Plus Ca Change – David Pascoe

Plus Ca Change – David Pascoe

When I was a wee, young lad, my farthest horizons Down The Block To The Corner, and more distantly, The Annual 25-Hour Drive to Southern KCalifornia, I was confronted with the reality of, not only my personal mortality, but of the possibility – nay, the certainty of the extinction of humanity. No, not something as pedestrian as nuclear warfare. That, that actor who had the sheer, unmitigated gall to occupy the White House had seemed to put paid to the Gorby and the big, bad (but misunderstood, really, Officer Krupke) USSR.

No, we were all going to freeze to death as the planet chilled to a really, really, really cold temperature. Or starve. Or both, I expect. Now, I was four or five, but I’ve come to find out since that the drum of Teh Coming Ice-Age(TM) was being beaten for much longer than I knew about then. This was hard to understand – the whole freezing thing – as I started my life in sunny Pasadena. It became at least accessible once we’d moved to Spokane, and had this strange period called Winter, where the rain became this solid, oppressive, colorless thing that drifted on tiny wings of extinction. Or something.

Once I became aware of our awesome and horrifying fate, I seemed to see it everywhere. (It helped that I could read by then.) I read about it at the doctor’s office, waiting for the MMR shot (traumatizing, that. Far more than a nebulous, chilly future). I read about it when Mom took me along grocery shopping, and wouldn’t buy me the Super Frosted Sugar Bombs, or whatever toxic (but Fortified Mit Vitamins!) breakfast cereal I’d seen commercials for the previous Saturday during The Time of Kar-Tuuns. (Speaking of traumatizing, she’d never buy me the umpteen various Lego sets that I DESPERATELY NEEDED to survive, either. Moms, man.) I even heard people talking about it at church, when I could be bothered to pay attention to what the grown-ups were saying. I mean, seriously, how did they even get enough oxygen at that height? Beggars the imagination, or at least the imagination of a four-year-old.

But, yeah: we were dying, as a species. Weeeelllllll, not dying, per se, but headed toward a Bad End, and nothing we could possibly do would stop it. Except for, probably – and I’m just guessing, here, as I don’t actually remember all the recommended “solutions” from the myriad of doom-saying glossy magazine covers – spending enormous amounts of taxpayer money on untried and unproven programs that *might* undo the damage we nefarious humans had done to Mother Earth. With malice aforethought, of course.

Three decades on, we’re hearing the same tune again. Unless we cut the legs out from under our economy, unless we reject cold turkey what keeps our civilization running day-to-day (don’t believe me? Look into how much freight moves just by semi each day), unless we pour money into untried and unproven technologies built by companies with surprising amounts of governmentadministra- no, I take that back: with incestuous, cronyistic (a word, and you knows it) interpenetration that defies belief, we are all going to DIE. The earth will heat, the seas will rise, and it’s our fault because we’re horrible, horrible sinners the ones pursuing our small, avaricious, capitalistic ends while Blessed Gaia burns.

Speaking of ‘orrible, ‘orrible sinners, I recall any number of references to various types through the centuries calling the general populace to repent and … do … stuff, because the End of the World was coming. Now, at least in Western countries, a lot of people making such predictions predicated (hehe) them upon the return of the Christ. Not all, though; not by a long stretch. For some light reading, check out this list. Now, I’m not waiting around for it, regardless of how it comes.

Which is the point, really. People have been predicting the end for a long, long time now. Probably since Ogg saw a peculiar light at night, woke up Mogg and told him the sun wasn’t going to come up in the morning. (Mogg very wisely went back to sleep, since why would one want to meet the End of the World tired and cranky?) In the same way – are you ready for this lateral leap? – we now have people predicting the end of the Republic. Look, I’m not exactly looking to piss anybody off, so I’ll just lay out this quote.

It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. (Fellowship of the Ring, p. 302)

Now, whether or not America slides further and further down the toilet into bureaucratic totalitarianism (and reading up on FDR’s Amerika, I’m not convinced we’re actually that far gone), we have things to be doing. Things that give us hope. (Not change, despite the title. Look, I’m good with change. More or less. Change is a constant, and it’s one to which we adapt, or we don’t. And often die, being historically minded.) Some keep their eyes on eternity, in one form or another. For those of us cursed to be writers, we keep one eye on eternity, at best. I trust the Author understands that. If He doesn’t, we shall have words, I expect. As for others, hope comes from the bizarre, Brownian action of existence, where billionaires enable freedom for writers everywhere. From what I read in the newspaper on the Utility Formerly Known as the Internet (another article, another kettle of fish) that’s not really supposed to happen. The Rich(TM) are out to oppress and lord their wealth over us mere mortals. Still and all, I have a hope of making a living from my writing, instead of it being reduced to a glorified hobby.

