                  ONLY way mom didn’t kill me for pretend phone sex at 12.

              • Hey, my husband is applying for various FBI intel jobs, and he’s… well, not a NICE guy, but definitely a DECENT guy.

                Oh my, we could end up with our own “Methos is his own Watcher” situation!!!!

            • “Fred works for the .gov. He IS a fruitcake.”

              Yes, well maybe he would like a girlfriend he could relate to. Oh, you meant the type you could eat? nevermind *wanders off whistling innocently*

          • You’d think they’d learn about upsetting fen, but NOOOOO!.

            As I was out shopping, expecting no harm
            Two big FBI men grabbed me by the arm
            Dragged me into a cellar, shone lights in my eyes
            Demanding full answers without any lies
            About a new threat to good patriotism:
            This “Society for Creative Anarchism.”

          • Do you know how much scanning has to be done on one of those things? And all the paperwork? Actual paperwork, no keyboards allowed (they seem to think there might be a computer savant or two around here).

            I say we send two. One with nuts.

            😈

          • Are you sure you want to threaten FBI agents like that? They may react…poorly.

        • C4C D5D E6E …

        • Good luck with that. 😉

        • If I will be stopped entering the country I know who to blame. All of you. 🙂

          (Okay, maybe a few of my comments through the years have been sort of… eh. Hey, I’m a nice middle aged spinster with cats, I can’t be subversive or anything. Totally impossible. Really!). (And all that research is just for books. I mean, I write a bit. So, books. Really).

    • William O. B'Livion

      IMAO, the ultimate goal in life is to be happy.

      No, it isn’t.

      The ultimate goal is to work hard and give glory to God.

      Or was it

      The ultimate goal is to die with the most toys.

      No, that wasn’t it.

      The ultimate goal is to die with the coolest toys.

      No, wait.

      This is America, you’re free to pick your own damn goal and DON’T TELL ME WHAT I WANT.

  12. How do you determine class when, even if I were twice as rich, my life wouldn’t be much different day to day?

    I think someone somewhere noted that the reason much of the infighting in our little prisons of the mind we call middle schooled high school was so vicious was because so little of it really mattered. What little status you could gain was ephermal, and of little actual value, and so – it was fought over bitterly.

    Yet another reason I think the modern school system, where visiting campus feels more and more like checking into a prison (BTDT), is screwed up

    Ditto above. Most of us have what we NEED. The rest is status games, and who has the richest toys, and best vacations

    • Terry Pratchett recommends, if you’re rich, being horizontally rich rather than vertically rich. That is, take advantage of the money to do the things you enjoyed before you were rich on a grander scale, not do rich things you’ve never done before.

      You could, for instance, buy a yacht if you liked boating before you were rich. But if you liked books, use the money to build a library addition to your house.

    • And what really frosts some people is when you don’t have the common courtesy to be envious of their toys and vacations 😉 Whenever I visit a McMansion (lot of them around here) I make polite noises while thinking “what a nuisance to dust…” and “yeah, yeah, huge flatscreen TV, but where’s the bleeping LIBRARY???”

      sometimes I feel like an alien on this planet…

      • You know, I recently had this experience. Very happy for the friend who finally made it on his terms, but I kept thinking “I’d hate living here.” Now a MacMansion on MY terms, with decently private guestrooms for visiting friends, a nice drinks bar, a library, and an enclosed back porch where I could read while petting Greebo? Also, I’ve had a picture of my office in my head since 19 and would like to build it someday…

        • I haz a library 🙂 Yeah, some *misinformed* people might think it is supposed to be the dining room, and I can use it for that on the rare occasions I have people over for dinner, but it is lined with bookcases and has comfy chairs and a bay window and built-in cabinets for the curiosities. I love it very much…

          • Professor Badness

            Same for the living room. The one section of wall that doesn’t have bookshelves has a painting…of books, on a bookshelf.
            We are strange people.

          • Mom and Dad added a library onto Redquarters because, well, books. The books are now two deep, with more stacked on top, eight deep on the ledge under the back window, and they put additional bookshelves into the spare bedroom to hold the overflow. This is in addition to the bookcases in the other bedrooms and the shelves in the den. And the little pile on one of the chairs in the corner of the front room/dining room/parlor.

          • I want Louis L’amour’s library, but have settled for one 24 foot wall of bookshelves… plus a smallish 3×4 book cabinet in the living room, and a nightstand beside the bed, and a coffeetable, and another 6 foot long two shelf book cabinet, and a few cardboard boxes, and those couple of grocery bags of books over there I haven’t gone through yet, and…

            But to each their own, your mention of a McMansion with a huge flatscreen made me think of a guys place I stopped by a while back. Nice, if smallish, shop to work on rigs in, about twenty Toyota pickups and eight or ten various other brands and models parked out back for spare parts, he lived in an older singlewide trailer (I think the wheels were taken off, but I’m not sure, it did have skirting around it, however) which his wife did keep clean, which must have been something of a chore, since his yard consists of a big patch clay gumbo without a sidewalk or gravel leading to the door. When you stepped through the door the first thing you saw though, was a new 84″ Flatscreen on the livingroom wall. 🙂

        • Books go in every room of the house.