Even five years ago, that wasn’t clear. And, truthfully, in another five years, it may not be part of our reality. I hope in ten years or so, I’ll be writing posts from orbital habitat. Maybe something at one of the Lagrangian points. Which is the point, really. We take potshots at the future from the uncomfortable flux of the present using minds rooted in the past. We can’t know whether the Republic will fall tomorrow, in 2017, or centuries down the road (though I hope we’ll still be arguing about it come then). Everything changes, and we can’t know what form things will take, even in the near future. Take comfort in that, for only the mad or Marxists (but I repeat myself) claim otherwise. And if we who are familiar with bending our minds around the shapes the future may bring can’t see it, even darkly, how much more terrifying must it be to be one who clings to a failed philosophy, always expecting paradise around the next election, and never reaching it?

Eventually, those who can adapt will win. That’s us, by the way. The battlers (hi, Kate!), the early adopters, the malleable of mind, but never of conscience.

220 thoughts on “Plus Ca Change – David Pascoe

  1. I can remember back to the late 80″s—early 90’s that we were going to run out of food (too many people), that it was hinted that we needed to “remove” some of them for the good of the whole. (didn’t say who got to decide) and if we didn’t that by year 2000, we would have “food” wars across the globe…
    y2k rolls around and now it’s everyone is too FAT. seriously do these people not believe that we can remember stuff? it’s written down. a lot of places (books, magizines, newspapers, this new thing called an internet.

    Greyratt rule of thumb…. if someone tells you the sky is falling, take a moment and look up. if someone tells you the sky is falling, give me money. you are being scammed

    1. When I took political science it was taught that there is a critical mass of population function on a six month memory cycle when it comes to many things. This, I believe, is why we now hear from certain politicians the cry of, ‘Its old news,’ which is meant to assure the mass that they need to look no further into whatever it is that might discomode the politicians.

      1. You mean if a politician is able to obfuscate for six months, he/she/it is off Scot free?

        1. That can back fire. Since the public memory stirs at the most in opportune times. (In opportune for whom depends grately.)

          1. Oh quite.

            Also, there is also a cycle of information.

            There was a story (I have no idea of its veracity) told of one campaign where a candidate accused his opponents wife of being a, horrors!, thespian in college…two weeks before the election. Time enough for the information to get out, i.e., in this case it was profoundly misunderstood, which had been the intention. Unfortunately there was not enough time for the reply with correct meaning of thespian to sink in…

            1. Oh, yes – I’ve heard that one, as a joke mostly – with the added information that she performed the act for paying customers!

              1. One never knows with political stories, as politicians and their agents have been know to do and say some, um, interesting things. (Consider the Presidential election of 1800.)

                Another story I was told as truthful was that of a candidate running in the deep south in the middle of the last century using White Christmas as his campaign song.

        1. Crud, I was scanning quickly and I read that as seizure suits, and it made me unreasonably cheerful. But just for a moment.

          1. I believe I’m on record advocating that all politicians be required to wear bright orange jumpsuits and shock collars.

              1. With a surprisingly high number of politicians, I would pay good money to have the shock controller.

              1. Purely from Dad’s stories, Ma’am. In his younger days, he was quite the horseman. It was the custom, as you know, to tip outhouses on Halloween. That morning, one fella came into the cafe where they were having breakfast, and announced he would be in his outhouse with a shotgun. Having been directly challenged, there was no question what had to happen. They decided to flip it on the door, so that he could only shoot out the holes. Almost as much fun as the blind horse he taught to dive in the creek with him.

      2. From where do people get the idea that “old news” is irrelevant? I remember I would get this regarding Ted Kennedy, back when he was still simulating sapience more effectively, in regards to Chappaquidick and other things. He was still the same person who had shown, in his only real test of courage in his life so far, an ability to totally funk out and let a friend die in an (inept) attempt to save his own reputation. (And I don’t care whether he and Mary Jo Kopechne were having sexual relations or not; the important thing is that she had every reason to assume that he saw her as a friend, and he treated her as if she was nothing).

        He’d never acknowledged or meaningfully apologized for what he did. And people thought that he was qualified to be President of the United States of America? Why, because his last name was “Kennedy?”

        They would say “That’s old news.” What, had Mary Jo sprung back to life in the meantime?

        Now Hilary Clinton claims that what she did a few years ago is irrelevant to what she might do now. If she’s confessing that she’s really that random — if we believe her — wouldn’t that constitute complete incompetence for any responsible political position? How stupid is she claiming to be? And how stupid does she think are Americans?

        1. It is obvious by your use of logic as a basis of your argument that you are a heteronormative, white cismale, and therefore irrelevant. Besides, the logic you use is obviously just a convenient smokescreen to obscure the fact that the real reason you don’t support Hilary is because you are sexist and racist.

    2. First Malthus, then Erlich and a host of others focused on the math of population growth: birth rates, growing life expectancy, and so on. What they never addressed was the simple fact that food production is a technological process, and technology tends to advance and expand logarithmically.
      Hunger on this earth is not a problem of production, but rather one of distribution which is a function of politics more than anything else. And politics has shown precious little sign of advancement of any sort, involving as it does the raw lust for power masked by various labels and buzzwords.

      1. While it’s true that population growth would eventually overtake the capacity to produce food, if it remained constant, our current trend to demographic collapse will keep that from happening any time soon.

        1. And that trend is due to the change in the global economy and individual wealth. Once upon a time a passel of kids was both cheap farm labor and a safety net for old age. Under most current political systems large families are simply a drag on a family’s finances and opportunities.
          As the world’s population grows richer it tends to self regulate. anomalies do exist, and there are still significant cultural and religious contra indicators, but it’s still a known trend, to the point that it’s become a concern in many of the richer first world countries as the core citizenry fails to reproduce.

          1. That, however, is likely to be just a blip. Evolution is in overdrive, because even in the areas with the most depressed birth rates, there are people having a lot of kids. And it is their kids who will make up a disproportionate amount of the next generation.

            1. And if not, well…

              The current “one or no kids” model can only be sustained until the current social safety net collapses due to lack of new adults coming into the system. At that point, I suspect kids will start to make a comeback.

              1. The nice thing is just where they will be making that comeback – it won’t be among the Regressive Left, that is certain. (Statistically, center-right people have more kids than center-left; and FAR more kids than far-left.)

                1. The Left is much better about grabbing other folks’ kids, though; “what you want to do is right, not wrong!” sells pretty well, especially if you can ditch before the bill is due.

                  1. Unless what you want is to own guns, be a Christian, and/or be left alone (among other things).

                    If those are the case, then you’re damage and therefore can’t be trusted to do what you want.

                    1. What do those have in common, though? A desire to be responsible.

                      Vs a desire to get an impulse fulfilled. Heck, look at the carve-outs they make– guns should be allowed for sporting reasons?

        2. The amount of food a particular piece of land can grow has increased due to advances in agricultural science.

          1. The difference is frequently between zero and some positive number. (Which is why we might actually run into a food crisis at some point – at least where the “Greens” are so enthusiastically creating “Brown.”)

        3. While it’s true that population growth would eventually overtake the capacity to produce food, if it remained constant, our current trend to demographic collapse will keep that from happening any time soon.

          Depends entirely on the assumptions that go into it. Our ability to produce food grew insanely faster than our population, when it was of value to increase output. We’re still massively increasing the output possible from a single acre of land.

          You have to start making assumptions like “humans will use X ground space per person” (ignores building vertically, on water, in the air, or something I haven’t figured out yet) and that the amount of farmable land will stay constant.
          *looks out window, at houses that are on former orchards*
          I can cut them some slack on making basic calculations based on what numbers we have now, but the further out it gets, the more foolish assuming all the variables stay the same becomes. (It takes a lot to recover land that’s been, say, under asphalt for a decade…but it’s “a lot” when there’s so very many other choices, and you can just leave it so the asphalt rots and in about twenty years, it’s just oddly dark soil. If I HAD to recover it, pretty sure I could make high quality dirt in a year– basically, mulch and manure– easy, and then it would be self-renewing with normal management. But that’s really low ROI in the current situation.)

          1. Oh, absolutely true. However, I have a friend who posits that we have to have a constantly growing population to be “safe” in the long run.

            I spent a little time and showed him that, no matter how low the growth rate was, we would have to have FTL within a surprisingly short time in order to be able to HOUSE them all, let alone feed them.

            1. I should clarify that “surprisingly short time” is in comparison to “forever”. A 1% growth rate from the current starting point turns out to be about 140 quadrillion in 1000 years.

                1. Dunno. The likelihood of a disaster big enough to make much difference (and that we can’t detect and avoid, or outright prevent) goes down dramatically over the next century.

                  Barring a serious reversal of the march of civilization over the past few centuries, what we will be able to do merely within the next 50 years would be kind of frightening to someone from today.

                  1. The higher density goes, the higher risk there is from communicable things– also poisoning and natural disasters, or attacks. Alright, it’s a low percent of the total– but a small growth rate is small, too, so it’s (relatively) easy to have a big setback.

                  2. Wayne, considering that it’s now well within the realm of possibility to genetic engineer a super plague in your kitchen, and are dealing with a 7th century cult that is convinced that dying for the faith is a good thing as long as you take some infidels with you, it isn’t the natural disasters I’m worried about.

            2. Well if you are going to depend on things like social security, where they younger generation pays for the older, while the cost of living continues to rise, he is correct.

      2. I believe Cedar did a great write-up about the father of the green revolution (fooooooood) but booger if I can find it.

          1. That was it! I could remember waxing thick about my dad’s if-I-won-the-lotto ideas, and that you’d done at least one in-depth sort of post, but was drawing a blank for anything more useful.

      3. There are possible bottlenecks, which are very real bottlenecks at specific levels of technology. Humans can get caught in population boom/bust cycles. However (1) these bottlenecks are usually not the ones on which popular imagination focuses (for instance, in “Life’s Bottleneck,” Isaac Asimov pointed out that the phosphorous cycle could limit agricultural productivity unless we reclaimed oceanic phosphorous — who knows about this today? His reasoning is still valid, but it’s not ‘sexy’ like melting (or spreading) icecaps), and (2) they tend to be defeatable through the development of more advanced technology (oceanic colonization and mining could reclaim the aforementioned phosphorous).