        • My Ideal “house, is an Airplane hangar with either a small RV parked in it or a bedroom, bath, and small kitchen in one corner.

        • I finally got a house with an office. But the cats have had some input on the decor.

          Repeatedly.

          If they haven’t flung the keyboard to the limits of its cable, they think their work isn’t done.

      • The two guys who delivered my couch left with one muttering to the other about all those books. . . .

        They didn’t even get to see the upstairs bookcases!

      • You can come envy our house if it isn’t smaller than yours. It’s not a McMansion. It’s a plain Texas Ranch house.

    • I think someone somewhere noted that the reason much of the infighting in our little prisons of the mind we call middle schooled high school was so vicious was because so little of it really mattered.

      This also explains tenured and tenure-track faculty in universities.

  13. The small town I grew up in only had 4,500 inhabitants, but it was the county seat so was blessed with a Carnagie library. Loved that place.
    Proudest day of my life when the head librarian gave me a look, took away my kid library card, then presented me with an adult card, and told me the whole library was mine to use. I think I was 13, precocious little chit, and definitely needed some more growing up. But that’s still true 50 years later.

    • I have vague memories of being taken by the hand OUT of the “Adult” section by a Librarian, who remonstrated with my parents…or tried to.

      My parents had no truck with that. If I found a book I wanted to try to read in the “Adult” section, they MIGHT suggest that I’d get more out of it if I waited (my mother did this with MOBY DICK; suggesting that I’d enjoy it more if I waited until I really really wanted to read an exhaustive decryption of a whaling voyage. I’, still waiting). But if it was in a public library, and I wanted to give it a try, that was fine.

      And since they were clearly better educated that most Ohio librarians, they didn’t get much flak over it. My mother intimidated the Proggies. My Father outright terrified them.

      • My mother took us to the library every week. New librarian one week. I went to check out a book, and she wouldn’t let me because it wasn’t from the kids section, and obviously I couldn’t read it. My mother corrected her. 3rd grade memory. That was also the year that they, the powers that be, were going to put in in the slow learners class because in the reading classe I never knew what was going on with Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot. On the day of the parent-teacher meeting where they going to tell my parents this the teached noticed I wasn’t paying attention in social studies, snuck up and snatched the book propped behind the social studies book. “Podkayne of Mars”. The conference agenda was changed. Anytime there was a reading class, I went to the library. They came to the correct conclusion that I was too bored to pay attention to Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot.

        Have had similar experiences with my kids.

        • Had a similar experience, but in reverse. We were given three readers that were supposed to last the first half of the year. In the hour between the issue and when I was asked to start reading where I was in the readers, I had gotten into the third one.

          The teacher didn’t know what to do with me, of course, so she just ignored me.

    • Our library uses computers to show that now. I gave my kids whole library permission a few years ago.

    • Carnagie doen’t get one tenth the recognition he deserves for thise libraries, IMO. My mother made a point of telling me that he would pay for the building, and set up a fund for the running of it, but the TOWN had to buy the books. What a great way to make it really THEIRS.

      And a Librarian one told memthat she was taught in Library school that the Carnagie Libraries are the major reason that we consider free libraries NORMAL in the U.S.

      • And may his name be forever praised.
        Even my small town I was raised had his name attached to the library.

      • Carnegie was actually willing to work the deal either way. If a town provided the building, he’d buy the books. One important key to the success of his libraries, however, was that Carnegie’s input was strictly a matching donation. Matching only $CASH$ raised, to boot.

        He did the same thing with church organs, btw.

        The man was truly “crazy like a fox.” The reason NYC has the American Museum of Natural History is the way the “Uncle Andy” handled the opening of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. After building a big fancy building kicking off one heck of a collection, he personally invited most of the NYC tycoons out to Pittsburgh on a special train (at his expense) for the opening of his museum. And he did this in the full knowledge that they’d be outraged the a “provincial city” like Pgh. had a better museum than NYC, and they’d go home determined to outdo him. Then, when they all got back to NYC, he offered to match their funds for the museum in NY. Same story for the NY Public Library system. Show off the fancy building and collection in da ‘burgh, then offer matching funds back in NYC. He *knew* they’d open their wallets farther to ensure that NYC had a bigger, better library/museum/etc. than Pittsburgh did.