        Generally, most people know nothing about these real bottlenecks, and the alarmists don’t even bother to raise the issues because they are too complex and require some scientific understanding. For instance, biochemistry in the case of the phosphorous.

    3. Older than that, too– my dad had it as a basic assumption, and had enough information to know that if it was true, it was only because of a lack of applied techniques and technology, and he was born in ’50.

      In the country, to an agriculture clan, with a reporter mom and a banker dad, so he had the whole “look at why they say what they say and what they can offer to back it up” plus enough knowledge about animals and plants to have a clue, and a solid grasp of history. (Heck, the rope used to hang sheep during slaughter came over from Scotland with the family. lots of history)

  2. For a long time I have observed that the Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives may mock the religious movements of the 19th Century, with their missionaries, Crusades, and buttinskiism, but they do tend to resemble them rather strongly. The difference being that the 19th Century busybodies were willing to admit that they acted on Faith, and were a religion. The LIRPs are adamant that THEIR beliefs are founded in cold hard Science.


    Also, when you get right down to it, the Protestant buttinskis of the 19th century may have been annoying prats, but thy didn’t rack up anything like the record of mass murder, misery, and general destruction that the LIRPs did in the 20th Century.

    Not that we’re supposed to even MENTION that. Perish forbid.

    1. Yeah, well, their intentions were good, and that’s all that matters in their cases.

      They’d be quick to remind us what the road to hell is paved with, but “rules for thee, not for me” and all that.

        1. If your talking justification, i. e., ethical calculus, it’s the means that justify the ends.

    2. A really good book, if a touch dry in spots, about the early 19th century social crusaders in the US is Abzug’s _Cosmos Crumbling_. He starts with the Second Great Awakening and how it ignited the ideas of social reform by linking the young Republic with evangelicalism. For those for whom traditional religion didn’t answer the need, the temperance movement, abolition, women’s rights, self-improvement (Existentialism and Graham Crackers), and other causes filled the hole. Gertrude Himmelfarb’s stuff about the British Victorian reformers is also good.

            1. And this is what happens when you post after not refreshing the screen for several hours. You don’t realize someone else made your point already.

        1. Sigh. I am obviously very behind here… What marinade do you use to barbeque your FAQs? Should they be seared first and then slow-cooked, or left pink in the middle?

  3. Scared peons are easier to control. Wouldn’t want our “betters” to have to WORK for their scandalous compensation, now would we?

  4. The thing that’s most dangerous about these fools is that by so obviously faking the data and the science, they’ve made it impossible for us to believe science about anything.

    1. Unfortunately, it is not just the global warmist/alarmist crowd. Most soft sciences are now filled with statistically dubious methods and processes. Like the psychologists prove conservatives are more ‘frightened’ than liberals.
      Chemistry is probably the cleanest (substance 1 + substance 2 = BOOM!). Physics has a lot of crazy-butt stuff, but at least they tend to be honest that it could be proven wrong tomorrow.

      1. About conservatives being more frightened than liberals–maybe it is true. On the other hand, only fools and sociopaths are fearless.

  5. when a computer model fed a random table of numbers predicts warming, you know the fix is in.

    1. When the computer model is attempting to solve partial differential equations with no known solution, using discrete size and time intervals instead of continuous functions, and then observed reality falls below your 95% lower confidence interval… you know the science is ‘settled’.

  6. My favorite panic about OMG TEOTWAWKI! was Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock, which came out in 1970 – when I was in high school. He postulated that things were changing so fast in so short a time that our poor brains couldn’t handle it. Then of course there was OMG! Nuclear Armageddon, followed by OMG! Nuclear Winter! Also mass starvation, and a new ice age … none of which seem to have happened, and all of us since 1970 have handled change pretty well, I’d say.

    1. Oh sheesh, did you have to remind me about all those YA nuclear war/ nuclear winter books that came out and were winning awards (_Z is for Zacharia_ sticks in my mind)? Nuclear war, nuclear winter, starvation, civilization collapses, yadda yadda. Although even those seemed to have a sliver more optimism than the post 2000 Grey Goo – there were survivors and people did find ways to rebuild and get on with making lives. Far fewer _On The Beach_ endings than some of the recent stuff.

      1. Since it was kind of impossible for me to read every post apoc book out there (and I write that subgenre, so…), I decided to look at the Wikipedia entries for everything I could find.

        What I found is that far, far too much of that subgenre are depressing as hell and would make me want to slit my own wrists if I had to read them.

        That’s why I write the stories I do. Just to make sure good guys keep being good guys, doing bad things to bad guys, and making the world a better place than it would have been otherwise.

        1. Book name? I have sworn off post-apoc because ‘life sucks and the bad guys are usually better people than the good guys’. A GOOD post apoc book? Please? *looks hopeful*

          1. The first one is just OK in my opinion, and is a novelette titled “After the Blast”. Next is the novel, that I’m happy with, titled “Bloody Eden”.

            Yeah, I suck at titles. I’m working on the next one now, and its title is much better. 😀

            1. “Alas, Babylon” was a good one. And don’t forget “Lucifer’s Hammer”- not post nuke, but similar.

              1. “Lucifer’s Hammer” is one of the best.

                I don’t necessarily agree with how things happened in the story (mostly from a time frame standpoint), but it’s a great story with excellent writing.

                1. I’m curious about why you didn’t get into “Alas Babylon”?

                  Nothing wrong in “not getting into” it, I’m just curious. [Smile]

                  Note, it’s been years since I read it but I didn’t think it worth the price that they were asking for the e-version.

                  1. Honestly, it was so long ago, I don’t really remember what it was. Hell, back then, I don’t know that could have explained what the problem was (hence not remembering today). I just remember that I couldn’t.

                    1. Sense? “Making Sense is Racist”!!! [Evil Grin]

                      Seriously, it was a reasonable answer especially considering that you read it years ago. [Smile]

                  2. By the way, “Alas, Babylon” is available for the Kindle for 2.99. That’s worth IMO finding out if it’s still a good read. [Smile]

              2. I preferred “Alas, Babylon” actually – although it might be because I read that one when (IIRC) when I was about eight years old.

                Probably why at that age, I wasn’t scared by Atomic Armageddon ™ per se. Instead, I was reading my parent’s CD booklet, checking out the various abandoned mine shafts in the hills for their horizontal reach (the maps told me we would probably be in a high-rad zone from Luke AFB), and which watersheds would not be heavily contaminated after that. You see, what that book got through to me is that it was possible to survive instead of laying down and waiting to die.

                (Now, there was one problem with the book – it would have taken a rather odd set of meteorological conditions to leave the supposed Fort Repose area – and it’s watershed – only lightly contaminated. Not impossible, but unlikely.)

          2. I gotta say it again, ’cause I’m bad that way. Systemic Shock by Dean Ing, but it’s only available dead-tree, used, cherish it if you can find it. His stuff seems to be being put on Kindle, slowly.

          3. For a true classic you might turn to “Alas Babylon” by Pat Frank.
            Then there is “The Last Centurion” by John Ringo; war, pandemic, and global cooling all in a nutshell. And quite a few funny bits as well.
            Also been reading the “home” books by A. American. A bit primitive, but still and all a good read. Up to five books in total IIRC.

            1. Not nuclear winter, but I’ll second The Last Centurion. I pretty much gave up on the genre, it has such great potential… and then most authors write grey goo. Those that don’t tend to be mediocre writers at best, for some reason. William Johnstone wrote a whole big series of post apoc stories (“From the Ashes” I believe the series is called) and I read three or four of them. Honestly they are the only books of his I ever managed to finish, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them, I don’t think he is a very good writer, myself, but a lot of people like him.
              There is an indy writer who wrote a couple of post apoc stories that were pretty good (I thought better than his SF/fantasy stuff). Jason something, I’d have to look them up on my Kindle to get his name. But they had a lot of sexual themes, not actual explicit sex, but a Lot of fairly explicit references and innuendo. Not the sort of book you would recommend to your mother.

              1. “A Boy and His Dog” is, honestly, the only story that ever made me throw a book across the room… Blech.

                  1. ?????

                    Had to look that one up, since it’s a crime fiction (and, yes, I am one of the lowbrows who doesn’t read that genre…)

                    Harlan Ellison.

                    1. Yeah, “A Boy and his Dog” is the name of the movie they made from the short, and it pissed Ellison off quite a bit (but what doesn’t?).

                      A lot of people think that that’s the title of the short.

          4. Older one, Emergence by David Palmer. Diary of a hyper-intelligent nine-year-old following nuclear/biological war. It’s more about the survival aspects and certainly not about beating up humanity’s failings. Loved it a lot when I was young (and the world was still pretty convinced we were only a short step from MAD.)

            1. Is that the one where he and the girl survive due to a mutation from the 1918 flu?

                1. The one I was thinking about was serialized in Analog, don’t remember if it ever came out between covers. If I was hardcore, I could go dig through my back issues and find it, but this cold has me far from hardcore.


                    It was first a novella in Analog. By the way, the main characters were Homo post hominem but the origins of Homo post hominem are unclear. IIRC it was first thought that it was from the survivors from a major flu epidemic but one of the older characters never had that flu and turned out to also be Homo post hominem.

                    1. Is that the one where they rig the truck to run on railroad tracks, or am I having a senior moment?

                    2. Every time I see a maintenance truck running on railroad tracks, I think of that novel. 🙂

          5. “Earth Abides”, written in 1949, is a pretty good post apocalypse story. Poul Anderson wrote several too in his long career.

          6. Have you read Ringo’s Black Tide Rising series? An optimistic zombie series. All 4 books are now available.
            1. Under A Graveyard Sky
            2. To Sail a Darkling Sea
            3 Islands of Rage and Hope
            4. Strands of Sorrow

            1. I had to stifle a laugh at the bookstore yesterday when I read the Acknowledgements in _Strands of Sorrow_. The bit about Mrs. Ringo getting fed up and telling him to just write it already. 🙂 Apparently four book trilogies have officially become a thing.