        And his influence lives on. In the 90s Warren Buffet insisted that Bill Gates *HAD* to read Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth.” As a direct result we now have the Gates Foundation, dedicated to attempting to do good with most of Bill Gates’ fortune, along with most of Buffet’s money too. (Note: whether you approve of the particular causes they fund, at least they *trying*.)

  14. I often wonder what the left thinks they’ll get if they win. The dream of a “workers paradise” is demonstrably _not_ the result of their beliefs. The environment they want is one where everyone is poor, no one has the right to an opinion and we all are all equally miserable.

    For those of you who have not yet read it, I would recommend Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm. His thesis is frightening. People give up their rights to avoid being poor and then end up poorer. I don’t get it.
    Sarah is right though.

    We have to fight it and we will fight it. We can win and we will win. It’s going to be a long fight. It may get bloody in a very literal sense. Don’t ever give up. Don’t ever give in. When it’s over and we’ve triumphed we’ll all believe it was worth it.

    • That only shows that they did not win, that the kulaks and wreckers are out to undermine their paradise. Such is their malice they are capable, as in the Holodomor, of starving their families to death and dying themselves, looking gentle and innocent to hide their viciousness.

    • Basically, they’re the equivalent of a Yorkie chasing a semi.

    • Their dream isn’t of no one being poor, it’s of only the correct people being rich.

  15. The thing is their Hubris is matched and expanded by their appalling ignorance. They know very little actual history, and what little they do know has been drowned out by The Narrative™. They have no grasp whatsoever of just how BAD things are anywhere they can’t actually see and smell. Why were 19th century workers flocking to horrible jobs that paid next to nothing by today’s standards? Because the alternatives were WORSE. Why are Cambodian peasants working for Nike at $1 a day? Because the alternative is working thigh deep in rice fields fertilized with human shit, for a square of roofed dirt to sleep on and all the chaff you can eat. Why can’t the Third World peasants that Golden Rice is supposed to help just eat more vegetables? Because if the land they were living on was good for raising anything but rice they wouldn’t be getting vitamin A blindness in the first place.

    Of course, all too many of the Aristocrats of the Middle Ages were as ignorant or worse. But most of them KNEW they were pig ignorant.

    • Don’t forget their myths as well. Like the one about the ‘noble savage’ totally in harmony with his world and environment. In actuality, there were simply not enough of them to irrevocably damage the world with their slash and burn agriculture and poor farming practices.
      Another is the ‘virtue’ of organic farming. I especially liked it when a friend was bragging on buying ‘organic milk’. What is my milk, I asked, calcium caseinate? Organic farming means yields so low the world would starve, while environmentally, the nitrogen runoff from the cow manure is far greater than modern fertilizers. “I buy organic” means “I kill people”.
      Then there is the vegan lifestyle. You know, those teeth in your mouth aren’t called canine teeth for nothing. They are used to tear meat. Now, morally, I have nothing wrong against adults choosing it as a life-style choice, but again, the world would starve to death on an all-vegan (even Soylent green wasn’t vegan) diet.

      • I am somewhat notorious in my extended family for my “what’s so great about ‘Natural'” rant. Botulism is natural. Plague is natural. If you believe in evolution without a creator, then we are social apes, and for us ‘natural’ is sitting around in trees, picking parasites off our relatives, and scheming to bring down the alpha male so we can murder all his children and rape his females.

        Natural is for morons

        • I’m with you. One time I was walking past a kiosk in the mall and the young lady tried to get me to try this lotion she was hawking. I said, “No, thank you, my husband is allergic to most scents.” “But it’s all natural,” she said. “So’s poison ivy” I replied as I walked on.

          • I’d also like someone to show me an inorganic banana.

            • “Organic food means that you are guaranteed there’s shit and a worm involved in getting it to your table.” John Ringo, “The Last Centurion”

              I’ll leave it to your imagination how well that quote went over in Portland OR….

          • Did she also try to tell you it didn’t have any chemicals in it? That’s what they usually tell me. I just say, “That’s impossible,” and walk on.

      • Nothing new under the sun… It’s “let them eat cake,” but actually happens.
        (cool history here: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/550/did-marie-antoinette-really-say-let-them-eat-cake )

  16. The Holiday season *is* a magickal time.

    I’ve been stuck in this roundabout discussion with a christian friend who doesn’t quite get it. Yes, we have very different beliefs as what is joyous about this season (longer days coming back, spring and summer on their way back, the time of the year were I don’t have to wear warm clothes all the time coming back…. plenty of reason for Winter Solstice celebrations)… that doesn’t mean however I can’t wish someone a Merry Christmas when I know they treasure that day.

    She’s been glitching over this all month. I’m not really sure why…

    As for reading everything… ever read an entire encyclopedia series because you were grounded from going to the library because your mom caught you reading a (GASP!) Ray Bradbury novel? (The Seventh-Day Adventist church has…. wonky views on science fiction.)