              1. Ringo is the master of four book trilogies, in fact I’m pretty sure he has never written a three book trilogy. At least I can think of four, four book trilogies he has written, and no three-bookers.

                  1. Right, which made the original Posleen war “trilogy” four books long. The Prince Roger “trilogy” he wrote with Weber was also supposed to be only three books, but when he told Weber he was only halfway through the outline for the second book, and already over 400,000 words, it got split also.

                  2. For a completely different reason, of course, than his other “trilogies.” A reason we hope is never repeated…

        2. I rather enjoy the Romulus Buckle books — post-apoc steampunk! In an iced-over California!

          Helps that it’s a number of generations later and the new society has been forged.

          1. How could I forget? Anything by Andre Norton! Of course, her post apoc fiction could as well be off world as on (night of masks, dread companion) shoot, any Sci fi by her is worth your time.

            If you’re new to Norton, stick with anything prior to ~1975. It’s not that there aren’t good reads after that, point, but, that there are afew stinkers. And I’d hate to put you off literally dozens of great Science fiction stories (I like her fantasy, too, but YMMV) because of one unlucky pick.

      2. Dean Ing’s post apocalyptic stuff wasn’t depressing at all. (Systemic Shock, Single Combat, Wild Country, the later Rackham stuff)

      3. On the other hand, all the current craze of YA dystopian novels are about evol Orwellian gummints causing Teh End ‘o Everything. The obligatory inane love triangle has somewhat prevented the Usual Suspects from figuring out that this generation of readers expects the Big Disaster to be caused by a busy-body totalitarian power. Best of all, because it was for teens (not a market famous for tolerating boring-arse literary nanal-gazing) all these books have Plot up the wazoo. So story-starved adults are reading them, too.

        Gives me hope, especially if we can keep the SJW puritans from colonizing this one.

        1. I think one reason they are slipping under the radar is that the NY publishers don’t get that the Elites that are Dictating to everyone else (for example, in the Hunger Games series) is THEM…

      4. You want to know the strange thing? The scenario in On the Beach was as bad as it was because the atomic war involved some fifty nuclear-armed nations, striking targets all over the world (except Australia, which is actually kind of odd because Australia is a Western ally and was then as well). Yet “liberal” Barack Obama is trying to let nuclear weapons proliferate, making the scenario actually possible (or as close to possible as real atmospheric physics permits);

        1. Yup. Any Asian strategist with a room temperature IQ would have made sure their harbors and airfields (the most important things at that time) were completely unusable. The Swiss are some of the few that know the real value of neutrality, too.

  7. Remember acid rain? The ozone hole? The population bomb? Even when I was still of the Left, I was becoming suspicious of the endless drumbeat of doom from the environmentalists. Doomsday is always coming, never arriving.

        1. No matter is they win or lose. Every Socialist/Communist dictatorship in history has started off by liquidating the Intellectual Class. It’s almost as traditional as fireworks or seizing control of the press.

        2. “I’m gonna sing the Doom Song!”

          *sigh* But I can’t get to YouTube at work. :-/

    1. Acid rain is an actual thing. Perhaps the most serious problem with it is that the area where the rainfall occurs is rarely anywhere near the source of the problem. However, it’s still not anywhere as remotely common as the doomsayers predicted back in the ’80s. And while the name tends to bring to mind a downfall of “water” that melts the skin off of people, it’s not an immediate threat to living beings. It’s essentially a process that relocates pollution from one location to another.

        1. If I recall correctly, a lot of the “evidence” for the Acid Rain panic boiled down to water in which pine needles had naturally steeped, producing a mildly acidic “tea”.

          1. In Eastern Europe and adjacent parts of Germany and Austria, acid rain was a problem . . . until 1994 or so, when all the heavy industries in the old Warsaw Pact got shut down by the EU. ‘Course, there was a lot more than just acid in the rain – lead and other heavy metals, nasty soft-coal soot. Things are much better (although at the cost of 40% unemployment in some areas), and the trees are recovering. The statues and buildings are being replaced/restored slowly. Similar scrubbers and improved tech also cut the acid rain in North America. I shudder to think what falls out of the clouds in China.

            1. Eh, I seriously doubt that the change in the unemployment rate actually represented a decrease in valuable labor.

            2. Clouds in China… coming to the West Coast soon. I understand CA will be unable to maintain the EPA requirements for air quality solely on the pollution blowing across the Pacific.

              1. My county in central NY can’t maintain EPA air quality requirements because some of the towns have seasonal dirt roads. After a few rainless July days, a whole bunch of dust gets kicked up as vehicles use them.

                1. Try living in the Southwest. I think there’s maybe a week out of every year that we are “in compliance.”

                  1. They write it that way so that you are always guilty of something, and they have an excuse to cornhole you.

          1. Well, sure, the Eastern Bloc was still pumping out nasty pollution through the 80’s. But you didn’t hear that being pointed out back then, did you?

        1. Ugh, and it would’ve been the early 90s when my aunt had me mildly terrified about rain that would peel the paint off of our car because it was acidic.

          Eventually I realized that I wouldn’t trust her about if it would be cloudy the next day, and dismissed it as nonsense, although nowhere near that formally.

      1. Acid rain is an actual thing.

        So’s the ozone hole, and climate change.

        None of the three have jack to do with the scare under their name.

    2. The ozone hole was a true crisis… In the sense that Dupont’s patent on Freon was expiring and they wanted you to use new formulations that they were just patenting.

      1. Which operate at much higher pressures then Freon, meaning your new refrigeration units will not last as long because of greater stress on the compressor and associated parts, causing them to fail more rapidly.

  8. Interesting coincidence. I was born in Pasadena, and served my LDS mission in the Spokane, Washington, mission. Weird.

    On a more relevant note, I still remember seeing some apocalyptic warning books in the high school library. Books like “The Population Bomb”. I think they had one on the coming ice age as well, though I’m not certain about that. This was after everyone “knew” about global warming, of course. Somehow, the events foretold in those books still haven’t come to pass. Though no doubt the authors of those books would insist that the only reason the dire fates they foretold have not yet happened is because (barely) enough People In Charge recognized the coming threat, and did the right thing to (barely) stave off disaster.

    1. Anybody remember The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California? That was actually pretty entertaining, at least the historical parts.

    2. So, the used book store I work in is constantly accepting books, and it’s amazing how many out of date doomsday books we get in. I find it hilarious when they forecast the destruction of the earth years, or even decades, back.
      (Needless to say, we don’t buy those books when people bring them in to sell.)

  9. As a counter to “progress is always bad and we are doomed,” I submit a National Geographic article on improvements in air quality in L.A. despite increasing population. Mind you, the air quality still is pretty wretched (my husband’s niece got posted down there for a job and had to move after a month of not breathing*), but it’s far better than it was.

    *She works for a medical supply company, so they understood medical issues, but they’d not realized that there are ways to rank air quality and that maybe the asthmatic with the functional equivalent of half a lung needed good air. *facepalm*.

    1. I may have mentioned this here before, so my apologies if you’ve heard this before.

      Before my Dad retired, he worked in a high-rise in Downtown LA. He used to have a picture hanging on the wall of his study of a photo taken from his office. It showed yellow clouds of smog floating between the office buildings in Downtown LA. Fortunately, that’s stuff disappeared quite a while ago (I think the picture was taken in the ’70s). The air quality is much better than it used to be. Unfortunately, the problems in the past caused the state to go too far the other way. The restrictive green measures that we have these days are an overreaction to the legitimate air quality issues that we had in the past.

      1. Ugh … horrible memories, of when I was a child in the early 1960s – we lived in the San Fernando Valley, but I remember days when it was so bad that it actually hurt to breathe. I didn’t have particular lung and breathing issues … but there were days when I would curl up on the sofa, feeling ill. The air quality improved a good bit when they banned home incineration of trash – back in the day, most houses had a home incinerator out in back, to burn trash in on certain days.
        It’s been years since I’ve been in anyplace where the air quality was as bad as it was when I was a kidlet in greater Los Angeles. Or LA – which my dad always said really meant ‘Lousy Area’.

      2. Denver was pretty nasty back in the day – couldn’t see the mountains from downtown because of the car smog when an inversion set up, or they got east winds. No such problem today (much).

      3. The greenie stuff is not so much the driver as the excuse – all the bureaucracies, state and fed, cannot admit that the problem of auto air pollution was solved years ago by technological fixes like catalytic converters and computer controlled fuel injection, else they would be out of a job.

        They’ve glommed on to the green agenda as the reason they should continue being employed, and that’s been institutionalized in service of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

        1. That became painfully obvious when California decided that internal combustion vehicles could not qualify as zero emission vehicles, even if the exhaust was cleaner than ambient air.

      1. From what I’ve heard, the geography in the Greater Los Angeles area basically acts like a giant smog trap. Smog is either generated within the region, or it gets blown in from other areas… and then can’t move any further because of the way that the mountain ranges are set up.

          1. Compared to the cost of the California high speed rail initiative, they might be able to move mountains at less cost.

            1. Seriously…

              I remember when the rail proposition was on the ballot. I knew it was bad news then, though I didn’t know just how bad it was going to be. And from what I’ve heard, the state population has come to realize that as well. But too many of my neighbors voted for it, and Sacramento *really* doesn’t want to give it up, so…

              1. Aside; when I first heard the term “metrosexual” my gut reaction was that it had something to do with the many commuter rail systems called “metro” something, and was a label for the kind of politician that seems to get sexual gratification from expensive and nonsensical rail projects.