    Identification note: this is the poster formerly known as EvelynH. Word Press told me that that was already taken when I signed up. =/

    • This is a season of light, and about Light. After I went through and ice storm, I suddenly had a keen appreciation of why my distant ancestors worshiped the sun and feared that it might not return after the longest night. Hanukkah is about the light of faith, and trust given and rewarded. Christmas is about light.

      I was thinking earlier today about Vermont Royster’s WSJ editorial, “In Hoc Anno Domini,” that runs every year in the issue closest to Christmas, and how true it is for everyone who values the Light.

    • I used to read the encyclopedia … I would pick a volume randomly and I always found something interesting. I didn’t grow up in a book-filled home like so many huns did, and I was allowed to read anything from the library, but when everything else was already read, the encyclopedia was always there, waiting to fill in a spare half hour …

      • Yeah, I almost had that problem. Save one thing: The librarians put me on a 20 book checkout limit. They tried convincing my mom that I could only come in once a week too.

        Which is wrong beyond measure. My backpack could handle 35 books easy when packed right.

        • For several glorious years, my mother was a librarian. I cleaned out the tiny science fiction and fantasy shelves rather quickly, though. Luckily, history had *lots* of interesting things to compensate. My childhood *not* spent running around like a pint-sized engine of destruction was that library.

          The great irony is, now that I am all grown up, most of my new books are ebooks because it is cheaper. I have a small collection of my own in physical space, and it will travel with me to the new house once it’s finally livable… But I will probably miss out having a house filled to the brim* with actual, physical books.

          *:Yes, I can probably fill a room fairly quickly. But the whole house? Over two thousand square feet plus a basement once it’s finished? Were I a rich man, I’d dedicate the *rest* of my life to filling it comfortably with good things to read.

          • Yes, in terms of cost ebooks are great. I still a lot of paper copies of things though, but I’m nostalgic like that.

            Rich man….

            I make no apologies.

            • Hoy… Does it say something about me that I tend to hum that tune ever more, the closer to tax time it gets?

              “I realize of course, it’s not shame to be poor… But it’s no great honor, either.”

              *hums, because I couldn’t carry a tune if it had a packstrap!*

      • Who remembers Child Craft Books?

    • Ray Bradbury? That was after I read everything I could find by Heinlein, Asimov, Norton, Simak, Schmitz, Clement, Cameron, Niven, Saberhagen, … and I’m still SDA. My father and a couple of my teachers encouraged me, but maybe things were different back then in southern California, what with all the aerospace engineers and all.

      I’d already read through the entire set of Collier’s Encyclopedia in fifth grade, being stuck at home with sequential bouts of flu, measles and chicken pox.

  17. About seven day wonders and covered wagons. In the small town when and where I grew up the scout leaders were all electronics geeks–ham radio operators, that sort of thing. (You can read about that cohort in Priming the Pump, about the transition from the home-brew computer to pre-built computers.) I started to get into electronics home-brew, but when I was sixteen I bought a computer, a used TRS-80 Model I, and the ability to prototype and iterate on the computer at incredible speeds turned me toward programming instead. But that computer was a seven-day wonder in our town (it was a *very* small town): our high school class took a field trip to my parents’ basement, to see that computer.

    We marvel at the change from the covered wagon to now, but when I’m 97 years old they’ll say, he didn’t even have a computer in his home when he was born! He had to go to the library to do google searches!

  18. Y’all behave! I’m heading to work now …
    (behave? yeah, right … like that’ll ever happen)

  19. Christopher M. Chupik

    Oh, Sarah, don’t you know? All this “darkness and light” stuff is racist, according to N K Jemisin.

    (Larry already fisked her in his blog comments a while back, though)

  20. How can you even insist on equality?

    Equality under the law is a worthwhile goal. You start with the same rights and standing and you are responsible for your own actions. It does not make a short man tall, a lean man bulky, or a lazy man energetic. Nor is it a guaranteed of equal outcome. While I had talent as a swimmer, no matter how many laps I put in I was never destined for the Olympics.

    • The Progressives are so historicaally ignorant that they have no clue how revolutionary the idea of equality before the law is. The idea that a poor man has as much right to his own property isn’t even given much lip service outside of the (American influenced) West, or before the 18th century.

      Hell, they have damn little idea how RECENT the 18th century is.

    • yes. but they’re insisting on equality of results and living conditions. I’m very firm in my belief in equality under the law. Equality of results, though, is an abomination.

  21. *shrug* No concept of history, maybe? No idea…..

  22. They are on the correct side of history, so what they think is true must be true. (Almost typed “right side” but caught myself 😉 )