              2. Side note: as a Sacramento native, it really bugs me when people blame the problems of the state on “Sacramento.” I want to point at the people and say, “YOU voted these idiots in…”

                Okay, I mostly want to point at SoCal. But there’s a long history behind that, up to and including water issues…

          2. …and now a line from David Lynch’s Dune movie comes to mind:


    2. Further evidence things have improved:

      You can fully expect everyone to survive breathing in Donora, Pennsylvania if there is an air inversion.

      The Cuyahoga River hasn’t caught fire in over 55 years.

      I am sure that if we wanted we could come up with a very long list…

      1. It makes the news when there’s a raw sewage discharge into the Schuykill River in PA…

              1. Moyamensing? Conshohocken? Wissahickon and Poquessing creeks? The area is full of ’em.

                1. I remember a long time ago seeing one of those amateur video shows on TV, and the announcer introduced a video from someone in Bala Cynwyd, and I cringed as he pronounced it “Bay-la Sin-wid.”

  10. Of course, the prominent has-been politician whose name always reminds me of an obsolete programming language says we “deniers” should be silenced and punished. Because Science! Oh, and everybody should use the carbon trading house that he owns.

    1. Hey, he needs to make a significant amount of cash. His Tennessee homestead draws more power than many small towns. And didn’t he recently buy an oceanside property out in California. He’ll need to jack that up several dozen feet for when the oceans rise.
      If my sarcasm is too subtle, let me be clear. IMHO Al baby is a liar and a hypocrite. But then again, he’s a politician, so the rest is pretty much a given.

        1. Clinton had to take on Al in much the same way Reagan had to take on GHWB – it was the sop to the mainline backroom party from a nominee who was slightly outside their comfort zone, and as such both were very much mainline backroom party pols. The main difference is that Reagan campaigned for GHWB, and BillyJeff was unfortunately busy those weeks. As a result, Al is very much not a Clinton Team Guy nowadays.

          1. ” The main difference is that Reagan campaigned for GHWB, and BillyJeff was unfortunately busy those weeks.”

            No, the main difference is, that while you may not agree with Bush’s politics, he isn’t a raving nutcase.

    2. I took algol programming in 1972. Its main claim to fame was it was one of the first languages to support recursion. (In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.)

            1. Emax is a E-Mu sampler very popular in the late 1980s and early 90s among professional musicians. 😛

        1. (Warning, this was the best one I could find this morning, it appears to run out of song before it runs out of pictures.)

      1. Algol was once described as “a language so far ahead of its time that it was not only an improvement on its predecessors but also on nearly all its successors.” That makes it easy to distinguish from Al Gore. 🙂

  11. The earth will heat, the seas will rise, and it’s our fault…

    Warmenism is embedded really really deep, too. Anyone else read the newsies on the NASA hearing where Ted Cruz* was driving the relevant Senate committee for the first time – He asked, given there are a lot of other agencies doing Earth science from space, “Why doesn’t NASA spend money on, like, exploring space and stuff?” (I may be paraphrasing slightly) and the answer was (not paraphrasing Administrator Bolden at all): “We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it.”

    So the money that could have been spent on deep space exporation instead goes to replace one guy at KSC walking out to the pads every morning and texting NASA HQ with the message “Pad 39A still not underwater – just so you know.”

    * Cruz not being necessarily my favorite politician in the newerish crop – he strikes me as calculatingly slippery.

    1. “We can’t go anywhere if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater and we don’t know it.”

      Believe me, if the Kennedy Space Center goes underwater, NASA will know it. Besides, didn’t anybody inform Bolden that if the Kennedy Space Center was imminently going to be submerged, maybe we should launch our exploration vehicles, BEFORE that happens?

    2. Talk about a BS answer.

      NASA’s job is space exploration. Period. Bolden’s answer pretends that anything that inhibits THAT also becomes NASA’s job.

      However, you can’t launch rockets if your launch pad gets nuked either, but they’re not out there fighting terrorists to keep them from getting nuclear weapons. Regardless of how you feel about climate change, Bolden’s answer is nothing but a dodge. It’s not even a good one.

      1. I thought NASA’s job was Muslim outreach?
        Which, considering the job they do on exploring space perhaps the outreach is a task within their capability.

        1. Well, in theory, it’s still the space thing.

          Of course, if any of us approached our job the way NASA does – meaning doing everything but – we’d be out on the curb where we belong.

      2. Must politely disagree. NASA’s job is to put on a good enough show of space exploration that most people will be convinced something is being done, while preventing any one else from actually getting out there to explore. If space is explored, we peons would have somewhere to go, to slip from under our master’s thumb. Being a frontier, we might even have to think for ourselves to stay alive. Can’t have any of that sort of thing, now can we?

        1. I would argue that NASA’s job is, indeed, space exploration. What they’ve been doing, what you outlined, is just how they’ve been pretending to do their job. It’s like the guy who always has an Excel spreadsheet open on his desktop that he can bring up whenever the boss comes in, all to hide the time he’s spending on Facebook.

          1. I think we’ve run solidly into the difference between de facto and de jure. By law, you are certainly correct. Real results, as you say, vary somewhat.

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